Houghton Challenging Pitts in PA-16

Attorney and former State Representative Tom Houghton kicked off his Congressional campaign yesterday in a small horse barn in Lancaster County.  The picturesque location outside Columbia was cold so the assembled audience moved inside the structure.  Houghton served one term in the State Assembly and is challenging incumbent Joe (He’s the) Pitts.  

When first elected to Congress Pitts pledged to apply term limits to himself then abandoned the idea and ran again, and again, and again.  He is one of the most extreme ideologues in Washington and was profiled in the book “The Family.”

Houghton lives in London Grove, Chester County.  It is a stones throw from Lancaster County, Delaware and Maryland.  Once a sleepy little place it grew rapidly as developers turned farmland into McMansions.  Tom’s signature issue is agriculture and he was the initial sponsor of the law which came up with the concept of branding Pennsylvania products with the “PA Preferred” name.

Because the event moved into the barn my video mostly shows his back but you should be able to hear his speech.

He answered some questions including two by me about Reading and Berks County.  I now live in this District.

Toeing The Cliff

The House will adjourn tonight with no vote on the fiscal cliff crisis.  The President said this afternoon that an agreement is near.  Word is Democrats have compromised on tax cuts by agreeing not to raise taxes for anyone earning $450,000/year or less.  This cuts potential revenues by 40% making it harder to balance the budget.

No House votes means the country will go over the fiscal cliff at midnight.  Because January 1st is a federal holiday nothing will happen tomorrow either.

Keystone Progress had a bit of fun this morning holding its “Fiscal Cliff Bowl” on a field in the 16th Congressional District in Reading.  Mike Morrill did the announcing while Dan Sauder played the part of Jim Gerlach who rigged the game for the millionaires.

News & Notes October 18, 2012

The Koch brothers and other billionaire company owners are using intimidation and threats to get their employees to vote Republican.  I thought voter intimidation was illegal?

Joe Pitts sent me a mailer today.  Has he forgotten who I am?  Why would he waste money trying to get my vote and claim he’s working to create jobs.  That what GOP Congressional candidates promised in 2010.  They, including Pitts, proceeded to block every job bill submitted by the president.  These assholes vowed to force the President to fail by filibustering every bill in the senate then turn around and blame HIM for the lackluster job creation numbers.  I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility?

Mitt Romney blamed parents for violence done by their children during the debate.  Then his 42 year old son said he wanted to slug the president.

Any woman who votes for Mitt deserves what she’s going to get.  By the way, it won’t be a job.  More likely, if you’re a woman, voting for Romney will cost you your job.  Signing the Ryan Budget will slash government programs, many of which are staffed by women.  Cuts in education will cost female teachers their jobs.  Tax cuts will deepen the recession causing more layoffs.

Mitt syas he’ll cut taxes for the rich and won’t increase them for the middle class.  Guess who that leaves to pick up the tab?  Poor people.  Here’s a basic economics lesson:  you tax money.  Poor people don’t have any.

The state House was busy at the end of its session for the year.  After taking all summer off our hard working Representatives are off for the rest of the year.  Don’t you wish you had a job like that?  A charter school reform bill went unpassed.  It would have strengthened ethics and reporting for these bloodsuckers.

A gas chamber ban for animal shelters did pass.

A Senate bill allowing companies to keep your state income tax withholding is on a path for passage.  This would create a new Delaware type loophole for out of state corporations putting local firms at a competitive disadvantage.  It also robs taxpayers of their contributions to state government.

Sen. Larry Farnese is justly proud of his bill outlawing straw purchases of guns.  The bill strengthens current law.

Gov. Gasbag says he will sign a bill criminalizing sexting by teens.  There’s nothing like forcing kids into court for being young and dumb.  That’s it, give them a criminal record for showing their tits.

One of the few good things to be accomplished by this radical conservative state House was the voting down of a bill violating the Fourth Amendment.  It would have authorized police to obtain DNA samples, without warrants to search person’s bodies, for even summary offenses.  The ACLU said this today:  The government is constitutionally mandated to explain to a court why it wants to search someone,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This bill undermined that fundamental liberty by allowing warrantless searches of a person’s body.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Second District struck down DOMA today.  It says it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.  From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:  

“Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit continues the unceasing momentum toward marriage equality for all Americans and affirms that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.  The body of evidence in support of marriage equality is clear and convincing.  This decision, as well previous decisions in other DOMA cases and in our federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, signals that the arguments opposing the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans have no legal basis.  With today’s ruling, we are one step closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for every American.”

I ran into a Birther yesterday while getting my Element inspected.  He insisted that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya.  As evidence he cited his wedding ring with its Arabic inscription saying “there is no God but Allah.”  This is yet another myth created by Faux News.  I explained to him that he’s been brainwashed.  I won’t waste precious breaths trying to reason with fools who have chosen to live in a parallel universe where there is no reality.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is retiring and his seat is being contested by former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (disgraced in the GonzalesGate scandal) and Congressman Martin Heinrich.  Spanish normally win elections in The Land of Enchantment.  They have a saying in Santa Fe:  “the Indians have the land, the Spanish have government and the Anglos have the money.”  Democrat Heinrich is leading in the polls rather nicely.  They debated last evening.  I’m hoping to interview both outgoing Sen. Bingaman and incoming Sen. Heinrich next month while in Santa Fe.

Former Sen. George McGovern entered hospice care earlier this week and now is reported as being unresponsive.  He ran for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon.  A paranoid President sent a team of bungling burglars into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate.  The rest was history.

Berks Democrats keep embarrassing themselves.  This time Democratic DA John Adams endorsed Republican Attorney General candidate David Freed.  Another one may be financing the campaign of a Tea party candidate against a fellow Democrat.  I’m digging into campaign finance reports on that one.

Don’t trust those polls allegedly showing the race getting close in our Commonwealth.  If Obama thought there was any chance of losing our 20 electoral votes he’d be here along with Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney sent his Pennsylvania spokesman on to Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia that state’s Health Commissioner resigned today over new abortion clinic regulations going into effect.  Gov. Bob McDonnell is trying to convince women to vote for Mitt but he can’t keep his head of Health because he’s so extreme on women’s women’s reproductive rights.  From the Associated Press:

Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley has resigned over the state’s controversial new abortion clinic regulations.

Remley submitted her resignation to Gov. Bob McDonnell Thursday. Her resignation is effective immediately.

Remley said in the letter that issues surrounding the development and enforcement of the clinic regulations have created an environment that compromises her ability to fulfill her duties. She did not elaborate.

The state Board of Health last month adopted regulations that require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to meet the same construction standards as new hospitals. Abortion-rights advocates argued the strict standards could force most clinics out of business.

Here in Pennsylvania our Dept. of Health has granted waivers to abortion clinics for many of the onerous new regulations forced upon them by Senate bill 732.

Joe Pitts Took Pakistani Money

Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) accepted $4,000 in dirty money from Pakistan laundered through straw donors to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir.  This is a highly disputed region claimed by both Pakistan and India and the flashpoint for numerous wars between the two nuclear states.  Pitts says he donated the funds to charity after the FBI made public its investigation and arrested one of the intermediaries who was working for Pakistan’s ISI.

Both Mr. Fai and Mr. Ahmad also donated to Representative Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican who visited the region in 2001 and 2004, meeting with Pakistani and Indian leaders and calling for a cease-fire. He also introduced a resolution in 2004 calling for President George W. Bush to appoint a special envoy to help negotiate peace.

A spokesman for Mr. Pitts said he had donated $4,000 – an amount equal to the donations his campaign received from the two defendants – to local charities in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Among the evidence that Mr. Fai was working for Pakistan, the affidavit said, are annual budget requests he allegedly submitted to his handlers along with lists of accomplishments and strategic-planning documents. Other documents and intercepts showed that they sometimes quarreled over reimbursing him for the costs of trips or about contracts for which he had not gotten advance approval.

Joe Pitts: Renounce Your Government Health Care

Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) has been in Congress so long he has lost touch with his constituents.  A man who originally ran on term limits he has grown fat and lazy in Washington.  How lazy is he?  For the last two years he slept on his “NO” button.  There wasn’t one thing on the agenda which he supported.  Now that John “The Crying Game” Boehner is Speaker he’s suddenly voting yes, yes to repeal health care.  Of course Joe has health care.  Not just regular run of the mill health care but GOVERNMENT health care.  He has what he doesn’t want you to have.  If Joe Pitts is so against government health care he should renounce his now.

What would Joe do?  He could always fall back on his Pennsylvania provided benefit since he’s already collecting a state pension from his time in the state legislature.  oops, that’s also GOVERNMENT health care isn’t it?  Perhaps he must do what 59 million other Americans must do:  go without.  Let him see the substandard care one receives when they go for medical care and don’t have health insurance.  Let him see the scores of people in the ER who are there for routine care because they cannot see a regular doctor.  Let him see the millions each hospital loses trying to care for the indigent who come an emergency room when things are horribly bad because they delayed treatment because they couldn’t afford care.

Let the Congressman get bills for his care which are astronomical because there’s no middle agency negotiating lower costs for his care.  Let him see average people die because they didn’t get adequate care.

Joe Pitts and other Republican hypocrites vote against government health care for the rest of us while enjoying their own.  America desperately needs jobs but these folks are voting to repeal health care instead of creating jobs.  Of course they voted against every job creation bill proposed in the 111th Congress too.  Joe Pitts voted against every single one of them.  He should have lost his job too but Lancaster County is so wealthy his constituents can seemingly afford their own transplants, cardiac surgeries and chemo.

A national effort is underway beginning today to raise money to call out these hypocrites.  You can read about it at DailyKos.  You can contribute to target these Republicans here.  Ten dollars is all we’re asking so we can call them out on repealing coverage for us while they get theirs.  Please go here and make a donation.  This is the ad which has been developed for this campaign.

Pitts Allies Breaking Campaign Finance Law

Lois Herr charged the Chester County Republican Committee today of breaking the law in its support of Congressman Joe Pitts.  The Democratic candidate claimes 16 videos have been produced attacking her as “Left Wing Lois” while no federal campaign finance reports have been filed reporting who paid to produce the videos.  Federal law requires that any expenditure designed to influence the outcome of an election be reported.  This includes “in kind” contributions if the videos were produced by someone who was not paid to do so.  If someone made these they constitute an in kind contribution and the market value of that person’s time must be reported.  If it was an employee of the CCRC the wages paid to that employee must be reported.  The fact no one has reported any expenditure for 16 videos is a serious offense and the Herr campaign has filed an official complaint with the FEC.  Ms. Herr slammed this overt violation:

“The influence of money in our elections is a great hazard,” Herr said. “We require that campaign money be reported for a reason. As Louis Brandeis said, ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ It is very disappointing that Chester County’s Republicans are hiding in the dark.”

“Federal law requires that groups like the Chester County Republican Party report their contributions and disbursements on a very regular schedule,” said election law attorney Gregory Paulson. “This could be a mistake on their part, but it is very disturbing that we do not know who is paying for these attacks this close to an election.”

“I don’t know where the Chester County Republicans get their money,” said Herr 2010 Campaign Manager Mac Booker. “What I do know is that Pitts duly reported that his campaign is funded by corporate interests. What could be so much worse to convince the Chester Republicans it was worth breaking the law to hide it?”

News & Notes September 14, 2010

Lots of interesting tidbits today.  The President is in Philadelphia for his second annual back to school speech.  Where’s all the furor this time?

Mayor Jim Brewster of McKeesport has been selected by Democrats to run to succeed Sean Logan in the State Senate.

AFSCME Local 88 has endorsed Lois Herr for Congress in PA-16.  Herr has attacked Joe Pitts for taking credit for construction at the Lancaster AMTRAK station after voting to cut funding for the rail line.  In an era when we must build and rebuild our mass transit Congressman Pitts remains in the 18th century.

Patrick Murphy has his first television ad of the fall campaign:

More information is coming out about Paul LePage the Tea Party candidate for Governor in Maine.  Yesterday I noted how he and his wife took homestead tax exemptions for two different primary residences, one in Maine and another in Florida.  Yesterday he lashed out at the press during questioning and swore at the reporters.  Nice touch there Paul.  He says he will return the $191 to the State of Maine though that isn’t the issue or the amount owed.

The LePages, it seems, established domicile in Florida so two daughters could attend Florida State University based on in state tuition.  Since they didn’t live there and accepted primary domicile tax status in Maine it seems they owe Florida taxpayers the difference between in state and out of state tuition at FSU.  I’m guessing but but I’ll bet that’s more than $191.

You’ve got to love these Tea baggers!  Last night in Easton Jake Towne, Tea bagger running for Congress said in one moment that government cannot create jobs.  A few minutes later he cited government as the single largest job sector in the country.  Which is it Jake?  Maybe Martians created all those government jobs, maybe it was Saturnians funding the seed money for countless new entrepreneurial efforts at Ben Franklin Partners?  Jake thinks if we each contribute our five bucks for economic development we can replace the government’s initiatives formed by pooling all our dollars and giving it to outfits like Ben Franklin.  Maybe he wants us to privatize the roads and bridges too and have everyone pay some private company through tolls?  Is that really what you want?  I’m already imagining the safety issues when profit is put first…

While on the topic of the Tea Party has anyone had any experience trying to attend their events?  Have you been asked to leave or turn off your recording device?  Are they strictly on private property so they can do so?  If so why are elected public officials and candidates for public office attending these closed forums while supposedly campaigning?  Let me know about your experiences.

I didn’t watch the Eagles game Sunday (it was on Fox) but saw several Facebook posting by the team about concussions.  Both QB Kevin Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley left the game with concussions then sent back into play against league rules and all known medical science about these injuries.  I know something about concussions having had six moderate to severe ones.  The Philadelphia Eagles recklessly put winning ahead of the lives and health of their players.  If this happens again coach Andy Reid should be suspended, if it keeps going on he should be fired.  Maybe Reid has been taking his junkie kids’ drugs.

News & Notes June 4, 2010

Between a short week and two Board meetings I haven’t had time to catch up so we’ll see about this morning.  Things are a bit slow this time of year any way with the lull after the primary and before the fall campaigns launch.

Democratic county parties will be electing leaders soon and then State Committee meets June 18-19 to elect a new Chair.  Traditionally the nominee for Governor gets his choice and the State Chair reports to him/her.  TJ Rooney was Ed Rendell’s guy and did the Governor’s bidding.  Dan Onorato is selecting Allegheny County Chair Jim Burns and Bob Brady has already lined Philadelphia County behind that selection.  Expect a reform minded challenge to Burns at the meeting.  Some Democrats, especially in western Pennsylvania which just saw a rigged selection process in the 12th CD, are fed up with the back room politics as usual and will attempt to elect someone else.

The fallout from news the Obama White House offered positions to two Senate primary challengers isn’t really news and there’s nothing wrong with it, these things happen all the time with both parties.  Some Republicans are still trying to make hay out of the Sestak offer but as they say in Pennsyltucky that dog won’t hunt.  What has people disapppointed is that Barack Obama promised to change how things were done but is doing the same old things.  I think I recall criticizing him for pandering to the voters that way.

BP continues trying to cap its gushing oil well and some experts say it might be December until the pollution is stopped.

Is it a requirement that to be a Republican you have to be stupid?  I suppose, at the least, it helps.  A South Carolinian Senator called President Obama a “raghead.”  Too many of the folks are stupid, ignorant racists but then, this is South Carolina.  

In New Mexico the successor to Bill Richardson will become the Land of Enchantment’s first woman Governor.  Both Parties have nominated women.

A recent poll has Congressman Joe “He’s the” Pitts ahead of challenger Lois Herr by only 9 points in a heavily GOP Congressional District.  Why is Pitts still running when he promised to abide by self imposed term limits when he first ran?  Is Joe Pitts a liar?

Israel claimed its military commandos were acting in self defense when they attacked six relief ships and killed ten humanitarian workers on the high seas this week.  How is it attackers can act in self defense?  Isn’t that reserved for those being attacked?

The Phillies continue in a bad funk where they can’t hit and score runs.  In light of the umpiring fiasco the other night where a Detroit pitcher was deprived of a perfect game the Phils will go to Detroit so Mr. Gallaragga can throw another one.  The only way a Phillies pitcher can win these days is by throwing a perfect game.

The Supreme Court gutted our rights again this week by watering down Miranda rights.  Why are conservatives so caught up in preserving the constitution then gutting its rights?  I’m thinking the only parts they like are the Second and Tenth Amendments because they are doing all they can to ignore the rest of the document.  This reminds me of their actions with the Bible also:  they are very selective about the parts they like and ignore the rest.  I say we begin executing all brides who aren’t virgins.  Has it occurred to Pat Robertson yet that the BP oil spill was god’s way of preventing sinners from eating shellfish?

AT&T (my Blackberry service provider) is changing its data plan to charge more to those who use lots of data.  Don’t you actually have to be able to use your phone that way to use lots of data?  Mine hardly works anywhere except for voice and SMS.  After having one break down a few months ago and not work at all the replacement is now doing the same thing (trackball won’t work).  If this is their idea of customer service these companies need more competition.

Protests around the state are calling on Tom Corbett to resign.  The AG has been making a sham out of his office by wasting tax dollars trying to make himself look good to the voters.  Wasting tax dollars in a tight economy is no way to convince Pennsylvanians you should be the next Governor.

News & Notes April 9, 2010

I’m working on stories today and will be in Bethlehem covering a Casey event this afternoon.

While perusing Joan Orie Melvin’s campaign finance reports today I notice there are NO expenditures for a campaign office.  This appears to underscore the assumption she didn’t have or need one and used her sister’s State Senate offices.  I’m keenly interested in how she buried most of her campaign expenses with almost no itemization.  It appears Melvin paid all her own travel expenses herself then was reimbursed from the campaign at $4-5,000 per clip.  None of the expenditures are itemized for hotels, mileage or meals.

Congressman Bart Stupak, infamous for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment announced his retirement today.  Now let’s retire Joe Pitts.

Did agents for a Congressman misrepresent themselves as census employees to spy on their opponent’s petition signers?  We’re digging out the facts on that one.

Update:  I was out running around most of the day, the car needed an oil change, etc. and I was back and forth between the houses moving some boxes.  I began stripping the wallpaper in my room at the new house so maybe I’ll be in there sometime this summer.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement today.  This was expected with a Democrat in the White House and his approaching his 90th birthday.  Stevens began his stint on the high court the year after I graduated from college and he served a distinguished 35 years for the American people.  I hope President Obama nominates a clear liberal for this seat rather than another moderate pragamatist.  We need liberals on the court to balance the far right wing majority.

Sam “The Crazy Fundie” Rohrer paid Joe the Plumber for his endorsement.  We now know how much it costs to buy this Plumber: $4000.  That’s quite a chunk of change considering Sam only has a few dollars in his campaign account.  Joe is flush with cash as he continues cashing in on his 15 minutes of fame.

Gene Stilp has filed a formal complaint against Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin with the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board.  The Board is overseen by the Supreme Court.  

Outgoing State Senator Ray Musto had a surprise visit from the FBI at his home.  The feds showed up with a search warrant.  With the recent conviction of Sen. Vince Fumo, the allegations of corruption around Sen. Bob Mellow and the indictment of Sen. Jane Orie what is going on in Harrisburg?  Is there something in the water or is it the cafe food?  I blame it on the rats, the two footed ones.

The California man arrested for threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi got all riled up watching Fox News according to his mother.  Surprise, surprise!  There need to be serious accountability for inciting people to violence or threats of violence.

Obama Addresses Radical Cult Group

The Family is a radical, extremist cult group which has put our nation behind the most brutal dictators and bloodthirsty tyrants the world has seen.  Among its heroes are Hitler, Stalin, Suharto, Marcos, and Mussolini.  These men are so well known they don’t need first names.  The Family grew partially out of their love for fascism.  In his book on the cult Jeff Shalter goes through its history and explains why such radicals would now be supporting and influencing gay genocide in Uganda.

It is all about power for The Family.  They aren’t actually christian because they don’t believe in Jesus’s teachings.  In fact they work to undermine the tenets of Christianity which is why they define themselves not as christians but as “followers of Jesus.”  They would better be described as followers of Adolf Hitler whom their founders idolized and supported.

This is the organization to which President after President has bowed down to at the National Prayer Breakfast.  Shockingly Barack Obama joined this list yesterday.  I can never now bring myself to vote for Barack Obama when he bows down to fascists.  This was inexcusable.

Congressman Joe Pitts is one of the key members of The Family.