Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The builder

My wife’s father passed away on Sunday and of course we are dealing with the grief and hurt. With all the emotions at a time like this I think the most fitting thing to do is celebrate his life. He was a man that would take whatever was in front of him and make it better. He was in the construction trade his entire life and even after he supposedly retired he was still working. He never turned down a request for help, be it a remodeling project or just running an errand. Sometimes he would help out whether you wanted him to or not. He was particularly proud of the house he built for his daughter. He took a wreck of a building and shaped it into a lovely home. The first time I met him he sat me down to look at the before and after pictures of the construction, it was truly extraordinary. Whenever we would go around town he would point out the houses he did the masonry work, there were several on every block. As he grew older and his health declined he still ran circles around me. He always had a project going, a reason to get up in the morning and no time to be sick. He is a man I truly admire. I love you Dad and will miss you.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cynthia Ore and Don Sherwood

This was in the Times-Leader a while back, unfortunately the link has expired:

While the Tunkhannock Republican has hardly led the conservative charge on social issues, GOP leaders in the House have come to rely upon his vote when bills pertaining to "traditional family values" come to the floor.The Christian Coalition of America, which touts itself as "the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America," gives Sherwood an 84 percent rating for voting with the coalition's positions on legislative issues. The American Conservative Union rates him at 88 percent. The American Family Association gives Sherwood a perfect 100-percent rating.


As the WNEP poll showed his negatives are high. There is an old rule to politics that says an incumbant is in trouble when his disapproval number goes above 40%. In this latest sampling it's 38% with a sampling error of 4.3% so he is there. As the breakdown shows Democrats predictably disaprove of his job performance but a big worry for him is 27% of Republicans and 42% of Independents give him a thumbs down. A previous WNEP poll details his trouble:

Has this incident caused you to have a higher opinion of Congressman Sherwood? A lower opinion? Or has it not changed your opinion of him?


5%
Higher Opinion
60%
Lower Opinion
35%
No Change
1%
Not Sure

The scandal is probably driving these numbers as most people do not like hypocrites but I think it important to point out what an awful job he is doing for his district and our country. as Steve Peacock at Sherwood Watch points out he is bought and paid for by special interests:

U.S. Senate members negotiating a compromise Energy Bill (HR-6) with their House counterparts rejected a House proposal to protect the oil industry from pollution-related lawsuits and to provide that sector with billions in clean-up subsidies, the Associated Press reported Sunday evening. The House-Senate conference committee was formed this month when the House, in contrast to the Senate, insisted on pursuing the contentious subsidies and litigation relief. Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.-Tunkhannock) had voted in favor of the original bill, which practically would have absolved petroleum manufacturers from legal damages related to MTBE, an gasoline additive once touted as a means of reducing pollution. The chemical has been found to have polluted drinking water in 36 states, where more than 150 lawsuits have been filed seeking to force MTBE producers to pay for clean-up costs that could total billions of dollars. Sherwood was one of dozens of House and Senate members this year who received a piece of a nearly $100,000 pie from the Petroleum Marketers Association's American/Small Business Committee. The group made a single payment of $1,000 to Friends of Sherwood on March 18.

He even supports the interest of big business over our men and women that he voted to send to war.

1. H.R. 1588, Roll Call 616, Nov 6, 2003: Sherwood voted against a motion that would have given all U.S. veterans immediate access to simultaneous disability and retirement benefits.


2. On H.R. 1815, Roll Call 221, May 25, 2005: Sherwood voted against the Taylor Amendment, which would have given military reservists access to TRICARE, the healthcare of active-duty military members.


3. H.R. 3289, Roll Call 554, Oct 17, 2003: Sherwood voted against an amendment which would have increased the pay for all U.S. service personnel by $1500 without raising taxes. The cost of the amendment was $256 million which would have been paid for by a reduction in funding for oil importation into Iraq.


4. H.R. 3289, Roll Call 547, Oct 16, 2003: Sherwood voted against an amendment by Congressman Obey of Wisconsin which would have put $3.6 billion into quality of life enhancements for U.S. military personnel. Obey’s amendment was aimed at fixing many service issues, such as only 20% of personnel having access to clean drinking water. A large number of U.S. soldiers contracted dysentery as a result of poor drinking water.


5. S 1920, House Roll Call 9, Jan 28, 2004: Sherwood voted against increased bankruptcy protections for active and former military personnel and their families.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sherwood approval


From WNEP:

Sherwood approve/disapprove:


54%
Approve
38%
Disapprove
7% Not Sure

Progress in Iraq


From WNEP :

Family and friends gathered Wednesday to remember Specialist William Evans, 22, of Hallstead. The National Guard soldier was killed while on patrol in Iraq Monday.

"He was a driver for a Bradley fighting vehicle. They are trained to do combat operations, conduct patrols and ensure the insurgents know this is where we are and we are here to make our presence known," said Major Steven Zarnowski of the 2nd Brigade.

This is not a picture of what happened to this young man but it makes the point. Thanks to Carl at Simply Left Behind for the image.

Wi-Fi in W-B


From the Times-Leader:

Wireless Internet access allows computer users to access the Internet without connecting to a provider service through cables or telephone cords, essentially providing roaming access to the World Wide Web through the use of radio technologies over the airwaves.

Mayor Tom Leighton's city administrator, J.J. Murphy, unveiled plans at Tuesday├é’s city council meeting to pursue both a citywide Wireless Internet plan and expanded telecommunications services in much of the city's downtown district.

"The intent of our plan . . . is to be able to offer our residents, and most importantly our emergency services, the opportunity to work in a wireless Wilkes-Barre," Murphy told council members.

He presented council with a 10-page business plan, detailing the administration's proposal to provide wireless Internet access, otherwise known as Wi-Fi, throughout the entire city limits.

This would be great if you have a laptop and carry it around all the time. I'm sure many businesses and college students would utilize this service. I've noticed that hotels that cater to business traffic promote Wi-Fi access and many airports are offering the service. But there are some hurdles to overcome before this becomes a reality.

Councilman Jim McCarthy was concerned about one portion of the proposal, which would allow the mayor to form a nonprofit corporation, called Wireless Wilkes-Barre. That corporation would own the wireless network and contract for its design, implementation, operation and maintenance.

Murphy said the nonprofit proposal is just one possibility for how the city might operate a wireless network and noted that it was modeled after a similar plan under way in Philadelphia.

"This is a draft. It's not a final proposal. ... One of the scenarios is to follow the Philadelphia model," he said.

I'm note sure that it's a good idea for a municipal government to be forming a corporation to persue what is essentially a private business. Plus there are problems with the Philadelphia model as I found out from Community Wireless:

Pennsylvania is one of the dozen or so states that has enacted a law banning such networks, unless certain requirements are met, such as the permission of the incumbent telco provider. Interestingly, Mayor Tom Leighton is gung-ho on the idea of a city-wide Wi-Fi network, and perhaps righly so, though he may be fighting an uphill battle due to the State Law.

It appears (surprise) that Verizon and Comcast lobbied the state legislature to restrict competition. I think this may be one of those projects that gets lost in the shuffle. I hope it doesn't but the Mayor is in danger of coming down with McGroarity disease. He has done a good job of stabilizing the finances of the city and has taken heat for closing a fire house because W-B doesn't have the money to operate it. The theater project and the new state office building on S Washington St. are progressing. But now he is embarking on a new transportation hub next to Public Square and has announced other projects such as building a new firehouse. A Mayor is a manager and he has to juggle many issues but an old rule to juggling is it doesn't matter how many balls you have in the air, the one that hits the ground will get all the attention.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

BUSH: SADDAM MUST SHARE THE BLAME FOR KATRINA

From Andy Borowitz:

Just two days after taking responsibility for failures of the Federal government's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush modified that position somewhat, telling reporters that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein "should share at least some of the blame" for those failures.

"When the Federal government fails to live up to its responsibilities to the American people, the finger of blame should be pointed at one person,," Mr.Bush told reporters in the White House Rose Garden. "And that person is Saddam Hussein."

Adding that "his evil knows no bounds," Mr. Bush told reporters, "Now that Saddam Hussein is in the custody of the Iraqi government, he will never threaten the United States of America with his hurricanes again."

The president also said that he was prepared to take further actions to protect the United States from hurricanes, such as invading Syria.

Elsewhere, returning to Washington after his trip to the Gulf region, Vice President Dick Cheney said that Hurricane Katrina did little or no damage to the nation's tax cuts.

Note: I don't think this is entirely accurate as Rush and Hannity have pointed out it's all Bill Clinton's fault.






The West Wing is back starting with a rerun of the last episode where Congressman Santos wins the Democratic nomination and he picks Leo to be the VP. They have moved it to Sunday nights which stinks since that conflicts with the NFL and baseball game on ESPN. I know the show has departed from reality as of late but it's still entertaining to political junkies that read sites like this. The first few seasons were great because they rarely got wrong the details of how government and politics work. The last 2 seasons they have gone into some sort of alternate universe but I'm hooked. I'm rooting for Arnie Vinnick to win the election.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Pay raise round up

A new poll shows this issue just won't go away. You can find the details in the Philadelphia Daily News:

Seventy-nine percent said legislators didn't deserve the pay hike they dealt themselves in July, and 46 percent said they're less likely to vote for a state representative who approved it.
The good news for incumbents is that nearly two-thirds don't know whether their state lawmakers voted for the raise or not. But if a challenger manages to reach voters with that message, he has an issue.


There is a web site that wants to defeat every incumbent called Operation Clean Sweep. It's mission statement:

Operation Clean Sweep is not a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution or Green Party movement. It's us vs. them. The governed vs. the government. The taxpayers vs. the tax spenders.Are you outraged at the recent legislative pay raise? Are you fed up? Are you genuinely ready to make a real change in Pennsylvania? If so, this is your chance to set things straight.In 2006, all 203 members of the House of Representatives and 25 of our 50 Senators must face re-election. With your help, we can give them all a run for their money by seeking out qualified candidates - in non-partisan fashion - to challenge the incumbents in both the Primary and General elections.

It is operated by a gentleman named Russ Diamond and claims to have 23 candidates ready to challenge incumbents but has not listed their names yet. It's an ambitious but probably unrealistic goal.

A group that is really getting under the skin of the powers that be is InformedPA. They have been buying billboards and airing radio ads in the districts of the leadership of both parties attacking the pay grab. It is the brainchild of the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania headed by Chris Lilik who operates the best website devoted to PA politics, Grassroots.com. This effort seems to have started something of a civil war in the Republican Party detailed by Madonna and Young at PoliticsPA:

These are young, conservative Republicans, among them many Internet bloggers who have gone well beyond Internet chatter to lead a full scale rebellion against those who voted for the pay hike, including the leaders of their own party. Many of these bloggers express anger and hostility at the Republican establishment, safely ensconced in the seat of power in the state capital.

The outrage is not limited to conservatives and Republicans; Kevin Shaw of PAforDemocracy has a petition on his home page to repeal the pay raise. And Keystone Politics has been covering it extensively.

I know the 2006 election is a long way from now but judging by the reaction of people I talk too and the continued coverage in the media it's not going away.

Phillies on phire

After getting swept by the Houston Astros the Phillies have won 6 of the last 8 including taking 3 of the last 4 meetings against the Braves and Marlins. They have been led by Jimmy Rollins 22 game hit streak and a couple of great starts by rookie pitchers Eude Brito and Ryan Madson. They haven't been leaving the bases loaded and the bullpen has been solid.

There is still 2 weeks to go but if they make the playoffs I like their chances. They would get the Cardinals in the first round and have beaten them in 4 of 6 games. If they survive the St. Louis series they would get the winner of Atlanta-San Diego. They have proved they can beat the Braves and swept the season series with the Padres. I know I'm getting ahead of myself and like most fans I will be happy if they just avoid a collapse and make the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Perzel

This guy is good: From the Daily News

House Speaker John Perzel, defending the Legislature's grotesque pay grab, says he and his ilk deserve more because migrant cow milkers in Lancaster County earn up to $55,000 a year.

What state (Planet) is he living in/on?

Here is official website: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/house_bio.cfm?districtnumber=172

Drop him a line, I'm sure he would appreciate a few people letting him know what a great job he is doing.

John Roberts


I caught a few minutes of the hearings today. He sounded reasonable. Judge's have a way of surprising you. President Eisenhower was once asked if he had ever made a mistake, he answered yes and two of them are on the Supreme Court.

Kevin Blaum

I got a mailer from Kevin Blaum a few days ago. It was full of information on how to protect yourself from idenity theft. Most of it I already knew about but one thing caught my interest was a web site to remove yourself from pre-approved offers from credit card companies. I went to the site and it was full of ads for everything but I was looking for.

The best consumer information I could get is how to protect my self from legislators who vote themselves an outrageous pay raise in the middle of the night.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Corrections to the Leonardi and Carney coverage

A couple of sharp readers pointed out some omissions from my post yesterday.

As far as Chris Carney a reader noted that The Times Trib did have a piece in the paper on Wednesday about Chris and did have a reporter at the event.

I only checked the web site and should have checked the the hard copy.

I missed a whole lot of coverage of Joe Leonardi. Casey Jones from the Times-Leader did cover the event and interviewed Mr. Leonardi extensively. He was interviewed for the Scranton Times--CitizensVoice (they also sent a photographer to his office to take photos to accompany the story) and the BerwickPress Enterprise. He sat with a reporter from the Times News (carbon county) for about 30 minutes, the event was reported in each 1/2 hour report the entire day and was invited to appear, and did appear, on SueHenry's show the following morning.

Keep me honest people and thanks to the readers who pointed out my mistakes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Chris Carney announces for Congress-Times Shamrock and local TV ignore him

Chris Carney(D) announced he is running for the 10th congressional District seat currently held by Don Sherwood(R) and most of the local media ignored him. The Times-Leader covered the event held at the courthouse green in Montrose but there was nothing in the Citizens Voice or the Scranton Times-Tribune. I sat through the endless blather of what passes for local news on WNEP and WYOU yesterday and they didn't mention him either. You think they could fit in a few minutes between the nonstop weather updates. To be fair the Scranton Times did have a nice write up on him yesterday that I can't link to today because they don't make their archives available. And I guess to show balance the TL had an article on what a great guy Sherwood is for driving a truck load of water to Louisiana.

Maybe it's just because I'm a political junkie that I think this is big news and should a least get a mention in the local media. At least Carney got some coverage as all outlets ignored Joe Leonardi when he announced he was running against Kanjorski.

Both these candidates have a mountain to climb to get their names known.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Cynthia Ore saga continues

From the Times-Leader:

Cynthia Ore's attorney says he now has the green light to ask police why U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood wasn't arrested after Ore called 911 last September to report she had been choked by the congressman.
"It's clear that he received preferential treatment that would not be given to a regular U.S. citizen,' said Patrick Regan, Ore's Washington attorney. "We intend, through depositions, to find out how that happened."


A coverup is alleged:

- Police say the 911 tape that includes Ore's call is indecipherable and won't release it

- A dispute over the time of the incident. The 911 call was made at 3:15 p.m., but police
listed the incident time at 1 p.m.

- Smudges on a police report that suggest the incident number has been changed.


But if there is nothing to hide why this?

Regan said he will fight hard against a motion made by (Sherwood's attorney) Burchfield that would keep documents and disclosures that are viewed by attorneys out of public view during the discovery phase.

"I don't know what he wants to hide, but we're certainly not agreeing to it,' Regan said. "It shouldn't be cloaked in secrecy.

"I'm sure the public would say, "He wants us to trust him and vote for him, but he wants this information to be sealed?"

Sherwood also wants the trial to be delayed until after the 2006 election. Why would he want it to hang around for the election? Are there salacious details that might come out? I think he is getting some very bad advice. I think he should settle the suit and get it behind him and try to limit the damage.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Compassionate conservative

Rick Santorum said this today:

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

Thanks to vmsnews for the video and The Raw Story for pointing me there.

What are you going to do to them Rick? Fill their houses with water?

This guy keeps shooting off his mouth and makes Casey's job easier. I remember when he was first elected and voted against flood relief when the Mississippi jumped it's banks. I lived through the Agnes flood and have never forgiven him for that.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Spiro Agnew

In the interest of giving people of opposing viewpoints a forum I welcome a post from Spiro and I hope anyone with an opposing view will contact me.

Katrina, Katrina, Katrina. Let's get back to what is important. The Death tax has not been repealed. It will kill our family farms and most family businesses will go bankrupt. I don't care what these Liberals say:

And though the ad focuses on family farms and businesses, the truth is that very few actually pay the estate tax. The Tax Policy Center projects that roughly 440 taxable estates were primarily made up of farm and business assets in 2004.

There are many needs in this country but tax relief has to be at the top of the list. The threat to our country by taxing inherited wealth is a threat to the American dream. Why should you have to work if your dad made it in life? Do you know that someone who makes a few hundred dollars from the stock market in dividends and capitol gains pays the same rate as a patriotic investor who risks his capitol and reaps millions from his endeavors? It's outrageous!

We need more tax Cuts!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane

Mike at the Barkingmoose said it better than I can.

Earlier this week, I sat in my air-conditioned office and objected to anyone trying to politicize this tragedy. I didn't think any distinction should be made between fundraising efforts from conservative or liberal blogs. This is a national tragedy, after all, and there is no room for political ideology at a time like this.
I was wrong. You can't stop a hurricane, but you can plan for it. You can spend the money on building up the levees instead of spending it on tax cuts for the wealthy. You can have the National Guard troops ready to help their neighbors instead of fighting a bogus war in Iraq. You can make sure that the directors of agencies like FEMA and Homeland Security are competent and prepared instead of political hacks who are more interested in ass-covering than saving lives.
This is what politics is for. This is what government is for. This is why we choose leaders. And anyone who has defended Bush and his administration, his lies to send us to war, his gutting of domestic budgets, his disinterest in the plight of working-class people in this country even before a disaster like this hit, anyone who apologizes for his inability to act and his cavalier attitude even in the middle of this catastrophe, this is one more failure you share responsibility for. After all of this, is there really anyone who can still defend this man?


Read the rest here.

Katrina

What in the world is going on? The federal government has been planning for a major disaster since 9/11 and we got hit with one. Unlike a terrorist attack there was a few days warning of the hurricane hitting. Maybe it was just complacency "Yeah here comes another one, we will get through it like all the others." This is the worst situation in our country in my memory. If nothing else we expect the government to respond to a crisis in a competent and efficient manor in a chaotic situation. Mr. Bush's reaction has not been encouraging. From the NYT:

Mr. Bush's arrival coincided with long-awaited deliveries of aid to the flood zone. But the president did not interact much with storm victims, and at one site, a Salvation Army truck in Mississippi, those he did see had first been screened by Secret Service agents with metal detectors.
Mr. Bush flew back to Washington from New Orleans without paying a visit to the chaotic makeshift trauma center set up in one terminal at the airport, where many patients evacuated from the city's hospitals were dying before they could be airlifted to other cities.

It's not like no one had seen this coming. In an interview with the former Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers today on MSNTV and he said the flood protection plan for New Orleans was drawn up in 1965 and was supposed to be completed by 1975. As of today it was still not completed. He blamed every administration and congress for not funding the project and he is right.

What happens when we get hit with a terrorist attack with no warning?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I got this Kevin Blaum the other day. For the most part it told me things I already knew. The one thing that interested me was a web site that the mailer said would get you off the pre-approved list that would stop all the credit card offers. When I went on it it was full of Ads for all sort other stuff. It was usual politcal garbage as usual. The best consumer info I can use is how to keep legislators from voting themselves a pay raise in the middle of the night.