Gas prices are up 30 cents/gallon. While in Santa Fe last November I paid $3.19/gallon. This bites.
VP Biden was in Philadelphia this morning speaking about gun violence and common sense gun safety measures. Coincidentally a shooter at the New castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Biden’s home state, shot and killed several people.
Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s trial continues this week in Pittsburgh. Her defense seems to be that since work got done it is irrelevant that she forced her and her sister’s paid staffers to do extensive campaign work on her behalf. Gee, does that mean I can go rob a bank and get off because I got all my work done that day?
When she gets convicted the Governor will appoint a successor to serve out the term on the state Supreme Court.
Gov. Gasbag is pushing once again to privatize the state stores. While I favor private sales of liquor I’m also not a drinker and go there to buy gifts. The Wine and Spirit Stores however provide $500 million every year to the state’s general fund. I cannot, in this economy, support a plan which would so severely harm the finances of Pennsylvania. The Governor says he’d use the billion dollars gained from selling the stores for education though he doesn’t specify if the money would go to public schools. He would sell the stores for just two years worth of revenues. That’s bad policy.
The Guv’s son-in-law was arrested last week. An FBI sting allegedly caught him stealing money from a bait car. Now we know corruption runs in the family.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane closed the Florida Loophole Friday. Those who could not qualify for a concealed carry gun permit in Pennsylvania simply went to Florida where standards for a permit are loose. The reciprocity agreement then qualified them to carry a concealed weapon here. No more.
The anti-union Yeungling Brewery owes Philadelphia $6.6 million. Dick Yeungling busted the Teamsters union which used to represent his workers. Now, in addition to be a union buster he’s also a tax deadbeat.
Berks County DA John Adams remains a target for those protesting the cruel pigeon shoots he condones:
Justice Joan Orie Melvin will no longer collect her $195,000+ salary while on trial for corruption. The Court of Judicial Discipline determined her conduct was so “egregious” to necessitate the action. While a Superior Court Judge she ordered and berated her staff to conduct campaign work in her chambers, on state time and with state resources. Many legislators and staffers in the State House went to prison for doing the same thing yet, even during those BonusGate trials Orie Melvin had the hubris to do the very same thing while running for her Supreme Court seat.
Sister Janine Orie is also on trial for orchestrating the scheme and sister Jane Orie is in prison after surrendering her Senate seat after her conviction. A few things seem common to the Orie sisters: greed, hubris and corruption.
The silliness of a presidential campaign season is in full swing. The VP references a term used by Republican leaders and gets slammed for it from…Republican leaders. Romney screams for an end to negative campaigning while issuing ad after ad which are proven to be false and misleading. We have two and a half months of this nonsense to go before the election and it’ll only get worse. My advice? Turn off your TV.
A new Franklin & Marshall poll has Obama up by 6 points, about half what it was. With over a million voters disenfranchised and a 620,000 vote margin in 2008 Pennsylvania is in play. Polls will mean nothing this year because we have no idea of those surveyed can actually vote because of ID.
State Rep. Joe Brennan got busted for alcohol abuse again yesterday. Police arrested him for beating his wife then driving off drunk. He’s in the Lehigh/Northampton District once represented by T.J. Rooney, former State Democratic Chair. Brennan and Sen. Lisa Boscola from the Lehigh Valley both have had problems with alcohol.
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report claiming that 26 large corporations paid their CEO’s more than they paid in taxes. Conservatives are always claiming we have the highest corporate tax rate around but neglect to tell you how many businesses actually pay that rate. Corporations share of federal tax revenue is down from 30% to 9% because of all the loopholes and other measures taken to reduce their taxes. Many of the top 100 corporations pay no federal taxes whatsoever. I don’t consider that a high tax rate.
The reductions in Medicare are offset by closing the donut hole and providing more covered services such as colonoscopies. The Ryan Budget cuts the same amount but those funds go to tax cuts for the rich.
An ACORN worker fired after James O’Keefe illegally recorded him and manipulated a video to destroy ACORN is suing the video artist. Juan Carlos Vera actually reported O’Keefe to police for his supposed child prostitution ring but I bet you never heard that part of the story. Every video James O’Keefe has produced has been riddled with editing lies and he has gotten into repeated legal trouble for his actions. Let’s hope accountability results in this liar being held responsible for his actions.
Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin is fighting to keep her salary as she fights corruption charges. Her suspension has the PA Supreme Court deadlocked in a 3-3 partisan divide. Her sister, former State Sen. Jane Orie is now in prison for using state offices, resources and staffers to run Melvin’s Supreme Court campaigns. A third sister Janine Orie is also charged with operating those campaigns from then Superior Court Judge Melvin’s office. Does she deserve to get paid while in court? Her sister used state and campaign funds to fund her defense so it is likely Melvin will also. Hasn’t she scammed taxpayers enough?
Sen. Pat Toomey is a strong supporter of Paul “Ayn” Ryan. Not only do they go way back they once lived together. Gee, does that make them gay?
According to State Rep. and Auditor General candidate Eugene DePasquale Gov. Corbett’s administration is training state workers on how to get around the Open Records Law. I wonder what they want to hide from us?
Great Britain is threatening to invade Ecuadoran territory in London to seize WikiLeaks hero Julian Assange. Embassies and consulates are officially the sovereign territory of those nations and doing so would constitute an act of war. All this to arrest a man who Obama wants to send to Gitmo for revealing damaging secrets the U.S. government didn’t want out. Assange is a hero and this morning Ecuador announced it is granting him asylum.
Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns lost a primary yesterday and his 12 terms in Congress are done. he is infamous for efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Rachel Maddow did a piece on our Voter ID election rigging scandal yesterday. Obama is going to have to focus his efforts here on helping voters get ID’s instead of regular campaign activities. He’s lost a lot of support since 2008 among Pennsylvania liberals, especially young voters, and must overcome this huge obstacle.
Another month melts away as we race through 2012. There are less than 100 days to the election and candidates are active sending solicitations for contributions before the final Labor Day push.
Mitt Romney continued his gaffe filled foreign tour underscoring his inability to understand diplomacy. If President this guy could tick off more of the world than even GW Bush did.
The Supreme Court will hear the Prop 8 case on marriage equality. A decision could make same sex marriage legal nationally. That’s the only way we’ll ever see it here in Pennsyltucky.
Bucks Countians hung a large banner from I-95 telling Congressman Fitzpatrick to end tax cuts for the rich.
Questions arose in Commonwealth Court about the state’s readiness, and ability, to provide photo ID’s for voters. What, just because neither the Governor nor his Secretary of State can answer basic questions about the law? Why should we be surprised. PennDOT wasn’t ready either. This law has been a catastrophic example of election rigging. If it throws Pennsylvania to Romney it could make him President by disenfranchising people from their fundamental right to vote. By the way Sec. Aichele, one does NOT need an ID to ship a package via UPS. That was one more lie she told at her press conference last week.
Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin faced a preliminary hearing while she continued saying the charges against her are a witch hunt. Why then did two aides testify she ordered them to do political work on state time? It’s exactly why her sister, former Sen. Jane Orie, is now in prison.
Cash grants to the poor were discontinued this week. Republicans have now thrown 80,000 kids off Medicaid, 70,000 adults off Adult Basic, slashed food stamps, day care, services for the mentally and physically disabled and cut $2 billion from education. Are these your priorities? If not stop voting Republican. Some folks are questioning whether Gov. Gasbag hates women.
Catholics won’t sell a 44 bedroom mansion it owns because the buyers are a gay couple who might allow same sex marriages on the property. Someday the church might come out of the Dark Ages. Don’t hold your breath waiting though. The proceeds from any sale should go towards settling lawsuits by people molested by the Church and not for legal fees defending pedophile priests.
Democrats will include a marriage equality plank to their platform in Charlotte. Bill Clinton is going to nominate Barack Obama. I hope they have one of those orchestras which begins playing when someone goes over their time limit.
The Green Party of PA turned in their nominating petitions today, a day early, for their presidential ticket. I signed the petition. I think the state’s ballot access laws are terrible and anti-democratic. Let’s hope Democrats don’t purge us of the opportunity to vote for real liberals come November.
Former CNN personality (it isn’t really a news network) TJ Holmes was stopped for driving while Black. He Tweeted the entire experience. In this age of instant communications you’d think cops would at least try to be a bit smarter.
SCOTUS actually ruled a while back that lying is protected free speech. It’s the only reason the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Faux News are on the air. Not so in Canada however. No license for Fox there.
kudos to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for this session. Why can’t we have a Senator like that? (Because liberals stayed home and Joe Sestak lost so they could send President Obama a “message.)
Today is Harvey Milk Day. The City of San Francisco Councilman was assassinated while serving as an openly gay man, the first such in the nation. I’ll be at the Obama campaign office today for their celebration.
As we remember Milk I’m reminded also of an old video of two men who adopted a lion then set it free in Africa. This tale reminds us that love and friendship are enduring:
Part 2 of Walter Brasch’s Memorial Day anti-war series is from the legendary Pete Seeger. Harry Chapin wrote a song about him titled “Old Folkie.”
As a young man growing up n the age of Vietnam I grew up with folk songs protesting war. Unfortunately we never learned the gruesome lessons of unnecessary wars. Iraq and Afghanistan are only the latest incarnations of American exceptionalism when it comes to destroying and killing other peoples. It began with the genocide of Native Americans and now is leading us into Iran. Are we still on the Eve of Destruction?
Pete Seeger wrote “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Will yet another generation of young Americans be sent off to war so our defense industry can continue making gargantuan profits?
A North Carolina pastor who gained infamy this week by saying all gays should be airlifted into electrified pens where we’d be left to die had his website yanked by its host company. Once upon a time reactionaries and bigots spoke in code so the rest of the country wouldn’t understand exactly what they meant. They’re now unafraid to say exactly what and how they feel about women and minorities. This is scary and very Nazi-ish.
One of the frequent claims made during the GOP debates was the desire to eliminate the Department of Energy (among others). The DOE, among other things, runs our national laboratories where nuclear bombs were developed and cutting edge technology is done. Places like Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Labs in New Mexico do much of this research. DOE is also responsible for the safety of our nuclear arsenal. As we evolve into this new century is paramount that we develop new sources of clean energy before we find ourselves extinct from elevated carbon dioxide levels. Eliminating the DOE would be like putting a gun to our heads as a species and pulling the trigger. Natural gas is not the answer as it is a carbon based fuel. With fossil fuels getting six times more government subsidies as clean, renewable energy sources it is time we shifted our priorities. We cannot wait for morons denying climate change to awaken and realize they can no longer breathe. We must save them from their own stupidity much as we might hate to do it.
Joan Orie Melvin claims (as her sister did) that a political vendetta is behind her indictment. Actually I doubt the members of the grand jury each had a personal vendetta against the Orie family. If you read the presentment the evidence is overwhelming including extensive computer documentation. If the Ories worried about such political persecution they were awfully stupid to openly run the Melvin Supreme Court campaign from state offices and extensive use of the court’s computer systems for their campaign files. Anyone that stupid deserves what they get. Of course Jane Orie is now headed to prison so a jury of her peers thought the evidence wasn’t politically motivated. Melvin should begin shopping for jumpsuits in her best colors.
300 protesters greeted Gov. gasbag in Reading yesterday as he addressed the Berks County Chamber of Commerce. The misinformed idiot claimed he must cut government to “grow” the economy. First of all, one doesn’t “grow” an economy, you expand it. Cutting government has, thus far, damaged our economy. For every dollar spent by government there is $1.42 in ripple effect economic activity. Therefore for every billion he cuts in education funding, for example, we lose $1.42 billion in economic activity. Unemployed teachers don’t buy things, pay income and sales taxes, and collect unemployment and food stamps instead. Would you rather have them educating your children so they can have a bright future or collecting? They’re your taxes by the way. Our Governor is an idiot.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally suspended Justice Melvin after she turned herself in on nine criminal charges Friday. She will continue getting her $195,000 salary plus benefits. Included in the counts is one for official oppression, perhaps the most serious charge a Judge can face. It means she abused her position of power against another person. Staffers testified about being fired or shunned after refusing to do political work on state time.
Justice Melvin cleverly wore a flag pin and cross for her day in court. Never trust anyone who feels they must display their faith or their patriotism.
Former State House Speaker Bill DeWeese was released from prison pending his appeal. He was convicted of using state resources for political work, a practice which was all to common and has sent many politicians to jail. Joan Orie Melvin and her sisters ignored all the high profile prosecutions for this while they assumed they were above the law. How the mighty fall who are filled with arrogance and hubris.
Another example is that of former presidential candidate John Edwards. His case went to the jury this week. I doubt he’ll be convicted: not enough evidence was provided that money to pay off his pregnant mistress actually went through his campaign finance accounts. That would have to be proven for charges to stand. Still, the man did some despicable deeds. His campaign message of Two Americas and his focus on the plight of poverty in this nation were commendable and preceded the Occupy movement.
Facebook stock went on sale yesterday. I have to admit I’m a facebook addict. I get much of the material for these columns via social media. Those standing to become very, very rich from the IPO took measures to insure they didn’t pay their fair share of taxes and that got the attention of Sen. Bob Casey Jr. He and Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced legislation to prohibit people like Eduardo Saverin, who renounced his citizenship to avoid paying those taxes, the right to re-enter the country. It’s all about rights and responsibilities…
Birthers got up in a huff this week after Breitbart.com (of course no one can trust anything posted their for factual value) published a memo from an Obama publisher. The memo said he had been born in Kenya. A bit of fact checking would have found this:
“This was nothing more than a fact-checking error by me — an agency assistant at the time,” Miriam Goderich, who worked for the literary agency Acton & Dystel, told Yahoo News. “There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.”
On the bright side if all these conspiracy theorists keep spending their time trying to prove the unprovable they aren’t trying to convince us to invade more countries based on lies.
Here’s the danger for conservatives who try and drag Rev. Wright into the presidential campaign again: it makes Romney’s Mormonism fair game as John Aravosis did yesterday.
The OAG hasn’t had much scrutiny despite some missteps, especially in the Sandusky case. The Pennsylvania ACLU is taking Attorney general Linda Kelly (she replaced Gov. Gasbag) to task for not investigating the NYPD for civil rights violations against PA Muslims.
The AP reported that the NYPD had monitored about 250 mosques, universities and businesses, without any evidence of wrongdoing. In February 2012, the AP reported that the NYPD was monitoring Muslim college students at over a dozen universities far beyond the New York city and state limits, including at the University of Pennsylvania. In light of these disturbing reports, the ACLU-PA, in coalition with 20 civil rights, student, faith-based, and civic groups, sent a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly requesting that her office undertake an immediate investigation of the NYPD’s surveillance of law-abiding Muslim communities in Pennsylvania.
The Attorney General refused our request.
Here’s a refreshing look at equality:
Congressional Republicans broke their budget agreement with the White House by passing an alarming defense bill. Why we’re spending gargantuan amounts on the Pentagon while cutting programs for the poor is defenseless (pun intended). Breaking an agreement they required after holding the country’s debt hostage shows they cannot be trusted.
A bit of reality talk about the economy and “job creators:”
No consumers (meaning people with good jobs and discretionary income)=no jobs.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin suspended herself from all official duties today because she is to surrender on nine criminal counts this afternoon. She is the third Orie sister to face indictment in a wide ranging corruption investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney. Interestingly Gov. Tom Corbett overlooked all of this while supposedly investigating the Republican Senate caucus. State Sen. Jane Orie faces sentencing next month for her role in using taxpayer funded resources for political purposes. Janine Orie is set to face trial for running Melvin’s two Court races from the Senator’s offices using state staff and offices.
The dark cloud hanging over Justice Melvin as those cases unraveled was dire and today she faces the consequences. At 2 PM she will surrender on charges handed down by a grand jury. Her court race in 2009 involved sister Janine running her campaign from sister Jane’s State Senate offices using that taxpayer paid staff. Those staffers handled all facets of the campaign including speech writing, fundraising, driving the candidate and even working at the polls. Part of the Senator’s charges included obstruction of justice for trying to eliminate campaign materials from her state office before search warrants could be exercised, an obvious cover-up which was caught on surveillance.
As I sit back and reflect on all that I heard about that corrupt campaign at the time I can’t but contemplate “we could have had a Judge Panella!”
Two large wind farm projects for the state have been canceled because federal tax credits are going by the wayside. If we’re subsidizing fossil fuels why can’t we subsidize clean, renewable energy? The smart policy is to support clean energy and end tax credits for dirty ones.
Speaking of smart, does the Tea Party have an IQ test for membership? Have you spoken with any of these morons? I bet if you score more than 90 you’re rejected. Their signs are the most hilarious examples of illiteracy around.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found that a section of the NDAA which gives the government powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists could be used against journalists, scholars and activists to curtail their first amendment rights.
The NDAA is clearly unconstitutional and President Obama failed when he decided not to veto the bill.
VP Biden went after Romney’s days as a vulture capitalist in an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio yesterday:
Biden casts the race as one between an Obama vision that promotes fairness and a Romney ideology that helps the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. It’s a strategy that combines an attack on Romney with a sunny appraisal of the country’s future under Obama.
“Then there’s Romney economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves,” Biden says, according to excerpts of his speech released by the campaign.
As the country nears the debt limit ceiling Tea baggers are again threatening to hold the nation hostage to their radical agenda. Republicans spent all of this money and now refuse to pay the bill. I keep hearing these people claim the government needs to live within its means just as the average family must. First of all the average family doesn’t. Because real wages have been stagnant ever since this Reagan Revolution began, they live on credit. Still, they have to pay the bills when they come due. The country must also. Since 1981 Republican presidents have spent like drunken sailors with the approval of Congress. Now they have to pay the bill even if it means increasing taxes on the 1%.
President Obama has nominated two Judges for the federal bench:
Matthew W. Brann: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann has been a partner at the law firm of Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz since 1995, where he concentrates his practice in the area of tort, contract, commercial, and real property litigation. Prior to joining the firm as an associate in 1991, Brann served as a law clerk with the Court of Common Pleas in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Brann received his J.D. in 1990 from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.A. in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame.
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion has been a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 2001. Apart from a four-year stint as a partner at the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn PC in the mid-90s, Judge Mannion spent the fifteen years prior to his appointment to the bench serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. While a federal prosecutor, he served as Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1989 to 1993. From 1980 to 1986, Judge Mannion was an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. He began his legal career as an associate at the law firm of Bartels, Pykett & Aronwald. Judge Mannion received his J.D. in 1979 from Pace University School of Law and his B.S. in 1976 from the University of Scranton.
I reported recently that prisoner John Carter was killed by prison guards at Rockview State Prison. Now criminal complaints have been filed against the guards involved in the murder:
According to multiple, detailed witness accounts reported to the Human Rights Coalition and family of Carter, staff in riot gear filled his solitary confinement cell with an extraordinary quantity of OC chemical munitions, otherwise known as pepper-spray. Following the attack with pepper-spray, his cell door was opened and guards rushed him, assaulting Carter, who was reportedly unconscious, with electro-shock weapons and beating him.
Why is this not being investigated by the Attorney General?
In that vein a grand jury in Pittsburgh has until the end of the month to decide whether or not to indict Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. The testimony in her sister Sen. Jane Orie’s criminal trial has revealed extensive corruption in the use of state resources for Melvin’s two state Supreme Court races. She continues to sit on the Court under a cloud of suspicion.
Why didn’t AG Tom Corbett investigate the obvious corruption in the Senate during his extensive probes of the legislature? It appears they botched the Sandusky case too. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere enough evidence to convict the former coach. When it turns out the date of the most heinous account was off by more than a year I think there was shoddy work done by the OAG.
Congressional Republicans refused to vote for the expanded Violence Against Women Act, a signature piece of legislation pushed by Joe Biden when he was in the Senate. Now they’ve voted for a version which actually weakens current protections. Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick were among state Members of Congress to weaken protections for women against violence. Why don’t all women deserve to be protected from domestic violence? What do these men have against women?
70’s disco queen Donna Summer had her last dance today when she died from cancer:
While Tom Corbett was Attorney General and prosecuting House Democrats to get to the Governor’s Mansion Republican Senator Jane Orie was violating the same laws to get her sister elected tot he state Supreme Court. So said a jury in Pittsburgh which convicted Jane Orie of 14 counts of corruption yesterday. A lone holdout juror threatened to deadlock the trial over the weekend and resulted in her being acquitted on ten counts but a verdict finally was reached on Monday.
Five of the counts are felonies and the arrogant b*tch will see jail time for her misuse of public resources. She must wear an ankle bracelet until she is sentenced on May 21st. At that point she must resign her Senate seat and she’ll lose her state pension. This is payback for the open and arrogant use of Senate time, staff, resources and offices to help elect both herself and her sister to public office. She was so open about it and thought she could simply lie her way out of it that it never occurred to her someone might testify they saw it going on openly when they visited her office one day. That rebuttal testimony undercut every defense her team had concocted for the jury.
Next up is the trial of sister Janine Orie who is accused of using the Senator’s offices and staff to run another sister’s (Joan Orie Melvin) campaign for Supreme Court. Melvin sits on that Court under a very dark cloud today. Thus far she has refused to resign although it is obvious she won the election under false pretenses.
She was acquitted of charges of forgery for the documents which had been altered in her first trial. They resulted in it being declared a mistrial. There was no way the prosecution could prove Senator Orie did the forgeries though no one else had a motive. A jury cannot convict based solely on motive. Had someone come forward and said they witnessed the crime she might have been convicted on most all of the counts against her.
Should Janine Orie be convicted of corruption for using taxpayer resources to run Melvin’s campaign the Justice will have to resign her seat. No Justice should sit on our high court and judge others under such circumstances.
Jane Orie’s corruption trial in Pittsburgh has now engulfed Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Jamie Pavlot, once Sen. Jane Orie’s Chief of Staff, testified that the Justice in involved in the use of taxpayer funded offices, staff and resources for her campaign to the Commonwealth’s highest court. Once an intern filed a legal complaint about the corruption Melvin ordered the removal of evidence.
The testimony in open court shows the Justice was aware of the fact her campaign was run from her sister’s legislative offices. An Orie staffer, for example. was her driver during the campaign. It is time for Justice Melvin to resign.