I’m not sure who is behind the new billboards…

…that are ALLEGEDLY quoting Abraham Lincoln, but I’ve got some news for you…



**I fixed the link, try it again, if it didn’t work the 1st time**

So, now the loons and folks who are so anti-government, anti-Obama, anti-helping the middle class and poor folks, who have buckets of cash to spend on $3,500 a month+ billboards all over the Berks County area (at least 3 confirmed spots and counting) , are resorting to the LIES of a Presbyterian minister, the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker, head of a pro-corporate citizens alliance group back in the days of the muck-rakers, the gilded age of industry in America, complete with child labor and no unions and no protections for workers and no safety standards and all that.

Wow…that’s how desperate you clowns are?!  PATHETIC!  

Farmers Get Exemption From Estate Tax

Republicans continue eviscerating our tax code.  This time they’ve passed an exemption to the estate tax for family farms.  While it sounds well meaning by providing families the ability to keep their farms from generation to generation simple life insurance is all they need.  With simple financial planning and foresight they wouldn’t need to screw the rest of us who need government services and things like roads and bridges.

If you’re a family farmer you can figure out the value of your farm and call a life insurance company for a quote on term life insurance.  If you anticipate a $500,000 estate tax liability, for instance, you buy a $500,000 term life policy and when you die your heirs use that to pay the tax and you get to keep your farm in the family.  This isn’t rocket science folks.  Term life is inexpensive.  How is it we keep bailing out stupid people?

Skeptic Comes Around on Climate Change

With 97% of the world’s scientists already on board about the perils posed by global climate warming one of the last prominent holdouts has come around.  Professor Richard Muller, in a study financed by the Koch Brothers, strayed from their anti-science doctrine and announced it is real and caused by humans.

Climate change deniers have formed their own, small, Flat Earth Society with massive funding from energy billionaires to brainwash America that science is evil and cannot be trusted.  ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and other hugely rich financiers have a stake in the argument:  their vast profits from the burning of fossil fuels.  They argue we cannot afford to cut back severely on the use of fossil fuels and that doing so will adversely affect the American way of life.

Yes, it will.  Yes, it will be expensive and hurt the economy but the alternative is the extinction of homo sapiens.  As we destroy our planet the survival of our species is at risk.  Are we really stupid enough to sit around doing nothing and die off because we allowed some idiot billionaires to convince us not to do what must be done?  In the U.S. the answer to that question, so far, is yes.

The conversion of Prof. Muller is important if it convinces some of the brainwashed masses they’re wrong.  Is it too late?  The drought in the Midwest and the wildfires say it might be.  No one knows if we’ve passed the tipping point where nothing we do will change the path we’ve set for our future.  Some people are afraid the tipping point has passed.  All we can do is wait and see.  I fear for the next generation and what they face because we did nothing.

News & Notes July 27, 2012

It was a fairly busy week.  Tomorrow I’m taking a break and going tubing down the Delaware.  It’ll be different floating down a stretch I’ve paddled in my kayaks.  Sunday some family arrives for a week so blogging next week may be spotty.

Mitt Romney showed his foreign policy chops by flying to London and insulting our best allies.  Then he met with the head of MI6, such a secret spy outfit no one who works there acknowledges its existence.  Mitt promptly announced his meeting.  Oops.  If these are his diplomatic skills heaven help us if he gets into the White House.

Speaking of Mitt here’s a funny take on his twisted out of context ads:

Victim 2 has finally surfaced in the Sandusky scandal.  He was the boy Mike McQueary saw being raped in the showers of the Lasch Football Building.  Joe Paterno quashed any reporting of the incident to authorities.  He says he was molested again following that incident.  This is extremely bad because it means four senior University officials, including the high minded coach, allowed a child to be molested because they chose to do nothing.  Don’t put me on that jury.

The EPA says Dimock’s water is now safe and they are discontinuing water deliveries.

Anyone still denying climate change is worse than a fool.  Here’s my opinion:  anyone who denied the science shouldn’t get ANY government help or relief as a result of global warming.  This includes the farmers losing their crops, people losing their houses to wildfires, etc.  These funds should go towards helping everyone else afford food as prices begin to skyrocket due to drought and famine.  Those responsible for nothing being done about this major issue should pay a steep price for their stupidity.  If you voted Republican in the last twenty years you’re eligible for that distinction.  We knew this crisis was coming and did nothing.

It appears Gov. Gasbag signed the VoterID law without first knowing what it said.  He can’t recite the legal ID’s required for voting.  Could it be he can’t even read?  That would require a minimum level of intelligence after all.

In the “tell me something I didn’t know” department the former head of the Florida GOP says the Party engaged in voter suppression efforts against Blacks.  We saw what they did in 2000.  VoterID is simply new election rigging.

When Florida passed its Stand Your Ground Law I warned about going to the Sunshine State because your life could be in danger there.  More evidence after the Trayvon Martin case:  a salesman was shot and killed going door to door by yet another gun nut.  Thank you, everyone who voted Republican.

Another gun nut in Texas (is that sentence redundant?) shot himself and children when his gun went off.  It’s a good thing he missed his nuts, otherwise he’d be facing brain surgery.

Congressional Republicans stuck an item into the transportation bill hurriedly passed at the end of June which will cost 2,000 maritime jobs.  It’s bad enough Republicans aren’t creating jobs but please stop destroying the ones we still have!

Romney keeps repeating his lie that the President told businessmen “they didn’t build that.”  The “that” meant the government infrastructure which enables their success, not their businesses.  Yes, grammar and context matter if you’re intelligent enough to know English.  Why doesn’t the GOP presidential candidate understand clear English?  Is he stupid?  He even then used a businessman in an attack ad who has gotten millions from the government.  He did the same thing here in PA this week when he used a business owner who has gotten government contracts.  oops.

Commonwealth Court Overturns Parts of Act 13

Commonwealth Court struck down parts of Act 13 usurping local control of zoning and ordinances affecting the fracking industry.  Gas drillers who have seized control of many lawmakers and Gov. Gasbag passed a law which taxes them at a miniscule rate and seized state control over local municipalities.  Many of them banded together and sued.  Yesterday they won.  Local governments cannot be forced out of the decision making process over energy companies coming into their neighborhoods, erecting drill pads, stealing water and tearing up their roads.

This is the first law passed by the Republican controlled state government to be decided in court.  Many of them either are or will be challenged in courts but the Act 13 decision is the first.  Remember, your tax dollars are being expended litigating all this stuff.  The VoterID bill is currently in hearings before Commonwealth Court and will likely be either struck down or frozen.  The Governor told the court this week that no reasonable basis exists to justify disenfranchising 758,000 voters.  The chances of that law standing are next to none in light of that revelation.

The Governor can say anything he wants at bill signings and public events but lying to a court is something quite different.  I hope you’re happy using precious state resources wastefully defending bad laws.  I remember a time when conservatives actually believed in fiscal responsibility.  This is all irresponsible when 14,000 teachers are fired, mentally disabled Pennsylvanians are going without services and Corbett is throwing 70,000 people off welfare.  140,000 have been thrown out of medical care.  These are very twisted priorities.

AFL-CIO: 1.6M Without Photo ID

A day after Carol Aichele maintained the number of Pennsylvanians without photo ID is “about 85,000” an AFL-CIO study it is more like 1.6 million including 43% of Philadelphians.  First the Department of State and Gov. Corbett maintained only about 1% of the state didn’t possess the required ID for voting.  Then the number grew to 758,000.  Then yesterday Aichele told the press that figure was vastly overestimated.  Even the Pennsylvania Dept. of State can’t say for sure what it is so who really knows?

Here’s the bottom line:  if but one eligible, qualified voter is turned away on November 6th this is election fraud.  One vote can decide a local election.  Every vote counts and every voter has a fundamental right to vote.  It matters none that you need an ID to cash a check or, as Aichele said (I plan on checking this) to send a package via UPS.  The difference:  voting is a fundamental, constitutional right.  No one has a constitutional right to use UPS.  A bank is a business and not covered by the Bill of Rights.  The BoR was directed at government and restricts THEIR actions, it has nothing to do with businesses or private individuals.

If we lose our right to vote we lose all of our other freedoms and rights.  Where are the Tea Party hypocrites waving their constitutions?  Why weren’t they there yesterday crying for our lost rights?

From the AFL-CIO:

The number of Pennsylvanians who might not have the photo identification necessary to vote this November has more than doubled: at least 1,636,168 registered voters, or 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters, may not have valid PennDOT-issued ID, according to new data obtained by City Paper. In Philadelphia, an enormous 437,237 people, or 43 percent of city voters, may not possess the valid PennDOT ID necessary to vote under the state’s controversial new law.

The number of voters who will lack proper ID is indeed indeed impossible to determine: Some voters without PennDOT may be inactive, or have a valid form of federal or student identification, while others without proper ID may not have yet registered to vote.

“The database was never meant to say this is how many people don’t have IDs,” says Winkler, emphasizing that this office is focused on ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have the proper ID in November. “You guys want specific numbers that don’t exist, and those numbers change on a daily basis.”

But it is the state’s very inability to determine a final estimate of just how many Pennsylvanians might be impacted by the law that has fueled criticism. Initially, the state said that only 1 percent lacked valid ID. On July 3, that number skyrocketed when the Pennsylvania Secretary of State announced that 758,939 registered voters in the state, or 9 percent, may not have PennDOT IDs. In Philadelphia, 186,830 registered voters were not found in the PennDOT database, or 18 percent.

Whatever the exact number that could lack IDs is, it appears to be many, many times larger than original state estimates.

“The reality is that thousands more Philadelphians will be impacted by the voter ID law than was originally maintained by the State Department,” says Ellen Kaplan of the good government group Committee of Seventy, which is working to help people get valid ID. “Even taking the lowest possible number, it’s a huge hurdle to overcome.”

Pennsylvania’s contentious law has become the centerpiece of a heated national fight over voter suppression ahead of November’s presidential election. And the naked partisanship of Pennsylvania Republicans has contributed to the state law’s national notoriety. Late last month, House Majority leader Mike Turzai boasted (video) that the law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

And two weeks ago, I broke the news that the Corbett administration had awarded a $250,000 voter ID PR contract to the Bravo Group, a firm run by Mitt Romney fundraiser and longtime state GOP leader Chris Bravacos. On Friday, Talking Points Memo described how six people working on that contract all have GOP ties.

The Department of Justice Pennsylvania inquiry marks an intensification of federal scrutiny of voter ID laws. Justice had already moved to block laws in two Southern states that, because of a Jim Crow-era history of voter suppression, are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval of election-rule changes. Pennsylvania is not subject to Section 5 preclearance, but is, like any state, subject to Section 2 of the Act, which “prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in one of the language minority groups.”

On Friday, state officials seemed in a panic, announcing that new cards only requiring a birth date, Social Security number and two proofs of residency will be made available by the last week of August.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele is also coming under scrutiny. During the 2008 elections, Aichele and a fellow Republican Chester County Commissioner were accused of refusing to locate a polling place at historically black Lincoln University in an effort to suppress the vote. The county later settled a federal lawsuit.

“Hundreds of voters,” according to the Delaware County Times, “waited as long as six to eight hours – in the rain at times – to cast their ballots.”

The progressive organization Keystone Progress has called for Aichele’s resignation.

Philly Fire Fighters Prez Criticizes Biden

Bill Gault, President of Local 22 of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters Union came to the press area following the Vice President’s speech to criticize him.  Unhappy that Biden made no mention of the contract situation with the City Gault made sure the press knew of the situation.  Philadelphia Fire Fighters haven’t had a new contract in four years, getting awarded continuances, basically.  There have been no new classes of fire fighters in five years.  Givebacks and brownouts have closed seven stations and saved Philadelphia $15 million.  The cost of fire fighters is $16 million so, as current conditions stand the City is paying a net of $1 million for services.

These men and women put their lives on the line every time they enter a burning building, do bomb searches or respond to accidents.  Attrition is costing them numbers and, as the Vice President said today, small, understaffed crews are a danger to everyone on them.

Mayor Nutter has been a strong ally of this White House but so have unions in spite of getting little or nothing in return.  Card check hasn’t passed and the Affordable Care Act is hitting union health plans hard.  You’d think the least they could do is come into Philadelphia and give them a hand.  That is why Gault made sure to criticize Biden to the press.

Biden Addresses Fire Fighters

The International Association of Fire Fighters is meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.  Their keynote speaker this afternoon is Vice President Joe Biden.  The press area has me too far from the stage to get either pictures or video so I’ll only be live blogging today.  Wireless access is also not available so I’m piggybacking on someone else’s MiFi gadget.  I gave up paying $50/month for one since I only used it a couple times a year.

There are 3200 fire fighters here from all across the country.  Walking in I noticed tables with various state delegation signs.  It’s very much a male dominated room with no female faces in evidence from where I sit.

The introduction reminds members here of the work Sen. Biden did for them in Washington.  “We have an Administration that is keeping you on the front lines protecting communities instead of on the unemployment lines.”

“I owe you a lot more than my career, I owe you the lives of my two boys.”  “Your lives are in jeopardy when there isn’t a full complement of fire fighters to respond.”

This Administration has been fighting to keep police, fire fighters and teachers on the job.  Thousands have lost their jobs due to budget cuts.  “It isn’t true you can do all you can with smaller crews.”  “They want to cut $125 million out of grants for fire fighters, cutting 400 more fire fighters.”  “They saw this as a great opportunity to go after your very right to bargain.  They laid the blame for this recession on you, public sector workers.  You guys are the ones responsible for coming up with these wacky securities on Wall Street.”

He’s reminding them how Republican Governors aren’t just coming for their jobs but for their rights.

“Why did they do this?  This isn’t your grandfather’s Republican Party.  I think this new Republican Party looks to you as the reason for the Great Recession we inherited, the one their policies created.”

He says Romney means well but he doesn’t understand “what you’re all about.”

“Did you think we’d be fighting these fights again in 2012?  For the right to work for less? They have different value sets, they act as if you’re part of the community’s problem.”

“How many of you have gone to be wondering if you’re going to be in that same house next month?”

“The vast majority of Americans couldn’t pay you enough to walk into infernos.”  “I know it’s your job, you’re heroes.”  “The sound of bagpipes still ring in your ears.  I used to like the sound of bagpipes until I grew up.  I’ve been to too many funerals.”

“You’re in this fight because you care about the family next door, because you care about your communities.  That’s who you guys are.”

“In a time when they say everyone has to make sacrifices it seems the only they ask are the middle class guys like you. Rich people are just as patriotic but no one is asking them to sacrifice.”

“5 tenths of 1% of the first dollar you made after your first million” is the amount of increased tax he and Obama want to impose so even the rich are asked to sacrifice.

“I don’t think they don’t care I think they just have a very different value system.”  “They have to cut you to make more benefits for the very wealthy.”

“We know how to grow this economy:  from the middle class out.  When the middle class does well everyone does well.  It means you have money to go out and buy things.  We should be cutting your taxes instead of cutting your jobs.”

“A job is about your dignity, about your self respect, about your place in the community.  You guys are fire fighters and you’re proud.”

“Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your values are.”

“Their budget cuts eviscerate the middle class.  The Ryan Budget cuts 19 million off Medicaid.  20,000 kids lose a chance for early education through Head Start.  Medicare would cost seniors $6400 to keep their benefits.  They do this to add another trillion dollars whose incomes are above a million bucks.”

“The middle class is a way of life, the ability to send your kid to a park you know is safe, the ability to send them to a good school.  It’s about being able to help your parents.  It’s about maybe being able to save some money for yourself for retirement.  Doing your jobs makes a middle class life possible.”

“You are the community not the problem.”  “You have hearts bigger than your heads.”

He spoke about the Aurora shooting and how fire fighters responded to the booby trapped apartment.  “You were there, ready to do whatever was needed.”

“We owe you.  All the people whose lives you saved, that you changed, including my own.”

Following Biden’s first election to the Senate his wife and kids were in a tragic auto accident.  His wife and daughter were killed.  He has obviously never forgotten the fire fighters who saved his sons that day.  

Corbett Stipulation: No Cases of Voter Fraud

As protesters massed before a giant, inflatable liberty bell brought by Congressional candidate Gene Stilp, the Corbett Administration confessed in a court document that no cases of voter fraud exist in Pennsylvania.  The stipulation is part of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of PA along with the NAACP and other parties.  It is a sworn court document.  It means they have no valid, reasonable legal defense for spending millions of tax dollars enacting a poll tax.

Sec. of State Carol Aichele, who infamously moved a polling place in Chester County so Black students at Lincoln University couldn’t vote, is enforcing this law.  Is Carol Aichele a racist?  That’s a question I wasn’t able to ask her yesterday after her press secretary cut off my line of questioning.  It is one she must answer however.  She is systematically disenfranchising thousands of African-Americans across the Commonwealth.

I challenged her talking point yesterday when she tried to explain away the lack of cases.  Her only response to me was to repeat her talking point.  She’s a liar.

When she used an anecdote about her time as Chester County Commissioner to relate an instance where someone attempted to impersonate a voter and was challenged by a poll worker I pointed out she had just proven the old system worked.  She didn’t like our exchange and was rescued before I completely eviscerated her before the state’s media.

Here’s an interview I did with Rev. David Bullock about Voter ID:

NAACP Calls VoterID Election Fraud

The NAACP held a two hour rally on the Capitol steps today (Tuesday) against VoterID.  The heat was oppressive but several hundred people braved the conditions to make their voices heard.  I finally gave up on getting pictures and video as people crowded the podium and blocked my access.  It was a good thing though as I needed to get inside and cool down, get something cold to drink and prepare for the Aichele press conference.  The video: