Corbett Has $$$ For Voter ID Propaganda

As if it isn’t bad enough that Pennsylvania Republicans disenfranchised 758,000 voters in order to elect Mitt Romney but now Gov. Corbett has found $249,660 to use to persuade you it was a good idea.  Taxpayers are forking over $10 million to fix a problem which even Sec. of State Carol Aichele acknowledged doesn’t exist.  None of these election fraud perpetrators can come up with a single case where a voter in the state has impersonated someone else at the polls.

Turzai admitted the Voter ID law is simply a ploy to win the state for Mitt Romney.  This constitutes election fraud, a  far worse problem, and a real one, than voter impersonation.  Rigging elections is illegal.

Every county currently issues a voter identification document to every registered voter:  a government issued voter card.  Why is that not sufficient?  County elections services departments verify each voter registration application submitted and verifies the voter’s identity.  The system works because not one Republican could identify a case of voter fraud during testimony on the bill.  Not one.

Meanwhile 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a state issued voter ID card with their photo.  These are predominently Democratic demographic voters:  young people, disabled folks, the elderly and the urban poor.  

The man who got Corbett’s contract while teachers go on furlough, disabled people lose benefits and others are kicked off medical care and cash assistance, is Chris Bravacos, a GOP operative.  He has raised money for Mitt Romney and now will actively engage in propaganda to convince you he isn’t actually working on a partisan election rigging scheme to get his man elected.  And you’re paying him to do the job.

Meanwhile PennDOT has been charging voters for the ID cards which makes this a poll tax.  $10 million of critically needed tax dollars are allocated to pay for the ID’s but it seems no one in Tom Corbett’s told PennDOT about that.

Bush v. Gore stipulated that Florida’s recount be suspended after the 2000 election because it might disenfranchise some voters.  Tom Corbett disenfranchised 758,000 Pennsylvanians when he signed this horrible bill.  Now lawsuits against it are popping up like weeds in the summer costing you more of your tax dollars.  This is what Republicans call fiscal conservatism?  Mike Turzai and Tom Corbett need to be arrested for election fraud.

News & Notes July 7, 2012

Barack Obama visited the same Bethel Bakery where Mitt Romney dissed the cookies and bought some for the press corps.  Sorry about Pennsylvania Mitt but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Auditor General candidate Eugene DePasquale introduced a bill which would strip Jerry Sandusky of his state pension.  As much as we all hate the guy I don’t agree with passing laws which are retroactive.  

Advice:  when you get caught astroturfing, and astroturfing badly, don’t try and blame it on your foes.  This reminds me of classic Soviet style propaganda.

Chris Collins a GOP Congressional candidate in New York, said people no longer die from breast cancer or prostate cancer.  Last year 80,000 Americans did just that.  Don’t these morons believe in fact checkers?  A quick Google search can save enormous embarrassment and save a few votes.  Who would elect such a moron to Congress?

Privatization of government services not only costs taxpayers more it is threatening our very democracy.  For profit prisons leads to stricter laws and tougher sentencing to fill the prisons for example.  In the south they’re now contracting out collections for traffic fines and sending people to jail.

Here in Pennsylvania you can be arrested and hauled off to court for unpaid parking tickets.

Unemployment remained at 8.2% as conservatives continue blocking any legislation designed to improve the economy.  Lagging public sector jobs continue putting Americans out of work from good, middle class jobs like teaching, fire protection and law enforcement.  Republicans have filibustered the American Jobs Act, blocked monetary stimulus, threatened a financial default of the debt which seriously erodes consumer confidence and jolts markets and cutting government spending which translates into lost jobs.  We won’t begin really expanding (not “growing”) the economy until we restore confidence, pay our debts and pass a new stimulus program.

Raul Hector Castro, 96 year old former Governor and Ambassador, keeps getting stopped by the Border Patrol in Arizona.  If this is how they treat a former Governor imagine what it’s like for other Hispanics in that repressive state.

For a fat man Chris Christie sure has thin skin.  Everyone now knows how easy it is to make this guy lose his cool in public.  Twice recently he has been unable to keep his loud mouth closed.  How embarrassing for the Garden State.  They did elect him however…

Don’t ever eat at Chick-Fil-A.  The notoriously conservative restaurant chain gave $1.9 million to anti-gay groups just last year.  Your chicken money goes straight to bigotry.  I remember how everyone with a social conscience began boycotting Dominoes Pizza because of similar  actions.

The minimum wage has been steadily losing its purchasing power since 1968.  It would need to be $9.92/hour now to keep pace with inflation instead of the current $7.25.  Conservatives keep lying that raising the wage would cost jobs but statistics show that never has happened.  They just want to screw you out of a living wage for your labor.  Congressman Bill Young (R-FL) told a man when asked about it to “go get a job.”  That won’t get the man (who already has a job) any more money.  Perhaps Congressman Young meant he should get yet another job?  That seems to be their idea of how to make ends meet:  work 18 hours a day.  CEO’s earn 357 times more than their workers.  I think we need a maximum wage too.  They never seem to be concerned about those making too much money.  What Young doesn’t understand is that the huge income inequality is leading to revolution.  When his head is in the guillotine someone tell him to go get a job, or, better yet, just let them eat cake.

This story ran under my radar.  Remember the Mexican who was beaten and killed by three high school football players in Shenandoah?  It wasn’t an isolated incident.

Democrats have challenged the latest reapportionment plan.

Pennsylvania Politics Continues to Trump Health and the Environment

by WALTER BRASCH

Politics continues to threaten the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians.

The latest is how the Republican-dominated legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett separated one of the wealthiest and more high-tech/industrial areas of the state from the rural areas.

Less than a week before the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget was scheduled to expire, June 30, the majority party slipped an amendment into the 2012-2013 proposed budget, (SB1263), to ban natural gas drilling in a portion of southeastern Pennsylvania for up to six years. The South Newark Basin includes portions of Bucks, Montgomery, and Berks counties, and could provide at least 360 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to estimates by the United States Geologic Survey.

Only an e-mail blast by anti-fracking activist Iris Marie Bloom and a short AP story the day before the budget was passed alerted Pennsylvanians to the amendment that gives special consideration to the suburban areas of Philadelphia.

High volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a process that injects under heavy pressure as much as 10 million gallons of water, sand, gases, and chemicals, many of them known carcinogens, into a rock formation as much as 10,000 feet below the earth’s surface to open channels and force out natural gas and fossil fuels. However, numerous studies have concluded that the process of fracking to extract natural gas poses significant problems to the health of citizens and their environment.

In his first budget address, Corbett declared he wanted to “make Pennsylvania the hub of this [drilling] boom. Just as the oil com­pa­nies decided to headquarter in one of a dozen states with oil, let’s make Penn­syl­va­nia the Texas of the nat­ural gas boom.”

The push by Corbett and the Republicans in the Legislature that led to the enactment of the highly-controversial Act 13 to open gas drilling was possibly not only because they favor corporate development but because it was also payback for extensive campaign contributions by the natural gas industry. Corbett had taken more than $1.6 million in contributions from persons and PACs associated with the natural gas industry, according to data compiled by Common Cause.

Rep. Brian L. Ellis (R-Butler County, Pa.), sponsor of the House bill, received $23,300. Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati (R- Warren, Pa.), the senate president pro-tempore who sponsored the companion Senate bill (SB 1100), received $293,334, according to Marcellus Money. Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana, Pa.), chair of the majority policy committee, received $105,732; Rep. Mike Turzai (R-McCandless, Pa.), majority floor leader, received $79,100. Of the 20 Pennsylvania legislators who received the most money from the industry in the past decade, 16 are Republicans, according to Common Cause.

The Republican legislators who enthusiastically supported Act 13 but then created an amendment to exempt a part of the state, claim the amendment was needed to give time to better study the effects of fracking. “We basically said we didn’t know [the South Newark Basin] was there before when we did Act 13,” said State Sen. Charles T. McIhnnerey (R- Doylestown), sponsor of the amendment. However, the presence of natural gas in southeastern Pennsylvania wasn’t exactly a secret; energy companies had been active for several years in the region. McIhnnerey told phillyburbs.com, “We need to slow this down until we can do a study on it-see what’s there, see where it is, see how deep it is, study the impact, get the local supervisor’s [sic] thoughts on it.”

“Where was our study?” demanded State Rep. Jesse White (D-Washington County), who actively opposes Act 13 and has been trying to get responsibility on the part of the Industry and the state Legislature regarding drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shales. “We were here four months ago [when Act 13 was passed] under the guise of, we had to have uniformity, we had to have consistency, we needed to be fair,” said Rep. White, “and now, four months later, we’re saying, ‘Maybe, for whatever reason, we’re going to give a few people a pass.'”

Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth, and one of the state’s more active opponents of fracking, says, “Studies are not being conducted before drilling begins anywhere else in the state . . . nor are studies being conducted on the potential impacts of the pipeline operations already coming here [to Berks County].”

David Meiser, chair of the Bucks County Sierra Club, said the Legislature “should either exempt all counties from Act 13 and not just try to get special treatment from Sen. McIlhinney’s core area, or repeal the law entirely.”

Sen. McIhnnerey proudly noted the last-minute legislation “makes good on my promise that Act 13 was not intended to apply to Bucks County.”

By his own words, it is time for the Republican majority, so willing to expose rural Pennsylvania to the effects of fracking, to now honestly answer two significant questions.

The first question to the Republicans is, “Why do you support a state law that discriminates against the rural counties, while you support a special exemption that protects the health and welfare of the urban and suburban counties that have many of the state’s most powerful and wealthiest constituents, including the head of the Department of Environmental Protection and the lieutenant governor?”

The second question is, simply, “How much more money will it take to continue to buy your loyalty to corporations, the powerful, and the affluent?”

[Walter Brasch, recipient of the Pennsylvania Press Club’s lifetime achievement award, is a syndicated columnist, author of 17 books, former newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and professor emeritus of mass communications. His current book is the critically-acclaimed novel Before the First Snow, which discusses health and welfare issues in energy exploration. His next book is about health, environment, and political corruption associated with the natural gas industry.]

 

News & Notes July 4, 2012

2012 is halfway over.  Time seems to fly by the older I get.

Having a pool during the age of global warming is proving to be a godsend.  The heat waves encompassing the nation along with record wildfires fueled by drought are finally convincing some skeptics that the climate has actually changed.  Most of these idiots will dwell in their denial even as their homes burn to the ground.  I can’t say I feel sorry for them.  We’ve done actually NOTHING to stop this phenomenon.  Pro environment legislators will tell you that every time it snows the morons call their offices and mock them about global warming.    Funny how silent those same phones are now…

There’s been lots of fallout from the ACA ruling.  I don’t really care if it’s a penalty or a tax folks.  It’ll only apply to about 1% of all Americans so what’s the big deal?  What I do care about are the 25-30 million people who will remain without medical coverage after ObamaCare.  Asked about it last Sunday Mitch McConnell replied “That is not the issue.”  Coild hearted conservatives.

Conservatives will now spend the next hundred years trying to repeal this just as they’ve spent decades fighting Social Security, income taxes, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare.  At some point it’s time to get out of the way.

Actor Andy Griffith died yesterday.  I heard one idiot say on the radio that Mayberry was the way America was at one time.  No stupid, that was an idealized America made for TV.  If you want to see how this country really was in the ’60s watch Mad Men.  Bigotry, segregation, racism and sexism were the norms.  If you were gay you had to try and be invisible.

Kudos for Anderson Cooper for finally being openly gay.  He’s a great role model because he’s a class act.

Tea Party Congressman (and deadbeat Dad) Joe Walsh doesn’t think losing two legs in combat makes one a hero.  He never served.

Jane Orie must repay taxpayers for her legal defense.  She also used campaign funds for her legal bills.

In Tuesday’s ruling, former State Sen. Jane C. Orie of the Pittsburgh area was ordered to reimburse the state treasury for $110,000 paid to two law firms and an expert witness in her effort to stave off her conviction on charges of using her state employees to do campaign work and of forgery in a cover-up.

She must also pay an additional $70,000 in restitution, a sum mainly representing a tripling of the value of the illegal campaign work by her staff.

An interesting and effective frontal assault against ALEC has been launched to deny it its tax exempt status.  I can think of no legitimate argument they aren’t a front group for corporations.  Most of ALEC’s funds come from corporations and most of its proposed legislation directly benefits them.

The Occupy Movement gathered in Philly for five days and got little to no national coverage.  It’s time to start arresting bankers instead of Occupiers.  Now reckless banks have taken down a lot of Europe by making risky loans.  We need to follow Iceland’s example:

Slattery Withdraws in House 134

State House candidate Patrick Slattery announced his withdrawal from the race in the 134th on facebook yesterday.

Campaign Thank You Picnic yesterday (and also my Birthday) I announced my withdrawal from the race for State Representative in the 134th Legislative District due to personal and professional constraints. My family and I have made great sacrifices over the last 3 years and friends, family and supporters have been outstanding! A special thank you to my wife Nicky! You are the best!! Now to finish off the weekend after a 79 at Olde Homestead this afternoon and the 6:35pm Iron Pigs game featuring Ryan Howard with my dad and sons!

News & Notes July 1, 2012

The blog became a victim of global warming when Friday night’s severe storm knocked us offline.  As bad as this storm was here it paled in comparison to what our southern neighbors felt.  Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were hit extremely hard.  Thirteen people lost their lives and millions their power.  How much extreme weather must we tolerate, how much property damage, lives and time lost before we address this most critical of issues?

I’m fed up with all this hate speech directed at teachers, police and firefighters.  When CEO’s earn 343 times as much as the average workers the outrage should be that these dedicated public servants aren’t paid enough.  America’s priorities are all screwed up.  People go hungry while we expend close to $1 trillion/year for defense.  This is inexcusable.

Gov. gasbag signed a budget late last night averting an embarrassing predicament:  total GOP control of state government but unable to pass a budget on time.  The compromise hurts the poor and children at the expense of corporations.  Shell gets billions while the elderly, poor and young get the shaft.

I love Sen. Bernie Sanders.  In this video he talks about the economy:

Former State Rep and Rendell Revenue Secretary Steve Stetler was the final defendant convicted in BonusGate.  As important as it was to ferret out corruption protecting boys from Jerry Sandusky should have been the higher priority.

Sen. John Pippy resigned his seat following passage of the budget last night.  In the race to succeed him one candidate has stepped down.

As part of the flurry of votes to end the state fiscal year Gov. Gasbag’s failed former Chief of Staff landed softly as the Senate approved his appointment to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.  In doing so other vacancies were also filled and the Senate somehow found money to pay for them.  There still isn’t any money for poor, disabled people, those with developmental disabilities or other needy Pennsylvanians but Corbett’s buddy gets paid.

In the wake of his decision upholding ObamaCare Chief Justice Roberts joked about his trip to Malta being an escape to an impregnable fortress.  The Tea Party types might be able to scale even those walls in their fury.  If they try we should go put vaseline all over them and watch the Tea bagger “patriots” slip into the sea.

Paterno Firing Justified According to Email Records

The Penn State Board of Trustees has been the object of utter scorn by alumni upset over the firing of football coach Joe Paterno.  They elected two outspoken (one of them obnoxious) members tot he BOT in retaliation, a bit early as it turns out according to email records leaked tot he press. The Penn State internal investigation led by former FBI head Louis Freeh unearthed previously hidden email exchanges among the principles in the university’s cover-up:  President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and VP Gary Schultz.

Interestingly these email records weren’t turned over to Attorney General investigators as part of subpoenas of such records.  That could enatil further criminal charges.  The scandal has, so far, cost PSU $12 million.  Lawsuits against the University by victims of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse will raise that sum exponentially.  Spanier may very well face criminal charges for the cover-up.

Federal and state laws require reporting to authorities of suspected sexual abuse of minors.  The emails show a discussion among the principlas about the matter and a final determination that the “humane” (their word, not mine) thing to do was to hush it up to protect Sandusky.  This happened in 2001 following the infamous instance where Mike McQueary walked into a football locker room to find the former coach raping a boy.  Because no investigation ever happened no one, to this day, can identify the victim.  The emails show that, at one point, Curley discussed the matter with Paterno in a follow-up conversation.  It was following that that the decision was made to drop the matter and not report it as required by law.  Spanier even mentioned the danger of doing so could have tot he university if knowledge of the incident became public.  Of course it did.

Joe Paterno claimed he passed along the information then had no further involvement.  The emails show that NOT to be the case.  Tim Curley, after discussing it again with the head coach then suggested the matter be dropped.  It was.  The Paterno family, in a statement released yesterday, claimed the coach never used email and so wasn’t involved in the communications leaked.  No one has claimed he authored any of the emails so this disclaimer is mysterious and misdirectional.  Curley said, in his emails, he went back to Paterno and discussed the matter as he, Spanier and Schultz sought a solution to the situation.  After that later conversation with Joe the three decided not to do the moral thing.  For this the firing of Joe Paterno was entirely justified.

The humane course of action, of course, would have been an immediate police investigation to identify the boy, interview Sandusky, the alleged victim and Mr. McQueary.  Valuable time was lost as the administrators discussed how to handle a sensitive matter.  Their decision was to cover it up after consultation with JoePa.  That’s as damning as it gets.

I sincerely hope all involved in the cover-up face criminal charges and that the alumni wake up to the fact the football program was put ahead of child welfare.  This was inexcusable and alumni supporting that decision and protesting the treatment of a head coach knee deep in the shit should be disgraced.  The reputation of a proud institution is on the line and my fellow alumni further damage it in their denial.  The evidence is irrefutable.  

PA AFL-CIO Endorses Anti-Union Candidate

The state AFL-CIO lost its last shred of credibility last week when it endorsed union buster Kathleen Kane.  The Attorney General candidate owns, with her husband, Kane Is Able, a notorious anti-union trucking company.  Her fervent opposition to organized workers was the focul point of a bitter primary battle.  It could not have have gone unnoticed by Organized Labor.

Previously the umbrella organization has turned around and endorsed the likes of Blue Dog Tim Holden after vowing not to for votes against workers.  If an organization doesn’t stand for anything it’ll fall for anything.  One must clearly articulate one’s mission and adhere to it in endorsements if it expects its members or the public to rely on its recommendations.  The Kane endorsement is the final nail in the coffin of the state AFL-CIO’s credibility.

Clouds Take Down the Cloud

Friday night’s thunderstorms took our blog down.  WareCorp which bought SoapBlox, our host company, last year, moved all of us to Amazon’s cloud servers earlier this year.  The risk to that is losing control of your computer host servers.  I avoided switching my blog until the last minute and since then we’ve had several Saturdays when the cloud went down.  This time actual clouds did the job.

Several major websites like Netflix and Instagram also went down.  I apologize for any problems in accessing information and our worldly opinions on the news.  Thanks to Jamoca, who could access the blog last night, for updating everyone.

Blog Update: Storm Crash

On behalf of John…and the whole PA Progressive Crew:

Due to the severe storms that hit through the Mid-Atlantic Region  On June 29/30th, the hosting site for the servers for the PA Progressive were put out of commission for a while.  They seem to be returning to service, but some may still be experiencing difficulty accessing the site, as even John can’t get to it fully.

We will get things back up and running fully when the web hosting company cloud servers are fixed and fully functional again.  

These same storms actually almost cancelled the PGA National Golf Event at Congressional Country Club in DC this weekend, where 75 trees were uprooted on the course, causing significant damage.  

In the PA area, there were scattered outages from the early morning storms on the 29th and late on the 29th into the 30th, early morning hours.  

We hope everyone is safe and sound and if not, we hope you are all back up to speed and safe soon from those storms.  Mother nature granted us a reprieve today on the 30th for the most part.

More updates and regular articles to follow as time and servers permit.  The site is still up and running, mother nature decided to knock us off the air for a bit.