Contrived Controversy Fomenting War

A contrived, fake controversy erupted last week when media war mongers attacked President Obama for not using the term “Islamic Extremism” when speaking about ISIS.  These words and the air time devoted to them cause lives.  President Obama held a forum on extremism last week and refused to label ISIS terrorists as “Islamic Extremists.”  For this he was vilified by Fox News.  The discussion also spilled over to the Fox Light Network CNN.  

The President refuses to fall into the right wing media’s trap of making this war one of Christian versus Muslim.  Ever since President George W. Bush’s giant mistake of calling the Iraq War a crusade much of the world has taken that to mean that these have been religious wars.  There have been  countless religious wars over centuries and this should not be one of them.  This is a war against terrorists using ancient forms of torture and terror.  Let’s remember that their use of torture, however barbaric, is being justified by them because of our use of torture against Muslims.  We opened this can of worms.

ISIS is no more Islamic and representative of that faith than the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church are of Christianity.  Nothing they stand or fight for is justified in the Quoran.  This is not the Muslim faith practiced and observed by a billion people across the globe.  Demonizing all Muslims for the actions of a few fundamentalist extremists is no different than if we condemned all Christians for the KKK.

Stereotyping people is evil and immoral.

Networks beaming footage of pundits calling for religious war is irresponsible war mongering.  People die from such actions.  The President is doing the responsible thing by recognizing ISIS as terrorists and not simply Muslims.  The term “Islamic Extremism” connotes that we, as a Christian nation (which we are not) are at war with Islam.

The result of such madness is that average Americans are targeted simply because of their faith.  Muslim Americans should not be afraid for their safety because reckless “journalists” choose to put them at at risk.  The fact a once respected network like CNN chose to jump on this topic last week on Carol Costello’s program was disheartening.  This is basic war mongering and an attempt to foment hatred not just at ISIS but towards all Muslims.

A Quacked-Up Strategy to Stop Terrorism

by Walter Brasch

Just about everyone has an opinion of what President Obama should do about the ISIS threat in Iraq. Many of the suggestions have come from the architects of America’s latest invasion of Iraq who claimed the nine year war that led to more than 25,000 deaths and 110,000 injuries among American and coalition troops would last not more than six months.

Whatever the President does or doesn’t do, a rabid minority will attack him and stuff their suggestions with the vileness of hate and politics. Most suggestions are based on ignorance and are easily dismissed.

But, there is one possible suggestion that may have merit.

On Sean Hannity’s Fox TV show, Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch and one of the world’s greatest military and diplomatic strategists, suggested that America tell ISIS fighters either to convert or be killed.

Millions of Americans-who called radical Muslims who preached such a doctrine, “barbarians” or “terrorists”-don’t seem to have a problem with converting Muslims to Christianity, the one true religion.

While Robertson had a good idea, he didn’t explain any way to implement it.

I do.

First, take a couple of Marine infantry regiments. Place them into Iraq. Make sure each soldier has an M-16, which in fully automatic mode can fire 800 rounds a minute and is one of the weapons the NRA believes all Americans should have a right to possess but only, they caution, as an AR-15 in semi-automatic mode. After all, those deer can be quite elusive.

Next, make sure every soldier also has a duck call. I recommend Duck Commander’s Homeland Security duck call. It’s only about $150 each, or about $1.5 million retail if both regiments are at full strength. This sale will help spur the American war economy. The soldiers will use the quackers to lure and mesmerize the ISIS fighters.

The Robertson clan needs to be on the front lines as decoys. Because the clan looks like terrorists, the ISIS terrorists will think long-haired, bearded scarf-wearing camouflaged Robertsons are kin-folk.

When the terrorists are rounded up, bring out the support troops-a company of white Southern Baptist preachers. The terrorists will be given a choice. Allow the preachers to dunk them into the Tigris or Euphrates rivers, the source of what we believe is civilization, or face hell-fire-and-brimstone from M-16s.

Some may suggest that Islam, primarily a peace-loving religion whose Koran shares much of the Old and New Testaments, is tainted by a minority of radical terrorists. They may claim that to even suggest a convert-or-be-killed philosophy is in itself not just the reflection of bigotry and hatred but can be seen as little more than a terrorist threat. Nonsense. Isn’t it no less than treason to doubt the wisdom of a millionaire duck call manufacturer and his legions of followers who drool over Reality TV and the “fair and balanced” network that gave air time to present the best suggestion that Fox News ever transmitted?

History suggests the convert-or-be-killed strategy that the Chief Duck Caller proposed should be effective. After all, Roman Catholics during the Inquisition converted about 100,000 Jews, most of whom took Christian names. The ones who weren’t “convinced” that Christianity was the one true religion were burned at the stake or exiled.  Of course, most of the converts also practiced Judaism secretly, but as long as they pretended to be Christians, that’s all that matters. Naturally, the Jews weren’t alone-there were and still are many pretend Christians.

Certainly, Jesus, who was born, lived, and died a Jew, would want everyone to be killed who doesn’t believe in the religion that others founded in his name. Disregard the fact that the Koran and the Bible share much of the same wisdom and history embodied within the Jewish Torah. Disregard the reality that that Islam and Christianity are brother religions, descendants of Judaism. This is 2014, and Christianity is the one true religion.

The convert-or-kill philosophy, espoused by the duck callers and millions of others, is just what the American democracy needs to wipe out terrorists, Muslims, and all non-believers.

Quack. Quack.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning columnist and satirist, is author of 20 books that combine history and contemporary social issues. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania.]

The No News News Media

by Walter Brasch

There was a lot of news this past week.

Some of it was even reported by the news media.

First, there was a football player from Notre Dame who either did or didn’t know that his girlfriend was or wasn’t real, but died sometime during the season. Six column headlines for several days announced the fraud. Network news and talk show hosts rehashed it almost daily.

Two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong admitted he was a dope. Or maybe he just took dope. The news media kept sending urgent flashes all week of what he was going to tell Oprah. And then he told Oprah, and now we’ll be reading stories about it until Schwinn adds a jet engine to a 3-speed.

Subway is accused of making foot-long hoagies that are 11 inches, a problem that the executives wisely didn’t say was due to shrinkage in cold weather. The media seized this major fraud and, ignoring anything Congress or Wall Street was doing, slathered layers of hype on a story that should have died with three paragraphs in one day.

Of course, there was the inauguration. That became another way for bloviators and pretend-journalists to push their own agendas. They told us how unpopular this President is-attendance was way down from the first inauguration. Only 500,000 attended.  They didn’t tell us that second inaugurations always have much fewer people watching them in person than first inaugurations. And, that figure of 500,000? A little short of the actual number of one million. They said the inauguration was over-long and overpriced, although most of it was paid for by private donations. Something they didn’t mention was that the costs and day’s activities were about the same as for the previous president, and most presidents of the latter 20th century-Democrat or Republican.

Some of these pundits suggested that the President didn’t have a mandate, although he easily won by more than five million votes, and a near landslide in the Electoral College. A few of the more extreme even suggested he had stolen the election-how else could he have won over the nice businessman who bought and sold companies and helped improve the economy of Switzerland and the Canary Islands?

For the rest of the networks, the focus was on a constant blather of what would Michelle Obama be wearing. Whose dress? Whose gloves? This, of course, was mixed into all kinds of gushes and comments about her new ‘do. You know, the one that had bangs. The day after the inauguration, the media was all over the story of the BeyoncĂ© kerfuffle. Did she or didn’t she lip synch the National Anthem? Truly great news coverage there.

Hillary Clinton testified before the Congressional Inquisition of Televised Republicans trying to make their bones to either enhance their own chances for re-election or to block what they think may be her plan to run for the presidency in 2016. This would be some of the same people who thought she was faking a concussion to avoid testifying in the first place.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled for Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 2-10 was cancelled this past week. The Expo is the largest in North America, but the organizers decided that in the wake of the Newtown murders, they would put a temporary moratorium on the sale of military-style assault weapons because they believed “the presence of MSRs [military style rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.” Only a dozen or so of the 1,200 vendors were affected; most were selling clothes, rifles, turkey calls, tents, and anything related to outdoor sports. But, one by one vendors, the media, and dozens of celebrities-all with NRA encouragement and support-decided not to attend, somehow believing that a hunting and fishing exhibition that didn’t allow the purchase of assault weapons was somehow anti-American and gave a message that those who did attend were opposed to the Second Amendment. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that the cancellation led to a loss of $43 million in the local economy.

More than 32,000 will die from gun violence by the end of the year, according to the Brady Center. This past week, 78 Americans, including four pre-teens, died from gun violence. And, during this past week, as has been the case for hundreds of previous weeks, the NRA leadership, with the egos of a gang of schoolboys who overdosed on testosterone, continue to defy all attempts to reach sensible solutions to allow the purchase of guns, yet reduce the violence.

A 38-year-old sergeant died from wounds received near Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, but he became a lower priority less than a year later. The Bush-Cheney administration almost abandoned the war in Afghanistan and turned to Iraq. More than 7,600 American and allied soldiers were killed, and more than 50,000 wounded in both wars. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, ended the war in Iraq and is months from ending the one in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who numerous times promised to reign in the abuse of the filibuster that blocked any meaningful legislation or presidential appointments, turned wimp this past week. He and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who once vowed his top priority was solely to prevent Barack Obama from serving a second term, may have been last seen hugging, kissing, and preparing to be married in Massachusetts.

This past week, the stock market hit new records, and it looks President Obama may receive some of the credit for helping to stop the Great Recession, something that upsets Republicans, delights Democrats, and has no meaning to anyone homeless or unemployed.

Yes, there was a lot of news this past week. Some of it may some day actually be reported.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster. It is available from www.greeleyandstone.com at a pre-publication discount.]

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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???

Truckin’ to Treason: The Hot Air of Secession

by WALTER BRASCH

A white Ford F-250 pick-up rumbled through town, a Confederate rebel flag on a pole behind the cab; on the rear bumper were a pro-life and three Anti-Obama stickers, two of which could not be revealed in a family newspaper.

It wasn’t a lone wolf protest; several cars, trucks, and homes in the area sport similar flags and messages. During the summer, when a 4-wheel Jamboree and a Monster Truck rally are held at the local fairgrounds, attracting thousands from a multi-state area, many trucks fly rebel flags, insignia, and political statements. During the annual eight-day fair at the end of September, vendors sell all kinds of items with the Confederate battle flag, most of them made overseas.

The rebels say they are fierce independents. But, being a “rebel” doesn’t mean you can complain about paying taxes, while also denying climate change and evolution. Nevertheless, those flying rebel flags, although they may be disenchanted and alienated from the mainstream, are still part of traditional mainstream America.

They may claim they oppose “Government” (also known as “gummint”) intruding upon their lives, but think it’s perfectly acceptable for government to make rules about the people’s sexual practices and to invade women’s bodies.

They also believe government has the duty to create laws to require national identification for every citizen and establish restrictive measures that weaken the rights of all people to vote, especially those who aren’t White establishment Republicans. When the U.S. invaded Iraq for reasons that were questionable at best, chest-thumping jingoistic “rebels” were the strongest supporters of military action. But, they remained largely silent when liberals and social activists spoke out about soldiers not being given adequate body armor, and military hospitals not giving the wounded adequate treatment. They have also remained largely silent about the one-fourth of America’s homeless who were combat veterans.

These pretend-rebels gave standing ovations to the PATRIOT Act that established numerous ways the government could violate citizen rights granted by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments. When the federal courts ruled parts of the Act to be unconstitutional, the “patriotic rebels” complained about activist judges.

They listen to conservative talk radio and Fox News, all of which bash the mainstream media, but don’t recognize that the very sources they turn to for information are also mainstream media, owned by establishment multi-millionaires.

They willingly agree with Mitt Romney, even in defeat, that 47 percent of Americans are takers who “want stuff,” but don’t recognize that one of the biggest takers who wanted more “stuff” was Romney himself, who ran a venture capital company that existed to take over other companies. Even fellow Republicans during the primaries called Romney not a venture capitalist but a vulture capitalist.

In a local newspaper, which daily opens a full page, sometimes two full pages, to dozens of one or two paragraphs of grammatically-scurrilous rants from local citizens, are variations of President Obama being a Kenyan-born Muslim who is leading America into Communism and self-destruction, their thoughts mimicking the screed of conservative talk show hosts, pundits, and bloviators.

But the rebel who drove the white F-250 doesn’t live in the Deep South; this is in the rural red center of blue-state Pennsylvania, home of the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War.

The Civil War-known as the War Between the States among Confederate sympathizers-is still being fought. Almost 25,000 Pennsylvanians have now signed petitions to have the Keystone State secede from the union.

More than 700,000 citizens upset about the re-election of President Obama in the past two weeks have signed petitions calling for their states to secede. The states with most of the signatures are Red States, paralleling the former Confederacy, which receive far more in federal dollars than their citizens pay. They are also the states where numerous polls reveal at least one-fourth of all citizens don’t believe in the separation of church and state. Maybe the U.S. can convince Iran and Saudi Arabia, theocratic dictatorships, to annex those states.

However, Texas, with more than 120,000 signatures, leads all lists of petitions. It would be tempting to send the Lone Star State back to Mexico. They get Texas, and the U.S. gets Acapulco, Cancun, and Mazatlan. In 2009, running for re-election, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, trying to burnish his ultra-conservative credentials, had even suggested that not only did he align himself with right-wing extremists but that Texas could become so mad at the federal government they might consider seceding. But now, he says he disagrees with the citizens who ignorantly claim the 10th Amendment gives them right to secede.

Perhaps it’s because Gov. Perry realizes that the only way a state can secede from the union, according to the Constitution, is not by having a majority of citizens petition the White House or even having an election, but only by an armed insurrection, something that didn’t work in 1861-and won’t work today.

Nevertheless, there is one possibility for those who so willingly signed secession petitions, mouthing off before they understood the penalties for treason.

For more than four decades, these conservative pretend-rebels told everyone who disagreed with them and protested American policy that they were un-American and unChristian. Not knowing even the basics of the Constitution or political philosophy, the conservative “rebels” called protestors for social justice pinkos, Commies, and traitors. They drilled into the public discourse the mantra of “America-love it or leave it.” By their own actions the past two weeks, it may now be time for a few hundred thousand to pack their bags and take their own advice.

[Walter Brasch proudly calls himself a social activist who, although he often disagrees with government actions, believes in the right of the state to exist and to protect its citizens from all forms of terrorism and stupidity, both foreign and domestic. His current book, which looks at the American Revolution and the Revolution of the 1960s, is Before the First Snow, available at amazon.com and www.greeleyandstone.com]

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Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

News & Notes August 20, 2012

Congressman Marino keeps getting caught with his pants down.  After admitting he voted to eviscerate Tobyhanna Depot’s budget and jobs he is part of a FBI investigation into an Israeli junket.  A Kansas Congressman went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee after everyone got drunk.  So far there aren’t any pictures.

Remember the suburban Philly pool which told Black kids they weren’t welcome?  The lawsuit has been settled and the result is good.

Pennsylvania Republicans are now targeting public employee pensions.  After destroying the retirement security for private sector workers now they want to do the same for public workers.  a 401(k) is NOT a good solution for retirement.  Wall Street corruption and the rigging of the system makes these far too risky.  People who work in the public sector do so at less comparable pay.  Fixed pensions are one of the few carrots we have to entice good, qualified people to take these jobs.  Dissolving their good pensions will end that for good.

Adam Busby, the terrorist who threatened Pitt with 40 bomb threats, is a Scot who resides in Ireland so he may never face prosecution for his crimes.  Pitt gets shut out again.

More state residents have lost the total value of their homes because fracking poisoned their water.  How many more will be devastated in the name of jobs?

Now that state prisoner William DeWeese has been tossed off the ballot Democrats have chosen Pam Snyder to run for the seat in Greene County.  I haven’t heard any rumblings about this selection process.  The PA Democratic Party has a strong history of violating laws and rules in picking candidates for open races and seats.

Pennsylvania Republicans are challenging petitions  submitted by the Constitution and Libertarian Parties.  Ballot access for minor parties continues being a serious issue in Pennsylvania.

Some people say Fox News is nothing but a propaganda tool for the National Republican Committee:

This was one of the best of last week’s presidential hijinks:  Paul Ryan blamed Obama for the closing of the Janesville (WI) auto plant.  It closed under President Bush.  Now ordinarily we wouldn’t expect a Congressman to know when every manufacturing plant closed but Ryan lives in Janesville.

Chris Christie is giving the keynote address at the Republican convention.  I hope the network censors are ready to hit their mute buttons because you never know what nonsense will come from the Jersey Guv’s lips.  Like here in Pennsylvania unemployment is going up do to the failed economic policies of our GOP Governors.  Bet he doesn’t mention that from the podium.

Romney Lies About Obama Business Statement

Fox News took an Obama quote and twisted it out of context this week.  Mitt Romney then took that lie and spread it in a speech in Pittsburgh the other day.  In the quote Fox and Rush claim the President told small business owners they aren’t responsible for their own success.  When read in context he said something quite different.  Here’s the out of context quote:

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

Here’s the context:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”

Every business depends on government for its success and the President was simply reiterating that point.  If you use the internet you use something created by the government, same with roads and bridges which bring your goods and customers, money is provided by the government along with patents which protect inventors and courts to litigate contracts and disputes.  The support provided by government is what makes businesses work.

If someone doesn’t understand that, like Mitt Romney, maybe they aren’t intelligent enough to be president.  If they intentionally take something out of context in order to lie maybe they aren’t honest enough to be president.

News & Notes June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare is expected today.  Consensus seems to be that the Roberts Court will strike it down.  So far this court has backed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 100% on its rulings.  Elections do have consequences.

Focus on SCOTUS is increasing as the result of the total corruption of our democracy because of Citizens United.  When 30 billionaires can funnel a billion dollars into a single campaign we no longer have a democracy.  Meanwhile Justices Alito and Thomas are getting heavy criticism for their purely partisan work.  Clarence Thomas’ wife works for a think tank opposing the Affordable Care Act.  His household gets money from those working to strike down the law.  

Fast & Furious continues being a focus of the news.  The failed program begun under George W. Bush ran guns into Mexico in the hope they could be tracked.  It failed.  Concern and outrage by the Right is missing the larger issue:  the huge flow of guns from this country into Mexico fueling the rampant violence and destabilization.

The student loan interest rate issue and a transportation bill both need to be passed this week.  Is the Tea Party House capable of passing anything meaningful and progressive?

A disturbing article about a Justice Department suit against two polygamous towns is required reading.  Polygamy is illegal and residents of these Utah/Arizona border towns are openly discriminating against their non-polygamous residents to the point of destroying their crops and killing their dogs.

East coast sea levels are rising due to global warming.  How much evidence do morons need before they stop believing what they hear from Rush and Fox?  The oil companies are fueling this denial so they can continue destroying the planet for profit.  Imagine the chaos if tens of millions of people are displaced all along the east coast?  How much will that cost?

It’s time for an increase in the minimum wage.  Low wage workers are actually earning less than thirty years ago due to inflation.  Places like Santa Fe which have living wage minimum wages prove that higher wages don’t mean fewer jobs.  The business community constantly rolls out this debunked argument when the issue comes up for votes.  In Santa Fe, where the minimum wage is now $10.29 they now have more people working in the hospitality sector, a center of low wage workers, than before 2008.  Their high minimum wage has not affected employment.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Msg. William Lynn of child endangerment last Friday.  Two landmark child molestation trials ended in Pennsylvania on the same day, both with convictions.  The Catholic Church must pay for its disregard of morality.  Penn State’s mistake wa snot shuttling Sandusky from campus to campus to better hide his abuses.  It worked for the Church for decades after all.

Voters keep electing car dealers to Congress then are mystified when the corrupt businessmen become corrupt Congressmen.  Have you ever dealt with an honest car dealer?  There’s no such thing.  The latest is Florida’s Vern Buchanan.  At least this corrupt Buchanan isn’t from Pennsylvania but we have our own car dealer in Congress:  Mike Kelly in PA-03.  Before that we had Don Sherwood in PA-11 who lost after getting caught choking his mistress.

I come from a family of teachers.  My Mom was a special education teacher, a sister is a college professor, another a retired guidance counselor and two more teach in local high schools.  When I hear idiots complaining about teachers it makes my blood boil.  They have no idea how hard these jobs are, especially nowadays.  Kids who have no interest in learning because their parents fail to instill a love of it in them when young challenge every teacher.  Would you want your job dependent on such kids?  Teachers are vastly underpaid when CEO’s earn billions.  Here’s a suggestion on how to pay teachers, gotta love it.

There are so many important areas being cut by Gov. gasbag so he can shell out tax credits to energy companies it’s hard to keep up with all of them.  The Times-Tribune covers how cuts are affecting day care centers.

Congratulations to new AFSCME leaders Lee Saunders (President) and Laura Reyes (Sec-Treasurer).  Saunders succeeds Jerry McEntee who retired after a good tenure.

In yet another tragic shooting of a Black kid by an angry white man are we entering into a race war where White men are openly killing African-Americans?  This seems to have been the real motivation for Stand Your Ground laws.

Fox News is so stupid not only can’t they get facts straight (of course they don’t want to when they can just make them up) but they can’t even get people right.  In their latest flub they showed a picture of Gov. Mitch Daniels instead of Jerry Sandusky.  It may be a freudian slip though since Daniels is screwing Indiana the same way Jerry screwed his kids.

The Supreme Court did strike down Arizona’s “papers please” anti-immigration law this morning.  But they also struck down Montana’s law against unlimited corporate money in politics.  This is a double down on Citizens United.  From the Brennan Center For Justice:

“The 2012 elections make one thing clear: unlimited spending by super PACs and secretive nonprofits is corrupting our political process and threatens to swamp our democracy,” said Adam Skaggs, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Increasing numbers of Americans believe our government is bought and paid for by special interests and that their votes don’t matter. By not taking this case, the Court missed a critical opportunity to rein in some of the worst excesses of Citizens United, and other rulings, that created this super PAC mess.”

Montana banned corporate election spending for more than 100 years as a result of a dramatic history of efforts by big companies to capture the state government. The state of Montana compiled an extensive and powerful factual record that demonstrated how unlimited corporate spending previously held the state hostage to mining companies and still poses severe threats to Montana’s elections and government. For the Court to strike down the state’s anti-corruption law without even reviewing that record is a serious mistake.

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 23, 2012

The Obama Bethlehem office had a good turnout for Harvey Milk Day.  Adrian Shanker, President of Equality Pennsylvania, spoke about the gains for the community from the Obama Administration.  Liz and Trish from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network were also there.  The Obama campaign launches its LGBT outreach with a conference call this morning.  In light of the medical marijuana crackdown how this impacts those living with AIDS is something which was not addressed on the call this morning.

Sen. Casey is under pressure to support marriage equality now that President Obama is on board.

Has Newark Mayor Cory Booker doomed any chance he had of gaining higher office.  He went on Meet The Press and criticized President Obama’s Bain Capital ads.  How is Obama using the issue different from his Republican rivals using it in the primaries?  This is a big deal and it is what he predicates his qualifications to be president on.  That demands examination.

The situation at Fukushima is getting dire.  Another earthquake now might jeopardize the lives of most people living in the northern hemisphere according to some experts.

There’s more data about why Tea baggers are so stupid:  they watch Fox News.  Of course this is a lifestyle choice so perhaps we can round them up, send them to electrified camps and wait for them to die.  That’s what Pastor Worley would recommend, I’m sure.

Speaking of Pastor Worley, now he’s saying that “forty years ago they would’ve hung (homosexuals), bless god, from a white oak tree.”  The problem with this is not only its bigotry but the ignorance from Worley that such things have happened.  How different is a white oak tree from the wood (faggots) used to burn gays alive during the Dark Ages or the fence to which Matthew Shephard was chained and left to die?  Having a pulpit is no excuse to exercise in hate speech.  Real people get hurt by things people like Worley say.

A new effort is underway to mandate that all state campaign finance reports be submitted electronically.  Pennsylvania may yet enter the 21st century in one way.  Fair elections require disclosure prior to election day.

Fox viewers are the least knowledgeable audience of any outlet, and they know even less about politics and current events than people who watch no news at all.

Marcellus shale drilling consumed 1.5 billion gallons of our precious water last year.  There was so much gas produced that there is now a glut on the market and prices for gas have collapsed.  Royalty checks are also on the decline and some landowners may see nothing for those well pads located on their property.  Imagine living with a drill rig going 24/7 and getting nothing for it?

Bill DeWeese’s vacation from prison was short lived.  He was ordered to return yesterday pending the outcome of his appeal.  The naughty former House Speaker has had all of his offices and staff removed.

One of the stains on the Obama record is his militant assault on legal marijuana in states which have legalized its use for medicinal purposes.  So much for him being a liberal, much less a socialist lefty.

Keystone Progress reports that all Pennsylvania Democrats have left ALEC.  Why were they there in the first place?