The Pennsylvania Progressive

The Pennsylvania Progressive discusses progressive politics, issues, and candidates with a particular emphasis on Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. We have moved so please click on a link below.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Klan is Back

The Ku Klux Klan is planning a rally for Saturday in Gettysburg and hope to have another in Westmoreland County. There was no word about what Republican Party officials may be in attendance. Has anyone checked Sen. George Allen's schedule?

"We are not going to burn a cross in your yard or hang or lynch anyone. We are law-abiding citizens of a country that used to be so great and has now lost all sights of what America was founded on," Michael Knight, who identified himself as the Florida "grand kleagle," said in an e-mail to the Tribune-Review.

Interesting the Tribune Review saw this as news. The newspaper owned by extremist Republican financier Richard Mellon Scaife supports very extremist causes. Scaife funded the Arkansas Project for example. I'm sure he had no problem with his newspaper disseminating the news about this KKK rally either.

It's comforting to hear they don't plan on burning a cross in anyone's yard....this time. That statement about " has now lost all sights of what America was founded on" always astounds me. Do these people ever learn history? America wasn't founded to be a racist, white supremacist country. It wasn't founded so one religious group could force its beliefs on others. In fact, our founders came here to escape just such prejudice. The Pilgrims, Quakers, Anabaptists, Huguenots all braved treacherous seas in rickety ships to come to a wild, unsettled land because of religious persecution in Europe. They settled this country to escape the very kind of intolerance the KKK stands for.

Santorum and Tort Reform

This is an issue that needs more in depth analysis than I can do this week with limited internet access but meanwhile the Centre Daily Times has an excellent critique of Tricky Ricky's position on tort reform. Santorum mistakenly lays all the blame for medical malpricatice at the lawyers. Yes there are a few bad lawyers out there but there are also bad doctors and bad insurance companies. I can personally attest to how many bad doctors I've seen. Here are a few excerpts from the article:

It's not about lawyers. It's not about greed. It's about the rights of everyday people who suddenly find themselves victims of preventable medical errors.

It's about the man who had the wrong leg amputated.

It's about the woman who had an unnecessary mastectomy because of a false cancer diagnosis.

It's about the baby who'll have to live with cerebral palsy and mental retardation because of a mismanaged labor and delivery.

And it's about the more than 100,000 patients who are killed each year due to medical negligence or wrongdoing.

Santorum is apparently too busy pandering for votes from the physicians' associations to care about the victims. And he is apparently too busy pandering for votes to care about the real problems at the core of the issue.

The writer, Mary Shaw, also points out the infamous Santorum hypocrisy on this issue. Senator Man On Dog and his wife sued for $750,000 for injuries suffered in an auto accident. They settled for less but the point is they tried to cash in via a lawsuit. If there is a legitimate problem here they're part of it. She also notes in the article:

By campaigning for tort reform, Santorum is trying to do away with the last resort of average American people against physicians who do them harm.

He is, in effect, telling us that "malpractice happens," and that physicians shouldn't have to pay so much for their mistakes. The victims should just get over it.

Rendell Responds to Swann Spending Attack

Lynn Swann, attempting to find something that'll stick to Ed Rendell, criticized the incumbent Democratic Governor with a large increase in state spending in his first term. Spending overall has increased by 27% under Rendell. Swann thinks he can use this to finally gain some traction with voters. The Rendell team has responded by reminding Swann that much of the increase in state spending is the result of Bush's budget cuts. Less federal funding for mandated programs means more state and local spending.

This has been a serious shifting of tax burdens since George Bush took office. State and County governments have seen steadily declining funds for programs they are required to provide. These unfunded mandates have put enormous pressure on local property taxes. For example the No Child Left Behind policy has required extensive and expensive testing. It has only funded 30% of those costs however. Guess where the other 70% came from? Money funding everything from youth and family services, community development block grants (water and sewer) and others, have been cut.

Rendell's campaign is quick to point out that the governor did not increase spending alone. The GOP-controlled Legislature signed off on those increases.

The Rendell campaign defends the spending increases as necessary in light of federal funding cuts and the governor's priority to spend more state money on schools and expand medical assistance programs.

AFL-CIO Launches Massive Voter Drive

The AFL-CIO announced a $40 million effort to influence this year's elections. Focusing on Governor, Senate and Congressional races in 21 states the unions want to reach 12.4 million new voters. This could effect the Senate race here in Pennsylvania.

Carney Proposes Middle Class Tax Cuts


Clarks Summit, PA – While visiting Tunkhannock businesses yesterday, Chris Carney unveiled his plan to cut taxes for middle class families. He outlined a plan to create a tax credit for first-time homebuyers and to make expenses for long-term and in-home care of elderly family members tax deductible.

"In tough economic times, the middle class has trouble making ends meet even before taxes are due," said Carney. "I will fight for tax cuts that provide real relief for our working families."

Among Carney’s proposals:

- Cut federal income taxes for the middle class
- A $10,000 per year tax deduction for college tuition
- A "new baby tax credit" to help parents with the expenses of a new child

"We need to support our hardworking families with tangible measures -- bigger tax breaks for child care and lower taxes for the middle class," said Carney. "It is time to stop giving tax breaks to millionaires and start cutting taxes for our working families who need the help most."

Chris Carney is a veteran of multiple foreign military operations, a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve, and an Associate Professor at Penn State, focusing on U.S. security policy and international relations. Carney and his wife, Jennifer, have five children and reside in Dimock, Pa.

Verizon Agrees to Stop Defrauding DSL Customers

Verizon, which has failed to provide our dsl service since Monday afternoon, has agreed to stop charging its dsl customers a fee the government said was fraudulent.

Bush Is Called On Lies

President Bush has launched an effort to discredit opponents of his failed and distrastrous Iraq policy. We focused on some of his comments yesterday. He continues lying to Americans about the reasons for this war, what's going on in Iraq and links to the terror attacks of September 11th. One of our readers, Rick Tennesen is an example. He left another comment yesterday criticizing me for condemning Bush for again linking Iraq and 9/11. He seems to have swallowed Bush's brainwashing and refuses to accept the facts. Iraq and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. No one has come up with any evidence otherwise. Not even the 9/11 Commission which looked into those attacks extensively.

At one point over 70% of Americans believed these lies because Bush and his cronies did everything they could to link the two. They did this to further their plans to invade Iraq. Bush is using the fifth anniversary of those attacks to further this agenda. He pretty much has to. Is he going to admit to the American people that he lied them into this disaster? Actually this is why we need a special, independent prosecutor.

The Washington Post, covering Bush's remarks yesterday said this:

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Bush and Cheney make these wild, unsupported accusation swith no facts or justification. They are designed to keep them out of the dock at The Hague for war crimes. They are designed to stall off impeachment. After all there can be crime more serious than lying to the people for why we went to war. Lying about why their children were sent to Baghdad to be blown up by ied's.

I'm fed up with their lies. I'm fed up with their excuses, I'm fed up with their attempts to blame others. It's time the buck stopped at the Oval Office once again.

Verizon Update

Thanks to everyone for being patient while our problems with Verizon continue. They still don't have our DSL line active again and don't seem to have a clue when they will solve the problem. It's probably time to consider other providers. Please be patient. Various people have been proving access to their wireless broadband and that's keeping me online some but I can't follow up on everything happening and everything that's going on. My thanks to those who have been pitching in to help.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bush Lies About Iraq and 9/11 Again

George W. Bush lied, again, about Iraq and September 11th. In an interview with Brian Williams of NBC he said this:

WILLIAMS: When you take a tour of the world, a lot of Americans e-mail me with their fears that, some days they just wake up and it just feels like the end of the world is near. And you go from North Korea to Iran, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, and you look at how things have changed, how Americans are viewed overseas, if that is important to you. Do you have any moments of doubt that we fought a wrong war? Or that there’s something wrong with the perception of America overseas?

BUSH: Well those are two different questions, did we fight the wrong war, and absolutely — I have no doubt — the war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said, let’s hope calm works. And we were attacked.

Williams asked him about Iraq and he answered that Iraq attacked us. Saddam NEVER attacked us. Heck, we had him so controlled he couldn't even control all of his own country. We had more control over northern Iraq (the Kurdish area) then he did. Iran controlled the area where Zarqwari was hiding.

These eight words: " the war came to our shores, remember that" are a complete and utter lie. It's Bush once again lying to the American people by saying Saddam was responsible for 9/11. He's made these statements regularly then pretends to be shocked that so many Americans think it's true. Then he denies that he's said them.

He's lied to the American people for why he went to war and he's lied to the American people about Iraq and 9/11. Every time he calls Iraq "the central front of the war on terror he's doing it again. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were the central front of the war on terror not Iraq. Until George W. Bush made it so by ignoring the rest.

George Allen's Racism Revealed

Alright, I know what you're thinking. Between those macaca slurs, the noose in his office and the confederate Klan flags he has such a penchant for have already convinced you Allen's a classic southern racist. The Nation published absolute proof for anyone who remains in doubt. They even have a very incriminating picture.

The Senator has been pedaling as quickly as possbile from such allegations since he attacked a young college student two weeks ago. His large lead has evaporated as more and more voters decide they don't an avowed racist as their Senator. The Nation article exposes this:

Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.

According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.

This was while George Allen was Governor. It wasn't some "youthful indiscretion." Gee, I'm always so shocked when a right wing southern Republican (Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, Jesse Helms) Senator turns out to be an out and out racist and/or white supremacist. Simply shocked. Of course you don't need to be southern to have the Klan vote. Some of our Berks County legislators are actively supported by our local hate groups. Until recently the Ku Klux Klan used to stand in the middle of Boyertown in their white sheets handing out their flyers. Half the pickup trucks in eastern Berks sport a Klan confederate symbol. Many also have Gerlach bumper stickers. Southern Berks hate groups actively support Sam Rohrer and southern Lancaster County (also a hotbed of hate groups) openly support Joe Pitts.

What other legislators and candidates around Pennsylvania are being supported by right wing hate groups? Let's list them and expose them for what they are.

Appeasing Terrorists

Vice President Cheney accused some Americans this week of "appeasing terrorists." This was one more outrageous, polarizing, playing on people's fears statement from this most irresponsible public official. Dick Cheney's comments since he became VP have been quite extreme. He has to be the most polarizing political figure this country has ever seen. Almost nothing passing his lips is true or constructive or positive. He constantly plays on people's worst fears to keep them in line.

On the morning before the war in Iraq began he said this on Meet the Press: "Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his nuclear weapons." No qualifications, no doubt, nothing but the certainty of his accusation: Iraq has nuclear weapons. This was the justification for supporting the war for many Americans. It was a complete lie and Cheney knew it at the time.

On the eve of the 2004 election he said if John Kerry won the terrorists would win. He said voting for Kerry was voting for the terrorists. Last June he said the Iraq insurgency was "in its last throes."

The man isn't a fool, he's quite intelligent. He makes these statements for a very clear purpose: to remain in power.

Now he's saying those who oppose the war want to appease the terrorists. This is more blasphemy. Why do we continue to tolerate this from the man a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. We must impeach him for the Valerie Plame affair. Who really, after all, compromised national security? Dick Cheney did when he authorized his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby to reveal her identity.

Outing Plame while she was working to defend this country from real weapons of mass destruction (as opposed to the ephemeral ones in Cheney's twisted mind) did actually appease terrorists. Entire intelligence networks working under her were exposed and eliminated. Networks that were seeking to deny real wmd's from people like Osama bin Forgotten.

Speaking of Osama where is he? Who appeased him by allowing him to escape Tora Bora? Who made the decision to use so few American troops there we weren't able to capture or kill the man responsible for September 11th, the Cole attack and the African embassy bombings? Who made the decision to pull our military special forces and intelligence assets from chasing Osama so we could invade Iraq?

Bush and Cheney.

Who made the disastrous decision to invade Iraq and create entire new generations of Osamas? Who made the incompetent plans and decisions which have led to the training of thousands of new terrorists.

Bush and Cheney.

If anyone has or is appeasing terrorists it's George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.


There has been a lot of talk from Republicans this week about fascism. Bush and Santorum have both invoked the term "Islamic fascism." A lot of Democrats have been extremely concerned about creeping fascism by the Bush Administration. Fascism, properly defined, is the taking over of government by corporations for their benefit at the expense of the public. It is a combination of business and government. Business interests control the government for their own interests and at the detriment of the people.

Calling Islamic fundamentalists fascists is really false since there is such little combination of these two forces. Islamic states aren't fascist, they're theocracies. Perhaps we need to actually take a look at which country is really developing into a fascist society. How many of these signs are disturbingly familiar?

This is a list of the fourteen commonly held warning signs of fascism:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Katrina Revisited Part V

I watched most of Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke..." last night on HBO. It's really shocking to relive the horror of bodies floating in streets, communities and lives destroyed and the insensitivity our leaders had to the situation. That's what was so shocking to me. So many of them made such stupid, asinine, bigoted comments. Remember Barbara Bush, the President's mother saying how fortunate it was for the poor people to have gone through so much horror and death. She actually said "This is working very well for them." Dennis Hastert said we shouldn't rebuild New orleans. It wasn't enough that two major American cities were attacked on Bush's watch and one was destroyed, but now the Speaker of the House was saying the people of New Orleans should simply abandon their homes, their ties and their communities.

Then we had our own fool Rick Sanitorium saying:

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. So there may be a need to look at tougher penalties, candidly, on those who decide to ride it out and understand there are consequences to not leaving."

How the hell did he propose those people would leave? After all his Republican buddy George Bush had gutted FEMA and the stuck his buddy from the 2000 campaign in as director. When Joe Allbaugh finished dismantling the organization he handed it over to his buddy Mike Brown. It was this agency that had accepted responsibility to provide 500 buses to evacuate those poor souls. They never provided the buses.

Poor people in wheelchairs and people without cars cannot simply start hitchhiking on interstates to evacuate in the face of a category 5 hurricane. They were abandoned by idiots like Rick Santorum to their horrible fates then had to listen to his sanctimonious bullshit about their being irresponsibilty. They were left to die. Maybe if Tricky Ricky hadn't voted 12 times against raising the minimum wage there wouldn't have been so many desperately poor people in New Orleans. Santorum is personally responsible, as a Senator and for his votes, for some of those lost lives. He helped set our national priorities. He voted for Bush's budgets slashing programs for the poor.

Yes, there were people who could have left who didn't. They were fools too and many of them died for their foolishness. Maybe Mayor Nagin could have been clearer about the force of this storm and the necessity for getting out of the city. Of course if he'd predicted the levees might fail and they hadn't he'd have been eviscerated for going overboard. Too often it's a damned if you do and damned if you don't scenario. Mass evacuations are extremely difficult under any circumstances.

I remember President Bush finally ending his vacation several days after Katrina and after doing numerous photo ops and speaking from Jackson Square. He promised to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. A year later not much has been accomplished.

All that talk about attending to the poverty issues was nothing but pandering. He still hasn't signed a minimum wage bill and he's still trying to kill the estate tax for the richest people in the country. His priorities haven't changed. Kanye West was right, George Bush doesn't care about Black people. He doesn't care about anyone but CEO's and the richest of the rich actually. Blacks are just one of the demographics (all are Democratic voters by the way) he doesn't give a damn about. I believe it's more a class war than racial but who am I to say, I'm not Black. I'll take Kanye's word for it.

You get the government you vote for folks. If you elect people to run your government who don't believe in government or who want to destroy it don't come crying when their incompetence and their priorities become evident. Republicans have long been advocates for as little government as possible. Grover Norquist is famous for his comment that has become a GOP rallying cry: "let's shrink government to a size where it fits into a bathtub. Then let's drown it."

These types do NOT believe government can and should be a positive force for good. Why should they, most are very wealthy people living very comfortable lives. It isn't their offspring being blown to bits in Iraq. Heaven help them share some of their fortune with those who are starving and needy. They could care less about public schools since their children go to private academies. They'd like going back to a feudal system and are working hard to achieve that goal. These people are completely greedy and selfish.

When you elect these aristocrats and their cronies to public office you get arrogance and incompetence. How in the world could the fired head of the Arabian Horse Association know anything about emergency preparedness? When we make stupid decisions about who runs our government it has real consequences for real people. Sometimes that means you. Real people die. Real people suffer. If George Bush had really cared a damn about the people in New Oeleans he'd have introduced anti-poverty legislation in the twelve months since Katrina. He did the opposite and those in Congress and the Senate are behind him all the way.

If you aren't happy about happened last year and what hasn't happened since you have an opportunity to do something about it on November 7th. Elect people who really care about you, about good government, about dealing with our real problems. Elect people who actually believe government, properly run, can be a positive force for good. Examine your candidates and ask these questions. If you don't get good answers keep asking. It's too important not to.

Sen. Stevens Blocking Earmarks Disclosure

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been identified as the source of a block put on legislation that would make public $2.5 trillion in federal pork barrel spending. Otherwise known as "earmarks" because pork barrel has such a negative connotation, the Senator has been one of Congress' biggest beneficiaries of pork barrel spending. Remember when he refused to surrender his $240 million bridge to nowhere so the funds could be used to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina? Yup same guy. Remember the hearing on internet neutrality last spring when he said the world wide web was nothing more than "a series of tubes?" Same guy.

Voters in Alaska voted their incumbent Republican Governor out of office a couple weeks ago and need to do the same for Stevens. He's an embarrassment.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is Santorum Really a Fool?

Tricky Ricky is at it again. He's beating the war drums for George W. Bush. One of the chief cheerleaders for the lies about Saddam and Iraq, this fool thinks he can fool us again into another disastrous war. This time he's aiming for Iran. What, did you mix up your countries last time? Get Iraq mixed up with Iran? It doesn't matter Ricky because everyone now knows you're a fool, especially when it comes to national security. That whole wmd dog and pony show you and Hokester tried to pull did nothing but illustrate the fact you are an emporer with no clothes on these issues.

There's an old saying, fool me once it's your fault, fool me twice it's mine. America isn't buying into being made a fool of again. The rhetoric about Iran is the same bullshit he said about Saddam. They were lies then and they're lies now. Iran is no more a threat to our strategic national interests than anyone else. They're years and years away from any possible nuclear device. And why is it alright for India and Pakistan to develop nukes (with our blessings) but not Iran? Who are we to decide? .....and people wonder why they hate us.....

Yes, the president of Iran may be a nut case who loves making strong statements against Israel. News flash: that's Israel's security problem, not ours. It isn't our responsibility to defend Israel. What's more the president in Iran is mostly a ceremonial position. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really cannot do much, he doesn't have any power. The mullahs run Iran.

Then there's all this foolishness from Sanitorium about Islamic Fascism. Answer this: how is that different from your American fascism? You want to creat a theocracy and criminalize sex. You want to criminalize the same things the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Frankly I don't see much difference between Islamic fundamentalist nutcases and Christian fundamentalist nutcases. Sometimes the only way is to look for the burkhas.

There's one thing we've learned about Rick Santorum in 12 years: the man is a fool. He lied about Iraq. He lied about those weapons of mass destruction. Now he's lying about Iran. His statements about women and gays have embarassed us all. We've ashamed to have him as our Senator. This is the year we rid oursleves of this fool. Since Santorum is so enamored of K Street I say let him get a job there after this term expires.

I'm tired of this fool. His foolishness has cost too many people their lives and property.

Tax Protesters Sentenced To Prison

Two tax protestors have been sentenced to prison because they opposed military spending. The Vineland, New Jersey residents didn't want their tax dollars going to fund the war effort so they refused to pay. Though this is a pretty extreme sentence for non-violent crime it does send a message. There have been tax protesters in our country as long as there have been taxes. The country was even formed by a tax revolt after all.

I wonder if this same sentence will be delivered to those wing nuts who refuse to pay taxes because they're under the delusion they're illegal. Or the ones who hide behind their non profit status while openly advocating for candidates like Rick Santorum, Joe Pitts, Melissa Hart and others. Those very political ministers who are telling their parishioners who to vote for are just as guilty because they're also cheating the system. If they want to advocate politically they should pay their taxes. Otherwise shut up and obey the law.

A lot of people object to some government programs. No one approves of everything done with tax dollars. That's the nature of our republican form of government however. We elect representatives to make these decisions for us. That's the difference between a direct democracy and a republic: instead of having every matter voted on by all the voters (and daily elections?) we entrust our legislators to do that work. Then we let them know if we approve or not every two years when they stand for re-election. That's republicanism (small r).

We don't have the right as individuals to pick and choose what programs our dollars support. They all go into the same large pot. If our legislators aren't making the correct decisions the time to protest is campaign season. Go out and work for candidates who support your beliefs. Of course that's getting difficult as more and more candidates refuse to inform the electorate of their beliefs.

What is it with this new trend of refusing to take stands on the issues? Is this insane or what? If you don't stand for anything don't stand for office. I want to know what the candidates offer and where they stand on the issues, especially those issues of most concern to me. If you refuse to take a strong stand on issues like Iraq, universal health care, the deficit, civil rights, wiretapping, separation of church and state, don't expect my vote on November 7th. I don't vote for ghosts. I don't vote for people who are such wimps and have so little character they don't stand for anything.

There's an old saying: if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. I don't want a Governor, Senator, Congressperson or state representative who doesn't stand for anything. I fear they'll fall for anything. Please people, find some backbone and tell us where you stand.

Random Thoughts

As Raven reported my "reliable" Verizon DSL is out again, this time for a few days it seems. A minor power outage seems to have fried something. Well, something more than just my patience with Verizon. In over 18 months on their dsl service these problems have been all too common. It takes five minutes (it seems) to navigate their awful voice recognition voice mail until you get to a person. By then you just want to strangle someone. Then, after 45 minutes of burned cell minutes, it occurs to them to do a line check. Bingo, there's a problem on their end.

I already know the basics: reboot the desktop, power on/off the dsl modem, check cables. This usually works. Nada yesterday. They say they'll call today and schedule a technician to visit tomorrow to fix the problem. I'm not happy with that level of service, especially with the blog to manage and write.

Thank goodness for laptops and wireless hotspots. Of course sitting in a parking lot outside a hotel so I can tap into the car for power isn't the ideal setup. It does work though. I'll probably head up to Kutztown this afternoon where I can sit in the Kutztown Democratic Club office and tap into the town's Main Street wifi network.

As for that big news story of the past week: it wasn't. It turns that JonBenet's killer wasn't. Just some whacked out wannabe. How much cable news time was devoted to this non-story? It was almost non-stop coverage for a few days. I didn't watch any after seeing his ex say he was home that Christmas. Ex'es aren't known for sticking up for each other so that had a lot of creedance. It didn't seem plausible that he even knew this girl or could have flown from Atlanta to Denver in the timeframe involved.

Meanwhile we didn't hear much about the REAL news. The federal judge's decision on the NSA wiretaps, the continuing carnage in Iraq, the incumbent GOP Governor of Alaska who came in third in the primary election, the GOP Governor of Kentucky plea bargaining out of criminal charges of patronage, etc. No JonBenet was more important than all the real news. Reporters and pundits panning others' speculation while they dealt in rampant speculation themselves. What a media circus.

Richard Armitage Said to be Novak's Plame Source

A former colleague says Richard Armitage was Bob Novak's primary source for Valerie Plame's CIA/Joe Wilson connections. Armitage, who at the time was Undersecretary of State (Colin Powell's assistant), leaked the information in an attempt to discredit her husband former Ambassador Joe Wilson. The entire story is somewhat complicated and lengthy so we won't delve into all of it again. There are many sources on the internet for information.

Novak received this information then got confirmation from Karl Rove. Before publishing the fact she worked for the CIA he failed to ascertain her status with the Agency. This resulted in her undercover work investigating weapons of mass destruction (including Iran's program) being completely negated and compromised. Why wouldn't any sane person think to discover what her status was prior to blowing her cover? If I found out someone worked for a spy agency I'd automatically think to check this first. After all the law, ethics, national security and human decency demand such accountability. Rather than simply publishing her identity before checking to see if doing so would compromise national security is, itself, a violation of national security.

Richard Arbitage, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby all compromised our national security by revealing her identity. Novak did so by not using common sense to insure he wasn't indentifying an undercover agent. All of this was done to advance a political agenda. Wilson has exposed Bush's reasons for invading Iraq as lies. Something had to be done to discredit him and this is what they chose. Shame. Presidents have been impeached for less. Much less.

Hate in the Heartland

Dateline: Meade Kansas.

J.R. Knight and his good lady wife were set upon by members of the Phelps clan from the gay-hating Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka. The Phelps' were protesting the Knights flying a rainbow flag their 12 year old son had given them. Neither the son nor the Knights knew of the flag's significance until a local paper ran a front page story

The Knights have had bricks thrown at their business and have already suffered a broken window and sign. The flag was also cut down but a local parent in Meade took his sons, who were responsible, to the Meades and made them fess up and apologize. Nice to see some parents are still doing a good job of parenting.

The Phelps also set upon 5 local churches in Meade whom they said were not doing enough in the fight against gays.

Meanwhile Mr. & Mrs. Meade say they flew the flag because it was bright and colorful and summery. Their son gave them the flag becasue he said it reminded him of the movie 'The Wizard of Oz', set, as you may recall, in Kansas. Since the small town controversy has erupted the Knights have gone on record as saying that they will keep the flag flying because they want people to know they don't discriminate.

Locals in Meade turned out this weekend to view the anti-gay spectacle. Many shaking their heads at the sight of Phelps' daughter with 10 of her 11 children in tow, all carrying hate-filled anti-gay pickets and signs.

One local remarked that she thought it was terrible to teach children to hate at such a young age and suggested that the State of Kansas should take the children away from the Phelps' daughter.

When all is said and done, the Knights' and the good people of Meade have withstood the display of hatred and bigotry and have seen it for what it is. It appears they do not like what they have seen.

And so I Thank the Knights for what has turned out to be a brave stand and I Thank the people of Meade Kansas for supporting them and the American way of life.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Down for the count

Verizon Strikes Again!

John's DSL is toast and Verizon, in their infinite wisdom, says he may not be up and running until sometime Wednesday. Should that be the case, I'm sure we will see a very informative blog entry about Verizon and their requests for sweetheart deals from Congress.

Meanwhile, John asks for your patience for comments to be moderated and posted and I'm sure he'll be back with his usual bravado within a few days.

Meanwhile you still have to deal with me!!!


Katrina Revisited Part IV

Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Over 1800 people perished, 270,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and $55 million in damage was done by one massive storm. How many lives were devastated by loss is almost incalculable. Americans were mesmerized and outraged by the images they saw on their televisions. Reminders that not all Americans live like those on their sitcoms, reminders that it's still been ten years since the working poor have had a pay increase. Shocked that there was no plan to evacuate everyone and that the poor were simply left to die Americans reacted and so began the slide that has President Bush in mid-30's approval ratings. It woke people to the absolute incompetence of this Administration.

People stayed behind for three main reasons: they didn't have transportation, they couldn't afford to leave, or they wouldn't leave their cherished pets behind. The exercise done in July 2004 called Hurricane PAM revealed the problem of evacuating 100,000 poor and "low mobility" residents. To alleviate some of this FEMA promised to supply 500 charter buses to evacuate as much of these people as possible.

When Katrina came the buses didn't.

Emergency shelters not allowing people to bring their pets has resulted in a lot of unnecessary heartache and death and not just with Katrina. To many people their cats, dogs, parrots and ferrets are members of their families. They'd no sooner leave them behind than their children. Many of those who stayed behind to care for their pets perished. Pets fending for themselves wandered the streets of New Orleans until animal rescue groups got them.

Another lesson of Katrina has been dealing with homeowners insurance and hurricane damage. Much of the damage has gone uncovered by the insurance industry. Claiming water damage isn't covered tens of thousands of homeowners are having to sue to collect damages. In a storm of this magnitude with a surge of water accompanied by 75 mph wonds it's all bu timpossible to delineate what damage was caused by what. It's time for reform so policies in the future cover all hurricane related damages in these zones.

Carney Launches Second Ad

The Chris Carney campaign has launched their second television advertisement. Chris is running in the 10th Congressional District against Don Sherwood (R-Choke City). Watch the commercial here and contribute so they can continue working hard to take this winnable seat.

McCain's Makeover: Is It a Sellout to the Right?

Senator John McCain wants to be President. In the worst way, it appears. The moderate maverick has been undergoing a radical makeover the past year to appeal to the extreme religious right of the GOP. He's even kissing up to George W. Bush though not as literally as Joe Lieberman. Recalling the vicious campaign Karl Rove engineered against him in 2000 on behalf of Bush this really makes me wonder what kind of man McCain is. This level of forgiveness is either unheard of in a mortal or is complete pandering.

One thing people have always admired about John McCain is his strength of character. He didn't pander to anyone. He knew who he was, was comfortable with who he was and what he believed, and he wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed. People and voters greatly admire those qualities in their politicians and leaders. They'll vote for it even if the person represents the other Party.

McCain threw all this out the window though when he decided to begin pandering to these Republican extremists. Somewhere along the line he decided he wanted to be President more than be John McCain. He abandoned the "old" John McCain and reinvented him as a typical politician. It's obviously impossible to win the Republican nomination without the support of this key demographic so he began kissing some serious Bush behind.

What's interesting is how he started doing this just as the rest of the country began awakening to Bush's incredible failures of leadership and string of lies. McCain snuggled up to the White House as the rest of the country was pushing it away. Will this miscalculation do him in? After all no one but the Senator and Lynn Swann seem to want to have anything to do with Bush these days. Being tied to the President is the kiss of death for Republicans in 2006. Odds are 2008 will only be worse.

Let's recap what happened in South Carolina in 2000. Bush and McCain came out of Iowa and New Hampshire with the Arizonian running strongly. In South Carolina Rove engineered a push poll asking whether voters would view McCain differently if they knew he had a Black child out of wedlock. If you know anything at all about South Carolina, especially Republicans in that state, you know there's a huge amount of racism still running rampant.

It so happened that Senator McCain and his wife had recently adopted a child, a girl, who had dark skin. When the voters who received those telephone calls saw this extended family on stage at events, don't need me to tell you how they voted.

This dirty trick cost McCain the nomination as Bush won SC and went on with that momentum to garner the nod at the convention. That McCain would completely dismiss such an awful maneuver and cozy up to those who committed it says something about the man. Either he's the second coming or he's sold out everything he was as a man in order to be President. Far be it from me to rule out the former but my money is on the latter.

There was a time I could have been unafraid if John McCain won the White House. Not any more.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rumors Persist About Phil English

There have been rumors for some time concerning Congressman Phil English's sexual proclivities. DownWithTyranny has done a story detailing some of the accounts. Word around Erie is that he likes young African American boys. It's some interesting reading. Is it true?

Katrina Revisited Part III

Hurricane Katrina was a huge story and it told us much about our state of emergency readiness, our leaders, global warming, the state of our poor and the underclass, racism, and whether we could trust the White House. We revisit Katrina because these were huge questions a year ago and most remain unanswered. Let's review what many of the problems were and how they were dealt with at the time.

Michael Chertoff (can you believe this oaf remains at DHS?) went on television repeatedly during the disaster and said there was no way the disaster could have been predicted. CNN and others caught him in this lie and exposed his deceit. In fact the hurricane had been tracked all across southern Florida and the Gulf. Everyone knew it was a category 5 headed straight for New Orleans. In fact they had 5 days warning.

Alright suppose he meant no one could have predicted the devastation and flooding. Wrong again. Experts had been predicting a disaster of this exact nature for years. In fact FEMA and others had done an exercise in July 2004 called Hurricane PAM which almost exactly predicted Katrina. FEMA made promises as a result of that exercise to shore up the weaknesses it made apparent. One was to provide hundreds of buses for evacuation of those without any other method of transportation. Today, a year later, they're still waiting for those buses.

Bush went on television and actually said no one could have anticipated the breech of the levees. In fact experts had been warning for years they were inadequate but funds to strengthen them had been cut from budgets, including Bush's.

There were failures at all levels of government. This is expected in times of great crisis and is why coordinated planning is engaged in so as to predict them and develop alternative scenarios. The city government in New Orleans was essentially wiped out. Nothing was able to function after the disaster. Governor Blanco had, in fact, declared a state of emergency on August 26, two days before the storm came ashore. The White House posted their emergency declaration shortly after. The Governor also asked for National Guard troops to come from New Mexico the day before Katrina hit on Monday August 28th. Washington approved the request that Thursday. No wonder much time was lost arguing about who would be in charge: the locals didn't trust Washington and Washington needed someone to blame.

In massive disasters such as this became FEMA is statutorily the agency in charge. Thisis because it is assumed that local agencies are kaput, unable to respond, or inadequate to the task. That is why FEMA was created. Unfortunately Bush used FEMA for political cronyism appointing a good friendof his 2000 campaign manager, a guy named Michael Brown. Brown was fresh from having been fired from the Arabian Horse Association. We soon learned why: they had enough horses' asses already and didn't need one more. We later learned Brown was more concerned with his sartorial splendor than aiding victims.

In one of Brown's more undignified moments he even blamed the victims for their deaths because they didn't evacuate.

This, of course, was the most crucial failure of Katrina: the inability of many to evacuate and get to safe ground. Many people died and many nearly died. Thousands were condemned to panic, misery, and desperation trying to survive the ordeal. There simply was no plan to evacuate the 100,000 low mobility and poor residents of New Orleans. Kanye West was correct: no one cared about these poor people, mostly African American.

A group of these folks were actually turned away by armed police from Gretna when they attempted to evacuate over a bridge. The police fired shotguns over their heads to stop them. Desperate for aid that didn't come for days, many died at the city's convention center. On Thursday Chertoff was caught in a live CNN interview completely unaware they were there. He said " I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food or water." This after two days of intense media coverage of their plight.

In fact the USS Bataan had followed the storm so it would be in place for disaster recovery and rescue. The ship, with a 600 bed hospital, 1200 sailors ready for r&r and the capacity to make 100,000 gallons of drinking water per day, sat off the coast of New Orleans without orders. It was then sent to Biloxi, a much lower priority (but with a Republican Governor).

Doctors volunteered to help and massed on the area. So did air boat owner/operators and the Red Cross. They weren't allowed into the city. The boat owners were told the government wouldn't pay for their gas so most went home, unable to afford the cost themselves.

Meanwhile President Bush finally ended his usual schedule of photo ops and flew over the area. He'd been AWOL once again when America needed him most. Like the 20 minutes he spent reading My Pet Goat after being told the nation was under attack on 9/11, he went to John McCain's birthday party, a publicity event for Medicare, and got a guitar from a country music star. When he and Laura did go to the area it was something out of the Twilight Zone.

Laura visited the airport in Lafayette where rescue operations were headquartered. All activities ceased during her visit. No helicopters were allowed to land or take off, all rescue operations halted. Over in the Cajundome where the geeks were putting websites together telling people where to get assistance the Secret Service came in and ordered everyone out until the visit was completed. How many people might have died because of her photo opportunity?

The President's first visit was downright spooky. Directly from a Potemkin Village it was elaborately staged. A food distribution center was put up strictly for the event then removed. Crews came through prior to his arrival and cleared debris, removed bodies, and cleaned up as much as they could. They only did his route and then left. The entire event was staged and scripted. ZDF television in Germany broke the story of the ruse. The US media went right along with the setup.

Katrina shone a spotlight on the America's poor. It shone a light on their desperate lives, their living conditions, their status on the nation's list of priorities. George Bush promised to fix this but has he done one single thing since to alleviate these problems? He has attempted more tax cuts for the rich and attempted to cut more programs for the poor from his budget. So much for cheap words.

So this is why we're revisiting Katrina. Promises were made. Outrageous statements were made and we'll remind everyone about some of the worst. Mostly we must remember what went wrong and what promises were made. We must learn from the past or we're doomed to repeat it. We must prioritize real homeland security. We must rebuild New Orleans.

After the worst of Katrina David Letterman skewered Bush with his top ten list. I'm reprinting it here to remind us of our misplaced priorities. The sorry situation is these all continue to be relevant. If Katrina happened again tomorrow these all would still be more important to President Bush.

The Top 10 Ways To Get Bush To Immediately Help The Gulf Coast

  1. Tell him they're performing late term abortions in the Moriale Convention Center.
  1. Have an ordained minister perform several hundred gay/lesbian marriages on Bourbon Street.
  1. Tell him that they're about to disconnect the feeding tube of a brain dead woman in Biloxi Mississippi.
  1. Suggest that they're doing stem cell research in the Superdome.
  1. Get Halliburton to submit a no-bid contract to rebuild the levees.
  1. Tell him some Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are stranded on Grand Isle, Louisiana.
  1. Get word to him that some "Pioneer" or "Ranger" campaign donors are trapped on Magazine Street.
  1. Tell him some billionaires who need tax breaks are in Jefferson Parish.
  1. Put a golf course down Canal Street.

the number 1 way to get Bush to pay some bloody attention to the horrible crisis in Louisiana and Mississippi:

1. Tell him that Osama Bin Laden is in Arkansas.

Swann Dives From Voters Wanting Autographs

What's a voter/fan to do? There's Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann in front of you asking for your vote on November 7th but he won't even sign your $100 event ticket? The infamously stingy autograph giver is showing his true colors on the campaign trail. A candidate who refuses to fulfill something as simple as an autograph isn't looked favorably upon by voters. Lynn Swann hates to give autographs. He sells them on his website so every free one he doles out diminishes the value of those he sells.

It's quite a fix he's in. I think he needs to decide which is more important to him: serving the voters and securing their votes, or further enriching himself through his self promotion business. You have to have ego to run for office, especially something statewide. It's tough work because this is a large state. It also has a lot of voters and a lot of Steelers fans. Swann must get their votes if he's to have any shot at all. His response to this dilemma will show how serious he is about being Governor.

If it's all about himself, his greed, and his selfishness he'll continue refusing autographs or giving watered down ones. If he isn't simply a sacrificial lamb to Ed Rendell's bandwagon he'll forget about his misgivings and provide signatures to one and all.

I think Swann's true color is green. It's all about further enriching himself by extending his celebrity.

Have You Had Enough?

I received an email from Howie Klein who is involved with a group from which made a song they are using to raise money for crucial Congressional candidates. Some of the races they're targeting are here in Pennsylvania. The song features Ricky Lee Jones so go listen to it here. Then go over to YouTube and watch this video of the song.

The group has specifically targeted Curt Weldon and Mike Fitzpatrick for their fundraising. You can visit their Act Blue page and contribute and we certainly encourage you to do so. If you're in a different Congressional District you can edit the video for your Congressman, be they Jim Gerlach, Joe Pitts, Don Sherwood or Melissa Hart.

It's a very catchy tune and will be available soon for downloads.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Santorum Supporters Start Disturbance at Casey Event

This is why we call them Rethuglicans. Some Santorum supporters, all young men, crashed a Casey event in the Lehigh Valley and started a fight. As the Democratic candidate exited his bus they began to scuffle with Casey supporters and it appears to have gotten quite nasty. When you combine this with the incident last week at the Secretary of State's office it is disturbing. There a Rethug elbowed a Casey representative while officials were examining petitions for the Green Party candidate.

This also reminds me of Ray McGovern's tale about being elbowed in his solar plexus after asking Donald Rumsfeld why he lied about Saddam's wmd's at a speech in Atlanta. This tendency to physical violence and assaults is quite disturbing. Perhaps we need a few more union enforcers escorting Casey at events. If these kids supporting Tricky Ricky want to get into it I'm sure several burly union men can teach them some quick lessons in thuggery.

Drug Companies Finance Medicare Ads Touting GOP Candidates

Pharmaceutical companies profiting nicely from the new Medicare Part D(isaster) drug plan are financing part of an ad campaign supporting Republicans up for reelection. The ads are thanking certain Congressmen for supporting the bill's passage and make no mention of the fact big pharma paid a chunk of their cost. One ad supported Mike Fitzpatrick of the 8th CD in Bucks County although he wasn't even a Congressman when the bill passed the House.

This bill was rather controversial because it was written by and for insurance and drug companies. The Bush Administration misled Congress about its cost and then voting was held open for 45 minutes (a violation of House rules) until Jim Gerlach of the 6th CD was persuaded to cast his vote in support. Without that arm twisting it never would have passed in this form.

Do you think this is ethical?

Interesting Video About Bush, Santorum and Iraq

I Hope You Guys Fry In Hell...

Santorum and Social Security

Have you seen the Santorum ad where he's dancing around some seniors and dancing around his record on Social Security? The fact is Tricky Ricky wanted to eliminate Social Security by privatizing it and making Wall Street brokers very rich. In early 2005 he did a tour od 14 stops where he received a LOT of negative reaction from Pennsylvania seniors about his position. We haven't heard much more from the Junior Senator about this since.

One of these forums was in Philadelphia at Penn and some Drexel University College Republicans were in attendance. When some protestors from Philly for Change chanted hey hey ho ho Rick Santorum's got to go the YR's began chanting themselves. It revealed their true agenda for Social Security.

Tim Tagaris was there with the trusty Pennacchio for Pennsylvania camcorder. I drove to Plumsteadville that afternoon to get the tape and download it to my computer. I then burned it to a dvd and took it back to the campaign office the next morning. Tim edited the segment and uploaded it to the Chuck2006 website where national media picked it up. MoveOn sent it all over the country in an email message.

I've uploaded it to YouTube so no one forgets Rick's true position.

Bush & Katrina: The Beginning of the End?

The Washington Post examines how the ineptitude, incompetence and "out of touch" reactions of George W. Bush and his top people to the storm and its damage was the beginning of the end for his Administration. I think the vigil by Cindy Sheehan and her friends began the slide and initiated the questioning that many Americans began making about their President. It's open to argument. No one doubts the accumulated effect of both events in the same month being a devastating one two punch. Sheehan began a real examination of the war by many who had been unquestioning prior to her visit to Crawford. The hurricane combined to give a foreign policy/domestic policy "does anyone there know what they're doing" significance and shone the spotlight directly on the staggering weaknesses that had been present for four years.

When you recall how Bush was away from the White House on both of the most important events of his Administration: September 11th and Katrina, but flew back to Washington to sign the emergency bill passed to "save" a vegetative Terri Schiavo, one understands his priorities. He refused to cut back his August vacation even after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Instead of flying back to D.C. to oversee operations and policy he went to San Diego to accept a guitar gift, celebrated John McCain's birthday in Arizona and hosted a seminar about Medicare where he was laughing it up.

These images of a happy, carefree Bush having a ball while the people of New Orleans were drowning and desperate will haunt his legacy forever. The pictures will never go away, either in our minds, our memories, or in print.

Senate Attack Ads Begin

I wasn't expecting this until after Labor Day. Folks, you never roll out a new product in August. Everyone is on vacation and/or planning their Labor Day festivities (I'll be away all week-end by the way so the blog won't be very active. I'm not sure how much wireless is available around Raystown Lake). Tricky Ricky Santorum launched a humorous ad pointing out that his opponent has spent much of his life running for office.

Gee, that sounds to me like he's criticizing Casey for being a career politician. And what is Santorum? When's the last time he had a real job?

So Casey responded by attacking Tricky Ricky's fervent opposition to pay raises-except for his own. The difference in these two approaches is important. Casey attacked Santorum's record: his votes on issues. That's always fair game. Santorum, on theother hand, went negative, going after Casey personally. That's an important difference. Going negative this early is very bad form and tells me Santorum;s desperate. Their internal polls must not be good.

Of course there isn't all that much you can go after Casey about. The man has no voting record because he's only ever held clerical management positions. No one knows what he stands for so there isn't much leeway there. Santorum may have no alternative but go after the man personally. It's a risky enterprise because no one seems to dislike the man on a personal level. The duck idea never gained any traction so we'll see if the ad does. It is humorous, I like the way his arm falls off at the end.

Couldn't you folks have waited until after Labor Day? Am I going to have to interrupt my vacation to check the news periodically? Can't you cut a blogger a little slack? (that part was designed to give them a chuckle)

Oh, and if you hear about a tragic boating accident at Raystown and discover it's a blogger start checking the following alibis: well, you know the list.....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Katrina: Remembering the Heroes

Blogger Problems Today (Again)

Blogger seems to be having major problems again today. It's taking me forever to upload anything then the connection with Blogger continuously goes out. I'm having to publish several times before anything goes up on the blog. This is resulting in either nothing being posted or duplicate posts that then must be deleted. It's also taking waaaaaayyyy too much time. My patience is worn thin and I'm frustrated as hell at Blogger. I guess you get what you pay for and Blogger is free. The support services for the blog cost some money but the hosting is free. I'd rather pay a small fee than have these constant problems.

We'll try again later today folks.

Katrina in Pictures Part II

More visual remembrance of the tragedy.

Katrina in Pictures

The devastation and heartbreak of hurricane Katrina was beyond words. Only the pictures tell the true story.

Katrina Revisited Part II

It took Hurricane Katrina five days to cross Florida and the Gulf of Mexico before striking Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We had five days of warning that this was the "big one" experts had been warning about for years. A major hurricane striking New Orleans with a direct hit was one of just a few major disaster scenarios war gamed by the experts. We still weren't ready though.

I remember one poignant moment while watching CNN that week. Meteorologist Chad Myers was trying to convey the seriousness of the threat and the anchor tried to dismiss his concern. He almost lost it right on the air. He became visibly upset trying to stress how deadly the storm was going to be and how important it was to warn people. That's when I knew this wasn't going to be a normal hurricane.

Why weren't we prepared? Mostly it's another case of misplaced priorities. The levees were never properly built or constructed when they were built. That was a bipartisan mistake spanning many Administrations and Congresses. Kanye West's accusation that "Bush doesn't care about Black people" reflects other failures. This Administration has catered only to corporations and the very rich. Programs for the poor have been steadily cut or eliminated.

Having much of the Louisiana National Guard in Iraq was another problem. Not having 500 drivers for those buses has been pointed out as another failure. Perhaps local government should have had a back up plan in place in case FEMA failed to deliver on their promises, which happened repeatedly.

Putting a political hack in a position like FEMA Director was another cause of the failures. Even the Red Cross failed miserably. They refused to go into New Orleans with any supplies for those stranded souls at the convention center. There were arguments between federal, state and local leaders about who was responsible for what while crucial moments lapsed and more people died.

There was much posturing about avoiding "the blame game" but, as yet, no one has studied what went wrong so we can avoid a similar catastrophe. Shouldn't we convene a 9/11 type commission to study all the failures so we can avert making the same mistakes again? Revisiting Katrina is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to remember those we lost, a culture we largely lost, and to remember what we need to do to make sure it never happens again. I don't see that happening.

Rendell Pondering Retirement in the Cabinet?

Governor Ed Rendell says he would consider accepting a Cabinet posiiton for a Democratic Adminstration after his term of office expires. He also said he'd have to seriously consider an offer to be Vice President but stressed he intends to complete his full second term after November's election re-elects him to the Governor's mansion. As for that other office he said this:

"But my real desire is to be the executive. And as vice president, even Al Gore, who got a lot of responsibility from President Clinton, you know, you don't make the decisions."

Rendell said he doesn't have the time or desire to run for president in 2008.

Rendell could probably bring a lot to an office like Health and Human Services. I could defintely see him contributing in a Cabinet capacity. He could also appoint himself to a Senate post if one were to become available before his second term expires. I suspect he's already promised such a spot to another though. I doubt if those prominent politicos all dropped out of the Senate race just because they're good sports.

Bigotry Issue Completely Derails Virginia Senate Candidate

As if we don't have our own bigotry issues in the Pennsylvania Senate race (and why haven't Rick's bigotry problems surfaced yet?) the race in Virginia is all about macaca these days. Sen. George Allen's campaign has been completely derailed by comments he made early last week. It's dominating the news, dominating the blogosphere (yea, like I'd waste any time writing about a bigoted Senator), and is the chief subject dogging Allen's re-election campaign.

Sometimes I wonder where we get Senators like Rick Santorum, Trent Lott, George Allen and Sam Brownback. Then I remember: yes, we get them from the Republican Party. Why isn't Bob Casey out there reminding women of Santorum's book which essentially says they should be kept at home barefoot and pregnant? Where are all the reminders about man on dog sex? This man has said so many outrageous and outlandish things but you aren't hearing any of them in this campaign.

We have a Senator of whom Pennsylvanians are embarrassed and ashamed. He's been a disgrace to our sensibilities, just as George Allen has in Virginia recently. The press is all over Allen but Santorum is getting a free pass because Casey is allowing it. It's time to capitalize on the macaca scandal and remind Pennsylvanians there isn't much difference between Allen and Santorum. After all a bigot is a bigot is a bigot.

Another Cut and Run Republican

Chris Shays has joined the growing number of Cut and Run Republicans saying we should redeploy our troops from Iraq. I'm shocked and appalled at the number of traitorous Republicans out there.

Let's take a minute and review the origin of the term "cut and run." It comes from the old days of sailing ships, the frigates and galleons that sailed the high sea. If one of these naval vessels was caught at anchor in a harbor they were dead meat because of their inability to maneuver and fight. Rather than be sunk at anchor what they did was "cut and run." This involved cutting the anchor rope and sailing the heck out of there. This enabled them to fight another day rather than die.

When it's obvious your current mission is a failure and all staying will accomplish is the loss of your forces it's time to cut and run. If you don't survive to fight another day in another place you lose the overall war. This is the situation we face in Iraq. Too many failures of planning and policy have dealt us a bad hand. The enemy is in control and there's nothing we can do to reverse the situation short of nuking Baghdad.

Remember how we simply disbanded the Iraqi Army and sent them home with their rifles? Remember how we forbade any other country from participating in the intial reconstruction? Remember how we insisted our own companies (Halliburton) do the reconstruction and not use local Iraqi laborers and contractors? Remember how this went? Remember the $9 billion that simply disappeared from the beds of pick up trucks to (supposedly) pay for this reconstruction? Remember the orders dictated by Paul Bremer essentially making the Coalition Provisional Authority nothing more than a puppet government?

No wonder the insurgency caught fire with the Iraqi people. We couldn't have screwed things up better if we'd been trying. No electricity, bad water, no jobs, no security. If you were living in those conditions you'd be supporting insurrection too. Add to that mix the treatment of prisoners, torture of captives, mass executions by American soldiers and you have today's Baghdad.

One year ago Cindy Sheehan was camped out in Crawford Texas. Bush had said our soldiers were dying for a "noble cause." Cindy wanted to meet with the President to ask for what "noble cause" her son died. Bush refused a meeting. He said more must die to honor those already fallen. So Casey Sheehan died for a noble cause: to honor those whose lives had already been thrown away by greed, lust for power, and incompetence. This is a shameful waste of lives.

Now Cindy Sheehan is back in Crawford still awaiting her meeting. She should have switched her voter registration to Republican and towed a replica FEMA trailer to Washington. It seems that's all it takes.

This war is a disaster. Our troops are dying for nothing. Iraqis are dying for nothing. The situation continues to get worse and not better. There is no plan for victory and no way out of the quagmire if we continue.

Yes, it's time to cut and run.

Plan B and Rick Santorum

The FDA approved Plan B yesterday for over the counter sales. I didn't comment on this because I figured it was no big deal. Plan B is nothing more than emergency contraception. It does NOT terminate pregnancy. This simply means women over 18 will not need to pay for a doctor's visit prior to purchasing the item from a pharmacist.

Then I read some comments from Senator Rick Sanitorium in this morning's newspaper. Is this man another moron? Here's what he told a Reading Eagle reporter yesterday (no link since it isn't on their online edition):

"Particularly, the impact of potentially causing spontaneous abortions and other health complications."

Let's repeat: Emergency contraception does NOT terminate pregancy. Maybe Tricky Ricky the idiot didn't hear us yet. Let's repeat it again but louder this time:


Maybe the asshole should learn the facts before he begins spouting his theological idiocy. Plan B is not RU 486. They are completely different medicines and work in completely different ways. Of course Sanitorium is someone who opposes ALL birth control and all methods of sexual activities not resulting in procreation so I guess he doesn't need to gather the facts before he illustrates his ignorance. As far as he's concerned it's all the same. Here's how it works:

Plan B works through delaying or preventing ovulation, by interfering with fertilization (inhibiting the movement of the egg or the sperm through the fallopian tube), and may inhibit implantation by altering the lining of the uterus. It is not effective if the process of implantation has begun. Plan B will NOT cause a miscarriage. Plan B does not provide any protection or treatment against sexually transmitted infections. Pregnancies occurring despite treatment do not have an increased risk of adverse outcome.

In other words it works the same as any other contraceptive. Plan B simply provides a large emergency dosage. It does not cause abortions, spontaneous or otherwise.

This story does tell us a lot about Tricky Ricky. It reminds us he spouts off on subjects before getting the facts. Remember his support for the war in Iraq? He ignored the facts then too. It reminds us he sees facts as he WANTS them to be, not as they are. Remember Terri Schiavo? That case also reminds us he wants the federal government making our most difficult family decisions for us.

It reminds us Rick Santorum wants to be in our bedrooms. He wants to dictate how we have sexual relations. He does not want anyone using any form of contraception. He does not want us doing anything sexually other than making babies. He wants to criminalize any other sexual activity.

Is this what you want? It's your decision on November 7th.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Radical Congressional Candidate Writes for Aljazeera

If you're a regular reader of press releases on you've become familiar with the insane rantings of an independent Congressional candidate running in the 16th District. This man has also graced several Yahoo Groups with his illogical, fact challenged, out of context ramblings and insults until he was banned from them. Now he's writing for Aljazeera. Not the innocent one out of Georgia but the real Arab network in Dubai. The network that caters to other radicals like Osama bin Laden, the late Abu Zarqwari, and Zawahiri.

It's another of his diatribes against Democrats and, especially John Murtha and Lois Herr. When the rest of the world is blaming George Bush, Rick Santorum and Joe Pitts for our ills, Mr. Murphy cannot see past his obsession with Democrats. The former Green Party member has burned so many political bridges he's relegated to writing for the same network that broadcasts terrorists.

There's an old saying that you're judged by the company you keep.

Katrina Revisited Part 1

A year later. New Orleans remains a lost city. The devastation is a reminder of failed policies and failed priorities. Many of the people of New Orleans have also been forgotten. The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles one case in today's newspaper. Let's begin our recollection with pictures from a year ago.

Romanelli Loses Key Court Case on Petitions

A decision was rendered today regarding Green Senate candidate Carl Romanelli's nominating petitions. The court upheld the requirement that he needs 67,000 valid signatures to be on the ballot. The contention here was which statewide election the count should be based upon, the state Treasurer election in 2004 or the Supreme Court retention election of 2005. The court interpreted the law to say the judicial election doesn't qualify as a statewide election.

That may be news to Russell Nigro.

The rationale of the court is that voters aren't choosing a candidate in retention elections, only voting stay or go. Because the candidate is not elected the court holds that doesn't constitute an election under a previous Supreme Court decision.

Gee, I'd say that if the person loses their office if they lose the election, it's an election.

So how does this impact the Senate race? Romanelli will have to appeal the decision. Meanwhile he's fighting to get into the debates. That's going to be nigh on impossible until he qualifies for the ballot. Qualifying for the ballot will mean needing 67,000 signatures, obviously a threshold he cannot attain. There are simply too many fraudulent signatures on those petitions.

I interpret this to mean Romanelli's effort is dead.

At least the lawyers made out. They made fees on all the court challenges and the petition challenges. Those Republican contributors who ponied up $66,000 to pay for the petition effort have 66 grand less to give Santorum. They were probably maxed out anyway though that hasn't kept Santorum from accepting third $2100 checks from 38 contributors anyway. He'll simply keep taking their money until Casey wakes up and reads my previous blog article about it.

Romanelli cannot get 67,000 signatures. Even if he did he won't be in the debates, dooming whatever chance he had to be a spoiler anyway. The other losers in this are the voters who were seeking a true progressive candidate to vote for. With no pro-choice Senate candidate they'll be sitting at home on election day and Ed Rendell will be wondering why the numbers from suburban Philadelphia are so low. At least he doesn't have a serious challenger. The Congressional candidates in the 6th, 7th and 8th Districts may be crying though. Their challenge will be to give those pro choice voters a reason to get out and cast their ballots.

Kentucky Governor Escapes Charges

This is for Raven who has been following the story.

The Republican Governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher, has escaped charges of patronage. He was accused of putting political hacks into protected state jobs. He issued blanket pardons to all those involved in an effort to save his own hide. It appears to have been successful.

"The governor acknowledges that the evidence strongly indicates wrongdoing by his administration with regard to personnel actions with the merit system," the judge said in a five-page order dismissing the charges.

The admission of guilt ends the case and the outstanding indictment against the Governor. One more case of the GOP culture of corruption comes to an ignominious end.

Third Circuit Court Upholds Ballot Access Restrictions

The Federal Appeals Court for this region, the Third Circuit upheld the petition requirements to gain access to the ballot in Pennsylvania. The onerous requirements are legal according to the Court. It held the state has the right to restrict access.

The 3rd Circuit said in Rogers v. Corbett that the law strikes a legitimate balance between the rights of political outsiders to run for public office and the state's interest in regulating access to the ballot.

In rejecting the challenge in April, the panel said, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III was correct in deciding that "the minimal burdens on minor political parties was justified by Pennsylvania's interest in preventing ballot clutter and ensuring viable candidates."

I think requiring 67,000 signatures is anti-democratic and overly onerous. If the burden is ensuring viable candidates getting 20,000 signatures, as Russ Diamond did, I say he's a viable candidate. I wouldn't be voting for Russ but I say he should be on the ballot. The same for Mimi Rogers who brought the suit.