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The Pennsylvania Progressive

News & Notes January 29, 2015

by: John Morgan

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 12:00:23 PM EST

I had planned on retiring at the end of 2014 but here it's 2015 and I'm still going-sort of.  I kind of consider myself a part-time blogger now-semi-retired.   I'll write when health my health issues allow time and/or topics interest me.

State Treasurer Rob McCord resigned today effective Feb. 12th.  He ran for Governor last year and ran a rather hateful campaign full of personal attacks against now Governor Tom Wolf.  I suppose McCord has some shame left as he seems to feel uncomfortable working with the guy he attacked so shamelessly a year ago.

The problem with making politics personal is that afterwards you can't work together.  Even the worst ideological foes can usually find some common ground where they can work together.  After an intensely personal campaign that's impossible.  McCord made the correct decision to step down under those conditions.

Montgomery County has selected Valerie Arkoosh to succeed new Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards as County Commissioner.  The Doctor ran a good campaign for Congress last year in the Democratic primary to succeed Allyson Schwartz who resigned to run for Governor.  Brendan Boyle won the election and is now a Congressman.  She's a great choice for this post.  I saw Commissioner Josh Shapiro at the inauguration last week and he said a decision would be coming soon to fill the vacancy.

Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus has announced he is seeking re-election.  Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have major citywide elections this year.

The PA Democratic Party will be meeting Feb. 21st in Hershey for its annual endorsement meeting.  Numerous appellate Judgeships are on the ballot and some good people are running.  I know several from past campaigns and am looking forward to meeting the others.

"Guantanamo Diary" is a new book written by a prisoner at the infamous facility written from his own experiences.  This is a must read to fully understand the sub human conditions and torture we subjected these people to under the guise of "liberty."

Beware of Republicans who use the word "reform."  their definition is "to remove."  Pension reform is an issue only because the Commonwealth has failed to fully contribute as required to fund public pensions.  Now that it's at a crisis point they want to use the crisis to gut these pensions.  Let's remember that these pensions were negotiated under collective bargaining agreements and were part of people's compensation packages.  By gutting them we're retroactively voiding those contracts which were entered into in good faith by thousands of workers.  This is called dealing in bad faith and is untrustworthy.  How will we ever attract quality people to public service when we turn around and cheat them?

This is really neat:  pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show the galaxy Andromeda.  It'll make you feel very small.

The Erik Arneson affair is interesting.  He is a Republican political hack who was appointed by Gov. Corbett in the closing days of his failed Administration to head the Open Records Office.  This job requires its head to be rather non-partisan because it decides which requests for public information are allowed and which are not.  The state law creating the office designed it to rule on challenged requests arbitrarily.  I don't see how a hack can do the job impartially.

Gov. Wolf was correct in firing Arneson who I first encountered when he was working for Sen. Chip Brightbill.  I was representing Democracy For America on the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign which succeeded in bring our now outdated $7.25 minimum up two dollars an hour.  As part of that effort we staged a rally outside the Senator's office in Lebanon.  As we were leaving Arneson emerged from the building carrying a sign we'd made with our requests.  He said he was keeping it as a keepsake meaning the Senator never even saw it.  That's when I knew the man was a hack.

Corbett also made several other questionable nominations before scrambling out of the Capital.  Shell Oil flack john T. Hines was appointed to DEP's Citizens Advisory Council.  So Gov. Gasbag, as one of his final acts as Governor, put a gas company guy on the Department of Environmental Protection's Advisory Council.  That's why he's now an ex-Governor.

Sen. Bob Casey has had some bad votes but his yes vote for the Keystone XL pipeline last week gave me indigestion.  This "jobs bill" will only create 35-50 [permanent jobs and the oil it transports will be exported to China and elsewhere.  We take all the environmental risk and they get the oil (from Canada).

Why is it that Fox and CNN (fast becoming Fox Light) only broadcast Islamic terrorism?  Every time a Christian commits terrorism they never blame all Christians but when a Muslim does it all Muslims are painted with the same brush.  Based on that logic all Christians should be blamed for what the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church do.

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A New Progressive Governor Takes Office

by: John Morgan

Wed Jan 21, 2015 at 11:55:25 AM EST

I spent yesterday roaming around the Capitol building as Tom Wolf took the oath of office as Pennsylvania's 47th Governor.  Because of my recent Achilles tendon injury I hadn't gotten a ticket or press credentials because I didn't know if I'd be healthy enough to attend.  As it was I limped around using a cane and paid for it by the time I returned to Reading with a very painful ankle.  I applied some medication for the swelling though and all is well this morning.  Being on my feet remains a challenge until it fully heals.

Still it was great to be back in Harrisburg and chat and visit with many friends and legislators.  I got some interesting information, met new Chief of Staff Katie McGinty, congratulated consultant and now Director of Legislative Affairs Mary Isenhour on a spectacular job and watched the inauguration on one of several large screen televisions mounted inside the Capitol.  I remained warm on this grey, cold afternoon though it meant missing out on being able to get many good pictures.  

The former Governors in attendance were clustered in a corner outside the cafe and I got a few pictures of them.

Former Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge:

Tom Ridge photo DSCN4018_zps5553fdbf.jpg

Outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett:

Tom Corbett photo DSCN4019_zps0a07c32e.jpg

I met several of the candidates for state judgeships, chatted briefly with Dan Onorato, the Democratic candidate for Governor four years ago and many others.

Wolf campaigned on the premise that he'd give Pennsylvania a "fresh start" and that he would be "a different kind of Governor."  He already has set that tone by not residing in the Governor's Mansion but commuting from his home in nearby York County.  He will also continue using his own vehicle, the famous Jeep.  He has dictated that no one on his staff accept gifts, heresy in the cesspool of corruption which is our state capital.

He faces a Republican led legislature which increased its majorities in both the House and Senate all the while the progressive Democrat was waltzing away with the Gubernatorial race.  As such he said "We have to respect each other's ideas, each other's values" as his approach to building some sort of consensus with the other Party.

Wolf's two biggest goals are to enact a 5% extraction tax on natural gas to fund education and to change the state constitution to allow progressive taxation.   Both are poison to the many Teapublicans in the legislature.  Sen. Jake Corman dethroned longtime Senate leader Dominic Pilleggi (who may be plotting revenge) to take a harder ideological stance against Democrats.  The outlook for Wolf isn't good under these circumstances and he faces a $2.3 billion state budget deficit left over from Tom Corbett's failed administration.

Something has to get done and the way it does will set the tone for Tom Wolf's success or failure.  A dramatic success might lead him on a path to higher office.  

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Fracktivists Rally, Interrupt Inauguration

by: John Morgan

Wed Jan 21, 2015 at 11:37:08 AM EST

Anti-fracking activists took to the streets of Harrisburg yesterday calling for Governor Tom Wolf to ban fracking on the day of his inauguration.  Led by Gasland director Josh Fox, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a coalition of 90 organizations held a press conference just down the street from the Capitol.  Speakers denounced the idea that shale gas drilling is safe and called for protections against water and air pollution.  Sam Bernhardt of Food and Water Watch accused Wolf of "being overcome by the fracking industry.  He promised that fracktivists will be "a constant presence as Gov. Wolf tours Pennsylvania in 2015.

Josh Fox:

Josh Fox photo DSCN4016_zps3b2c3720.jpg

Indeed they didn't wait as they marched to the east side of the Capitol where the new Governor was being sworn into office.  There they interrupted the festivities with catcalls, whistles and chants.  It was entirely inappropriate and likely cost them much potential support for their aims.  Many of those attending the event are in positions which could influence fracking legislation, policies and even potential bans such as the State of New York just instituted.

Gov. Wolf addressed the protesters in his remarks calling on them to help him develop renewable energy sources and keep energy development clean and safe.  In this he is a striking breath of fresh air after his predecessor who was bought and paid for by the fracking industry and allowed the Commonwealth's landscape to be raped and pillaged.

Fracking Rally photo DSCN4017_zps99dc8149.jpg

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Obama Proposes Free Community College Education

by: John Morgan

Fri Jan 09, 2015 at 10:55:49 AM EST

President Obama and his leadership team are strong supporters of community colleges.  The Ivy League alumnus often has his speeches held at these institutions.  Yesterday he proposed a new program to make a two year community college education free under certain circumstances:

Students must maintain a credible gpa

Students must stay on track to graduate

Nine million students could potentially save $3500 in tuition costs under the program.  I've seen community colleges as, basically, remedial high school.  Teenagers simply don't get the same quality high school education as my generation did and many of them don't take school seriously until they're out and find they don't have the skills to obtain decent jobs.  Thus many of them return to school at community colleges to get these skills and the knowledge needed to succeed.  How often have you been to a store and when the computer was down the young clerk couldn't do basic math in their head?  Today's young people graduate from high school without basic skills we learned in elementary school.

I'm not knocking community colleges or public education.  Today's schools ahve been broken down by inattentive parents who have abdicated their parenting obligations to our teachers.  There are only so many hours in the day and when you must be both parent and teacher and have to teach to the tests the paths to success are obliterated.  Community colleges have filled this void admirably but let's not confuse them with standard four year colleges and universities in quality of education.

What these colleges do well is work with local employers to determine the skills needed for their local work forces and then teach these skills.  This is an important niche.  One flaw I see in the President's proposal is the requirement that students stay on track to graduate.  This will exclude many people attending community colleges who have to take courses erratically because of work and financial demands.  Even if this program pays their tuition many CC students have full time obs and take courses in their off time.  To make matters worse employers refuse to provide regular, predictable schedules for their employees.  How can you sign up for a course (and pay that tuition) not knowing whether you'll be able to make the classes?

From the White House:

FACT SHEET: White House Unveils America's College Promise Proposal: Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students

Nearly a century ago, a movement that made high school widely available helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world.  But other nations have matched or exceeded the secret to our success. Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy without having to take on decades of debt before they even embark on their career.

Today the President is unveiling the America's College Promise proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor's degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.

In addition, today the President will propose a new American Technical Training Fund to expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs similar to Tennessee Tech Centers that meet employer needs and help prepare more Americans for better paying jobs. These proposals build on a number of historic investments the President has made in college affordability and quality since taking office, including a $1,000 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to help working and middle class families, the creation of the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, reforming student loans to eliminate subsidies to banks to invest in making college more affordable and keeping student debt manageable, and making available over $2 billion in grants to connect community colleges with employers to develop programs that are designed to get hard-working students good jobs.

The President's Plan: Make Two Years of College as Free and Universal as High School

By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor's degree and 30 percent will require some college or an associate's degree. Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America's more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations.  They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

The America's College Promise proposal would create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college. Restructuring the community college experience, coupled with free tuition, can lead to gains in student enrollment, persistence, and completion transfer, and employment. Specifically, here is what the initiative will mean:

Enhancing Student Responsibility and Cutting the Cost of College for All Americans: Students who attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress toward completing their program will have their tuition eliminated. These students will be able to earn half of the academic credit they need for a four-year degree or earn a certificate or two-year degree to prepare them for a good job.

Building High-Quality Community Colleges: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that either (1) are academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or (2) are occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers.  Other types of programs will not be eligible for free tuition.  Colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes, such as the effective Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) programs at the City University of New York which waive tuition, help students pay for books and transit costs, and provide academic advising and supportive scheduling programs to better meet the needs of participating students, resulting in greater gains in college persistence and degree completion.

Ensuring Shared Responsibility with States: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. States that choose to participate will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate community college tuition for eligible students. States that already invest more and charge students less can make smaller contributions, though all participating states will be required to put up some matching funds. States must also commit to continue existing investments in higher education; coordinate high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions to reduce the need for remediation and repeated courses; and allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone. States will have flexibility to use some resources to expand quality community college offerings, improve affordability at four-year public universities, and improve college readiness, through outreach and early intervention.

Expanding Technical Training for Middle Class Jobs. Additionally, in order to spread the availability of high-quality and innovative programs like those in Tennessee and Texas, which achieve better than average completion and employment outcomes, the President is also proposing the American Technical Training Fund. This fund will award programs that have strong employer partnerships and include work-based learning opportunities, provide accelerated training, and are scheduled to accommodate part-time work. Programs could be created within current community colleges or other training institutions. The focus of the discretionary budget proposal would be to help high-potential, low-wage workers gain the skills to work into growing fields with significant numbers of middle-class jobs that local employers are trying to fill such as energy, IT, and advanced manufacturing. This program will fund the start-up of 100 centers and scale those efforts in succeeding years. Smaller grants would help to bring together partners and start a pilot program. Larger grants would be used for expanding programs based on evidence of effectiveness, which could include past performance on graduation rates, job placement rates and placement wages. Building on the President's community college initiative, known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants and for which 2014 was the final year of funding, these funds will help community colleges become more job-driven.

Building on State and Local Programs.  In the past year, Tennessee and the City of Chicago initiated free community college programs.  In the first year of the Tennessee program, 57,000 students representing almost 90 percent of the state's high school graduating class applied for the program. The scholarship is coupled with college counseling, mentorship, and community service that early evidence suggests supports greater enrollment, persistence and college completion.  This is coupled with efforts to spur innovation and improvement by funding colleges using performance outcomes based on student success and an innovative approach to career and technical education through the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.  These Tennessee Tech Centers have a graduation rate of 80 percent and a job placement rate of 85 percent.

Building on a Record of Progress. Since taking office, President Obama has taken steps to expand federal support to help more students afford college, while calling for a shared responsibility in tackling rising college costs. Key achievements include:

·         Doubling the Investment in Pell Grants: The President has raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,730 for the 2014-15 award year - a nearly $1,000 increase since 2008. The number of Pell Grant recipients has expanded by 50 percent over that same time.
·         Expanding Education Tax Credits: President Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2009 to assist families with the costs of college, providing up to $10,000 for four years of college tuition.

·         Pay-As-You-Earn Loans: All new borrowers can now cap loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes. The Department of Education has begun the process to amend its regulations and will make the new plan available on all direct loans by December 2015. We expect it to benefit up to 5 million borrowers.

·         First in the World Grants: In September, the Department of Education awarded $75 million to 24 colleges and universities under the new First in the World grant program to expand college access and improve student learning while reducing costs.

·         College Ratings Program: The Department of Education continues to develop a college ratings system by the 2015-2015 school year that will recognize institutions that excel at enrolling students from all backgrounds; focus on maintaining affordability; and succeed at helping all students graduate with a degree or certificate of value.

·         Job-Driven Training Grants: Through the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training program more than 1,000 institutions have received $2 billion in federal funding to design education and training programs, working closely with employers and industry that prepare workers for jobs in-demand in their regional economies, such as health care, information technology and energy. These programs have shown early success -- through the end of FY2013, among the nearly 164,000 individuals who had enrolled in these programs 88 percent either completed a program or continued the program into a second year.

·         White House Summit on Community Colleges: In October 2010, the President convened community college leaders, faculty and students; business leaders; philanthropic organizations; and other workforce development experts for the first White House summit dedicated to the role that community colleges play in our efforts to increase the number of college graduates and prepare those graduates to lead the 21st century workforce.

·         Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness: Last August, the Department of Education launched a new $10 million Institute for Education Sciences-funded Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) that is working to strengthen the research, evaluation, and support of college readiness efforts across the nation. CAPR is documenting current practices in developmental English and math education to identify innovative instructional practices that improve student success.

·         Call to Action on College Opportunity: Last December, the President, Vice President, and First Lady joined college presidents and leaders of non-profits, foundations, and other organizations to announce over 600 new commitments to produce more college graduates. Community colleges made commitments individually, and in partnership with neighboring school districts and four-year institutions, to build seamless transitions among institutions, develop clear educational and career pathways, implement strategies to increase student completion of STEM programs, and establish more accurate measures of student progress and success.

 

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Santarsiero to Run For Congress in PA-08

by: John Morgan

Fri Jan 09, 2015 at 10:40:55 AM EST

State Representative Steve Santarsiero of Bucks County announced his candidacy yesterday for the Congressional seat occupied by retiring legislator Mike Fitzpatrick.  The Eight Congressional District comprises most of Bucks and includes a large chunk of Northeast Philadelphia.  Prior to Fitzpatrick it was held by Patrick Murphy.  Kevin Strauss ran unsuccessfully last year.

Santarsiero is a proven, solid progressive with good liberal values.  He is strongly pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood.  He ran for Bucks County Commissioner prior to becoming a State Representative and has distinguished himself as a progressive voice in Harrisburg.

From his campaign:

PA State Representative, Steve Santarsiero (D-31), filed his statement of candidacy this week in preparation for a run for Congress in 2016 in the 8thCongressional district seat being vacated by Congressman Mike Fitpzatrick.  Santarsiero is a dedicated public servant committed to the community who has demonstrated his ability to win seats previously held by Republicans.   A more formal announcement will come later in the year.

After watching the Twin Towers collapse in 2001 from his office window, Santarsiero left his job at a prominent law firm to become a high school teacher in the Bensalem Township School District.  He inspired his students to get involved in their community and led by example through organizing residents to stop the Matrix development, a proposed big-box shopping center in his home town of Lower Makefield.  That experience led him to run for Township Supervisor in 2003.  He won with 55% of the vote, beating a long-time incumbent and becoming the first Democrat to serve on the Lower Makefield Board in 18 years and only the second in recent memory.  He later helped secure the first ever Democratic majority on the Board and became its chairman.

In 2008, Steve Santarsiero won an open seat in the Pennsylvania state house that had been held by a Republican since it was created in 1992.  As a state legislator, Steve earned a reputation as a reformer when he repeatedly turned down legislative perks, including per diems, state cars and free health care; pushed for campaign finance reform; wrote what became the House's new ethics rules on political activity; and became a leader on a variety of critical issues from gun safety to protecting our water and the environment to giving PA residents priority for state contracts.

"I'm excited to start preparing a campaign to represent the people of Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Congress," Santarsiero said.  "It's time we make Washington accountable to our citizens.  I will make it a priority to focus on keeping the middle class families of the 8th District secure while helping to grow our economy, create jobs and bring real reform to Washington."

State Representative Santarsiero and his wife, Ronni, have lived in Bucks County for 19 years.  They have three children, Nancy (17), Billy (15), and Johnny (11).

Former Congresswoman, Allyson Schwartz, who like Santarsiero served in the state legislature before running for Congress said, "Steve Santarsiero's entry into the race is great news for the 8th District and for our Democratic Party.  His broad support among Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters will make him a formidable candidate."

John Cordisco, Chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, and another former state legislator, echoed Rep. Schwartz's optimism.  

"Steve can win this seat.  He just won re-election to the state house by a landslide in a swing district in what turned out to be a very bad year for Democrats," Cordisco explained.  "He has a clear track record of winning in a tough district, and that's what we will need to prevail in the 2016 congressional race."

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Leak Says Kane to be Indicted

by: John Morgan

Fri Jan 09, 2015 at 10:35:43 AM EST

According to press accounts a leak from a secret grand jury says Attorney General Kathleen Kane will be indicted for leaking secret grand jury proceedings to the Philadelphia Daily News to attack an enemy.  It's ironic that the news comes via a leak.  It makes one wonder if it's really a crime after all if the PA Supreme Court grand jury, begun by former Republican Chief Justice Ronald Castille and run by GOP District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman of Montgomery County leaked this information.  Who will now investigate this leak?

If it feels like a merry-go-round it is.  Of course my issues with Kane go back to the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for AG when Kane ran false claims against her opponent Patrick Murphy.  Her campaign made blatantly false assertions about him to damage his credibility with voters.  When I called them out on it they lied about giving me the information (it was given to me in a telephone call by her campaign communications director).  Kane then lied about it on PCN when a viewer called in questioning her veracity.

Since then Kathleen Kane has been in a downward spiral due to her penchants for attacking her political foes and for lying.  She made numerous assertions about why she wouldn't prosecute numerous public officials caught on tape accepting bribes.  Philadelphia DA Seth Williams then took the case and, so far, has obtained three convictions.  Not only was the case prosecutable but Williams held a press conference and proved that Kane's assertions about the cases were all lies.

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Kane's political carreer has been like a meteor:  up quickly and then burned out in flames.  Mentioned just last year as a possible contender for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tea Bagger Pat Toomey (up for re-election next year) she now is facing disgrace and a possible criminal conviction.

Ferman has now to decide when and whether to arrest the state's sitting Attorney General.  She is not running for re-election so isn't facing dire political consequences thus she can make this decision free of that baggage.  Current MontCo Commissioner and former DA Bruce Castor (a good man) has announced his candidacy to seek his old job.  He is the minority Commissioner and being DA would give him much more job satisfaction.

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Setting America's Priorities for 2015

by: John Morgan

Sat Jan 03, 2015 at 09:10:24 AM EST

by Walter Brasch

     Marci Rosenberg, a senior speech language pathologist at the University of Michigan, earns about $73,000 a year.      
     Desmond Patton, who studies the problems of gang violence, is a professor at the University of Michigan. He earns about $80,000 a year.
     Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, who works with cerebral palsy children, is a professor at the University of Michigan. She earns about $136,000 a year.
     Ursula Jakob, a molecular biologist who is working on proteins to unlock new disease cures, is a professor at the University of Michigan. She earns about $112,000 a year
     Dan Habib works with children who have disabilities; Martha Bailey is doing research on the correlations between living in disadvantaged neighborhoods and criminal behavior; Jason DeBord, a musician, was an orchestra conductor for several Broadway plays. All are faculty members at the University of Michigan. They, like most of their colleagues, earn between $75,000 and $150,000. Several, most of whom teach in the schools of law and medicine, earn as much as two and three times the average wage of a University of Michigan professor.
     Among the faculty are 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 76 members of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the arts, several have won Grammys and Emmys. Their salaries, justifiably, are more than the average wage in the country.
     Jim Harbaugh, the newly-anointed head football coach at the University of Michigan, got a $2 million signing bonus, and will be paid $5 million a year for the first three years of a five-year contract. In the fourth and fifth years, he will receive $5.5 million; after the fifth year, he will earn another 10 percent salary boost, giving him about $6 million a year. In addition to his base salary and benefits, he will receive incentive bonuses. If his team becomes a Big 10 champion, he will earn an additional $250,000. A national championship guarantees him $500,000. He will probably earn at least several hundred thousand dollars more from endorsements.
     Most faculty have doctorates; Harbaugh has a B.A. in communications from the University of Michigan. But, he has something no other faculty member has-he was a top college and NFL quarterback; when his playing years ended, he became one of the NFL's most successful coaches. That, according to the administrators of one of the nation's finest universities, assures him of a salary greater than any earned by a professor or university research scientist-at Michigan or anywhere else in the country.
     But, even with his $5 million base salary, Harbaugh is still not as well-compensated as Nick Saban, head coach at the University of Alabama, who earned about $7.2 million last year or Mark Dantonio, head coach at Michigan State, who earned $5.6 million. Harbaugh's $5 million base pay puts him in a tie for third place with coaches for the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas and Texas A & M, according to data compiled by USA Today. The lowest salary of any of the 128 Division I football teams goes to Appalachian State's Scott Satterfield who earned a paltry $225,000 this season, about three times the average salary of all the nation's professors.
     Penn State's James Franklin earned $4.3 million base salary this year, eighth highest in the NCAA. It was about nine times greater than the final salary of legendary coach Joe Paterno, who thought $500,000 a year was about right for a Division I coach whose teams were often in bowl games, many which were in the Top 10 by the end of the season, and who had one of the highest graduation rates of any college coach.
     Collegiate football players don't receive salaries. They can earn money from work-study jobs, usually in the recreation or athletics departments, that average about 10 hours a week and pay about minimum wage. But, few first- and second-string players work during the Fall semester; their hours are filled with football and, sometimes, classes.
     Almost every Division I player is on a scholarship. Tuition at the University of Michigan is $13,486-$18,000 a year for undergraduates, depending upon which school the student attends. Room and board, if living on campus, ranges from $16,928 to $27,116, depending upon accommodations. Add in a couple of thousand dollars more for books and study/research materials. The average debt of a graduate is about $26,000, according to the university.
     The salaries of football coaches pale by comparison to what professional athletes and megacorporation executives earn. Basketballer Kobe Bryant earned $23 million last year. Of 412 pro basketball players, 340 earned more than $1 million a year. The minimum salary of a major league baseball player is $500,000; the average salary is $3.4 million, more than 15 times the average wages of board-certified family physicians. Zack Grienke, a pitcher, topped the charts with a $24 million salary. In pro football, eight quarterbacks each earned at least $18 million last season, with Aaron Rogers topping the NFL charts with a $22 million salary.
     But even the sports stars' salaries don't match those of the Scrooge McDuck CEOs. The average CEO salary is about 380 times that of the average worker's salary, according to data compiled by CNNMoney. This is the greatest wage gap in the world.
     At least 80 CEOs each earned at least $20 million in wages and compensation last year, with the CEO of Cheniere Energy earning $141.9 million.
     The average salary of a firefighter is about $43,000; for teachers, it's about $45,000; for licensed clinical social workers, it's about $51,000; for registered nurses, it's about $56,000. For physical therapists, it's about $65,000. For child care workers, it's about $18,000, according to payscale.com.
     What we pay our workers reflects what we, as a nation, consider to be our priorities. And our priorities certainly aren't in the categories of helping or teaching others.     [Dr. Brasch is professor emeritus of mass communications from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. He is a syndicated columnist and radio commentator, and the author of 20 books. His current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth look at the effects of high volume horizontal fracturing.]
 

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Kane Divorce Raising Questions

by: John Morgan

Sun Dec 28, 2014 at 16:32:20 PM EST

State AG Kathleen Kane is in trouble.  Not just from Seth Williams, the Philly DA is called her out as a liar or that investigation into whether her office revealed secret grand jury testimony.  Yes, she might get indicted for that one but her filing for divorce last week raises some interesting questions.  Her campaign still owes her husband $1,700,000 according to her 2013 year end campaign finance report.  She hasn't filed any reports this year so it's obvious she hasn't paid him off yet.  That would have generated a new report.

So what happens to her stated plans to run for re-election.  Forget for a minute that she's dead candidate walking.  How viable is she as a potential candidate?  Her ex can very possibly bankrupt her campaign committee with a simple lawsuit for repayment.  She didn't raise any funds this year and has about $592,000 cash on hand according that year old campaign finance report.  Since she hasn't filed a report since then this means her committee hasn't raised or disbursed any funds.  Her 2014 year end report should reflect this if she's following the law (a big if with this official).

So how does she run for re-election with no money?

How does anyone in their right mind contribute to her campaign knowing they're really just sending money to her ex?

Is anyone still willing to contribute to her efforts after all this bad publicity?

How many opponents are waiting to pounce knowing she's politically crippled?

There's no such thing as an amicable divorce.  The fact Chris Kane doesn't have an attorney makes me think she blindsided him with this lawsuit.  If I'm him the second thing I do is hire a civil litigator and go after my money.  That bankrupts her campaign.

Questions, questions.

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The Fracking Boom is a Fracking Bubble

by: John Morgan

Sat Dec 27, 2014 at 15:35:27 PM EST

by Walter Brasch

Gas prices have plunged to the low $2 range-except in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, the prices at the pump are in the mid-$2 range.

That's because Gov. Tom Corbett and the legislature imposed a 28-cent per gallon surcharge tax. Until 2019, Pennsylvanians will be paying an additional $2.3 billion a year in taxes and fees-$11.5 billion total-to improve the state's infrastructure. In addition to the increased tax on gas at the pumps, Pennsylvania motorists will also be spending more for license registrations, renewals, and title certificates.

For far too many years, the state's politicians of both major parties, preaching fiscal austerity-and hoping to be re-elected by taxpayers upset with government spending-neglected the roads, bridges, and other critical problems.

What the state government doesn't readily acknowledge is that much of the damage to roads and bridges has come from increased truck traffic from the fracking industry.  
The state roads, especially the section of I-80 that bisects the northern and southern halves of the state, were already in disrepair, as any long-haul trucker can attest. The addition of 40-ton fracking trucks on two-lane roads, highways and the Interstates, has added to the problem.

"The damage caused by this additional truck traffic rapidly deteriorates from minor surface damage to completely undermining the roadway base [and] caused deterioration of several of our weaker bridge structures," Scott Christie, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation, told a legislative committee in 2010. Since then, the damage has increased in proportion to the number of wells drilled into the state.  There are about 7,100 active gas wells in the state, with the cost of road repair estimated at about $13,000 to $25,000 per well.  The fracking truck traffic to each well is the equivalent of about 3.5 million cars on the road, says Christie.

Although corporations drilling into Pennsylvania have agreed to fund repairs of roads they travel that have less than two inches depth of asphalt on them, the fees don't cover the full cost of repair.  Had the state imposed an extraction tax on each well, instead of a much-lower impact tax, there would have been enough money to fund road and bridge repair without additional taxes for motorists. Every state with shale oil but Pennsylvania has an extraction tax.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, who supports fracking, says he wants the state to begin to impose those extraction taxes. The politicians, who benefitted from campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, claim the industry-and all its jobs-will leave the state if the taxes are too high.

There are several realities the oil/gas industry knows, but the politicians, chambers of commerce, and those who believe everything politicians and corporations tell them don't know or won't publicly admit knowing.

First-As long as it's economical to mine the gas, the industry won't leave the state, even if they have to pay a 5 percent extraction tax, which is at the low end of taxes charged by other states.

Second-Tthe expected $1 billion in extraction tax per year, even if the legislature approves, should not be expected. The industry has already found most of the "sweet spots," and production will likely fall off in 2015, leading to less income to the state and to leaseholders.

Third-Like a five-year-old in a candy shop, the industry salivated at the newly-found technology and gas availability and overdrilled the past four years, leading to a glut and falling prices. End of the year prices are about $3.17 per million cubic feet, down almost 30 percent from November.

Fourth-Falling prices have led to drilling not being as profitable as it could be.

Fifth-The OPEC countries have not lowered their own production of oil, and the reason for the lower  gas prices at the pumps is not because of the shale gas boom, but because of the plunging price of oil per barrel, which has declined by about 40 percent since Summer. Once oil prices fell beneath about $70-73 per barrel, American shale frackers found themselves unable to compete economically.

Sixth-To compensate for lower prices in the United States, the megacorporate drilling corporations have begun to find alternative ways to make money. One way is to build a massive maze of pipelines, and send natural gas to refineries in Philadelphia and the Gulf Coast, changing the gas into the extremely volatile liquefied natural gas (LNG), putting it onto ships, and exporting it to countries that are willing to pay more than three times what Americans are paying for natural gas. However, there is an unexpected twist. The OPEC low-cost oil has led to a severe drop in Russia's economy and value of the ruble. Gazprom, the Russian-owned world's largest gas supplier, is now forced to drop its own prices to be competitive, and has been developing plans to provide gas to Europe and Asia, especially China where American gas is headed, at a price that makes it uneconomical to do long-term contracts.

Seventh-The banks and investment lenders are getting testy. Because of overdrilling, combined with inflated estimates of how much gas really is in the Marcellus Shale, corporations have found themselves in trouble. Many corporations have begun cutting their drilling operations; others have already left the state, burdened by debt to the lending institutions; some corporations have sold parts of their operations or declared bankruptcy.

Eighth-The jobs promised by the politicians, the various chambers of commerce, and the industry never met the expectations. Gov. Tom Corbett claimed 240,000 additional jobs. The reality is the increase in jobs is about one-tenth of that; more important, most of the full-time jobs on the rigs and well pads are taken by workers  from Texas and Oklahoma who have extensive experience in drilling; most of the other jobs are temporary, and layoffs have already begun.

Ninth-The fracking boom for Pennsylvania is more like the housing bubble.  At first, the availability of mortgages looked like a boom. However, a combination of greedy investors and lending institutions with almost no governmental oversight, combined by a client base of ordinary people who were lured into buying houses with inflated prices they couldn't afford, led to the Great Recession.  Those who didn't learn from the housing bubble guaranteed the fracking boom would become a fracking bubble.

Tenth-The continued push for fossil fuel development, and more than $4 billion in governmental subsidies, slows the development of renewable energy, while escalating the problems associated with climate change and brings the world closer to a time when global warming is irreversible.

Finally, but most important-The fracking industry doesn't acknowledge that this newer process to extract gas, which has been viable less than a decade, is destroying the environment, leading to increased climate change, and putting public health at risk, something that dozens of independent scientific studies are starting to reveal. It was a 154-page analysis of public health implications, conducted by the New York Department of Health, and based upon scientific and medical studies, that led New York this month to ban all drilling-and infuriate many politicians and some landowners who were expecting to make extraordinary wealth by leasing mineral rights beneath their land to the gas companies. Of course, they didn't look to their neighbor to the south to learn the wealth promised was never as much as the royalties delivered and that many landowners now say they should never have given up their mineral rights and the destruction of the land and farms that came with it.

Until prices stabilize, Americans are paying lower prices for gas at the pump; Pennsylvanians are also paying lower prices, but not as low as the rest of the country.

And the politicians and industry front groups continue to foolishly claim there are no environmental or health effects from horizontal fracking, only blue sky and rainbows of riches.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist and the author of 20 books, is a specialist on the effects of fracking. His critically-acclaimed book, Fracking Pennsylvania, is now in its second edition. The book is available from Greeley & Stone Publishers; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; or local independent bookstores.]

   

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Kane Isn't Able

by: John Morgan

Sat Dec 27, 2014 at 15:34:46 PM EST

Attorney General Kathleen Kane's political career is dead.  The once rising star made a major miscalculation when she revealed an undercover sting operation begun by her predecessor would not lead to further action by her team.  She called it a failed investigation fraught with racism and said it was unprosecutable.  Philadelphia DA Seth Williams took that failed case and has already indicted two of its targets and has a grand jury investigating more.  State Representatives Vanessa Lowery Brown and Ronald Waters are currently facing the music.  So much for a case which was unprosecutable.

As if this isn't enough she had to testify before a grand jury investigating leaks from her office about secret grand jury testimony which her office made public.  Then Williams revealed that numerous statements she made publicly about the investigation she dropped were lies.  Not that this surprised me because I outed her as a liar in the Democratic primary election when she ran for this office.  I hate to say this but I told you so.

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Restoring Trust In Police

by: John Morgan

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 16:04:54 PM EST

Relations between African Americans and police have been bad ever since, well, who really knows when it began.  Maybe during slavery when Blacks were forcibly returned to bondage after escaping their horrid situations.  Maybe during segregation when local cops who were also members of the Klan looked away or participated in massive civil rights violations.  Maybe those same cops who helped lynch Blacks and cops today who don't think twice before killing Blacks.  It's been a long, dark history of bad relations which is manifesting itself in the civil disobedience and rioting we're witnessing as a result of too many killings and not enough justice.

How do we begin to mend these relationships, how do we police the police and how do we begin to build trust in the Black community?  Stop and Frisk has been a major factor in distrust and the mass incarceration of Blacks and the targeting of the Black community for drug enforcement when we know drug use is evenly split among all classes and races have both contributed to the problem.

Police forces are responsible to the community.  Voters must elect responsible Mayors and town council members who will oversee, hire and train their police forces properly.  One of the problems in Ferguson has been the apathy of the African American population in this regard.  With only a 15% voter turnout in its last Mayoral election they abdicated their responsibility to elect a Mayor who would see to their concerns.  Now they have an oppressive police department which thinks it has a license to kill any Black man it sees walking down the street.  It not only thinks so, it did.  With impunity.

Officer Darren Wilson not only got away with murder he is now a millionaire as a result (thanks ABC).  So the message sent is that a cop can become a millionaire by shooting to death any Black man he wants.  We just reinforced this perception and made the matter worse.

The first step, as I see it is for citizens to get involved locally.  First of all we need to vote and educate ourselves as to each candidate.  Go to campaign events, call in and question them during TV appearances or in public places and ascertain what their attitudes are regarding community relations and police oversight.  The police serve US and unless we hold them accountable (and those to whom they report) we are part of the problem.

Find out how your community police would react to a Ferguson situation.    Is your local force militarized and how would they respond?  Be proactive about this, not reactive.  By that I mean start NOW by asking questions.  Don't wait until a Michael Brown is killed in your community and it becomes Ferguson.

The White House stepped up today with a program of its own:

FACT SHEET: Strengthening Community Policing

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect.  As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.

In August, President Obama ordered a review of federal funding and programs that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).  Today, the Obama Administration released its Review:  Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition, and the President is also taking a number of steps to strengthen community policing and fortify the trust that must exist between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

White House Review: Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition
Today, the White House released its review which provides details on the programs that have expanded over decades across multiple federal agencies that support the acquisition of equipment from the federal government to LEAs.  During the course of its review, the White House explored whether existing federal programs:
provide LEAs with equipment that is appropriate to the needs of their communities,
ensure that LEAs have adequate policies in place for the use of the equipment and that personnel are properly trained and certified to employ the equipment they obtain, and
encourage LEAs to adopt organizational and operational practices and standards that prevent misuse/abuse of the equipment.

The report finds a lack of consistency in how federal programs are structured, implemented and audited, and informed by conversations with stakeholders, identifies four areas of further focus that could better ensure the appropriate use of federal programs to maximize the safety and security of police officers and the communities they serve:  1) Local Community Engagement, 2) Federal Coordination and Oversight, 3) Training Requirements, and 4) The Community Policing Model.

Consistent with the recommendations in the report, the President instructed his staff to draft an Executive Order directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations within 120 days.  Some broad examples of what process improvements agencies might implement as a result of further collaborative review include:

Develop a consistent list of controlled property allowable for acquisition by LEAs and ensure that all equipment on the list has a legitimate civilian law enforcement purpose.

Require local civilian (non-police) review of and authorization for LEAs to request or acquire controlled equipment.

Mandate that LEAs which participate in federal equipment programs receive necessary training and have policies in place that address appropriate use and employment of controlled equipment, as well as protection of civil rights and civil liberties.  Agencies should identify existing training opportunities and help LEAs avail themselves of those opportunities, including those offered by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and the International Association of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

Require after-action analysis reports for significant incidents involving federally provided or federally-funded equipment.

Harmonize federal programs so that they have consistent and transparent policies.

Develop a database that includes information about controlled equipment purchased or acquired through Federal programs.

Click HERE (>http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/federal_support_for_local_law_enforcement_equipment_acquisition.pdf<) for the White House's review of Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition.

Task Force on 21st Century Policing
The President similarly instructed his team to draft an executive order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and announced that the Task Force will be chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, and Laurie Robinson, professor at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Office of Justice Programs.  The Task Force will include, among others, law enforcement representatives and community leaders and will operate in collaboration with Ron Davis, Director of DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office. The Task Force will build on the extensive research currently being conducted by COPS; will examine, among other issues, how to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust; and will be directed to prepare a report and recommendations within 90 days of its creation.

Community Policing Initiative
The President also proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage.  Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras. The initiative as a whole will help the federal government efforts to be a full partner with state and local LEAs in order to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.


 
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The Pennsylvania Republican Party split

by: nicksones

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 11:30:16 AM EST

The latest shake up within the Pennsylvania Republican Party leadership in the legislature shows just how fragile the party is, and that there is a splintering of Republican politicos. I am talking about Jake Corman defeating Dominic Pileggi for the Senate Majority Leader position in the state Senate.

Corman's win shows that the Republican Party is going to become harder lined. Now I can hear those going on about how the PA GOP won the Senate and the House here in Pennsylvania, and to some Republicans they may feel that the party has a right to take a hardline conservative approach to policymaking. However, the state GOP should also factor in that they no longer have a rubber stamp within the Governor's mansion.

The fracturing of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania can be seen as good for Democrats and bad for Republicans. It shows that the state GOP is vulnerable and that not everyone is willing to get along and play nice when it comes to state Republican Party leadership wishes, which further shows that the state GOP is vulnerable and that Governor elect Wolf has a chance to get victories on certain policy agenda points since not everyone is on the Senate Majority Leader Corman band wagon. So it may be that Senator Pileggi becomes a quick ally to Governor Elect Tom Wolf.  

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The Ferguson Verdict

by: John Morgan

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 10:34:36 AM EST

On August 9th we were arriving back in Santa Fe after a vacation excursion to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and mesa Verde National Park.  Michael Brown was being shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri by police officer Darren Wilson.  Riots broke out throughout the St. Louis area as news broke that Brown had his hands up when the cop shot him.  The killing of unarmed Black men by police has become epidemic in America as racism rears its ugly head in opposition to a Black President.

I wasn't able to watch the television coverage of the riots because the casita where I was staying didn't have a TV but I did follow it on social media and through the New York Times.  Yesterday a grand jury decided no charges were to be filed against the police officer and more unrest followed.  Confronting violence with violence runs counter to everything Ghandi and martin Luther King Jr. have taught us.  Sometimes tempers flare however and great injustice demands civil disobedience.  That should never include violence though.  Looting, shootings and theft of other's property won't win any converts to one's arguments.

We know we live in an era of The New Jim Crow where mass incarceration fueled by unconstitutional stop and frisk harassment by police is funded by federal government grants.  Growing up in America as a Black man is dangerous to one's health and well being even in the 21st century.  America hasn't really come very far in terms of race relations.  The virulent statements and deeds by the KKK regarding Ferguson amidst other threats to the President and other African Americans is ample evidence.

Speaking of evidence the grand jury decision came as no surprise to many.  There simply aren't any consequences when white cops shoot African American men.  The testimony was taken by a grand jury which worked in secrecy with no cross examination of witnesses.  The lack of transparency makes it all suspicious which will only feed the sense that justice was denied.  If the prosecutor really wanted to pursue justice in this case he should have filed charges against Darren Wilson and let an open and public jury trial determine the evidence and render a verdict.  The Brown family, the people of Ferguson and the Black community nationwide was denied such justice.

Why is it we hardly ever hear of unarmed White men being gunned down by cops?  The militarization of police became a national issue because of Ferguson.  Many community activists and leaders have questioned the wisdom of such tactics following the vast over reaction seen on televisions by millions.  This may be the only good that comes from Ferguson.  Yesterday "verdict" was a shame.

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Fellow Americans, I Need Your Help

by: John Morgan

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 20:41:09 PM EST

This is a guest column by Ed Cowan

We Americans are the largest, most-powerful democracy on a fragile planet floating in space with no one in charge, no one in politics or media talking about our most serious problems, and our morning and evening news dominated by the latest shootings, stalemated politics, ebola, and the latest news from G.B's royal family.
I'm a writer/thinker who has been published in Australia, Europe, and the U.S., and in 2012 as one of 14 candidates, I finished second to Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary.  I campaigned by passing out 650 copies of my Campaign Speech, asking the recipients to pass it on if they liked what they read, spending $680, mainly gas and copies, and winning 945 votes, an unheard of 1.39 votes per dollar spent.
That tiny slice of Democratic voters exposed to my ideas-650 people-liked what they read because I offer ideas in black and white and proposals that challenge you to come up with something better.  I don't have the answers; I only have ideas.  Consider this trio:
1. We're not using media, electronic communication, to it's full potential.  We begin to do so when we ask every head of state and every national politician in every nation this question, here addressed to President Obama:
2. "Do you agree, Mr. President, that the top five problems of the planet are:
1) the nuclear-tipped arms race, number one because it is the only problem that can destroy us (with ozone coming up quickly on the outside rail) and because by solving it, we can save trillions of dollars,
2) excessive population and population growth,
3) the stagnant, self-cannibalizing, super-wasteful, wholly corporate, global, market economy,
4) disparity between the rich and poor within nations and disparity between nations. and
5) the Environment, the Master of Ceremonies Problem that never leaves us, that we solve only in degree, and if you do not agree Mr. President, what are the top five problems of the planet and where, sir, is your plan to solve them?"  

Obama may delay in answering, but if so, we could quickly find that Congressmen in both houses and other heads of state begin to answer the question, provoking the international debate we desperately need.
3.   The President can also spike the international punch bowl of nonexistence debate with this action.  We wake up one Monday morning soon to find on our TV Obama standing next to a table of 20 nuclear nosecones from American missiles.  He asks the I.A.E.A., the International Atomic Energy Association, to come to verify that they are nukes and to monitor them 24/7 before TV & www cameras until they are dismantled and placed in a repository.  Obama gives the other seven nuclear heads of state 72 hours to match his move with the same conditions and these numbers for each of the nuclear nations: Russia 20, China 6, France 4, Great Britain and Israel 2, and India and Pakistan 1 each.
What next?  I give up; what?  Again, I don't have the answers; we do!  It's a mighty big we, folks; the five billion adults who get it done daily-who work, raise a family, vote, and act locally-have the answers.  The professionals, experts, and enlightened politicians will do the heavy lifting, but the rest of us can vote and contribute in our own way.  It begins with you; if you like what you read, visit ed@edcowansgreatideas.com, maybe make a purchase ($5 minimum), and copy and pass on this sheet.  Thank you, Ed Cowan
Fellow Democrats: Late November 2014
Okay, we lost a mid-term election.  Because the GOP offers nothing for the common man, they are setting themselves up for a crash in 2016 if we Democrats offer a candidate with better ideas in black and white that begin to solve America's problems.  The Democrats of New Hampshire that I handed my single-sheet Campaign Speech liked it so much that 650 copies got me 945 votes.  The American people want our problems SOLVED.  If you like what you read and want to be part of it, pass this sheet!  HAVE SPEECH; WILL TRAVEL.  EC

                                    Obama Places Twenty Nuclear Weapons on the Table
                                                                           Ed Cowan
President Obama could make a huge positive mark on human history if he appeared at dawn on a bright spring morning at Andrews Air Force Base, standing beside a table with twenty nuclear nose cones from U.S. missiles.  The following words are a suggestion of what he might say:
"Good morning.  As we welcome the sunrise of a new dawn, I would like to announce the dawn of a truly new era.  These are nuclear nosecones taken from twenty armed American missiles.   It is time to begin to eliminate the nuclear arsenals that threaten all higher life on the planet, so I ask the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, to immediately send inspectors to verify, monitor, and provide constant vigilance 24/7 as we move these nukes to Western repositories.
"Second, I respectfully demand that President Putin match my move by putting twenty strategic Russian nosecones before the cameras and request that the IAEA send inspectors to verify and monitor the Russian weapons.  Hopefully, this will be the first step of a process in which the U.S. and Russia will reduce our nuclear stockpiles to twenty nuclear weapons, ten in each nation, within six years.
"Third, China must match the superpowers with four strategic nosecones before their cameras.  France will place three before the cameras, Great Britain and Israel two, and India and Pakistan one.  All of these warheads in the eight nuclear nations musts be monitored by IAEA inspectors 24/7 and be broadcast on TV and internet channels worldwide until we develop well-regulated arms reduction.
"My fourth point: We know North Korea has a handful of nuclear weapons and that Iran wanted nuclear weapons until their 2014 change in Government.  However, as soon as the eight nuclear nations place warheads before the cameras and begin reductions with parity as the guiding principle, humanity is reducing nuclear weapons.  Then, no non-nuclear nation has a need for or right to nuclear weapons.  North Korea will dismantle their weapons, and Iran will allow entry to IAEA inspectors to monitor their nuclear activity.
"I'm confident this is the right move and the non-nuclear world will applaud loudly.  I say to everyone worldwide, 'Let us hear from you!  The more you applaud, the more you pressure all nuclear nations to match this move by the U.S.'  Thank you; I'll now take questions."
    Consider the reaction internationally to Obama's bold move, or, if he ponders for days as these ideas are discussed nationally, another nuclear head of state could act first and pressure the others to follow.  The non-nuclear world-with everything to lose and nothing to gain from nukes-will applaud loudly, pressuring the reluctant seven to follow.
By coughing up 20 each, Russia and the U.S. will be reducing only a tiny fraction of each superpower's arsenals, and the other six nuclear nations will be reducing about 1% of their arsenals.  The numbers themselves only become very important once every nation has to reveal the exact nuclear weapons in its arsenal in later stages of disarmament.
This unprecedented step would become the most important positive develop in the sixty-nine years of the nuclear age, for once humanity starts to reduce nuclear arsenals under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors, everything changes for the non-nuclear nations that aspire to come nuclear nations, such as North Korea and possibly Iran.  Every nation no Earth has the right to build nuclear weapons as long as the U.S. and Russia have that right.  That is just basic cannon sense and fairness.
However, as soon as the U.S. and Russia put twenty on the table and are followed by the other nuclear nations, reducing nuclear stockpiles becomes the goal of all nuclear powers because nuclear weapons are dangerous, useless in any reasonable sense, and even suicidal.  To use them is to invite massive retaliation.  A limited nuclear war or serious nuclear terrorism is a threat to the well being of the planet, for all major rivers run into the sea.

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Executive Orders 101

by: John Morgan

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 13:23:24 PM EST

President Obama is being vilified by the Right for his use of Executive Orders, especially this week on immigration issues.  These idiots don't understand how government works so here's a basic lesson in civics.  The President is in charge of the Executive branch of the federal government.  As such it is his responsibility to run the governmental agencies and departments which carry out programs, services, regulatory bodies, etc.  He does this through the issuance of Executive Orders much as a corporate CEO does.

 photo executive-orders_chart_zpsb3280fb8.png

Interestingly conservatives who, for years, have argued that government should be run more like business don't seem to comprehend that a President or a Governor is much like a CEO.  Every President issues Executive Orders because that's how our government operates.  In reality Barack Obama has issued far fewer Executive Orders than any of his recent predecessors.  (See the above graphic)

He acted on immigration because the GOP House has refused, for 17 months, to act on a bipartisan bill which passed the Senate.  The Teapublicans have refused to bring the bill to a vote.  Therefore Obama did what every President since Eisenhower has done: acted on immigration matters unilaterally through his constitutional powers to run the federal government.  It is his job to run ICE along with every other federal agency.  

Obama said this the other day about the Republican's inaction:

"It has now been 512 days, a year and a half, in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk, so I can sign the bill, is a simple yes or no vote in the House of Representatives," Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd.

Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other President in recent history.  
 photo deportationremovals_zps21b62d56.jpeg

It is impossible though to deport 12 million people, many of whom didn't sneak over the border.  About 38% of undocumented immigrants in this country simply overstayed their visas.  The cost to round up, detain and deport twelve million people would be staggering.  Considering conservatives long standing opposition to paying taxes this argument is interesting.  They're certainly not willing to pay for such staggering costs.  Perhaps they think we can simply snap our fingers, say some magic words and have them all disappear.  Wait, didn't Hitler try that with the Jews?

Five million of these people the President has chosen not to deport are family members who have close relations, parents or children, who are here legally.  Deporting them would break up family units.  Many more are children who were brought here illegally by their parents.   I did a TV show on BCTV earlier this year with two young women who are covered by his DACA Executive Order.

For people who claim to be all about "family values" the eagerness of conservatives to break up families is offensive.

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