I sat down Monday after work, knowing that what I was about to do would break what was left of my already-breaking heart. I listened to the cries of children being separated from their parents. And I cried with them. My own daughters heard me and came to comfort me – and thought, what a luxury. What a luxury to have won the birth lottery – for me, my husband, and my daughters to have been born into a safe country, into relative affluence, and of course, into white skin. What a luxury for our family to have the chance to comfort each other when we are sad and fearful.
Right this moment, children like mine are sleeping in cages. Right now, parents like me are panic-stricken with the pain of not knowing where their children are and how they're being treated. Right now, plans and logistics are being made to create tent cities (or more accurately, internment camps) so that those children can sleep outside in the heat of a Texas summer, surrounded by guards ordered not to hug or comfort them. Right now, they are wailing for their parents while we check Facebook and take our kids to soccer practice....
Senator Scavello has introduced his property tax bill, which states it is "...for the imposition of a Statewide personal income tax; authorizing the imposition of a personal income tax or an earned income tax by a school district subject to voter approval; providing for school property tax exclusion; and making repeals." But reading the actual text of the bill*, IT IS REALLY A STATEWIDE ABILITY FOR A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ELECT TO IMPOSE A LOCAL INCOME TAX to displace their property tax. This is NOT a statewide personal income tax bill. The state will collect the tax but it is up to the local school board to decide to do this and then put it up to a vote among the voters of the district.
This just moves the local property tax to a local income tax within that school district. Won't that drive small businesses out of the district if the nearby districts don't do this? Business owners still have to pay property tax and pay a higher income tax.
The latest lie blames the Democrats for the government shutdown. This is despite the fact that the Republicans couldn’t even get enough votes from their own party to reach 50%.
Mind you, this isn’t just a talking point. In a completely unprecedented and childish move that is 100% away from “Presidential,” the White House has stopped answering the phone, and people who call get a message blaming the Democrats. I am not making this up.
The reason I don’t want to limit emigration from s#&@-hole countries is because we are rapidly becoming one.
I’m shocked that anyone is shocked that Donald Trump called Haiti and other countries “s#@*holes.” The man has used language like this before, he’s said racist things before, he’s bragged about his sexual assaults, he’s called nazis good people — really, where have you all been?
We did. There’s so much to say about this, but to keep it (relatively) short:
1) We are very proud to be endorsed by the PSEA because it demonstrates our commitment to strong public schools.
2) We are the only independent candidates for school board. We have accepted no money from organizations or political parties.
3) The incumbents prefer to use divisive scare tactics. We're not going to let fear, misinformation, or negative campaigning drive people to the polls.
Today is the last full day that Barack Obama will be my president. No matter who was coming into office, I would have been filled with a deep sense of sadness. This man embodies the values I most hold dear – intellectual curiosity, strong sense of family, deep compassion for the suffering of others, a sense of humor, a strong and steady hand amidst the maelstrom of politics, and a willingness to discuss complex issues without minimizing them into soundbites. I would have liked him to be more boldly progressive, but I admire his willingness to acknowledge that by winning in 2008 with 53% of the vote and 2012 with 51% of the vote, he also had to represent the close-to-half of Americans who did not vote for him. Say what you will about him, but don't call him an ideologue. A pragmatist, yes, and one who soldiered on every day despite unprecedented obstruction, resistance and bald-faced disrespect. And despite all of that resistance, he retained his deep-seated faith in the basic goodness of Americans and a commitment to the democratic principles outlined in the Constitution he spent years teaching.
He was ridiculed for being a community organizer rather than a career politician or an opportunistic and wealthy businessman, like most of the other people who run for office. Ridiculed for getting out into the neighborhoods and talking to people and motivating them to engage. Ridiculed for the audacity of his hope....
Dear Trump voters: We’ll find out how much you really like what you voted for when the daughter of a Republican dies from a back-alley abortion… or, your daughter or granddaughter can no longer get affordable birth control.
When the air quality in your city begins to look like Beijing and you wear a mask going to work....
Chris Christie managed the feat of parlaying his position as a crime-fighting federal prosecutor into becoming the most corrupt governor in the history of New Jersey by repeatedly using his powerful position to blackmail or otherwise punish people who would not support him. That was then, but the big story these days is that Christie, who has become best known for being Donald Trump's poodle, apparently has learned nothing from a presidential bid that spectacularly crashed and burned because of his reputation as a bully. He continues to blackmail his political foes even as the trial in Bridgegate, the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that he approved, gets underway on Thursday.
On the eve of Labor Day weekend, Christie tore up a decades-long agreement between New Jersey and Pennsylvania that has allowed commuters to pay income tax in the state where they live, not where they work.
The move, which will dearly cost higher-income Pennsylvanians who commute to New Jersey, was prompted by sheer malice: The Democratic-controlled legislature had failed to make the $250 million in savings Christie demanded in health-care costs for the public employee unions he has repeatedly pilloried in trying to appear tough to Republicans in presenting himself as a viable presidential candidate who would bash unions in the finest tradition of the GOP. Never mind that we're talking police officers, fire fighters, school teachers and prison guards here.
If the legislature relents and does his bidding, Christie will reinstate the tax agreement. If not, Pennsylvania commuters will be punished and the counties bordering the Delaware River where they live will be hard hit.
Christie's blackmail attempt could have catastrophic consequences in Monroe County, home of the Pocono Mountains.
There are relatively few higher income jobs in Monroe, and a consequence is that about 40 percent of Monroe residents work outside the county, including about 6,000 who work in New York City and about 7,000 in New Jersey. Many of those 7,000 residents will not only pay substantially higher taxes, but now have less motivation to continue living in an area with high unemployment that is depressed economically, has been losing population for years and already has extremely high local taxes and depressed local property values.
Although about 125,000 people commute from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and an identical number from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Christie's mischief disproportionately affects commuters from Monroe and other Pennsylvania counties, including Bucks, Delaware, Lehigh, Northampton and Philadelphia.
This is because Pennsylvania commuters will no longer pay their state's flat 3.07 percent income tax, but up to 5.9 percent more on income subject to New Jersey's top 8.97 percent income tax. Christie's office refuses to say how much additional money the state would haul in, but it is a hefty $180 million, according to a former Christie budget director.
New Jersey's budget woes are substantially of Christie's own doing.
The state's credit rating has been downgraded eight times on Christie's watch -- more than under any governor in the state's history, and he brought a reputation for profligate spending as a U.S. attorney, along with his sizable girth, to the governor's mansion. As if to emphasize his selfishness at a time when the Garden State was descending into fiscal crisis, he arrived at a son's baseball game in May 2011 aboard a spanking new $12.5 million state police helicopter, which landed on an adjacent football field. Christie disembarked from the helicopter and got into a car with tinted windows and was driven about 100 yards to the baseball field.
But it is in transit that Christie has left the biggest stink.
In 2010, the governor singlehandedly killed a planned $8.7 billion commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River that virtually everyone else believed would ensure the future health of New York's regional economy. Christie argued that the tunnel was just too damned expensive for the frugal times in which he governed (not counting himself, of course), an argument that sprung a ginormous leak when it turned out that Christie planned all along to use New Jersey's share of tunnel construction dough to bail out the state's highway and bridge system, which under his "leadership" had been driven deeply in debt.
There was just one problem with Christie's secret scheme: The unspent tunnel money was under the control of the $8 billion a year bistate Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
But that didn't prevent the governor from moving ahead anyway because he had been using the authority as a patronage trough and personal piggy bank, and in 2013 as an arm of his campaign for a second term and a cudgel to cajole mayors into endorsing him for re-election and disciplining them if he did not. Which brings us back to Bridgegate.
Christie will not be in the dock nor is he likely to be a witness when the trial of two of his key aides begins on Thursday in Newark federal court with jury selection, but it is an open secret that he approved of a plan by those aides to deliberately create a traffic jam at the world's busiest bridge as a political payback for not being endorsed for re-election by the mayor of Fort Lee, which is on the New Jersey bridge approach.
The four-day closure of two of the three access lanes from Fort Lee in September 2013 was timed to achieve maximum impact -- a week in which public schools opened, Yom Kippur was observed and there were 9/11 anniversary events. It succeeded spectacularly, causing massive traffic jams and a public-safety crisis as ambulances and other emergency vehicles were gridlocked for hours.
Defense lawyers will assert that the lane closings were "normal politics," which is a howler, but true insofar as the meaning of the phrase applies to the unrepentant Chris Christie.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN
Muslim American immigrant Khizr Khan's tribute to his fallen son and war hero was the highlight of the 2016 conventions. While skewering Donald Trump's hate-filled and paranoid anti-immigrant rhetoric, he spoke to the America we love — the country, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, that accepts "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," so many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice for their new home.
Trump's response showed the ability of a 3-year-old to restrain his temper and impulses, garnering widespread condemnation even from numerous respected Republican leaders. It reinforced the conviction that Trump lacks the proper temperament to lead the most powerful military force on the planet....
Recently the Pocono Record had a Chicago Tribune article outlining the current market for electric vehicles (EVs). Affordable plug-in vehicles aim to recharge marketplace. The article talked about EV sales being down in 2015 and that they account for 1% of annual sales in the US. This is probably for two reasons, the price of gasoline is down under $2 a gallon this past year and also most of these vehicles have limited driving range. Almost all of the cars listed were either gasoline/electric plugin hybrids or all electric models with a range of 75 to 100 miles on a full charge. These are mostly for city driving or short commutes. The gasoline engines extend range but hybrids are very complex machines.
I had a Toyota Highlander Hybrid for over 7 years and while it was a reliable, great car, it had the same maintenance requirements as any other internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. It needed oil and filter changes, engine air filters, coolant system checks, transmission system checks and fluids changes and of course weekly trips to get the gas tank filled. I originally bought the hybrid when gasoline was over $4 a gallon and the hybrid system was supposed to give about 30% better mileage according to the EPA MPG rating. For most of the years I owned it, especially the later years I got about 23-24 MPG which was more like 20% better mileage than a standard Highlander. I was never able to drive very long as an EV, at most a mile, since the Highlander is a 7 seat SUV, and the hybrid system was pretty much the same as in the much smaller Toyota Prius, only with 2 electric motors (front and rear). With more current, smaller plugin hybrids you can drive 20 miles or so on pure electric, but then it has to switch over to the gasoline engine. So even the plugin hybrid still has to use gas for more than a single short trip. The BMW I3 and Chevy Volt also use gas and electric, but the gasoline motor is just to boost the range of the electric motor. Better and able to drive on electric for longer trips, but still not able to go long distances without eventually using gasoline or stopping frequently to charge the battery pack....
I read in the Pocono Record on Feb 9,2016, “Questions grow in Pennsylvania’s confusing budget situation.” After reading it, I was no wiser as to the root cause of the budget crisis. Understanding the inscrutable budget impasse is likely not the fault of the /Record/ as sorting out budgetary root causes is a challenge. However, the budget is extremely important.
It is where the rubber meets the road. If it ain’t in the budget, it ain’t gonna happen....
It must be very embarrassing to admit to being the victim of a scam. Scams come in so many forms and the Internet is well known for many. Remember the Nigerian Prince? They come in phone calls, emails, door knocks, in the mail.
It takes a certain bravery to admit if you’ve been scammed, cheated, tricked....
Folks, there is an election this year and we need people to VOTE. Yes it is not a Presidential year, but this election is important because it elects our local leaders and more importantly 3 State Supreme Court Justices. Ever wonder why the Democratic party out votes Republicans across PA in Congressional elections, yet there are only 5 Democrats of the 18 Congressional districts? It is because of Gerrymandering of Congressional and State legislative districts to keep them Republican. And re-districting, which is based on the decennial census, is by a committee made up by the leaders of the state legislature and someone appointed by the State Supreme Court. For at least the past 2 redistricting that has always been controlled by Republicans. It is critical that Democrats win the three Supreme Court seats this November or else in 2020 the Republicans will again make sure they control the state for the next decade. So don't wait until 2016, get involved this year and make sure you vote. We can't take back our state and our country unless we vote.
Remember Photo Voter ID? The Republicans in the legislature certainly haven't forgotten and will do their best to suppress minority votes again next year. President Trump or President Cruz sound good to you? We need a Supreme Court that will uphold our right to vote....
1. Phantom 1: The budget The budget has been catapulted into a monster that is now dictating district policy, possibly to the point of reducing 100 or so teachers to 1/3 time. This is not what budgets are for. Let’s deconstruct this budget discussion back to what it actually is: a spending proposal, based on our best guess of what our expenditures will be. It is NOT an obligation to spend. Some of the line items include inescapable expenses, true. But it is a tool for administration to keep the district solvent. It doesn’t dictate policy nor should it become a battering ram used by willful people to promote their agenda.
2. Phantom 2: The Fund Balance. The fund balance is not the Arc of the...
The house of straw erected by the Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen who froze President Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration came tumbling down April 17th, as the rule of law forced him to surrender his February injunction to the scrutiny of the Appeals Court. Reading all 123 pages of Hanen’s injunction, I can state that those who “shopped” for this Texas judge overpaid for his truckload of claptrap....
President Obama’s comments against extremism in religion at Washington’s annual Prayer Breakfast in February stirred up a hornet’s nest of the usual suspects from the right-wing hate machine. The President’s follow-up analysis later in the month at the three day conference on extremism at the White House provided a refutation of the complainers that was magisterial. Here’s why.
President Obama’s initial observation that religion has been used as an excuse for terror contained examples not only from Islam but also from Christian history: the Crusades, the Inquisition and slavery with Jim Crow in America. The complainers’ vitriol, it seems, was directed not against the undeniable truth that “religion has been used an excuse for terror,” but against the comparisons of Islam and Christianity. The complaints fall into three categories....
In the 1972 motion picture, The Candidate, a youthful Robert Redford plays a community activist enticed into a campaign against a seemingly invincible sitting Senator. The campaign manager doing the convincing is the late Peter Boyle who argues that running for office against impossible odds will nonetheless allow the Redford character to voice his progressive ideas to the public. As Redford reluctantly agrees to run, the Boyle character hands him a slip of paper to remind him of the principle on which the campaign is based. It consists of two words: “You lose.”
In Hollywood, the impossible happens and Redford wins. This did not happen in Monroe County or Pennsylvania or the US last November 4th. Here at home, I witnessed to Mark Aurand’s demolishment of Mario Scavello in two debates. The flustered Scavello chickened out of any further embarrassment by shafting the League of Women’s Voters. Likewise, Maureen Madden exposed the shallow Mr. Parker as a pretender rather than a contender. Liz Forrest dogged endurance reduced Rosemary Brown to spouting the most meaningless mish-mash of platitudes and bloviation since Warren Harding. Hope Smith’s logic was buried under a pile of lies on glossy paper from Jack Rader who ran on a platform of raising the income tax (to get rid of the property tax for real estate bigwigs like him) and complaining that his opponent would raise the income tax (for the rich) to lower property taxes for the middle-class....
Mrs. Rosemary Brown is impeccably groomed, wears smart business suits and is blessed with a charming disposition. She is also pretty poisonous to Latinos and Latinas in Pennsylvania. She should not be allowed to return to Harrisburg as a representative in 2015.
I strongly object to her reelection because of the way she sought to take away the vote of U.S. citizens at the election booth. I refer, of course, to her enthusiastic defense of the so called “Voter ID Law” that was found unconstitutional by the courts. At a session held before the 2012 election at the Monroe Public Library, Brown sat alongside her busy-body mentor, Mario Scavello, and tried to defend the indefensible. The conversation was focused on Latinos and Latinas as made clear by the session’s sponsor, the Hispanic Republicans of the Poconos. I was one of a committed group of Democrats confronting these two about the error of their ways....
I recently was victim of a telephone survey. A very sweet woman with inflections in English that betrayed Chinese as the first language, posed question after question about the 2014 PA elections, each prefaced with the qualifier: “Would it make you more inclined or less inclined to vote if you knew ….” This was a classic push-pull poll. For those unfamiliar with the term, the effort was not seeking truth to report on voter preferences. A push-pull poll is a propaganda device intended to test which phrases or issues provoke the voters. Sociologists and Political Scientists look down on push-pull polls because they are really advertisements and negative campaigning. They provide a candidate with a way of spending money supposedly for “research” but also as a means of influencing voters. It is two-for-one stuff and a sign of a candidate’s desperation....
For the good of the Democratic Party it is important to state that being “Pro-Choice” is not the equivalent of being “Pro-Abortion.” I do not speak for -- but I am one of -- the tens of millions of Democrats who believe elective abortion is the unnecessary taking of human life and is a sin. Our numbers include elected officials like Congressional Representative Matt Cartwright. We support the Democratic Party, therefore, not because it is Pro-Abortion, but because it is Pro-Choice. Our presence in the party of the “big tent” can make the difference between winning elections and losing them. In fact, Catholics form 61.9% of the faith-confessed voters of Monroe County http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Monroe-County-PA.html and our voices need to be heard.
Because “Pro-Choice” does not mean our party opposes parenthood, we ask our fellow Democrats to avoid statements that could be interpreted so as to deny that motherhood is one of the most sacred of blessings in the human experience. Motherhood is included in -- not rejected by -- the definition of “Pro-Choice.” We do not deserve bias or condescension as if we were second-class Democrats. We are modern and tolerant people who know the difference between abortion as a necessary medical procedure that saves lives and elective abortion for less weighty reasons. We recognize that Roe v. Wade prohibits abortion on demand and that the Hyde Amendment reconciles issues of public payment and individual private choices....
A good article to read to get the gist of where things stand with Public Education funding in Pennsylvania is "Education cuts? It depends" by Matt Nussbaum, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2014.
Public Education funding is in reality less than 2010 because the Republicans include payments toward the pension funding which was ignored for the past 15 years under Ridge, Rendell and Corbett. So it is great that Corbett and the legislature are finally doing something about funding the pensions, but this new funding is not directly aiding education and shouldn't be in any comparison to past funding. This article goes a long way to showing what all our school districts are really living with. WIll your property taxes go down? Not with this new funding. The Republicans cut over a billion dollars from public education funding when they took over complete control of all branches of the Commonwealth's government in 2011. Now that they are in a statewide election they have added back some of those funds but it is still not where things were in 2010. And the budget they passed is a fiction with an over $1.4 billion structural deficit so the funding levels aren't even real, but it makes for a good TV sound bite.
From one of the comments on the above article: "Another fact is $782 million of the total Mr. Corbett counts goes into the teacher's pension fund, not the classroom, making up lost ground from the 2001 - 2011 pension contribution holiday enacted by the General Assembly, during which time all teachers and other state employees continued to pay their share." Republicans harp on the fact that Federal stimulus dollars ran out in 2010, after the Republicans in Congress refused to extend a new stimulus to repair our destroyed national economy. Instead of increasing revenue, the State Legislature cut corporate taxes and slashed public education funding because of the resulting decreased revenue.
In the winter of 1938 the passenger ship, MS St. Louis with 937 German Jews fleeing from Hitler’s persecution, was refused entry into Cuba. The ship sailed towards Florida hoping for an executive order from President Roosevelt to lift the limit on German immigrants and allow entry to the USA as refugees. Instead the ship was forced to return to Europe and 25% of the passengers would die in the Holocaust.
Every humanitarian refugee crisis tests America’s moral values. Instead of German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, those seeking refugee status today are Central American children trying to escape the narco-trafficking terror in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This US president has acted to alleviate suffering in the tradition of the message of Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…” Religious groups like my Catholic Church have taken up the cause of the child refugees. Sadly, instead of uniting the nation behind this moral response with the best of the country’s traditions, the result has been partisan bickering and xenophobic hostilities from Republicans....
The 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision of the activist Roberts’ Court has written a new law that will allow private for-profit corporations to invoke religious beliefs when determining benefits for their employees. Like all judicial decisions, this one must be analyzed for both its short-term practical and also its long-term ideological effects.
In practical terms, the decision is restricted to only a few family corporations falling within the Court’s narrowly drawn parameters. Although some 90% of US corporations are held by five or fewer owners that is only one part of the requirements imposed by Justice Alito’s majority decision, who added the need for a demonstrated history that the corporation’s economic policy is guided by religious belief. In the shark-infested economic waters of corporation competition, there are few such religiously defined companies to complicate application of the Affordable Care Act. The court indicated that the Obama Administration has already provided a blue-print for protecting conscience rights while still securing to workers the same access to birth control medical coverage as the majority of the nation. The implication is that there will be no immediate change to applying the ACA....
Many labels have been put on the tea party since the 2010 election when its members first dressed in 18th century garb and promoted themselves as modern-day patriots. A look at American history, however, suggests that the best label for the tea party is “Nativist.” Far from constituting some new movement in American politics, the tea party is a throw-back to a black hole in 19th century social movements.
Nativists first crawled into American history in the 1840s when second and third generation Anglo-American descendants from the protagonists of the War for Independence found that their social status and political influence were being diminished during the dawn of industrialization. Low-skill jobs in mines and on railroads were gobbled up by the incoming cheap labor working for starvation wages and their presence in cities created ethnic enclaves of poverty. But the immigrants could vote, creating new clusters of political power. A more serious threat came in economics. Artisans and shop-keepers were threatened by nascent corporations that feasted on exploitation of these immigrants. Unlike the established Anglo-American tradespersons, the immigrant labor sustained a new crop of factories that mass-produced commodities as different as cloth, candles and cables. Factory production undercut the traditional model of a trade that made its product in the back-room and sold it over the counter in the shop. Rather than cast blame upon the capitalist elites who were benefitting from this modernizing industrialization, Nativists denounced immigrants instead. “If they were not here, change would not be here!” ran the argument....
Welcome to the Democratic Voice of the Poconos. This is the place you will find great information from our four regular bloggers:
Stephen Washington, Adam Rodriguez, Merlyn Clarke, and Anthony Stevens-Arroyo - as well as other guest bloggers....