News & Notes February 25, 2010

The groundhog was correct, six more weeks of winter.  Will this snow ever end?

The White House is holding a summit on health care today.  Republicans have done nothing about this crisis and now health care is consuming 17% of our economy.  Their logic now tells them we cannot deal with the problem BECAUSE it is 17% of the economy.  That’s like having cancer and telling the doctor you don’t want any treatment until you’re terminal then complaining when you do become terminal.

Too many in Washington are tone deaf about health care reform, both Republicans and Democrats.  People don’t like this bill because it goes too far (the GOP argument) but because it doesn’t go far enough.  Americans want a single payer, Medicare for all plan with a robust public option as a fallback.  These plans have none of those so people aren’t supporting it, not because it’s too much.  I suspect these tone deaf politicians will get a robust public option wake up call in November.

The BonusGate trial continues in Harrisburg.  This litigation of corruption inside the State Capitol may go on until Easter at this rate.  The AG’s office provided testimony yesterday that a Veon staffer routinely ran errands for the Democratic House Whip such as getting his shoes shined, buying his cigars and campaigning for him on taxpayer’s time.  Witness after witness tells us how they campaigned for Rep. Mike Veon on state time but we’re to believe he knew nothing about this?

This was the culture in Harrisburg for many years and though only Democratic House members and staffers are on trial it happened on both sides of the aisle.  Attorney General Tom Corbett has these rats nailed but allowed his fellow Republicans off the hook.

WebcamGate roars along in Lower Merion.  The story has been front page in The Inquirer for days.  Today we learn the plaintiffs are $30,000 in arrears to PECO in spite of living in a $940,000 home.  They claim their income has dropped precipitously but why wouldn’t you dump the expensive home then and downsize?  

Republican hypocrisy knows no bounds.  Now they’re complaining about the use of reconciliation to pass health insurance reform.  Of course they used it numerous times including to pass the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

A new F&M poll shows only 25% of Pennsylvanians think Arlen Specter deserves another term.  The F&M polls are notoriously inaccurate but even at this number Specter’s days in DC are numbered.  Assuming the poll could be off by 5% that still means his goose is cooked.  On the other hand polls show him 17 points ahead of Joe Sestak.   I suppose the Congressman, a famous skinflint with campaign money, will wait until June to get his message out on television and radio.  Of course the primary is in mid May.

Sestak’s penchant for pinching pennies is coming back to haunt him:  Specter is accusing him of supporting a living wage but refusing to pay his staffers one.  Five campaign staffers have left the Sestak effort recently.  Joe has the money, I don’t understand why he doesn’t spend it,  hire a professional campaign manager with experience on these high level efforts, pay his good people so they stay and begin getting his message on the air.  At the beginning of his campaign PA2010 ran a column wondering whether his Senatorial campaign would do these things.  They argued, as did I, that if he failed to he would lose.  This is what we’re watching.  This is painful, I love Joe and think he’d be a great Senator.  He’s running a very bad campaign however.

We went to war when 3,000 Americans died on 9/11.  We’re losing 1,000/week because of a broken health care system but cannot summon the political will (or courage) to do anything about it.  Why are our priorities so screwed up?

The President announced a new task force on deficit reduction last week.  I’ll bet you all their proposals will center on cutting entitlement programs instead of reducing the Pentagon budget or the prison population.  We’re spending $2 billion a week on defense.  The next 50 nations combined don’t spend what we do on “defense” (I’m not sure it’s defense when we’re warmongers).

Mark Critz, John Murtha’s District Director, announced he is running to fill the late Congressman’s seat.  He has the support of Joyce Murtha, Jack’s widow.  Barbara Hafer and Mark Singel have both announced their candidacies.

ABC News wants to cut its staff by 20%.  Soon there won’t be any news, just entertainment masquerading as news.  By the way did you hear about Fox News’ new slogan:  “New and improved, now 100% fact free.”

Pat Toomey says he might vote yes on jobs bill.  The presumed GOP Senate nominee voted against every federal appropriations bill except Defense while serving as a Congressman.  He loves to say government cannot create jobs so why would he vote for a jobs bill?  Oh yes, Pennsylvanians won’t elect a Senator this year who votes against jobs for our massive number of unemployed voters.  I don’t believe him.

A new group is targeting Tom Corbett over the state’s infamous pigeon shoots.  These are “sporting” events where the bird are brought before “hunters” and released so they can be shot and killed right in front of the “men.”  PAShame.org will demonstrate against the GOP Gubernatorial candidate for not enforcing the state’s laws against animal cruelty.

Dick Cheney was released from the hospital.  Isn’t this a good time to waterboard him?

A new arrest in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.  I don’t understand why the feds are prosecuting this.  Under the Obama doctrine of justice I thought it was understood that no one goes to prison, we simply put the past behind us and move on.  Oh, that only applies to war crimes?

Bad news about New York Gov.David Patterson.  The New York Times reports he used his power to protect a top aide accused of assaulting a woman.  The Palinesque scandal shows someone who isn’t fit to be Governor.