News & Notes January 3, 2013

This is our first News and Notes of 2013.  I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

The 113th Congress was sworn in today and new Pennsylvania members Keith Rothfus and Matt Cartwright were sworn in to office.  The previous Congress was the most ineffectual in history and this one bears a striking resemblance.

Former State Rep. Joe Brennan is headed to jail for DUI and wife beating.  A judge sentenced him to between 90 days and 2 years.  He lost his seat over the incident and may as well use the time to dry out.  He’s had an obvious drinking problem for some time.

Marriage equality began in Maryland on the first and many couples began hitching up.  You can now get legally wed in Delaware, Maryland, New York and DC but not in Pennsylvania.

Brian Sims, the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the state legislature was sworn into office Tuesday.  Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has already submitted his perennial bill outlawing marriage equality.

The first bill introduced in Congress wasn’t about gun control, immigration reform, renewing the lapsed Violence Against Women Act, a farm bill or Hurricane Sandy Relief.  It was Rep. Bachmann’s bill to repeal Obamacare.  Republicans have already wasted 32 votes on this windmill tilting.

Hillary Clinton was discharged from a hospital after four days of treatment for a blood clot.  This apparently was the result of the non-existent (according to Faux News) concussion she faked in order to avoid testifying to Congress about Benghazi.  Yes, she faked a life threatening situation just to avoid a few ridiculous witch hunt queries.  Fox should be ashamed for accusing her of faking such a serious injury (said from someone who suffered six moderate to severe concussions).

As I mentioned above the Violence Against Women Act expired with the new year.  Now women lack basic legal protections because Republicans didn’t believe women in same sex relationships, Native American women and others also deserved protection.  Shame.

I’d like to play poker with Barack Obama.  The man folds even when holding all the aces.  After going over the fiscal cliff Republicans faced all of the blame because the country understood they were holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage for continued cuts for the richest 1%.  No GOP Congressman or Senator with any sanity was going to risk being labeled this way (though some did vote against the final bill and will be).  The President held all the cards and still completed a bad deal.  Included are tax breaks for Goldman Sachs (surprise, surprise), NASCAR and other special interests.

Trans Ocean, one of the corporations responsible for the Gulf oil spill disaster paid a federal fine of $1.4 billion today.  Eleven workers died due to its negligence.  This was a drop in the bucket for a multi-national company.  If corporations are legally persons they should have gotten the death penalty for killing 11 workers.

A Swiss bank pled guilty to aiding the tax evasion efforts of rich Americans.  Wegelin & Co. hid more than $1.2 billion from the IRS and paid a fine of $74 million.  Just another cost of doing business.

Former UFCW Local 1776 head Wendell Young III passed away this week.  Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons delivered this speech defending our privacy rights:

The FISA Act passed.

The 9 craziest things Fox News said last year according to one source.  Only 9???

News & Notes June 7, 2012

I was down with one of my bad cluster headaches yesterday, sorry for not being able to write.  I finally gave up and took a Vicodin.

If you watched the film “Gasland” you recall streams out west where methane was bubbling to the surface.  Now you don’t need to go all the way to Wyoming just go to Bradford County to see the phenomenon.  There’s no danger to our water supplies though everyone, just keep walking.

A bill in the legislature would put limits on charter school tuitions.  These privatized, for profit enterprises have little to no accountability.  They aren’t subject to NCLB and are underperforming public schools even though they admit few if no special ed students.  They underpay their teachers and at a rally in the Rotunda Monday I heard one of their leaders complaining about having to fund teacher’s pensions.  Let me cry for you Argentina…

Here’s a bit more evidence our Governor is an idiot.  The state just concluded a three year extension of the contract for state liquor store workers.  It includes a clause guaranteeing their jobs if the system is privatized.  The Governor doesn’t think so.  Hmmm.  Should Tom Corbett be peeing in a cup or should we have insisted on IQ tests before that election day?  Kudos to Wendell Young IV who is looking out for his union rank and file.  It appears he outsmarted the Governor.

Scott Walker survived a recall election in Wisconsin though Democrats did take control of the State Senate in that once progressive state.  Gov. Walker is trying to destroy public sector unions.  It appears the sentiment of the voters was that he needs to do something even more egregious to deserve being removed.  Like a federal indictment?  That seems imminent for Walker.

Donald Trump says he will sue the former Miss Pennsylvania who resigned yesterday.  Calling the national pageant rigged she cast aside her crown.  Too bad it wasn’t attached to Trump’s wig.

We spend vastly more on our military than even China which is several times larger.  The obscene Defense budget can and should be at least halved if things are so out of hand The Pentagon has two Hubble type telescopes just sitting around collecting dust.

Have you read this NY Times piece about President Obama’s secret kill list?  Before rushing out willy nilly to knock on doors for OFA please realize his torture, detention and rendition policies differ little from GW Bush.  The unconstitutional domestic wiretapping also continues.

Meanwhile Dr. Jill Stein has garnered the Green Party presidential nomination.  There are alternatives to the two corporate owned Parties.

The Sandusky jury has been selected and has a distinct Penn State flavor.  That’s expected for Centre County which is why this trial should have been moved.  This report says the former defensive coach wrote love letters to alleged victim #4.  This is pathetic.  Testimony begins Monday.

These laws allowing medical professionals to deny treatment due to personal religious beliefs should mean they should not be allowed to practice.  In New Jersey a man was denied medicine by a doctor because he had AIDS.  What happened to the creed “first do no harm?”  If doctors and nurses refuse to treat people they should find other professions.

John Perzel and Bill DeWeese are cellmates.  A favorite Tweet I saw called them the Speakers of the (Big) House.  Can you imagine the conversations they’ll have?  DeWeese refused to book with Mike Manzo who turned state’s evidence.  You’d think after being House Speaker he’d be accustomed to living among rats.  He’d likely have bored Manzo to death vocally anyhow.

Any moron who still thinks Faux News is “fair and balanced” is unbalanced themself after they were caught producing and airing their own campaign ad against Obama.  That’s what political operatives do, not “news” organizations.

LCB Privatization Stalls

The effort by Gov. Gasbag to privatize the state liquor store system has stalled in Harrisburg and appears to be dead.  This was a major initiative by Corbett and its defeat is a singular failure of his radical agenda.  The Wine and Spirits Stores bring $500,000 per year into the Commonwealth’s general fund and that loss, especially in a severe economic downturn, has generated enough fiscal opposition to the move.  Republicans have wanted to privatize this retail operation for years and sell the rights to individual store owners the way liquor is sold in most states.

Those of us who lived elsewhere really hate the state store system here.  Selection has always been suspect, service poor, locations sometimes difficult to find and prices a bit higher than in Delaware or Maryland, for example.  Many Pennsylvanians still shop for their booze in border states.  UFCW employees have been fighting the privatization very hard to keep their good union jobs and the fact no one proponent of the action can come up with a factual way to replace the revenues has doomed the effort.

Discussion instead seems to be transitioning to modernizing the system to make it better, more convenient and competitive.  My pet peeve is that employees don’t appreciate my business enough to even say “thank you” when I make a purchase.  This is a serious pet peeve of mine and I won’t return to store which don’t appreciate my business enough to thank me for giving it.  Here I don’t have that alternative because there’s no other place to go.  I don’t drink but now and then purchase wine or liquor for parties or gifts.  If I lived near the state line I’d be doing it elsewhere.  These stores do desperately need modernization.