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.

News & Notes May 29, 2012

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend and remembered our brave veterans, especially those who never made it home.  Every Memorial Day I remember my Dad who served in the Navy during WWII on destroyers guarding convoys crossing the North Atlantic.

Mitt Romney embraced Birtherism today by sharing an event with Donald Trump.  Isn’t it time someone fired this misfit?

Tom Corbett is slashing funding for schools and now they’re attempting to pass a state takeover bill for “distressed” school districts.  This is a naked power grab by conservatives to bypass democracy and give them power to dictate terms to your local school districts by strangling them financially.  Don’t allow them to do it.

The American Working Families Action Fund is targeting Corbett in a new ad:

From their press release:  

“Tom Corbett could be the worst governor in the nation for serving the middle class,” said Bud Jackson, who chairs the organization.  “That’s why tomorrow American Working Families (AWF) Action Fund will launch a long overdue effort to shine a brighter light on Tom Corbett’s record of rewarding his corporate friends and campaign donors while making things harder for the middle-class.  Our paid media initiative will total several hundred thousand dollars and will include television ads in each Pennsylvania media-market.”

“Tom Corbett chose tax-breaks for gas drillers over health care for children and chose to take taxpayer-funded SUVs and give-out pay-raises for his staff while slashing Pennsylvania schools by more than $1 billion,” said Jackson.  “Corbett has already inflicted serious damage to the middle-class for generations to come.  Our messaging will draw attention to his record.”

Rush Limbaugh must be on Oxy again.  He says he’s created more jobs than both Obama and Romney.  Since the President has put over 4 million back to work I suppose Rush has five million maids out buying him ilegal prescriptions.  That’s a lot of Oxy but it explains his actions lately.

Income equality can be seen from space.

The Sandusky trial begins next week and the prosecution still cannot identify the boy allegedy molested in the showers and caught by Coach McQueary.  How do you prove a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt.  The AG’s office spent three years investigating and this was all they came up with to go to trial?  This is going to be a laughingstock and people will begin asking why they destroyed the reputation of a great university based on such flimsy evidence.  He’ll never get convicted and Tom Corbett has to answer for why it was such a shoddy investigation.  

Florida is trying to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.  This harkens back tot he 2000 voter purge by Jeb Bush.  Gov. Rick Scott is still doing his fraud act he perfected at taxpayer expense with Medicare funds by driving eligible voters from the polls.  I recall a SCOTUS decision (Bush v Gore) which decreed that disenfranchising voters is illegal.  I think it was based on Florida…

The Wisconsin recall election is next week.  Gov. Scott Walker can be ousted and working families can reclaim their rights but they need help.

They’re trying the same tactics here.  Protect teachers organizing rights!  These folks are always clamoring about loss of freedoms while they take ours away.  Ironic isn’t it?  Are you going to take it?

Bill Maher takes on Ted Nugent and the deranged Right.  Watch the video.

News & Notes December 3, 2011

Channel 69 News picked up my story about Tom Herman.  No one will yet comment about their resignation.  I’ve downloaded the fall dinner video done by Mr. Herman to pull out the section where he rants against blogs, email listers and progressives.  This is someone who co-founded a “progressive PAC (which gives to non-progressives) and who calls himself a progressive when it’s in his interest.  BS as we saw in his rant.

Donald Trump will moderate a GOP debate.  This is now, officially, a reality show combined with book tours.  At the end of the debate he should fire one of the candidates.  You cannot take seriously anything in which The Donald is involved.

Newt Gingrich claims people use their food stamp card to go to Hawaii.  This is shocking in that it illustrates the disconnect the 1% have with poor people.  Newt doesn’t have a clue how food stamps work.

The Milton S. Hershey School barred a boy from enrolling because he has HIV.  It’s been a long time since we witnessed HIV hysteria.  I thought the Ryan White days were passed us.  The only potential threat from others is the slight chance the boy would be subjected to a predatory sex offender hiring Hershey boys out for sex to older men.  Since the Hershey School has actually had that happen recently with one of its adult employees perhaps they shouldn’t be trusted with any children.

Michele Bachmann says she’d close the American embassy in Iran.  There hasn’t been a U.S. embassy in Tehran since 1979.  Shouldn’t candidates for president have some minimum sense of history and information?   Maybe, at a minimum, pass a basic civics test?

House Speaker John Boehner says the middle class payroll tax cut is “chicken shit.”  I think he has this confused with the way Republicans view the entire 99%.  Perhaps he should spend less time protecting billionaires’ incomes and rolled around in some chicken shit.  It’s right there in the GOP caucus room.

Penn State isn’t subject to the state Open Records Act and is using that shield to suppress requests for information about the Sandusky scandal.  They also used it to fight grand jury subpoenas.  As I recall the original controversy was around disclosing JoePa’s salary.  Penn State is just making itself look worse and worse by concealing what should be public information.  This is yet another disgrace.

Gov. Corbett ordered DPW to cut $470 million from its budget and social workers are now telling tales about poor women and children being cut from Medicaid.  All this, of course, is to fund tax breaks for corporations and allow energy drillers to NOT pay for extracting OUR natural gas.

Congressman Mike Kelly (PA-03) lambasted Obama for not taking responsibility for Republican failures.  It sounds like something you’d hear from a car salesman.  Kelly is a car dealer in Erie.

Rick Santorum says you shouldn’t get health insurance if you have pre-existing conditions.  It’s an excellent argument for single payer.

News & Notes May 16, 2011

Pennsylvania’s primary election is tomorrow and though I no longer vote in them due to being a non affiliated voter I do have a few endorsements and recommendations.  For Commonwealth Court I heartily endorse Kathy Bookvar.  I have known her and her husband Jordan Yeager for years and they are dedicated to the people and devote their careers to protecting our civil rights.

In Philadelphia City Council I also have a friend running, Sherrie Cohen.  I endorse her and suggest that all our friends in Philly get out tomorrow to support her.

There were some significant coming out stories over the weekend.  Phoenix Suns (NBA) CEO Rick Welts told the world he is a gay man.  Homophobia in sports is rampant and the National Basketball Association is no exemption as we saw in the case of John Amaechi.  

Also CNN anchor Don Lemon has come out publicly in his new book.  Though open with co-workers he had never come out publicly.  Few major news anchors are out of the closet so this is significant.

A preliminary redistricting map is making the rounds online and it is interesting.  Take a gander here.

We’ve been subjected to the tyranny of major banks for years and now it seems even the three credit reporting agencies are out to screw the average person.  Its different if you’re a VIP though.  Read about the special treatment you receive if you’re someone important. I think we need some new legislation covering these agencies since they exercise so much control over our financial lives.

Speaking of crooked banks a confidential federal audit accuses five giant mortgage firms of defrauding taxpayers.  Now let’s see these people go to jail.

Both Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump announced they will not run in 2012.  I suspected the OBL assassination would deter some presidential hopefuls and it has.

There are but five days to the apocalypse according to certain crazy people so if you have yet to transfer your financial assets to me so I can care for your left behind pets please do so quickly.

On Universities And Such, Or, If Obama’s A Kettle, Is Donald Trump Black?

Just about 40 seconds after (Yes, He’s Actually The) President Barack Obama brought forth his Certificate of Live Birth unto the world Donald Trump was accusing Obama of somehow sneaking his way into some University or another.

If Trump’s to be believed, Obama was a terrible student at a College, and then he somehow snuck his way into a University; after that he basically grifted his way into becoming the President of the Harvard Law Review.

Trump would tell you that he’s a hustler, that Obama is, and we’ve got to do whatever it takes to figure out what kind of semi-illegal shenanigans Obama’s University experience was all about.

But here’s the thing: Donald Trump has his own history of semi-illegal University shenanigans-and it appears that some of his semi-illegal shenanigans continue to this very day.

”I don’t lie. When I speak, I believe it to be true. One week later, it may no longer be.”

–French raconteur Bernard Tapie

So here’s the deal: just like there are people who want to Be Like Mike, there are those who wish to emulate The Donald; in 2005 it was announced that Trump University would be formed to help make that possible (the name was trademarked in 2004).

According to the announcement, the University:

“…will offer a rich mix of products and services, including online e-learning courses, multimedia home study programs, and a series of publications. These diverse offerings are geared to a broad range of consumers, from small business owners and entrepreneurs to investors and other professionals looking to advance their careers and to create wealth. Trump University’s innovative, world-class business curriculum will be designed according to the Learning by Doing method. Content will be delivered through interactive learning experiences, including evaluating business plans, simulating real estate purchases, and developing marketing strategies.”

You first meet the “Admissions Office” by either signing up online or by attending one of Trump U’s free one-day seminars-and the Admissions Office is looking to get you to sign up for the $1495 three-day “conference”.

If you do, you are, according to those who’ve been there, instructed to immediately increase the credit limits on your credit cards (immediately as in during the next coffee break), so that you might take advantage of the real estate investment opportunities you’re going to be turned on to at the end of the weekend.

But it appears that investment opportunities aren’t what end up being presented to the conference attendees. Instead, they’re being presented with the opportunity to invest in more courses, this time for numbers ranging from $9,500 to $35,000.

If you jump in for the full package, you’re told that it’s “the next best thing to being Trump’s Apprentice”, and, thanks to your personal mentor (you’ll have a year’s access to this service), you’ll be connected to Realtors, contractors, and other investors (a “Power Team”); all this will allow you to become a Real Estate Professional, doing profitable real estate deals, just as Trump does.

You’ll make enough on your very first deal, it is claimed, to pay for the entire $35,000 course.

(There are other courses as well, including one known as the CEO Success Codes, intended to help you “Learn how to run your business The Trump Way”.)

What is the Trump Way, precisely?

Here’s how Stephen Goff, one of the Trump U trainers, lays it out, as described in a Houston Chronicle article:

You find a property worth $200,000, but the owner’s willing to take $125,000. Why?” Pause. “Because he’s in trouble.”

You put in an offer, even if you don’t have the money. Then you sign a contract, giving yourself 60 days to close. The next day, you put an ad in the paper, advertising the $200,000 property for $150,000. You get that money – in cash – before the 60 days is up, and voila: $25,000 profit without putting down a penny of your own money.

The same article quotes an expert who suggests that this strategy:

“…can be done, but it’s also just as easy for me to audition for American Idol and become the next Justin Timberlake…”

Fun Fact: in his book Trump University Real Estate 101: Building Wealth With Real Estate Investments, Dr. Gary Eldred, the Real Estate Mastery Program “Content Expert” for Trump U, quotes The Donald thusly:

“The worst things in history have happened when people stop thinking for themselves, especially when they allow themselves to be influenced by negative people. That’s what gives rise to dictators. Avoid that error at all costs…

…People who take responsibility have no need to blame others or to be continually finding fault. The naysayers never manage to contribute much and never amount to much either. Don’t join their club. They’re the lowest common denominator.

I knew a guy that I used to call up just to see who and what he would be blaming that day. I don’t think that guy ever thought he had personally made a single mistake in his entire life. From day one, nothing was ever his fault. His biggest blind spot was himself, and, sad to say, he became a total loser because he never thought of the remedy for his biggest failure: himself…” (emphasis is original)

There is a bit more to this story than we have revealed so far: a lot of the information I discovered about the University came from documents related to a lawsuit, filed in 2010 by former students Tarla Makaeff, Brandon Keller, Ed Oberkrom, and Patricia Murphy; that suit is today seeking class-action certification on behalf of all Trump U “students”.  

The Plaintiffs allege that Trump U doesn’t live up to its own hype, that Trump is not involved personally, that the expensive seminars offer no real value (a trip to Home Depot to view building supplies is reportedly part of one seminar), and that the mentors and the “Power Teams” either disappear completely after the three-day course ends, or they appear to offer deals that are self-serving and marred by conflicts of interest-and all of that means no “one year apprenticeship”, followed by tons of income every month, which is what the courses seemed to promise in the first place.

(Page 24 of the complaint shows an image of the Trump U homepage, with a picture of The Oddly Haired One next to the words “”Are YOU My Next Apprentice? Prove it to me!”)

There was also a signed letter sent to potential enrollees:

…You can do it, even if you only have five or ten hours a week to spare. With our simple instructions and practice exercises – and ongoing support from your own Trump Team of Experts – you’ll have what you need to succeed!” (Emphasis in original). The letter closes with Donald J. Trump’s name, signature, and at the Trump University address, at 40 Wall Street, 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10005.

It is also alleged that efforts made to obtain promised refunds have come to naught; the refunds are apparently always “just about to be issued”, or the appropriate person is never available to answer the calls that are coming in seeking information about refunds.

Trump University countersued, claiming various forms of defamation; the action is being defended as a SLAPP suit.

(For the record, it’s easy to find Web pages with complaints about Trump U; those complaints, for the most part, mirror those in the lawsuit.)

This whole real-estate hustle turned educational hustle has caused a reaction from the world beyond Trump; that’s something he noted in his Trump U blog:

Recently Gary Trudeau spent a week lampooning Trump University in his comic strip Doonesbury. The basic premise of each strip in the series revolved around the disparity between Trump University and a traditional university. . . .

Trump University has also been mocked in one of Jay Leno’s monologues, in the New York Post’s Page Six cartoon, and probably in a lot of other places.

It’s nice to see that my new venture is making a splash in popular culture.

As they say, no press is bad press. (emphasis is original)

(Doonesbury’s August 8th, 2010 edition is one of those comics which mentions Trump’s “school”.)

The New York State Education Department informed Trump that an educational institution with no degree-granting programs and no differentiated graduate and undergraduate divisions can’t be a University; as a result Trump University is now known as The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

(Despite the State’s order, the Trump University name seems to have lived on, however: The Trump Store website, as of the time this was written, still sells “Trump University Audio Books” and “Trump University Books” and “Trump University DVD and Audio Packages”.)

And remember Gary Eldred, Trump’s “Content Expert”? It turns out he has a few credibility problems of his own: he co-hosted a radio show with another expert in running a successful real estate development business, Fredric “Rick” Dryer-and in July of 2008, we found out the secret of how Dryer was able to be so successful.

He was convicted on 44 counts of real estate fraud.

So that’s our story for today: Donald Trump couldn’t wait to trash Barack Obama’s University experience, but Trump has some experience of his own regarding Universities-and from what we can see, when Trump opens a University, unsavory practices and questionable associations and lawsuits and regulatory actions follow in his path.

That’s no way to run a University, and, more to the point, it looks like The Trump Way is no way to run a country-except for maybe Blowhardistan.

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

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Obama Trumps The Donald

President Obama released his official Hawaii birth certificate, the very one reporter after reporter has seen in the official state records, and revealed Donald Trump to be the man with no clothes.  Finally we can all see this issue laid bare, the Birthers for the crazies they are and lay it all to rest.

Of course the hard core conspiracy believers will never be satisfied.  Some folks don’t believe in evolution either, or that the earth is round.  They can never be swayed by facts because they’re lunatics.

I was surprised by the White House action.  They say enough was enough that the country has actual issues with which to deal but this was a huge political advantage for the President.  No sane, intelligent or rational person (Including The Donald) believed this nonsense and the more the Republican field embraced this the more they looked like clowns.  That advantage went to Obama and could have been played for another year before playing the trump card.  Timing is everything in politics and Obama didn’t time this well.  It was a well played hand but could have been used for checkmate. (to mix a metaphor)

Trump couldn’t even get his facts straight about the polls.  He claimed a CNN poll shows him even with Obama.  That poll (not even a CNN poll) was from February and recent polls show him getting thrashed.  The difference?  The general public thinks Birthers are crazy loons and won’t take them seriously.  Bad move The Donald, you’re fired.

News & Notes April 21, 2011

I came down with one of my cluster headaches yesterday so writing to the blog may be spotty until it passes.

Harrisburg was shut down yet again yesterday due to water main breaks.  This may be the best news to come out of the Capitol this year because Daryl Metcalfe and Tom Corbett are effectively shut down.

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy officially entered the race for Attorney General.  The post is occupied now by Gov. Corbett’s appointee pending the election.  He vacated the AG’s position to become Governor.

There are two disturbing reports this morning about cell phones.  The first says a new device enables law enforcement to download everything stored in your phone.  Obviously the Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant based on probable cause for such a privacy violation but considering how the feds are intercepting our phone calls, emails and financials without warrants this is cause for concern.

The second is a CNN story about an iPhone file (I have an iPhone) which tracks and stores information about the user’s movements.  Yes, Big Brother has arrived.  Why haven’t Apple customers been notified of this breach of personal privacy, how is this data being used and how do we turn it off?

Wildfires in Texas have consumed 1.4 million acres.  Dry conditions throughout the west have spurned fires for years due to climate change.  It’s sort of poetic justice that Texas is now burning since so many lunatic climate deniers live there.

Two photojournalists were killed in Libya yesterday while covering the civil war.

Donald Trump continues embarrassing himself in his publicity stunt loaded “presidential” campaign.  The rug on top of his head is more attractive than the ugly conspiracy theory he’s supporting about Obama’s birthplace.  Respected journalists have repeatedly examined the full birth certificate on record in Hawaii and declared the Birthers as crazy lunatics.  His interview on NBC where he showed an appalling lack of knowledge about issues and facts destroyed what plausible candidacy remained.  He seems you can make a deal to solve everything.  From now on he’s Donald “Monty Hall” Trump.  Let’s make a deal to send him back to New York.

Pennsylvania homeowners are getting $200 property tax reprieves this year from gambling.  That’s a ton of money when you consider how many homeowners there are in the Commonwealth.

Donald Trump: You’re Fired!

I’ve had it with the Birthers.  These folks are just crazy and their latest spokesman is making the rounds on TV this morning.  Donald Trump brought up the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate recently on The View.  He brought it up not the hosts.  Now, this morning, he sits with Candy Crowley on CNN and claims he’d rather discuss important issues.  BS.  He’s milking this for all the tea bagger support possible.  The sticking point, as CNN showed on the air, is that Barack Obama issued his real, actual birth certificate in 2008.  They showed it on the air, certificate number, seal and signature, all there in plain view.  Still, insane people like Trump keep insisting on believing their conspiracy theory.  You cannot take seriously anyone who believes in such nonsense.

If I were on Trump’s show or worked for him and brought to him such lame, crazy arguments and theories he’d fire my ass.  It’s time for us to fire Donald Trump.

News & Notes March 8, 2011

It was a busy day, much homework to do tonight to process everything.  I began the day at the Berks County Commissioner’s meeting hoping to run into Larry Medaglia and ask him why Vince Fumo’s is bad but Bob Asher’s isn’t.  Then Recorder of Deeds Fred Sheeler confronted Commissioner Mark Scott for campaigning for the Register of Wills in his official capacity as Commissioner.  I’ll have video up later.

From there I drove to Harrisburg where I got Medaglia’s campaign finance report (it isn’t online as yet).  More on that later too.  I ran into Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who expressed deep concern about budget slashing for Temple U and the DPW.  The Department of Public Welfare will see 1211 employees fired.

The attitudes in the Capitol building towards this austerity budget were shock.  Tom Corbett ran on a platform of job creation and his first actions are to kill them.  He actually called for dragging middle class workers into poverty instead of lifting those in poverty to the middle class.  He wants teachers to accept pay freezes while he lavishes significant raises on his staff.  Tom Corbett is a “do as I say not as I do” Governor.

Speaking of jobs the monthly report was good last week.  192,000 new ones were created.  That growth won’t last long as Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington go on slash and burn campaigns against job creation programs.  The federal cuts alone will cost 700,000 jobs and Corbett will fire 1550 state workers.  Cutting state related university funding by 53% will add thousands more and destroy many hopes of a college education for Pennsylvania’s youth.  The basic research done in these institutions benefiting state industries will add to the job losses.

Tom Corbett said “don’t read my lips, read mu budget.”  Soon Pennsylvanians won’t be able to read anything and companies will flee the state.

President Obama already has reneged on his promise to close Gitmo.  Now he is reviving the horrid Bush military tribunals by commencing secret  trials there.  I thought we got rid of George W. Bush?  You wouldn’t know it.

Donald Trump wants to run for President.  I can’t wait to vote against him so I can say “you’re fired.”  Someone please explain to him that you can’t buy the White House.  The chances of this casino magnate winning?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

Corbett is now gutting regulations put into place by Ed Rendell to protect public lands from fracking.  Now drillers will have carte blanche to destroy our state parks.  

Sen. John Ensign announced he won’t run for another term following his sex scandal.  He had an affair with a campaign worker then tried to pay off her family.  Can you say Senator Sharron Angle?

Bradley Manning, the soldier who leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, is being treated very inhumanely in prison.  He is being stripped naked every night.  I thought we got of the President who gloried in violating human rights?

In the wake of the most recent Catholic Church priest scandal they have suspended 21 of them.  The allegations go all the way up to the Cardinal.

Warning, this video is highly disturbing.  Tea Party types in Orange County, California protested Muslims attending an event to aid women and the hungry:

This is what happens when hate mongers are allowed to run wild on TV and radio.  The hate being festered by demagogues, both in and out of office, is abhorrent.  There is no excuse for this type of behavior, shame, shame, shame.  And to think NPR is being criticized for saying the Tea Party is racist!  That isn’t news.