Cowardly Governor Christie wants to have it both ways

There was no need for him to veto action by the New Jersey legislature that would have protected marriage equality. But, as Tom Moran notes in the Star Ledger:

he’s trying to limit the damage by emphasizing that he supports equal rights for gay couples under the state’s civil union law, and is prepared to strengthen it if needed.

It is good to see that even conservatives like him feel the need to underscore their commitment to equal rights. But in the end, it’s a phony attempt to have it both ways.

For a guy who acts so tough, it’s pretty weak to see him cave to the extreme right. He’s going against what he knows to be right for personal, political gain. And that’s sad.

Want to be a Judge in Philadelphia Courts? Get in line to buy some votes!

There are those who are jaded who will say that, “Of course, this thing happens all the time.”  And there are those who will say that Philadelphia and corruption go together like a bagel and cream cheese, but the practiced described herein is not illegal.  And now that I see some of my peers (Emily’s peers, actually) running for Judge, well, I just don’t know.  But, in the meantime, here’s some facts for you from today’s Inquirer:

“It’s ‘the process,’ ” said Ladov, among 45 candidates for 10 spots on Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court. The 10-year term comes with a $164,602 salary.

Eleven candidates are vying for one slot on Municipal Court, a job that lasts six years and pays $160,793.

“Either you fold your arms across your chest and say you don’t like the process and, therefore, ‘I am not going to be involved and not going to serve the people,’ ” Ladov said, “or you say, ‘This is the process. If I get elected, I can do good, and I can make a meaningful contribution.’ “

She chose the latter, and she is paying thousands of dollars to hire two “consultants,” including still-influential former U.S. Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, jailed in 1981 in the Abscam scandal, and a 30-year ward leader, John Sabatina, who works to persuade other ward leaders to back his judicial candidates.

“I’m working 24 hours a day trying to make sure these people get covered all over, from wards to churches to wherever there can be an asset to their candidacy,” said Sabatina, who also is helping three other would-be judges this year. For his work, they pay him $20,000 to $35,000 apiece.

Kristen Shaal breaks down some new healthcare legislation just for you

You thrilled to her in Flight of the Conchords, now enjoy the lovely Kristen Shaal on The Daily Show, which comes to you from me via Talking Points Memo.  Because you only thought you knew what “rape” meant.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Rape Victim Abortion Funding
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If you ignore them, they won’t go away, they’ll take over

I am so sick of Sarah Palin.  She is a dimwitted fool who holds no political office.  She is a racist, a bigot and completely insulting to those feminists who actually know what that term means.  I have often thought, with regard to the excessive piling on that the left does at Ms. Palin’s expense, why bother?  Why give her any more attention?  That’s exactly what she wants.  Just don’t pay any attention to her and that will be the end of it.

But one could say the same thing about Facebook – why complain?  You don’t like it, just leave it alone.  But if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you know that I’m not inclined to leave it alone.  There are too many people on Facebook.  It has achieved a firm foothold, like a tick that is dug in deep, and ignoring it can lead to dire consequences.

After the absurdity of Ms. Palin’s own tweets over the past few days, I feel that the same is true.  We ignore her and her ignorance at our peril.  These two pearls confirm it.  Talkingpointsmemo has the complete analysis, but the two key points are that (1) any Muslim who wants the mosque near ground zero is not peaceful, and (2) refudiate is obviously not a word.  Whoever among her handlers that is allowing this woman to use twitter should be fired.  But, like any experienced tweeter, Palin deleted the above, but rather than admit she did anything wrong, we got the following.

I want to know which works of Shakespeare this woman has read, that she would compare herself to the greatest writer the English language has yet known.  And please, gentle ex-governor, do tell which words the bard made up, so that we might learn from you ample knowledge.

But when I read about young Ryan Murdough, running for political office in New Hampshire, I realize there is good reason to worry about ignorance and hatred.  If there is no effort to make note of these frightening politicians, their influence will spread unchecked.

So, on I rant.

For god’s sake – what is WRONG with Arizona?

First it becomes the state with the most backwards and xenophobic immigration policy in the Union, and now the schools will not be permitted to teach ethnic studies because it promotes an atmosphere of resentment and increases the possibility of a violent takeover – I know, WTF indeed.

The 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is scheduled to be held in Arizona and, given the high percentage of Latin and Hispanic players that play professional baseball, it seems like there may be a problem.  A number of players have thrown their support behind MoveTheGame.org, which is an offshoot of MoveOn.  Commissioner Selig has said that he doesn’t expect the game to be moved, but he’s just biding his time while waiting to see which way the winds of public opinion blow.  The man is a coward.

Elon James does an excellent (and humorous) job of helping us put some of Arizona’s policies in perspective.  The thing is, I’ve been to Arizona.  It seems like a nice place.  Can anyone tell me how it got so fucked up?

If you want to know what opposition to health care reform is about…

If you want to know what it means when Senator Saxby Chamblis (R-GA) means when he thinks Obama should show more humility…  If you want to know what Glenn Beck’s charges of socialism and communism mean… If you want to know why people who can’t spell have such hatred for our new president…  Look at this sign from the weekend’s Tea Party rally in D.C.

racist_tea_party

(via Wonkette)

Anyone who thinks that the election of Obama equals the end of racism is shamefully misguided.  I mean, clearly, we should be listening to this guy and not the President, right?

respect-are-country

Should labor bear the cost of Philadelphia’s financial crisis?

Philadelphia, like many other cities, is going through a financial crisis.  As I’ve mentioned before, Mayor Michael Nutter has prepared a doomsday budget, ominously designated as ‘Plan C.’  This has been described as the dismantling of city government.  And while I can picture the nightmare that would follow the closing of all public libraries, the closing of the Fairmount Park Commission, the firing of about 1000 police officers, I can’t even begin to understand what is meant by the provision that states there will be no more funding for the city courts, no more funding for the District Attorney’s office and no more funding for the public defender.  How can a city function like that?

There is a remedy out there, but it has me scared in a different way.  The first aspect of the Mayor’s plan, which has to pass through the legislature in Harrisburg, is to raise the city sales tax by 1% (from 7% to 8%).  That’s a no-brainer from where I sit.  We need to do this to increase revenue so that the city can pay its bills as they come due.  Will there be a problem down the road with business development?  I’m willing to tough it out for the time being if it means that our streets will be safe and our courts will operate.

The second aspect of the Mayor’s remedy is a bit more troublesome.  Besides raising sales tax, the Mayor proposes to “restructure” the way that city pensions are managed.  Since it is still labor day, it seems like this is a good time to meditate on the proposal.

The current plan establishes a much lower cost approach to funding pensions of newer city employees (via 401k’s).  The new employees would get no choice in the matter; they’d simply be stuck with a crappier retirement package.

My initial feeling was that Plan C must be avoided, pretty much at all costs.  If new hires get screwed now, we’ll work on making it up to them later, right?  But today I met a guy who works for the city.  He’s in Behavioral Health, which means that he’s working to save certain of our city’s residents from the tragedy of addiction.  And since Philadelphia recently legalized gambling (slots ‘parlors’ now, but  there is clearly more to come), a new wave of addicts is expected by this guy’s department.

This man has 30-plus years in.  His pension is secure.  No one is proposing any changes that will harm the retirement he has worked so hard for and so richly deserves.  I asked him what he thought of the proposals coming out of the state legislature in comparison with the horror of Plan C.  He said that it shouldn’t pass because it kills collective bargaining.  This guy is a city resident, just like me.  The downside of the Mayor’s doomsday plan is going to hit him as hard as anyone else.  We live in a neighborhood where, in the last ten years, property values have gone way up – and he could lose all of that.  But on labor day (and I’m sure on every other day), he said that you can’t have two different sets of rules.  The new guys should get the same thing that he got and he’s ready to fight for it.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Plan C goes into effect on September 18, and the remedial measures have to be passed by both houses of the state legislature.  The version we have now – with the much desired sales tax increase and the much despised pension restructuring, has passed the Senate.  It will be opposed vigorously in the House – in the name of fairness to workers.

The Mayor says we are at a major crossroads and that hard choices and sacrifice are necessary.  Should labor be forced to bear the burden?

Hey, Republicans! Why can’t you get trial lawyers on your side like you did with Jews?

A long time ago, back when Karl Rove was in charge, I heard from another lawyer that Rove’s concept of the permanent majority was to undermine the three-legged stool that supported Democratic funding: (1) labor, (2) Jews and (3) trial lawyers.

Back then, it seemed that the Jewish vote could be co-opted by people like Lieberman and Dershowitz, who appeared to be nice Jewish boys to people like my grandparents, but espoused views of inequality and hatred towards Palestinians (Ay-rabs) that was not unlike the hatred expressed towards black people in this country.  The irony was that so many Jew of my grandparents generation lined up on the right side of civil rights back in the 60’s.  But today, it seems like the Jewish vote is precariously balanced on the fence, probably out of hatred, fear and racism.  To a great extent, Rove has succeeded in eroding one of the traditional blocks of Democratic voters and funding.

In the case of labor, it seems like the unions have helped Rove create a cloud of suspicion over what they do.  Up until the recent introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560), it has seemed that there has been fear, inspired perhaps by eight years of Rove/Bush, about increasing the ranks of organized labor and, thus, Democratic voters.  But the trend is encouraging.  Yes, there is virulent opposition.  I hear the fear-mongering ads on sportstalk radio (not just on Rush and Hannity) telling Joe Contractor, as he drives from home to his job in the pre-dawn hours, telling him that EFCA is about taking away the working man’s right to a secret ballot.  That’s a powerful argument, because it plays on the fear that we’ll have no choices under the fascist Obama regime.  At the same time, it’s not catching on.  Republicans just don’t seem to be winning to many points on this issue.

Which brings us back to my job.  I don’t sue doctors for a living; I enforce a patient’s rights, or more often the rights of a patient’s family because the patient is deceased.  In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I have to go through hoops galore before I can even file a malpractice case – whether against a hospital, doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other certified professional.  These cases are incredibly expensive for the attorney, and if we make a single misstep I can be sued personally.  This is the system that people seek to reform.

Now, take a step back.  Before Cheney decided that Iraq could be overthrown and occupied for oil production under the false pretense that Hussein was somehow responsible for 9/11, in fact before 9/11 itself, this issue of ‘tort reform’ was a big concern of mine and many of my colleagues.  The lies back then were told about the woman who spilled her hot coffee from McDonalds, and how people wanted get rich quick whenever a doctor couldn’t save someone’s life, despite heroic efforts.  You were going to have to cross state lines to have your baby because the trial lawyers had chased all the doctors away.

Now a lot of these old stories are getting dusted off again.  It’s amazing.  After just a few weeks of winning the public opinion war, it seems that the goal of killing off the trial lawyers is starting to bubble back to the surface.  Any link to the current debate about essential healthcare reform is tenuous, but that should be no surprise.  We’re talking about the same people who brought you the ‘death panel’.

Remember, the last time around, the evil that needed to be cured was the exodus of doctors who couldn’t  afford high malpractice insurance premiums.  This time, the same cure (‘tort reform’) is being presented as a remedy to the malicious plan that Obama has hatched to simply bail out trial lawyers (we don’t need a bailout!) and harm the American public.  See if you can make sense of this article by Hugh Hewitt.  All our problems with health care and the uninsured would just go away if it wasn’t for those damn trial lawyers!

It’s one thing if Hugh Hewitt is blowing steam over at Townhall, but I think this is being picked up as a talking point.  Apparently Giuliani was pushing this same garbage on Meet The Press today.  This guy is supposed to be a moderate.  This is a guy who is supposed to be socially progressive.

So the Conservatives have their pound of flesh with Van Jones.  They have their month of  madness with death panels and guns at town hall meetings.  I knew Congress should not have taken that summer break!  And what I see is that they’re getting greedy.  But here’s an idea – why not come up with an agenda that favors social justice to the extent that the trial lawyer money, like the Jewish money, starts to get diverted to you – what about trying to win trial lawyers over?  Do you think you can do it?

If there are four stories about Obama’s school speech on Townhall, does that count as traction?

I keep hearing about this bizarre story, and I can’t believe it won’t go away.  Obama plans to welcome students back to school with a speech that will be show in public schools on September 8, 2009.  After a month of fear mongering and threats surrounding the healthcare debate, it seems that a few activists on the Right have overshot the mark by claiming that Obama’s pep talk to returning students is, in fact, and indoctrination effort aimed at engineering the latest version of Hitler Youth.  This is an especially crazy premise given the fact that President did the same thing in 1988.

There’s enough different ways to attack the current administration (from both sides), that I would think his enemies would let this one go like they seem to have let go of the bizarre and untrue allegation that Obama is not an American citizen.  I’m not about to put Rush Limbaugh on the radio here at work – it’s one thing to check in  with that stuff when it’s just me in the car, but I’m not going to subject my co-workers to such madness in the name of “know thine enemy.”

But I did decide to look at Townhall.com, which is no less nutty.  And, to my surprise, there are 4 stories and/or columns addressing the acute danger presented by Obama telling kids to study hard and stay in school.

IOKIYAR!