Lyndon & Shawna

Lyndon and Shawna are living in a tent at Dilworth Plaza outside Philadelphia City Hall as part of Occupy Philly.  They lost their home to foreclosure and Shawna just lost her job.  It is cold but someone gave them a tent and meals are served daily.  Three and a half months into their situation they have a lot to say about the state of things in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and America.

Several things in this interview are disturbing.  They say they have seen Mayor Nutter at windows looking down upon what City officials are calling the “City Hall projects.”  he has not come and spoken with any of the people however.  No one from the City has come to talk with them about why they are here and what they need and want.  Perhaps by watching this they might be educated.  Also disturbing is that City officials have come to video the people there.  Perhaps this is an attempt to document something as a basis for removing the protesters.

I stopped at a nearby restaurant with a public restroom and an employee mentioned the issues they are dealing with as a result of the Occupation.  Many of the protesters are using the sole restroom to clean up and some are there doing drugs (they may be protesters, maybe not).  Regardless the restroom often isn’t available for the use of customers wishing to wash up before eating.  I noticed a sign at one of the headquarters tents at the Plaza listing public restrooms and theirs was listed.  It certainly would help if the City or someone provided some portable toilets.

The interview with Lyndon and Shawna is very interesting, I urge everyone to watch it.  This is their story, one of homelessness in America, the anger and frustration of hunger in a land of plenty.  I asked them what they want.  Watch for their answer.

News & Notes March 21, 2011

James O’Keefe, beset by lawsuits against him for all of his fraudulent videos destroying people’s lives and careers, doesn’t like being videotaped himself.  What’s he afraid of?

GOP Congressman Dave Camp doesn’t think the federal deficit is big enough or that rich people are rich enough so he’s advocating additional tax cuts for the richest Americans:  25% for the top bracket.  This is the Republican agenda:  tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the poor.

The Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg is doing “The Laramie Project” the next two weekends.  It is the story of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder in Laramie, Wyoming at the hands of homophobes and how the community responded to shield mourners from Fred Phelps and his clan.

A judge has told an Amish community they cannot deal with an alleged Ponzi schemer themselves.  Good thing too, I can say that such torture would be truly cruel.  Dressing someone like that and tormenting them with an endless barrage of Pennsylvania Dutch, feeding them fastnachts and making him clean out barn stalls makes what Obama is doing to Bradley manning seem like a vacation.

The City of Reading was sued in federal court for using excessive force against a prisoner.  I understand this incident also involves the Berks County Sheriffs Department.  The use of excessive force in the county courthouse is becoming a serious issue.  I now have multiple sources revealing information about Eric Weaknecht’s violations of his oath to uphold the law.

Did I miss Congress’ declaration of war against Libya?

While cutting funds for important programs every cruise missile fired against Libya represents the salaries for twenty teachers.

Congressman Chaka Fattah Tweeted this morning that he was conducting a telephone conference call with reporters.  No bloggers though.  I’m good enough to be on White House conference calls all the time but not for members of our Congressional delegation?

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee.  Unfortunately members of the press fell asleep halfway through his announcement.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party will hold its next meeting June 3,4 in Somerset County at some posh resort.  You won’t find the info on their new website (pretty bad) though.  The event is being held at a spot where there are no rooms available for press attending.  As usual there probably won’t be any wifi either or a press room.  I always wonder why any of the state press bothers covering the Party since they do everything possible to make it as difficult as possible.  I’ll likely need to find a place somewhere else in Somerset County and commute to the venue.  It’s bad enough I have to cover these costs out of my own pocket, you’d think they’d at least try and help us out with wireless.  I finally gave up a couple years ago and bought my own personal wifi gadget.  The experience certainly doesn’t lend itself to providing positive coverage for the Democratic Party.

Mike Huckabee’s group continues its ads on CNN and elsewhere attacking “ObamaCare.”  How about if we all begin calling their number and leaving our recorded message:  We welcome a government takeover of healthcare and agree the Affordable Care Act isn’t the answer.  Please support expanded Medicare for all.”  Let’s turn his effort to our advantage.

I come from a family of teachers, people who have dedicated their lives to helping young people learn.  My Mom taught special education and tutored learning disables kids through her retirement.  My sisters work tirelessly, well after what ignorant critics think is their quitting time.  They use their own funds to purchase classroom materials because there’s just not enough money to do so by their school districts, because they’re dedicated and because they want their students to learn.  Maybe they get two months of unpaid time off each summer, maybe just two weeks.  They are underpaid for their level of education and they love these young people.  What do teachers make?

Republicans trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act are coming to Harrisburg Wednesday to accept testimony about how horrible it is that Democrats are attempting to provide access to medical care for those in need.  How horrible!  Imagine being one of the nine million Americans who lost your health care since the financial crash (caused by these same Republicans) of 2008 and now these people want you to come to Harrisburg and tell them why trying to provide coverage for more people is evil?  Well you can go to Harrisburg and let them know how you feel:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is coming Harrisburg on March 23, the anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, to take testimony about why it should be repealed.

Governor Corbett is scheduled to testify. Some corporate CEOs are scheduled to testify. Some Republican state legislators are scheduled to testify.

You haven’t been invited to testify.

Nor have any of the people of Pennsylvania who will benefit so much from health care reform.

But we intend to be heard.

CITIZEN’S HEARING AND RALLY FOR THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

                            The Capitol         Harrisburg PA                  

March 23, 2011          10:30 am

From Wisconsin to Washington, DC, right wing extremists are trying to roll back the programs, policies, and protections that support working people and the middle class in America. The attack on the Affordable Care Act is just one more example.

On March 23, the right wing will bring their attack on working people and the middle class to Pennsylvania.

We need you to join us in fighting back.

Fairless Hills, Bucks County

920 Trenton Road

United Steelworkers Hal

Bus leaves at 6:30 am

Philadelphia

Arrive by 7:15 am

Bus leaves at 7:30 am from 17th and JFK Boulevard

Pittsburgh

Arrive at 5:00 am for a press conference with Congressman Mike Doyle

Bus leaves at 5:30 am

Pittston (between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton)

UFCW Local 1776

2007 Highway 315

Pittston, PA 18640

Arrive at 6:15 am

Bus leaves at 6:30 am

East Stroudsburg

CVS Parking Lot

250 South Courtland Street

Bus leaves at 7:45 am

Allentown

Lehigh Valley Central Labor Council

3360 Airport Road

Allentown, PA

Bus Leave at 8:30 am

 

Endorsements For Congress

My endorsements for the U.S. House of Representatives are all from eastern Pennsylvania.  All but one are pro choice the exception being Paul Kanjorski.  I endorse him because of the critically important work he is doing on financial reform.  His vast experience and knowledge in these complicated policy areas has never been more important for the economic health of this nation.  His leadership the past two years shepherding Wall Street reforms through his House subcommittee has led to sweeping new controls on bankers.  The Kanjorski Amendment allowing the break up of the “too big to fail” banks could be strategically important in this vast foreclosure/investor fraud litigation beginning to sweep our state court systems.

Chaka Fattah is hero to all Pennsylvania liberals.  Our staunchest and most consistent ally in Washington also has the character to go his own way as his conscience dictates.  He is not part of the Philly machine.

Patrick Murphy is in another tough fight against former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.  Veterans and LGBT folks have no stronger friend in Washington.  He has led the fight against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and his gravitas as an Iraq War veteran has added greatly to those efforts.  

Bryan Lentz is seeking Joe Sestak’s former seat.  Another Iraq War veteran he is solidly progressive and a leader.  In the State House he has forged his own path and bucked Party Leadership to vote his conscience.  That isn’t easy to do but no one picks a fight with such a straight shooter as Lentz.  He will bring much needed character to Washington.

Yet a third Iraq War veteran is running in the 6th CD.  Manan Trivedi is the son of Indian immigrants who went to medical school then plied his trade serving in Iraq as a surgeon.  Now he is running against conservative Jim Gerlach.  Its time for a Democrat and a real progressive in a Democratic District.

The Lehigh Valley hasn’t seen a seriously funded Democrat in ages.  Charlie Dent runs as a moderate though his voting record, like Gerlach’s, is anything but.  John Callahan has raised enough money to give Dent a serious challenge.  In spite of a bad campaign manager with no knowledge of the 15th CD he is coming on stronger in debates and is a solidly pro choice endorsement.

Update:  And Lois Herr in the 16th!

Gary Locke Reels Them In

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke came to Pennsylvania again yesterday, not to hand out a $6 million stimulus check as he did a few months back for Ben Franklin Technology Partners but to tout President Obama’s National Export Initiative.  He spoke at Penn Fishing Tackle in Hunting Park in Philadelphia about the program aimed at doubling the number of jobs created by exporting American goods and services.  The Commerce Department works with small to medium sized businesses like Penn Reels to provide access to overseas markets and customers.  They work with embassies and consulates and even provide local training in the disparate cultures and mores which drive local business relationships.  For example In Japan business people go through an important business card exchange as part of any initial meeting.  Commerce officials on the ground in Japan can provide advice on such customs.   Commerce can also help with official Customs, the process of actually getting goods into foreign markets.  Tony Ceballos is one of the officials working in Commerce’s Philadelphia office to aid and assist regional businesses looking for new markets.

Penn Reels makes and sells high end fishing equipment principally for charter fishermen.  I’m not a fisherman but there products certainly appear to be of high quality.  They sent a reel (I assume a bass fishing type) to President Obama.  After all the speakers finished Secretary Locke, Congressman Fattah and Senator Casey graciously mixed with the Penn Reels workers, posing for pictures and asking questions about the company.

The remaining video is available by clicking “there’s more” below:

Senator Casey:

Congressman Chaka Fattah and Mayor Nutter:

Secretary Locke:

A question posed by an official from AGI concerned export controls on sensitive national security products.  I recently attended another NEI event at AGI in Exton where they explained their sophisticated space software programs:

The national security implications of such sophisticated software is obvious.  I apologize for the low sound quality during the software presentation because the presenter was across the room from the press area.  The graphics can track every airplane, every satellite and every piece of space debris.  It is used to manage air and space and can prevent collisions.  Obviously we do not want North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and other “unfriendlys” accessing such technology and so we have export controls on such goods and services.  The question posed yesterday by the AGI executive makes one wonder if the company wishes to do so.  This is precisely why we have export controls.

Law Repealing DOMA Introduced

The Respect of Marriage Act of 2009 would fully repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and provide all Americans free and equal treatment under the law.  As more states legalize same sex marriage DOMA prohibits them from filing federal tax returns or having the over 1,000 rights bequeathed to married couples under federal law.  This creates a system of sexual apartheid with two separate, distinct classes of citizens.

DOMA was passed by a reactionary Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton.  In fact that hurt Hillary’s presidential campaign as many gay and lesbian activists refused to support her because of DOMA.

Four Pennsylvania Members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors:  Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah, Joe Sestak and Mike Doyle.  Why the others have not is a serious question.  The 14th Amendment guarantees all Americans equal justice under law and DOMA is clearly discriminatory legislation.  Do our other Members of Congress not support equality under the law?

White House, PA Delegation Release Stimulus Funds For Healthcare

From the White House:

Grants Will Help Serve 39,930 State Residents, Create 295 Jobs

Acting to strengthen the health care safety net for the growing number of Americans in need, President Barack Obama, Senator Robert Casey, Senator Arlen Specter, Representative Jon Murtha, Representative Joe Sestak, Representative Michael Doyle, and Representative Chaka Fattah today announced the release of $6,716,568 million authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will support six health centers in Pennsylvania.  These health centers will help people in need — many with no health insurance — obtain access to the comprehensive primary and preventive health care services and create 295 jobs in Pennsylvania.

“We have acted quickly to put Recovery Act dollars to good use in communities across America,” said President Obama. “The construction and expansion of health centers will help create thousands of new jobs and provide critical assistance to Americans who have lost their job and their health care. Health centers, primary care, and prevention are at the heart of my plan for an affordable, accessible health care system.”

Health centers in the following communities will receive support:

Community Health Clinic, Inc. in New Kensington, PA

North Side Christian Health Center in Pittsburgh, PA

Community Medical Services in Uniontown, PA

Chespenn Health Services in Chester, PA

Covenant House, Inc. in Philadelphia, PA

Keystone Rural Health Consortia, Inc. in Emporium, PA

Nationwide, grants totaling $155 million will assist 126 health centers and help provide health care to an estimated 750,000 low-income people across the country. The grants, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are expected to create 5,500 jobs at the new health centers across the country.

HRSA’s network of 1,100 health center grantees across the nation provide health care at more than 7,000 sites, ranging from large medical facilities to clinics and mobile vans. In 2007, health centers served 16.1 million patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Charges for services are set according to income, and only nominal fees are collected from the poorest patients.  Nationally, about 39 percent of health center patients have no health insurance.

HRSA’s grants typically account for about 19 percent of a health center’s total revenue. Medicare, Medicaid and other federal grants and payments total about 46 percent of revenue; remaining operating funds come from state and local grants, foundations and patient payments.

To locate a health center near you, go online to Find a Health Center.