News & Notes February 9, 2011

Gov. Corbett finally met with the press and acknowledged he’s facing a $4 billion budget deficit.  Good luck if you rely on any state services.  You know, roads, bridges, a justice system which keeps violent criminals off your streets, parks, offices of aging and youth services, sheriffs to guard the courts, state police, etc.

President Obama’s new budget will slash funding for LIHEAP which keeps millions of people from freezing to death in winters.  I suppose these past two mild winters convinced the Prez this is no longer needed.

Republicans in Congress are developing their own cuts which would critically hurt many programs including NPR.  This actually makes sense because public radio is one of the few places where one can still get news rather than celebrity gossip.  The less we know about what they’re doing in Washington the better for the GOP.

The VP was in Philadelphia yesterday to announce a high speed rail program.  I’d have gone but the timing required me to drive to 30th Street Station in the morning rush hour.  I won’t do that for anyone.  Unfortunately I don’t have any options for public transit much less being able to take the train.  If the Schuylkill Valley Metro were built I’d gladly take that mode of transportation.

Our host for the blog has been sold.  Warecorp now owns Soapblox.  I have no idea what this may mean for the blog, we’ll wait and see.

Keith Olbermann announced he will begin a new show on Al Gore’s Current TV.  I’ll have to see if I get that on our satellite service.

Glenn Beck, still lost in his world of fantasy and unreality, thinks we’re in cahoots with radical Islamists to establish a caliphate in the Middle East because we support the revolutionaries in Egypt.  How did we go from supporting democracy under George W Bush to undermining it now?  It was all so super to have “freedom on the march” then but not now…  I suppose only an extremist foreign policy under a Republican where we invade countries and overthrow their governments to sit new dictators is good but not invading someone and supporting the people’s true call for democracy is wrong?  Only in the warped mind of Glenn Beck.

Democratic Talk Radio 2010 Heroes and Villains Awards

by Stephen Crockett

This year we had great difficulty in making our selections. We had multiple winners in both categories.  We could have given many more awards but finally narrowed it down to just these few.

Heroes are former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) and former MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann. Both won because they routinely spoke truth to power even when it was unpopular.

Grayson was targeted by huge amounts of corporate and Far Right money in the 2010 elections because of his honesty. He has not gone silently into the night. Like the true hero he remains, we can count on Alan Grayson to continue speaking out on behalf of working Americans being abused by corporations and the super wealthy interests who control the Republicans in Congress and state governments around the nation.

Many of us learned about Grayson’s efforts on the cable news commentary program run hosted by Keith Olbermann. In the darkest days of the Bush Administration, Olbermann was really the only voice on TV willing to expose and condemn the creeping fascism of the Republican Right. He defended the American Dream when nearly everyone else was fearful and silent.

Democratic talk Radio hopes he will quickly return to our television screens. American Democracy needs Keith Olbermann.

While nearly every Republican in Congress qualifies for the DTR 2010 Villain Award along with Fox News, the Koch brothers and the Tea Party movement, the winners are the 5 Supreme Injustices on the Supreme Court. They are Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Kennedy.

With their crazy and evil Citizens United ruling, they created out of thin air the greatest legal/political threat to our American Dream that has ever existed. They have ruled that corporations are people with the ability to spend unlimited amounts of shareholder money to influence politics. They did not even require in the ruling that shareholders must approve the way is spent or the amount of money by corporate executives.

Corporate executives run corporations. Corporations are organizations of money not people. Corporations do not die like all people do.

The 5 Injustices deserve to be impeached for abuse of office. Since corporations were able to buy Congress in the last elections because of the Citizens United ruling, this will not happen this year if ever. The best we can do is give them our Democratic Talk Radio 2010 Villain of the Year Award.

John:  I co-host DTR.

News & Notes January 25, 2011

Berks County Democrats finally got around to selecting a candidate for the special election.  Four days later, in a painfully short campaign window, there remain no materials, office for phone banking, staff on the ground or website.  With three weeks to prepare this is a bad stumble out of the gate.  

I was just on a White House call concerning tonight’s State of the Union Address.  I cannot comment on the content until the speech (embargo rules are in effect) but I will later.  Barack Obama, however, is going to embrace more items from the Republican agenda.  He may as well just go change his voter registration to the GOP and be done with it.  I didn’t get to ask my question about Social Security but I did email the White House for a response.  If he calls for cutting our safety net be sure to take a good, long drink.  You’ll need it.

We commented last year how Ed Rendell was losing staff to the gas drilling industry and now DEP is seeing a migration.  Since DEP was, essentially, in bed with Marcellus Shale drillers this is no surprise.  Expect a bombshell report to be published soon exploding this issue.  It will be very bad for the DEP under Gov. Rendell.

The Inquirer keeps exposing the lack of regulation and oversight which led to the back alley butcher in West Philadelphia killing babies and patients.  This is what happens when you restrict women’s access to reproductive services.  We saw it before Roe v. Wade and we’re seeing it now with all the restrictions to access.  Republicans in Harrisburg are planning to introduce legislation banning abortion in the new health care exchanges.  This will only create more Dr. Gosnells and kill more women.  I thought these folks were “pro life?”  We must expand coverage for abortion and insure safe, legal procedures in sanitary clinics staffed by licensed, competent medical professionals.

There is little new information about the demise of Keith Olbermann at MSNBC.  It does seem the pending takeover by Comcast was significant however.  This is what happens with total corporate control of the media.  So much for that mythical “liberal control of the media” lie.  I hope Keith lands on Sirius/XM or other national radio outlet.  He should have his own channel there though its reach would never match that on cable TV.  Vote with your clicker: stop watching MSNBC.  This is one thing they’ll comprehend:  ratings.

Meanwhile NBC has hired Ed Rendell.  Please tell me we aren’t going to see the former Guv on MSNBC instead of Keith???

The “Texas Miracle” touted as a model by Republicans only to be revealed as a $27 billion budget deficit, is slowly crashing to the ground.  The black hole created by Gov. Rick Perry means a California sized crisis.  Now, after denouncing government bailouts during his re-election campaign Perry wants President Obama to bail him out.

Speaking of Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she won’t seek re-election next year.  Targeted by Tea baggers in the gubernatorial primary she would be primaried by the Republican fringe.  She bailed out instead.

For all you animal lovers and rights people you have an opportunity this week.  Berks County DA who supports the shooting and torture of pigeons, will be making his re-election announcement Thursday evening at 6 Pm at the FOP Social Club 776 Mt Laurel Ave, Temple, PA, 19560.  Come and protest.

Sen. Anthony Williams spoke to the PA School Boards Association and left rather unhappy.  The champion of privatizing public schools took $4 million from charter schools impresarios for his Governor campaign last year.  No wonder the PSBA didn’t like the guy!  Is he clueless or what?

Planned Parenthood has asked the FBI to investigate a man who is attempting to trap employees into giving him information for treating sex workers.  It sounds like Andrew Breitbart is at it again.

Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees.

Disclosure:  I am a Board member of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.

MSNBC Cancels Olbermann Contract

Keith Olbermann signed off on Countdown tonight for the final time after MSNBC canceled his contract.  No information is available yet as to why the action wastaken by the network.  Countdown was the cable news channel’s highest rated show and Olbermann had a tremendously loyal following.  No one has stood up for and advocated for liberal causes and issues like Olbermann.  His elegant writing and smooth delivery captivated me as a writer and radio host.  I wish I was a fraction of the writer he is and having him go off the air is a terrible blow.

Keith, if you’re coming to Pittsburgh for the Jets-Steelers game come over to the south shore and find hundreds of fans at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  We’re at the Sheraton Square Hotel.

Update:  Comcast has issued a statement saying they are not responsible for this action.  Their takeover of NBC was just approved but they have yet to take over the network.  There is much speculation due to a lack of explanation by both parties as to the reason for the firing.  Comcast’s buying of th enetwork is fueling rumors they were responsible.

Producer Matthew dug out the clip from “Network” to which Olbermann referred last night.  The 1976 movie has a classic line “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  The just fired news caster urges everyone to begin yelling it from their windows.

It may be time we all do this today.  Use your facebook, Twitter or blog to repeat it today.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Refudiate Sarah

Sarah Palin spent her day today scrubbing her websites of her violent rhetoric inciting people like Jared Loughner to violence.  Consciousness of guilt?  Unfortunately for Sarah her gun sights on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remain, unscrubbed by all those who saved her graphics and statements.

As Keith Olbermann said tonight on a special comment it is time to repudiate, or, as Palin says, refudiate, all those who incite violence.  It isn’t only Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or others on radio and television we saw it here in Pennsylvania last year.  Remember the Tea Party extremists who openly carried weapons to Congressional and Senate events?  Remember the group in Lancaster which invited candidates to a shooting range to actually target President Obama and other liberals?

I have been railing about this since my own life was threatened by one of these unbalanced extremists on March 1st.  Ron Renninger, aka Ace of Sweeps” left a message on my voice mail saying he was going to “put a bullet in my head.”  Because I have a “Pennsylvania Progressive” bumper sticker on my car I’m routinely run off the road by other sick people, usually small businessmen in pick up trucks, given the finger and victimized by overly aggressive tactics.  Some in the media called for anyone with Obama bumper stickers to be “targeted.”

Today’s targeting of a Member of Congress, the killing of six people including federal Judge John C. Noll and a 9 year old child should shock America to its senses and have all of us vehemently reject such rhetoric.  Glenn Beck is the worst and Fox News should be taken off the air for supporting this man and his unhinged verbiage.   Should they not it is imperative on each of us as citizens to boycott any advertiser on that network, any entity which supports and funds such activity wherever it exists.

Killing your political enemies or intentionally inciting (and, yes, I believe it is intentional) others to do so has no place in a civilized society.  Perhaps we have ceased being one but it is imperative we take our country back from those who would take us to the depths of insanity.  The Sheriff clearly and openly blamed those on hate radio and television and said this:

“But again I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain people’s mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I believe has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Instead of retreating from their extreme views many on the right are claiming someone using numerous fringe right wing code phrases is actually a leftist and decrying Sheriff Dupnik for making the statement above.  Of course we know what motivated this young man.  The Congresswoman was his target, he walked up to her outside the Safeway and shot her in the head.  Before doing so he posted a message online saying “don’t hate me” and “I’m not a terrorist.”  Of course he is.  This is a clear cut case of American domestic terrorism just as it was when another deranged extremist flew his plane into an IRS building last year.

There are consequences for actions and words and it is time conservatives accepted personal responsibility for theirs.  Should they refuse then all of us should refudiate them and their networks.

News & Notes November 8, 2010

Nancy Pelosi will run for Minority Leader as well she should.  She was one of the most successful Speakers in decades shepherding 472 bills through the House this session.  Just because Senate Republican filibustered 90% of them doesn’t make her tenure ineffective.  She had no control over Senate rules.

Those Senate rules are responsible for our dysfunctional government, not Democrats.  Of course the GOP didn’t have to insist on obstructing all legislation and almost all presidential appointments but now that voters have endorsed their hyperpartisanship it is unlikely they’ll stop.  The moronic intelligence of the average American voter never ceases to amaze me.

Keith Olbermann created some hysteria on the left last week after he was temporarily suspended by MSNBC for contributing to three Democratic candidates without disclosing it on TV.  There wa smuch anguish because Joe Scarborough regularly gives to Republicans but was never disciplined.  The real issue here is disclosure.  If you are writing or talking about a candidate for whom you are giving or receiving material support you must disclose that.  I think the MSNBC action was appropriate given the circumstances.

This reminds me how just before the election I was asked to make phone calls for a candidate for whom I was covering for The Huffington Post.   The coordinated campaign manager was somehow unaware of the inappropriateness of her request.  There’s no way, journalistically, I could do that working for an outlet like HuffPo.  

The Pennsylvania State House decided to can the rest of its session.  This leaves some very important legislation hanging out to dry.  With the GOP set to take control of all levels of state government in January this is especially unfortunate.   Maybe they deserved to lose.  

I’ve been catching up on all those personal errands and tasks which take a back seat right before elections.  It’s usually a week until I catch up on sleep and errands.  Today I was getting my Blackberry tuned up, looked at new phones and finally figured out how to use my MiFi aircard wirelessly.  The service at both AT&T and Verizon was superb.  I even got some Christmas shopping finished.

The State House election was a serious loss for pro choice supporters.  Seven key supporters of rights for women went down to defeat.  With Corbett & Co. coming in options for women may get severely curtailed.  I’m afraid funding for family planning in this next state legislature may take a beating.  My advice?  Don’t have sex.  Remember this in 2012.

Olbermann Slams Wilson, Bush

Keith Olbermann expertly details the myriad lies of George W. Bush, their seriousness and frequency to put into context the outrageousness of Rep. Joe Wilson’s false outburst Wednesday evening.

   And finally, as promised, a Special Comment about the shout of “You Lie” during the presidential address to the joint session of Congress last night on the matter of health care reform.

   The 43rd president of the United States lied the nation into the war, lied 4,343 of his fellow citizens to death in that war, lied about upholding the constitution, and lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

   He lied about how he reacted to Al-Qaeda before 9/11 and he lied about how he reacted to Al-Qaeda after 9/11.

   He lied about getting Bin Laden, and he lied about not getting Bin Laden.

   He lied about nation-building in Iraq, lied about the appearance of new buildings **in** the nation **of** Iraq, and lied about embassy buildings in nations like Iraq.

   He lied about trailers with mobile weapons labs in them, and he lied about trailers with Cuban prostitutes in them.

   He and his administration lied — by the counting of one non-profit group — 532 times about links between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. Only 28 of those were by that President, but he made up for that by lying 231 times about W-M-D.

   And yet not once did an elected Democratic official shout out during one of George W. Bush’s speeches and call him a “liar.”

   Even when the president was George W. Bush, even when he was assailed from sidelines like mine, even when the lies came down so thick the nation needed a hat… he was still the President and if he didn’t earn any respect, the office he held demanded respect.

   More over, that President and his Congressional tools like Congressman Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson of South Carolina insisted not just unquestioned respect for the office; they wanted unanimous lock-step compliance with the man.

   And when the blasphemy of mere respectful criticism somehow came anyway — say by, or built on that by, the real Joe Wilson — lord help he who might have made the slightest factual error in that criticism.

   Congressman Wilson and his masters and the flying monkeys of right-wing media would pursue the erroneous critic to the ends of their careers, firing hot accusations of moral or intellectual confusion and incompetence at the unbelievers.

   And that is the line Congressman Wilson crossed last night when he shouted “you lie” at this President of the United States.

   Not the respect line.

   The stupid line.