Get Your Red Hot Whiney Excuses Here!

Billionaire Jeff Lurie and his Philadelphia Eagles are still dodging a $8MM bill they owe the City of Philadelphia at a time when the city is closing libraries. Affidavits have now been given and we hear, for the first time, that there was a verbal deal with the last Mayor, who simply wasn’t trustworthy. Yes, it’s whiney excuses all the way.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Jeff Lurie is a Billionaire, recently assessed as so by Fortune Magazine. He owns my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. And it appears he has a bunch of whiney excuses why he and his Philadelphia Eagles will continue to doge paying what they owe.

The Philadelphia Eagles have owed the City of Philadelphia $8 Million for at least nine years, and they’ve been delaying the payment of that bill for a long time. Yesterday, after several years of “no comment,” the Eagles finally revealed their strategy. Evidently the money was unelected in the mail by the dog, or something like that. Yeah, we’re talking a whiney excuse for not paying what Jeff Lurie and the Philadelphia Eagles owe, an excuse that rests on verbal agreements made by someone who doesn’t have the power to make such agreements. There’s a report in the Philadelphia Daily News, but this one is from KYW 1060:

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie says the city reneged on a never-before disclosed private deal between him and then-Mayor John Street to settle the dispute over Veterans Stadium sky box revenues.

The city has long contended that the Eagles owed $8 million over the sky box earnings.

But Lurie and team president Joe Banner have now filed affidavits in Common Pleas Court, in which they say they struck the verbal deal with Street through intermediaries during Street’s first term. Under terms of the deal, according to the affidavits, the Eagles would pay the city an unspecified amount less than $1 million to settle the matter.

Lurie’s attorney, Tom Leonard, says despite the agreement, John Street never abided by that deal for the remaining years of his tenure. Now, Leonard says, Lurie wants a judge to enforce that agreement:

“The people who were in the room are all prepared to testify that there was a deal. A deal is a deal, and it should be enforced.”

The affidavits do not specify when the agreement was reached. Leonard believes it occurred in late 2000. Banner and Lurie claim that verbal agreement was made during the negotiations between the Eagles and the city over construction of the new stadium, and they stipulate that the sky box agreement helped seal the stadium deal.

Let’s see. The Eagles are maintaining they don’t owe $8MM. After never mentioning a deal with former mayor John Street supposedly made nine years ago (a deal that Street arguably didn’t have the power to make), the Eagles want to force the city to live up to that deal.

Some disclaimers. My wife and I are Eagles season ticket holders, and we’re eager to show our new son Lincoln Financial Field when the NFL season starts. Yes, we are rabid fans who will take a baby to a football game, at least a pre-season one. After that adventure, we’ll reevaluate. We met at an Eagles game, and we’re rabid enough to go to playoff games that cost a ton of cash. But.

I do not jump up and criticize the Philadelphia Eagles every time they make a bonehead player move. Now let me tell you, that shows remarkable restraint around these parts where screaming about the weak wide receiver corps or the lack of a fullback is a full-time job for some fans. I am not a TATEr. (I’ll let someone else explain that term.) But I am a citizen who expects my fellow citizens to pay their taxes.

As such, Jeff Lurie offends me. I rail on this web page about whiney excuses all the time, and the Eagles can’t even figure out which whiney excuse to use here. I am offended, both as a fan and a citizen of Philly. But I am a fan of the Eagles team, and am proud of the players who take the field on game day. I had always assumed that I could be proud of the organization from the top down. That no longer holds.

Jeff Lurie and the Eagles, according to their story, basically put faith in ex-Mayor John Street to hold to an agreement he wouldn’t even put in writing. That’s simply stupid. More than dodging taxes and giving out whiney excuses, the Eagles should be disrespected because they trusted John Street to hold to a verbal agreement. I mean, owner Lurie and team President Joe Banner live here! They know John Street. They know trusting that guy to carry out a verbal agreement he wasn’t even authorized to make is madness. If they really believed they could trust then they are flat out stupid.

All hail and praise goes to Brendan Skwire, who has been pushing this issue for a while.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The Violent, Bitter GOP Fringe, Free Republic, and Arlen Specter

It is not uncommon for Free Republic whack jobs to call for Obama’s head, but it is odd that the founder of the web site warns those extremists to be cautious lest they attract the Secret Service. Isolated whack jobs on one hand, surely, but in PA the whack jobs are gunning for one of the last GOP moderates, Arlen Specter.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is not news that there are violent whack jobs on the fringe of the Republican Party. The last Presidential campaign gave us plenty of evidence, and we don’t really need Alexandra Pelosi’s film to tell us not only that there are extremist whack jobs out there on the Republican fringe, but that those whack jobs can be pretty disturbing in their use of language. It is easy to slough it off and imaging that these whackjobby fringe types are not a factor in Republican politics, that they might lionize Ann Coulter, but the GOP does not in fact listen to the whackjobbiness in any serious way. But the violent speech gives one pause.

It isn’t just the hanging of Obama in effigy that we’re talking about here, an act evidently perpetrated a few times among the GOP fringe last fall. It isn’t just the persistence in GOP whack jobs believing Obama is a communist, that he is a Muslim, that he is not a citizen, etc. All that is whackjobby enough, but the threats of violence on perhaps the most popular place for Republicans to vent is becoming disturbing. That place is Free Republic, and this weekend the founder of Free Republic had to go online and warn his people about how they used the threatening language against Obama. According to a report on DailyKos, here’s Jim Robinson, founder of Free Republic:

Unfortunately, we are saddled with a communist sympathizer in the White House. I don’t know whether or not he’s an actual card carrying commie, but he’s definitely an America-hating, anti-capitalist Marxist leftist who thinks communism is the way to go. Now I remember when America used to fight against communism. It wasn’t that long ago. Many of us on FR are veterans of wars against communism and some of us believe that American citizens who are communists are the enemy within, ie, the domestic enemy we’ve sworn to defend against. American citizen? hmmmm… that may be a loophole for Obama.

At any rate, the oath is to defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I can imagine that this places an enormous strain on our Secret Service agents. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that Obama is an enemy of the constitution. So should the SS defend the constitution or defend the anti-constitution commie?

So now comes the problem. If you feel it’s your duty to call Obama a traitor and use salty language in your proposed resolution, ie, suggest the commie be keelhauled, walked off the plank, run up the yardarm, tarred and feathered and run out of Dodge, etc, etc, etc, you may be facing a visit from your friendly Secret Service. And even though your visiting agent may agree politically, and may take his oath to the constitution seriously, he’s still sworn to protect the officeholder and it’s his duty to take all threats seriously. And that may include serving me with a subpoena to turn over your IP address. Now I’m duty bound to protect your privacy to the best of my ability, but I cannot defend against stupidity.

Best advice I can give is to keep it to yourself. Don’t post anything that may embarrass you later, or end you up in the slammer.

Ever vigilant.

Keep your powder dry.

For those of you not on the NRA bandwagon, “keep your powder dry” means that you should make sure those firearms work well, just in case you have to use them. Some might characterize the above as Jim Robinson warning his users not to bandy about violent threats against Barack Obama, but I’m thinking he’s warning these folks that they might be caught. That’s not all that subtle a distinction, really. It isn’t that he thinks people should believe in something other than violence, but that he doesn’t want to be in the way when the Secret Service comes.

Hey, this could be an internet thing. the folks at DailyKos just love to take off on the violent tendencies of the right wing whack jobs over at Free Republic. They do it here and here in addition to the link from above. And, no, I do not want to minimize the violent threats as just “salty talk,” as Jim Robinson does, but I’m thinking this tit for tat, back and forth about violent imagery on web sites isn’t constructive unless we show how it applies to a real election. To that end, the plight of Senator Arlen Specter, here in the land of God, guns and bitterness, might show how the extremists here represent a shift in the GOP.

Arlen Specter has been a stalwart member of the GOP in the Senate for a long time. Some would say he is a moderate, and some would say he is the last moderate Republican out there. They’d say he is an endangered species, and one that may soon become extinct. Hey, Spector was challenged in the 2004 primary by Pat Toomey, of the extremist Club for Growth, and he won by 2% in that race, and Toomey is thinking of another challenge to Specter. The notion among Republicans is that Specter’s support of Barack Obama’s stimulus plan makes Specter a traitor to the God, guns and bitterness crowd here in PA, and that puts Arlen Specter in some deep trouble. Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer goes so far as to advise Specter that he may as well just become a Democrat, if he is to succeed in being elected to another term.

It was not that ugly language of the whack jobs on Free Republic that got me thinking this weekend, not really. It wasn’t that they seemed to follow the lead of Limbaugh and Coulter rather than the saner heads purporting to lead the Republican Party (though I’ll admit it seems impossible to find Republican leaders who do not bow down to Limbaugh). I began thinking this weekend about Specter. I attended a party Saturday where there were several big Specter donors in the crowd, but even they seemed to have moved towards Obama, wondering perhaps whether Specter can weather the storm among his own Republicans here in PA. Polman of the Inquirer yesterday put the issue starkly:

Like magic, the target on your backside would disappear. Pennsylvania’s increasingly conservative Republican electorate is gunning for you – thanks to your support for the Obama-Democratic stimulus plan, your other perceived heresies, and for any heresies yet to come (including your potential support for a hot-button bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize). They want to take you down in an expensive primary next spring, and perhaps Toomey will be their instrument.

You did beat him in a primary in 2004, by a mere two points, but I doubt that would happen again, if only because so many moderate Pennsylvanians in recent years have left the GOP and signed up with the Democrats. Hundreds of thousands have switched teams. Those were your people; in 2010, they won’t be eligible to participate in the primary and help you survive another blood feud.

You spoke recently about that dilemma, saying, “I’m going to deal with it as best I can. I’m trying to get people to change back and be Republicans.” Face it, senator, they’re not changing back. Not as long as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are cracking the whip; not as long as their most visible strategic guru is Newt Gingrich, the polarizer who was forced out of power more than 10 years ago.

Senator, most of the remaining Pennsylvania primary voters lean strongly rightward. Last month, 66 percent of statewide Republicans told a pollster that they want you gone. They think of you as “Benedict Arlen,” and one top conservative group, mindful of your vote on the economic-stimulus package, dubbed it “the ultimate act of treason” and named you “Comrade of the Month” – a nickname that demonstrates that Red-baiting has survived the fall of the Soviet Union.

So perhaps you should consider whether it’s worthwhile to drain your campaign coffers and put up with this grief. The Republicans seem determined to reduce themselves to a state of powerless purity, so, fine – let them nominate a conservative Senate candidate who would get waxed statewide. And you’d do the waxing, buoyed by the fact that Democrats in Pennsylvania now outnumber Republicans by 1.23 million, more than double the margin of 2004, when you last ran.

Now I do not expect Arlen Specter to abandon the Republican Party. It is in his blood. And I’ll not mourn much if Specter loses a primary fight to Pat Toomey, for that will surely ensure that whoever the Democrats nominate here in PA for the Senate will win. I am confident that the God, guns and bitterness segment of the PA electorate, and of the American electorate as a whole, are marginalizing themsleves, led by Limbaugh and Hannity and Coulter and a whole slew of rabid extremists. No, I’ll not mourn Arlen Specter much. But I wonder, as I think we all do, when the Republican Party begins to understand that extremism is not the cup of tea from which the American electorate wishes to sip. There are few moderates left in the GOP, and they will need those moderates if they have hopes of ever righting their skewed ship. It will be all the more difficult for the Republican Party if they chase away every moderate still loyal before they get that message.

Meanwhile, the whack job element still screeches. They believe in the conspiracy theories, toss around words like “socialist” and “communist,” veil their threats against Obama with little art, and are egged on by FauxNews, Limbaugh and the rest of the “let America fail” set. It is becoming increasingly clear that the ship they are steering onto the rocks is not the American ship with Obama at the tiller, but the GOP ship, with no clear captain to take the blame for the pending disaster.

Monday, March 9th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Legislature in PA Gets Gifts, of Expensive Bibles

To honor their swearing in the legislators in Pennsylvania were presented with an expensive bible to keep. Meanwhile schools and parks and empoyees in the state are suffering. The legislature pleads tradition, and I plead that they should let them all find the unemployment line.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Holy Separation of Church and State, Batman! Is there a fiscal revrsal button on my utility belt?

The state of Pennsylvania, undergoing huge budget cuts despite the relief brought by the Obama stimulus package, bought each of its state legislators, get this, a bible. Evidently this is a tradition here, to lavish beautiful gifts on the legislators. Screw them. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

With the state sinking deeper into a fiscal hole, the Pennsylvania General Assembly bought 220 Bibles and other holy books for legislators as they took the oath of office last month.

And the public paid for them – roughly $13,700 in all.

“Holy Moses,” said Eric Epstein, a Harrisburg activist and founder of, when told about the bulk purchase. “By the time you arrive at this station in your life, you shouldn’t need the taxpayers to pay for your moral boarding pass.”

The House chief clerk and Senate secretary said yesterday that it was a tradition dating back decades for lawmakers to receive a personalized holy book, courtesy of the public, at the start of their terms.

The Pennsylvania has no business buying them bibles or the Aventures of Huckleberry Finn. Frankly, I’d like to see the Senators and House members get a book by Suze Orman, or something like that. Good fiscal responsibility and a bit of alternative lifestyle, to boot.

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Politics - Pa.

More GOP Fracturing and Stupidity

In the former Republican stronghold of Delaware County, PA there are defections from the Republican Party. Seems some Repubs want to think for themselves. Meanwhile, another Repub whack job has surfaced in Utah, like that’s a surprise, and Aerosmith is rebuking the House Repubs and taking their “saddle” away.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Delaware County, Pa has been reliably Republican for a long time, but that’s been shifting of late. Curt Weldon fell to a scandal and Joe Sestak, and the county even elected a Democrat to the PA House in Bryan Lentz. But the Republicans have still held a tight grip on local offices, such as the County Commission and particularly in Newtown. That strong local Republican leadership is now fracturing. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

John “Jack” DiPompeo, a Newtown Township supervisor and lifelong Republican, took an emotional trip to the Delaware County Bureau of Elections in Media last Friday.
Fed up with what he considers bullying by county Republicans, DiPompeo switched parties, making him the first Democrat in recent memory to sit on the Board of Supervisors in Newtown.

“It’s a very hard thing personally to do,” DiPompeo said. “I’m walking away from stuff I’ve believed in all my life. But my feeling is, really, I didn’t desert the party. The party deserted me.”

DiPompeo and John Custer, a former Republican supervisor who says the Delco GOP forced him off the board two years ago, are now running for two open supervisor seats as Democrats. They also want to convince like-minded Newtown Republicans to jump ship and follow them to the Democratic Party.

“We have hundreds who say they’re just dying to do it,” said John Battista, 62, another new Democrat who has been involved in Newtown local politics for decades and who plans to run Custer and DiPompeo’s campaign. “None of us have anything to gain from what we’re doing. If we didn’t think the people were behind us, we wouldn’t do it.”

It is important for Democrats, of course, to make headway both with national elections and with local elections, so this is good news. What’s interesting is the response of the Republican bigwigs in the area. Michael Gillen leads the Newtown Republicans, and he had this to say:

“It doesn’t sound like they’re really committed to the Republican philosophy they claim they were,” Gillin said.

If the Republican philosophy is that Custer and DiPompeo should not be allowed to think as they wish, to back candidates they agree with, but must instead follow the exact party line, even if that means backing the corrupt Curt Weldon, then the Republican “philosophy” out there is going to cause a lot more losses than these two minor officials. Heck, that philosophy has cost a whole bunch of voters in the county as well.

In other news, there’s a Utah GOP whack job on the loose. This time it is Utah state senator Chris Buttars, who thinks gay activists are the biggest scourge our country has to face. Forget Al Qaeda, forget a dismal economy, and forget anything else. Buttars is afraid of the gay, and he wants to make sure that’s the focus of his constituency. Yes, he’s a whack job. Here’s the lead from in Salt Lake:

Utah state senator Chris Buttars is now comparing some in the gay community to radical Muslims.

Buttars makes this strong comment in an upcoming documentary about Prop 8.

And they come just a year after remarks by Buttars greatly offended many African-Americans.

In late January of this year, Senator Buttars sat down for an interview with documentary maker and former ABC 4 reporter Reed Cowan.

Cowan’s documentary is called, “8: The Mormon Proposition. “

In it, Buttars not only makes the comparison to radical Muslims, but also suggests that gays could pose the greatest threat to America.

I remember reading the recent Rolling Stone interview with Sean Penn and how the interviewer tried to tie the present to the past of Harvey Milk, where he battled such dimwits as Anita Bryant. Bryant was always saying that gay and lesbian citizens were a monstrous threat to our society. This kind of hyperbole and rabvid hate is exactly what ruined Bryant’s career. We can hope decent people in Utah, if there are enough of them, will bring Chris Buttars to the same end. Heck, the guy is old and looks like a frog, though, so maybe he’ll retire before they vote him out. That seems to me the fate of opposition to gay and lesbian civil rights – it is going to age itself out of business. It is a matter of time. Let’s just hope the party of hate goes the same direction.

Finally, it seems that Eric Cantor wanted to celebrate GOP solidarity against the stimulus package, so he put together a video. The tune in the background is Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle.” As reported on Huffington Post, Aerosmith is asking the Republican Whip Cantor to cease and desist. From Talking Points Memo:

Aerosmith wasn’t feeling the love. Cantor’s clip has been pulled from YouTube after a copyright infringement claim made by Stage Three Music, which owns the rights to “Back in the Saddle.”

The GOP’s use of the tune “was something we, as the publishers, didn’t approve and would not have approved without going to the writers,” Connie Ashton, director of copyright and licensing at Stage Three, told me. “Aerosmith did not approve of its use and also wanted to have it taken down,” she added.

Ashton added that House Republicans never contacted Stage Three to put in a request for use of “Back in the Saddle.”

The whack job Cantor didn’t even bother to get permission to use the song. Republicans feel such an entitlement that they think they can use the product of anyone’s labor. Watch your house and car, folks. They voted against a middle class tax cut, they now stole the intellectual product of Aerosmith, and they could be after your property next.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Creative Budgeting: Girard College Manages Scotland School

Scotland School is an anachronism, a state boarding school for the children of veterans. It is slated to be shut down because of the fiscal crisis in Pennsylvania. Girard College is also an anachronism, but a successful private school with an endowment reportedly larger than they can spend. Sounds like a partnership could be arranged?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

This might seem like a very local issue, but it should have resonance as one possible solution to budgeting problems that are happening across the country at the state and local level. In this case, it is a school run by the Commonwealth of PA, the Scotland School, which is at risk. The Scotland School is a remnant of another time, surely, when the state ran schools for, in this case, the children of veterans. It is due to close this year, because of the fiscal crisis here in PA and at order of Governor Rendell. It is sort of a shame, an historic place that educated so many in PA, successfully, is headed to the scrap heap. Here’s a bit about the school from

The Scotland School for Veterans’ Children formally opened on June 1, 1895, to serve orphans of soldiers. Over the years it grew to a residential school for children of veterans and military personnel on active duty.

. . .

About 10,000 students have attended Scotland School for Veterans’ Children since its founding.

The students come from diverse geographic, ethnic and social backgrounds, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. All of the students are being prepared for post-secondary education and/or military service – 84 percent of graduates continue their education and 22 percent enlist in the National Guard or Reserves.

Most of the students are refugees from Philadelphia public schools, where the graduation rates, and rates of kids going on to college, are far, far lower. Yes, this school is valuable, despite being an anachronism. But the Scotland School is an expensive anachronism, soaking up nearly four times the dollars per student as much as is spent for other students in the state. The students at Scotland School are rallying to try to save it, focusing on preserving the funds of the Commonwealth that have kept it going for so long, but it might just be there is a solution in the private sector. Enter Girard College, another anachronism serving Philadelphia students.

Girard College is funded by the estate of Stephen Girard, who died in 1831 as perhaps the richest man in America. Stephen Girard gave all of his fortune to found the school, originally for white orphan boys from Philadelphia. No, it is not a college, but a cschool serving children from kindergarten through 12th grade. The school evolved to serve kids of all genders and races, though there is still a restriction that the kids must have just one parent. Girard College’s funds are now managed by the Board of Directors of City Trusts here in Philadelphia. They provide the administration of the endowment that supports Girard College. and that endowment is large. And there have been arguments over whether the enormous estate, grown because of coal mines of Girard property in central, PA, is being adequately spent for the support of Girard College and its students. Stephen Girard’s heirs contested the money in the distant past, and the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an expose on the huge sums administered by the Board of City Trusts for the support of Girard College in 1997. The conclusion then was that Girard College was not getting the benefit of all the sums it could have received, that the estate was producing far more funds than Girard College could spend. It is not clear that is still the case 12 years later, perhaps because of the secretive nature that has always been the operating strategy of the Board of City Trusts.

So here’s the question. Is the Stephen Girard Estate still producing far more money than Girard College needs to operate? If so, then saving Scotland School seems an entrepreneurial project along the lines of Girard College’s mission. Well, it may be that Girard College doesn’t have the funds to accomplish this task, though the funds from which they draw are hard to figure in scope. The Board of City Trusts is composed of some of the most important leaders in Philadelphia, including Mayor Nutter, Council Chair Anna Verna, and soon to be convicted former State Senator Vince Fumo. It seems to me there is an opportunity to transform Scotland School here, and that Girard College could play a huge role in that transformation. Helping preserve an institution that is serving so many Philadelphia students so well is a goal worth pursuing, even if these officials have a whole bunch of other fiscal priotrities on their slate.

OK, a bit of a creative solution. We’ve got a state institution, Scotland School, which will close soon. We’ve got a private institution, Girard College, which has a whole pile load of money. The missions of the schools are similar and they both perform their tasks of educating students fr better than does the Philadelphia School system. So, would someone besides me mention it to anybody in power over there at the Board of City Trusts?

Friday, February 13th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Obama Acts, Cornyn Whines, Specter Snivels

Barack Obama denounced torture in his Inaugural speech, and now he has signed four executive orders helping to end the practice by US personnel. John Cornyn, on the other hand, is holding up Eric Holder’s AG nomination because Holder won’t swear not to prosecute torturers, or those who gave the orders. Specter is with Cornyn.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Surely it should have dawned on Senator John Cornyn Tuesday that there’s a new regime in town and that Barack Hussein Obama will not tolerate torture. Surely he hard this section in Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

Maybe Cornyn didn’t understand the Inaugural address, and that’s why he’s holding up Attorney General nominee Eric Holder’s confirmation? Well, if Senator Cornyn did not understand Barack Obama’s stand on torture, then the executive orders Barack Obama signed today just might get through Cornyn’s thick skull. Heck, maybe Cornyn needs some help from George Bush to understand this, after all, Cornyn is thought to be one of the stupidest Senators in the Senate. But back to Obama’s executive orders today. He is closing Gitmo within a year, forming a commission to figure out what to do with the inmates at Gitmo, some of whom are dangerous, eliminate torture by US personnel by requiring the strict adherence to the US Army Field Manual, and special circumstances concerning Ali al-Marri. Sounds to me like there’s a new sheriff in town.

But Senator Cornyn wants to leave that sheriff without his chief officer, the Attorney General. Why does Cornyn oppose Eric Holder’s nomination? Holder has yet to say whether he will or will not prosecute cases of torture perpetrated by US personnel. Cornyn is defending those who have tortured on the floor of the Senate. He’s taking up the cause Bush didn’t have the stones to do when he failed to give a blanket pardon to all who tortured in Bush’s name.

Senator Cornyn isn’t the only one who wants the torturers and those who ordered them to go scot free. Here’s a bit from the Washington Post report:

But even as Cornyn was getting out of the way of one appointee to President Obama’s Cabinet, he raised new questions about another. The Senate Judiciary Committee decided yesterday morning to delay a vote to send Holder’s nomination to the full Senate while lawmakers attended the morning National Prayer Service with Obama. The hearing was rescheduled for yesterday, but Republicans then requested a one-week delay on the nomination that Democrats were required to grant under committee rules.

. . .

Holder has generated more controversy than any other Obama nominee and was sharply questioned in an appearance before the committee last week. Many senators, including some Democrats, said they were troubled by his role in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich in the final days of the Clinton administration.

Led by the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), GOP lawmakers also said they had more questions for Holder about whether he would favor prosecuting Bush administration officials for their involvement in warrantless wiretapping and harsh detainee interrogation practices. Cornyn said he would press for Holder to take a stand on the Military Commissions Act, which the Texas Republican described as providing interrogators with immunity from prosecution if they believed they were acting legally.

So Snarlin’ Arlen is right there with his buddy John Cornyn. I’m sick of Arlen Specter. He may have a reputation for bipartisanship, but Arlen Specter failed to protect us from Bush’s authorization of the use of torture, he failed to protect us from Bush’s politicization of the Justice Department, he failed to prevent domestic spying, and he now looks to be a failure in tracking down just how the Bush Administration instituted its regime of lawlessness. Maybe he’s got a magic waterboarding theory or something that makes everybody immune.

OK, I’m angry at Arlen Specter once again. If there is any man in the US Senate who knows his own complicity in allowing the Bush Administration destruction of the Department of Justice, it should be Specter. And if Specter has a hope in Hell of negotiating his way to victory in 2010 against Allyson Schwartz or Pat Murphy or Joe Sestak, then he needs to show that he understands that the rule of law is important. Murphy and Sestak, at least, will pound him on the issue, and they’ve both got battlefield cred. Any of those candidates will use this opposition to Eric Holder as Specter trying to give one last bone to Bush, who abused the constitution far worse than any President we have had in years. For Specter’s own sake he needs to get behind Holder immediately.

I know someone who is having lunch with Mr. Specter tomorrow. OK, I know several someones, and I just might pass along a question and see if one of the folks, Specter donors all, will ask it. Give me some suggestions, please, but make them politic, something that can be asked in a roomful of people who know the constitution well and are dedicated to defending it.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Republicans Running to Obama, One as Unlikely as the Cubs Winning the World Series

What’s more unlikely, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, or the Chicago Tribune endorsing a Democrat for President? It’s the latter, but it happened today, and they are especially critical of John McCain. That and some Philly news in this afternoon’s commentary.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

No, this isn’t a comment on yet another story about Oregon Senator Gordon Smith trying to jump on the Obama bandwagon in order to save his political hide. Sam Katz has run as a Republican three times for Mayor of Philadelphia, and once for Governor of Pennsylvania. A reporter spotted an Obama sign on his lawn, and this is what Sam Katz had to say. From the Philadelphia Daily News Clout column:

“We have six voters in the house, a lot of points of view,” Katz said yesterday, seeming to ponder how much candor to include in his explanation.

“In all honesty, it will probably be a unanimous vote in the Katz household . . . I was undecided and wanted to stay undecided. But the collapse of the economy and McCain’s performance through that process pushed me a little bit over the other side. I tell people I don’t think Obama’s ready to be president and I don’t think McCain should be. But I always try to vote for the guy I think will do the best job.”

Sam Katz was always a centrist, so this isn’t very surprising. And Pennsylvania is rapidly losing it’s status as a battleground state, what with the huge edge the Democrats have in voter registrations. The real surprising news is the Chicago Tribune endorsing Obama, the very first Democratic candidate for President they have ever endorsed. Heck, as the article notes, the Tribune was founded by one of the founders of the Republican Party. Here’s part of the Tribune endorsement of Barack Obama, where they smack John McCain a bit:

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office – and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party’s course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush’s tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate–but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin’s exposure to the public. But it’s clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment’s notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

The newspaper that began by endorsing Horace Greeley, stood by every single other Republican nominated for President since then, including Coolidge, has now endorsed a Democrat for President for the first time. This is as unlikely as the Cubs winning the World Series, and we all know that’s one of the signs of the coming Apocalypse. Perhaps we should be very afraid.

Friday, October 17th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Racist Voter Intimidation in Philadelphia

Racist voter intimidation is starting early in Philadelphia, with fliers hitting the streets designed to scare voters in African American neighborhoods. Such GOP tactics usually occur right before an election when there’s no chance to correct the ugliness. This is a case of incompetence on the part of the GOP, not merely un-American behavior.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

If it is nearing the election, we can expect voter intimidation tactics from Republicans. We can expect all sorts of shenanigans. Heck, the McCain campaign is all negative all the time on the campaign trail, and they’re getting desperate, having abandoned Michigan. Now they’re reaching into their bag of trick for voter intimidation in some of the poorest and most ethnic naightborhoods of Philadelphia. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

With just weeks to go before the presidential election, voter intimidation has reared its ugly head.
An anonymous flier circulating in African-American neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia states that voters who are facing outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets may be arrested at the polls on Election Day.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, who learned of the flier last week, said that the message is completely false.

“The only thing that police officers are going to do that we’ll be encouraging that day is that they’ll be exercising their own individual right to vote,” Gillison said.

He plans to put up statements on the city and police Web sites to let citizens know that the handouts are false. He said that he also will record a public-service announcement for broadcast.

Gillison referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the district attorney.

“We are not going to stand for any intimidation of voters,” Gillison said. “Not in this city.”

Who else but the Republicans could be behind such voter intimidation in neighborhoods where 90% and more of the population will vote for Barack Obama. Of course, there will be no trail back to the Republican Party. If anyone is caught in this clearly undemocratic ugliness it will be some low level doofus the GOP can deny they ever knew. That’s the way they roll at the GOP. They also roll with incompetence.

As Zach Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy (a nonpartisan Philadelphia elections watchdog group) notes, he is surprised this sort of intimidation surfaced a full month and more before the election, as this sort of thing is usually used by Republicans in the couple days before elections so that city and state officials who value voter participation, unlike Republicans, do not have the time to counter the ugliness. There’s a video on the local ABCNews web site, and here’s some of Stalberg’s words from the Philadelphia Daily News:

“I’m a little surprised it appeared this far before Election Day,” he said. “It’s another indication of how dirty this election might become.”

As I mentioned earlier, we already knew this campaign was getting dirty from looking at the lying negative ads on the McCain side. So Stalberg is right. But this is an example of incompetency also, putting across an easily refutable message with plenty of time to educate and innoculate the citexenry from further racist intimidation that might happen between here and election day. Yeah, not only is this undemocratic, and not only is it racist, but it is incompetent. In that sense, McCain is following the Bush lead of the last eight years, and maybe he ought to change his campaign slogan to. . .

Incompetence First

Saturday, October 4th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Squabbling Over the Pigeon Bill in Pa.

The Pennsylvania state legislature is set to take up the sport of organized ‘œpigeon shoots’ once again. This particularly brutal sport is banned in 48 of 50 states, and the 49th (Tennessee) holds no organized shoots. The state legislature in Pa. won’™t be able to soar like eagles until it shoots down animal cruelty.

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

Dave Comroe stepped to the firing line, raised his 12-gauge Browning over and under shotgun, aimed and fired. Before him, a pigeon fell, moments after being released from a box less than 20 yards away. About 25 times that day Comroe fired, hitting about three-fourths of the birds. He was 16 at the time.

‘œIt’™s not easy to shoot them,’ he says, explaining, ‘œthere’™s some talent involved. When a live pigeon is released, you have no idea where it’™s going.’

Where it’™s going is usually no more than five to ten feet from its cage’¦


Saturday, June 28th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Politics - Pa.

Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter Join the Silly Season

Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, and Ed Rendell, Governor of our state, sign onto a silly and whiney Clinton campaign complaint about Barack Obama. I’m not surprised to see Ed Rendell do such a thing, but I’m deeply disappointed in Michael Nutter.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Ed Rendell has long been known to play the same old same old political game of destruction. As such, I’m not a huge supporter. But he’s a lame duck, so when he does it I don’t get all that upset. But I am a huge supporter of Michael Nutter, even endorsing him for Mayor early in the campaign. Michael Nutter ran a good and honest campaign for mayor, standing above the usual ugliness of Philadelphia politics. I’m thinking he’s going slightly off the rails with this stunt done in conjunction with Ed Rendell. Here’s their silly whine in favor of Hillary Rodham Clinton from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Gov. Rendell, Mayor Nutter and two of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top aides yesterday blasted Barack Obama’s campaign for allegedly diminishing and disrespecting Pennsylvania’s presidential primary.
In a national conference call with reporters, the foursome pointed to a memorandum written by Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, that referred to Pennsylvania as “only one of ten remaining contests.”

Rendell predicted that the description would be “off-putting” to the state’s Democratic voters. Nutter called it “one of the silliest things I’ve seen in recent times.”

Mark Penn, Clinton’s top strategist, went on to praise the state – the largest yet to vote – as “incredibly vibrant and important” both in the nomination fight and the general election.

Obama’s Pennsylvania spokesman, Sean Smith, said the controversy was much ado about nothing, that Obama had every intention of competing for the state’s 158 pledged delegates in the voting on April 22.

Guys, Pennsylvania is in fact one of ten primaries left in this country. Both candidates should be focusing on all of those states. You are whining about a fact here. And there isn’t any evidence that Obama is treating Pennsylvania with anything but respect. Rendell and Nutter are signing onto some stupid, whiney Hillary Clinton BS, and with Michael Nutter, at least, I am disappointed.

I’ve talked to Michael Nutter about this race and his endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I had breakfast with him the day after he made that appearance with her to endorse her candidacy here in Philadelphia. I came away thinking Michael Nutter endorsed Mrs. Clinton because of his beliefs, and I respected him for it even though I was leaning heavily to Obama at the time. I imagined Mr. Nutter would campaign for Hillary Clinton, but I was confident he would do so by focusing on the issues. This silly whine that he’s signed onto disappoints me a great deal, especially since Mr. Nutter himself campaigned on a unity theme not unlike Barack Obama.

I am saddened Michael Nutter. You can do better.

Friday, March 14th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |
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