News & Notes February 25, 2013

Gov. Corbett’s son-in-law, suspended by Philadelphia Police for allegedly stealing drug money from a bait car, turned in his gun and badge in preparation for dismissal.

One f the leading causes of drug addiction and crime is the lack of quality education in our cities.  We aren’t adequately educating minority children because we aren’t adequately funding their schools.  The state costing out study done several years ago determined it costs $9,000/year to educate each student.  Classrooms, teachers, aides and resources cost money.  Slashing funding for inner city schools by cutting budgets and funding charter schools is only exacerbating the problem.  Philadelphia schools lost $8.7 million last year to charter (for profit) schools which we know are not educating students well.

The number of children living in poverty in Pennsylvania is up 15%.  This means fewer kids are getting meals at home or school.  Conservatives are cutting food stamps, child care, Head Start and other critical early childhood intervention programs.  You may decry “big government” but government provides valuable and critical services.  It is the only counter to Big Business.  More and more we live in a corporatist culture rather a capitalistic one.  All laws passed in Washington have to be approved by the Chamber of Commerce or industry groups to the detriment of everyone else.  We see this in the cuts being proposed on both state and federal levels.  The rich aren’t being asked to sacrifice just everyone else.  This is hitting poor people especially hard.  If the massive income inequality continues unfettered it will lead to revolution.  It always does.

It’s time to increase the minimum wage.  A number of years ago I was involved ina coalition called Raise the Minimum Wage and we successfully fought to increase it to $7.25/hour in the Commonwealth.  In real dollars that wage is actually lower than it was in 1968.  If we want to get the economy growing again people need to earn more so they can spend more.  Conservatives always scream that increasing the minimum wage will result in job cuts.  Facts show that doesn’t happen.  Higher wages means more economic activity because those at the lower end of the income spectrum tend to spend most of their incomes.  It’s time people working for a living earned enough to live on those incomes.

As I hear absurd statement after absurd statement from Republicans I sometimes wonder if what I’m seeing is actually an Onion.com parody.  Unfortunately it isn’t.  Some Republicans however still are having trouble understanding that The Onion is satire.

Speaking of not being able to tell the difference between reality and satire Breitbart.com got caught believing a joke about Chuck Hagel and a non-existent group called Friends of Hamas.  This would be hysterical if it hadn’t turned out to be believed by some Senators.

The Hagel Controversy

Conservatives are apoplectic that former Sen. Chuck Hagel has been nominated as Secretary of Defense.  The Republican from Nebraska is a former Vietnam soldier and believes war should be a last resort.  He has had the audacity to say diplomacy should always be used before force and that the Israeli lobby has undue influence in Washington (they do).

The neocons who lied us into the Iraq War remain angry at him for not supporting their headlong rush for bloodlust.  It turns out that Chuck Hagel was correct about Iraq, a war of choice in which perhaps 100,000+ Iraqis died and the Middle East destabilized.  In the process America went bankrupt, thousands of GI’s came home without limbs and too many in pine boxes.  All this and those same neocons refused to pay for the $3 trillion cost of the conflict and now are opposing efforts to pay the bill.

We are judged by the integrity (or lack thereof) of those who oppose us.  As much as I oppose appointing yet another Republican to this post this says much about who Chuck Hagel is and why he’s qualified.

News & Notes December 27, 2012

A lot has happened since our last check-in:  I had a birthday, Christmas came and went, a major winter storm rolled through and a former President went into guarded condition.  Hawaii has a new Senator, we have two nominations for Cabinet positions and nothing new has happened to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”  Whew.

Sen. John Kerry has been nominated to be Secretary of State.  Swift boating of Susan Rice was successful when the President bailed on her.  This makes Kerry’s Senate seat up for grabs which was the objective of the attack on Rice.  Former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel is being accused of antisemitism before his hearings to be the new Secretary of Defense over criticism he made of Israel’s government policies.  If all of us who have been critical of Israel’s genocide towards Palestinians were accused of being anti-semitic because of that you’d see how absurd it all is.  My questions are these:  why are liberals going to bat for a right wing Republican Senator?  Why do Democrats feel only Republicans are fit to be Defense Secretary?  Doesn’t that just play into the meme that Dems are soft on Defense?

George H.W. Bush is in intensive care at a Houston hospital with a persistent fever caused by lung ailments.  Coincidentally Houston has the worst air of any American city.  Funny how the chickens come home to roost.

House Republicans failed to come to agreement on a deficit package and Speaker Boehner looked weak after failing to gather enough votes to bring his Plan B tot he floor.  It was aborted.  Now their strategy is to blame the Senate for acting.  That takes balls.

A New York newspaper is under fire for printing the names and locations of everyone in two counties holding a gun permit.  This is public information and, in the wake of Sandy Hook, important information to have.  I’d like to know which of my neighbors is dangerous.

Gov. Gasbag, after campaigning on a promise of open and transparent government, on promises that he’d change the culture in Harrisburg, had a cozy weekend summit with his major donors and contributors last summer.  How many palms were greased with no bid contract promises?  We’ll never know because of the lack of openness and transparency.  Corbett is no different from every other corrupt politician who trades campaign cash for business and legislation.

In further news of his corruption the Governor took a vacation paid for by a natural gas businessman.  Corruption doesn’t get any plainer than this.  Corbett campaigned on a platform of refusing to tax energy companies for our natural gas they profit handsomely from while polluting our waterways, air and ground.  A nice vacation in Rhode Island was part of his payoff.

Three Pennsylvania State Troopers, including one from the Executive Service Section which provides security for the Governor, were accused with traveling to southeast Asia to hire prostitutes.  There didn’t appear to be any repercussions for their behavior.  This is known as sexual tourism.

There have been so many shootings lately it’s difficult to keep up with them.  The deranged man who shot several people in western PA was riled up about the Mayan apocalypse predictions.  What, he was too stupid to understand that calendars end?  It’s too easy for idiots to get guns.

Speaking of guns did you hear about the Tea Party shake-up?  Former GOP Congressman Dick Armey attempted a coup at Freedom Works including walking in with an armed guard to fire staffers.  He wound up getting fired himself at a cost of $8 million to stupid Tea baggers.  Is the Tea Party turning into a circular firing squad?  With all the guns those crazy people have this could wind up being good for the country assuming no collateral casualties.

Democrats have no accountability for House members who betray one of their own.  They named Rep. Thomas Caltagirone to again be Democratic Chair of the Judiciary Committee after he actively worked to defeat fellow Democrat Mark Rozzi.

I still wonder why stupid voters returned so many Members of Congress.  Republicans have proven, without a doubt, they are unable and unwilling to govern.  Why anyone would re-elect them then complain that nothing gets done is beyond comprehension.  The Violence Against Women Act expired because Republicans refuse to protect Native American women.  Do they not suffer from abuse too?  The Farm Bill also expired and is dormant.  Your milk prices will double next week as a result.  Republicans, after throwing millions of Americans into poverty with their failed economic and deregulation policies, now want to slash their food stamps.  Costing them their jobs, homes and retirements wasn’t enough now they also want to starve them.  47% of the country voted for this.  Relief for Hurricane Sandy victims is also being held hostage after conservatives spent the past ten years screaming that climate change is all a hoax.  After refusing to acknowledge reality we’re faced with the devastating consequences and they refuse to pay up.

News & Notes August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck and his Tea Party anarchists are on the mall in DC again today.  Which historic photo will they alter this time to make it appear more people attended than did?  I sure hope it isn’t of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech which was given on this day at that location.  It is an abomination that these racists would desecrate that memory with today’s rally.  Beck claims he didn’t know the importance of the date.  Sure, just like he says he isn’t a neo Nazi too.

Pat Toomey claims he never supported privatization of Social Security.  Doesn’t the former Congressman understand we live in an age where videos, transcripts and interviews live on in archives?  Does he think no one can find those?  It is time Pat Toomey stopped lying to Pennsylvania voters.

Meanwhile Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska endorsed Joe Sestak for the Senate.  This comes on the heels of independent Mike Bloomberg’s support.  Toomey is so far right that even fellow Republicans can’t tolerate his extremist views.

Speaking of extremist views Beaver County Blue reports a Tea Party candidate who thinks sending poor people to newly created poor houses is the solution to society’s woes.  I suppose this is better than simply killing them in concentration camps?  Carl Paladino, Tea Party candidate for Governor of New York, says the poor should be sent to state prisons where they can work on improving themselves (including their personal hygiene).  I certainly smell something but it isn’t from someone’s personal hygiene.  Can you say “Heil Paladino?”

Sen. Bob Casey met with families in Dimock recently to discuss the water well poisoning done by Marcellus Shale energy companies.  He is sponsoring the FRAC Act in Congress to protect our water supplies from unregulated drilling.  The gas companies create a toxic, poisonous fluid which is forced over a mile underground to shatter the shale formations to produce natural gas.  About a quarter of this fluid comes back up where it is radioactive and being dumped into rivers, streams and public sanitation facilities ill equipped to clean heavy metals and other toxins from the water.  The remainder stays in the ground where it can poison our water supplies.

Sarah Palin returned to our fair state to further pollute our political discourse.  The event in Hershey was billed as non partisan but we know better than that.  Reps Reichley and Gordon were in attendance while Mama Grizzley beared down on a host of Democrats.  According to Tweets from the event she praised parental notification for minors wanting abortions.  Has she ever heard of something called incest?  Sure, those dads always want the authorities to know they impregnated their daughters…  She condemned the deficits at the same time she supports massive tax cuts for the rich.  Typical nonsensical Tea Party bologna.  The rally should have been in Lebanon instead.

Meanwhile Big Brother gets bigger as the western U.S. can now use police GPS tracking devices to see where you go without obtaining search warrants.  I thought we got rid of George W. Bush?  Of course every time you use a cell phone, EZ Pass, a store buyer’s card or other anti-privacy methods you’re voluntarily doing so.

Must reading for your weekend is this New Yorker article on the Koch brothers.  These two men are responsible for the Tea Party and all the right wing propaganda being produced.  They are extremely dangerous to democracy and a healthy civilization and world.  You must know and understand who they are and what they do.  They are the principle financiers behind the Tea Party.