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.

Senate Passes Financial Reform

Scott Brown defected from his Republicans colleagues this week and voted for cloture on the financial reform bill which will establish curbs on Wall Street and end any future bailouts of banks.  The Massachusetts Senator must consider the liberal slant of his constituents if he wishes to be re-elected and so he has broken with his Party leadership on some important legislation.  Bob Casey voted yes but Arlen Specter, still licking his wounds I presume, didn’t vote.

The bill goes a long way towards preventing another financial collapse which resulted in a huge economic meltdown.  It isn’t a perfect bill but none is.  Republicans are trying to exempt car dealers from regulations involving credit and consumers should be outraged over the issue.  Auto dealers are universally hated, with much justification, for ripping people off when they sell cars and trucks.  Most consumers use dealer arranged financing and most dealers are as crooked as the day is long and will soak them for every penny possible.  To do this they frequently break the law, ignore the rules and go laughing (literally) all the way to the bank.  Its time for some tough regulation.

The bill still has to go through some amendments and then to a conference committee to reconcile it with the House bill.  Hopefully by mid-summer it will be law, almost two years after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the precipitous decline began in the global economy.

Altmire, Dent Sponsor Bigoted, Unconstitutional Bill

In a ridiculously stupid move Pennsylvania Congressmen Jason Altmire and Charlie Dent co-sponsored legislation enabling a government bureaucrat to revoke a person’s citizenship if they are thought to be engaged in terroristic activity.  One need not be tried and convicted, just suspected so the government may abuse and torture you.  A similar law was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last century.

This is simply a ridiculous knee jerk reaction by men who should know better.  What we learned from last weekend’s attempted car bombing in Times Square is that law enforcement works.  The suspect was run down and detained within 53 hours using good old police work.  The rule of law is working and now we can prosecute him for his crimes.  That is how America works and is what makes America America.  We are the land of the free and depriving anyone of their rights is unamerican.  

What is we applied this law when Tim McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City?  Where would you deport our domestic terrorists? Dr. George Tiller’s assassin would have been tortured and deported…where?  Why don’t Congressmen stop and engage their brains before ramming their right wing tips over our rights?  Dent and Altmire should be ashamed.

Update:  Schuylkill County Democrat Tim Seip hates America too as he co-sponsored this legislation.

The Message From Massachusetts

We can all thank voters in Massachusetts for killing this awful health insurance reform bill.  The election of State Senator Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate yesterday on a platform of voting against the bill is sending shock waves through Washington.  As well it should.  I doubt President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid will get the message however.  Democrats sent the same message in November and it was missed.  Why would we think it would sink in now?

Massachusetts is the model for the national legislation and voters there hate what Mitt Romney imposed upon them and did the nation a favor yesterday by, perhaps, killing it on a national level.  I do find it interesting that Brown campaigned against the Mitt Romney legacy.  It was as Governor that the former presidential candidate passed his signature bill mandating that all citizens in Massachusetts buy health insurance.  It has been a dismal failure as people refuse to be gouged year after year by greedy and predatory insurance companies.  My fear with this bill will be that the seven major health insurers will simply collude and divide the country into individual monopolies as exists now.

The voters yesterday rejected their own mandated plans and saved the rest of us, hopefully, from the same fate.  Washington is deaf however and plans are already under way to further weaken the bill to obtain a vote from one of Maine’s Senators.  Another option is to have the House pass the terrible Senate bill.  Americans are up in arms over the way Democrats have continuously weakened this bill and become weak in the process.  They sent another message yesterday and, again, leadership in Washington isn’t listening.

The irony of all this is that Republicans who destroyed our economy, shredded the Bill of Rights and sent $5 trillion of wealth into the ether then blocked every meaningful piece of legislation coming down the pike are being rewarded.  After all the mess we’re in is the direct result of Republican policies yet voters are going to the polls and electing Republicans.  Part of the problem is the horrible candidates being run by Democrats.  Corrupt Jon Corzine in New Jersey, weak Creigh Deeds in Virginia and Martha Coakley who apparently thought going on vacation was a higher priority than being elected to the Senate.  With candidates like these no wonder Republicans are winning.

The fact is voters have nowhere to turn.  With both major parties owned and operated by big business the people have no where to turn.  I recall Howard Dean’s famous message from 2004:  Take Our Country Back.  We didn’t because we forgot we have to take the Party back first.  That’s the message from Massachusetts.

Clueless Dems May Lose Massachusetts

Who would have believed Democrats might lose Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts?  The only question following the Senator’s death seemed to be how quickly Democrats could elect his replacement.  Now that person might be Republican Scott Brown.  A candidate who once posed nude for a Cosmo centerfold he is now on the top of his game politically, ready to screw Democrats.  This was seemingly obvious last November when hordes of rank and file Democrats, aided and abetted by disillusioned independents, stayed home on election day.  Even though this clear warning was obvious to many the clueless Democratic leaders missed the sign.  Now they are missing it in Massachusetts.  What this bodes for this November and the future of the country is dire.

Recall that the GOP destroyed the nation through failed ideology and mismanagement.  Still, voters are ready to restore them to power because of the bungling of Democrats.  I blame it on the health care debacle in Washington and the budget debacle in Harrisburg.  Voters are fed up with corporate control of both Parties and legislators who cannot seem to accomplish anything constructive.  The supposed health care bill is seen as nothing more than another taxpayer corporate welfare bill for business but one, this time, pushed into passage by Democrats.  Electing a Republican who promises to block its passage may be enticing for disenchanted voters tomorrow.

Voters keep sending messages to Democrats about this bill but these clueless, stupid leaders refuse to listen.  The result of such deafness is usually a massive loss of seats.  Of course it is too late at that point and they are replaced by more clueless, deaf legislators.

Maybe the solution today is a new political party.  Now that corporations own both major Parties and Democrats are busy alienating key demographic groups and seemingly not caring who is next we should all gather together and leave them for something new.  President Obama has screwed so many folks at this point there’s no room remaining under the bus.  We all have tread marks on our backs.  Is it time to get up and get a new bus?  Organized labor, maybe the biggest key voting bloc for Democrats, got screwed in the health care bill.  They sought the best compromise possible with these clueless bastards but what remains isn’t good.

What if labor, progressives and the LGBT communities joined together to oppose Obama and corporate Democrats.  Something like a Progressive Labor Party could send a clear message to the new minority Democratic Party that screwing the people isn’t healthy.  Is it time?  Somehow I think that even if Scott Brown wins tomorrow the message won’t sink into the deaf ears in the Democratic Party.