Sunday, November 30, 2008

Liz Sichler resigns

Elizabeth Sichler was the vice-chair of the Luzerne County Republican Party until she resigned on November 12th. Party Chairman Terry Casey said she quit because "business is tough."

She is famous for finding ways to get other candidates kicked off the ballot and until recently was the right hand of Rep Karen Boback.

It looks like business is tough for her company, Priority Search Inc. in Kingston. The local papers are reporting that the Secret Service is investigating the outfit because it didn't carry out it's responsibilities and some money is missing. One the people who has been burned by this outfit is 2007 Republican Commissioner candidate Bill Jones who might be giving it another try in 2011.

Remember that Liz has not been charged with a crime, yet.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Luzerne County budget

For the first time time since I have been blogging the Luzerne County Commissioners have proposed a realistic budget. It has a lot of pain that could have been avoided if past administrations didn't inflate revenue projections to avoid a tax increase then scramble the next year to borrow the money they knew they didn't have.

The previous regime of the Bond Brothers, present minority Commissioner Greg Skrepnak and past commissioner Todd Vonderheid (who moved on to the Chamber of Commerce), and people before them presented works of fiction that counted on money from land sales that never happened and more aggressive tax collection, etc. When that didn't work out they floated another bond so now the county is just about tapped out on how much debt it can take on. No new prison or anything else.

Majority Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Stephen Urban have come up with a mix of tax increases, fees, borrowing and layoffs to try to bring some sanity back into the process. I hate the layoff and borrowing parts but they are being up front about it instead of waiting until January to drop a bomb.

Now the question is will the row officers and the courts go along with this plan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is a time for family

A guest post.


By Mean Old Man

I can’t stand the fact that it is once again the stupid holiday of Thanksgiving!!! Every year I have to put up with my dimwit relatives and their cackling kids playing Frisbee with my Perry Como albums while I'm trying to take a damned nap!! Well, at least this year I don't have to drag myself over to my stupid son Harlan's place to eat his harlot wife's turkey loaf with Stove Top Stuffing!! Hell, I wouldn't feed that tripe to a liberal!!!!!

But having the holiday here at the ol' homestead ain't no picnic either. The whole disaster starts at around 10 that morning when the first of the wrecking crew arrives. It usually is Thelma Jean's brother Judd--now I ain't one to cast judgments but I think he's one of those "funny boys" (if you know what I mean) what with his manicured nails, his fancy suits, the six pack of Zima, not to mention the fact that he always shows up with his "fishing buddy" Hal. I was stuck one year alone in the living room talking to these two bozos and I can tell you that they really creeped me out; I was more relaxed being under a bare light bulb during an interrogation by a Japanese Lieutenant during WWII. Damn!!!!

Of course, my stupid sons and their spawns arrive around noon; that's when the headaches really start. My son Clay's dense wife Jill always feels as if she has to bring dessert. She comes in with this liquid concoction settled in a granite shell which she calls pumpkin pie. She says that it's a secret family recipe; if I came up with that dumb recipe I'd keep it a secret too. The pie, however does come in handy for keeping the ol' barn door open on windy days.

I always keep looking at my trusty pocket watch, hoping that time flies and they will all go the hell home.
When Thelma Jean finally plops the turkey on the table, well, you've never seen anything like it. I swear that the pigs in my pen show more class and manners while they're eating!! I have to train my eyes to look only at my plate, otherwise I see my snot nosed grandkids chewing with their mouths wide open, my stupid daughter in law pasting on her bordello style lipstick every twenty seconds and my dumb brother in law Judd insisting that eating any kind of meat is a sin and unhealthy (I told you he was "funny") and on and on and on. I'm sure that even you commies who read this twirpy webpage can understand where I am coming from.

Then after dinner the real fun starts because the punk grandkids have to play, but don't dare tell them to take it outside. It's usually cold or rainy and, of course, that'll kill a little kid. Kids today are such wimps, they don't know anything about adventure. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was a tyke and it was snowing like the Yukon outside, the wind was blowing at around 80 m.p.h. My old man stuffed his gut, popped open a Steg, and went into the living room to listen to the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Thanksgiving Hour on the trusty teardrop radio. But before he did any of this he opened the door and kicked me out of it. I wandered around in the snow (which was up to my chin) for what seemed like hours. When the show was over and he let me inside I had blue skin, my lips were all chapped from the cold, I was disoriented and my ears were burning up. It was horrendous, painful and degrading for a child. And I loved it!!!! Because my old man taught me something, he taught me to be tough and to have character!!! Not like the wimpy kids today who tell the parents to go outside!!

So the little runts will be running around the house and throwing things, complaining and crying that they want to go home. Sometimes to get them off of my back I'll call them over to my chair in the corner and rip my false teeth out of my mouth. The look of fright on their little faces is almost worth the six hours of misery that I have to go through. It's usually after this that my hippie sons and their wives get mad at me and leave the house crying. Then, if I can dodge Thelma Jean's pie roller from cracking my skull, it’s Wheel of Fortune time!

Well, all you damned commies, enjoy your Thanksgiving. Maybe you'll luck out and Sarah Palin will bring a fresh killed turkey to your door (though I doubt any of you eat meat); as for me, I'm quickly eating dinner, heading to the attic with a few bottles of Steg and a pack of Lucky's (LSMFT), and my Perry Como albums, along with a toothbrush to polish up my false teeth for later on. Happy Turkey Day. I hate you all!!!!!!!

Can Bush pardon himself?

Some people think so. Ford pardoned Nixon for "all offenses against the United States which he … has committed or may have committed." And his father let Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger off the hook over Iran-Contra. The news yesterday is that he pardoned 14 individuals mostly for drug crimes which tells you that something is wrong with the drug laws that have been a total failure over the last 50 years.

Now the chatter is about Bush granting preemptive pardons to people who have been accused of violating the Geneva Conventions and American law prohibiting torture among other crimes.

Since this is Thanksgiving the press is focused on the White House Turkey ritual. Somehow Scooter Libby got in on the act.

The Onion: In Thanksgiving Tradition, Bush Pardons Scooter Libby In Giant Turkey Costume

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The bailouts

The latest focus is on the auto industry wanting some government money after the failure of Bear Stearns

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Goldman Sachs
Morgan Stanley
American International Group

And many others. Today Citigroup has been added to the list.

I'm dismayed that some of my conservative friends are blaming the unions for the collapse of Detroit. Did the unions cause the collapse of the big financial companies? I know a few people that work for CitiBank and not one of them belong to a union and they are hourly employees.

I haven't read a liberal or conservative blogger or talked to a Republican or Democratic voter that agrees with what is going on but we keep hearing the same mantra that Margaret Thatcher was famous for when I lived in England, "There is no alternative."

I can't get my arms around what has happened in the last month and I'm an Economics major. As a rule I don't like it when the government goes into panic pass mode because they usually get it wrong, think the Patriot Act or the MCA.

As a minimum we should expect some accountability from these companies such as the firing the top management of these not now going concerns and limits on any future compensation for their successors. The auto execs showed how tone deaf they are to the mood of the country by flying into Washington on private jets with while asking for a hand out. This past week's exchange between Congressman Paul Kanjorski and GM CEO Rick Wagoner shows how arrogant and out of touch these guys are. Kanjo asked Wagoner a simple question that he couldn't answer.
"How Much money do you need until March 30th?" And he couldn't give a straight answer.

Auto CEOs Tell Congress Why They Need $25b

Blogger news

Naticoke blogger DB Echo latest project is called The Stained Glass Project, in which I am attempting to photographically preserve the stained glass windows of my parish church, Our Lady of Czestochowa (St. Mary's) in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Erin Moody of the Citizens Voice has a nice write up of his efforts.

Framing stained glass snapshots

If the church closes for regular services and is used for only an occasional wedding or special service, Jenkins, 40, worried that the windows might be damaged or removed. Even if the building is maintained, if the church doors are closed most of the time, the only way to see the windows will be from the outside, with nothing lighting them up from behind to make the images clear and colorful.So, while waiting for his cousin’s wedding to begin, Jenkins pulled out his camera and started clicking. Several weeks later, he’s still taking pictures, trying to get the best photos of each decorative window in the church.
“I’m trying to do it all,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying to preserve it not only for myself but for anyone else.”

Check out the whole series at Another Monkey.

I noticed that I have some dead links on the sidebar but right now I can't delete them or add new sites because Blogrolling has brain damage. When/if they fix the problem I will be adding and Keystone Progress.

And one of my first blog buddies (where are you LVDem?) has decided to take a break. Above Average Jane has a full family schedule and needs to rehab her pitching shoulder so her blog will be put on the back burner. I have learned many lessons reading her blog but the one that stands out is her knack for finding the local angle to a national story that I have tried to emulate on my site. Thanks "Schoolmarm of the Local Blogosphere."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Busy weekend

So many email alerts, comments and messages. I will get back to you sometime this week.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

President Kennedy

Today is the 45th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's shooting in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald (and maybe some other people).. I usually discount conspiracy talk but when you look at the Zapruder film it's obvious that the 3rd shot came from the front. The thing that always bothered me about Oswald is he had to have been watched by the FBI or some other agency. A Marine who defects to the Soviet Union, get's mixed up with pro-Castro groups and even visits the USSR embassy in Mexico City that the CIA knew about. With that kind of track record today you would be whisked off to Gitmo or somewhere else.

"Seconds" by Human League

Abraham. Martin, John & Bobby

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bailout Boscovs

A few weeks ago when I was ranting about the $700 Billion bailout of the banks and Wall Street I asked what I then thought was the facetious question, What the hell, why don't they also bail out Boscovs?

Another lesson in be careful what you ask for. The feds (Republicans) are still busy nationalizing the commanding heights of the economy (socialism) and now the state and local governments are getting in on the act.

W-B, Scranton to loan Boscov’s $3 million each
Gov. Ed Rendell (Democrats) also secures $35 million to aid family regain Boscov’s chain.

State and city money is said not to be at risk because they are using federal funds in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by HUD. According to the TL story the money comes from a pool of money that is separate from the CDBG funds that are used to pave streets and tear down vacant buildings, etc. We will see about that.

Is a local department store chain really too big to fail?

Sarah Palin pardons a turkey

Watch what is going on in the background. Another train wreck TV moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buy a Cadillac and get GM Stock

"What is good for the country is good for General Motors, and what's good for General Motors is good for the country." -Charles Wilson, the head of General Motors and later Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense

A car dealer in Maryland is offering customers 100 shares of GM stock if you buy a used Cadillac which I think is a creative idea. GM stock closed yesterday at $2.79 so if you drop $40K for one of those boats you get a $279 lottery ticket. GM's 52 week high was $29.95 and it looks like the government is not going to let the auto companies go under so it's not a bad bet. Even if the share price recovers only half it's value you can make a tidy profit. I would say the odds are better than buying a PA lottery ticket or pushing some buttons on a slot machine at Mohegan Sun that you would win some money.

Sarah Palin on Desperate Housewives

ABC is denying it.

The Weekly Standard throws it out there.

They got it from a Hollywood gossip site: The creator of the show is enamored of Sarah and sees her as the ultimate guest star [playing] a similar version of herself. The idea has gone over surprisingly well with execs at Disney , who see it as a blockbuster based on Sarah’s huge ratings on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ “

Just add to the jokes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Denise Carey wins and so do the people of Wilkes-Barre

“This definitely was not about the money. It was about the principle. This is a win for the community. Now no one has to be afraid of speaking up. That was the point of this.” -Denise Carey

In 2004 Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton was faced with some tough budget choices and he decided to close the fire house in the Heights section of the city. The people in that neighborhood were understandably upset and worried about their safety but we elect people to make tough decisions for the greater good. I thought it was good call because it would cost a fortune to repair the building that has since been sold.

In 2005, Denise Carey filed a petition to allow voters to decide the fate of the firehouse through a ballot referendum. The city argued some of the 1,300 signatures were collected under false pretenses, and Carey withdrew the petition on the day a county court hearing was scheduled to resolve the dispute. The city asked that Carey pay $11,056 to cover the city’s legal fees and Judge Michael Conahan agreed. The award was overturned on appeal in January 2007. That judgement by Conahan was the heart of this case.

Someone disagreed with a decision of her local government so she took action to oppose it and they tried to ruin her financially. My friend David put it better than I could:

The Council and Leighton thwarted Carey's efforts to try and get the Fire House closing on the ballot. The action against Carey basically said to city residents, if you dare to criticize or God forbid organize in opposition to the City administration policies, and we, the rich, wealthy and powerful will squash you like a bug. Maybe put you in debt, maybe take your home and livelihood away.

TL: "Mayor Leighton may be able to take away a fire station, but don’t let him take away our constitutional rights. A verdict in Denise Carey’s favor tells citizens you are safe. You can speak out and you don’t have to fear that a politician or the government can come back and sock you with a hefty attorney bill.”

In other business Leighton wants money from the state gaming funds for more surveillance cameras in the city. Slots money=Lower property taxes, do any of these politicians remember that?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where are Rachel and Keith?

I usually watch Countdown and the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC when I get home from work. Tonight both hosts are MIA.

What's going on?

Smile, You're on Macaca camera

In 2006 Virginia Senator George Allen reacted to a guy from the Democratic campaign that was following him around with a video camera by calling him a name (slur) that I had never heard before. The resulting storm sunk his reelection.

George Allen introduces Macaca

Since that happened just about every campaign in the country has employed people to follow around the other candidate with a video camera hoping to come up with a similar pot of gold. The TL reports that the Paul Kanjorski camp paid a guy $10,000 to follow around Lou Barletta hoping to catch Mayor Lou saying something stupid.

The videographer, identified as Joe Van Wie of Agapic Films of Scranton, was observed taping Barletta at campaign rallies and fundraisers...Van Wie may have been able to track Barletta because he signed up to be a Barletta campaign volunteer.

This has become an common campaign tactic so there was no need for subterfuge. If a candidate is speaking at a public event it's fair game to videotape it. Chris Carney's camp also had a videographer following around Chris Hackett.

Sights on Pennsylvania has much more about how this affected the Barletta campaign even to the point of refusing to give me Lou's schedule because they didn't want to give a heads up to the video guy. Bad move. I've had various candidates tell me that people showed up at an event because they read it on my blog. The video guy would have found him anyway.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Sunday Newspaper

Enjoy it while you can.

Like many people my age I can credit the Sunday Funnies with helping me learn to read. The comics are still the first part of the paper I go to on the weekend or weekdays for that matter. I know that you can read the comics online but it is just not the same. I enjoy making a mess in the living room as I skim all the different sections usually starting with the sports section then moving on to Opinion/Review and the news. I even like clipping the coupons anticipating my next shopping trip to the grocery store.

The financial news from the publishing industry has been bleak the last few years as the papers try to adapt their business models to the internet age. Every poor financial report from the New York Times brings a gleeful headline on Drudge and other right wing blogs. Be careful for what you ask for folks, if the Times goes under you will lose your favorite whipping boy.

The credit crunch is not helping, forcing the publishers of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to scramble for cash. Jane is reporting that the Inky is now putting an exact copy of the print edition online and charging less than for home delivery. She also gives us an update about Pennsylvania stories that appear in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) every week. The WSJ is a good technical rag but it's not a real newspaper. I look through the thing and I can't find a sports section or the comics let alone a crossword puzzle and NO coupons.

I can't imagine a big city without a daily paper but that just might happen in the next few years. The thing we have going for us in this area is that we are always a few years behind the rest of the country so we will have the print editions of the Voice, Leader and Times after the rest of them go under.

Eagles 13 Bengals 13

Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, right, scores (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

For the first time since 2002 a NFL games has ended in tie. The mighty 1-8 Bengals matched the Eagles in mediocrity. Donovan McNabb had 3 interceptions and they dropped a bunch of passes. The defense played well enough to win but just like last week the lack of a running game sunk them. Well, maybe not sunk but like Joe PA said, a tie "is like kissing your sister." On the up side Mrs. G has found her new favorite name of a player, Houshmandzadeh. She said it's right up there with Vladimir Guerrero.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Secretary of State Hillary

When I first heard this speculation I dismissed it. Why would Hillary Clinton want to give up a Senate seat for life to take a cabinet post and why would Obama want her in the government?

Now I think making Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State is both good politics and good government.

I love all the Machiavelli/Godfather/Team of Rivals references about keeping you enemies closer than your friends. That works in Hollywood and cable TV but that's not all of it.

It's good politics because it would co-opt a rival and avoid sniping from the sidelines.

It would be good government because Hillary has been travelling the world for years and knows many of the players and they know her.

America will present a new united face to the world.

YouTube weekend

Pink Floyd Dog Music Video

I posted some Humphrey pictures on my Facebook page.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Todd Eachus wants to be House majority leader

Luzerne County State Rep. Todd Eachus , who ran the Dems' fall campaign effort, wants to be the majority leader of Pennsylvania House after some modest success increasing the Democratic majority by 2 seats. He is taking on current House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese and Frank Dermody of Oakmont.

From a PR:

“The people of Pennsylvania spoke clearly last Tuesday. They want access to affordable health care for people of all ages. They want to know their children are getting a good education. They want to know that there will be good jobs available for them and for future generations. They want safe roads and bridges and a brighter future for all of us.”

We all want those things but his support of the fantasy cargo airport near Hazleton gives me pause. He inserted a $16.5 million authorization for the cargo airport in a House bill listing projects under the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund. Shortly after that I got a curious piece of mail from Eachus paid for by the taxpayers claiming 100,000 jobs could be created. It was unusual because I'm not even in his district. So far there is no anchor tenant such as FedEx or DHL. Well, forget DHL. The slots money was supposed to be used to lower our property taxes and people like Eachus keep finding new ways to spend it on other projects. Enough of that. They really need to rewrite that law.

According to Capitol Ideas, who gets to read Capitolwire because he has an expense account, DeWeese is probably going to win re-election to his leadership post "unless, of course, he doesn't."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tweety for Senate

I still think that Chris Matthews is using this possible Senate run as a negotiating ploy in his contract talks with MSNBC. But if he did make it to the Senate it would make C-SPAN a lot more entertaining. Will the gentleman yield? NO I WILL NOT. Let alone when he would be the presiding officer.

Now they are even polling the possibility. From TPM:

The new numbers from Public Policy Polling (D): Specter 40%, Matthews 27%, and a very high 33% undecided.

The internals have good news and bad news for both candidates. Specter is below 50%, a bad place for an incumbent, but he's grabbing 30% of Democrats and a 41%-28% plurality among independents, indicating that he's able to draw some crossover support like he usually has in his previous races. If he can solidify the 32% of undecided GOP voters, he would basically have it made.

He might even be serious about this as he told the Colbert Report in the spring:

"Some kids wanted to be a fireman. I wanted to be a Senator."

My blog buddie Alex has some thoughts on the possibility; that there are people in Pennsylvania who would reflexively vote a) against a Republican or b) against Arlen Specter?
Stunning. I had no idea. Really. None. What. So. Ever. None.

Then there is the residency issue. I don't know where Matthew's votes but he has been in Washington for a long time. Rick Santorum got beat up because he really lived in Virginia but I'm sure Chris can buy a voting address in the Commonwealth. There might be a $500,000 fixer-upper for sale out at Harveys Lake that he could move into. But if he is really serious about running for Senator in PA he should buy Joe Biden's old house in Scranton.

Veterans Day

How did your neighborhood vote

If you live in Luzerne County you can check it out. 135,965 people in Luzerne County cast a ballot in the Presidential race with Obama topping McCain by just over 11,000 votes, 53%-45%.

I was interested in how my little corner of the world voted and thanks to the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections website I have my answer. 805 out of 1015 registered voters in Ward 4 of Plains Twp made it to the polls Tuesday for a turnout of 80%. The tally was 426 votes for Obama 55% to McCain's 349 or 45%. Paul Kanjorski also topped Lou Barletta 423 votes (54%) to 364 (46%) despite Mayor Lou winning the neighborhood yard sign war.

There were very few problems on election day in the county and as much as I bash the Luzerne County government I must give credit when credit is due. Director of Elections Leonard Piazza and his staff did an outstanding job. They anticipated many of the potential problems with the iVotronic machines and the non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington cited Luzerne County as a national leader in elections management. They released a scathing report on the business practices of Election Systems and Software (ES&S) who is the supplier of our voting machines. The good news is that Piazza didn't give into the ES&S bullying and blackmail and took control of the machines. The report gives the play by play of what happened. Take a minute and check out pages 40 to 42 of the report.

I have found Leonard Piazza to be one of the most responsive people in our county government. Whenever I have asked him a question he has always got back to me in a few hours. He has been a good leader and manager and the best measurement of that is he has hired very good people to do the job. They even keep their cool even when some candidate wanders into the office at 5 minutes to 5PM demanding all sorts of documents and keep them there for hours after closing time. I hope he runs for elective office such as Controller or Commissioner. Piazza even acts on suggestions from cranks like me who wanted campaign finance reports online. He is one the good guys.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Carney's big win

The challenger didn't lose the incumbent won. And boy did he ever win. In 2006 Chris Carney topped Don Sherwood by 6 points with approx. 110,000 votes to 98,000.
The incumbent lost that election after his dirty laundry was aired and many people thought it was a fluke expecting the Republicans to take back the seat in 2008. But Congressman Carney had other ideas. He has been a relentless campaigner holding town hall meetings in every part of the district. His part time job as a Lt. Commander (soon to be full Commander) in the US Navel reserve and focus on veterans issues resonated with people I have talked to in the district. He has been a reliable vote for the Administration (urgh) on the Iraq War making it hard for Chris Hackett to run to his right on national security issues. And he brought home the bacon that Hackett derided. With just about every county and municipal government in the district has tapped out on the property tax that barely pays the bills. The only way to build a new fire house or even pave a street is to get a piece of pork. While I agree with Chris Hackett that there should be earmark reform we like our pork, just ask Joe McDade or Don Sherwood.
After being number one on the hit list of the NRCC it wasn't even close.

CARNEY, CHRISTOPHER P. (DEM) 159,072 56.4%
HACKETT, CHRIS (REP) 123,06 43.6%
The thing that really surprised me is that Carney won 12 of the 13 counties that are part of the district. Local Values has a breakdown with percentages but not raw numbers.
My friends Zen and Joe will argue that Hackett's scorched earth campaign against Dan Muesser in the primary was responsible for his defeat but I don't think that is the case. It was just too big of a win.

“We are the children of coal!”

This is a guest post from my friend Dr. Joe Leonardi about the coal miner stamp. For the life of me I don't understand why this hasn't already been done. There are stamps with Elvis and Love, etc.

Coal miner mentality
By Joe Leonardi
“Coal Miner Mentality” is a phrase that is boorishly bandied about to describe many here in Greater Pittston and to a larger extent all of us who reside in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Along with hard scrabble and coal cracker, this terminology is not meant to compliment, congratulate or commend.

It is most often intended to demean, deride or dismiss the good people of, as Steve Corbett extols, “Hard Coal Country.” How little those outside of the anthracite arena know the offspring of the miners whose labor fueled the industrial revolution.

My grandfather was an owner/operator of a few mines here in the valley.
Unfortunately for my bank account he was not a coal baron. However, fortunately for my character he was a coal man.

We, all of us, are the heirs to the throne of king coal – we are the ones responsible to maintain the legacy of those who took from the ground the hard black carbon.
Yet, inexplicably, many look down upon us and our ancestors.

How is it anything less than an honor to be descended from those who sacrificed so much, but were recognized by so few?

How can we not revere those that left the sunlight behind and ventured below the earth’s surface to bring forth the precious anthracite?
How can those whose lives, by comparison are easy and risk free – not swell with pride when we recall the men who risked not solely simply injury, but often instant death or worse the slow, suffocating strangulation of black lung to provide a home and life for their families.
The coal miner was not formally schooled, he was educated by the cold realities of a harsh dark world.

The coal miner was not selfish, he did without, so his children would not need to inhale cancer causing coal dust.

The coal miner was not weak, through the strength of his spine he provided food for his family.
When I think of a coal miner, I see a strong hardworking individual. One who came to this area looking to improve not his life, but the lives of his children. I see individuals of deep faith, honesty and integrity.

When I teach a class and look upon the faces of my students, I see the realization of the dreams of those miners who so long ago shortened their own lives so my generation and the following ones, would not have to.

There is a movement afoot to prod the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp honoring the coal miner. This effort has gone on for many years with zero success.
This is an initiative that yearns for our support.

I say we wear with pride the badge of honor our coal miner roots inspire. We must look to the terms coal miner mentality, coal cracker and hard scrabble and take them back.

We must, with pride – own them.

I demand we proclaim; “We are the children of coal!”

If you are interested in the Coal Miner Postage Stamp I have petitions at my office, please email me for more information.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sam Guesto will hear your appeal

I'm speechless.

Mediation step now added to appeal

A third mandatory mediation step was officially added to Luzerne County’s assessment appeal court challenges Friday, and Sam Guesto will serve as the mediator.

YouTube weekend

This is why I spend a ridiculous amount of money to see this band.

U2 - Bad

Walter has some questions

I don't cover Wilkes-Barre politics as close as I should. This is a guest post from Walter Griffith. I haven't checked out any of the charges.

Dear Gents,
I did some intense research regarding the District "A" Fund that Wilkes Barre City Councilman Rick Cronauer is so proud of setting up in District A of Wilkes Barre
I spoke at length about 1 hour yesterday with CEO Charles Barber of the Luzerne Foundation regarding the administration for this so called FUND..
Charles tells me that the District A Fund Committee gets together to designate the project that they want to invest the Taxpayers, TAX EXEMPT Contribution to the Luzerne Foundation, to be used for in the City District "A".
The District A Committee then goes to the City Administration, I.E. Tom Leighton, and tells him what they want to do and then the Mayor and his administration go out and get bids from vendors to do the work, because it is City Owned Property, and then the Foundation sends the City a check to pay for the project...
The people of District "A" as well as the committee itself are not aware of this procedure but are being mislead to think that the District A Committee are responsible to distribute the funds, not the City that has left our neighborhoods go in the firstplace, so I feel this is a very misleading enterprise.
I spoke to Rick Gazinski, who is on the District "A" Fund Committee, and was told he wasn't aware that the City of Wilkes Barre is going to be the Administrator of the contributed money from the residents of District "A:" and is also concerned that the residents are not being totally informed by Councilman Cronauer regarding the procedure.
I feel the taxpayers are being Hornswagaled here...the same City Administration that has neglected this District is now going to get money from the residents to do what the same City Administration is receiving our taxes to do for us...they cant handle the tax money we send them every year but we are going to send them more of our money to try to fix it ???? I think the Luzerne Foundation is being used by the City Administration to get taxpayers money for something they are getting our taxes to perform..
The Luzerne Foundation is exactly that, a foundation, and in my opinion cant be used this way..The foundation MUST BY THE NATURE OF ITS CHARTER, be required to get a request for the funding that the District A wants to perform and therefore any City Council member can vote against the resolution to even ask the foundation for the funding to handle the project that the money was placed in the foundation for us to use in District "A" and in fact the other City Council Members can pass a resolution to use that same money to fix items in their Districts...the Foundation cannot just send the City a Check for the project without the City first requesting the funds, or it is called Laundering Money, in my opinion, and using the Foundation for the City Administration benefit under the disguise of a tax exempt contributions not a fair way to get donations for the City Administration to clean up our neighborhoods...
I think Councilman Rick Cronauer should be open and transparent with the residents of District "A" and vote to have the City Administration take care of our neighborhoods with the funds they have received and I also feel the CBGD Money that was recently voted on by City Council "UNANIMOSLY" without discussion, should have not been voted in favor of by Councilman Cronauer because it did not allocate any money for the cleanup of the same items the Councilman says we need to have the City Administration responsible to keep clean..

Friday, November 07, 2008

Kanjo hangs on

“It was an Obama tidal wave and it was very well-organized. There was nothing I could do.”- Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta

Paul Kanjorski won his 13th term in the US House of Representatives by a whisker defeating Mayor Lou by less than 4 points.

The final tally

KANJORSKI, PAUL E. (DEM) 143,246 51.7%

BARLETTA, LOU (REP) 134,077 48.3%

Barletta won 3 of the 5 counties in the district with Kanjo coming up short in his home territory of Luzerne County by about 5000 votes then rolled up big majorities in the Scranton area of Lackawanna County and Monroe came in big for him.

I can't argue with Barletta's assessment and Kanjo did everything he could to ride Obama's coat tails. This ad on the eve of the election shocked the shit out of me. It told me that he was polling behind Obama up here in the Alabama of the north and tied his wagon to the Democratic nominee. Throw in this spot from Hillary and President Clinton's Monday night visit that just might have saved him.

Dan Cheek lists 5 reasons why Barletta lost. "His flaws are many and his upside is almost non-existent. If the Republican Party wants to have a shot in Hell at retaking the US Congress, we need to produce candidates who are electable. In other words, the exact opposite of Mayor Lou Barletta."

McGruff keeps attacking.

Let's see what happens in 2010 when there will not be an Obama tidal wave.

Behind schedule

We will get back to Luzerne County politics next week. I'm working on postmortems of the Pennsylvania 10th and 11th Congressional Districts races so you can rip apart the candidates in the comments. I usually try to do this during the week when people are wasting time at work and not interrupt important things like College and Pro football.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It is time to come together

This is a guest post from Jonathan Tallman who ran for delegate to the GOP convention.

Dear Gort:

The long election cycle is over. After nearly two years of campaigning, the American people have begun to usher in a new president. In American politics, this is typically a time of great jubilation for both Republicans and Democrats. However, over the past couple of elections, I cannot help but notice that dirty politics remains intact even after the American people have spoken. There is no room for this in our politics.

I supported Senator John McCain’s campaign. Although I am obviously upset the results of the election were not in my candidate’s favor, I fully stand behind President-Elect Barack Obama. As a nation, we must remember the power of the people’s voice. We may not always agree on the choice, but I would ask that all would join me in congratulating our new president for a well-fought campaign and a historic victory.

In America, we should always remember to respect the views and opinions of others no matter how much they differ from our own. I ask that we begin to heal the partisan wounds and we move forward to have a worthwhile debate on the issues and remember one thing: we are all patriotic citizens of this great nation and we all want what’s best for our country.

Congratulations President-Elect Obama. Come January 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM, he will be my and your president, and we can all be jubilant for the fact that democracy is still alive and well in our thriving nation.


Jonathan T. Tallman

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yesterday America hired a new government

It's the way our system works. The people who have been in charge for the last 8 years have not done a good job so we replaced them. Mr. Bush has been the worst resident of the White House in my memory and many of my fellow citizens agree with that assessment. Endless war, Katrina, blowing up the budget, torture, Gitmo, etc. the list is too long to enumerate. The final straw was the collapse of the financial system resulting in a government takeover of some of the largest banks in the world. What's the word to describe the government owning the commanding heights of the economy? Oh yeah, Socialism. I don't think that any Republican could have won in this environment.

The Republicans threw every piece of shit they could come up with at Obama hoping something would stick but it didn't. He has been the target of more smears and guilt by association charges than I have ever seen but he kept his cool. He also defeated the Clinton machine in the primaries that dragged on throughout the spring that I think eventually helped him win the General Election because it brought so many new voters into the process. If you don't think he is tough enough to kill our foreign enemies just remember how he faced down and defeated his domestic opponents.

I have been reading conservative blogs all day that are predicting the end of the world as we know it. Get a grip people. The Republicans have fucked up the government and now the Democrats will put it right.

Pennsylvania results

The readers of Gort 42 called them right.


2,988,522 55.4%

2,345,058 43.5%

10th Congressional District

135,614 56.6%

103,998 43.4%

11th Congressional District

142,720 51.7%

133,365 48.3%

117th Legislative District

7,718 29.1%

18,780 70.9%

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Barry, Paul and Chris

Alice Cooper - Elected

The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

This a response to my friend Right Winger. Instead of me giving you my Lib/Dem reasons I give you one of your own. Not that it will change any minds.

The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won't touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

Pennsylvania Exit Polls

As usual in national elections our polling place was calm unlike what is going on in parts of the rest of the state and country that I'm reading about. The real action is always in the local primaries. I was voter 430 out of approximately 1000 in our district at 2:15PM compared to being number 224 at 5PM in the April primary.

I have never voted a straight party ticket in any election and this one is not an exception. Again I I wrote in Kayak Dude for state rep in the 121st district. Eddie Day Pashinski was unopposed in the general election which annoys me to no end and five of the six state reps up for reelection don't have an opponent in the fall. Put another feather in the cap of our Luzerne County GOP. In the State Treasurer's race I clicked the screen for the Libertarian, McCord will win. On the ballot question I voted no because I always vote no on them.

For the first time since 1996 I voted FOR someone for President instead of voting against the other guy although John McCain has at times run a despicable campaign. I heard all sorts of dog whistles in the Brittany ad and Atrios put it best "He's an uppity negro who wants to fuck your sister." He's the messiah, he's a Muslim, pals around with terrorists and other nonsense that has come from my conservative friends. The latest charge that he is a Socialist is particularly laughable since a Republican Administration has been busy nationalizing the banks. I wholeheartedly voted FOR Barack Obama.

Reverting to form I voted against Lou Barletta in the PA 11th CD race. If you search my archives you will find I have been very critical of Paul Kanjorski and even voted for Joe Leonardi in 2006. I think Barletta has appealed to the absolute worst in people. He has tried to scapegoat the Mexican population of Hazleton saying that they are the source of the city's problems. His famous immigrant ordinance has landed him on Lou Dobbs but just may bankrupt Hazleton. Kanjo is not perfect but he has brought home the bacon just like Dan Flood and Joe McDade and we reelected both of them when they were under indictment and Uncle Paul has not been charged with any crimes. From a bloggers point of view a Kanjo loss would open up the doors to a donnybrook of a Democratic primary in 2010 which would be fun. Even if he wins this it may be his last hurrah and we will have wide open primaries on both sides next time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Scorecard

This is based on the first polls closing times in each state. If you could call each state as they closed this might be the result. I'm sure that the networks will delay calling some states until after 11PM even though it is clear who will win.


Indiana O 11
Kentucky M 8


Georgia M 15
South Carolina M 8
Vermont O 3

Dem 11 Rep 31

Ohio M 20
WV M 5


Conn O 8
Del O3
DC O 3
ME O 4
MD O 10
MA O 12
Mich O 19
NH O 4
NJ O 15
PA O 21
TN M 11


NC O 15
AR M 6


NY O 31
RI O 4
LA M 9
MN O 10
NE M 3
WI O 10
AZ M 10
CO O 9
NM O 5
SD M 3
TX M 34
WY M 3


ND O 3
Id M 4
KS M 5
MT O 3
OR O 7


CA O 55
WA O 11
HI 4


AK M 3


RIP 2002-2008

This is a pet blogging post that I didn't think I would have write for several years. Yesterday started off as a normal Sunday. I got up early to watch the talking heads shows, made coffee and let the dog out to chase the squirrels in the yard. Later in the day I had an errand to run down the street so I took Humphrey for his walk. When we got home I took off his harness and went into the kitchen to work on my honey do list when he let out a loud yelp. We both ran to the living room to find him on the floor and he stopped breathing a minute later. He showed no signs of being sick and our vet said there is almost no way to find out why a healthy 6 year old dog would just drop dead. This brings back a flood of memories of friends and family members who were taken before their time. It's reminder to cherish every day that you walk this earth.

A friend sent this:

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.

He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.(I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.
When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, he ignores it.When I succeed, he brags.
Without him, I am only another man.
With him,I am all-powerful.
He is loyalty itself.
He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.
His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.
He has promised to wait for me...whenever...wherever--in case I need him.
And I expect I will--as I always have.
He is just my dog.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Latest PA Presidential polls

Muhlenberg Obama 52% McCain 45%

ARG Obama 51% McCain 45

Rasmussen Obama 51% McCain 47%

StrategicVision (R) Obama 49% McCain 44%

NBC/Mason-Dixon Obama 47% McCain 43%

CNN/Time Obama 55% McCain 43

Rasmussen Obama 53% McCain 46

Muhlenberg Obama 53% McCain 41

InsiderAdvantage Obama 51% McCain 42%

The National map

Obama 353 McCain 185

Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IA NV NM NC OH VA
GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None)

Actually I think it will be bigger than this map suggests. John McCain will be campaigning in Arizona Monday, That's all you need to know.

Prediction: Barack Obama will be our next President.

I have a wager with a local candidate about PA and the election. Chris, I want my dollar on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pa 10th Congressional Distirct prediction

I want to preface this by saying I personally like both gentlemen. They are young, telegenic and successful in their chosen professions with beautiful families. It's like we have 2 congressional candidates from central casting.

Both campaigns have been very responsive to this lowly blogger and I'm grateful for that. It's too late now but I think that Hackett's refusing my request for a 2nd interview was a mistake. I agree with the Hackett camp that there should have been more debates but if he won't debate Gort.....

I have interviewed both of them and asked some questions that weren't in the news at the time but were important to me. You can read the interviews here:

Congressman Chris Carney-the interview

Chris Hackett for Congress, the interview

A common question I asked was about the Military Commissions Act that says the government can declare a United States citizen an enemy combatant and hold them without habeas corpus.

The exchange with Hackett:

Specifically, do you favor holding an American citizen without access to the courts?

Correct me if I’m wrong but they are not holding American citizens, are they?

Jose Padilla

That’s true he was held, but has since been convicted and is awaiting sentencing. The reality is we have to hold enemy combatants. The Military Commissions Act gave broad authority to the President to designate someone is an illegal enemy combatant, which was the designation issued to Jose Padilla.

Even they are a United States citizen arrested in the United States?


And with Carney:


There is a provision of the Military Commissions Act that says the government can declare a United States citizen an enemy combatant and hold them without habeas corpus.

When you suspend the constitution you have to be little bit nervous about that. I swore a couple of times to protect and defend the constitution both as a military officer and as a member of Congress. You can hold people in this country by charging them under the 5th amendment and charge them with a crime and they get due process. American citizens should not be deprived due process.


So do you favor repealing that provision of the act?

As long as there is a legal way to cover them if they are an American citizen they get full rights as an American citizen.

Is that a yes?

That’s a yes. When we ignore our own rules we hurt ourselves as a nation. We hurt our ethic, we hurt what we stand for in the eyes of our people and the eyes of the world.

The response to that question made up my mind. The United States is not some tin horn dictatorship that can lock up people without giving them an opportunity to plead their case in court. What has happened to the Republican Party that I grew up with? You remember them, balanced budgets and keeping the government out of your life. The rule of law.

Hackett scored some points in the debate about earmarks and even got away with calling Carney a crook and a liar over his campaign contributions from companies that got some pork and his vote over the fence which has turned out to be a boondoggle. It's probably too little to late. The Hackett camp is highlighting this spot about Nancy Pelosi's salmon earmark and his 80% remark.

I go back to the old rule of politics; Challengers don't win the election, incumbents lose them. And Carney hasn't done anything to lose.


He stated his case in our interview: The far left attacked me, I’m not liberal. They ran newspaper, radio and television ads against me. So frankly if the far left and the far right are attacking you- you are probably in the right spot actually.

Carney won by 6 points in 2006, expect a similar result.

The Really Pissed Off Republican has his predictions.

And That's How I See It has some Election Night Predictions.

Highlights from the PA 10th Congressional debate

My blog buddies have great write ups of the debate;

The Lu Lac Political Letter

Local Values

The Really Pissed Off Republican

The whole thing is on WVIA's website.

Vote on the sidebar. Next up, President.


This is unfair

But I love it. She doesn't get it.

Sarah Palin Prank Call with 'Nicolas Sarkozy' - Hilarious!