Friday, September 30, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1779, Sepember 30th, 2011


PHOTO INDEX: "MAYBE I'M AMAZED" LOGO.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED

MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that the Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees might have a hard time finding a summer home. The Stadium will be under renovation and the boys of Moosic won’t return until 2013. The Mets turned them down and that might not be a bad thing. I mean who wants to spend a summer in Newark.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that the baseball season had such a wonderful end. I have been following the game since I was 6, playing it since was 7. I never, ever saw a more incredible last day than this year’s down to the wire pennant races. As one Old Forge bar owner used to say, “Very nice!”
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that the Luzerne County GOP endorsed Rick Perry for President. Aren’t we jumping the gun on this one? Perry might very well implode. Besides the County GOP might be better off concentrating on trying to win a few County Council races this fall.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that this rain has not stopped in our region. For those doubters who think there is no climate change, take a look out your window.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that last Friday the Yankees honored Roger Maris on the 50th anniversary year of his breaking Babe Ruth’s record. The ceremony last Friday night was called because of rain and rescheduled for Saturday. There was no live telecast of it. Even 50 years later it was typical Maris luck. He was underrated for many years but no one can take away the fact that he hit 60s on Camels and Ballantine Beer. No other substances for him.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….Bank of America (BAC) plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee for using their debit card to make purchases. The fee will be rolled out starting early next year. A number of banks have already either rolled out or are testing such fees. But Bank of America's announcement carries added weight because it is the largest U.S. bank by deposits.
Here’s what you do. Cancel your Bank of America account. Go to a credit union. Bank of America is one of the biggest blood sucking organizations in this country. They make mafia loan sharks of yesteryear look like choir boys. To use your own money, these pigs want $110.00 a year.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…………that there are people who want Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey to enter the Presidential race. He said no. Please take him at his word. We don’t need a loudmouth in the White House.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……………that I actually survived driving past the Hotel Sterling the other day without getting my skull crashed in by falling debris of the Hotel Sterling. If people want it torn down, raise the money from private funds. Or get that 6 million back from CityVest. How can you justify using money to tear that building down when you have bridges and roads still destroyed, when you have people from the flood not back in their houses yet and this region far from recovery. This is insane.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……..that the House Leadership in Washington still has their Republican defenders. House Republicans on Thursday unveiled plans to cut federal money for job training, heating subsidies and grants to better-performing schools. Let’s see they backed a war in Iraq that was all smoke and mirrors spending billions, they gave subsidies to the oil companies who only charged us more money for our gas and gave tax breaks to the rich. Oh I’m sorry, job creators! But now all of a sudden they want to correct those mistakes on those disenfranchised from their jobs, the cold in winter and those students and schools that actually performed better than the average standard. What is wrong with this picture?
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that Southern (and that’s the key here folks) Beverly Perdue says that there should be no elections in 2012 so that everyone could work together without political entanglements. How stupid. So we keep the same obstructionist jerks in for another 2 years? Get rid of them. And by the way Governor, you made it almost impossible for anyone to vote for another woman Governor in your state.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that Lindsay Lohan is now reported to be fooling around with older married men. Jeez what took her so long?
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that in death, Leonard Dillion, head of the pioneering Reggae band the Ethiopians is finally getting his due. He died the other day at 68.
Dillon's Rastafarian-influenced and politicized lyrics helped pave the way for the more socially conscious reggae music that took hold in Jamaica in the late '60s. A young Bob Marley played with his group.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1778, September 29th, 2011

Wilkes Barre Area School Board aspirant Kathy Grinaway.

Senator Robert Casey. (Times Tribune Photo)
School board candidate for Wilkes Barre Area, Dr. James Susek.

Our 1972 logo.

WILL THEY EVER LEARN?

One of the hallmarks of the Republican party is the fact that they tend to cannibalize each other in primaries. Even when they have sure fore winning candidates, the party organization goes out of its way to endorse someone else. The last Republican set of Commissioners in Luzerne County were Frank Trinicewski and Jim Phillips. Do you realize that in the two terms they ran for in the 80s, neither was endorsed by the party organization! Okay, I could see the first time around, but the second time when they are incumbents? And look at this spring’s Wilkes Barre Mayor’s. Three candidates fighting it out for a nomination that had a vote total worth about 1000 votes combined. Well it appears this is turning into a statewide affliction too.
As many of you know Bob Casey Junior is up for re election next year. For at least 14 months the Statewide GOP was scrounging for a candidate to take on Casey. Now there appears to be a plethora of candidates itching to get into this race. Dan Hirschhorn of Politico reports that
Steve Welch, a biotech entrepreneur from the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs, and Tim Burns, a former software executive from western Pennsylvania, are the favorites to divvy up support from top-level party operatives and officials. Sam Rohrer, a former state lawmaker and local tea party favorite who ran an insurgent primary campaign for governor last year, promises to be a thorn in the GOP’s side again. And Tom Smith, a wealthy former coal executive and rural Pennsylvania tea party leader, is putting together a team and strategy that he hopes will bring together establishment and tea party figures that have often been at loggerheads.
Four underdogs, including former Rick Santorum aide Marc Scaringi, are also running.
Burns and Welch both have unsuccessful congressional runs under their belts: Welch twice abandoned runs in two different suburban districts last year when more viable candidates entered the mix, and Burns was the party’s nominee in the closely watched special election to succeed the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. The two met recently in the hopes that only one of them would run, but neither came away persuaded to stay out.
So Casey will face a GOP opponent but no one can gauge just how strong or weak that nominee will be after all that infighting among the state GOP.

A BULLET IN THE BRAIN

Convicted killer Mike Simonson who brutally murdered Donnie Skiff a few years ago escaped from the Lackawanna County prison Thursday afternoon. This piece of crap was being held in the county prison. In prison he beat a prisoner senseless and head butted anyone he could get his hands on. My friend and Topic A co host L.A. Tarone nearly had a stroke last night on TV because tough guy tattoo man was in a county facility. I predict folks it was all about the money. This dirt bag should have been in a state prison. But because they are so overcrowded, I bet the Lackawanna County prison was being paid to house him. This is just a guess. But it’s better than thinking that this animal was living among local prisoners who might be up on less serious charges. In order to make sure this guy doesn’t get out of line again or worse yet, on the streets where he could have hurt innocent people, let’s try a true deterrent to his actions: a bullet to the brain. Put him down like the rabid dog that he is. Now!

WB SCHOOL BOARD


GRINAWAY ON THE GO


There are a few fundraisers in the works for Wilkes Barre Area School Board members. Kathy Grinaway will be having an event on Sunday October 9th at 1pm at the Plains Polish Americans Veteran’s club. That’s at 25 South Oak Street. Admission is ten dollars. Grinaway is trying to get a win. Technically she’s on the ballot as a Republican but pulled a more than respectable vote in the Democratic primary. Grinaway brings a solid business background to the race, has two college age children and is really connecting with many of the voters she has met on the campaign trail. Her event again, Sunday October 9th, 1pm at the Plains AMVETS club.

SUSEK EVENT

Dr. Jim Susek is holding a campaign event in Plains.
The Committee to Elect Dr. James F. Susek to the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board will hold a breakfast fundraiser from 9 to 11 a.m. Oct. 15, at the Plains Ambulance banquet facility, 90 Maffett St.
Tickets are $25 and can be obtained at the door or by calling 570-826-1583. Susek served on the board prior to this election go around earlier in this decade.

MOLLY MEET UP

The committee for judicial candidate Molly Hanlon Mirabito will hold a meet-and-greet from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday at the Elks Lodge 109, 39 Evans St., Pringle. The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be served.

SOROKAS RALLY ON TAP

A rally for Luzerne County council candidate Eileen Sorokas will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Polish-American Club of Hudson, Gibbons and Martin streets, Plains Township. Snacks and beverages will be served. The rally is free and open to the public.

MEET BROMO NIGHT

The Friends of Edd Brominski will have a meet-the-candidate night from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Swoyersville American Legion. Refreshments will be served and there is no charge, but donations will be accepted at the door.
Political Scene will run Mondays until the Nov. 8 general election. To submit campaign information, email eskrapits@citizensvoice.com, call 570-821-2072 or fax 570-821-2247.

HUGHES PICNIC

The committee to elect Dick Hughes for Judge is hosting a picnic from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Plains Lions Pavilion, Clarks Lane, Plains Township.
Picnic food, beverages and entertainment will be provided. Suggested donation is $20 per person, with children under 10 admitted free.
Call 570-331-8853 for information.

KELLEHER EVENT

Meet and Greet for Gene Kelleher Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 6 PM
Republican headquarters on South Main Street Wilkes Barre, next to Mid-town Village and across the street from Tony's Restaurant.
Donation of $10 (BMMEG members free) Pizza - soda - cake. (And I bet the cake was baked by Walter Griffith's wife!) Just guessing!.

ALLEGED LOOTER RE-ARRESTED

The Times Leader reports that Wilkes Barre City City police rearrested William Gronosky on Tuesday on charges he burglarized a house in an evacuated flood zone. Gronosky, 28, of Carey Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, was arraigned in Wilkes-Barre Central Court on charges of burglary and criminal trespass.
Police allege Gronosky and Kevin Williams Jr., 29, of Philadelphia, forced open a rear door to a house on Brookside Street on Sept. 11. They fled the house when they saw police and were captured in the rear yard, according to arrest records.
Gronosky allegedly told police he was asked by a friend to check on the house for flood damage. At the time of the alleged break-in, the Brookside area was evacuated due to flooding. The initial case against Gronosky was dismissed at a preliminary hearing on Sept. 20 when the arresting officer, Stanley Wychock, did not appear.
Police said Tuesday that Wychock was never notified of the hearing.
The Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office approved refiling of the case against Gronosky, who was apprehended by police investigating an unrelated incident on Carey Avenue at about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Gronosky was jailed at the county prison for lack of $1,000 bail. Bail on the initial set of charges against Gronosky -- those that were dismissed -- was $10,000.
A preliminary hearing for Gronosky is scheduled on Oct. 6 in Central Court.
Williams, who remained jailed at the county prison for lack of $10,000 bail on Tuesday, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 4.

QUESTIONS FOR FRANK

During the Wilkes Barre Mayor’s primary race on the GOP side, south Wilkes Barre businessman Frank Sorick said repeatedly on the radio that if nominated, he (Sorick) “was going to be Mayor Leighton’s worst nightmare”. Sorick is now managing Lisa Cope’s campaign for Mayor. My two questions are;
a). What did you mean you were going to be Tom Leighton’s worst nightmare?
b. Did you share any of that information with Lisa Cope so that she could try and mount a credible challenge to the Mayor and perhaps be his worst nightmare?
If it was campaign rhetoric, I understand. I get that. But if Mr. Sorick had some grand strategy of defeating a two term incumbent and keeping him up nights, (which I see no evidence of observing the well rested Mr. Leighton on a few occasions this campaign season, except of course during the flood crisis) he owes it to his candidate and party to share that information.

TEEN PREGNANCY RATES

Teen pregnancy rates declined between 1991 and 2005 but are on the rise again.
The teen pregnancy rate reached an all-time high in 1990 with an estimated 116.9 per thousand and an all-time high birth rate of 61.8 births per thousand in 1991. By 2002, the pregnancy rate had dropped to 75.4 per thousand - a decline of 36%. However, a December 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control shows a 3% increase in teenage pregnancy from 2005 to 2006. Out of all teen pregnancies, 57% end in birth. Another 14% end in miscarriage.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT


MEDIA MATTERS

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Shadoe Steele presents “Saturday bNight Live At the Oldies” this Saturday on WILK AM & FM from 7pm to midnight. Shadoe’s guest this week is Kiki Dee.


STORM POLITICS

Tiffany Cloud’s guest this week on Storm Politics on WYLN TV 35 is Sandy Fonzo. Fonzo is one of the parents that called out former Judge Mark Ciavarella on the day of his conviction. Storm Politics can be seen on WYLN TV, Service Electric Channel 7 in the Wilkes Barre Area.

ECTV

ECTV Live hosts Judge Tom Munley and David DeCosmo will welcome David Williams to their program for the week of October 3rd. Mr Williams operates the Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio Network which is broadcast on more than 20 radio stations in several states. He'll be discussing the impact of recent heavy rains and flooding on agriculture in the area and how that will affect consumers in northeastern Pa. ECTV Live is broadcast on Comcast Ch19 and is seen each day at Noon and Midnight

SUNDAY MAGAZINE

This Week on Sunday Magazine, Brian Hughes interviews Dr. Donald Palmisano, the former head of the American Medical Association about patient’s rights and alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. Brian speaks with Dr. John Leonard and cancer patient Helen Anbinder about blood cancers and the Light The Night Walks to increase awareness to Leukemia and Lymphoma.
And an encore of Magic 93’s Frankie in the Morning interview with Ann Marie McCauley from the St Vincent DePaul Kitchen in Wilkes Barre about how you can help the kitchen in serving the needs of the poor in the Wyoming Valley.
Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on JR 93.7 & 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X, 6:30am on Magic 93 and 9:30am on WARM 590 AM

1972

The first publication reporting the production of a recombinant DNA molecule marks the birth of modern molecular biology methodology..Alex Comfort's bestselling manual The Joy of Sex is published………U.S. Senator Hugh Scott says that President Nixon’s trips earlier in the year to China and Russian not only insure his re-election but his place in history as well. Scott makes the remarks in his weekly radio address to citizens of the Commonwealth…….The Wilkes Barre Redevelopment Authority begins the planning process of trying to rebuild the downtown. City Council approves a plan that would drastically change the traffic patterns around Public Square and thirty nine years ago the number 1 song in LuLac land and America was “Beautiful Sunday” by Daniel Boone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1777, September 28th, 2011


"WRITE ON WEDNESDAY" logo

WRITE ON WEDNESDAY

LEAVING THE CULT

Alex Milanes from the Luzerne County Young Republicans told me about this article. It is lengthy but is a reflection of where national politics is headed today, even among the insiders.
Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis
Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"
Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)
Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.
The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.
Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"
It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.
In his "Manual of Parliamentary Practice," Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.
The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a "high functioning" institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.
Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:
"Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery."
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"
Inside-the-Beltway wise guy Chris Cillizza merely proves Krugman right in his Washington Post analysis of "winners and losers" in the debt ceiling impasse. He wrote that the institution of Congress was a big loser in the fracas, which is, of course, correct, but then he opined: "Lawmakers - bless their hearts - seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity." Note how the pundit's ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side - or a sizable faction of one side - has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives.
This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.
This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.
Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove's dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer's New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students.
This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don't want those people voting.
You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black.[2] Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.
It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the "birther" issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal - "I take the president at his word" - while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny - albeit after release of the birth certificate.
I do not mean to place too much emphasis on racial animus in the GOP. While it surely exists, it is also a fact that Republicans think that no Democratic president could conceivably be legitimate. Republicans also regarded Bill Clinton as somehow, in some manner, twice fraudulently elected (well do I remember the elaborate conspiracy theories that Republicans traded among themselves). Had it been Hillary Clinton, rather than Barack Obama, who had been elected in 2008, I am certain we would now be hearing, in lieu of the birther myths, conspiracy theories about Vince Foster's alleged murder.
The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class - without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.
What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style "centrist" Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3]
While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations' bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let's build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it's evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.
How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?
You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. "Entitlement" has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is "entitled" selfishly claims something he doesn't really deserve. Why not call them "earned benefits," which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don't make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the "estate tax," it is the "death tax." Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.
It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors' looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At "Washington spending" - which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.
Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition.
As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:
1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America's plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction - and even less spending reduction! - than Obama's offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society's overclass.
Republicans have attempted to camouflage their amorous solicitude for billionaires with a fog of misleading rhetoric. John Boehner is fond of saying, "we won't raise anyone's taxes," as if the take-home pay of an Olive Garden waitress were inextricably bound up with whether Warren Buffett pays his capital gains as ordinary income or at a lower rate. Another chestnut is that millionaires and billionaires are "job creators." US corporations have just had their most profitable quarters in history; Apple, for one, is sitting on $76 billion in cash, more than the GDP of most countries. So, where are the jobs?
Another smokescreen is the "small business" meme, since standing up for Mom's and Pop's corner store is politically more attractive than to be seen shilling for a megacorporation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will kill small business' ability to hire; that is the GOP dirge every time Bernie Sanders or some Democrat offers an amendment to increase taxes on incomes above $1 million. But the number of small businesses that have a net annual income over a million dollars is de minimis, if not by definition impossible (as they would no longer be small businesses). And as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research have shown, small businesses account for only 7.2 percent of total US employment, a significantly smaller share of total employment than in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Likewise, Republicans have assiduously spread the myth that Americans are conspicuously overtaxed. But compared to other OECD countries, the effective rates of US taxation are among the lowest. In particular, they point to the top corporate income rate of 35 percent as being confiscatory Bolshevism. But again, the effective rate is much lower. Did GE pay 35 percent on 2010 profits of $14 billion? No, it paid zero.
When pressed, Republicans make up misleading statistics to "prove" that the America's fiscal burden is being borne by the rich and the rest of us are just freeloaders who don't appreciate that fact. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes" is a perennial meme. But what they leave out is that that statement refers to federal income taxes. There are millions of people who don't pay income taxes, but do contribute payroll taxes - among the most regressive forms of taxation. But according to GOP fiscal theology, payroll taxes don't count. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that since payroll taxes go into trust funds, they're not real taxes. Likewise, state and local sales taxes apparently don't count, although their effect on a poor person buying necessities like foodstuffs is far more regressive than on a millionaire.
All of these half truths and outright lies have seeped into popular culture via the corporate-owned business press. Just listen to CNBC for a few hours and you will hear most of them in one form or another. More important politically, Republicans' myths about taxation have been internalized by millions of economically downscale "values voters," who may have been attracted to the GOP for other reasons (which I will explain later), but who now accept this misinformation as dogma.
And when misinformation isn't enough to sustain popular support for the GOP's agenda, concealment is needed. One fairly innocuous provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill requires public companies to make a more transparent disclosure of CEO compensation, including bonuses. Note that it would not limit the compensation, only require full disclosure. Republicans are hell-bent on repealing this provision. Of course; it would not serve Wall Street interests if the public took an unhealthy interest in the disparity of their own incomes as against that of a bank CEO. As Spencer Bachus, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says, "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."
2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries. McCain wanted to mix it up with Russia - a nuclear-armed state - during the latter's conflict with Georgia in 2008 (remember? - "we are all Georgians now," a slogan that did not, fortunately, catch on), while Graham has been persistently agitating for attacks on Iran and intervention in Syria. And these are not fringe elements of the party; they are the leading "defense experts," who always get tapped for the Sunday talk shows. About a month before Republicans began holding a gun to the head of the credit markets to get trillions of dollars of cuts, these same Republicans passed a defense appropriations bill that increased spending by $17 billion over the prior year's defense appropriation. To borrow Chris Hedges' formulation, war is the force that gives meaning to their lives.
A cynic might conclude that this militaristic enthusiasm is no more complicated than the fact that Pentagon contractors spread a lot of bribery money around Capitol Hill. That is true, but there is more to it than that. It is not necessarily even the fact that members of Congress feel they are protecting constituents' jobs. The wildly uneven concentration of defense contracts and military bases nationally means that some areas, like Washington, DC, and San Diego, are heavily dependent on Department of Defense (DOD) spending. But there are many more areas of the country whose net balance is negative: the citizenry pays more in taxes to support the Pentagon than it receives back in local contracts.
And the economic justification for Pentagon spending is even more fallacious when one considers that the $700 billion annual DOD budget creates comparatively few jobs. The days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone; most weapons projects now require very little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned off into high-cost research and development (from which the civilian economy benefits little); exorbitant management expenditures, overhead and out-and-out padding; and, of course, the money that flows back into the coffers of political campaigns. A million dollars appropriated for highway construction would create two to three times as many jobs as a million dollars appropriated for Pentagon weapons procurement, so the jobs argument is ultimately specious.
Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.
The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats' cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire.
3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter."
The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?
It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets.
Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires.
The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War.
It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord.
Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the "business" wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman's presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.
Thus, the modern GOP; it hardly seems conceivable that a Republican could have written the following:
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)
It is this broad and ever-widening gulf between the traditional Republicanism of an Eisenhower and the quasi-totalitarian cult of a Michele Bachmann that impelled my departure from Capitol Hill. It is not in my pragmatic nature to make a heroic gesture of self-immolation, or to make lurid revelations of personal martyrdom in the manner of David Brock. And I will leave a more detailed dissection of failed Republican economic policies to my fellow apostate Bruce Bartlett.
I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.
If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be "forced" to make "hard choices" - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.
During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency - a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.
If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.
Footnotes:
[1] I am not exaggerating for effect. A law passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature mandating arrest and incarceration of suspected illegal aliens was actually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business front group that drafts "model" legislation on behalf of its corporate sponsors. The draft legislation in question was written for the private prison lobby, which sensed a growth opportunity in imprisoning more people.
[2] I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies. But when he took office amid the greatest financial collapse in 80 years, I wanted him to succeed, so that the country I served did not fail. But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, declared that his greatest legislative priority was - jobs for Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? - no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama should be a one-term president. Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country. Note that the mainstream media have lately been hailing McConnell as "the adult in the room," presumably because he is less visibly unstable than the Tea Party freshmen
[3] This is not a venue for immigrant bashing. It remains a fact that outsourcing jobs overseas, while insourcing sub-minimum wage immigrant labor, will exert downward pressure on US wages. The consequence will be popular anger, and failure to address that anger will result in a downward wage spiral and a breech of the social compact, not to mention a rise in nativism and other reactionary impulses. It does no good to claim that these economic consequences are an inevitable result of globalization; Germany has somehow managed to maintain a high-wage economy and a vigorous industrial base.
[4] The cowardice is not merely political. During the past ten years, I have observed that Democrats are actually growing afraid of Republicans. In a quirky and flawed, but insightful, little book, "Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred," John Lukacs concludes that the left fears, the right hates.
[5] The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1776, September 27th, 2011


Poverty as a weapon of mass destruction button.


Pa. Attorney General Candidate Dan McCafferty

BALESTER EVENT

Our friend Dave Bologa reports that the County GOP sponsored an event/picnic at the Lakeside Skillet Restaurant back in August. It was originally supposed to be a picnic but that weekend we had the rains from Hurricane Irene. Anyway despite the rains, the event named for the late Jonathan Balester was a huge success. All proceeds were donated to the Crisis Pregnancy Center at PA for Human Life Wyoming Valley Chapter in Jonathan's memory and honor. Almost $800 was given to the center that will assist the neediest of mothers and expectant mothers(& fathers) . Over 300 babies so far this year were assisted by the center without any taxpayer funds! Jonathan would be proud!

POVERTY IN PENNSYLVANIA

Poverty has risen sharply in most regions of Pennsylvania, highlighting the widespread impact of the recession and the need for policymakers to protect struggling families and invest in building a stronger economy.
In urban areas of Pennsylvania, poverty rose to 14.7 percent in 2010 with 1,360,202 urban residents currently living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. That is up from 12.7 percent in 2007, before the recession started. The picture is similarly bleak in rural Pennsylvania where 9.5 percent of residents (287,982 people) lived in poverty in 2010, up from 8.1 percent in 2007.
“Many families in all parts of Pennsylvania are feeling the worst effects of this economy,” said Mark Price, PhD, Labor Economist for the Keystone Research Center. “Our state leaders have responded by cutting our kids’ education and affordable health care for working Pennsylvanians. That is making life harder for struggling families and undermining economic growth.”
Overall poverty in Pennsylvania rose by a statistically significant margin, going from 11.6 percent in 2007 to 13.4 percent in 2010. Most Pennsylvania metro areas also saw statistically significant increases in poverty from 2007 to 2010.
The number of Pennsylvania children living in poverty continued to increase last year amid the recession, according to the Census data. In 2010, 18.8 percent of Pennsylvania kids lived in families that fell below the poverty line, up from 15.9 percent in 2007. The Pennsylvania rate was lower than the national child poverty rate of 21.2 percent.
As poverty increases nationwide, African Americans and Latinos have been hit particularly hard by the recession, with 28.4% of African Americans and 33.5% of Latinos living in poverty in Pennsylvania last year. Just under one in ten non-Hispanic whites in Pennsylvania lived in poverty in 2010.
Pennsylvania’s recently enacted budget contained deep cuts to education, health care and other services that support struggling families, as well as investments that are the foundations of job creation and long-term economic growth.
Policymakers will continue to face tough fiscal choices next year and beyond. Taking a balanced approach that includes revenue and budget reserves instead of a cuts-only approach will be crucial to keeping more families from falling through the cracks and building a stronger economy.
“Relying heavily on cuts will make it more difficult for working and struggling families to keep a roof over their head and food on the table,” said Michael Wood, Research Director for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “We need to take a balanced approach to budgeting so that we can invest in our state’s economy and provide help for those who need it most.”
The Keystone Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that promotes a more prosperous and equitable Pennsylvania economy. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a non-partisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families.

ANOTHER ONE FOR AG

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania - Daniel McCaffery announced his candidacy last night for the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania. A former Assistant District Attorney and Army Cavalry veteran, McCaffery brings over twenty-years of court-room experience to this office along with the courage necessary to enact real reform in Pennsylvania.
"I am running for Attorney General because I know what I'm doing. I have spent every day of the last twenty years in a courtroom; I've never backed down from a fight and never will." Said McCaffery.
"Over the last five years, we've witnessed a financial meltdown as a result of fraud and greed by Wall street. Millions of families have lost their life savings. These are good hardworking men and women, Pennsylvania families, American families who have lost their life savings, retirements, pensions and their homes. No one is standing up for them."
"As Attorney General, I will create the most aggressive law enforcement agency in the nation, hold these offenders accountable, and bring them to justice... This is about protecting Pennsylvanian Families from financial crimes and rooting out fraud against taxpayers, Political corruption is rampant and white collar crime goes unpunished." Said McCaffery.
So we have three candidates running for State Attorney General on the Democratic side. This guy, Attorney Kathleen Kane and Attorney Patrick Murphy/. It should be noted that since the office became an elected one in 1980 no Democrat has won the office. The AG’s office has had a succession of GOP occupants.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1775, September 26th, 2011

The State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Luzerne County Council Independent candidate Rick Williams.

STATE LAWMAKERS BACK

The State Lawmakers are back in session today after an 8 week break. Yeah, yeah, I know they were seeing constituents 24/7. Sure. However in this part of town that was almost true given the flood damage in many of the districts. The Legislature is going to be looking at a full agenda and have less than 30 session days to get things done. Things on the docket include Marcellus Shale fee or tax, a Transportation Bill, School vouchers, Liquor Store Privatization as well as that emergency flood funding bill put together by our local representatives. Expect activity from this fall session. Both Houses are now in the control of the Republican party.

STILL NOT GETTING IT

In 2001, President Clinton handed George Bush a projected 10-year budget surplus over $5 trillion.Bush turned Clinton's surplus into a $5 trillion deficit through outrageous tax cuts for the rich, two disastrous wars, and a financial crash that caused the Great Recession.To fix these deficits, Republicans now want to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Why are we cutting the most fundamental safety nets in the country for the most vulnerable? The national Republican party has to take responsibility for poisoning the waters of debate and start to stand up for the people of this country, not the corporations. True people make up corporations. People are employed by corporations. But there is something inherently wrong when corporate profits skyrockets and salaries of the rank and file are reduced.

CONAHAN IN D’A.’S RACE

He might be on his way to jail but Friday night, former Judge Mike Conahan found himself thrust into the Luzerne County DA’s race. The Luzerne County GOP sent out a press release saying that the sentencing of Conahan was still another nail in the corruption probe. The release also tied the current DA to the probe. In part it said, Great progress has been made in removing these disgraced judges and bringing them to justice, but the task of rebuilding the integrity of our legal system will take a combination of time and the right people. Before we can
rebuild we must complete the process of purging our courthouse of those responsible, directly or indirectly, for the tragic failure of our judicial system. The strategy seems to tie everyone involved in the Judicial system with the scandal. Tough to do since Mike Conahan admitted at his sentencing “The system was not corrupt, I was corrupt”. That said, the GOP will put te disgraced Judges on display as part of their strategy this fall for the DA’s race.

WILLIAMS MEETING

Independent for Luzerne County Council Rick Williams is having a campaign party tonight from 5 to 7pm at the RiverStreet Jazz Café. No ticket sales or charge to attend. But you can meet Rick, pick up a yard sign and see many people at the event lining up for him.

GELB MEETING

The Committee to Elect Lesa Gelb Judge will host a volunteer meeting on Tuesday, September 27th at 7 PM. The meeting will be held at Norm’s Pizza, 275 N Sherman St, Wilkes-Barre. All people who have volunteered for Lesa’s campaign in the past, and all people who wish to volunteer for Lesa are encouraged to attend.
The event is free and open to the public. Food and refreshments will be provided.
Anyone with questions regarding the event can call 570-288-7022 or e-mail contact@lesaforjudge.com for more information.

SKLAROSKY JUNIOR EVENT

Joe's Election Committee is holding a Pig Roast on Saturday, Oct.1 from 2-7 at the Plains Pavilion. Tickets are $20 which includes all you can eat, beer and live music. Kids are free. . For tickets or info please call Becky at 283-1200.

WILKES BARRE MAYOR’S RACE

LEIGHTON SETS MEETINGS

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton will again hold district meetings this fall, he announced Wednesday. Leighton, a two-term Democratic incumbent facing Republican Lisa Cope and Libertarian Betsy Summers in this fall's mayoral election, has been holding the meetings in the fall and spring since 2010.
This fall's meetings lineup includes stops for:
n North End, Parsons and Miner Mills residents on Sept. 28 at the Hollenback Fire Station.
n South Wilkes-Barre residents on Sept. 29 at Firwood Methodist Church.
n Heights, East End, Rolling Mill Hill and Iron Triangle residents on Oct. 4 at the Coal Street Complex.
All district meetings begin at 7 p.m.

COPE ORGANIZING

GOP candidate for Mayor Lisa Cope is gearing up for the fall effort. Cope is being aided by her primary opponent, Frank Sorick who is serving as her campaign manager. Cope is expected to get support from members of the Wilkes Barre Crime Watch. Leighton’s primary opponent Charlotte Raup is helping the Cope campaign.

SUMMERS

Meantime Betsy Summer is making the rounds of all the area events. Summers is advocating lower taxes, will cut the Mayor and Council salaries and wants more open transparency in government.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1774, September 25th, 2011


IN FOCUS

A few photos from a big day, September 23rd, the Conahan sentencing in the morning and the Blogfest at night. Thanks to Gort 42, Joe Valenti, Duke From Dallas, Sue Henry and Mrs. LuLac for the photos. (We have a photo with Judicial candidate Molly Hanlon Mirabito that we are still trying to locate, we'll put that up in future editions.)

This was the media scene shortly after the Conahan sentencing. Behind all those microphones was Defense Attorney Phil Gelso.
Earlier in the day, I was at the Michael Conahan sentencing. Afterwards, WILK's Sue Henry decided to take this photo of me and the WYLN TV 35 staff. She dubbed us "Yonk's Angels". In this pose we have King's College Intern Kaitlin Falatovich, me, Ann Gownley and in the iconic Aaron Spelling inspired pose, Beth Mensinger. Thanks Sue!!!

Wilkes Barre Attorney Bill Vinsko with me and Mrs. LuLac.

Luzerne County Young Republican Alex Mannes and former Clinton (Hillary) campaign aide and candidate for Luzerne County Council Casey Evans. Both of these guys are smiling because they both survived guest appearances on Tiffany Cloud's "Storm Politics" .
This blog editor, GOP candidate for Mayor of Wilkes Barre Lisa Cope and John Lombardo.

Blogger and event organizer Hsrold Jenkins and Judicial candidate for Common Pleas Court Judge in Luzerne County Lesa Gelb.
Congressional hopeful and Wilkes Barre City official and former radio guy Attorney Bill Vinsko, Assistant DA and Judicial candidate Mike Vough and Attorney Patrick Murphy, candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General.

In this photo we see Blythe Evans III's fiancee, Blythe Evans, candidate for Luzerne County Council with a political contemporary of his dad's, former Luzerne County Commissioner Chairman Edd Brominski.

Blogger Justin Vacula and Independent candidate (#28 last guy on the ballot)Charlie Hatcko talk about various issues in the County.

Lackawanna County educator, blogger, NEPartisan Tom Borthwick and LIz Randol who has signed onto the Kathleen Kane for Attorney General campaign.

Barletta staffer Shawn Kelly and Duke from Dallas.

The LuLac Edition #1773, September 25th, 2011



PHOTO INDEX: THE SCENE OF THE BLOGFEST FRIDAY NIGHT, ROONEY'S, BLOGFEST 2011 FALL LOGO.

BLOGFEST FALL 2011 RECAP

Blogfest Fall 2011 is in the book and once more there was a good turnout with some great political debates. I was late yesterday since I was at the Conahan sentencing for WYLN. I then had to do sound for my report and appear on Topic A at 5:30PM. My back and legs were all set to explode so I prevailed upon Mrs. LuLac to drive me to the event. I missed Lesa Gelb. Candidate for Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge and Rick Williams Independent candidate for Luzerne County Council. But I understood they wowed those in attendance.
Got an opportunity to speak at length to Bill Vinsko. I never realized how tall Attorney Vinsko is until I stood next to the guy. We had a long ranging talk about what is going on in D.C. and then let him go to talk to the people attending........It was good to see Charlie Hatcko, the Independent candidate for County Council., Charlie was talking about the odds being stacked against him as an Independent in the County Council race but I told him this race was wide open............ Former County Commissioner Edd Brominski was a welcome sight to see. Brominski is going for a seat on County Council and can bring years of experience to that position...I was totally thrilled to meet former Lackawanna County Commissioner candidate Liz Randol. Randol who came within a few votes of being on the fall ticket is taking her considerable talents and helping the candidacy of Kathleen Kane who is running for the Democratic nomination for State Attorney General…Randol was making the rounds with world traveler and blogger extraordinaire Tom Borthwick…..If you think there was only one representative who was pumping up a candidate the office of Attorney General, as ESPN’S Lee Curso would say, “not so fast my friend”. Attorney Patrick Murphy who is making a run for the office of Attorney General appeared at the event last night and was a spectacular hit. I met the attorney on the way out the door……… Joyce Gephardt Dombroski was also there last night. She was quite animated in her conversations with bloggers and voters……Harold Jenkins and Michelle Hryvnak Davies had a wonderful display put up for candidates to add to…….Gort 42 was there greeting his legion of fans as well as Joe Valenti of Pittston Politics.com……..Judicial candidate Mike Vough made an appearance with his wife Cindy. The Voughs, like Joe Valenti’s family are trying to sort out things on the home front after the flood of 2011 wrecked havoc on their respective homes……Valenti was agitated by my “Tax the Rich” button I was wearing. I got it from an attendee at the Conahan sentencing. I told Joe I just want everyone to pay their fair share and that includes people at the lowest levels of America as well as the highest……Political adviser Bob Caruso was on hand. He actually went to school with Mrs. LuLac so they were catching up…..Former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty stopped by. Every time I pass the Radison, I am reminded of how McNulty had the foresight to get that project developed. It became the cornerstone for future Electric City economic development…. Young Democrats head Tom Shubilla was making the rounds. Tom is front and center on developing a farm team of future Democratic candidates in Luzerne County….Shawn Kelly from Representative Barletta’s office had a good discussion with my good friend “Duke from Dallas” who I understand has been banned from certain shows on WILK Radio. Jeez they take calls from this homophobe in Berwick and Kurt the anarchist from Scranton and ban Duke!!!!! C’mon!!!!!.......Blythe Evans III was there with his fiance Megan. Evans is running a very energetic grassroots campaign. He also is active in helping citizens recover from the flood of 2011……..There was a lot of gray matter when Democrat Casey Evans sat down with Young Republican head Alex Mannes. Mannes is spearheading the charge for GOP candidate Stephanie Salavantis who is running on the Republican side for District Attorney…..Libertarian candidate for Mayor Betsy Summers made the event. Summers’ card says she’s going to cut spending and taxes protect individual rights……John Lombardo from Jenkins Township made his way to the event with GOP nominee for Wilkes Barre Mayor Lisa Cope. Cope also had her campaign Treasurer Jim O’Meara at her side. O’Meara is mounting a campaign for Plains Township Commissioner. If anyone can keep an eye on that gambling money Jimmy can…..I spoke with County Council candidate Harry Haas briefly. He is as upbeat as always and running a strong effort. Rick Morelli, Michelle Bednar, Eileen Sorokas and Gina Nevenglosky were there but I missed them. I did get a chance to speak with Gina’s husband though…..Same with Judicial candidates Dick Hughes and Joe Sklarosky, they were there but I missed them because I was appearing on TV about another legal figure not able to attend the blogfest or much of anything anymore, Mike Conahan….and Judicial candidate Molly Hanlon Mirabito stopped by with her husband Michael. Hanlon Mirabito seems to be everywhere on the campaign trail. She handed me a magnet that had a tracking device (a “QR” code) on it that can access her web site from your IPhone. I am currently taking instructions from my Tech Person Mrs. LuLac in how to accomplish that….
I’m sure I missed a few people who were there before I arrived and many more after I left. So to those I apologize. But once more Blogfest proved to be a fun night for candidates, posters , bloggers and news people. Special thanks to Gort 42, Michelle Michelle Hryvnak Davies. Harold Jenkins, Joe Valenti and the staff at Rooney’s for hosting us again and making the event a success.