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???

Heat Is On Brennan to Resign

State Rep. Joe Brennan was all over TV in the Lehigh Valley last week following his arrest for domestic violence and DUI.  After having choked his wife and beating her on their front porch he drove off drunk.  This wasn’t Brennan’s first brush with alcohol abuse issues and some thought he was a ticking time bomb because of alcohol issues.

Now that he exploded Lehigh Valley Democrats are in a conundrum:  he’s politically radioactive and they don’t want to lose the seat.  The State House is the Dems only chance to stop Tom Corbett, Mike Turzai and Daryl Metcalfe’s radical agenda and every seat is crucial.  

The pressure on Brennan to resign so Dems can name a replacement (they already have someone lined up) is getting high.  He has surrounded himself with lawyers so it’s become difficult for anyone outside the powerful and influential to contact him about the consequences.  Those who are are putting a lot of pressure on him to do the right thing.

What separates this from Sen. Lisa Boscola’s repeated brushes with DUI are the domestic assault charges.  The fact he beat his wife takes his case to another level which is unacceptable to voters.  There’s no way he can hold this seat after the intense media glare.  It seemed every time I looked at WFMZ news last week I saw Brennan.  Will he have the decency to do the right thing?  Tune in.  

News & Notes August 16, 2012

The silliness of a presidential campaign season is in full swing.  The VP references a term used by Republican leaders and gets slammed for it from…Republican leaders.  Romney screams for an end to negative campaigning while issuing ad after ad which are proven to be false and misleading.  We have two and a half months of this nonsense to go before the election and it’ll only get worse.  My advice?  Turn off your TV.

A new Franklin & Marshall poll has Obama up by 6 points, about half what it was.  With over a million voters disenfranchised and a 620,000 vote margin in 2008 Pennsylvania is in play.  Polls will mean nothing this year because we have no idea of those surveyed can actually vote because of ID.

State Rep. Joe Brennan got busted for alcohol abuse again yesterday.  Police arrested him for beating his wife then driving off drunk.  He’s in the Lehigh/Northampton District once represented by T.J. Rooney, former State Democratic Chair.  Brennan and Sen. Lisa Boscola from the Lehigh Valley both have had problems with alcohol.

The Institute for Policy Studies released a report claiming that 26 large corporations paid their CEO’s more than they paid in taxes.  Conservatives are always claiming we have the highest corporate tax rate around but neglect to tell you how many businesses actually pay that rate.  Corporations share of federal tax revenue is down from 30% to 9% because of all the loopholes and other measures taken to reduce their taxes.  Many of the top 100 corporations pay no federal taxes whatsoever.  I don’t consider that a high tax rate.

New videos:

The reductions in Medicare are offset by closing the donut hole and providing more covered services such as colonoscopies.  The Ryan Budget cuts the same amount but those funds go to tax cuts for the rich.

An ACORN worker fired after James O’Keefe illegally recorded him and manipulated a video to destroy ACORN is suing the video artist.  Juan Carlos Vera actually reported O’Keefe to police for his supposed child prostitution ring but I bet you never heard that part of the story.  Every video James O’Keefe has produced has been riddled with editing lies and he has gotten into repeated legal trouble for his actions.  Let’s hope accountability results in this liar being held responsible for his actions.

Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is fighting to keep her salary as she fights corruption charges.  Her suspension has the PA Supreme Court deadlocked in a 3-3 partisan divide.  Her sister, former State Sen. Jane Orie is now in prison for using state offices, resources and staffers to run Melvin’s Supreme Court campaigns.  A third sister Janine Orie is also charged with operating those campaigns from then Superior Court Judge Melvin’s office.  Does she deserve to get paid while in court?  Her sister used state and campaign funds to fund her defense so it is likely Melvin will also.  Hasn’t she scammed taxpayers enough?

Sen. Pat Toomey is a strong supporter of Paul “Ayn” Ryan.  Not only do they go way back they once lived together.  Gee, does that make them gay?

According to State Rep. and Auditor General candidate Eugene DePasquale Gov. Corbett’s administration is training state workers on how to get around the Open Records Law.  I wonder what they want to hide from us?

Great Britain is threatening to invade Ecuadoran territory in London to seize WikiLeaks hero Julian Assange.  Embassies and consulates are officially the sovereign territory of those nations and doing so would constitute an act of war.  All this to arrest a man who Obama wants to send to Gitmo for revealing damaging secrets the U.S. government didn’t want out.  Assange is a hero and this morning Ecuador announced it is granting him asylum.

Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns lost a primary yesterday and his 12 terms in Congress are done.  he is infamous for efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Rachel Maddow did a piece on our Voter ID election rigging scandal yesterday.  Obama is going to have to focus his efforts here on helping voters get ID’s instead of regular campaign activities.  He’s lost a lot of support since 2008 among Pennsylvania liberals, especially young voters, and must overcome this huge obstacle.

Lehigh Valley Officials Endorse Patrick Murphy

A slew of elected Democrats from the Lehigh Valley convened at the Hamilton Family Restaurant to endorse Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.  City Council members, State Representatives, Mayors and Controllers were among the audience there to show support in a contested primary for the office.  Kathleen Kane, a highly qualified prosecutor is also running for the nomination along with former Congressman and Auditor General Don Bailey.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron emceed the event and speakers included Bob Freeman, Sal Panto and Ed Pawlowski.

Patrick and Steve:

Teaching a toddler to high five:

Mayor Pawlowski:

Mayor Panto:

County Chair Walt Garvin (and my fellow co-host at Democratic Talk Radio) with Rep. Bob Freeman: