Friday, July 31, 2009

The LuLac Edition #893, July 31st, 2009



Last night the Pittston Memorial Library got a gift of a lifetime. Actually it was a person’s life’s work, part of his livelihood (he donated a cool $50,000) and his legacy. John P. Cosgrove who left Pittston in the 1930s for fame and fortune in Washington, D.C. returned to Pittston like a Santa in summer toting 1,000 books, artifacts and historic photographs that chronicled his life in the nation’s capitol. The amazing thing about his contribution is that the gifts and mementoes span most of the 20th century of the United States. Cosgrove, 90 served as the first person with a media background to be President of the National Press Club. He also helped establish funding and organizing of the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. Cosgrove was honored by the Pittston Memorial Library Board of Directors in a ceremony. Pittston Mayor Elect Jason Klush was also in attendance. Mr. Cosgrove’s gift confirms the old saying that, “You can take the boy out of Pittston, but you can never take Pittston out of the boy”.


You ever wonder why revolutions start with people coming after the “anointed” with pitchforks aimed at the heart? One must ask how things get to a certain point. All you had to do on Wednesday was tune in PCN to see the House and Senate State Conference Committee on the Pennsylvania budget meet. This was supposed to be a meeting to clarify things, to come to an agreement. Instead, the principles starting with State Representative Dwight Evans and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi spent the first 35 minutes figuring out rules of engagement and procedure. Or for the uninformed, “how they were going to talk about the budget”. After a few minutes they called the lawyers in and that made things even more complicated. So in effect, they had to have a meeting to figure out how they were going to have their meeting. I’m not making this stuff up. In politics sometimes you are defined more by who your enemy is rather than your friends. Governor Ed has taken some big hits on his performance regarding this year’s budget. And rightly so. But the Guv has taken responsibility by saying he should have prodded these Legislators earlier. But you know, the more the Legislative leaders behave like this, posturing and preening like prima donnas, Rendell’s bump in popularity will be a momentary setback. Ed Rendell should have a statue to these lamebrains on his mantle at home.


The U.S. Senate has adopted an amendment by Senator Bob Casey to improve mental health programs for the National Guard and Reserves. The amendment, which passed the Senate last night as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, provides a first step to giving Guard and Reserve troops returning from deployments the same access to screenings at their home station for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other health problems related to their service as active duty troops.
For some service members, the battle does not end at the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan. Stories of service members in Pennsylvania and throughout the country suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, and other mental health problems have become all too commonplace.
In January, Senator Casey introduced the FORCE Act, a bill that supports National Guard and Reserve members and their families by making programs and services more effective and accessible. A key component of this legislation is improving access to quality mental healthcare resources.
Currently, all service members are provided an initial Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) at their demobilization site. For Guard and Reserve members, these assessments are often several states away from home, but crucial to ensuring that physical or mental problems are diagnosed and treated.
Senator Casey’s amendment requires the Department of Defense to take the first step – conducting a feasibility study – towards implementing health assessments at a Guard or Reserve member’s home station. Post-Deployment Health Assessment Report provisions:
No later than March 1, 2010, the Secretary of Defense must submit a report to Congress on the feasibility of providing Post-Deployment Health Assessments at a National Guard or Reserve member’s home station; and
The study must include the following elements: the availability of qualified practitioners to perform Post-Deployment Health Assessments and the ability to provide assessments to members of the Individual Ready Reserve no later than 10 days after they return to their home station.


Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, introduced H.R. 3380, the Promoting Lending to America’s Small Businesses Act. The bipartisan legislation would enable credit unions to make more small business loans and create jobs at a time when the country needs a financial boost. As the current financial crisis has dragged on, commercial banks and other entities have unfortunately pulled back their lending activities. America’s credit unions could help fill this void in small business lending, but statutory limitations have so far forced many of them to sit on the sidelines.
“During this time of economic uncertainty, many businesses, especially small businesses, are facing extreme difficulties accessing credit in order to create and maintain jobs,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “H.R. 3380 aims to fix this problem by using credit unions as a resource to boost lending to small businesses. By permitting credit unions to expand their lending to small businesses, we can work to turn around our difficult financial situation at no cost to taxpayer. In contrast to most other participants in the financial marketplace, credit unions have provided an important beacon of light and stability during the last year. They now have the opportunity to help support many more small businesses, including those in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Credit unions have already provided loans to small businesses, but H.R. 3380 would enable them to further expand their business lending. In Moosic, Pennsylvania, Ron Ertley of Ertley Dealership unsuccessfully tried to get a bank loan to expand his auto dealership’s floor plan. However, Congressman Kanjorski helped put Mr. Ertley in touch with a local credit union to help finance his small business expansion.
“We are in difficult times, and while I may have been able to get a loan much more easily from a bank a few years ago, many of them have basically closed their doors to small businesses,” said Mr. Ertley. “But, a local credit union here in Northeastern Pennsylvania is willing to provide this loan so that I can expand my auto dealership and further develop my business. Congressman Kanjorski’s legislation would help encourage and enable more credit unions to expand and increase their lending to local small businesses which would provide valuable resources to many small businesses just like mine.”
H.R. 3380 generally aims to unleash billions of dollars in small business lending to help improve the country’s financial state. Specifically, the legislation would raise a statutory cap that has limited credit union member business lending. This change would more than double the amount that credit unions can lend to small businesses.


Someone asked me if I were taking sides in the Beer Summit debate at the White House. As a former Vice Presidential candidate would exclaim, “you betcha!” Here’s my vote:


The Final Looney Tune, "Señorella and the Glass Huarache", is released before the Warner Bros. Cartoon Division is shut down by Jack Warner……….

Emancipation Declaration in the Island of Jamaica. Freedom from slavery in the Island that was colonized by the British. Hooray freedom, hooray beer..The bodies of murdered civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney are found.
United States destroyers USS Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy are attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. Air support from the carrier USS Ticonderoga sinks 1 gunboat, while the other 2 leave the battle....…In Pennsylvania, a bitter feud between two state officials threatens action on the enforcement of a strip mining action. Mining Secretary H. Beecher Charmbury stays neutral in the controversy between James Blackburn and James Cunningham. Blackburn represents the soft coal industry while Blackburn serves as under secretary of mines…….The '64 Phils take two out of three against the defending World Champs, the Dodgers. Chris Short and rookie Rick Wise win the first two games with John Boozer losing the third to Larry Miller.........In Wilkes Barre, Treasurer Walter Lisman says nearly 1,000 people owe the city over $45,000 in per capita taxes for 1963. Lisman proposes to City Council that an outside agency be hired to collect the taxes… Kingston Mayor Bert Husband calls on parents to take disciplinary action against their children who are stopped by the police department. The Mayor complains that teenage drivers are going over the 35 mph speed limit and causing a hazard…….and 45 years ago this week in LuLac land and America the number 1 song was Dusty Springfield’s “Wishin’ And Hopin’".

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The LuLac Edition #892, July 30th, 2009



This evening beginning at 7:00 p.m., PCN will air a special edition of “On the Issues.” Tonight Governor Ed Rendell will sit down for a one-on-one discussion about the PA budget. Throughout the budget impasse, PCN has been airing special PA Budget editions of “On the Issues” with key lawmakers involved in the process. This week, the statewide public affairs network has conducted special “On the Issues” interviews with Sen. Jake Corman, R – PA Senate Majority Appropriations Committee Chair , Sen. Jay Costa, D - PA Senate Minority Appropriations Chair, Sen. Bob Mellow, D- PA Senate Minority Floor Leader and Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati , R – PA Senate President Pro Tempore. “On the Issues” is part of the network’s Sunday evening lineup. The one-on-one informal discussion features government officials and other guests who candidly talk about the issues that face the Legislature. “On the Issues” is seen regularly on PCN every Sunday beginning at 7:00 p.m. Encore presentations can be seen on Mondays at 12:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
Special PA budget editions of “On the Issues” will air on PCN throughout the budget process. Visit the daily schedule at for airtimes of this special programming and other programming information. PCN is a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization created and supported by cable television companies that voluntarily carry the network on their channel lineup as a public service. PCN receives no state or federal funding. The network, is headquartered in Camp Hill and has bureaus in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. PCN is distributed on more than 150 cable systems in Pennsylvania serving more than 10 million Pennsylvanians in 3.3 million homes. A complete listing of PCN affiliates and network channel designations is available by visiting PCN's website at


The Governor appeared on "Morning Joe" the other day and talked about many an issue including Penn State. There has been much speculation about Mr. Rendell's next career move after he leaves the Governor's mansion. Some have guessed he might land a Cabinet post while others have said maybe a sports commissionership. I'm
guessing he'll wind up on MSNBC.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The LuLac Edition #891, July 29th, 2009



When CBS did a special presentation in 1986 called “Return To Mayberry”, the plot was that long serving deputy Barney Fife was finally going to run for Sheriff. His plans were momentarily spoiled when Andy Taylor returned to town. Naturally there was a groundswell of support for Andy and the duo wound up facing each other. I thought of that today when I read with interest when a Lackawanna County Deputy Sheriff Chester Cipilewski was fired by his boss John Szymanski. The Sheriff has served numerous terms and easily won another nomination in the May primary against, you guessed it, Cipilewski. Szymanski said he fired Deputy Chester Cipilewski for a lot of reasons but wouldn't discuss specifics. As a long time political observer in LuLac land remarked, “Dave, this isn’t Andy and Barney, and Gomer and Thelma Lou Aunt Bea. These guys play for keeps." Evidently.


Lackawanna Minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak reacted to the FBI investigation of the previous administration he was part of in an interesting manner. Munchak took the offensive saying, ... “I hope they'll be ready to issue an apology when they find nothing was done illegally." Munchak has long been associated with Robert Cordaro, the Lackawanna County Chair for years through business associations. Loyalty is a wonderful thing and I hope that Munchak is correct in saying that nothing was illegal. Let’s face it, the last thing we need here in NEPA is another scandal. But the feds and investigators are not known for saying, “Ooops”. A friend of mine was audited by the IRS 4 years in a row. Understandably he was outraged and after his ordeal was over wanted to demand an apology. Both his attorney and CPA advised, “Pack your briefcase, keep your head down and don’t say a word. Sorry isn’t in their vocabulary.


A slight detour on baseball. My good friend Gene Werely and his family went to Cooperstown to see Rickey Henderson inducted into the Hall of Fame. If you ever get a chance to see the Hall, it will be a great family experience. Gene says, “Rickey is my man. I've said for 25 years that when he makes it to the hall I'd be there. I've had the date circled for three years. Long story but a childhood friend of mine mad me aware of Rickey in the summer of 1980. He was my best friend in the years I lived in NY state. Unfortunately he died in an auto accident the week I graduated HS. Rickey has and always will be my bond with my late friend Jimmy Naccarato.”
Baseball, more than any sport bonds people, living and dead. You think of the past, while savoring the present and passing on the future to your sons and daughters. Gene did this with his trip to Cooperstown this past weekend.
One more baseball note: To all you Phillie fans out there, my Indians provided you with Cliff Lee today. Don’t screw up!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The LuLac Edition #890, July 28th, 2009



Gov. Ed Rendell has asked senior staff to begin preparing options for a stopgap funding bill. It would allow the state to meet its bills and payrolls while the deadlock over a state budget closes in on the one month mark. This is a reversal from positions taken by the Governor when he criticized stopgaps as a short term panacea that would not solve the crisis. This Friday marks another payless payday looming for 33,000 state workers on Friday. There is no quick end in sight to the Democrat vs. Republican fight over tax rates and spending, the governor said he thinks it is becoming a necessary option. The Governor blasted the Republican State Senate that has essentially been holding state workers, tax payers and recipients of human services hostage. The Senators have made it known that they will oppose any tax increase. Theirs is a knee jerk reaction to the crisis in Pennsylvania caused by Wall Street. Their typical “don’t raise ‘dem taxes” cry is a fear tactic that their party has been using to steer voters away from the realization that services cost money. And when and if a budget is passed and there is pain to the regular guy on the street, blame the GOP Senate.


Wil Toole has garnered more than enough signatures to get on the ballot as an Independent for Luzerne County Controller. Toole, a long time area public servant wanted to run as a Democrat in the primary but did not due to the lack of integrity of a fellow Democrat in his own district. Toole has set up a great looking website. Here’s the link:
Toole is opposed by GOP candidate and taxpayer advocate Walter Griffith and Mountaintop finance manager Robert Morgan. This race will be interesting mainly because independent efforts in the past have been nonexistent in Luzerne County. It should be noted that this is not a write in ballot either, Toole’s name will be right on the line and voters can pick and choose for or against him.


I'm pretty tired of this guy and Conahan. If you're interested in what he said to WNEP TV, here's Gort's link:

Monday, July 27, 2009

The LuLac Edition #889, July 27th, 2009



Everybody has a Manny Gordon story. Manny died Thursday night at the age of 97. His funeral service was today at 1PM. Working in Public Relations and Media, I had the opportunity to meet the man many times. I don’t think he ever remembered my name but he acted like he did and that was fine with me. I’d see Manny and his wife eating dinner and really was awe struck by how long they were married. They were a joy to see. When Manny’s wife passed on, the widower would eat dinner out in the downtown and other area restaurants. One of his favorite places was Allanti’s in Kingston owned by the Passeri family. In 2000, I acquired a job at Cable Rep Advertising after working in radio at Rock 107 and WARM Radio. On my client list was Allanti’s. The client was formerly Joey Shaver’s so I had big shoes to fill. For the uninformed, Joey Shaver in addition to being a member of the WARM Sensational Seven was also one of the best media reps in the area. When I met with Rachel and her mother, the Passeri’s said they wanted to reshoot their TV commercial. They suggested that we prevail on Manny Gordon to return as spokesman for the restaurant. We made the proper arrangements and were going to reshoot the commercial.
Putting together a TV commercial on a local basis is both exhilarating and a challenge. We populated the elegant dining room with “extras”. One of those extras was a young woman who was a friend of mine from the Scranton area. She had a modeling portfolio and we (Cable Rep) put her in a few local commercials. Her picture, located in the Photo Index is a representation of how she looked in 2000. She looked quite, quite young. As we set up the shots, it was decided that Manny would be paired up with my model. Other people were in shots at a booth, tables or by the cappuccino machine. As the shoot progressed, my producer, Denise Bass called me over and seemed concerned. “Look at that shot, Manny looks great, he looks happy but that girl doesn’t look like a dinner partner, she looks like a granddaughter,” she said with concern. We appraised Manny of the change and he took it in stride like the professional he was. My model though was not happy because she bragged to her family that she would be in a commercial with the great Manny Gordon. “This is the first time in history an older woman is replacing a younger one in a TV commercial” she said in despair. Since it meant so much to her, I enlisted the aid of one of Allanti’s waiters, Ullysis. (Yes that was his real name). The young man donned a sport coat and sat at a table with the young aspiring model. The cameras rolled and in no time Manny echoed his signature “Enjoy, Enjoy” and that was a wrap. As I chatted with my clients and the crew tore down, Manny ambled over to the young lady. He told her, “I just want to tell you how proud I was to be in this commercial with you. Thank you!” My model was both stunned and pleased. The older model, who sat with Manny in the shoot said, “What a sweet guy!”. Manny retorted, “Nope, I’m just a regular guy like everyone else.” Since his passing there were many words used to describe the life and persona that was Manny Gordon. Regular was not one of them.
Here’s that commercial, notice the young model in the second shot and Manny's signature tag at the end!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The LuLac Edition #888, July 26th, 2009



One of the things writers sometimes go through is writer’s block. Mrs. LuLac says I am so full of something or the other that I have yet to encounter such a problem. And she’s right. But what happens to me sometimes is that I get writer’s envy. Doesn’t happen often but when it does, the effect is twofold. The first is that I salute the creativity of the writer. The second is I slap my forehead and declare, “I wish I wrote that”.
It happened today when I read Christopher Kelly’s story in The Times Tribune about the $158.00 the State Legislators get for their per diem. Kelly more than outlined the perks of the richest, highest paid lawmakers in the country. He took $158.00 and bought food for the the Church of the Good Shepherd in Green Ridge. That church has an open door policy when it comes to need and also has a soup kitchen and food bank. Here’s what the $158.00 bought:
Twenty boxes of Hamburger Helper.
Twenty-five boxes of pasta.
Ten cans of spaghetti sauce, 10 cans of Manwich, 10 six-packs of juice drinks, five boxes of instant potatoes and a dozen boxes of cereal.
Twenty-three institutional-sized cans of vegetables, fruit and pudding, and 10 each of brownie mix, fruit cocktail, cookies and crackers.
It was quite a haul - 155 items in all. Took two shopping carts to wheel it out to the car.

Kelly’s point was to spend $158.00 for stuff people need. Come now, with a base salary of $76,000 does a legislator; does anyone need a per diem in addition to that? For years people around here have bitched about the salaries of school teachers. I don’t see them getting a per diem. Kelly had to give his bosses from The Times Tribune a receipt for the stuff he bought. But he pointed out that Legislators don’t have to keep receipts for any of that $158.00 a day. And they could buy anything with it. So if a Legislator decided he or she wanted to sleep in their car (and with a $600.00 a month allowance for that, I’m sure it would be as comfortable as some of the beds the working poor in NEPA sleep in) they could use the per diem to buy $158.00 in Lottery tickets, NASCAR magazines, Cigarettes or booze. Or lunch. Or a hotel room. Or maybe just pocket it. No one could call them on it because that per diem is an inherent right. We, the tax payer foot that bill.
We are hearing about the budget impasse and how the Governor says he doesn’t want to cut programs and how the Republicans say they don’t want to impose a tax increase on the public. How about this? Here’s a suggestion. The boys and girls from the House and Senate were sent home on a six hour call. (If summoned, they have 6 hours to get back to the Capitol). If you see them on the street, or at a church bazaar, or visit their office, ask them if, as a way to help this budget problem, ask them if they are willing to give up their $158.00 per diem to help out? Here's their phone numbers and address, get them on the horn or drop by, I'm sure they'll be glad to hear from you.
Hon. Mike Carroll
42 Center Street
Hughestown, PA 18640
(570) 655-4883(800) 894-0960
Hon. Todd A. Eachus
1 West Broad St.Suite 3
Hazleton, PA 18201
(570) 450-7905 Fax: (570) 459-3946
Hon. Phyllis Mundy
400 Third Avenue
Park Office Bldg Suite 113
Kingston, PA 18704
(570) 283-9622 (570) 655-3375
Fax: (570) 283-9626
Hon. Kevin P. Murphy
409 North Main Avenue
Jays Commons
Scranton, PA 18503
(570) 342-4348 Fax: (570) 342-4353
Hon. Eddie Day Pashinski
152 South Pennsylvania Ave
Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
(570) 825-5934 Fax: (570) 826-5436
Hon. Ken Smith
1414 Monroe Avenue Dunmore, PA 18509
(570) 342-2710 Fax: (570) 342-2845
Hon. Edward G. Staback
843 Scranton Carbondale Highway Eynon, PA 18403
(570) 876-1111 Fax: (570) 876-5304
Hon. James Wansacz
319 South Main Street Old Forge, PA 18518
(570) 451-3110 Fax: (570) 451-3306
Hon. James Wansacz
Scott Township Municipal Building
1038 Montdale Road Suite
4Scott Township, PA 18447
(570) 254-9672 Fax: (570) 254-7063
Hon. John T. Yudichak
156 South Market Street Nanticoke, PA 18634
(570) 740-7031 Fax: (570) 826-2584
Hon. Karen Boback
5315 Main Road PO Box 333 Sweet Valley, PA 18656
(570) 477-3752 Fax: (570) 477-3468
Hon. Karen Boback
6 Cross Country Complex
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
(570) 836-4777 Fax: (570) 836-4772
Hon. Karen Boback
7844 Blue Ridge Trail Mountain Top, PA 18707
(570) 868-7780 Fax: (570) 868-4658
Hon. Lisa Baker (20th Senatorial)
22 Dallas Shopping Center Dallas, PA 18612
(570) 675-3931
Hon. Ray Musto (14th Senatorial)
81 South Main Street Pittston, PA 18640
(570) 654-1483
Hon. Robert Mellow (22nd Senatorial)
524 Main Street Post Office Box B Peckville, PA 18452
(570) 489-0336

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The LuLac Edition #887, July 25th, 2009



Friday I sat down with a person I know who works for the State of Pennsylvania. His last real payday, albeit a smaller one will be next week. If the state doesn’t pass a budget by then, he’ll be working for nothing. I asked a few questions and he was brutally honest.
Q: You offered to buy lunch, what’ya nuts?
A: No, common courtesy. If you’re buying, I‘m ordering three more hot dogs.
Q: How are you getting by?
A: Pretty well so far although I am dipping into what little savings I have. I used the bulk of it to buy a house and pay off credit card bills so I’m cash poor at this point. But I’m cutting back. Walking more. Burning more videos instead of buying them.
Q: You job as a Corrections Officer, is it suffering because of the budget battle?
A: My situation is unique. You don’t want to slack off or be lazy because that might impact the safety of you and your team leaders or members.We've had call offs but not to the point that it's made our work any harder. I mean you don’t want a guy to get hurt because of the freaking budget. Morale is interesting because it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are on the other side of the bars from a guy locked up for life. But you do wonder when this is all going to shake down.
Q: Are blaming anyone in particular? Mad at anyone?
A: From what I read, there’s a lot of blame to go around. I’m not mad at the Governor though because he’s been asking to get this done since February. I think the Legislators are the ones that have not even made an effort to cut back any of their perks. I mean I carpool to work with a bunch of guys. Do they? I’d like $600.00 a month to get a nice ride for free. Well technically I’m paying for it.
Q: If things get tougher and you are not paid for a while do you have a support system?
A: Normally my wife would be that. But she works at Wilkes Barre General and the new owners are staring down the nurses in an upcoming contract dispute. So that’s an uncertainty there if they go on strike. And I’m against strikes but if she has to go, she has to go. There’s always my mom and dad but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.
Q: Would you accept higher taxes to get this done?
A: Yes. As a state worker I see firsthand the services people get. Education, library funding, work training program for inmates, roads, that type of stuff people take for granted. It seems to me though the delivery system of the tax money to the agencies if messed up. Why should a lawmaker or even the Governor make three times more to deliver the money to the people that implement the system? It’s like paying the guy who holds the gold more than the miners who dig it out of the earth. From what I see on my tax forms, the taxes to the state are the lowest in the country. So what’s the sweat. Let’s just get this done.
Q: So you believe that payer higher taxes is like a type of dues for living in this country and state?
A: **** no! That’s really ****ed up. You believe that?
Q: Yes, don’t you?
A: Uh, **** no! Jesus, if I had known you felt that way I would’ve asked you to meet me at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. It would be your dues for interviewing me.
Q: Smartass.
A: Yeah, I try.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The LuLac Edition #886, July 24th, 2009



The U.S. Senate, where John F. Kennedy found a few of his subjects for his book “Profiles In Courage” has wimped out and will delay health care reform. Let me quote Rush here, “Dingy Harry Reid”, how about wussie Harry Reid said that health care reform will return in the fall. Great! This gives the opponents of health care a month to distort the facts and scare the hell out of the American people. These Senate Democrats have no spine. Maybe someone should tell them they won the election. Maybe the President would be better off with a GOP Senate. Bill Clinton did well with a divided house of government. Maybe Obama will too.


Governor Ed says that there might be movement on the budget this weekend and it may come up for a vote in conference by the start of next week. This is in stark contrast to State Senate leader Dominic Pileggi’s claim that nothing will get done because even the Democratic controlled House aren’t fans of the Rendell budget. So….no budget. And the beat goes on.


Senator Arlen Specter and his one time GOP primary foe are tied. In a dead heat. Specter’s wide lead over Pat Toomey has evaporated, in the clearest sign yet that his party switch three months ago has damaged his credibility with voters, according to Quinnipiac poll. Specter is leading Toomey by an insignificant one point in a general election matchup, 45 percent to 44 percent. More troubling for Specter, a near-majority of voters say he doesn’t deserve reelection. It’s the first time an independent poll has showed Specter and Toomey to be effectively tied.


Check out some very good political reporting on PA2010 written by Dan Hirschhorn. Here’s the link:


Congressman Paul Kanjorski helped reintroduce the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which aims to halt illegal immigration in the United States through stronger worker verification and increased enforcement of America’s borders. The bill uses a three-point strategy to combat illegal immigration by securing the borders through an increased number of border patrol agents, mandating that employers verify work authorization before hiring new employees, and enforcing existing laws pertaining to illegal immigration.
“Those who want to live and work in the United States need to abide by our laws,” said Congressman Kanjorski. “By requiring employers to verify the legal status of new employees, we can stop the job magnet that attracts illegal immigrants to the U.S. and depresses the wages of American citizens. Enactment of the SAVE Act would provide additional resources to ensure that our existing laws are enforced.”
Congressman Kanjorski added, “Had the SAVE Act been in place, we may very well have prevented the case recently uncovered by the Beaver Meadows police chief in which an illegal immigrant not only fraudulently obtained identification documents, but also may have received a federal tax refund. Clearly, safeguards that should have been in place are inadequate to prevent outrageous abuses of our system.”
The SAVE Act would result in the following actions, among others:
Mandate that within four years, that all employers check the status of potential employees through an online E-Verification system to confirm the potential employee’s eligibility to work in the United States:
Hire 6,000 additional U.S. Border Patrol Agents within 5 years,
Employ 1,750 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents to enhance enforcement efforts over five years,
Require that the Department of Homeland Security increase its use of aerial technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, and satellites, among others, to ensure that the borders are watched at all times,
Provide more facilities and resources for the detention, processing, and removal of illegal immigrants,
Require notification of individuals whose Social Security numbers may have been stolen and are being fraudulently used,
Demand information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration to reduce fraud and identity theft.


Six days of
race riots begin in Harlem………..Speculation about President Johnson’s choice for Vice President heats up. LBJ ends all speculation about a possible Johnson-Kennedy ticket when he eliminates anyone serving in his Cabinet for the job saying “their service would be too valuable to lose”. This was a shot at then Attorney General Robert Kennedy who quipped to fellow Cabinet officers, “I’m sorry I took so many of you guys over the cliff with me”..........In the State, Pa. Driver’s licenses will be made on state computers. The new licenses issued by the state will be the size of a small letter envelope and streamline costs by $700,000…….The 1964 Fighting Phillies sweep a three game series against the Milwaukee Braves despite the hitting of future Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Eddie Matthews. Art Mahaffey wins his ninth while Ray Culp and Jack Baldshun pitch well…..A group of area representatives from business, government and the press tour the Whirlpool Canyon, better known as “The Tubs”. Land owner Clement Perkins announced the area will be opened to the public as a recreational park. A small fee will be required for admission. Perkins said Whirlpool Canyon was formed more than 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age. He pointed out that the Labrador Ice Cap stretched over the Wyoming Valley all the way to Shickshinny with an estimated two miles of thickness. When the thaw came, “The Tubs” formed…….Kingston and Forty Fort abandoned their plans for a school merger citing differences in educational philosophy……At the Towne House Restaurant you could buy a Filet Mignon for $1.50 and at The Center Inn located in Nanticoke you could buy a T-Bone for $1.75, sides included……and 45 years ago today in America and Lulac land the number 1 song was from the Beatles. Yes the Fab Four return to the top of the charts with a song title from the movie of the same name, “A Hard Day’s Night”.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The LuLac Edition #885, July 23rd, 2009



The President spoke last night on Health Care and to be honest, his presentation was a mixed bag. He convinced me but he has to do more to win over members of his own party and the American people. His opening statement was strong, finally outlining the principle of WIFM (what’s in it for me) to the American people. Obama lost a major part of the message by having right wingers like Rush Limbaugh control the argument by saying that 90% of insured Americans health care will be jeopardized by trying to cover 10% of the uninsured. Americans in the abstract are a generous people. However in the concrete, they can be selfish. We are more than happy to give to a charity or provide health care to those less fortunate than we, as long as it does not impact on our own personal fortunes. The fact that Obama outlined some aspects of improving coverage was a good thing. But he has to do more.
The Clinton health care plan failed primarily because there were too many details to digest at any given time. Plus the messenger was an unknown quantity at the time. Obama seems to be shying away from giving many details and leaving it to Congress to handle the details. As a matter of fact, the President has been way to nice in handing over the bill to the Congress. Members of his own party have nickel and dimed it to death. He has to come out swinging and strong even if it means busting heads in his own party. This is his legacy this is, as his people told us in 2008, his time. To entrust it to a group of politicians worried about their next election is really naïve. Obama has said he didn’t care if he became a one term President if he accomplished his goals. If he means that, he should start acting like a President with a multi seat majority in both Legislative Chambers rather than a city alderman afraid of pissing off the Ward Chairman. Allow me to elaborate on some issues that need to be clarified in fixing the system:
1. The deficit numbers. Don’t engage in them. People don’t believe them anyway. One side who wants health care will herald them, the other will not. Leave the numbers alone. Stress how broken health care is. If you get heat on the deficit, ask the American people what’s a better way to go into debt; fixing health care or fighting a grudge war in Iraq? And ask, where were those deficit hawks in Congress when the U.S. was spending billions on military equipment that got our soldiers blown to bits because it was faulty?
2. Establish a universal health care insurance code that is nationalized. Every insurer has different sets of rules for different states. Change it. Make it uniform. A lot of money is wasted in time and energy by different plans not being able to communicate with each other about payments.
3. Tax the millionaires health benefits if you like but give tax breaks to people who have to pay deductibles. Or subsidize deductibles. Right now, Americans pay their company because less than 5% get full blown 100% covered health care. They pay the providers with deductibles. And their companies pay the insurance industry counting it as a benefit of employment. The last thing the middle class needs is a tax on health care benefits. Redefine the words “single payer” to mean that the average American won’t be shelling out three different times and ways for health care. Subsidies will make everyone happy.
4. Tell the truth. There will be taxes to pay for this. Get it over with. Say It.
5. Act like a President. Inspire. No mention of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing. “If we can land on the moon, we can’t fix health care?” Obama needed to give Americans a call to action. His muddled attempts at trying to dissect care options as well as his analogies did not excite. And to a skeptical country, fueled by an incendiary and vicious minority, he needs to lay it on the line. He began a bit last night, but needs to get more specific.
6. Power. He has to use the power of the Presidency and his star power now. It is ebbing and a defeat will surely deflate his administration. A President, especially one who has spent the first 6 months handing out stimulus money can reward….as well as punish.
Consensus. The President seems to be so worried about getting a few Republicans to jump on board with this. For what??? He has the majority. He should use it. If this reform works, people will forget the details. Medicare recipients can’t tell you the first thing about how the bill was passed 44 years ago.
8. Make it competitive. How can big time insurers making millions of dollars every year justify rate increases? Granted they must pay claims but if the President wants to put money back in the pockets of the working class, make the business model for the health care insurance industry monopoly free.
9. The uninsured. Shut up about them. They only serve as a political lightning rod that will derail your efforts.
10. Use the three “E” philosophy in describing reform.
Efficiency: Make health care less bulky in how it’s perceived and implemented.
Effectiveness: Stress as you did Wednesday night that to do nothing will keep this issue stagnant.
Empathy: Utilize your bully pulpit to assure three interest groups involved in this; the 90% who have health care, the Health Care Industry and the Insurers. Tell them that this will increase profits in the long run.
11. Don’t scrimp. Make it either a spectacular achievement or failure. If you do a middle ground deal, you become Jimmy Carter. If you risk all of your elective capital on this, you’re Reagan and Roosevelt. A transformative President.
12. Lastly, Go Big, or Go Home. And tell your fellow Dems the same thing. Forget the politicians, you should aim for history. Martin Luther King, Junior trumps Steney Hoyer any day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The LuLac Edition #884, July 22nd, 2009



It appears the President is not only getting into campaign mode, but “fight” stance. Annoyed by resistance to his health care reform plan, the President is calling on Blue Dog conservative Democrats to get with his program. He is also taking his message to the net and is not shy about calling out the people who are against him.
Here's Obama’s Message.

The Democratic party has started running ads to sway the American people. This ad doesn’t say much on specifics but that’s the point.


Rumor has it that National RNC Chairman Michael Steele might be gracing Luzerne County later this year. Here he is on cable opposing health care. Check out the part where he has no idea what health plan he has.


Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia said the city would reluctantly withhold up to 20 percent of the wages of city workers who are behind on their property taxes unless they pay up or enter into payment agreements.This might be a good thing to try in Luzerne County. There might not be a lot of county workers who owe back taxes but what about all those businesses that got breaks through KOZ rulings and zoning boards? Why can’t we go after them?


The state House rejected a Senate Republican budget proposal that cleared the way for a bipartisan conference committee to work it all out. The Democrat-controlled House voted 150-49 against the budget plan that the Senate passed Monday. Both sides believe their differences can be resolved. "Hopefully we can do it within hours or days, and not weeks," said House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, (D., Luzerne) told the Harrisburg Patriot. Okay, so by disagreeing you’re going to agree faster? "This is the appropriate process for resolving the differences between the Senate and the House," said Sen. Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware). "This process should have started in May after passage of Senate Bill 850." YOU THINK, DOMINIC?????? The House and Senate proposed budgets are several billion dollars apart.


Ed Rendell and the Legislature are getting low marks from Pennsylvania voters because of the state budget fiasco.
A statewide
Quinnipiac University poll found 27 percent of the state's voters approve of the job the Legislature is doing. The poll found the Democratic governor's rating had plummeted to 39 percent. That's the lowest since he took office in 2003. 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters think the inability of the governor and state Legislature to pass a budget by the June 30 deadline is a "very serious" problem. Rendell garnered the most blame for the budget stalemate with 30 percent of the voters, while 17 percent blame the Republicans in the Legislature; 11 percent blame the Democrats; and 28 percent blame everyone equally.
With that, here’s a special song going out to the Governor, the Pa. House and of course the Senate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The LuLac Edition #883, July 21st, 2009



It’s summer and the conventional political wisdom says that all is supposed to be quiet. Tell that to the county GOP. Row office candidates Walter Griffith (running for Controller) Carolee Medico Olenginski (running for Prothonotary) and Harry Haas (Wilkes Barre School Director Candidate) have been chasing votes in the midst of potato pancakes and funnel cakes. This is the time to meet the folks, enjoy the nice weather and build a base for the fall campaign.


U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $39.8 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Pennsylvania. Under DOE’s State Energy Program, Pennsylvania proposed a statewide plan that prioritizes energy savings, creates or retains jobs, increases the use of renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Secretary Chu announced a total of more than $162 million for State Energy Programs in seven states and territories states including: Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. Each grantee is receiving 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “This funding will provide an important boost for state economies, help to put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence," said Secretary Chu. "It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly." With the announcement, Pennsylvania will now have received 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) funding authorized under the Recovery Act. Pennsylvania will now have received 50 percent of its total Recovery Act SEP funding. The initial 10 percent of total funding was previously available to support planning activities; the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released the state meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act. After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, Pennsylvania will receive nearly $50 million in additional funding, for a total of almost $100 million. Pennsylvania will use its Recovery Act SEP funding to provide grants and other support for energy efficiency and conservation efforts with the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and stimulating growth in renewable sectors. Pennsylvania Green Energy Works! will offer grants to businesses, non-profit organizations, universities, local governments, and utilities to deploy shovel-ready efficient, environmentally sustainable and economically worthwhile energy projects across the state. Over a longer time horizon, Pennsylvania will continue to fund advanced energy projects, tailoring programs to specific economic sectors. For example, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority will continue to serve business needs, while the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest will support schools, nonprofits, and local governments across the state. Pennsylvania will also establish a Green Development Loan Program, a revolving loan fund that will provide clean-energy and energy-efficiency financing for facilities projects, resource efficiency measures, and advanced and renewable clean-energy technologies. In addition to originating loans and leveraging private capital, this fund will make outright awards to cover the costs of project feasibility studies, energy audits, or project design, which can often present significant barriers to sustainable development investments. Activities eligible for State Energy Program funding include energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, transportation programs to increase the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and new financing mechanisms to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. The Recovery Act appropriated $3.1 billion to the State Energy Program (SEP) to help promote energy efficiency and clean energy deployment, as well as to support local economic recovery. States use these grants at the state and local level to create green jobs and address state energy priorities. Transparency and accountability are important priorities for SEP and all Recovery Act projects. Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and national level, while emphasizing with states the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies.


Dennis Kucinich's amendment to let states adopt single-payer healthcare passed the House Education and Labor Committee by 25-19 . While this bill will most certainly have little effect on national health care, it does give states like Pennsylvania the go ahead to offer the single payer option.


In the state budget battle, Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati, says it's time for Gov. Ed Rendell to stop using state workers as pawns and to start paying them."It is clear that the governor does not recognize that Pennsylvania families live paycheck to paycheck or he would follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and refrain from using payless paydays as a budgetary scare tactic," Scarnati told the Harrisburg Patriot.
Scarnati disagrees with the administration's interpretation that the state constitution trumps federal law. He claims it is an interpretation that Rendell is using to try to force Senate Republicans to give in to his demand for a tax increase to support a higher level of state spending. "Quite frankly, I am shocked that the governor would place the livelihoods of over 77,000 state workers and their families in jeopardy to make a case for a massive tax increase," Scarnati said. In a related development, help is being offered to unpaid state workers by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Ours were extended to state employees who might have to take advantage of the bank. Meanwhile on Monday night, Senator Jeff Piccola whose district holds many of the state capitol workers called the Governor’s behavior despicable. Watching it on PCN certainly was a sight to see. Senator Jay Costa of Western Pennsylvania then asked Senate Pro Tem Scarnati to have Piccola retract his remarks. Picolla did not, kind of apologized for the tone but not the intent. This is getting combative.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The LuLac Edition #882, July 20th, 2009



40 years ago today man landed on the moon. It was perhaps the biggest achievement of the human race. Mankind has always been on the move, exploring new frontiers by foot, land, sea, air and finally space. After the tumultuous year of 1968, the Vietnam War, the Pueblo incident, the dual assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the riots in response to those murders, the invasion by the U.S.S.R. of the Czech people as well as a hard fought Presidential campaign, America and the world for that matter were ready for a triumph.
From my humble vantage point, 1969 was turning into “The Year that Sucked”. I had just finished my Freshman year in high school. And a miserable one at that. A new school, new faces, many changes. My father was recovering from a railroad accident that broke his leg in three places, I had lost an aunt in March of ’69 who was not quite 45 years old leaving my 16 year old cousin with only a dad. On the academic side, I barely made it to Sophomore year because I was hospitalized for 38 days at Wills Eye in Philadelphia with a disease called uveitis. Uveitis is responsible for 10% of people destroying their vision and I was one of them losing the sight in my right eye forever at the age of 15. Plus I was put on a cortisone drug ballooning my weight and giving me horrible acne. Just what every self conscious teenager needed. I was employed as a bagger at Detato’s Supermarket in Pittston and because I lived close, it seemed like I was always there. To add insult to injury, my seventh grade girlfriend, now entering her Freshman year moved south. My 1969 kind of mirrored the hangover the nation had from 1968.
In July of 1969 all people talked about was the trip to the Moon. Even though most Americans were optimistic, this was nowhere close to a walk in the park. There were so many variables that could go wrong and almost did. There seemed to be a collective nervousness. A sense of foreboding mixed with prayerful expectation. The nation seemed to be holding its collective breath as the lunar module descended onto the surface. When the craft landed, it was a while before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. As I watched with my mom and dad in our living room, I remember thinking what an incredible achievement this was. For that moment, all problems big and small faded into the background. In the 60’s we had gathered around the TV in times of national sadness and mourning. It took a journey hundreds of thousands miles away from earth to give us a sense of national joy. As Armstrong walked on the moon, fireworks were set off in my neighborhood. It was after midnight but no one dared complain. Mankind had triumphed and for more than a few of us who had navigated the 1960s, it was about time.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

The LuLac Edition #881, July 19th, 2009



Henry Stubbs, convicted killer wants another chance. Stubbs is acting as his own attorney filing an appeal on a double murder conviction. Judge Peter Paul Olszewski in a ruling that was much fairer than Stubbs deserved indicated that Stubbs had filed a required appeal notice before deadline, even though court officials said they did not receive the document until a few months later. The out of town thug who we are supporting in prison for the rest of his sorry ass life is serving back-to-back life sentences for killing Elena Herring, 33, and her daughter, Viktoria Ivanova, 6, To be clear, Stubbs killed the mother and then gutted the 6 year old girl like a deer. At his trial, Stubbs said he was invited into the woman’s home because she was having an affair with him. Yeah, right. And the tooth fairy is coming to see me tonight with a million bucks in a sack. Stubb’s is serving as his own attorney which brings the old adage that any person who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client to an entirely new level. Remember this, he lives and breathes while the two lives he snuffed out are gone forever. I guess there’s some garbage that just never rots.


Auditor General Jack Wagner has a solution to the budget impasse in Harrisburg. Why not go after the back taxes of Commonwealth tax cheats and use that money and penalties to make up the deficit. That makes way too much sense but that might be one reason to vote for Wagner for Governor. And on a side note here, why is it that restaurant owners who drive Jaguars and owe thousands of dollars in back taxes seem to skate around here? I heard on the street that a now defunct restaurant chain owes more than $900,000 in back taxes. How does that happen? How did it get that out of hand? This is rapidly becoming the land of no accountability.


Buzz Aldrin that old moon walker himself was featured on Shadoe Steele’s Saturday Night Live At the Oldies at 8PM on KRZ FM, 98.5. Aldrin talked to the intrepid radio host about that famous day in world history when men walked on the moon.


Summertime Soiree at the Tiki Bar for the candidacy of Margie Moyle. Here are the details:
"Margaret Bisignani Moyle for Lackawanna County Judge"
What: Fundraiser
Host: Margaret Bisignani Moyle for Lackawanna County Judge
Start Time: Wednesday, July 22 at 6:00pm
End Time: Wednesday, July 22 at 8:00pm
Where: Tiki Bar at the Waldorf Social Club


That nugget, Doherty for Governor first appeared on a blog. The site, written by Dan Hirschhorn touted Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty as one of the top 5 Democratic contenders for the 2010 Governor’s race. The piece was at first met with guffaws from the traditional media but the recent movements by Doherty with State Chair T.J. Rooney seem to indicate the blogger was right on track. My personal thought on this is Doherty looked at the field including Auditor General Jack Wagner, western Pa. politico Dan Onorato and Philadelphian Tom Knox and just didn’t see anyone who stood out. Doherty is a good campaigner and has in place a dedicated, almost fanatically loyal organization. However, on the down side, will Pennsylvanians be willing to replace a two term Democratic Governor who served as a Mayor of a major city with another Mayor of a smaller city? Doherty will have to embrace and separate himself from Governor Ed all at the same time. No small feat.


4 decades ago today, the political fortunes of Senator Ted Kennedy took a dive. (Sorry for the pun). On July 18, 1969, Ted Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick, a small island connected via ferry to the town of Edgartown on the adjoining larger island of Martha's Vineyard. The party was a reunion for a group of six women, including Kopechne, known as the "boiler-room girls" who had served in his brother Robert's 1968 presidential campaign. Also present were Joseph Gargan (Ted Kennedy's cousin), Paul Markham (a school friend of Gargan's who would become United States Attorney for Massachusetts under the patronage of the Kennedys. Charles Tretter (an attorney), Raymond La Rosa and John Crimmins (Ted Kennedy's part-time driver). The next morning, July 19th, Gargan came to Kennedy's room inquiring as to Kopechne's whereabouts. It was then that Kennedy, many hours after the accident, related the story of the ill fated drive. The case came to Luzerne County when prosecutors in the Bay State wanted the body of Mary Jo Kopenche exhumed. Nearly 200 newsmen and spectators jammed into Judge Bernard Brominski's courtroom in Wilkes-Barre to hear arguments on whether Mary Jo's body should be exhumed from a nearby Larksville cemetery for an autopsy. Kennedy (wearing a neck brace) and his wife Joan also attended the funeral. Kennedy was found negligent and lost his license for a year. The damage to his political career was lasting prohibiting him from runs for President in 1972 and ’76.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The LuLac Edition #880, July 18th, 2009



Just days before the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, Walter Cronkite, an American icon passed away at age 92. He was in ill health for a time. His career spanned much of the 20th century, as well as the first decade of the 21st. The native of St. Joseph, Missouri, broke in as a newspaper journalist while in college, switched over to radio announcing in 1935, joined the United Press wire service by the end of the decade and jumped to CBS and its nascent television news division in 1950.
Former Wilkes Barre City Councilman Jim McCarthy knew Cronkite well. McCarthy worked at CBS from 1957 to 1981 and held various titles within its news organization. In his capacity as the Bureau Manager for the Owned and Operated Stations as well as the Chief Correspondent in the radio division McCarthy got a glimpse into the personality of the veteran broadcaster. “He came from WTOP in Washington, D.C. making his way to New York as the anchor. Walter would come to Washington about twice a month and he loved the city. They say New York is the news capitol of the world but really, it’s Washington and Walter knew that. One time he needed a broadcast booth to do his 2 minute radio commentary and because the studios were under repair, space was limited. So he asked me if he could use my radio booth to do his piece. I of course said sure and when he was finished, he nodded to me and said, “Thanks boss”, noted McCarthy. “Boss?” I responded, “Walter the only guy that’s your boss is God!!!” McCarthy said that at least for 10 seconds I was Walter’s boss. Cronkite covered World War II's Battle of the Bulge. “He was a war correspondent and was sometimes too brave for his own good” added McCarthy. Cronkite also covered the Nuremberg trials, several presidential elections, moon landings, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon's administration.
In 1962, Cronkite succeeded Douglas Edwards to become the anchor for the “CBS Evening News”, a position he would hold for almost 20 years. His rise from correspondent to anchor chair had been long and steady, but once he reached the top, Cronkite, already one of the most widely recognized and trusted journalists on television would become synonymous with the word “news.” In September 1963, Cronkite had the opportunity to interview Kennedy once again. Sitting on the front lawn of the famed Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, MA, Cronkite quizzed the young president on many issues of the day, including the growing war in Vietnam. Kennedy famously said that the war could not be won without the support of the people. “In the final analysis,” he said, “It’s their war. They’re the ones who have to win it or lose it.” Just two months later, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Cronkite was one of several anchors covering the tragic event, but was forever remembered for his emotional reaction to confirming that the president had been killed. With eyes blurred by tears, Cronkite repeatedly removed his thick horn-rimmed glasses in an effort to maintain composure while reporting the details of Kennedy’s death. Because he displayed humanity over professionalism, Cronkite comforted millions of Americans grieving in one of the nation’s most painful moments.
At times he even made news: A 1977 question to then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat about Sadat's intent to go to Israel -- at the time considered a nonstarter because of the lack of a treaty between the two countries -- received a surprising "yes" from the Egyptian leader. Soon after, Sadat traveled to Jerusalem, a trip that eventually led to the Camp David Accords, which included a peace deal between Israel and Egypt. At his height of influence as CBS anchorman, Cronkite's judgment was believed so important it could affect even presidents. In early 1968, after the Tet Offensive, Cronkite traveled to Vietnam and gave a critical editorial calling the Vietnam War "mired in stalemate."
Noting Cronkite's commentary, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." Johnson announced he would not seek re-election less than two months later. “That Vietnam trip was a real turning point in the war, Walter was only there for a day or two but what he saw convinced him that America was not going to win that war” said McCarthy. While Cronkite was regarded as a celebrity by most folks, McCarthy said Cronkite was a guy who would just as soon share a cup of coffee with you than attend a state dinner. Even though sailing was his first love, Cronkite took his job seriously. “He was in awe of the history happening around him. One time at a dinner in Washington, he asked me to introduce him to Judge Sirica who was the original district D.C. Judge in Watergate. He was genuinely excited, not at the man but the history that man was making. And he was part of it,” said McCarthy. The former Wilkes Barre politico had in common with Cronkite their roles as war reporters. Cronkite in WWII and McCarthy in Korea. “We used to swap stories about covering news from a war front, he was a very modest, even handed man” noted McCarthy. He was voted “the most trusted man in America” in numerous polls over the years. Even in 1995, he was voted “the most trusted man in television news” even though he had been off the CBS anchor desk for 14 years. Unlike the broadcast world of today where departures are fast and furious, Cronkite’s mark was indelible. At a reunion for Cronkite’s 90th birthday, McCarthy said the memories were pouring out from fellow CBS travelers like the Kalb Brothers (Bernard and Marvin) and George Herman. McCarthy added, “Cronkite was the type of reporter who was down to earth and grounded. He had this ritual of never eating anything until after his broadcast was over. He felt he was too nervous to eat before he hit the airwaves. Sometimes he wouldn’t eat until after the west coast feed. He was a regular call who was telling you what was going on in his world as well as yours. If I had to sum him up, I’d say he was a humane human being. Everything he did in terms of journalism touched him. He felt the high and the lows like his reactions to both the Moon landing and the JFK assassination. He felt everything he said. It was an honor to know him and work with him” concluded McCarthy.
As a youngster I became aware of Cronkite during the space launches of the early 60s. We were a CBS house and it was a daily ritual watching the evening news at 630PM. Cronkite gave me the news on the biggest stories of my young life, the NASA program, the Bay of Pigs, the killings of the Kennedy Brothers and Martin Luther King, Vietnam, Watergate and that glorious moon landing. Like many newsmen, Cronkite’s career traversed one of the richest and most tumultuous stretches of our history. He not only presided over it, he was a part of it. Cronkite by extension, made all of us part of his window on the world to history as it unfolded before us.
For that, we are all thankful.







Friday, July 17, 2009

The LuLac Edition #879, July 17th, 2009



Harry and Louise are coming back to television screens across the country to talk about overhauling health care. This time, they've switched sides. TV ads featuring the fictional couple played a big role in derailing President Bill Clinton's effort to revamp the medical system in the 1990s. Back then, actors Louise Caire Clark and Harry Johnson played a middle-class couple worrying about the changes, and the ads were sponsored by the insurance industry, which was fighting Clinton's plan. Now, they will appear in a $4 million TV campaign supporting a reshaping of health care, sponsored by Families USA, which champions affordable health care for families, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Here's the ad:


The Pa. house proposed amendments to a budget bill, although Democrats and Republicans seem no closer to hammering out a deal. The floor action is expected to focus on a Republican alternative to a Democrat-sponsored budget bill. A third option passed the Republican-controlled state Senate more than two months ago. The chamber could have a vote on final passage as early as Friday. Republicans are holding firm against any broad-based tax increases, while Gov. Ed Rendell and the Democrats are arguing for a mixture of cuts and new or expanded taxes. On the budget impasse, consider this. The Legislature and the Governor have had since February 1st to make this budget happen. They essentially did nothing until the end of June. The budget crisis is now in its 17th day. Rank and file members get a $158.00 per diem for being in Harrisburg. In Luzerne County we paid $21,488 in per diem money to reps who are in town doing busy work. In Lackawanna County taxpayers paid $10,744 in per diem money. (I’ve excluded Senator Mellow and Representative Eachus because they are part of the Leadership). It’s nice to hear Kevin Murphy make a speech about the Scranton School for the Deaf and great to hear Eddie Day Pashinski read a speech on people with disabilities who need home care. But what they are doing there has nothing to do with solving the budget crisis. They don’t need to be there! By the way, that $158 per day is in addition to their $70,000 plus salaries. State workers have no pay, funding streams that provide good services to Pennsylvanians are most likely going to be cut. Those cuts will increase unemployment because let’s face it, it is someone’s job to read a library book to children, carry medicine to a home bound disabled person or do an intake form for a mentally challenged person. But the overpaid lawmakers keep going on and on. They continue to be a disgrace. Not one of them has said anything that is long term for their constituents. All they care about is the next election and the next paycheck.


Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati sent a formal memo to the 49 other senators asking them to declare if they have rental leases for district offices where such an arrangement exists. It didn’t take Sarnati more than a New York minute to go after this issue handed him on a silver platter by Bob Mellow. He said that information may be difficult to obtain otherwise because leases could be held by private firms whose corporate or investor structure is not fully apparent. The missive is in response to revelations earlier this week that Sen. Robert Mellow directed more than $200,000 in state-funded rental payments since 2001 for his office in Peckville, to a company co-owned by his then-wife Diane Mellow. Mr. Mellow obtained her 50 percent ownership stake following the couple's divorce in 2007. The building where the office is located was sold to Ibis Realty in September. Scarnati will introduce a resolution to rescind a current Senate rule that says if a senator or immediate family member has an equity interest in a district office, the Senate chief clerk will get an independent appraisal of the office rental cost. While Scarnati is a Republican, this is truly a bi partisan issue on the face of it. However you can bet that any candidate running on the GOP ticket will point to Mellow’s actions as a misstep that could certainly be exploited politically.


We’re just ust a thousand days until the first 2012 Presidential primary and a new Gallup poll shows Mitt Romney is leading the potential Republican field. But not by much. Former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is in striking distance. He gets the backing of 26% Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, followed by Sarah Palin at 21%, Mike Huckabee at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 14%, Tim Pawlenty at 3%, and Haley Barbour at 2%.Romney's political action committee reported raising $1.6 million in the first part of this year. On the other hand, Sarah Palin’s take was around $700,000. However 60% of the donations to SarahPAC came in the form of contributions less than $200. Experts say that is a high percentage and indicates a very big groundswell of support indicative of the type of contributions that came to both Barack Obama and Ron Paul respectively. And the race is on….


At the Republican National Conventionin San Francisco, U.S. presidential nominee Barry Goldwater declares that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice", and "moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue".

The convention was the first since CBS and NBC had expanded their nightly newscasts from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and the first since the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy redefined the bond between television and politics. In 1960, there were about as many journalists, both print and broadcast, as delegates. In 1964 broadcasters alone outnumbered delegates two to one. Paranoia permeated the convention on the part of the GOP right wing. Conservatives from the West, the South and the Midwest were convinced that the only way moderate "Wall Street Republicans" had been able to run away with the presidential nomination every four years was that "a few secret kingmakers in New York" conspired to steal it, as Illinois activist Phyllis Schlafly put it in a self-published book, A Choice Not an Echo, several hundred thousand copies of which were distributed in the summer of 1964. (Some convention delegates reported receiving more than 60 copies in the mail.) They weren't going to let it be stolen this time.

Bill Scranton, whose patrician family ran the Pennsylvania coal town that bore his name, seemed to comedian Dick Gregory like "the guy who runs to John Wayne for help." (Goldwater looked like a cowboy.) Scranton had entered the race as a last-minute act of noblesse oblige. "Today the nation—and indeed the world—waits to see if another proud political banner will falter, grow limp and collapse in the dust," he had said as he announced his candidacy just four weeks before the convention. "Lincoln would cry out in pain if we sold out our principles."According to a Harris Poll taken late that June, 62 percent of rank and file Republicans preferred Scranton to Goldwater, but the supposed Wall Street kingmakers were in dithering disarray. ("What in God's name has happened to the Republican Party!" muttered Henry Cabot Lodge —the party's 1960 vice presidential nominee—as he paged through the delegate list in his hotel room. "I hardly know any of these people!") The moderates' strategy was to put the Goldwaterites' perceived extremism on televised display, hoping delegates would flock to Scranton after being flooded by telegrams from outraged voters watching at home. That did not happen, Goldwater won the nomination with Barry Goldwater’s 883 to William Scranton’s 214. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Margaret Chase Smith, Congressman Walter Judd, Senator Hiram Fong and former Ambassador to Vietnam and Richard Nixon’s Veep in 1960 got less than 120 respectively. Congressman William Miller of New York was named Goldwater’s Vice President without opposition. The Pennsylvania delegation, disheartened but not sad took the loss in stride knowing full well Scranton’s effort was a political “Hail Mary”. Scranton entered the race because of his revulsion at Goldwater’s vote against the 1964 Civil rights act. Senator Hugh Scott, up for re-election in 1964 was upset by the prospect of a Goldwater nomination and wondered aloud on network TV whether he could carry Pennsylvania. Goldwater did not but in true ticket splitting form, Hugh Scott won a second term from Pennsylvania voters……meanwhile the ’64 Phillies came back from the All Star break in sole possession of first place. They do lose 3 out of 5 to the Reds facing the likes of Joey Jay, Joe Nuxhall and Billl McCool. Chris Short did increase his record to 8-5 during this series and rookie call up Costen Shockley did a passable job at first base……………….In Scranton the role of Mayor William Schmidt is debated by City Council. Councilman Jim Doherty defined the role of as a “strong mayor form of government” and said the chief executive should be like a President or CEO and the Council should act as legislators….Wilkes Barre officials were upset with a New York Times article that was headlined “Pennsylvania’s Scenic Susquehanna”. The article was datelined Wyalusing and city officials were miffed that there was no mention of Wilkes Barre anywhere in the piece…….and in LuLac land, the number 1 song this week was “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters.