Endorsements For Congress

My endorsements for the U.S. House of Representatives are all from eastern Pennsylvania.  All but one are pro choice the exception being Paul Kanjorski.  I endorse him because of the critically important work he is doing on financial reform.  His vast experience and knowledge in these complicated policy areas has never been more important for the economic health of this nation.  His leadership the past two years shepherding Wall Street reforms through his House subcommittee has led to sweeping new controls on bankers.  The Kanjorski Amendment allowing the break up of the “too big to fail” banks could be strategically important in this vast foreclosure/investor fraud litigation beginning to sweep our state court systems.

Chaka Fattah is hero to all Pennsylvania liberals.  Our staunchest and most consistent ally in Washington also has the character to go his own way as his conscience dictates.  He is not part of the Philly machine.

Patrick Murphy is in another tough fight against former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.  Veterans and LGBT folks have no stronger friend in Washington.  He has led the fight against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and his gravitas as an Iraq War veteran has added greatly to those efforts.  

Bryan Lentz is seeking Joe Sestak’s former seat.  Another Iraq War veteran he is solidly progressive and a leader.  In the State House he has forged his own path and bucked Party Leadership to vote his conscience.  That isn’t easy to do but no one picks a fight with such a straight shooter as Lentz.  He will bring much needed character to Washington.

Yet a third Iraq War veteran is running in the 6th CD.  Manan Trivedi is the son of Indian immigrants who went to medical school then plied his trade serving in Iraq as a surgeon.  Now he is running against conservative Jim Gerlach.  Its time for a Democrat and a real progressive in a Democratic District.

The Lehigh Valley hasn’t seen a seriously funded Democrat in ages.  Charlie Dent runs as a moderate though his voting record, like Gerlach’s, is anything but.  John Callahan has raised enough money to give Dent a serious challenge.  In spite of a bad campaign manager with no knowledge of the 15th CD he is coming on stronger in debates and is a solidly pro choice endorsement.

Update:  And Lois Herr in the 16th!

News & Notes September 22, 2010

Pat Toomey is up by either 4 or 7 points in the latest polls.  I tend to rely on Quninnipiac the most and they have the race as seven.  That means Joe Sestak has his opponent right where he wants him.  I’m betting his powerful biography boosts him over someone who has spent his life shilling for Wall Street.  If Pennsylvania voters opt for Toomey after losing their jobs, homes and retirements to Wall Street they get what they deserve.

In the Governor’s race Tom Corbett is pulling away with a 15 point spread and has a decided cash on hand advantage.  Dan Onorato was a bad candidate from the start but got a jump on everyone and raised enough cash to saturate TV last spring.  No personality, no charisma, no record…  I’ll also bet the AGG is a one term Guv.  Next year’s budget battle is going to be historic because cowardly legislators refused to raise taxes in an election year.  With Corbett’s vow for no new taxes he has George Herbert Walker Bush tattooed on his forehead.

The 15 CD race is also over.  John Callahan self immolated at last week’s debate, or, rather, Q&A session.  I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a worse performance.  The Morning Call has that race at 11 points.  Why vote for the Bethlehem Mayor who wouldn’t even make an impassioned plea for someone who has moved 372 bills through the House this session?  He also failed at go after any of Dent’s lies.

Pat Meehan and Bryan Lentz had a debate last evening in the 7th CD but since Gov. Dean’s office has shut me out of tonight’s event in Wayne I passed on their debate last night.  If you want coverage you have to be more open than this folks.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been dissed by Howard Dean and I’m assembling all my old DFA stuff to burn in the BBQ when I return from New Mexico.  

The Pennsylvania ACLU is suing Pittsburgh for its police state tactics during the G20 summit last year.  Police rounded up peaceful protesters, forced them onto the grounds of the Cathedral of Oppression at Pitt, surrounded them so they couldn’t leave then arrested them for failure to disperse.  This is so Orwellian as to be scary.  Dan Onorato was Allegheny County Dictator at the time.

Jim Powers, the head of the state’s domestic terrorism unit, the one which terrorizes activists, remains in office.  

Pittsburghers are complaining about rising parking rates.  This is one reason, along with traffic, why I have stopped covering events in Philadelphia.  I even skipped President Obama’s event for Joe Sestak yesterday.  Sen. Specter, apparently still playing the sore loser’s role, met Obama at the airport then skipped out on reporter’s questions about why he skipped the event at the Convention Center for the Admiral.

Speaking of dissing the press (again, never a good idea) Pat Toomey is refusing to take time to respond to reporters on his campaign trail.  This is a guaranteed method for getting bad press.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell failed in a Senate cloture vote yesterday as both Arkansas Senators joined Republicans to filibuster the bill.  This means we have no Defense Appropriations bill as yet.  With troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and hundreds of other countries, the Pentagon has no funds.  All this because 43 Senators think its moral and right to destroy the integrity of our armed forces by forcing people to lie about who they are.  Hopefully either the courts will remedy this travesty or the President will finally act by Executive Order.

This is horrible news for Democrats who desperately needed something to close the “enthusiasm gap.  Now liberals and progressives are even angrier at the Party following Obama’s dissing and ridicule in Connecticut last week.  Just when the President needed to say something to motivate progressives to go to the polls he, instead, insulted us.  Again.  Is he tone deaf or just stupid?

The Tea Party announced a $1 million anonymous contribution.  We’ll never know who kicked that insane amount of money (but we can guess) since it isn’t being disclosed.  Karl Rove, meanwhile, is collecting another $50 million to rule the airwaves with propaganda next month.  Thank the Supreme Court and its activist Justices Thomas, Alito, Scalia and Roberts.

Larry Summers is leaving the White House so there is one sigh of relief for liberals.  The appointments of him and Geithner sounded the first alarms to the left wing of the Democratic Party that they’d been snookered by their candidate.  That was the onset of the enthusiasm gap.

Lisa Murkowski announced she will run for re-election tot he Senate in Alaska as a write-in candidate.  Good-bye Joe Miller.

The reaction in Delaware to Christine O’Donnell is so severe rank and file Democrats are actually talking about voting.  This is radical!  Republicans, more and more, are coming out of the closet and proclaiming they want to repeal the New Deal including Social Security and they want to begin executing gays and lesbians.  In the past they only intimated these positions.  

Lentz, Meehan Petition Fights Go to Corbett

The struggle to succeed Joe Sestak in Congress has been getting nasty since Tea Party candidate Jim Schneller got into the race and questions about petitions began going to Attorney General Tom Corbett.  This all began last winter when Delaware County Republicans, long the power in Delco, were accused of widespread fraud circulating fellow Republican Pat Meehan’s petitions.  The Delco GOP machine has long enjoyed a sort of monopoly in local politics.  Joe Sestak began creating cracks in it as he defeated Crazy Curt Weldon then essentially ran unopposed in 2008.  Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, was embarrassed by the charges of fraud surrounding his candidacy and referred the matter to Corbett.  Tom Corbett, of course, is also running for Governor and has been embedded in a highly political prosecution of his own against Pennsylvania House Democrats.

The BonusGate scandal erupted when legislative staffers were found to be receiving bonuses tied to their illegal political work on campaigns.  Corbett, acting as Attorney General, conducted official searches and investigations of House Dems while allowing House Republicans two years to hit the delete buttons on their legislative computers.  Now he is supposed to be investigating Delaware County Republicans for wholesale fraud on Meehan’s petitions.  As that effort wouldn’t affect his eligibility for the ballot (he still had enough signatures) the third man running for the seat from Meehan’s right did present a threat.

Jim Schneller unknowingly received considerable assistance from Democrat Bryan Lentz’s volunteers who circulated petitions for the third party effort to siphon November votes from the Republican.  It takes many more petition signatures for third party candidates in Pennsylvania so they get until August to amass them and when it was revealed that Schneller got help from Democrats Meehan called foul.  It doesn’t matter who circulates petitions for independent candidates as long as they reside in the district which these folks did.  Pat Meehan went to court to attempt to throw Schneller off the ballot as happened to almost every other candidate, Tea Party or Green, in the Commonwealth.  Jim Schneller won the fight but, again, an investigation has been referred to the AG.  

This means the Republican Attorney General, who is running for Governor, has been charged with investigating petitions for both Pat Meehan (R) and Jim Schneller (TP) while also being charged with political favoritism in his BonusGate prosecutions.  Corbett cannot win in this battle and his dormant investigation of the Meehan petitions is now receiving more media attention.

The real issue here is ballot access where both major parties have raised the bar for third party and independent candidates so high it is difficult for challengers to get on the ballot.  Even then they routinely must hire legal counsel to defend their petitions in court from challenges.  Schneller is the only such candidate to survive to November and only because the Lentz effort was so effective.  Will Corbett perform his official duties before the election or allow the whole affair to die a quiet death?  No one seems to be betting on the former.

Meehan Gets His Facts Wrong on Biden

Pat Meehan sent an email today (around 1 PM) accusing Joe Biden of something he didn’t do.  This is interesting because the White House pool report (which I get when they’re in PA) clearly said this wasn’t accurate.

Meehan is accusing the Vice President of saying Nancy Pelosi was the most powerful person in Washington.  The former “loyal Bushie” jumped on it calling it a gaffe because, obviously, Barack Obama has that title.  Here’s the problem:  according to the press pool report that isn’t what Biden said:

VP Biden did not leave out the President in his remarks in Philadelphia today– he said his name during applause.

Biden was referring to a comment Schwartz made that Pelosi was the most powerful woman in politics. Biden’s full quote:

“You know Allyson said the most powerful woman in American politics. I would rephrase that: the most powerful person in American politics (applause…unclear comments on audio)  with the exception of the President of the United States. And I mean that sincerely.”

Biden then talked about how he has worked with a number of House speakers over the years, and said “the single most successful, the single most persuasive the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with is Nancy Pelosi.”

The pool reporter was Joelle Farrell of The Philadelphia Inquirer and it is interesting the Meehan campaign embarrassed themselves without checking their information.  Or did they and just not care they made a false accusation?  These are Republicans after all and we know they never allow facts to get in the way of a bad opinion.  It isn’t as if their supporters will fact check them is it?

Meehan Tries Hanging BonusGate Around Lentz’s Neck

Pat Meehan traveled to the state Capitol building yesterday to get in Bryan Lentz’s face and succeeded.  He held a press conference under the rotunda to attempt to connect Rep. Lentz with BonusGate by claiming some staffers on his 2006 campaign received bonuses.  Lentz responded by showing up and slamming a Meehan campaign sign on the floor.  Bryan was justifiably upset but biting on the bait was unfortunate and gives Mr. Meehan ammunition.

Because a staffer supposedly paid by the House Democratic Campaign Committee received a bonus doesn’t mean much.  It doesn’t mean rep. Lentz knew that any more than it means Mr. Meehan knew about the election fraud surrounding his Congressional campaign’s petitions.  If Meehan wants to establish guilt that loosly he was a terrible federal prosecutor and stupidly implicates himself in what corrupt Delaware County Republicans did for his own current campaign.

I followed the BonusGate testimony and it was quite clearly established by many witnesses that not all bonuses were for campaign work.  In fact testimony said some staffers received bonuses who never worked on campaigns.  Therefore the existence of a bonus means nothing.  The fact Pat Meehan is automatically claiming such brings into question his own judgment.  This man, after all, is supposed to be a lawyer, someone supposedly good enough of a lawyer to be a U.S. Attorney.  Of course he was one of George W. Bush’s “loyal Bushies” so let’s not assume everything ourselves.

Bryan Lentz has never been implicated in BonusGate.  To my knowledge his name has never come up or even been hinted at by the Attorney General, witnesses, lawyers or journalists covering the matter.  Meehan seems to have pulled this accusation out of his ass and used it to provoke Mr. Lentz.  It worked and Bryan gave him a reaction rather than sitting calmly in his office and waited for the media to come to him for a response.  

Bryan Lentz Addresses Young Professionals

It’s been a very busy week chock full of events.  Already I’ve rolled 600 miles on the old car and I’ll be in Philadelphia for a third consecutive day to cover an event with the Secretary of Commerce this afternoon.  Wednesday Congressional candidate Bryan Lentz held an event with young professionals at The Warwick Hotel.  Bryan is running for Joe Sestak’s seat in the Seventh Congressional District.  He was an original candidate for this seat four years ago then opted to run for the State House when Admiral Sestak stepped up.  After serving two distinguished terms in Harrisburg Bryan is running to succeed Joe.  I interviewed Bryan in early December (not for the blog) and he’s not only a very nice guy but a true progressive.  Pat Meehan was the U.S. Prosecutor in Philadelphia for George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales.  These “Loyal Bushies” only survived in their positions if they toes the White House line and prosecuted Democrats.  This enabled State Se. Vince Fumo a legitimate defense to corruption charges and deeply tarnished the reputations of the prosecutors and the Justice Department.

There is a clear choice in the 7th CD this year between a man of integrity, a former soldier in the Army Rangers, and a Loyal Bushie.  Bryan is introduced by Gaetano Piccirilli in the video:

Callahan, Lentz on DCCC’s Red to Blue List

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its first “Red to Blue” list today targeting what they think are Congressional seats ripe for the taking in 2010.  They include PA-10 (Charlie Dent) and PA-07 (Joe Sestak’s open seat) along with Delaware’s lone seat being vacated by Mike Castle who is running for the Senate.  John Callahan is mounting the first major Democratic threat to Charlie Dent in the Lehigh Valley.  He is out raising Dent in money and has put together a good team.

Bryan Lentz was the original challenger to Crazy Curt Weldon four years ago then ran for the State House so Joe Sestak could take the Congressional District.  Now that Sestak is running for the Senate Lentz is taking his great record working in Harrisburg with him to Washington.  I met with Bryan Lentz in early December to interview him for the national Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  I was quite impressed with him and his willingness to discuss progressive issues with me.  (I also interviewed Manan Trivedi)

The Delaware seat is intriguing also.  Our neighbor to the south was originally part of Penn’s Woods and was referred to as the “lower three counties” in early colonial times.  We share state colors and a circular border drawn from the courthouse in picturesque old New Castle.  Voters in Delaware tend to go with the person rather than Party but the state has been trending ble in recent years.  Once they like someone they tend to stay with them as they rise from Lt. Governor to Governor to Congress and then Senate.  Joe Biden went directly from New Castle County government directly to the Senate but Castle rode the train through the ranks.  He now wants Biden’s Senate seat.  He’s been a moderate Republican as Delawareans tend to prefer but Carney is quite a challenge for his vacated seat.

The DCCC has their work cut out for them this year and nowhere is more important than Pennsylvania.  Chris Carney has challengers in the 10th which is traditionally heavily Republican.  Paul Kanjorski has several challengers as does Tim Holden.  Two Democrats are trying to derail Jim Gerlach though I don’t see either of them winning, Patrick Murphy will have a rematch with Mike Fitzpatrick in Bucks, the 12th is wide open and ripe for a Republican takeover, and the GOP is setting their target on retaking the 3rd CD.  Lois Herr thinks Joe Pitts could be vulnerable after co-sponsoring the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and is waging a good campaign in the 16th.  There are few safe seats in Pennsylvania this year.

Meehan: I Don’t Believe in the Rule of Law

This isn’t exactly shocking for a “loyal Bushie” who pledged his loyalty to Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales over the constitution but it is disturbing.  Congressional candidate and former U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia Pat Meehan announced his condemnation for the concept of trying criminals in a court of law.  I thought that was the basis for our constitutional democracy.   Where are those constitution loving Teabaggers protesting this abomination of our cherished document?  From Meehan today:

The 9/11 attacks on our country were one of the most devastating events in the history of our nation.  They were an act of war against the American people and our way of life.  But now the Obama Administration wants to provide the mastermind of those attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and his co-conspirators a civil trial in federal court here in the United States.  In the process, they will afford these war criminals the same constitutional rights each of us enjoys as American citizens.

The constitution and the Bill of Rights don’t discriminate between citizens and non- citizens.   It says every person is endowed with these inalienable rights.  Perhaps Pat should spend some time over at The National Constitution Center.  It is just up the street from Independence Hall where our Founding Fathers crafted the document insuring that every person have a fair trial in front of a jury of their peers.

The terrorist attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans and the perpetrators should be tried as war criminals before military tribunals, not afforded the legal rights and protections afforded the American people.  Trying these individuals in civilian court gives them unnecessary access to investigative information and the capacity to try to suppress legitimate evidence that will be used against them.

Yes Pat that is called a fair an dopen trial.  Defendants have the right to confront the evidence used against them, they have the right not to have hearsay evidence used against them, they have the right not to be tortured, they have the right to open trials where anyone can come and witness any prosecutorial misconduct.  In America we accuse and prosecute everyone the same. 9/11 wasn’t an act of war for several reasons.  First, acts of war, by definition can only be committed by states.  Secondly no state of war has yet been declared by Congress, the only constitutional method for doing so.

I find it shocking that a major candidate for Congress is so ready to throw aside our constitution, our long history of civil and criminal jurisprudence and our Bill of Rights.  The fact he served as a major prosecutor makes him wholly unqualified for anything other than a medieval agent of the King.  Fortunately those dark old days are past.

Table Games Bill Goes to Rendell

Gov. Rendell has the table games gambling expansion bill on his desk.  The poorly crafted legislation will allow blackjack, poker, roulette and similar games to the slots parlors already operating in most of the Commonwealth.  Issues with the previous legislation and financial issues have prevented Sugar House and Foxwoods from building and operating in Philadelphia.  Part of their problem has been widespread community opposition.

The bill is poorly crafted because it expands gaming without first addressing deficiencies in the initial legislation.  Major gaffes remain open such as requiring background investigations by the Pennsylvania State Police of all casino applicants and their investors/owners and authority to the Attorney General for prosecution of offenders.  Two convicted felons became casino licensees in spite of felony convictions.  One is alleged to have long standing affiliations with organized crime in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Without adequate safeguards this is bad legislation.

Rep. Mike Turzai, a man with whom I seldom find common ground, spoke out on these points on the House floor yesterday.  Rep. Paul Clymer also cited these issues and Rep. Bryan Lentz said that “separating fact from fiction” was important and no one had yet contested facts presented by opposing forces to the legislation and until or unless those facts were disputed he could not support the bill.  Rep. Josh Shapiro also stood up against the aspects of the bill which needed attention.  The bill as amended between the House and Senate was pushed through aggressively by Democratic leadership in spite of these serious misgivings.

It is now incumbent upon the Gaming Committee to thrash out solutions to the problems inherent in this legislation.  Since we have gaming and are expanding it to serious table games it is essential we do everything possible to guarantee the integrity of the process, the integrity of licensees and assure taxpayers that organized crime will be kept out of our casinos.  This bill fails in that regard.