The Day Pennsylvania Turned Red

I stood in the hallway of the Radnor Hotel as Joe Sestak prepared to take the stage for his concession speech.  His wife was with him and their daughter stood holding her father’s hand, tears remaining on her young cheeks.  Richard Sestak told me “we’ll get them next time.”  I fully expect that to mean the Admiral and Pat Toomey will square off once more in 2016.

It was the narrowest of margins on a day when a red wave engulfed the nation as the reins of Congress changed hands.  Five Congressional seats in our state flipped to the GOP along with control of the State House and the Governor’s Mansion.  Dan Onorato never was able to connect with voters absent much of a personality.  Todd Eachus, Democratic Majority Leader went down in flames in Luzerne County.  I never had much love for him as he blocked a whole stream of progressive legislation in Harrisburg.  John Perzel, former House Speaker also went down to defeat in one of the few House races which flipped to Dems.

As I said last night it was a bloodbath.  It was also a good night for crooked Republicans.  Jane Orie, under indictment, won re-election to the State Senate, Tom Marino palled around with a reputed mob figure as U.S. Attorney, lied about his involvement, got caught lying about it and was then elected to Congress.  Rick Scott, he of the huge Medicare fraud conviction, is the next Governor of Florida.

The Congressional Republicans now have no excuse for obstructing everything.  Unfortunately dreams of subpoenas were dancing in their heads all last night.  Expect Congressional hearings on President Obama’s citizenship and all the other insane conspiracy theories Fox News has been promoting continuously.

Americans are morons.  95% of them got a tax cut.  Jobs turned around from losing 750,000/month under Republicans to gaining 60,000/month under Obama.  George W Bush and his Congressional allies in the GOP put us $6 trillion in debt in only 8 years but voters put them back in power to screw things up more.  Bush’s tax cuts cost 8 million jobs and Republicans voted against EVERY jobs bill in the last Congress but Americans think they’re going to correct this?  Insane.

I don’t blame Republicans however.  Liberals and progressives stayed home in droves and allowed the GOP and their Tea Party allies to win.  Now you get the government you deserve.  The Democratic Party now gets to look in its mirror and see what it looks like without its left wing.  You should be careful what you wish for.

Congressional Republicans obstructed every single bill.  They filibustered everything in the Senate.  What did get accomplished, which was much, was all watered down to get one or two Republican votes.  What was needed was for Dems to respond and seize one or two more Senate seats and keep the House.  Progressives decided Obama had screwed them, and he did, mightily and sent a message which, again, has been missed.  Instead all the pundits are claiming the President needs to move to the center.  news flash:  that didn’t work the last two years so why do you think it will now?  He tried working with the GOP for two years and they refused to respond.  Why start now?  No, what the President has to learn is to do what Bush did:  shore up his base.  Without his base he’s powerless and a one termer.   Obama must begin being who he advertised himself to be in 2008.  He must court his base once again or the next two years will be torture for the nation.

Liberals caused this mess by refusing to vote for two years and now they have caused a colossal mess.  Don’t come complaining to me, if you didn’t vote you don’t have that right.

Endorsement for Governor

As Ed Rendell faces term limits it is time to elect a new Governor.  Rendell did a great job expanding funding for education taking pressure off of local school districts who had been having to raise property taxes as legislators in Harrisburg continued constant budget cuts.  He held the line on taxes as much as possible and though we disagreed now and then I always supported his efforts on the whole.  Pennsylvania is going to miss Ed Rendell.

The choices this year are actually three with a write-in campaign being waged by an activist fighting Marcellus shale gas drillers.  As much as I support such efforts one issue candidates rarely make good executives.  I’ve agonized over this endorsement more than any in recent years.  Dan Onorato is facing Tom Corbett in the head to head contest on the ballot.  Corbett is a hypocrite who puts people in jail for the same crimes he commits himself.  He is dangerous on numerous issues dear to me, gay rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights, civil liberties, gas drilling and safe water just to name a few.

I have several issues with Onorato:  women’s right to choose, gay marriage, water safety and single payer health care.  The comparison with the Republican are stark however and the choice here is clear now that I have heard him take a stronger stance on water safety in regard to drilling in shale.  Tom Corbett is someone who thinks the unemployed are fat and lazy and not interested in the multitude of jobs he fantasizes exist.  He would be a total and complete disaster for Pennsylvania.  

I’m said many times I want candidates to vote FOR not against.  All year I saw this race as an example of that mentality, Democrats who put up conservative candidates liberals must hold our noses and vote for.  I stopped doing that around ten years ago and began voting Green or write ins so I can sleep at night knowing I didn’t waste my vote simply voting against the lesser of two evils.  I wasn’t going to endorse in this race but changed my mind after seeing Dan Onorato twice this week.  I hereby endorse him for Governor.

Corbett: Supress the Vote in Philadelphia Tuesday

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General urged his supporters today to suppress the Democratic vote Tuesday in Philadelphia.  As AG it is his sworn duty to uphold and protect voting rights, not suppress them.  This, of course, is the same Tom Corbett who has repeatedly refused to comply with the state Open Records Law.  Here’s what he said:

“We want to make sure that they don’t get 50 percent,” Corbett said, motioning downward with his hand. “Keep that down.”

Isn’t it time the FBI began an investigation of the Attorney General?

Is Tom Corbett A Crook?

Following the passage of health insurance reform last spring Attorney General Tom Corbett announced he would join other Republican AG’s and challenge the constitutionality of the law in court.  While running for Governor he has been very publicly prosecuting members and staffers of the State General Assembly of using their offices for political purposes.  He has put numerous of them into prison for so doing.  Questions whether he has done exactly the same thing to become Governor must be answered before November 2nd.  The people of Pennsylvania need to know if their Attorney General is a crook before putting him in office as Governor.

Keystone Progress filed a formal request for such documents last spring.  Under our Open Records Act all such documents are presumed to be public and the OAG had five days to comply with the request.  As of today they have failed to do so.  Tom Corbett, in his official capacity as Attorney General, the man solely assigned with enforcing the laws of our Commonwealth, is violating the law.  That make shim a crook.

Other of Keystone Progress’ companion organizations obtained such documents through similar right to know requests.  No documents of a legal nature were demanded only those political in nature.  Papers obtained in Wisconsin show emails sent to Corbett’s office of a political nature regarding the matter.  Other documents show a Washington based GOP political organization charged with electing state AG’s was central to organizing the court challenge for political purposes.  Therefore no legal privilege is attached to them and they must be turned over to KP.  

After stalling for several months the OAG responded that release of the documents might endanger Mr. Corbett.  I imagine that might be the case.  If Pennsylvanians discover their AG was committing the exact same crimes for which he was sending the likes of Mike Veon to prison for they might get justifiably angry.  This is no legal rationale for refusing to comply with the law however.  Corbett has been intentionally refusing to comply so he can stall until after the election.  He is hoping the voters don’t find out he’s as bug a crook as all those he sent to jail.  Of course if he succeeds next month in becoming Governor he can appoint his successor as AG with the agreement he not be prosecuted.  Nice deal if he can pull it off.  

Would you vote for someone for Governor knowing he has willingly violated the law?  Tom Corbett is a crook because he is breaking the law by refusing to comply with the idea of openness and transparency in government.  Worse the state’s media are allowing him to do so by not reporting this  travesty.  Are they afraid of ticking off someone with a well known penchant for vindictiveness and retribution?  They should say so then so we all know the integrity of our press.

Why Was Corbett AWOL On Foreclosure Fraud?

Our Attorney General has been strangely silent on the scandals emerging from the widespread foreclosure fraud.  Thousands of Pennsylvanians were evicted from their homes through court supervised proceedings which were fraught with fraud and forgeries.  Most homeowners never engaged legal counsel to fight these actions in court and so may have been cheated.  Without proper legal documentation foreclosure mills and banks threw people into the street without proper due process.  Every bank seeking repossession of a home must go to court and prove they are the owner of that mortgage and have full authority to seek redress.  They must establish this via affadavit including the amount owed and the amount in arrears.  Unfortunately they filed these affadavits fraudulently leaving recourse for those on whom they foreclosed.  The legal nightmare coming from this is going to be huge and may collapse title insurance companies and major banks.  

Where was Tom Corbett while all these fraudulent foreclosures were happening?  While bankers signed thousands of foreclosure documents without ever reading them, while staff employees signed manager’s signatures on legal documents the managers never even saw and threw Pennsylvanians into situations where they were living in tents under bridges in Harrisburg?  I bet Mr. Corbett saw them.  Of course homelessness was then criminalized and the homeless flushed out.  I’m not saying people who didn’t or couldn’t pay their mortgages shouldn’t have been taken to court by their creditors, I’m saying that in this dysfunctional market who knows who the creditors are?  Some people have been sued for foreclosure by multiple banks.  No one really knows who holds these mortgages.  No one can come into our courts and falsely swear they are when they may not be.  No one can come into our courts and throw Pennsylvanians into the streets without due process.  Tom Corbett missed this, all of it.  He was AWOL while all of this happened and is, only now, asking people for information through his website.

The Office of the Attorney General is supposed to protect consumers.  Tom Corbett failed.

Update:  According to the OAG website it released this press release on October 6th.  Interestingly there is no mention of it in the press anywhere in Pennsylvania.  Was it sent out or was it created after the fact to make it appear Corbett was being proactive?  That should be a question of interest to Dan Onorato.

Tom Corbett’s Future for a Theocratic PA?

by Thomas C. Waters

In the Primary season, some LGBT activists criticized the leading Democratic candidate for not being progressive enough. They claimed Dan Onorato’s history on LGBT issues and women’s issues wasn’t strong enough. The most progressive candidate came in last in that race, mostly because Pennsylvania is a state with 2 progressive pockets on either end of the state, but with the vast majority being voters who are more conservative generally speaking. Since then, most LGBT bloggers across the state have refused to really give Dan Onorato a chance, and have said practically nothing about his opponent in this November’e election Tom Corbett. Will progressives simply not vote this November because they couldn’t gather more than 10.4% of the vote in the Spring?

This would be a grave mistake, because if progressives stay home (or don’t vote democratic) the REAL conservative in the general election, Tom Corbett could be elected, and this would extremely bad for LGBT issues. Consider this:

   The 13 states represented in the attorney generals’ brief, meanwhile, include Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

I chose this particular website for the URL on purpose because I want you, my readers to see how the extreme religious right is salivating already over their potential gain in Pennsylvania if Corbett becomes governor.

Earlier this year, Corbett as the PA Attorney General joined the lawsuit against the Health Care Reform, which demonstrated how far to the right he was- practically Tea Party right on general issues. He is clearly a part of the Party of “No,” which in itself doesn’t bode well for our state which needs an active and thoughtful approach for growth.

However, he has now demonstrated a part of his real agenda which could not be more anti-LGBT by filing a brief in the California Prop 8 case.  To be clear, the Prop 8 case, by everyone’s estimation wouldn’t have any bearing on Pennsylvania directly. It will affect California law and California residents only. So why are 13 states (more on the number 13 in a minute) stepping in on this one if the outcome of the appeals will not affect them? For Pennsylvania, the answer is clear. Corbett has already pledged that if elected he will support and push for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. His campaign has tried to portray him as being all about cleaning up Harrisburg politics and reigning in state spending, but that is just a facade. Social conservatism is his real agenda.

The Prop 8 case matters to his agenda because if the Federal government can overturn a California law as unconstitutional, then a PA constitutional amendment could also be challenged. Corbett needs a Prop 8 win to help set the stage for smoother passage of a PA constitutional ban.

It is both interesting and amusing that there are 13 states that filed briefs. Where has that number 13 come up before in a political context. 13 colonies perhaps?  The social extremists have been doing everything that can to paint social change as tyranny. In fact the entire appeals of Judge Walker’s Prop 8 decision is to suggest that a requirement of laws to be constitutional is tyranny against religious freedom.

The same is true for other progressive issues such as a woman’s right to choose. Corbett is an anti-abortion Catholic who has pledged to make PA’s abortion laws even more restrictive once Roe v Wade is struck down. Onorato on the other hand, has vowed to leave PA law exactly as it is. I’m not suggesting current law is excellent from a progressive standpoint, but it is a far way better than rolling back all women’s rights entirely. For many PA conservative voters, abortion is their top motivator.

So, what will Pennsylvania progressives do in November?

They may stay home and not vote. This will assure Tom Corbett and the radical social agenda a victory, and all legislative efforts for greater equality in Pennsylvania will be for naught.

They may vote Green Party. This in theory makes sense. It allows progressives to share their voice via their vote, and that is not a bad thing. The problem however, is that like the vote in the primary, their percentage is so small, it won’t make any different FOR progressive purposes. It will be a feeble attempt to show the rest of the state that there are some progressives around. This desire to make a statement to the Democratic Party and overall base is meaningful but poorly timed. The way to move the entire Democratic party towards the left isn’t on Election day. That work must begin the day after election day, and take the form of constant work over the following 2 years. The other problem with this strategy is that it also assures Corbett’s win.

I believe the only useful choice to advance progressive issues in Pennsylvania, is to turn out in a big way, and urge others to turn out and vote for Dan Onorato, and to vote Democratic in State House races as well. The choice is between allowing progress to continue or setting the stage for all of our past progress to be wiped away.


News & Notes September 22, 2010

Pat Toomey is up by either 4 or 7 points in the latest polls.  I tend to rely on Quninnipiac the most and they have the race as seven.  That means Joe Sestak has his opponent right where he wants him.  I’m betting his powerful biography boosts him over someone who has spent his life shilling for Wall Street.  If Pennsylvania voters opt for Toomey after losing their jobs, homes and retirements to Wall Street they get what they deserve.

In the Governor’s race Tom Corbett is pulling away with a 15 point spread and has a decided cash on hand advantage.  Dan Onorato was a bad candidate from the start but got a jump on everyone and raised enough cash to saturate TV last spring.  No personality, no charisma, no record…  I’ll also bet the AGG is a one term Guv.  Next year’s budget battle is going to be historic because cowardly legislators refused to raise taxes in an election year.  With Corbett’s vow for no new taxes he has George Herbert Walker Bush tattooed on his forehead.

The 15 CD race is also over.  John Callahan self immolated at last week’s debate, or, rather, Q&A session.  I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a worse performance.  The Morning Call has that race at 11 points.  Why vote for the Bethlehem Mayor who wouldn’t even make an impassioned plea for someone who has moved 372 bills through the House this session?  He also failed at go after any of Dent’s lies.

Pat Meehan and Bryan Lentz had a debate last evening in the 7th CD but since Gov. Dean’s office has shut me out of tonight’s event in Wayne I passed on their debate last night.  If you want coverage you have to be more open than this folks.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been dissed by Howard Dean and I’m assembling all my old DFA stuff to burn in the BBQ when I return from New Mexico.  

The Pennsylvania ACLU is suing Pittsburgh for its police state tactics during the G20 summit last year.  Police rounded up peaceful protesters, forced them onto the grounds of the Cathedral of Oppression at Pitt, surrounded them so they couldn’t leave then arrested them for failure to disperse.  This is so Orwellian as to be scary.  Dan Onorato was Allegheny County Dictator at the time.

Jim Powers, the head of the state’s domestic terrorism unit, the one which terrorizes activists, remains in office.  

Pittsburghers are complaining about rising parking rates.  This is one reason, along with traffic, why I have stopped covering events in Philadelphia.  I even skipped President Obama’s event for Joe Sestak yesterday.  Sen. Specter, apparently still playing the sore loser’s role, met Obama at the airport then skipped out on reporter’s questions about why he skipped the event at the Convention Center for the Admiral.

Speaking of dissing the press (again, never a good idea) Pat Toomey is refusing to take time to respond to reporters on his campaign trail.  This is a guaranteed method for getting bad press.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell failed in a Senate cloture vote yesterday as both Arkansas Senators joined Republicans to filibuster the bill.  This means we have no Defense Appropriations bill as yet.  With troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and hundreds of other countries, the Pentagon has no funds.  All this because 43 Senators think its moral and right to destroy the integrity of our armed forces by forcing people to lie about who they are.  Hopefully either the courts will remedy this travesty or the President will finally act by Executive Order.

This is horrible news for Democrats who desperately needed something to close the “enthusiasm gap.  Now liberals and progressives are even angrier at the Party following Obama’s dissing and ridicule in Connecticut last week.  Just when the President needed to say something to motivate progressives to go to the polls he, instead, insulted us.  Again.  Is he tone deaf or just stupid?

The Tea Party announced a $1 million anonymous contribution.  We’ll never know who kicked that insane amount of money (but we can guess) since it isn’t being disclosed.  Karl Rove, meanwhile, is collecting another $50 million to rule the airwaves with propaganda next month.  Thank the Supreme Court and its activist Justices Thomas, Alito, Scalia and Roberts.

Larry Summers is leaving the White House so there is one sigh of relief for liberals.  The appointments of him and Geithner sounded the first alarms to the left wing of the Democratic Party that they’d been snookered by their candidate.  That was the onset of the enthusiasm gap.

Lisa Murkowski announced she will run for re-election tot he Senate in Alaska as a write-in candidate.  Good-bye Joe Miller.

The reaction in Delaware to Christine O’Donnell is so severe rank and file Democrats are actually talking about voting.  This is radical!  Republicans, more and more, are coming out of the closet and proclaiming they want to repeal the New Deal including Social Security and they want to begin executing gays and lesbians.  In the past they only intimated these positions.  

News & Notes August 24, 2010

For those who missed my little Facebook announcement earlier today I will be covering three state Congressional races for The Huffington Post this fall.  Gerlach/Trivedi, Lentz/Meehan and Critz/Burns in the 6th, 7th and 12th Districts respectively.

Dan Onorato is hitting Tom Corbett’s no tax increase pledge since his only experience in such a position saw him vote for a 20% tax increase as a township commissioner.  I hate these tax ads.  I’m sorry but sometimes you simply have to raise taxes.  I’ve seen where rampant GOP mismanagement left Dems with no choices but to raise taxes to balance budgets due to accounting smoke and mirror games.  Too much of what government does and provides are essential services and must be financed.  Taxes are the only method and if you don’t want bridges collapsing under your car, your grandparents out on the streets selling pencils, your kids homeless, hungry and uneducated then we must invest in our communities.  Taxes aren’t evil, they aren’t poison and Americans actually pay few taxes.  Taxes are a necessary evil but without them we aren’t a civilized society.

I’m fed up with all the mosque nonsense.  Its a non issue.  Our constitution says we have freedom of and from religion folks, what part of that don’t you understand?  Three months ago you were all screaming that President Obama wasn’t abiding by the constitution and now you aren’t.  Get over it.  This is nothing more than the right wing finding another fear based wedge issue to distract voters from their failings.  Actually it is but one more.

If any Democratic candidate gets questions about it the smart answer is to say “there’s no real issue here, I refuse to be sucked into the right wing’s fear mongering.  Let’s talk about the real issues, jobs, stimulus, jobs, Republican obstructionism and jobs.  Did you see where Republicans have voted against every single jobs bill?  Keep it simple people, its the economy stupid.

20% of Pakistan is under water, a third of Russia’s wheat crop has been burned by wildfires, floods are ravaging China and every day CNN’s severe weather station is reporting more extreme weather.  No global warming though folks, nothing to see here, just stick your head back in the sand and pretend everything is alright.  Just hope when you take it back out you aren’t drowning.

Today’s history lesson is a visit to deja vu.  The right wing fringe, neo Nazis, KKK’ers and assorted bigots have been obstructing progress in our country forever.  The Tea Party movement is simply their newest incarnation.  This great and humorous look back reminds us of their sordid history:

Pat Toomey is now denying he ever said he supported Social Security privatization.  Has he forgotten all the newspaper, video and speeches out there proving otherwise?  Does he think Pennsylvanians are that stupid to forget his past?  Well, some are.

Manan Trivedi has been endorsed by Democracy For America in the 6th Congressional District.  Tomorrow he is rolling out his jobs program and I’ll cover his Pottstown event.

As far as scheduling into next month goes I’ll be in Santa Fe, New Mexico again from September 25 through October 5th.  If I responded “no’ to attending your events during that time period it’s because I’ll be away.  

Lois Herr has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club.  She is running to unseat Joe “The” Pitts in PA-16.

Corbett on Fiscal Policy: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

With Pennsylvania facing a gian thole in its budget Gov. Rendell incorporated across the board budget cuts last week and he asked the remainder of the state offices to follow his lead.  The 1.9% cuts in discretionary spending are needed to restore fiscal balance as required by the state constitution.  The Governor’s Office does not control any of the other independent Offices such as Auditor General, Treasurer and Attorney General and they must agree to make their own cuts.

Though Attorney General Tom Corbett is criss crossing the state talking about fiscal discipline and the need to cut budgets he has remained silent on Rendell’s request for the AG’s Office.  Corbett calls for across the board cuts but he has asked for an increase in his budget every year.  This year he greedily requested a 12% increase as revenues have plummeted due tot he Bush Recession.  With Tom Corbett it is do as I say not as I do.