February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!  My Mom and my Aunt were leap year twins and would have been 23 today.

Judge Jimmie Moore withdrew from the Congressional primary in PA-1 this morning.  I’m not sure why you’d step down from the bench to run then not stick it out.

Pennsylvania exports increased to $41 billion (from $34.9B) last year, a 17% increase.  Figures are from the International Trade Administration.

Thirty seven states have applied for waivers from NCLB but Pennsylvania remains a hold out.  The Bush era law requires public schools teach students a test rather than teach them to learn and think.

Rick Santorum claims his grades at Penn State were affected because of his political views.  I simply cannot imagine that professors would give him lesser grades because they didn’t like him.  Speaking on Charlie Langston’s Michigan radio show he said this:

“I’m very careful about the colleges and universities our children go to,” Santorum said. “There are schools, I went to one – Penn State – that’s one of the liberal icons, unfortunately it’s gotten a lot worse. I can tell you professor after professor who docked my grades because of the viewpoints I expressed and the papers that I wrote, there’s no question that happened.”

Rick and Mitt shared Michigan’s delegates last night while Romney won Arizona handily.  15% of Republicans in the border state are Mormons.

Maine’s Olympia Snowe announced she will retire from the Senate.  There are fewer and fewer moderate lawmakers left in Washington, not a good thing.

For the second consecutive year Gov. Corbett’s budget severely impacts services for the disabled.  A budget is the Governor’s list of priorities so what does Gasbag have against the handicapped?

PAHouseDems say Corbett has security at each elevator in the Capitol to keep disabled citizens away from his office during their protest today.  Nothing says democracy like a host of guards posted against a few dozen mentally and physically disabled people.  They provided this photo:

I love listening to Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman when I’m in Santa Fe and wish it were broadcast locally.  This is a segment about WikiLeaks’ expose of Stratfor, a shadow CIA which says Julian Assange has been secretly indicted.  He has not committed any crime in this country.

Rep. Bill DeWeese will remain on the ballot despite being convicted of felonies.  Under law he doesn’t have to resign until his sentencing which is also April 24th.  He’s trashing what remains of his reputation with his stubbornness.

Lehigh Valley Officials Endorse Patrick Murphy

A slew of elected Democrats from the Lehigh Valley convened at the Hamilton Family Restaurant to endorse Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.  City Council members, State Representatives, Mayors and Controllers were among the audience there to show support in a contested primary for the office.  Kathleen Kane, a highly qualified prosecutor is also running for the nomination along with former Congressman and Auditor General Don Bailey.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron emceed the event and speakers included Bob Freeman, Sal Panto and Ed Pawlowski.

Patrick and Steve:

Teaching a toddler to high five:

Mayor Pawlowski:

Mayor Panto:

County Chair Walt Garvin (and my fellow co-host at Democratic Talk Radio) with Rep. Bob Freeman:


Bailout Binging Bainster TV Ad

We at AmericanLP have created a new ad to spotlight Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy on the issue of bailouts. By now, most observers have learned that Mitt Romney was against a bailout for Detroit. But what even many political insiders don’t realize is that Mitt Romney has been the beneficiary of a Federal bailout of sorts. As head of Bain and Co in the early 90s (he had been brought back from Bain Capital to sort out the mess at the mother company), Romney was in charge of keeping Bain from imploding under a huge mountain of debt. In addition to firing lots of people (naturally), Romney also squeezed suppliers and other creditors. What’s more, Bain had a $38 million loan from the Bank of New England, and that the Bank of New England had its own problems and had been taken over by the FDIC.

Romney shrewdly re-negotiated the Bain loan from $38 million to $28 million. So what does that mean, exactly? Well, since the FDIC is an arm of the Federal government, that means, essentially, that the FDIC (ahem, taxpayers) ate the difference. In other words, Romney conned the government into giving him and his cronies a $10 million bailout.

Yes, this was legal for Romney to do-other business people do it all the time. But it was a bailout to the tune of $10 million, Romney did personally benefit, and it’s a bit rich for Romney to be so sanctimonious about other people getting bailouts. Critics of our ad would suggest that it is unfair to imply that Romney benefited personally from the $10, million write-offs. While the money went to Bain and Co, Romney actually benefited to a much greater degree than $10 million. If Bain and Co had not gotten the bailout, it would have likely imploded. If Bain and Co had imploded, it would have likely tainted Bain Capital to such a degree that it would have been destroyed. If Bain Capital had been dismantled, Romney would have never been able to make his quarter billion that has allowed him the life of the perpetual candidate. Yes, this stuff is complicated-but that’s why rich finance guys like Romney are able to play the system to their advantage.

We start the ad with images of Ronald Reagan talking about the Chicago welfare queen in a Cadillac. This was a story Reagan told over and over again in the 1976 and 1980 campaigns. Even though Reagan never specified it was a black woman, it was widely assumed by most observers across the spectrum that Reagan was in fact talking about a black woman from Chicago with 80 different fake names. (It turns out that Reagan didn’t have his facts straight on this-surprise, surprise)

By showing Reagan at the beginning of the ad, we are trying to evoke the warm feelings conservative Republicans have toward Reagan and his beliefs about “welfare queens.” That is why we are literally showing what appears to be a woman driving a pink Cadillac in an inner city. We then show that in fact the “woman” is none other than Mitt Romney in drag. Romney should actually be seen as a modern day welfare queen who ripped off the government for more than any “welfare queen” from the inner city could ever imagine.

By portraying Romney this way, we are attempting to turn ugly racist beliefs on their head and make people realize that the biggest freeloaders on the government system are actually people who look like Mitt Romney.

At the end of the ad, we show Mitt Romney’s vacation mansion worth $10 million. We aren’t suggesting that Romney criminally stole tax dollars to buy his house illegally. But money is fungible, so any money that benefits Romney in one account can be used to purchase luxuries from any other account.

The point is that Romney and his colleagues at Bain were already wealthy by the early 1990s when the difficulties with the loan arose. Because, as we know, “corporations are people,” Romney and his cronies weren’t personally liable for the full $38 million. Instead, just the corporate entity of Bain and Company was liable. But there was nothing stopping Romney or his wealthy colleagues at Bain from paying back the full $10 million out of their own pocket at the time. For that matter, Romney and his colleagues could have paid the Government back in later years, after they’d all become super, super rich.

The bottom line is Romney got the best deal he could, just because he could. And yet he belongs to a political party that says people who do that are evil parasites for not being “rugged individuals” and succeeding on their own merits.

Finally, our goal here is to make conservatives sickened by the hypocrisy of Romney taking bailouts and for moderates and independents to be disgusted by Romney for making himself richer at the expense of average taxpayers. This bailout for Romney is a perfect window into why Romney should be seen as an utterly detestable and phony candidate regardless of one’s ideological position. Please take a look at the ad below.

http://youtu.be/-L8oCg_pM2M

More info at www.americanlp.org

News & Notes February 28, 2012

I’ve been battling my cluster headaches again so I apologize if posting is haphazard.

Today is primary day in Michigan and Arizona.  I want to know what drugs Rick Santorum is taking these days.  Maybe we should be drug testing politicians instead of those down on their luck due to Wall Street fraud.

I’ll be in Philadelphia Friday participating in a White House Community Partnership Summit.  If you’re there be sure to say hello.

I don’t like charter schools.  It’s a way of privatizing education with no accountability.  For profit education has always proven to be a bad idea.  A charter in Reading has violated its charter draining critically needed funds from the school district for example.

The New Mexico legislature has repealed the Delaware Loophole.  This corporate tax escape hatch allows multi-state companies to drain taxable revenues from certain states to subsidiaries based in Delaware where they pay no taxes on it.  It produces a distinct competitive edge against in state businesses.

If you own a home that’s underwater (I assume everyone knows what that means) you may be facing a whopping tax bill if you sell it “short.”  An exemption is soon to expire which exempts that “income” from taxation.  If this happens if your home sells “short” by, say $100,000, you’d pay taxes on that money.  Bad idea.  Has it occurred to anyone to, maybe tax Wall Street for these losses since they created them?

Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of State Sen. Jane Orie.

Jerry Sandusky is requesting a two month delay in his child molestation trial.  If the charges against Curley and Schultz get dismissed because of witness Joe Paterno’s death the responsibility lies directly at the hands of Tom Corbett for dragging his feet on the investigation.

It was bad enough the NYPD spied on Muslims but hearing the White House was also involved in very bad news.

I’ve been calling for building codes which mandate clean energy for years.  New Mexico is now doing it.

Fourteen conservative Democratic Congressmen have come out as climate change deniers.  Three of these morons are from Pennsylvania:  Tim Holden, Mark Critz and Jason Altmire.  Fortunately two of them may lose their jobs come April.  Perhaps these idiots should study the science instead of the propaganda.  They could also travel to the Southwest where Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are being hit hard by climate change.

Gas prices are hitting me hard.  I paid $3.72/gallon yesterday and every increase means I can cover fewer events.  I remember when I filled my tank for $20.  Now it’s over $40.  High gasoline prices are the direct result of several factors:  speculators in the market and all this saber rattling against Iran.  Conservatives are using the same tactics of lying to go to war which they used for Iraq.  How many times can they fool stupid Americans?

The GOP presidential candidates, while stomping the country calling for war also claim they can reduce gas prices.  Stupidity personified:  all their talk of war is increasing prices as fear stalks the market and Iran cuts its exports as payback.  Meanwhile WikiLeaks has released emails showing Iran’s nuclear program has been on the rocks for sometime.  Never allow facts to get in the way of a bad war!

Rick Santorum keeps flunking history while speaking out of his ass at campaign stops.  This is why candidates tick to vetted stump speeches.  This time it’s about presidents home schooling their children.  Didn’t happen.  He also needs to be reminded that the last time his Catholic Church controlled governments it was called the Dark Ages.  This was followed by The Inquisition.

Now he’s a calling Obama a snob for going to an Ivy League school.  Of course Little Ricky went to public schools like Penn State where we evil taxpayers brainwashed him into becoming a liberal.  Conservatives hate education because it’s designed to teach young people how to think.  Thinking is bad for conservative ideology.

Much of rural Pennsylvania is policed by State Troopers because localities are too cheap to pay for police.  One result is high property claims due to accidents.  The sparse police coverage means Pennsylvanians routinely run stop signs and red lights, tailgate and drive badly.  Proper police coverage would mean tougher enforcement and less costs out of pockets for drivers hit by bad ones.

Gov. Gasbag is tackling one aspect of this scam by proposing to cut revenues to local governments from fine revenues.  These townships, boroughs and such should be paying extra for their State Police coverage, not less so this is a step in the right direction.  Taxpayers around the state are paying double for police coverage and subsidizing the deadbeats refusing to provide their own police.

The Preposterousness of the Greek Debt Situation

The Greek debt crisis has had world markets in turmoil for months as the western world tries to come to grips with a sovereign debt crisis which is shaking the foundations of the Euro.  Greece borrowed its way to a measure of prosperity which it couldn’t afford to repay.  While many lunatics on the American Right keep using it as an excuse to cut federal spending the Greek and American situations have nothing in common.  Greece cannot repay its debt while the U.S. can.  Greece didn’t use its debt to finance tax cuts for the rich, corporate tax loopholes for corporations and to finance foreign wars as America did.

Bankers readily financed the Greek debt without, apparently, doing due diligence.  The business practice of only lending to credit worthy borrowers got tossed out the window and now the banks want everyone else to pony up for their failures.  Where is the banker’s responsibility in all this?  When any business accepts risks they gamble on possibly losing their investment.  These bankers made horrendously bad decisions issuing loans to Greece yet don’t accept responsibility for those bad moves.  Why should world governments continue bailing out banks for bad business decisions?  

Enough is enough.

Film Review: “Hot Coffee”

While attending the Progressive Summit I stopped at a table and picked up a copy of the documentary film “Hot Coffee.”  The HBO production begins with the massive PR saga launched by McDonalds against an elderly woman who received third degree burns from their coffee.  The incident in Albuquerque led to a $2.9 million jury verdict (then struck down by a judge to much less) and has been the poster case for tort reform activists ever since.  What you don’t know is that she wasn’t driving or even drinking the coffee.  Seated in a nephew’s car while parked she was simply taking the cap off to add cream and sugar.  McDonalds served its coffee at temperatures between 180 and 190 degrees (since the suit they’ve lowered it ten degrees).  This is as hot as the antifreeze gets in your car’s radiator.

The film goes on to show how the corporations and their front groups have used this and similar worthy litigation to misinform the public and brainwash them into abandoning their right to hold corporations accountable for negligence.  McDonalds had received over 700 complaints about their hot coffee prior to Stella Liebeck’s severe injuries.  They chose not to do anything and even after losing this lawsuit did very little.  I know that after I learned the true nature of the litigation years ago I swore never to buy coffee at McDonalds and I never have.  Of course I generally eat at fast food places rarely.

“Hot Coffee” goes on to document the laws passed at state levels to restrict citizens access to the courts in the name of reform.  Then it goes to how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying and campaign operation of big business, went about buying state Supreme Court judges who would uphold these unconstitutional laws.  It then tells two stories, one about a teenager with severe brain injury due to a doctor’s negligence and how Nebraska tort reform screwed him.  A young woman tells her tale about working for Halliburton in Iraq and getting raped then locked in a cargo container.  Because her employment contract mandated company approved arbitration she was denied her day in court.

“Hot Coffee” is a well done, well researched and well told tale of how Big Business has bought off our right to sue them for intentional negligence.  It’s a sorry tale and an example of how corporate media brainwashes stupid Americans into relinquishing our rights.  If anyone wants to watch the movie ask me for my copy.

Could ALEC be behind the Pennsylvania Ultrasound Bill?

Earlier this week I wrote an article on Pennsylvania House Bill 1077, The Woman’s Right to Know Act. A bill, which would require medical providers to offer an ultrasound prior to an abortion. HB1077 was forwarded to the floor from the PA House Committee on Health with a 15-7 vote on Feb 6, and  appears on the legislative calender for March 12th. Since, the Majority Leader is a co-sponsor of the bill, it would be safe to assume it has a decent chance of being heard. HB1077, has received a lot of backlash, and in the wake of the Virginia bill it has left this writer wondering, where these bills come from.

The question I pondered is who could be behind this legislation requiring a medically unnecessary procedure and purely ideological based bill. Then I remembered the Progressive Media Workshop I attended in Madison, Wisconsin last October and Wisconsin State Assemblyman Mark Pocan who told us about a shadowy group bringing conservative legislators and corporations together. I know it sounds like a mystical conspiracy of JFK like proportions. However, in the current days of Super-PACS and Citizens United it is nearly impossible to know who is funding what and where some of these bills are coming from. ALEC may be the answer.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy,

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians)

Furthermore, the American Legislative Exchange, or ALEC as it is more commonly known claims it,

has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ((http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians))

with ALEC being one of the forefronts of the conservative ideological infrastructure it lead me to ask the question, is HB1077 one of those model bills.

Of course, I’m not some big time New York Times investigative reporter, with an entire news department, credentials and sources galore. However, I decided to look into this dilemma as a concerned citizen. I cross referenced the proposed bills co-sponsors with the members of ALEC, reported by the Center for Media and Democracy. In a matter of minutes, I found Rep. Rapp (R-65) and 23 other PA Reps are listed as having ties to ALEC, and everyone of her 23 fellow Rep/ALEC members cosponsored the bill; including the Democrats cosponsoring the bill.

Then I took a look at Virginia Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22), sponsor of Virginia controversial ultrasound bill, who I found is a proud member of ALEC. Her webpage she proclaims it under her memberships and touts her Telecommunication Task Force assignment, an assignment she shares with among many other PA ALEC State Chairman and bill cosponsor Representative John Evans (R-5).

I for one would like to see this whole arrangement investigated more, I don’t claim to have the know how, or time to dig into the case completely. Whether it be through legislation that requires more transparency, or a reporter in the heralded spirit of those muckrakers of the past. Pennsylvanian’s deserve to know who is behind the legislation we are seeing. If these bills are one of the 1000’s ALEC claims  to be pawning off on willing ideologues. The only special interests that our local, state and federal elected officials should represent is the constituents, not some faction of conservative extremism.

PA Budget Summit: Resources and a Recap

( – promoted by John Morgan)

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center hosted its annual Budget Summit on Thursday in Harrisburg, providing an in-depth look at the state and federal budget plans and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania. With nearly 200 in attendance, it was our largest Budget Summit yet.

Check out our web site where we have posted materials from the Summit, including presentations on the state and federal budgets. And check back next week when we will have more, including video clips from the Summit.

And take a minute to watch this report from Fox 43 for a nice (and quick) recap of the Summit.

From the Fox 43 report:

Educators, political candidates, and community leaders gathering to discuss how Governor Corbett’s proposed budget would affect them at the Pennsylvania Budget Summit.

“The ultimate goal is for everyone in this room to understand what’s happening in Harrisburg. To be able to talk to their lawmakers intelligently, and bring their messages back to their communities to get involved, and speak up about the things that they value,” says Sharon Ward with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

PA House GOP shooting blanks

Those pesky regulations are under attack again. Not the business ones that drives Republicans mad, this time it’s all about guns. Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone (R-39) has a new frightening idea for Pennsylvanians. Believing that requiring law abiding citizens to obtain a license to carry a firearm (LTCF) is “patently unjust and constitutionally questionable”, Rep Saccone is seeking co- sponsorship of legislation that would remove the requirement for Pennsylvanians to carry a firearm; open or concealed.

I thought I heard it all yesterday with HB1077, The Woman’s Right to Know Act. The closer we get to the November elections,  the closer to the far right end of the political spectrum these bills are going. We need the PA General Assembly to work on making an environment where jobs are easy to access, not guns.

You can read the text of his memorandum here at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/W…