News & Notes September 8, 2010

Green Party state House candidate Hugh Giordano has recieved several major union endorsements for his race in the 194th District.  UFCW Local 152, Teamsters Local 77, Iron Workers Local 401, Local 405 and Bricklayers Local 1 have all endorsed the progressive candidate.  Its nice to see unions going Green.

Three Penn State NCAA championship teams will visit the White House Monday to be recognized by the President.  The women’s volleyball team and both men’s and women’s fencing will attend.  Two Villanova teams will also attend:  football and women’s cross country.  I don’t see any Temple teams listed Frank…

My phone rang this morning and when I answered I immediately found the disconnect button.  A woman who I can only describe as batsh*t f*cking insane called wanting my assistance with something.  This creature went off the deep end while I was doing some consulting for her local campaign some years ago.  Her husband filed for divorce and apparently her case is ongoing.  She screwed me over badly claiming she hadn’t approved a campaign plan she not only had approved but had financed with a personal check.  She then claimed she hadn’t approved anything and screwed several local media outlets.  Why she would think she can call me now for help is beyond comprehension.  The phone call lasted only the few seconds it took me to disconnect.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is retiring after twenty years on the job.  His wife has been battling cancer and his departure from office leaves a huge void.  His father was Mayor for decades prior to him and Chicago will seem a strange place with no Mayor Daley.  This is an opportunity for new blood and new leadership however which would bring a welcome wind of change to the Windy City.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer finally acknowledge she lied about those headless bodies lying in the desert.  The candidate had a total and complete meltdown last week at her first debate and says she will forego any further debates with her challenger.  After last week I suppose more debates are fruitless, this woman is dead meat.

In another strange front Sharron Angle, U.S. Senate nominee in Nevada is being sued for copyright infringement.  It seems she doesn’t understand you cannot copy and paste entire articles from other sources.  Intellectual property belongs to its creator and on the web this means someone is stealing your site traffic and, therefore, your ad revenue.  I’m amazed a candidate for U.S. Senate didn’t comprehend this basic theory of copyright law.  Tea Party nuts are obsessed with property rights are are awfully quick to steal someone else’s property when it suits their interests.

FYI folks, you cannot copy and paste our content or anyone else’s without permission.  I’m very free and willing to give that permission when it is asked.  I retain my rights so people like Andrew Breitbart can’t take my video work and edit it to suit their purposes.  This enables me to go after them for infringement.  All you have to do is ask, if you don’t you are setting yourself up for tough treatment.  I remember how people stole and plagiarized a lot of my work during the presidential primary and posted it to the Obama campaign website.  It took me six weeks amid many threats of legal action before it was removed.  Be careful out there!

BP, shock of shocks, is blaming Trans Ocean and Halliburton for its Gulf oil spill.  Since when is the captain not responsible when his ship goes down?

In several noteworthy races across the country the Texas gubernatorial race is tied.  Gov. Rick Perry has become a secessionist and has gone off the deep end.  In Kentucky the Senate race is moving Democratic as Rand Paul shows his ugly side.  It seems people actually want and need governmental intervention for serious problems like meth abuse.

Joe Miller in Alaska is one more Tea Partier with fringe, lunatic ideas about governance.  People need to realize government can be a powerful, positive force for change in people’s lives.  We actually do need it, we must invest in our communities, we must know the issues and we must know who our candidates are and what they’ll do in office.

The recent spate of challenges against third party candidates illustrates why need serious election reform in Pennsylvania.  The threshold for signatures is ridiculous and then they must face huge legal expenses when the major parties challenge them in court.  Republicans are furious that Bryan Lentz helped a Tea Partier get on the ballot in PA-07 but forget how Rick Santorum’s people helped get Carl Romanelli’s Green Party petitions circulated in the 2006 U.S. Senate race.  Carl is still faced with almost $90,000 in legal bills to the Democratic Party which used legislative staffers to challenge those petitions.  This is ugly and we desperately need ballot access reformed.  Of course neither major Party will allow such action so it must be addressed in a full, comprehensive state constitutional convention.   Let’s get fusion voting in PA!

Howard Dean is coming to host an event for both Manan Trivedi and Bryan Lentz at the home of State Senator and hero Daylin Leach on September 21st.  Speaking of Trivedi he has a clever slogan:  vote like you drive this year, D to move ahead or R to go backward.  Of course you could also just Go Green.

Also, a reminder that I will be in Santa Fe, NM from September 25th to October 6th.

Hunting for Courageous Legislators: Pennsylvania Continues to Lead the Nation in Animal Cruelty

by Walter Brasch

           Twenty minutes South of Harrisburg, Pa., on a two hour drive to her home near Gaithersburg, Md., Heidi Prescott shed a tear. No one else saw it, only one other person could hear it in her voice. It was about 9 p.m., Tuesday, June 29.

           Prescott, senior vice-president of campaigns for the 11-million member Humane Society of the United States, values her reputation as a compassionate but tough lobbyist, but more than two decades of grief and hope was in that tear. For five straight days, she had driven to the Capitol; this would be the week, she was led to believe by the House leadership, that the Legislature would finally bring forth a vote to ban live pigeon shoots. But, in a late night deal, the Legislature had come to a decision about the next year’s budget, and that meant it would recess before voting on the bill to ban pigeon shoots.

           Every Tuesday, when the Pennsylvania legislature is in session, Prescott spends five to 10 hours working the 50 state senators and 203 representatives, every one of whom she knows by name and by their political beliefs. She seldom eats, rushing from office to office, sitting, waiting, and talking. To staff. To elected officials. To anyone who will listen.

           With logic and facts, Prescott, who has been to more than 50 shoots, explains that placing scared and undernourished birds into a small cage, and then releasing them only 20 yards in front people with 12-gauge shotguns is not only cruel but not a sport. She explains that most of the birds, sometimes as many as 5,000 at a shoot, are hit by the shot within five to 10 feet of the cages, with many shot while standing on the ground or on the cages themselves. She gives names of life-long Pennsylvania hunters who oppose pigeon shoots because they aren’t “fair chase hunting,” and emphasizes that even the Pennsylvania Game Commission doesn’t call pigeon shoots a sport. She tells everyone she talks with that the International Olympic Committee banned pigeon shoots as cruel and inhumane after its only appearance in the 1900 Olympics. She tells stories of underage drinking and illegal gambling at the shoots. She almost tears up when she tells about a spectator at one shoot who stomped on a live bird after he ripped it from her hand. She cites statistics that show that 70 percent of all birds aren’t killed by the first shotgun blast, but are wounded, many left to die in agony over two or three days if they aren’t first picked up by paid trapper boys, some as young as eight years of age, who wring their necks, stomp on their nearly dead bodies, or stuff them live into barrels to suffocate.

           Spectators ripping the heads of live birds, throwing them in the air like footballs, and impaling live birds on plastic forks are not normal activities, she points out. To emphasize the widespread opposition to pigeon shoots, Prescott points out that more than 80 percent of all Pennsylvanians oppose the pigeon shoot, and explains why almost every daily newspaper in the state and dozens of organizations, from the Council of Churches to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, have formally opposed this form of animal cruelty. But most of all, she tries to embarrass the legislature by pointing out that Pennsylvania is the only state that allows people to openly kill live pigeons in organized contests, and that most of the shooters come to Pennsylvania because they would be arrested in their home states if they participated in pigeon shoots. Each pigeon shoot, she says, teaches children that violence and animal cruelty are acceptable practices.  

Deliberate and patient, Prescott counters several arguments by legislators. To those who believe bans should be local options not the function of the state, Prescott points to innumerable legal precedents that allow the state to act, and that if local jurisdictions were allowed to make such laws, there would be a patchwork of conflicting local ordinances. To those who believe pigeons are merely “winged rats,” and that the shoots get rid of vermin, she explains that all life is sacred, but that most of the pigeons are either captured out of state or are bred specifically to be killed. To those scared by fear-mongers in the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a couple of organizations that were bred solely to support pigeon shoots and who believe that banning pigeon shoots infringes upon the 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms, Prescott carefully explains that absolutely nothing in proposed bills or amendments would restrict firearms ownership or usage. The NRA, says Prescott, has misrepresented its members, “most of whom would never support or condone pigeon shoots.” Some say that banning pigeon shoots would be the “slippery slope” to gun restrictions. “Some representatives and senators are just dense,” she sighs.

           Prescott and her 40-person staff have been at the forefront of animal rights, persuading numerous designers and retail chains to stop selling fur, convincing all states to stop cock fighting, pushing 10 states to either ban or modify rules on puppy mills, and exposing animal cruelty in the cattle industry and the secret world of dog fighting. Normally, Prescott wouldn’t be “working” the Pennsylvania legislature, but she has taken a personal interest in Pennsylvania and in its failure to ban live pigeon shoots.

            Prescott grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and moved to Pennsylvania when she became a student at Edinboro State College (now Edinboro University). After earning  a B.A. in psychology, with a focus upon domestic violence, and an M.F.A. in art, Prescott and her husband of two years moved to the Washington, D.C., area so she could began a career as an artist. In college she was a vegetarian, but not active in animal rights issues. A mortally wounded woodpecker changed that.

           Her husband, Jim, brought the bird home. “I didn’t know what to do,” she recalls. What she did was to call several places to get assistance. “I demanded to know what I should do, where I should go,” she says. The answers she got weren’t satisfactory and the bird died the next morning. However, all her calls led her to finding a wildlife rehabilitator. For three years, she apprenticed with the rehabilitator; for five years, she mixed careers as a professional artist and certified animal rehabilitator. “I took way too many animals,” she says, “because when you say ‘No’ to helping any animal, it gets euthanized.” At times, she had dozens of birds, squirrels, bunnies, and possums in her townhouse. She readily acknowledges that her devotion to animal rescue put a strain upon her marriage. She and Jim divorced after six years.

           In 1989, Prescott stopped being a professional artist and became a professional animal rights advocate and began working 60-80 hour weeks-when she wasn’t arrested.

           In Strausstown, Pa., she was arrested when she tried to save a wounded pigeon. In Pikeville, Pa., she was arrested for walking across the street to hand a press release to a reporter. And then there was Hegins, site of the nation’s largest pigeon shoot, one that brought more than 200 shooters and several hundred paying spectators every Labor Day to the isolated rural community in northeast Pennsylvania to watch the killing of more than 5,000 birds. She attended the shoot in 1990, and then went back with a team of rehabilitators the next day. It was that day she knew that eliminating pigeon shoots would be her cause. She picked up a bird lying on the field, turned her over and realized she was gasping for air. Both of her legs had been blown off and she was in the final stage of dying. The team was forced to euthanize her. “It was just that act of her struggle to live and then her dying in my hands,” says Prescott, “when I made that promise to do everything I could do to stop this cruelty.”

           Several animal rights groups, led by Prescott, launched massive protests in 1991 and 1992, including running onto the shooting fields to rescue the birds, and chaining themselves to concrete blocks and fences. Prescott was one of the rescuers who ran onto the fields to open cages to free the birds, “knowing they would not be shot.” Twice she served 15 days in the Schuylkill County jail for trespassing, theft, and the receipt of stolen property-she had picked up wounded birds from the shooting fields. She could have paid the $500 fines, but chose jail because “I wasn’t about to give that county even one dollar.”

           Confrontational protests, which had succeeded in bringing media attention to mankind’s cruelty, were abandoned in 1993 in favor of a bird rescue program. “Most of the public’s attention was on the confrontation instead of the horror of what was happening to the animals,” says Prescott, “and we wanted to refocus the attention upon the cruelty.” In a statement to the Court for one incident, Prescott explained her philosophy of life. “I did not physically strike, obstruct, yell at, or insult anyone with whom I communicated,” she said without bitterness.

           In 1989, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives had defeated a bill to ban pigeon shoots, 66-126. By 1994, three years after the first large scale protest, the House voted 99-93 in favor of an amendment to ban pigeon shoots, but fell short of the 102 votes needed for passage. That was the last time the full House voted on any bill or amendment to stop pigeon shoots.

           Cowered by the perceived power of the NRA, which has about one-third the membership of the Humane Society-and only 200,000 members in Pennsylvania against 670,000 Pennsylvanians in the Humane Society-House and Senate leaders of both parties, primarily from the rural areas, continuously blocked bills from getting out of Committee and onto the floor for a vote.

           In the 21 years since she first began protesting pigeon shoots, Prescott has been cursed, shoved, poked, hit, slammed against a car, and had boot-clad spectators deliberately step upon her sneakered feet. A pacifist, she never resisted. But the greatest wounds, she says, were the lies she was told by legislators who promised what they would never deliver-a vote to ban pigeon shoots. “Their lies and distortions caused a waste of resources and time, and led to thousands more animals who suffered cruel deaths each year,” says Prescott.

           “It’s time for the Pennsylvania legislature to stop playing politics,” she says. Shortly after the House reconvenes on Sept. 13, Prescott hopes she will shed yet another tear, this time one of joy, as a majority of the House and Senate develop a spine and resist the prattling of a minority of self-proclaimed “sportsmen” and of national organizations that help fund their campaigns, and do what’s right, what every other state has done-stop the cruelty of pigeon shoots. “The only place this bill seems to be controversial is within the walls of the Capitol,” says Prescott.

           “I know how close we are, and if we give up now,” she says, “we will never fully appreciate the strength and courage of the animals that lay dying in my hands because of the cruelty of mankind. It’s an image of life I can not live with, and giving up now is unthinkable.”

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist and author of 17 books. He first reported on pigeon shoots in 1990, and has covered them and the Pennsylvania legislature since. You may contact Dr. Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu]

Trivedi Calls For Congressional Pay Cut

Jim Gerlach isn’t going to like this, not one bit.  His opponent Manan Trivedi unveiled his first ad today and in it he called for a Congressional pay cut.  Gerlach, of course, has been riding the automatic pay increases for his eight years in Washington without lifting a finger to keep those costs down.  In a time when eight million Americans have lost their jobs due to policies Gerlach continues supporting, in an age where American homeowners have lost $7 trillion in home equity value, witnessed their 401(k) retirements dissolve because Republican businessmen stopped giving pensions and crashed the stock markets, in a day when finding a new job can take years and those still working are doing more for less Congress continues getting automatic pay increases year after year.  Exactly what have Republicans like Jim Gerlach done to deserve these raises?

Gerlach supported the Bush budgets which slashed taxes for the wealthiest people at the expense of massive deficits, approved two wars of choice which weren’t paid for, deregulated Wall Street resulting in $45 trillion in bad paper worldwide, voted against the stimulus plan which has created thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania, provided seed money for clean energy programs and research here in our Commonwealth, voted against extending vital unemployment insurance for those out of work, voted against access to medical care, voted against every jobs program proposed by the President, voted against subsidies to keep our state workers, firemen, police and teachers on the job, and voted against improving our aging roads, bridges, mass transit and airports.

Yes, I can see where Jim Gerlach might have trouble countering Trivedi’s position that Congress should roll back its compensation package.

By all means let’s piss people off on purpose.

The ironically named Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is reaching out to the world by advertising that it will burn copies of the Qur’an on 11 September 2011.

Naturally this does not sit well with people of the Islamic faith.

I think there no better way to invite another attack on Americans than to purposely agitate rogue militant factions within Islam. Is that just me?

This will scare and shock Muslims who are peaceful and who stood with America to condemn the 11 Sept attacks.

This will inflame the existing hatred radical Islamists already feel toward America for our support of Israel and other real or perceived injustices.

Burning the Qur’an also doesn’t do much to advance the freedom of religion clause of our venerated Constitution but, and I say this with great regret, it is most likely protected under the free speech provisions.

This wonderful group actually lists 10 reason you should take this abhorrent action from the Qur’an is not recorded in heaven and is therefore not holy to Islam is a weapon of colonialism.

What utter nonsense. Of course the Qur’an doesn’t subscribe the the tenets of Christianity you frelling dipshit, it’s a different religion. What utter dren! (Yes I’m using Farscape references.)

Legal though it may be, sometimes one must stop and think…just because we can do a thing doesn’t necessarily mean we should do a thing.

Burning the Qur’an will have consequences…somewhere in the world…sometime in the future…some radical nutball will kill more Americans and blame this act as the reason he or she took the action at which point the leaders of the Dove World Outreach Insanity Center should be arrested for incitement to murder.

I wonder what kind of reaction would be sparked if an Islamic center announced that they were going to burn Bibles or the Torah on 11 Sept. Given that we seem be collectively losing our minds over the suggestion that an Islamic community center be built anywhere near the World Trade Center site in NYC I suspect the frelling world would come to an end so large the outcry would be.

Why would anyone, especially clergy of ANY denomination, want to foment the seeds of antipathy instead of peace and understanding? We complain that radical Islamists have lost the message of the Qur’an well here is a perfect example of radical Christians in action…not working to make the better more peaceful world Jesus espoused, but actively working to create hatred and distrust.

What a great message for these morons to be sending to the entire world about America. I have to wonder about the mental stability of anyone who would want to be associated with such actions.

What will be next for these people…will they want to burn the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the O’dno Jing, the Vedas, the Tipitaka, the Torah and the Talmud?

These morons ought to link up with the wackos from Fred Phelps little gang of looney Christians…they’re perfect for one another.

I swear the wrong group left England all those years ago. Things like this make me ashamed to be American and glad I’m not Christian.

As always you are welcome to disagree…

UPDATE:

Because I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, Here is the text of the email I sent to the Dove World Outreach center using the Contact Us page on their website. For the record I did use my name and my real email address….they are welcome to reply.

I respectfully disagree with your decision to desecrate the holy book of another belief system. I do not believe that these are the actions Jesus preached about in the Bible. Your radical form of Christianity is no better than the Radical elements of Islam you say you abhor. You have become the thing you hate. Hatred is not a Christian value.

You make me ashamed to be an American. Nevertheless I bid you peace.

Capitalists Vs. Populists

Today is Labor Day and we all should take a moment to remember those who fought and died for the working people of this country.  The struggle against the forces of the capitalists never ceases and current attempts to screw the people endanger all of us.  Candidates are on the trail this fall calling for an end to unemployment benefits, welfare, Social Security and the rest of our social safety net.  They are agents of the Capitalists, those Americans who worship money above all else.  Their god is gold and they’ll sacrifice the poor, middle and working classes to their altar on Wall Street.  When you hear candidates such as Jim Gerlach telling young people its all about capital which naturally should flow to the lowest wage areas of the world run as quickly as you can in the opposite direction.

Capital is the natural enemy of the laborer.  The epic struggle of worker against capital has killed millions of workers and enriched others at the expense of their blood.  Unions began equalizing this situation until recent years when Republican capitalists began eroding worker’s rights.  Let’s review for a few moments what life was like before unions.

In the mid to late 1800’s workers toiled in terribly unsafe conditions.  Factories routinely caught fire and workers, men, women and children were burned alive.  They worked twelve hours per day for 25 cents per week.  When the capitalists tried to cut their wages some of them walked out.  These early strikes were doomed to failure because they lacked strike funds to carry them through and then the capitalists got the government to set army or militia troops on them and many died.  Massacres of working people by the Army was common.  Government in the U.S. has always been there to serve the bankers, elites, Wall Street and other capitalists at the expense of the people.  The few rights working people have achieved have been the result of forming unions, fighting for some rights reluctantly surrendered only to keep the peace.  Worker riots were becoming so common the elites had to do something to guard against revolution.  When 2,000 railroad workers were being killed on the job every year and the capitalists then attempted to cut the work force and cut wages they went on strike.  Federal troops were sent in to gun them down in the streets.  This scenario became common as the American government became the enemy of the people.

Tea Party morons should remember this as they protest in support of these same monied interests against today’s workers.  They want to “take the country back” to the ugly days when common working people were mowed down in the streets because they struck for safe working conditions, living wages and honest hours.  We outlawed child labor, made the capitalists pay fair wages, made them pay overtime, provide safe working conditions and also forced capitalists to stop paying in company script good only at company stores.  We’ve come a long way but the threat of the capitalists taking us backwards is very real.

So take a moment for all those early labor leaders who fought and died for every working family.  For all those who were blacklisted for trying to do the right thing remember that not voting in November sullies their memories.  Not voting means going backwards to days when the capitalists shot laborers in the streets for standing up for their rights.  Let’s not allow them to win again.  When you do enter that voting booth make sure you’re voting for populists and not capitalists.  Capitalists are the enemies of working people.

Gerlach Campaign Plays Race Card Against Trivedi

Jim Gerlach has a history of playing for keeps and a reputation for climbing into the gutter against his Democratic Congressional opponents but this time he has sunk as low as one can go:  attacking his opponent’s ethnicity.  Mark Campbell, spokesman for the 6th CD Member of Congress told The Hill that Manan Trivedi “doesn’t share our values” and criticized him for fund raising within his Indian-American community.  Those are veiled racial attaqcks using code words understood by the right wing.  “Doesn’t share our values” means “isn’t one of us.”  Why can’t a candidate who is a direct descendant of immigrants raise funds from that community?  Cannot Chinese Americans accept campaign contributions from other Asians?  Irish from other Irish?  Perhaps Gerlach shouldn’t be raising money within the white community?  Of course these are ridiculous scenarios.  The statement by Campbell:

What we are saying is that Trivedi is a far-left fringe candidate who does not share the common-sense values of the taxpayers, families or seniors of the 6th district,” said Gerlach campaign spokesman Mark Campbell.

“The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money,” said Campbell.

Accusing Indian-American Manan Trivedi of doing what any candidate can do, raise money from those people likely to support him (or her) is race baiting in this case because Gerlach is saying going to his own immigrant community is bad.  Can no woman candidate go to EMILY’S List or raise money from women’s groups?  This was Jim Gerlach playing the race card against Trivedi, something everyone in the District knew was coming.  The only surprise here is that Gerlach was so open in his attack.  Next thing we know he’ll be running commercials showing Manan wearing a turban and claiming he’s the new Osama Bin Laden.

Update:  Manan Trivedi issued this response to the Gerlach statement:  “These are hardworking American who pay their taxes and contribute to society.  Congressman Gerlach’s campaign is saying that somehow they aren’t good enough to participate in our democracy.  Like many Americans I am so proud of my heritage and grateful for all of the support I’ve received and believe absolutely no one, for any reason, should ever feel shut out of the democratic process.”

Meanwhile Congresswomen Allyson Schwartz and Deborah Wasserman Schultz have issued statements:

From Schwartz:  “Like many others, I was appalled at the racially insensitive comment made by the Gerlach campaign. What is worse though, is that Congressman Gerlach has remained silent, neither refuting the statement or taking appropriate action regarding his staff.

“Jim Gerlach has clearly lost touch with our area if he thinks that these racially insensitive comments are going to help him win him this election. People rightfully should expect their Representatives to encourage greater participation of all Americans in the democratic process, as voters, volunteers, and supporters. Jim Gerlach should immediately refute his campaign’s racially insensitive comments towards Indian Americans and take appropriate action regarding his staff.”

From Wasserman-Schultz:

“Congressman Gerlach’s campaign’s statements are offensive to everyone, these are American citizens who want to play an active part in the democratic process and they support Manan Trivedi because they believe in his candidacy. Is it playing the race card when I fundraise in the Jewish community?  Would he call it “playing the race card” when Italian-Americans give to Italian-American candidates, or Irish-Americans to Irish-American candidates?  If this person were on my staff I would fire him and/or Congressman Gerlach should fire this person and/or Congressman Gerlach should apologize.”

The person for whom we’re waiting a statement is Jim Gerlach himself.

News & Notes September 3, 2010

Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman finally came out of the closet this week.  Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News calls him out for his past:

Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and co-chair of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, who ran what was arguably the most hate-filled homophobic campaign in American political history, came out last week in a slick public-relations campaign-type interview served up by The Atlantic magazine. His actions as head of the Republican Party created antigay laws, including antigay-marriage constitutional amendments in numerous states, gay baiting, harassment, hate crimes and even LGBT youth suicides. We have not seen his type since Roy Cohn. This man has no shame. But that is not the end of the story.

I couldn’t agree more.  Coming out doesn’t negate his sorry, inexcusable actions against his own community.  Mehlman is a gay Uncle Tom.

The right wing noise machine is already calling the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the rich “the biggest tax increase in history.”  perhaps they shouldn’t have put an expiration date on them when they were passed if they weren’t meant to be temporary.  These cuts created a huge hole in federal revenues and are one of the principle contributors to the deficit.  You cannot fear monger on the deficit and support the extension of these cuts simultaneously.  Allowing the cuts (which benefited the richest 2% of the country) to expire isn’t raising taxes.  Passing a specific bill raising taxes is raising taxes.  Several turncoat Democratic Senators are now saying they support a continuation of tax cuts for the rich.  These traitors to working people and the middle class need to find new jobs.

Here’s why:  more and more Republican Senatorial candidates are going on record saying they want to repeal Social Security.  This time they aren’t even trying to hide their agenda behind “privatization” but are simply saying the program for our elderly, disabled and orphans must be ended.  Their argument is that we can no longer afford it.  Of course their argument is based on the federal deficit which Republicans created expressly as a basis for getting rid of Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs.  They want to make their cake and eat it too.  I fear this extremist position may stoke class war.

Another oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday.  Meanwhile BP, which proved beyond a doubt it cannot be trusted, says that without new drilling permits in the Gulf it will not be able to pay the reparations they promised.  Sounds as if they’re headed to bankruptcy then.  BP pledged in countless television ads they would make everyone affected whole.  Of course this was nothing more than a PR campaign but this time let’s hold them to their word.  BP is simply trying to scare the U.S. into, once again, trusting the unworthy.

Pat Toomey said his idea of gun control is a steady aim.  I’m sure that’s real comfort to the surviving relatives of every Pennsylvanian killed by gun violence, especially our police.  Has this cold and uncaring man lacking any empathy for others realize what happened recently in Pittsburgh when a deranged man driven crazy by folks like Toomey killed four police officers?  This man doesn’t deserve any support.

President Obama is considering cutting Social Security, enacting more tax cuts and extending the Bush tax cuts.  He has eliminated a second stimulus plan which doesn’t make economic sense.  remind me again that he is a Democrat, you could have fooled me.  Actually he fooled millions of Democrats into believing he was one of them.

No wonder Pennsylvania Democrats are staying away from the polls like they are carriers for cooties.  I see five or six PA Congressional Districts turning red this year.  Critz, Dahlkemper, Altmire, Kanjorski, Carney, Murphy and the open Sestak seat are all in danger of going Republican.  If Dave Argall manages to raise any money Tim Holden could join them.  I predict another bloodbath for Democrats in November, two in a row.

The only bright spot I see is Joe Sestak who is now defining Pat Toomey for voters in the fashion he did Arlen Specter last spring.  Barack Obama will come campaign for him September 20th.

Sestak: Toomey Wants End to All Corporate Taxes

Joe Sestak kept his powder dry while Pat Toomey burned through campaign cash on television buys and now is unleashing his truth campaign to educate Pennsylvanians about who Pat Toomey is and how his record is bad for every Pennsylvanian.  Following an effort to remind voters about his deep and long ties to Wall Street now a new campaign is reminding people about the former Congressman’s statements favoring a complete end to corporate income taxes.  Toomey even wrote about doing this in a book and argued for it on TV:

The Republican myth that lower taxes creates jobs is false.  In fact their philosophy of putting capital (money) ahead of all else, especially people, shows their fealty to their true god:  gold.  The reality is that few corporations pay taxes and those which do pay far less (5%) instead of the standard rate (35%).  Toomey is on this clip arguing for the complete elimination of corporate taxes and this would drive a huge hole in both state federal budgets and throw this burden on the middle class.  GOP policies have been destroying the middle class and the buying power which accompanies a strong, healthy middle class.  

Its time to eliminate this worship of money and corporations and remember that it is people which count.  This November you have a clear choice:  vote for capitalists (money) or populists (people).

News & Notes September 2, 2010

The days are just flying by as I’ve been quite busy.  Glenn Beck tried to “Restore Honor” last weekend in DC.  I’m confused about the honor he wants to restore?  He wants to return to the glory days of George W Bush so is he referring tot he “honor” of starting a war through lies?  No, that wasn’t honorable.  How about the “honor” behind spying on Americans without search warrants or probable cause?  Gee, that isn’t honorable either.  Torture?  Secret prisons? Political prosecutions?  I’m confused about this all “restoring honor thing, nothing about the Bush years was honorable.

Speaking of Beck here’s a video showing how he manages to cry on cue.  Note the comment he makes that its getting harder to induce the tears because his eyes are getting used to the Vicks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

There are a couple of important articles for reading.  Vanity Fair did a lengthy piece on Sarah Palin.  The Quitter refused to submit for interviews and is now gay baiting the openly gay reporter calling him “impotent, limp and gutless.  That’s the best she can do, resort to old code words to denigrate a gay man?  It simply goes to prove the things written in the article about the woman.  She had her chance to participate and get her input in the piece but she passed.  Her crybaby tears afterwards strike me as sour grapes.

Time has an article about how voters have abandoned President Obama.  I differ with a central point they make that Obama should have been more centrist.  His trouble arises from being TOO centrist.  He has lost liberals, progressives and independents over his tepid and meek health insurance reform.  The people wanted much more and he never even tried and that is what has totally alienated liberals.  Meanwhile he has done all he can to lose key demographic groups.  I often hear conservative Democrats saying they wished the left wing of the Party would disappear.  They’ve gotten their wish, they are gone.  They’ll witness in November what the Democratic Party is without its left wing:  powerless.  

These liberals and progressives feel betrayed by Obama and they are refusing to vote.  Of course this is foolish because as bad as they feel the President is returning to Bush policies by allowing Republicans to win is just stupid.  They still think Obama will get their message that he isn’t liberal enough but the message he keeps hearing is that he’s too liberal.  The President’s tone deafness is dooming him to a Republican Congress which will doom him to just one term.

Rush Limbaugh declared his goal was to make Obama fail and he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.  The voters are now poised to reward such treason with a return to power.  you get what you deserve when you don’t vote.

Today is Kirk’s 50th birthday.  Have a great day buddy!

Today also would have been my oldest sister’s birthday.  She succumbed to a rare neurological disorder five years ago.  This was during the height of the hysteria created over a woman in a vegetative state used by Republicans to divert people’s attention from the real issues of the day.  Unfortunately my sister refused any use of respirators to extend her life because of the irresponsible media circus created by the likes of Rick Santorum.  

Uncle Earl may be giving us a visit for Labor Day.  The hurricane is hitting North Carolina and may track near us.  FEMA and the NHC are conducting daily conference calls on the storm.  Tuesday they were primarily concerned about its storm surge as it appeared to be staying out to sea.  As it is tracking further west the winds are now worrisome.  Let’s hope it doesn’t wash out our holiday though we desperately need the rain.

Happy ½ Birthday

Cross-posted from deciminyan.org

With the exception of newlyweds and doting grandparents, there are few celebrations of a six-month anniversary or birthday.  Yet, this month – September 23rd specifically – there is an important half-year milestone for the United States.

That day will mark six months since the President signed the historic Affordable Care Act into law.  And while the implementation of the provisions of the act will be phased in over the next several years, some of its benefits will start on September 23rd.  

The bill that was signed last March is severely flawed.  It is complex and will result in 50 somewhat disparate systems because much of the implementation is left up to the states.  A Single Payer approach (“Medicare for All”) would have been a better, more fiscally sound system, and the current bill is a boon to for-profit insurance companies.  Nevertheless, it is a good start with some tangible benefits to be realized this month.

Here’s what happens on September 23rd (courtesy NJ Citizen Action):

  • Coverage Expansion for Young Adults – Young adults up to age 26 can participate in their parents’ health care plan.
  • No Rescissions – Bans all health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.
  • No Lifetime Limits on Coverage – Prohibits all health plans for placing lifetime caps on coverage.
  • Tightly Regulates Annual Limits on Coverage –
  • Tightly restricts the use of annual limits by all employer plans and new plans in the individual market, to ensure access to needed care.
  • Free Preventive Care Under New Plans – Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles.
  • New, Independent Appeals Process for New Plans – Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions.
  • No Discrimination Against Children with Pre-Existing Conditions – Prohibits all employer plans and new plans in the individual market from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.  

Other provisions of the new law such as insurance exchanges and elimination of annual caps are to be phased in more gradually as the Department of Health and Human Services and the individual states work on appropriate regulations and implementation strategy.

Despite these incremental improvements, there are a number of pitfalls ahead that have the potential of reversing the positive trend and keeping America in the bottom rung of affordable health care among developed nations.

First, there are the politically-motivated lawsuits being pursued by several states and corporate-funded conservative advocacy groups to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional.  They are against the provision that requires all Americans who can afford it to have health insurance.  Apparently, the anti-health lobby would prefer the more expensive option of having people use emergency rooms for health care and eliminating preventative medicine for the poor.  Given the number of conservative activists on the Supreme Court, there is a good chance that the Affordable Care Act could be nullified or severely neutered.

The other danger is a Republican take-over of one or both houses of Congress.  The Republicans are campaigning on a three-fold platform – repeal of anything that President Obama has promoted (including the Affordable Care Act, which is very similar to what was proposed by President Nixon), endless and costly investigations once they get subpoena power, and more deficit-inducing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Repeal of the Affordable Care Act is a real possibility, and given the Republicans’ adeptness for legislative chicanery, even the threat of a presidential veto is not guaranteed to maintain the positive momentum in this area.

The anti-health lobby has a tremendous advantage – lots of stealth corporate money, Fox “News”, and right-wing hate radio – all working to limit care in the name of greed fiscal responsibility.

So we won the first battle – passage of the bill.  Celebrate the ½ birthday with joy, but not with relief.  Learn what’s in the bill, and where improvements need to be made.  We have a long war ahead of us.  The anti-health forces are powerful, organized, and well-funded.  We need to keep the pressure on our elected officials, demonstrate, and advocate for 21st century health care for all the people in the United States.