More Jokes From the Penn State Trustees

by Walter Brasch

Whenever I need a couple of laughs, I turn to the bumbling self-aggrandizing antics of the Pennsylvania legislature.

           However, in the past few months, the Penn State Board of Trustees has done the near-impossible; they have provided more laughs than the menagerie in Harrisburg.

           To call either the Legislators or the Trustees “clowns” would demean the hard work of the circus performers who spend significant time to develop and execute comedy routines. There is no evidence the Trustees even have a thought process before they make outrageous and just plain silly statements.

           The latest Trustee joke is that the reason they really fired Joe Paterno abruptly on Nov. 9, 2011, is because of “a failure of leadership.” The Board released what it called a “report,” but which is nothing but a press release of rehashed statements. This “report” claims the Trustees fired Paterno after they read the Grand Jury report that outlined a series of allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, whose name is now known among more Americans than anyone who ever won a Nobel Prize.

           Marianne Alexander, one of the trustees, told the media the Board’s intention “was to clarify, because everyone’s been asking for clarification.” This, of course, is the same Board of Trustees that, mouthing the prattling of the ethically-challenged Gov. Tom Corbett, had condemned Paterno for being “morally corrupt,” or “not doing enough,” or whatever phrase they could quickly find in a Thesaurus of Blame.

           Even children barely able to read a newspaper know the basics of the issue. A graduate assistant had seen or heard (it’s still not completely clear) Jerry Sandusky, who was no longer employed by Penn State but who used the university fields and showers, possibly molested a child. The assistant told his supervisor, Joe Paterno. The legendary coach whose ethics and morals were never questioned in six decades as a coach and member of the faculty, followed university policy and procedure and told his superiors, one of whom oversaw the university police force. (Sandusky, of course, was later convicted on 45 counts that should keep him in prison for life.)

           Some claim that Paterno was “morally wrong” not to “do more” and use his power at Penn State to have Sandusky immediately arrested. These Monday Morning Know-Nothings fail to understand that to “do more” would have been nothing less than interfering with a police investigation.

           Corbett, attorney general at the time, could have conducted a thorough investigation, but allowed the latest accusations to simmer for more than two years while he campaigned for the governorship and take more than $200,000 in campaign funds from current and former board members of Sandusky’s Second Mile charity.

The Trustees, clueless as most college trustees are, could have learned about the allegations and taken action to protect the university and children. They did not do so. They did not do so even after a Grand Jury was convened and reported about in the local newspaper. They apparently didn’t even have a crisis communications plan should anything happen about anything.

           And so, when the festering sore of university ineptness became infected, they tried covering it up with band-aids. And then everything blew open, catching the Trustees by surprise-or at least that’s what they seemed to want us to believe.

           In quick order, they continued to violate the state’s Sunshine Law-they never really obeyed it to begin with-had secret meetings, and violated their own policies and state requirements on personnel actions. When all the hand-wringing was completed, they decided the best way to deal with a child predator was to fire the best-known football coach in America-who was never under any suspicion of having committed any crime-and to do it during the middle of a football season after Paterno announced his retirement.

           While the media, always hungry for salacious news content, and a few hundred thousand sanctimonious pretend-fans were yelling, “Joe Must Go!” millions supported Paterno. This, of course, caused more problems for the Board That Couldn’t Think Straight.

           As individuals and blogs began condemning the Board for its actions-and especially for what it didn’t do-the Board (composed primarily of high-level business executives, farmers, and assorted professionals who should have known better) continued to come up with lame and mostly laughable excuses of why it did what it did. Several trustees even stupidly told the media that people should withhold judgment on the Board’s actions until all the evidence was available. The irony was lost on the Board but not upon millions who were rightfully indignant about why the Trustees could take abrupt and unexplained action against Paterno, but wanted everyone else to withhold judgment about its own reasons.

           In an effort to placate the alumni and several million Americans still outraged at the Board’s incompetence, the Board (or whoever writes the Board’s public statements) issued its “report,” beginning with a trickle of crocodile tears about sharing “the grief of the entire Penn State family at the passing of Coach Paterno,” and then praising both his and former President Graham Spanier’s “lasting contributions.” The Board declared it “has always been” its intention to “to fulfill [Paterno’s] employment contract and to name him head coach emeritus.” Considering that the Trustees had fired Paterno illegally, they had no choice but to honor the contract. The title of “head coach emeritus” is window dressing. A more fitting title, although it would never assuage the pain the Board caused Joe Paterno and his family, would have been to name him “professor emeritus,” which does carry privileges and would recognize that Paterno, a member of the faculty, was far more than a coach. Almost as an after-thought, the Trustees in the latest statement casually tossed a one-liner that “other options” to honor Paterno “are also under consideration.”

           Trustee Marianne Alexander said the latest “report” was made because “We’re trying to be responsible to our constituents.”

           If the Board of Trustees really wants “to be responsible,” it would stop violating the state’s Sunshine Law, would agree to be included in the state’s Right-to-Know Law, would stop issuing silly statements to justify their own incompetence, reverse the firing of Joe Paterno (and possibly that of Dr. Spanier), and then resign.

         [Walter Brasch was recently named the Pennsylvania Press Club’s Communicator of Achievement, a lifetime honor for excellence in journalism and community service; it was the first time in 10 years the Club issued the CoA honor. Dr. Brasch’s latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, which looks at the 1960s counterculture as being relevant to today’s American culture.]

 

Obama Hails SCOTUS Victory

I adopted the righteous right’s nomenclature of ObamaCare because I think he rightfully ought to take credit for the first major reform of our broken health care system in decades.  The last major victory was enactment of Medicare in the mid-sixties.  Did you watch Michelle Bachmann’s bizarre rambling on CNN?  I kept asking myself what planet she came from…

The Obama-Biden campaign weighed in on this morning’s momentous decision by the Supreme Court:

“Mitt Romney had an opportunity to rise to the occasion today and tell the American people specifically how he would move the nation forward on health care and ensure people get the care they need.   Yet, once again, he squandered that opportunity.   Instead of explaining how he would ensure costs don’t go up and health benefits are protected, Romney promised to repeal the President’s health reform law and take America back to the same old political battles of the past.     He is completely unmoved by what that would do to millions of middle-class families, women, seniors and young Americans who are today benefiting from the law.   Romney’s promise to repeal the law would give insurance companies free rein to exploit Americans through the worst industry abuses, strip 86 million Americans of often life-saving preventive care, cost 3.1 million young Americans of their coverage by kicking them off their parents’ plans, allow insurance companies to discriminate against kids with preexisting conditions, and increase prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare.  

Just six years ago, before Mitt Romney decided to run for president, he passed a law in Massachusetts that achieved universal coverage for the citizens of that state through an individual mandate and tax penalty.  That law became the model for the President’s health reform law.  Now, as he is running for president, Romney has run away from his accomplishment in Massachusetts, callously promising to repeal national reform and “kill it dead.”  He owes the American people a clear, non-parsed explanation of why he believes his decisions in Massachusetts are wrong for the country, and exactly what he would do to help the American people get the health care they need.” – Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

The President’s comments from the White House:

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING

ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

East Room

12:15 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.  But that discussion completely misses the point.  Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support.  And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.  

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too.  And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.  They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.  In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive.  I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared.  And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics.  I did it because I believed it was good for the country.  I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now.  It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield.  For years and years, Natoma did everything right.  She bought health insurance.  She paid her premiums on time.  But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year.  And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.  It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today.  And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.  These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken.  We will continue to implement this law.  And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.  But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.  And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time:  putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.

 

Confusion Reigns on SCOTUS ObamaCare Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare is confusing.  Some are saying the individual mandate was struck down while others are saying the ability to tax saved it.  Chief Justice wrote the decision in a 5-4 case.   The fact Scalia and Thomas are in the minority seems to be a positive sign.

The mandate MAY be upheld by Congress under its taxing authority according to CNN just now.  If those who can purchase health insurance are penalized, is this a tax?  if so the mandate is upheld, if not it is struck down.

The decision  is a huge victory for Barack Obama.

News & Notes June 27, 2012

I was in Harrisburg yesterday for Planned Parenthood Board meetings, sorry I wasn’t able to post.

The Supreme Court decision on the ACA is due tomorrow, it’ll be a busy day.  Someone Tweeted this week that it would be a good day to release anything embarrassing since ObamaCare and SCOTUs will totally dominate the news and yours won’t be noticed…  Too true.

The State House approved fracking on college campuses.  Haven’t they fracked higher ed enough?

Speaking of fracking it appears that Bradford County has been totally fracked.  There’s now a methane plume and the gas is leaking out of the ground just like in GasLand.  The state’s Northern Tier, where Bradford is, is the center of hydrofracturing in Pennsylvania.  Not only is their water poisoned but now they’re air.

Well, it isn’t like no one predicted it…

More fracking news.  DEP isn’t responding to open records requests about air quality data (maybe they’re breathing that methane plume) and no one at DEP is really examining permits.  This is self-regulating folks, just like Wall Street had before crashing the economy.  We’re supposed to trust all these drillers from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The Mike Turzai admission has gone national.  Democrats are talking about launching yet another lawsuit against the Voter ID bill based on his lies to the people about the real purpose of the bill.  Pennsylvania Republicans have been busy passing very bad legislation, much of it resulting in litigation which taxpayers will foot the bill.  Unfortunately for Democrats though there is no legal basis for suing based on the notion that Turzai simply lied.  He IS a politician after all.

Sen. Rand Paul added a personhood abortion bill to a flood control bill.  What does making a two celled organism a legal person have to do with flooding?  Conservatives will do everything except create jobs.

Jerry Sandusky is still claiming his innocence.  Wait until he meets Bubba and his friends at Rockview, he’ll see what it’s like to be on the receiving end…

Turzai Says Voter ID Meant to Win State For Romney

In a moment of candor during a speech to fellow Republicans Rep. Mike Turzai said the Voter ID bill was designed to make Pennsylvania winnable for Mitt Romney.  Touted publicly as a cure for non-existent voter impersonation it will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $10 million to disenfranchise Democrats.  PoliticsPA has the story:

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Isn’t lying on the House floor an ethics violation?  If not it should be and should be cause for censure or expulsion.  When Representatives and Senators willfully lie and fabricate arguments while passing legislation they should be expelled from office.  It is a stain on all of us when the likes of Mike Turzai get up to speak in OUR hallowed hall and lie to us about what they’re doing.

He also revealed they lied about Senate Bill 732 the ambulatory surgical center abortion bill.  We’ve said all along this was back door legislation to outlaw abortion.  His quote ” First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years” reveals it for what it was:  pro life, anti-abortion legislation.  By making onerous regulations impossible or financially impossible to meet they are banning abortions in Pennsylvania for most women.  Even if clinics could retrofit the cost would make abortions unaffordable for anyone but the wealthy.  

Lying to the citizens of Pennsylvania on either the House or Senate floors should be a crime.

Obama Initiative Will Put Cops on Pennsylvania Streets

In an announcement earlier today the Obama Administration announced a new initiative which will put veterans to work as cops, some in Philadelphia.  Vice President Joe Biden headlined a White House conference call on the issue.  He said these post 9/11 veterans deserve employment as highly trained professionals.  One aspect of the program will be for the military to certify veterans for the training and experience they received while serving.  They can use these official certifications, whether it be in welding, law enforcement or whatever, to better get jobs in the private sector.  Unemployment for veterans is bad and President Obama has made getting jobs for vets a top priority recently.

The White House released this statement today:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions.  The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts.  All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001.  In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the President announced that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.

More than $111 million is being awarded to local public safety agencies across the country.  The list of this year’s grantees includes Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Trenton, NJ; Alameda County and Los Angeles, CA; Akron, OH; and Tacoma, WA.  The COPS Office will work with transition centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.  For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

“Since we got into office, the President and I have been committed to helping our returning heroes find jobs and transition back into civilian life. A lot of them want to keep serving now that they’re back, and these COPS Grants help give them that chance,” said Vice President Joe Biden.

“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service – to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director.  “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.  Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates.  An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.

Today’s announcement builds on several steps President Obama has taken to support veterans in developing skills and finding work, including by: creating new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans; challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013; helping veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and licenses; increasing access to intensive reemployment services; developing online tools to boost veteran employment; and increasing hiring of veterans in healthcare-related fields.

Aliquippa will get one new policeman, Chester five, Philadelphia 25 and Pittsburgh 13.  The COPS program begun by President Clinton once put 100,000 community oriented police officers on the streets.  It was credited with a significant decline in major crimes where implemented.  George W. Bush proceeded to gut its funding.  Community police officers get to know the communities on their “beats” and the direct interaction reduces crime.  The Bush Recession cut thousands of police positions and this new initiative puts some of them back on the street.

News & Notes June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare is expected today.  Consensus seems to be that the Roberts Court will strike it down.  So far this court has backed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 100% on its rulings.  Elections do have consequences.

Focus on SCOTUS is increasing as the result of the total corruption of our democracy because of Citizens United.  When 30 billionaires can funnel a billion dollars into a single campaign we no longer have a democracy.  Meanwhile Justices Alito and Thomas are getting heavy criticism for their purely partisan work.  Clarence Thomas’ wife works for a think tank opposing the Affordable Care Act.  His household gets money from those working to strike down the law.  

Fast & Furious continues being a focus of the news.  The failed program begun under George W. Bush ran guns into Mexico in the hope they could be tracked.  It failed.  Concern and outrage by the Right is missing the larger issue:  the huge flow of guns from this country into Mexico fueling the rampant violence and destabilization.

The student loan interest rate issue and a transportation bill both need to be passed this week.  Is the Tea Party House capable of passing anything meaningful and progressive?

A disturbing article about a Justice Department suit against two polygamous towns is required reading.  Polygamy is illegal and residents of these Utah/Arizona border towns are openly discriminating against their non-polygamous residents to the point of destroying their crops and killing their dogs.

East coast sea levels are rising due to global warming.  How much evidence do morons need before they stop believing what they hear from Rush and Fox?  The oil companies are fueling this denial so they can continue destroying the planet for profit.  Imagine the chaos if tens of millions of people are displaced all along the east coast?  How much will that cost?

It’s time for an increase in the minimum wage.  Low wage workers are actually earning less than thirty years ago due to inflation.  Places like Santa Fe which have living wage minimum wages prove that higher wages don’t mean fewer jobs.  The business community constantly rolls out this debunked argument when the issue comes up for votes.  In Santa Fe, where the minimum wage is now $10.29 they now have more people working in the hospitality sector, a center of low wage workers, than before 2008.  Their high minimum wage has not affected employment.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Msg. William Lynn of child endangerment last Friday.  Two landmark child molestation trials ended in Pennsylvania on the same day, both with convictions.  The Catholic Church must pay for its disregard of morality.  Penn State’s mistake wa snot shuttling Sandusky from campus to campus to better hide his abuses.  It worked for the Church for decades after all.

Voters keep electing car dealers to Congress then are mystified when the corrupt businessmen become corrupt Congressmen.  Have you ever dealt with an honest car dealer?  There’s no such thing.  The latest is Florida’s Vern Buchanan.  At least this corrupt Buchanan isn’t from Pennsylvania but we have our own car dealer in Congress:  Mike Kelly in PA-03.  Before that we had Don Sherwood in PA-11 who lost after getting caught choking his mistress.

I come from a family of teachers.  My Mom was a special education teacher, a sister is a college professor, another a retired guidance counselor and two more teach in local high schools.  When I hear idiots complaining about teachers it makes my blood boil.  They have no idea how hard these jobs are, especially nowadays.  Kids who have no interest in learning because their parents fail to instill a love of it in them when young challenge every teacher.  Would you want your job dependent on such kids?  Teachers are vastly underpaid when CEO’s earn billions.  Here’s a suggestion on how to pay teachers, gotta love it.

There are so many important areas being cut by Gov. gasbag so he can shell out tax credits to energy companies it’s hard to keep up with all of them.  The Times-Tribune covers how cuts are affecting day care centers.

Congratulations to new AFSCME leaders Lee Saunders (President) and Laura Reyes (Sec-Treasurer).  Saunders succeeds Jerry McEntee who retired after a good tenure.

In yet another tragic shooting of a Black kid by an angry white man are we entering into a race war where White men are openly killing African-Americans?  This seems to have been the real motivation for Stand Your Ground laws.

Fox News is so stupid not only can’t they get facts straight (of course they don’t want to when they can just make them up) but they can’t even get people right.  In their latest flub they showed a picture of Gov. Mitch Daniels instead of Jerry Sandusky.  It may be a freudian slip though since Daniels is screwing Indiana the same way Jerry screwed his kids.

The Supreme Court did strike down Arizona’s “papers please” anti-immigration law this morning.  But they also struck down Montana’s law against unlimited corporate money in politics.  This is a double down on Citizens United.  From the Brennan Center For Justice:

“The 2012 elections make one thing clear: unlimited spending by super PACs and secretive nonprofits is corrupting our political process and threatens to swamp our democracy,” said Adam Skaggs, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Increasing numbers of Americans believe our government is bought and paid for by special interests and that their votes don’t matter. By not taking this case, the Court missed a critical opportunity to rein in some of the worst excesses of Citizens United, and other rulings, that created this super PAC mess.”

Montana banned corporate election spending for more than 100 years as a result of a dramatic history of efforts by big companies to capture the state government. The state of Montana compiled an extensive and powerful factual record that demonstrated how unlimited corporate spending previously held the state hostage to mining companies and still poses severe threats to Montana’s elections and government. For the Court to strike down the state’s anti-corruption law without even reviewing that record is a serious mistake.

News & Notes June 23, 2012

Lots of news today.  I was painting up at the old house yesterday so I didn’t get much time for blogging.  A few more weeks and I’ll be finished there.  This taking care of two houses is for the birds.

The OctoMom is endorsing payday loans.  Known for her bad judgment, this is appropriate.

Sen. Scott Brown R-MA says he meets with kings and queens every day.  Either he needs to quit playing poker or stop going to drag shows.

Mother Jones has a story about which states require HIV status disclosure if one is positive.  Considering the shattering effect of HIV and its status as a lethal disease I believe Pennsylvania is correct in requiring disclosure.  If I had sex with a man who is positive and he didn’t disclose that I’d consider him a criminal and he should go to jail.

Mother Jones (again, this magazine should be required reading) reports on the growing number of privatized prisons.  I’ve written about this travesty.  The subject is beginning to get widespread coverage.  It is very dangerous for our democracy.

Today’s reading list is long but these are important articles.  Economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses The Price of Inequality.  We haven’t been this polarized monetarily since the advent of the Great Depression.

Chesapeake Energy has to pay $1.6 million for poisoning wells in Bradford County.  This is the price we’re paying for a few jobs:  the destruction of our water supplies.  How stupid can we get?

In a bit of neat, fascinating and interesting news spacecraft Voyager is about to enter interstellar space.  Man has never constructed a ship capable of leaving our solar system before.  I’m old enough to recall when Voyager was launched in 1977.  Living to see it accomplish its mission to this extent is fabulous.

If you think we have a stupid Governor Ohio is right behind us.  Gov. John Kasich appointed a dropout to the State Board of Education.  Maybe the other Board members can call signals to the former quarterback.

Speaking of stupidity most Republicans still think Iraq had WMD’s.  How much of this is wishful thinking to justify their mad dash into war or how much is due to listening to bad sources for news is up in the air.  There is no excuse in this internet age for getting bad information.

Businesses have been dumping toxic waste into wells and salt pits.  Now some of it is surfacing.  What won’t we do for the almighty dollar?  What will we do once we’ve poisoned planet earth?  There is no Plan-et B.

The Romney’s dancing horse gave them a nice $77,000 tax credit last year and they get to watch it perform in the Olympics next month.  They’re perfectly normal working folks though. I’m sure you own a dancing horse too.  You have an elevator for your cars too don’t you?  No wonder he was so amazed at the touch screen ordering computer at Wawa.  The rest of us have been using those for ten years.  You want to see something amazing?  Watch how President Romney makes your economy, your job, your retirement and your home disappear.

Luzerne County is forcing LGBT partners to out themselves.  This is very bad policy.  While I’m not a fan of closeted gays I understand the necessity if your home or job depends on discretion.  Until we pass ENDA this is an issue.

Campaign 2012: Romney, Bain Outsourced Jobs

Mitt Romney turns out to be a job creator, for other nations and their workers.  The Washington Post revealed yesterday that Bain Capital, under CEO Mitt Romney, outsourced American jobs.

Bain is a legitimate election issue because it tells us what sort of man, what type of executive, Mitt Romney is and what to expect of a President Romney.  He says he is a job creator and so must establish his credentials as thus.  This makes this story devastating because it turns out his track record is not only one of vulture capitalism but vulture boss.  Bain owned forty companies, seven of which went bankrupt.  For the singular success of Staples there were too many other companies looted and extorted for private gain.

The fact Bain made money by displacing American workers with foreign ones is something every working person needs to know prior to entering the voting booth.

“They’ve been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs,” he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. “If I’m president of the United States, that’s going to end.”

As usual Romney is talking out of both sides of his mouth.  While promising to reverse outsourcing to voters he did it as an executive.  What do we rely on words or actions?  Actions always are louder than words.  I often tell people rely not on what a politician says but what they do.  Romney will sell you out.

Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field.

Obama’s strategic adviser David Axelrod (a Pennsylvanian by the way) had this to say:

“Tonight’s story in the Washington Post exposed Mitt Romney’s breathtaking hypocrisy. He has campaigned all over this country, vowing that he would be an advocate for American jobs. But tonight we learned that he made a fortune advising companies on how to outsource jobs to China and India. Maybe that explains why, despite his campaign rhetoric, Romney continues to support tax policies that would reward companies who send American jobs overseas.”

Sandusky Verdict: Guilty on 45 Counts

The Sandusky jury returned a verdict shortly before 10 PM this evening.  A decorum order issued by Judge Cleland prohibited any transmission on the 48 counts until the trial was adjourned.  That meant going over any final motions.  No members of the press were even able to rush out of the courtroom upon threat of arrest.  

I received an email from the court at 9:30 disclosing the verdict and saying court would convene twenty minutes later at 9:50.  I have to say the court has kept the media up to date all day about every action of this jury, meal breaks etc.

The verdict of guilty on 45 counts mean he will serve the remainder of his life in state prison.

Update: Penn State President Rodney Erickson released the following statement.  Alumni continue to be blinded by the fact football must take a back seat to child welfare.  Until they do no one can be Penn State Proud again.

Trial Verdict

June 23, 2012

Dear Penn Staters,

Yesterday Penn State learned that a verdict was reached in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gerald Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of the 48 charges filed against him.

The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing.

My administration and the Board of Trustees maintain a steadfast commitment to pursuing the truth regarding Mr. Sandusky’s actions. While we cannot change what happened, we can and do accept the responsibility to take action on the societal issue of child sexual abuse-both in our community and beyond. The University is committed to ensuring that our campuses are safe for children and to being a constructive participant in building greater awareness of child sexual abuse and the practical steps that can be undertaken to prevent, report and respond to such abuse.

The University has already established a confidential counseling process for victims of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct, and that process remains open. (For further information, please visit http://live.psu.edu/story/58590.) While counseling is critical, some victims have sought and continue to seek a direct dialogue with the University to discuss the University’s responsibility for Mr. Sandusky’s actions.

Now that the jury has spoken, the University wants to continue that dialogue and do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the University plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the University arising out of Mr. Sandusky’s conduct. The purpose of the program is simple-the University wants to provide a forum where the University can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the University. Counsel to the University plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details.

President Rodney Erickson

Office of the President