Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Women's Health

“Advocates Shun ‘Pro-Choice’ to Expand Message” was the headline in an article by Jackie Calmes in today’s Times.  Ms. Calmes explained that “pro-choice” refers to abortion, but that the issues facing women today are much greater.  

Since 2010 Republicans have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood.  They are still talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act, which mandates coverage for contraception, mammograms, and annual gynecological exams without co-payments.  The Act also ended insurance companies’ rating systems that charged women more then men.

Republicans used the cover of “religious freedom” to deny the birth control benefit.  Many Republicans are proposing a “personhood” amendment, that would define life as starting at conception, which would criminalize some fertility treatments.  They would, in effect, insert legislators in the examination room to tell doctors and their patients what procedures are legal or illegal.

Finally, Republicans are blocking a rise in the minimum wage which would benefit millions of women at the lower end of the pay scale.  

It’s a lot more than abortion that is at issue here.  Women’s rights are under attack across the board. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Texting While Driving

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania recently published a county map listing the number of violations for texting while driving issued per 100,000 licensed drivers.  Five counties had no citations whatsoever—Forest, Clinton, Sullivan, Huntingdon, and Fulton.  Then came Crawford with 1.6 citations per 100,000, followed by Carbon County, with 2.  Potter County was first, with 69.3.  

Why was Carbon so low?  I can think of a number of reasons:

1.  Residents of Carbon are law abiding.  Actually, I don’t buy that one.  Just tonight the Times News reported on a woman in Mahoning Township who attacked her neighbor with a weed whacker.  While that crime may not be typical, Carbon has quite a few people who end up in court for all kinds of offenses.

2.  Carbon residents don’t have cell phones.  Again, I don’t buy that one.  While it’s true that I don’t have a cell phone, everyone else I know does.

3.  Carbon drivers are old and don’t text much.  That one makes some sense.  I don’t know what the median age of the Carbon population is, but there are a heck of a lot of old people in Carbon.  

4.  Carbon County police officers are lax about enforcing the law against texting while driving.  I have no comment on that one.

In any case, I’ll bet we are doing better in weed whacker attacks per 100,000.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Now there’s a word I didn’t know until recently.  That’s what it is called when American companies acquire overseas companies and relocate their headquarters to lower their taxes.

President Obama has called upon Congress to act to stop the rush to inversions, and some Republicans in Congress do seem to be concerned.  The less taxes corporations pay, the higher the tax burden on the rest of us.

Of course, if companies think legislation is possible, they may try to make these deals even sooner.  Tax legislation is often made retroactive, but it is doubtful that Republicans will go for any retroactive bill.

Actually, to be honest, it is unlikely that the present Congress will pass any bill, including one to support motherhood and apple pie.

And so the rich get richer and the rest of us will pay and pay and pay.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lentz Trail Canvass

Today Linda and I canvassed a little community called Hacklebarnie and Lentz Trail, which is an extension of Broadway in Jim Thorpe.  We also canvassed Chipmunk Trail, a very nice quiet neighborhood.   This was the toughest “turf” we have worked this summer, with long driveways and little room to park.  We stopped about 2/3rds of the way through for lunch at Gaetano’s Pizza in East Jim Thorpe, which I recommend.

Once again, every person we talked to was polite. Most were Wolf supporters.  

I do want to note that Lentz Trail, which runs past Mauch Chunk Lake, is a difficult road with fast-moving cars.  If I am ever run over canvassing, and you are at my funeral, I don’t want you to say, “He died doing what he loved.”  I don’t like canvassing that much, and I can think of many things I’d rather be doing.

What you should say is, “He died doing what he was driven to do to make Pennsylvania better.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wild Creek Bee Farm

Chris Maxwell, the owner of Wild Creek Bee Farm, spoke to an audience of 30 people at a program at Kibler School this evening.  Mr. Maxwell, who raises queen bees and sells honey and honey-based cosmetics, explained the problems beekeepers are experiencing because of the widespread use of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” corn and soybean seeds.

Bees need flowers, but wildflowers are less available.  Few farmers in this area grow hay or have meadows full of flowers.  Mr. Maxwell also noted how vulnerable milkweed plants were to herbicides, and he explained how monarch butterflies need milkweed plants to reproduce.

I would guess that most members of the audience were Republicans, but these are Republicans who live in the country.  They knows that butterflies have become scarce, that you can no longer hear whippoorwills in the evening, that bumblebees are starting to outnumber honey bees, that bats have been dying out, that barn swallows no longer swoop down to eat insects scared up by the mower.

They are also very cynical.  They believe that the big chemical companies have bought off our legislators, and small organic farmers are overwhelmed by lobbyists and campaign contributors.  They are correct.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Children at the border, Part 2

The informal rules of blogging say that you should only address one issue per posting, but I’m writing about a single issue, and that is the Central American children coming to the U.S.

First, thank you to the Times News.  It ran a thought-provoking cartoon that showed children crossing the border.  On the southern side was a tattooed gangster; on the American side was an assault rifle wielding American with the label “hate.”  

Secondly,  I got into it with two women at the Turkey Hill in Gilbert, where we buy our New York Times.  They were talking about how illegals were taking our jobs, and I said, “The ones coming across the border now are children.  We can’t just shoot them.”  The one who was buying lottery tickets said, “Whatever happened to ‘charity begins at home?’” I just walked away.

Finally, Gov. Corbett is worried that the kids coming across the border might be bringing diseases.  Sociologists refer to people who are not part of the in-group as “the other,” and one classic manifestation is to accuse them of being “unclean,” full of diseases.  I was thinking about suggesting that the kids should be provided with bells, and as they walked, be required to repeat, “Unclean, unclean.”  Then it occurred to me that the 9/12ers and Gov. Corbett might take that as a serious suggestion.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Walgreen Drugs

Walgreen Company, a company with thousands of drug stores across the U.S., recently merged with Alliance Boots, a European drug store chain.  Walgreen will be moving its corporate headquarters to Switzerland.

The reason companies such as Walgreen are doing this is because they will be paying less taxes.  The American tax rate, including state and local taxes, averages about 39%.  But wait, according to economist Robert Reich, the Government Accountability Office examined corporations headquartered in the U.S. and found they paid an average tax rate of 17% .  There are all those deductions and breaks and tax credits.

Walgreen’s PAC spent $991,030 on federal elections since the 2010 election cycle.  Dr. Reich points out that if Walgreen is now a Swiss corporation, it should not be allowed to spend one penny to influence an American election.  He is absolutely right.

Incidentally, RiteAid is still an American company.