Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pres. Obama's Remarks on End of Combat Operations in Iraq

from the inbox:

Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home.

I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans. We’ve now been through nearly a decade of war. We’ve endured a long and painful recession. And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we’re trying to build for our nation -- a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity -- may seem beyond our reach.

But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq. Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency. Terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart. Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested.

These are the rough waters encountered during the course of one of America’s longest wars. Yet there has been one constant amidst these shifting tides. At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.

The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians -- and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people -- Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.

So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.

This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people.

That’s what we’ve done. We’ve removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We’ve closed or transferred to the Iraqis hundreds of bases. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.

This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq’s cities last summer, and Iraqi forces have moved into the lead with considerable skill and commitment to their fellow citizens. Even as Iraq continues to suffer terrorist attacks, security incidents have been near the lowest on record since the war began. And Iraqi forces have taken the fight to al Qaeda, removing much of its leadership in Iraqi-led operations.

This year also saw Iraq hold credible elections that drew a strong turnout. A caretaker administration is in place as Iraqis form a government based on the results of that election. Tonight, I encourage Iraq’s leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative, and accountable to the Iraqi people. And when that government is in place, there should be no doubt: The Iraqi people will have a strong partner in the United States. Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.

Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces, supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions, and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. As our military draws down, our dedicated civilians -- diplomats, aid workers, and advisors -- are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world. That’s a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi people through his visit there today.

This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq -- one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.

Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest -- it’s in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We’ve persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people -- a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.

As we do, I’m mindful that the Iraq war has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it’s time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one can doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I’ve said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hopes for Iraqis’ future.

The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, and to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead. And no challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al Qaeda.

Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders -- and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies -- have been killed or captured around the world.

Within Afghanistan, I’ve ordered the deployment of additional troops who -- under the command of General David Petraeus -- are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum.

As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future. But, as was the case in Iraq, we can’t do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we’re training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: This transition will begin -- because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.

Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power -- including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America’s example -- to secure our interests and stand by our allies. And we must project a vision of the future that’s based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes -- a vision that recognizes the real dangers that exist around the world, but also the limitless possibilities of our time.

Today, old adversaries are at peace, and emerging democracies are potential partners. New markets for our goods stretch from Asia to the Americas. A new push for peace in the Middle East will begin here tomorrow. Billions of young people want to move beyond the shackles of poverty and conflict. As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction -- we will also lead among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people.

Now, that effort must begin within our own borders. Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its links to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation’s strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.

And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it’s our turn. Now, it’s our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for -- the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.

Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.

Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars -- post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury -- while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II -- including my grandfather -- become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it.

Two weeks ago, America’s final combat brigade in Iraq -- the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade -- journeyed home in the pre-dawn darkness. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad, the last of them passing into Kuwait in the early morning hours. Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.

Of course, the soldiers left much behind. Some were teenagers when the war began. Many have served multiple tours of duty, far from families who bore a heroic burden of their own, enduring the absence of a husband’s embrace or a mother’s kiss. Most painfully, since the war began, 55 members of the Fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice -- part of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq. As one staff sergeant said, “I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.”

Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries. Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew. They stared into the darkest of human creations -- war -- and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.

In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation. Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to Gettysburg; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from Khe Sanh to Kandahar -- Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own. Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America, and all who serve her.

Harrisburg Holocaust Sculpture in WSJ

Today's Wall Street Journal had an article, "When creator and owner clash," by Daniel Grant, that featured the Holocaust memorial sculpture in a Harrisburg park. When it needed some renovation sculptor David Ascalon offered to do the work for expenses but his offer was declined. Another restorer did the work and erased Ascalon's name from the sculpture and put his own in its place. The question is who owns the art work? It is currently in the courts. Interesting question.

PA Budget and Policy Center Report on Structuring Severance Tax

Our friends at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has released a report offering their suggestions for structuring a severance tax for the marcellus shale natural gas industry. Among their points:


First Round of PA Early Retiree Reinsurance Program

from the inbox:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced the first round of applicants accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. Nearly 2,000 employers, representing large and small businesses, State and local governments, educational institutions, non profits, and unions have been accepted into the program and will begin to receive reimbursements for employee claims this fall.

Created by the Affordable Care Act to help serve as a bridge to the new health insurance Exchanges in 2014, the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Businesses and other employers and unions that are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. Savings can be used to reduce employer health care costs, provide premium relief to workers and families, or both. The program ends on January 1, 2014 when State health insurance Exchanges are up and running.

“In these tough economic times, it is difficult for employers to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs for employees and retirees. Many Americans who retire before they are eligible for Medicare see their life savings disappear because of medical bills and exorbitant rates in the individual health insurance market,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Affordable Care Act’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will make it a little easier for employers to provide high-quality health benefits to their retirees as we work to put in place market reforms to lower costs for all.”

Rising health care costs have made it difficult for employers to provide quality, affordable health insurance for workers and retirees while also remaining competitive in the global marketplace. The percentage of large firms providing workers with retiree health coverage has dropped from 66 percent in 1988 to 29 percent in 2009. Health insurance premiums for older Americans are over four times more expensive than they are for young adults, and the deductible these enrollees pay is, on average, almost four times that for a typical employer-sponsored insurance plan.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has approved nearly 2,000 plans representing a broad range of employers from 50 States and the District of Columbia into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in this first round of approvals with more applications being reviewed every day. In Pennsylvania, the following 103 organizations have been approved in the first round.

* Accuride Erie L.P.
* Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts
* Air Products and Chemicals, inc.
* Alcoa Inc.
* Allegheny Technologies Incorporated
* AmerisourceBergen Corporation
* Arkema Inc.
* Asbestos Workers Philadelphia Welfare Fund
* Bensalem Township School District
* Berwind Corporation
* Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc.
* Board of Trustees Southeastern Ironworker Health Care Plan
* Bucknell University
* Building Trades Health and Welfare Fund
* Burnharn Holdings, Inc.
* Carmeuse Lime, Inc.
* Carpenters Health & Welfare Fund of Philadelphia & Vicinity
* Ceratizit USA, Inc.
* City of Lancaster
* City of Philadelphia
* City of Pittsburgh
* City of Sharon
* Columbia Borough School District
* Comcast Corporation
* Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
* Cork & Seal USA, Inc.
* County of Allegheny
* County of Lancaster
* Cranberry Area School District
* Crayola LLC
* Dallas School District
* DENTSPLY International Inc.
* Downingtown Area School District
* Duquesne Light Holdings, Inc.
* East Penn Mfg. Co., Inc.
* Elizabethtown Area School District
* Elizabethtown Borough Office
* Elkern Metals, Inc.
* FMC Corporation
* Fort LeBoeuf School District
* Graphic Communications National Health and Welfare
* H.J. Heinz Company
* Harbor Creek School District
* Hempfield School District
* Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company
* Highmark Inc.
* Hospital Service Association of Northeastern Penns
* IAFF, Local 22, Joint Health Benefit Trust
* International Union of Operating Engineers Welfare Fund of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware
* Iron Workers Welfare Plan of Western Pennsylvania
* IUPAT District Council No. 21 Welfare Fund
* Juniata College
* Keystone Foods LLC
* Lampeter-Strasburg School District
* Local 6 BC&T Workers International Union AFL-CIO
* Longwood Gardens, Inc.
* Lower Paxton Township
* Magnesita Refractories Company
* Matthews International Corporation
* Millcreek Township School District
* Millcreek Township Supervisors
* Montgomery County Community College
* Oglebay Norton Company
* Ohio State Plumbers & Pipefitters Health & Welfare Fund
* Oil City Area School District
* Painters District Council No. 71 Health & Welfare
* Penncrest School District
* Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co.
* Pennsylvania State Education Association
* Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
* Pittsburgh Corning Corporation
* Plumbers & Pipe Fitters Local 354
* Plumbers Local Union No. 690 Health Plan
* PPG Industries, Inc.
* Republic Retiree VEBA Benefit Trust
* Retirees of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
* Sheet Metal Workers Health Fund
* Southco, Inc.
* Spang & Company
* Stearnfitters Local Union No. 420 Welfare Plan
* Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund
* Sunoco, Inc
* Teachers Protective Mutual Life Insurance Company
* Teleflex Incorporated
* Temple University
* The Beistle Company
* The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church
* The Hershey Company
* The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
* The Pennsylvania State University
* The PNC Financial Services Group
* Township of Haverford
* Trustees of the IBEW Local Union No. 380 Health and Welfare Fund
* Trustees of the UFCW Local 23 and Employers Health Fund
* Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
* TSK Partners, Inc.
* TWU Westchester Private Bus Lines Health Benefit Trust
* UFCW Local 1776
* United Refining Company
* Univest Corporation of Pennsylvania
* USW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health Care Trust
* Villanova University
* Westinghouse Electric Company LLC

Starting in September, approved applicants can begin submitting claims dating back to June 1, 2010 and, starting in October, approved applicants will receive reinsurance payments on those claims. This policy allows more health benefit claims to qualify for reinsurance payments for plans this year.

"There has been a tremendous amount of interest from businesses and organizations from across Pennsylvania since the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was announced just a few months ago,” said Sebelius. “Nationally, we have received applications from more than 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies, all major unions, and government entities in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, and we are delighted to be able to notify our first round of successful applicants here today.”

The approved applications represent nearly every sector of the economy: 32 percent of applications came from businesses, 26 percent from State and local governments, 22 percent from union sponsors, 14 percent from schools and other educational institutions, and 5 percent from non profits.

The nearly 2,000 approvals announced today are a subset of applications that have been received. HHS’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight is continuing to accept and review additional applications in the order in which they were submitted.

In addition to announcing these approved applications, HHS announced today two new information tools for employers and unions interested in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program – a new website (www.ERRP.gov) and a new hotline (877-574-3777 or 877-574-ERRP). Employers and unions can find the application form and application instructions online, as well as other relevant guidance and regulations from HHS.

For more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program and an interactive map displaying the employers that have been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program please visit:


Philly Group to Dance at White House

from the inbox:

On September 7th, First Lady Michelle Obama will invite world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration’s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years. The event, featuring American dance from ballet, modern and contemporary dance, hip hop and Broadway will be held in the White House’s East Room at 5:00 PM and will be pooled press. The early evening event will feature performers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Billy from Billy Elliot the Musical, The Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w, and New York City Ballet. It will be directed by Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

In continuing the Administration’s focus on supporting the arts and arts education, a dance workshop will be held in the White House East Room on September 7th at 3:00 PM. Dance companies will lead a segment of the workshop focusing on their genre. Students from the Alvin Ailey School, Ballet Hispanico, Cab Calloway School of the Arts (CCSA), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Washington School of Ballet, the National Dance Institute’s New York, Colorado and New Mexico affiliates, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts will participate in this 90 minute workshop and then attend the early evening performance as guests. The start of this event will be open press. Please RSVP to firstladypress@who.eop.gov, indicate if you have a White House Hard Pass or send your vitals by Friday, September 3rd at 10:00 AM.

Judith Jamison has been artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for two decades. One of the most renowned figures in modern dance, she was Mr. Ailey’s muse for whom he created the tour-de-force solo Cry and other enduring roles. As a highly regarded choreographer, Ms. Jamison has created works for many different companies. She is also an author, whose autobiography was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Ms. Jamison is the recipient of a primetime Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the National Medal of Arts, and she was named in TIME’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Hurricane Earl

from the inbox:


Families Should Visit Ready.gov to Learn Steps to Prepare for Hurricanes and Severe Weather

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners continue to closely monitor Hurricane Earl, as it moves past Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and toward the East Coast of the United States. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Earl is now a Category 4 hurricane. FEMA is closely coordinating with state, territorial, and local officials in the affected areas and along the East Coast and stands ready to support their response as needed.

State and local officials make decisions on evacuation orders. FEMA urges everyone to heed any evacuation decisions made by state and local officials and to take steps now to ensure they are prepared for possible severe weather, and remember that hurricanes and tropical storms frequently bring flash flooding as well. Anyone can visit www.ready.gov to learn more about how to prepare for an emergency. A Spanish version of the website is available at www.listo.gov.

"We continue to monitor Hurricane Earl and remain in close contact with state, territorial, and local officials to ensure they have the resources to respond if needed," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "I encourage everyone in the region and along the eastern seaboard to visit Ready.gov and take steps now to keep their family safe and secure. The most important thing for people living in Earl's potential tract to do is to listen to and follow the instructions of their local officials, including evacuation instructions if they are given."

Since this weekend, FEMA has been in constant contact with the White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide regular updates on the storm's developments. Fugate briefed DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday on FEMA's ongoing preparations and coordination for severe weather in the Atlantic Ocean, including Hurricane Earl.

The National Weather Service forecasts the center of Hurricane Earl to move into the open Atlantic today, and travel east of the Turks and Caicos Islands later today and tonight. Although no watches or warnings are currently in effect for the mainland United States, history has shown that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. Officials are closely monitoring the areas from the Carolinas to New England, and FEMA is coordinating with the Governors and local officials along the East Coast to aggressively prepare for possible severe weather. Severe weather and flash floods can occur miles inland, and are possible even if a hurricane does not make landfall.

FEMA has activated the National Response Coordination Center and its Regional Response Coordination Centers in all four of its regional offices in the eastern United States, located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. FEMA has designated a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and has personnel on the ground North Carolina at the state's Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh supporting the state, and is mobilizing personnel and supplies along the coast.

FEMA continues to support the Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in their response to Earl. FEMA staff are on the ground in both areas working closely with commonwealth and territorial officials, and FEMA has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to St. Thomas and to San Juan, where staff are on watch around the clock monitoring developments.

FEMA also continues to monitor Tropical Storm Fiona, which according to the National Weather Service, is expected to pass north of the Leeward Islands today. According to the National Weather Service, tropical storm warnings are in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Additional rainfall of 1 to 2 inches is expected today in Puerto Rico, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. The Governor of Puerto Rico has issued a State of Emergency.

FEMA is also coordinating across the federal government to ensure commonwealth and territorial officials have the support they need. Federal and other support includes:

* Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has deployed a Regional Emergency Coordinator (REC) to the U.S. Virgin Islands in support of the FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) there, and has other resources prepositioned and ready for deployment.
* Department of Defense (DOD) has activated a Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) in St. Thomas and a State Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (SEPLO) team in Puerto Rico ready to support a response if needed.
* U.S. NORTHCOM is conducting weather reconnaissance flyovers today, including one departing from St. Croix, and one departing from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.
* U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has closed U S. Virgin Islands seaports and has redirected cruise ships slated for the area. Coast Guard assets have also been on alert and prepared to help in search and rescue efforts.
* American Red Cross has personnel on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FEMA has life-saving and life-sustaining commodities and supplies strategically located across the country to support states in their response, including in the areas of possible impact. These supplies, including water, meals, tarps, blankets, generators and other essential items, can be replenished through the national logistics supply chain.

The National Weather Service remains the source of official severe weather watches and warnings, including flash flooding which can take only a few minutes to develop in the case of heavy rains.

FEMA encourages all individuals in the region to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for severe weather updates, and to follow the directions provided by their local officials.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

A Mobile Legislature

Our friends at State House Sound Bites announced today that there is a new mobile access point for the state legislature. Check out: www.palegis.us.

Notes from Sept Money Magazine

A few interesting notes from the Sept. issues of Money Magazine and Fast Company:

from "10 ways to make real money," by Carolyn Bigda, Amanda Gengler, and Georges Mannes (p. 68-78). The number one suggestion is to buy health care stocks, the sidebar subtitle is "fear about the adverse effect of reform are overblown." FYI, suggestion #5 is homebuilders. Pittsburgh is listed as one of the best places to "showcase your entrepreneurial talents."

Another interesting article is "How financial reform will really work," by Donna Rosato (pp. 94-99). Part of the entry on reining in lending abuses highlights the new consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which it calls "a major victor for borrowers."

The Sept. issue of Fast Company has a note on the upcoming World Energy Conference. The accompanying graphic has a bar graph showing how much and how countries invest in renewable energy. Of the top seven countries ranked by amount spent on total investment in renewable energy, the US ranks second to China. The US spends 43.1% of its renewable energy money on wind, 22.1% on biofuels, 17.4% on solar, 10.2% on low carbon and 7.2% on other.

"Artist. Athlete. CEO," by Ellen McGirt showcases Nike boss Mark Parker, a Penn State grad.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Senate Digital Index

Some enterprising people at L2, a think tank that "brings together thought leaders, academics, and industry leaders to uncover formulas for success. Drawing from research, best practices and trends, LuxuryLab distills this intellectual capital and makes it available—and actionable—for our partners" has produced one in a series of Digital IQ reports, this one focused on the US Senate. (19 page pdf).

Arlen Specter comes in at #28, Bob Casey at #67.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Schwartz on Suffrage

from the inbox, a note from Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz:

On this day ninety years ago, after over seven decades of organizing and fighting across the nation, women won the right to vote.

The road to women’s suffrage began in earnest at Seneca Falls in 1848, and came to a victorious conclusion with the vote of a young Tennessee legislator following his mother’s wishes.

Women know how hard earned this right was. In the 2008 presidential election, 65 percent of eligible women turned out to vote – more than any other group.

For the first time in American history, the Speaker of the House is a woman. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was the first woman to seriously compete for the presidential nomination. And, for the first time, three women now serve on the United States Supreme Court.

When I was elected to the Pennsylvania state Senate, I was one of only four women serving in that body. Today, ten women represent all corners of Pennsylvania in the state Senate – although, on average, only 1 in 4 state legislators in Pennsylvania and nationwide are women.

Today, one in five members of Congress are women. And, Pennsylvania is represented by just 2 women our of our 19 member delegation.

We are making progress, but at too slow a pace.

Electing more women to public office has been a priority of mine, and I am proud to currently serve as co-chair of two important national initiatives to support Democratic women running for Congress – Women LEAD, which supports women members of Congress and candidates, and Red to Blue, which works to elect talented women and men to Congress in Republican-leaning districts.

I hope you will join me today in taking a moment to reflect on the dedication of those that came before us to ensure that women across America have a voice in our democracy - as voters and as elected officials. And, I encourage you to take the time to support women running for office and encourage all women to vote this year and make our voice heard - more than ever - in the future of our nation.

Murphy Denounces Outsourcing Program

from the inbox:

Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) called for an end to a new program that’s using millions of taxpayer dollars to outsource American jobs to South Asia. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to spend $10 million to provide 3,000 Sri Lankan workers with English language proficiency classes as well as training in IT skills, call center support, and business process outsourcing.

Upon completion of the program, the newly-trained South Asian workers will be placed with American companies looking to outsource American jobs and take advantage of the region’s cheap labor. To make matters worse, these individuals are brought to the United States and the soon-to-be-outsourced American employees actually have to train the foreign workers in how to take over their job.

Standing outside PA CareerLinks, Bucks County’s one-stop career services center, Murphy called on USAID to abandon the program. He also announced that he is introducing new legislation to block funding for the program, should the agency continue moving forward. The amendment, to be included in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, prohibits federal funding for programs that use taxpayer dollars to encourage outsourcing.

Flanked by communications workers who are unemployed due to the recession, Murphy vowed to protect American jobs for American workers.

“We shouldn’t spend one penny of taxpayer money – much less $10 million dollars – to encourage outsourcing,” Murphy said. In light of the current economic situation, he added, a program that uses taxpayer dollars to train outsourced workers and place them with American companies is “beyond crazy. It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive.”

Jim Gardler, President of the Communications Workers of America Local 13000, agreed. He said he has plenty of members who were put out of work by the recession and who would be happy to take advantage of the IT training and computer programming skills that USAID plans to offer workers in South Asia.

“I’m glad we’ve got Patrick Murphy taking the lead on this issue and fighting to put American workers at the head of the line,” Gardler said. “We know Murphy is fighting for the middle-class, working families back home.”

Health Insurance Reforms in PA

from the inbox:

The Obama Administration today highlighted new information that describes how the Affordable Care Act, just five months after its enactment, is already giving Americans more control over their health care. A new fact sheet is available that outlines the specific, immediate benefits of the Affordable Care Act for Pennsylvania, and can be found by visiting http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/health-reform-states/affordable-care-act-immediate-benefits-pa.pdf.

“Americans want to know how health insurance reform affects their communities,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, we have been working closely with States on implementation – and the immediate benefits of this historic legislation are beginning to take effect.”

The Affordable Care Act builds on efforts by many states to protect consumers and hold insurers accountable. The new fact sheets outline many of the Act’s immediate benefits, including steps to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole” prescription drug coverage gap, a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, and new consumer protections such as the Patient’s Bill of Rights. Other immediate benefits include investments in the expansion and construction of community health centers throughout the nation and new resources to bolster the primary care workforce to improve access to care for more Americans.

More information on the Affordable Care Act is available at www.HealthCare.gov.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More on Corbett and Craigslist

Earlier I reported that while Pennsylvania Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate had joined several other AGs in a lawsuit challenging the legality of health care reform legislation he did not sign a letter that several state AGs sent to Craigslist asking the service to discontinue its adult services section.

In 2008 Corbett was one of 43 attorneys general in asking Craigslist to crackdown on illegal content. He was not one of the signers of this week's letter (see "State AGs: Craigslist should drop adult services," by Everton Bailey, Jr., philly.com 8/24). The letter states in part:

The joint letter acknowledged Craigslist faces the prospect of losing revenue if it were to remove the adult services section.

"No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist," the letter said.

He did join the state attorney's general this past April in claiming that the health care reform legislation was unconstitutional (see his rationale here). The list of states in the suit is provided in "Attorneys general in 14 states sue to block healthcare reform," by Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor 3/23/10)

It is interesting to look at the list of AGs in the health care reform suit and compare it to the list in the Craigslist letter. On health care all but one were Republicans. The Craigslist group is more diverse, 12 are Democrats and 5 are Republican. Four governors are on both lists, (Idaho, Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas), all are Republican. Corbett could have signed the letter -- there would surely not be any political fallout for doing so, but he didn't.

Again, I find his priorities questionable.

I would also note that Bob McCollum, Florida Attorney General, is another party to the lawsuit. This evening he lost the Republican primary for governor.

FS4K, Fantasy Sports Leagues and Philanthropy

Fantasy sports leagues that want to expand their reach into the community will be very interested in a new website: www.fs4k.com. According to their website:

FS4K connects participants of fantasy sports leagues, charitable organizations and their communities, and professional athletes. It was created to facilitate communication and awareness between these communities and to provide an opportunity for individuals to play a role in the enhancement and betterment of children impacted by illness, disease, poverty, or other affliction.

Leagues register, set aside a set amount (say $20 per person) to go to a charity of their choice, and fs4k takes care of the rest.

Definitely something fantasy league fans should check out!

Corbetts Sues on Health Care Reform, But Not Prostitution

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett was part of a group of 13 state attorneys general who sued to block health care reform because they thought it was unconstitutional. However, he was not part of a group of 16 state attorneys general who wrote Craigslist asking them to stop their adult services section because it has not been able to screen out ads for prostitution and child trafficking (see AP article).

I question his priorities.

Weatherization Money to PA

from yesterday's inbox:

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that Pennsylvania has been selected to receive $3.8 million to continue the state’s success and innovation under the Weatherization Assistance Program. Pennsylvania is increasing its efforts under the Recovery Act’s weatherization program and is continuing to accelerate the pace of weatherization in the state. From April to June 2010, the state weatherized over 1,000 homes more than it weatherized from January to March. In total, Pennsylvania has already weatherized nearly 8,400 homes under the Recovery Act.

Pennsylvania’s efforts are contributing to the success of the program nationwide. After ramping up last year, the Weatherization Assistance Program is now weatherizing homes at its optimal rate – approximately 25,000 homes per month. In June, states reported that nearly 31,800 homes were weatherized with Recovery Act funding – the most ever in a month. This summer alone, more than 80,000 homes will be weatherized across the country. A state-by-state breakdown of homes weatherized in the second quarter of 2010 is available HERE.

“The weatherization program is successfully delivering energy and cost savings for American families while helping to rebuild our economy,” said Secretary Chu. “These investments in energy efficiency under the Recovery Act are putting thousands of people to work in Pennsylvania and across the country as part of the clean energy future.”

As part of the awards announced today, two high-performing local weatherization agencies in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton have been selected to receive $1.4 million to install hybrid water heaters and in-home energy use monitors. The award selections were part of nearly $90 million in awards under the Recovery Act announced nationally to complement and expand existing weatherization programs and deliver even greater energy bill savings for local families. More information about the awards is available HERE.

In addition to the $1.4 million Recovery Act award, the Pennsylvania Commission on Economic Opportunity, based in Wilkes-Barre, has been selected to receive $2.4 million to evaluate the additional energy savings potential of in-home display devices that help households manage their energy use. The project will complement an existing program to weatherize 2,500 low-income homes in eastern and central Pennsylvania. The effectiveness of several models of in-home displays will be tested and evaluated. The project will also demonstrate the use of carbon credits and energy efficiency certificates as an innovative financial sustainability strategy for weatherization activities. This award is part of nearly $30 million in awards to forge a new range of weatherization partnerships and implement groundbreaking, innovative delivery and financing models, technologies, and services, further accelerating DOE’s effort to build a sustainable, residential energy efficiency industry.

The weatherization program is also creating thousands of jobs locally – putting carpenters, electricians, and factory workers back to work installing insulation, upgrading appliances, and improving heating and cooling systems. According to state reports, the Recovery Act Weatherization Assistance Program supported more than 13,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010, including more than 700 jobs in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families save energy and money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. According to a recent study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, weatherization services save families an average of more than $400 in energy costs during the first year after home retrofits are installed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lentz Economic Townhall in Haverford

This past Saturday, 8/21, State Rep. Bryan Lentz, Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional district, held an economic townhall meeting at the Haverford Library in Havertown.

About 40 people attended on a nice weekend afternoon. These are my notes from the meeting. It is not intended as a transcript and, as always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

I came in a few minutes after it started and so missed the very beginning. When I arrived Lentz was talking about a container company he toured. All the welders had white hair and the owner wasn't sure where he would hire new welders when the older ones retired. The number one thing for the workforce is to invest in education. We also need to compete with workers and companies overseas. We can't compete on wages but we can compete by making better products. One way to do this is to provide research and development tax credits. We should remove incentives to move job overseas. Our economic policy has been too focused on the Dow. It should be a focus but not the only focus, we also need to think of people.

Lentz then took questions from the audience. I have to say I was very impressed with the group in attendance. People referenced books they were reading or had read. They were familiar with issues but in a well-rounded way. The questions didn't sound like canned questions prepared and sent out by organizations, but items of personal interest.

Q: How much of your job is focus on our district versus the entire country?

BL: My primary job would be to represent the district and our interests may be different from those of a district in another part of the country, but you ultimately have to cooperate to get things done.

Q: There is a lot of information and misinformation in the media [references a book on the history of regulation]:

BL: The bad news with mass media and television is that we have lost our commonality. When I was a kid everyone watched Happy Days and Walter Cronkite and talked about it the next day. Now everyone watches different shows, and not always on the night it is broadcast. Fox news as 4 million viewers, which is not a large percentage of the population. Everyone has their own version of the truth. The Internet has had a democratizing effect. You can get more viewers on You Tube than on a tv commercial. Less and less people are watching tv. In politics a lot of money goes to television. I have raised more than $1 million and most will go for television. The Internet removes the influence of money. [follow up question on how the debate to be televised on 8/22 went] I give myself a B for the debate.

Q: environmental policies and initiatives

BL: The tea party has demonized environmental legislation. At a townhall meeting in Goshen about 80 people attended, some of whom were very opposed to environmental legislation. One woman said if God didn't want us to burn oil he wouldn't have put it under the Earth. I think we need green jobs. It would be good for the economy, national security -- 60% of Iran's GDP is oil, and the environment and global warming.

Q: raise the tax on cigarettes and gas?

BL: Yes on cigarettes. That is the only tax that has gone up since I've been in Harrisburg and I'm very proud to have voted for it. We also need to tax oil profits.

Q: In Haverford Township lawn signs get more votes than tv commercials! Main Street vs Wall Street. How will you withstand stampeding mentality. How courageous are you?

BL: Well, I used to jump out of airplanes. You have to lead on principle, and act of facts not fear or false urgency. I welcome tough challenges. I stood on the State House floor and spoke against the extension of gambling even though I was told it was politically risky.

Q: What is the best thing the federal government can do to alleviate poverty?

BL: Social security and medicare are the best anti-poverty measures in the history of the country. Food stamps are also a good anti-poverty measure. We also need job opportunities and education.

Q: Corporations have cash on the books right now but aren't spending it on people.

BL: We need to give them an incentive to hire people. We also need to incentivize giving employees more training. In some areas we could hold competitions in research and development, and give the winner a rebate for r&d. Companies are worried about 2011 and want to hang on to their cash.

Q: FDR style WPA or CCC? [referencing job programs that put a lot of people to work on public works projects in the 1930's.]

BL: The Job Corps is still an existing program.

Q: How to counteract what Republican friends say.

BL: Bring it home. Most people are not partisan. People care about their families and communities. Spending in Harrisburg increased because we began funding education as it should be. One school in the Upper Darby district has students that speak a large number of languages [70?]. Increased funding won't help solve all the problems but it does help. If the state does less the locals do more. In transportation we have structurally deficit bridges. That means if you drive over it the bridge might fall down. We need to fix those. Nobody is for wasting money. Major contributor to the deficit were the war and tax credits.

Q: favor extending Bush tax cuts?

BL: Extend them for those earning less than $250,000. [blogger's note: He said something about capital gains tax and real estate but I missed it.] If you want to extend them for the wealthiest we should find $199 billion to cut to make up the cost.

Q: What about obsolete military stuff that we still build?

BL: We need to look at the military budget.

Q: Two questions: nuclear energy and net neutrality

BL: In the near term we will still be using fossil fuels. We need to begin to reduce our use of them. We don't want to be like France and get 90% of our energy from nuclear energy because of the waste problems. Probably most of Havertown is powered by nuclear energy produced at the Limerick power plant. On net neutrality, we should keep it as open and free as possible.

Q: How do I vocalize pride in Democratic accomplishments?

BL: The problem is the bad economy. Like a lack of sleep, where the economy is bad nothing makes you happy. The economy puts a cloud on things like health care. A constituent was denied health care because he had had polio in 1952. It was considered a pre-existing condition. That isn't legal under the new health care reform legislation. When people label something a job killer people stop listening. It is also hard to get credit for preventing something from happening.

At this point the formal meeting broke up and people were talking with Lentz individually. I went next door to Cenzo's Pizza for a late lunch. The pizza was good and, according to signs in the window, they are looking for two employees, one delivery and one working on the grill. Driving away I passed the library again and could see Lentz's people standing outside the library. I don't know if Lentz himself was still inside talking to people; if so he was taking a lot of questions.

A Few WSJ Notes

A few Pennsylvania notes from last week's Wall Street Journal:

"Gardening without a sprinkler," by Anne Marie Chaker on 8/18 focuses on xeriscaping, designing and growing gardens that require little watering. One of the gardens featured belongs to Jenny Rose Carey of Ambler. The photo shows a lush, colorful lawn.

Two items from Thursday, 8/19:

"Soros's ex-manager to close shop," by Jenny Strasburg and Mark Gongloff, focuses on Stanley Druckenmiller of Pittsburgh, who tried to buy the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008. He runs Duquesne Capital Management.

"J&J, bruised by recalls, aims higher," by Jonathan D. Rockoff discusses the McNeil plant in Ft. Washington that was closed down earlier this year.

First Lentz / Meehan Debate

This evening Larry Kane hosted the first of three debates between Bryan Lentz (D) and Pat Meehan (R), candidates for the open seat in the 7th congressional district, currently held by Joe Sestak. Below are my notes from listening to a podcast of the debate. I’ve left out the biographical information –you can find that on the candidate’s websites. This is not intended as a transcript and some conversational interplay was condensed into each candidate’s answers. I encourage interested parties to listen themselves, and, as always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

LK: economy, increase in unemployment applications, what is the solution?

BL: There are a number of things we can and should do in short term. I was out this morning at train station on Folcroft and this was issue 1-10 for voters. We need to get businesses back to producing and hiring. One is to focus on manufacturing. In 7th we have a tremendous manufacturing base, we have companies like American Crane Co. and Boeing. Those companies need incentives to use some of their accumulated capitol to invest in facilities and equipment, tax credits

PM: I’ve been out knocking on doors. People have more concern about this than any other issue.. People want sense of confidence about government and where this nation is going. We need good sustainable private sector jobs. We want small business, they are economic generator, almost all new jobs that sustainable will come from small businesses. Agree with BL, in terms of creating opportunities for entrepreneurs. I’ve come up with some unique things, for example, first time business owners, give them a tax credit for first and second employees they bring on and find a way to write down [blogger’s note: I think he means tax credits or write offs] capitol investment.

LK: Should we extend the Bush tax credits?

BL: extend for middle class, most people agree, incomes less than less than $250K a year, the middle class will lead us out of the recession. They will put money back into economy, purchase things and put money back into economy. Tax cuts for those over 250K would be for very few percentage points if rolled back, plus $199B annually would be added to deficit / debt, Over next few years that would add over 3Trillion to the debt. If we extend the tax cuts for the wealthy, we ought to cut the budget by an equal amount to avoid raising the debt.

PM: Everybody's in agreement. You’re even seeing the president talk about tax cuts, extending of 2001-2003. There is agreement except when you get to the highest tax level. I think at this point the highest tax level extend them, they’re the folks who are going to invest, to create real job opportunities.

LK: You both agree on this?

PM: What we are talking about is the opportunity to create jobs. Are going to have the investment? The top end income are the ones who are going to find shelters and things to get it out. Capitol gains, the things that make a difference to them. And dividends, 44% of those getting dividends are over 55.

BL: there's a big difference between wanting to extend tax cuts that are going to cost the country $199 billion a year. The Bush tax cuts are called that for a reason. What's really increased, the huge increase in debt is Bush tax cuts, that the number 1 factor.

LK: stimulus?

BL: The biggest contributor to the debt is Bush tax cuts, what caused recession is Bush policies which Pat is espousing on the campaign trail. Those ideas have been tried and failed..

LK: Would you as a congressman in those [Bush] years have voted for those tremendous expenditures. GOP spending like Dems?

PM: Republican lost a little bit of fiscal responsibility. In addition to the spending, there is tremendous concern over national debt, since the recession begun, since 2008. I would not have voted for the stimulus at this point in time. There should have been dollars directed, but these were directed at the wrong kinds of things.

LK: would you have voted for stimulus if you knew then what you know now about employment numbers?

BL: Meehan was part of the Bush administration. He worked there during the years when they ran up that debt. You can’t act like you’re some stranger when you were part of it.

PM: I came on 4 days after 9/11, as a prosecutor and then worked on the many challenges and threats, was on corporate fraud task force by Bush. I’m the only one here who had taken on big companies and drug companies and held them accountable for their actions.

LK: a lot of blame for this. You are each talking about something you didn't do, you weren’t in congress during stimulus

BL: During the Bush years the devil was let loose on Wall Street. Pat was part of a tax force for putting together rules for prosecuting Wall Street? How did they do.

PM: What caused the meltdown was activities in the real estate sector. I went after predatory lenders. There was a series of prosecutions. Everybody kept handing the responsibility one level down. The result was once it got into Wall Street we got meltdown.

LK: voters really not interested in yesterday but in tomorrow.. Both of you have dwelled on yesterday in campaigns. Why do you believe you would be a better representative for the people’s money?

PM: I know what its like to be out there working hard for a buck, as a kid, working my way through. People don't realize they’re talking about millions and billions of dollars in fact. I take Bryan to task for the fact they passed a budget in Harrisburg larger than last year.. They don’t realize how hard people have to work for a hundred dollars. I know what its like for victims, to feel pain.. It’s the economy.

BL: I ask on each vote: what does this do to improve lives, create jobs in the district, to create an economically vibrant area. First job out of college was a platoon leader in the Army, responsible for people. As a prosecutor responsible to victims of crime. You look over shoulder and know impact of votes. Does Pat know that most of increase in state spending went to education to places like Upper Darby High School who lobbied for it. Budget problems, recession. One way to go forward is to look at the mistakes you made. Pat is recycling ideas that were ideas of Bush administration.

PM: What Bryan is talking about is what he would do in DC, but what's he done in Harrisburg. talking about the impact on jobs of proposed Cap and trade; it is a job killer. Vote for new taxes, 500M in new taxes. This kind of record is different from his rhetoric.

BL: The all GOP school board of Upper Darby High School wanted that increase. local schools lobbied for increase in education spending. If the state doesn't pay local property tax does. The only tax in my 3.5 years in Harrisburg is on tobacco and I'm proud of that.

PM: That was the only tax that got through. A number of votes that didn’t get through because the GOP fought against them. Need people in DC to block taxes, to push against the agenda.

LK: how does congress get ready for cut in military budget that could impact on Boeing. how to get ready for this

PM: fight that on the merits, look at Boeing, how hard they are working., look at merit of v-22. If they're going to make defense cuts, look at frivolous things that are out there, investigate that. I'd love to go to DC and work for Boeing. they sell their products on the merits.

BL; I flew in Chinooks and jumped of them as part of the 82nd Airborne. I flew on them in Iraq. If elected I would askto be on armed forces committee and can speak from first hand experience for the Chinook and Osprey, moving soldiers in tough terrain

LK: gay marriage?

BL: I was a co-sponsor of the civil unions bill, seek equality, judge people on merit not on who they date. civil unions a practical approach

PM: marriage is a family thing, between a man and a woman, civil unions

LK: mosque?

PM: As someone who's worked with murder victims, there's never a day they don't think about it and the impact it has had on their lives. The opportunity here to have some kind of reasonable resolution to move that mosque away from that designated holy land

BL: I went back into the Army after 9/11. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Should consider wishes and concerns of victims and families.

LK: medicare

BL its one of those issues where you ask how will it affect district. The number 1 employer is health care in our district, plus recipients, keep and preserve as the program it is

PM: fight to preserve it but work first to hold down cost. Concerned about the way bill was produced, suggesting they’re going to find $500B in savings in medicare. . We should have attacked that issue first.

BL: Pat's party is advocating privatizing, end medicare as we know it.

PM: I haven't talked about privatizing. [LK: are you a party guy?] Very independent, take issues one by one

BL: Pat has heralded the fact that he is endorsed by the tea party. One woman at a meeting said they want to scrap medicare. [LK: are you a party guy] Very independent.

PM: I'm happy to have the tea party’s support but also happy to have union support, Someone endorsing me doesn't mean I agree with everything. I wasn't the one who put the tea party candidate on the ballot.

BL: I think its a real issue. You worked for George Bush and ran Rick Santorums' campaign. Are you a Bush / Santorum republican or a tea party Republican? You took tea party endorsement and spoke at their rally.

LK: Bryan, would you welcome an endorsement from moveon.org?

BL: I would welcome an endorsement from the people I’m seeking to represent. Pat has sought the tea party endorsement. I wouldn't seek it out. You haven't seen press releases about me speaking at their rallies.

PM: let's talk about this issue by issue. Tea party stands for fiscal responsibility. I wouldn't seek it out, Bryan’s trying to recast this but that’s not who I am. To the extent that the tea party is interested in fiscal responsibility.

BL: They want to get rid of dept of education. I'm not courting the extremes and he is.

PM: You can go out everywhere and talk to people. I talk to small businessmen, senior citizens, Everybody has a vote.

LK: if you take a look at both sides of every debate. There's such an extremism in elections and everyone's try to demonize the other. It's not that easy

PM: Extremism isn't where the world is going to make progress. The most significant and greatest time of growth is when you have president of one party and legislature of another [cites Clinton and Bush].

BL I've done that – working in bipartisan in state legislature. Look at who you want representing you.

LK: good luck, spirited conversation.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Assorted Statements on Social Security's 7th Anniversary

I've been remiss in posting statements issued on social security's 75th anniversary. Here you go:

Congressman Paul Kanjorski:

“For 75 years, Social Security has provided a retirement safety net for millions of Americans to help them after they have worked for a lifetime. In Pennsylvania, there are currently over 2.5 million beneficiaries of this needed program and we must make sure that they and their children can continue to depend on it. I strongly believe that we must work to further strengthen Social Security as a safety net for all Americans.

“During these difficult economic times, too many people have seen their retirement savings, which they worked so hard to create, dissipate. Social Security has stepped in and remained a consistent source of income for retirees, even when their savings, pensions, and 401ks diminished.

“Proposals a few years ago from President Bush and many Republicans to allow individuals to invest some or all of their Social Security funds in the stock market were ill-conceived responses to try to change Social Security. And now, the Republican Budget Committee leader also wants to privatize Social Security. Such actions could have had disastrous outcomes today. Had privatization taken place, Americans’ Social Security would have also felt the harsh consequences from the recession. As the foundation of our retirement system, Social Security cannot be allowed to gamble away Americans’ savings.

“Additionally, I am committed to ensuring that the cost of living adjustment for Social Security recipients more accurately reflects the costs that many seniors incur. The cost of living adjustment determines the annual increase that seniors receive with their Social Security checks based on inflation. But, the rate of inflation often does not take into account that seniors tend to spend more money on out-of-pocket expenses for medical care and prescriptions drugs, and that health care prices tend to increase faster than other costs. I have supported legislation to make the Social Security cost of living adjustments more accurately mirror the costs that seniors incur. We must protect our seniors and guarantee that they receive the full amount of Social Security that they deserve.

“Social Security is based on the premise that if you work hard and play by the rules, that you will receive some stability and security when you retire. The pledge made when this program started 75th years ago is still in effect today and will be for generations to come.”

Congressman Joe Sestak (candidate for senate):

This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act. U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak released the following statement to commemorate this milestone:

"Three quarters of a century ago, our nation made a commitment to stand with our seniors," said Joe. "Today, almost 60 million Americans depend on Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income. Congressman Toomey wants to endanger Social Security by gambling the savings of our seniors on Wall Street. This would be a windfall for Wall Street banks, which would rake in enormous fees, but could be disastrous for Pennsylvania's seniors who spent their lives paying into the system. We owe it to future generations to preserve - not privatize - this legacy."

Joe supports efforts to credit Social Security revenue to the Trust Fund, which has been created to preserve the funding for its intended purpose, rather than the General Fund, which allows the resources to be used in other ways. He would establish a Social Security "Lock Box" policy, which would prevent diversion of funds from Social Security for other programs.

Meanwhile, Congressman Toomey has called for portions of the Social Security system to be placed in the hands of for-profit banks and investors. Under Toomey's plan, workers would maintain investment accounts on Wall Street instead of paying into the trust fund, exposing our nation's retirement savings to the risks of the market. [Morning Call, 08/28/02]

The Toomey record:

* Voted to privatize Social Security to put retired workers' retirement security at risk based on the volatility of the market [HR 2590, 7/25/01, #273] and wanted to threaten Social Security to create risky Private Accounts [Morning Call, 8/28/02]
* Failed to protect Social Security by voting against securing Social Security and Medicare before spending our budget surplus [HR 1259, 5/26/99]
* Voted to raid Social Security to pay for President Bush's out-of-control budgets [H Con Res 353, 3/20/02, #79], taking over $200 billion in Social Security funds to pay for other programs
* Voted against creating a Social Security Reserve Account [H Con Res 95, 4/1/03, #95]
* Voted to restrict Social Security benefits by adding requirements for some workers to qualify for spousal benefits [HR 743, 4/2/03, #100]

Dr. Manan Trivedi, candidate for 6th congressional district:
Leading up to the anniversary of Social Security this Saturday, Manan Trivedi, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, signed a pledge to keep the promise that President Roosevelt made to all generations of hard-working Americans 75 years ago. While his opponent, who has a poor record fighting for Social Security, was preparing for a fundraiser with John Boehner, Trivedi was proposing his solutions to begin down the path toward solvency for the Social Security trust fund and pledging to safeguard this essential program.

In the attached photo, Trivedi stands in front of the signed pledge as he answers questions from the residents of Golden Living Community, a Phoenixville nursing home.

“This legislation, which I see as one of the most significant acts of law, when it was passed 75 years ago, was a family insurance program,” Trivedi said. “It was designed to ensure, in a time when many worked dangerous jobs, that if you worked hard and put in your time, Social Security would be there when you and your family most needed it. It was a promise to all generations that they would not fall through the cracks, and that is a promise I intend to keep.”

Symbolic of the candidates’ stark differences on this issue, while Trivedi was making his pledge to seniors, Gerlach was on his way to dinner with the Republican House Minority Leader. Over the years, Gerlach has regularly voted against protecting the Social Security fund. This evening, John Boehner is hosting a high-dollar fundraising event for Gerlach. In June of this year, Boehner, whose job it is to craft and execute the Republican agenda, came up here to Pennsylvania to float the idea to means-test Social Security and raise the retirement age to 70.

“The leader of the Republican party came to our home state to float his ideas for breaking down the assurances Social Security gives,” Trivedi said. “And now, while I am here discussing this issue that is so important to our community, Congressman Gerlach is getting ready to take the money raised by John Boehner. It seems that after all those years in Washington, Congressman Gerlach has grown fonder of the Republican leadership than the people he is supposed to represent. He’s had a poor record on fighting to protect the Social Security trust fund, and Gerlach has shown that he'll do what it takes to stay close to his Washington friends and the money they bring."

To ensure the future of the trust fund, Trivedi laid out what he described as a good first move toward restoring and protecting the Social Security trust fund. Step one of his plan is to cut Washington off by stopping the federal government from borrowing against the Social Security trust fund, a practice they have been doing for years. The second step is to pay back all those borrowed dollars -- with interest.

“Washington may not like me for this, but this is the best way to keep the promise we made 75 years ago. The first step,” Trivedi said, “is to stop borrowing against Social Security. We cannot let Congress try to use Social Security as a piggy bank. Second, we must pay the Social Security trust fund back -- with interest.

“After Washington bailed out those big banks on Wall Street, they told them that they had to pay back those loaned funds with interest. Well, it’s time Washington learned to do the same thing.”

After he had laid out his proposal, Trivedi signed his name to a large placard that read “Manan Trivedi’s Pledge to Protect Social Security for Pennsylvania’s Seniors.” The pledge read:

I pledge to the people of the Sixth Congressional District of Pennsylvania and to the American people that I will work to strengthen and protect Social Security and fight all efforts to privatize Social Security.

I, Manan Trivedi, will oppose all efforts to privatize Social Security

I will oppose diverting any Social Security revenues to fund private investment accounts or substituting private investment accounts for any portion of Social Security's guaranteed benefits.

I will oppose any plan that includes cutting guaranteed Social Security benefits to finance private investment accounts or any plan that raises the retirement age.

I pledge to fight Social Security privatization plans and work for real solutions that strengthen Social Security for the long term.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Murphy and Trivedi's Statements on Iraq Troop Withdrawal

from the inbox: two statements on Iraq Troop Withdrawal

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-08)

Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District), the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, released the following statement today regarding the departure of the last full U.S. combat brigade from Iraq:

“Today marks the end of a chapter in American history as we remember and honor the 4,400 brave troops who gave up their lives to serve their country. The sacrifice of my fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms will never be forgotten. And we renew our commitment to care for the thousands returning home with the scars of war - both those that are visible and others unable to be seen. My thoughts and prayers are with the 50,000 troops who remain in Iraq, as well as those deployed in Afghanistan or serving on bases in the United States and throughout the world.

It is critical that we continue to refocus our efforts on dismantling terrorist networks in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's safe haven, and the border regions of Pakistan.”

Dr. Manan Trivedi, candidate in 6th congressional district:
In response to the final combat troops leaving Iraq today, Manan Trivedi, Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th District and an Iraq War Veteran, released the following statement:

"Today, our nation took an important step in the right direction toward ending the war in Iraq, a war that never should have been started. As a Navy combat surgeon, I was one of the first men across the border from Kuwait when the invasion began. That was seven years ago. So on this day I watched with great pride as our service men and women began their journey home.

“This is a protracted war that has robbed other pressing foreign affairs, especially our efforts to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and around the globe, of our nation's attention and resources. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, posed no imminent threat to our nation, and Al-Qaeda did not enter Iraq until after our occupation.

"While I don't agree with the faulty reasoning given for entering Iraq in the first place, I know that we must now be careful in our exit. Iraq still has a long road ahead of it before it reaches stability. We must do our best to support their efforts to regain control of their government while developing strong relationships through our civilian and diplomatic efforts, while shifting our focus and resources back to Afghanistan and other critical international affairs.

“And just as I will never forget the day I crossed into Iraq, this day will also be remembered as my generation closes an important chapter of our history.”

Manan Trivedi is the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District. He is a primary care physician, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, and an Iraq War veteran from Berks County.

Big Bloggy Welcome to 143rd

The Democrats of the 143rd state house district have set up a community blog: http://www.the143rd.com/. The district includes Doylestown, Nockamixon, Bridgeton, Tinicum, Bedminster, Plumstead, Buckingham, Riegelsville, and Durham.

Welcome to the blogosphere!

First PA-07 Debate

from the inbox:

Today Representative Bryan Lentz, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, announced that he would be appearing in the first joint debate of the campaign season, scheduled for broadcast on Larry Kane’s “Voice of Reason” on the Comcast Network at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night.

The half-hour debate between Lentz and his Republican opponent Pat Meehan will be moderated by host Larry Kane during a Thursday afternoon taping in the Comcast Network’s Philadelphia studio. The debate will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, August 25 at 5:30 p.m.

The Expurgated Bits

Since it’s mid-August and everyone is on vacation, let me share a few stories from attendance at political events over the past almost six years of blogging, things that happened that I didn’t write about, for one reason or another. This isn’t a complete catalog – that will never see the light of day, but it is a few of the more memorable (good and bad) printable moments. Here for your amusement, divided into categories, are some of the expurgated bits.

The Food Channel

Hand eye coordination is a must in social settings, especially those involving food. Early on in my blogging career I attended a fundraiser at an art gallery, not a museum but a place that sold art. The carpets were tan; brownies were available at the refreshment table. It’s a bad combination. I was wandering around a small side section of the gallery, carrying a little paper plate with a brownie on it. I leaned over to look at a painting and realized the double ply plate had separated and the top plate and brownie were missing. Looking around I saw it on the floor – it had fallen and gotten caught on the heel of someone’s shoe. I put the toe of my shoe on the edge of the plate to pull it off the other person’s shoe without kicking them or calling attention to the situation. In the ensuing gymnastics it disappeared. I waited around until everyone had left, keeping an eye out and hoping it didn’t show up ground into the carpet, because you know it would leave a stain. When the section was empty I got down on hands and knees to look and found the plate and brownie under a sculpture case. Both went into the trash.

Most house parties are held at the homes of people who have more money than I do; it is the way of things. One event had a very nice sandwich buffet set out. I went back and forth from my seat to the table a couple of times, for a plate, for a glass, etc. After the second or third trip I realized a slice of tomato had gotten stuck on the bottom of my shoe and I’d been tracking it over a carpet that probably cost more than my annual salary. It didn’t appear to have left a mark. I felt very badly about it, but not badly enough to tell the hostess.

Blue Highways

More often than I care to admit I’ve set out to attend a political event only to drive around and never be able to find it. After one particularly frustrating drive, which ended successfully but required pulling over to check the map several times, my family got me a gps system, which has helped tremendously. But it is very embarrassing to come home and tell Mr. J, when he asks how it went, that it probably went well but I’ll never know.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Most of the people who attend political events are male. Again, that’s just the way things are. This also has led to a few awkward situations. Stray women showing up at local events, state house or senate, where most of the people know each other, can make people uncomfortable and this is expressed in a variety of ways. Like the gentleman who told me not to “sit there looking dumb.” I can’t remember what it was he thought I should be doing – talking to people, signing in, something like that., but I stayed put.

I often end up sitting at tables with people I don’t know. While I try to join other women that sometimes isn’t an option. And so at one event I ended up at a table with three gentlemen who had clearly visited the bar more than once. We exchanged a few casual remarks, hello, how is the food, etc. Then one of the men said that he had a pocket full of one dollar bills and if I would hop up on the table and dance he’d throw them at me. My first thought was of feminist outrage. The second was to wonder just how drunk they had to be to make this suggestion to a woman in her mid-40’s (it was a few years ago). The third was that this guy expected me to risk falling off the table and breaking a hip for ONE dollar bills? I laughed it off and fortunately right after that a candidate came and sat at the table. I took one of his flyers and grilled him on every one of his policy statements. It was probably a miserable meal for him but it allowed me the option of not interacting with the charmers on the other side of the table.

Sitting at a debate I noticed there was a scent in the area, probably someone’s cologne or perfume. As the event was breaking up I ran into a candidate and shook hands with him. Driving home in the car I could smell the same scent in the car. The man must have used a scented hand lotion or soap and it had transferred to my hands. In the close quarters of the car it was clearly a male scent. Having my husband ask me, later in the evening, why I smelled of pine forests gave me an unexpected sympathy for male politicos who go home trailing perfume or with lipstick on their cheek.

Dog Days

Often at house parties pets are more popular than the candidates. At one event a small dog worked the room very well. I struck up a friendship with him and we worked out a routine. When the dog was near me he would sit within arm’s reach. I would look him in the eye for 2 beats, then I would extend my hand, the dog would sniff it and then I would pet him. But once when the candidate was speaking my focus was divided and I waited 4 beats to extend my hand. That was too long for the dog who went off in a huff and made a point of visiting everyone in my part of the room but not me. It was a definite social cut. I was being dissed by a dog. Later in the evening the dog forgave me and let me pet him again. It was a very humbling experience.

Those are the stories I can tell. The rest are staying in the vault.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lentz on Good Day Philadelphia

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, now running for Congress in the 7th district, was on "Good Day Philadelphia" recently. The main topic was a bill that would close the "Florida loophole," which allows people who are denied a gun permit in Pennsylvania to get a legal permit from other states (often Florida). Fox has a video available and a good article that summarizes Lentz's remarks on the subject.

At the end of the interview the hosts broach the subject of a third party candidate in the 7th district. This is a paraphrase of the questions and answers; it is not intended as a transcript. As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Q: Several stories around the country about 3rd party candidates. Did you have campaign workers volunteer to help get a 3rd party candidate on the ballot?

BL: Jim Schneller has been running for office for over a year now. The people who helped him are public record. The [Republican Pat] Meehan campaign has tried to say there is a mystery about who collected the signatures and there was an attempt to conceal who got signatures. The people who collected the signatures are part of the public record. Now Pat Meehan is arguing over who is the tea party candidate. I’m not the tea party candidate.

Q: Out of 8K signatures for Schneller, over 5k were collected by your people. Won't Schneller siphon votes away from Meehan, improving your chances of winning?

BL: The fact is that Schneller and Meehan have to fight over tea party vote. There’s nothing for me to admit. None of the people who collected signatures worked for me, none are paid by my campaign. Schneller got 4K signatures n his own. He participated in debate in February. [blogger's note: I attended the candidate's debate in February and wrote up a post on it; Schneller, Lentz and another caniddate talekd about foreign policy issues.] He's been running over a year now. Jim Schneller is his own man. In other states 3rd party candidates were asked to run; Schneller is running on his own. I’m happy to have them argue over who is the tea party candidate.

Fed Funding for Vets Housing in Bensalem

from the inbox:

On Tuesday, August 17, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) was joined by Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo’s office and local officials to announce House passage of $500,000 in federal funding for affordable housing for veterans.

Mayor DiGirolamo has spearheaded the effort to construct 40 independent living apartments for low-income and disabled veterans. Earlier this year, the Mayor had approached Murphy about requesting federal funding to help move the project forward. Murphy submitted the request, calling the affordable housing project “vital for the wellbeing of heroes who served our country but have fallen on tough times.”

“Veterans who are disabled or find themselves struggling to make ends meet will now have this safety net to fall back on, and I’m honored to do my part to help with this project,” said Murphy. He thanked Mayor DiGirolamo, Nancy Szamborski with the Bucks County Housing Group, and Charles Diamond with the Bucks County Housing Development Corporation for their tireless efforts to bring the project to fruition.

“I appreciate Congressman Murphy’s efforts on behalf of Bucks County’s 60,000 veterans. I look forward to completing this important project and providing affordable housing for veterans who need that help,” said Mayor DiGirolamo.

The federal funding, one of several sources for the project, will go to the Bucks County Housing Development Corporation to carry out the construction of the new units. In addition to the 40 units, the Bensalem Affordable Veterans Housing project will include a community room and social service offices to provide the veterans with additional support. The funding was included in the House Transportation-Housing-Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill.

News Corp Donates $1 Million to Republican Governors Association

from the inbox:

Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, issued the following statement today regarding a $1 million dollar contribution from News Corp., parent company of Fox News, to the Republican Governors Association.

"By contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, Fox has crossed a bright line. Fox can no longer pretend that it is a ‘fair and balanced’ news organization when Rupert Murdoch greenlights a million dollar contribution to defeat Democratic governors.

“Time and time again, Fox News has defended itself against accusations that it is nothing more than a tool of the Republican Party. We know now that the reality is so much worse: they’re bankrolling the GOP. FOX's news division is ignoring the fact that its own parent company made a direct and unprecedented partisan contribution to defeat Democrats. This is hypocrisy at its worst, and is a sad day for all of us who believe that an independent and impartial media is vital to our democracy.

“Not only does this contribution severely compromise Fox's news reporting, but it even breaks Fox’s own promise to its shareholders that it won't give money to benefit office holders.

“While it might be naive to think this will ever happen, we can only hope that Fox will own up to the activities and that its stable of opinion hosts like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly will do the right thing and call on their company to return the contribution.”

A Note on a Pascal Quote

I can't find it now but a few years ago a Philadelphia blogger posted a quote from Blaise Pascal: All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

It struck me as being very profound though that could be an introvert's general mistrust of crowds.

This evening Christian Martin's blog had a post including a video called "How to be alone," that gives step by step instructions on becoming comfortable being alone. It is quite charming, simple, and an excellent primer for those who are antsy when solely in their own company.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Onorato Talks With Philly Clout, And Other Onorato News

Last Thursday, Chris Brennan of Philly Clout talked with Dan Onorato, the Democratic candidate for governor. The five minute video is available on philly.com, at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/PhillyClout_Talks_WithDan_Onorato.html It is listed as being 18 minutes long but is actually on 5, so it's quick listen.

I typed up some brief notes, not intended as a transcription. As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Onorato is running against Republican Tom Corbett.

[Opening screen shot of Onorato talking]
DO: Considering that a year and a half ago I was down 25 points and now I'm 5 points down, with 40% not having an opinion, I'd say I'm making headway.

[Onorato and Brennan sit down to talk]

CB: Your campaign announced it had raised over $3M dollars, even though the next reporter period is about 6 weeks away, are you releasing that number to show momentum?

DO: The amount of money raised is a measuring stick but only one. The media reports on money when the reports are filed. This is another example of why my campaign if viable. Between fundraising, field operation, etc. we will win.
BC: Corbett is ahead. When will you go on the air and spend some of that money?

DO: I spent a lot of money in primary and had a big win. Both Tom and I need to get our name out there. We will run ads.

CB: You've held a fundraiser with Bill Clinton, possibly your biggest fundraiswer of the season. Will you ask President Obama to come and campaign for you? biggest fundraiers of season? BO?

DO: We haven't tried to contact the president yet.

CB: Corbett cals you his tax raising opponent. You placed a tax on alcoholic beverages. Corbett says he won't raise taxes but will balance the budget.

DO: His talk doesn’t match his rhetoric. He's never been an executive; he's never governed. The only department he runs he asks for more money each year. I know something about streamlining. I support a severance tax on Marcellus Shale; we can fund economic activity such as water and sewer lines.

CB: You are in favor the lowest severance tax in the country, as cited in a political publication.

DO: They got that wrong. They asked what I thought was a reasonable severance tax; I mentioned Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas as places that have taxes. We need to find a way that is safe for the environment but doesn't kill the industry.

Other Onorato news: If you follow Onorato on twitter (@dan_onorato) you will have noticed that this past weekend he was making his usual round of Philadelphia area picnics; one with Rep. Ron Waters Village Family Reunion another with Laborers Local 332, and I think there might have been a third event in there somewhere. Previously Onorato has visited with voters in, among other places, Montco, Bucks Co, and other sections of Philadelphia.

Mrs. Onorato has put together a small online photo scrapbook of his travels. Shelly has my sympathy -- I've been dealing with vacation photos recently.