Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailing out or Bailout?

A Captain Renault Post: This post is a momentary respite from covering and uncovering AG/SC Corbett's partisan "investigation" and hypocritical and cynical campaign for re-election.

Every observer and commentator on politics and public policy has been watching and reading everything possible about the national bank and credit crisis.

It was quite a day of high drama in the US House yesterday. As the whole world knows now, the US House failed to pass The Bailout Bill yesterday. With a vote of this magnitude -- a "legacy" vote many members were calling it -- there is bound to be some electoral fallout with candidates and campaign managers scrambling all over PA trying to figure out how to spin this vote and decide what the new TV ads will look like. Make no mistake this was a very tough vote either way for many Members of Congress. The stakes are high.

I wanted to take a closer look at how the PA members of Congress voted and I was inspired by this article from the smart folks at the great website FiveThirtyEight.

Below is the list of how the PA delegation voted. I have used the relative rankings for the competitiveness of each seat based on the analysis provided in the above article. The "swing seat" analysis uses 7 levels to rank the competitiveness of a congressional race: safe, lean R, likely R, toss up, lean D, likely D, and races to watch. A Congressman in a "races to watch" seat is considered "safe" for the moment, but the analysts will watch it closely to determine if it will fall into one of the other categories in the weeks ahead. A Congressman who is in a "safe" seat is by definition not included on a list of competitive seats of course and are very unlikely to ever be included on such a list. Or they are unopposed -- in which case they are very safe.

Pennsylvania Congressional Seats and Votes on the Bailout Bill:

Safe ( Aye) PA-1 Brady, Robert [D]
Safe (Aye) PA-2 Fattah, Chaka [D]
Lean R (Nay) PA-3 English, Philip [R]
Lean D (Nay) PA-4 Altmire, Jason [D]
Retiring (Aye) PA-5 Peterson, John [R]
Race to watch (Nay) PA-6 Gerlach, Jim [R]
Safe ( Aye) PA-7 Sestak, Joe [D]
Likely D (Aye) PA-8 Murphy, Patrick [D]
Safe (Nay) PA-9 Shuster, William [R]
Lean D (Nay) PA-10 Carney, Christopher [D]
Toss Up (Aye) PA-11 Kanjorski, Paul [D]
Safe (Aye) PA-12 Murtha, John [D]
SAfe (Aye) PA-13 Schwartz, Allyson [D]
Safe (Aye) PA-14 Doyle, Michael [D]
Likely R (Nay) PA-15 Dent, Charles [R]
Safe (Nay) PA-16 Pitts, Joseph [R]
Safe (Nay) PA-17 Holden, Tim [D]
Safe (Nay) PA-18 Murphy, Tim [R]
Safe (Nay) PA-19 Platts, Todd [R]

So there they are. Courage? Political expediency? Political philosophy? Ideology? Following their leadership? Opposing their leadership? Demonstrating leadership?

All of the above? None of the above?

Everyone has their opinions of the Bailout Bill, the handling of this issue by the Bush Administration and Congress in general, and the rationale and motivation for how specific members of Congress voted on the bill. I have mine. You can email me with yours or post a comment.

Monday, September 29, 2008


So now we know. AG/SC Tom Corbett gets his inspiration from Dr. Seuss. In a recent appearance in front of the Rotary Club in Lancaster let's us know he is a fan of Dr. Suess.

From the Intelligencer Journal:
Corbett talks issues at Rotary Club meeting

BY MICHAEL YODER, Intelligencer Journal Staff

Tom Corbett says he takes comfort in the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.

The Pennsylvania attorney general, speaking at Wednesday afternoon's meeting
of the Rotary Club of Lancaster, said he still reads the Seuss book "Oh, the
Places You'll Go!" for inspiration.

A few lines from that book: "So be sure when you step -- Step with care and
great tact -- and remember that Life's -- a Great Balancing Act," can relate
to Corbett's current situation of trying to balance a tricky investigation
into legislative bonuses while running as a Republican for a second term as
attorney general.

So now we know. Not that there is anything wrong with reading Dr. Seuss -- for inspiration or otherwise. I only hope his reading habits aren't contributing to the fact that he just hasn't found the time to investigate and prosecute Republicans before the November election.

Now that I have glanced at "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Corbett's source of inspiration makes a bit more sense. Here's a passage from the book he didn't mention to the Rotary Club members:

You'll look up and down streets. Look'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."

You see, after 18 months of "investigating all four caucuses", Corbett has only found the time and the will to go down the street of indicting Democrats before the election. But be assured he says, even though he can't talk about it (wink, wink), there's lots more to come. Sure. And I have a Bridge to Nowhere to sell you.

Which reminds me, for a guy who keeps telling the press that "he can't talk about the investigation because of grand jury secrecy rules", he sure talks a lot about the investigation as he runs for re-election.

In one of his most astounding, arrogant and out-of-touch quotes given his partisan performance in Bonusgate over the last 18 months, the Intelligencer Journal reports this comment by Corbett:

"It's one of those times -- I hate to say it, but I almost feel like saying,
'Trust me -- we're going to get there, and when we're finished there are
going to be a lot of people with egg on their face,'" Corbett said.

Green eggs no doubt.


A Captain Renault post: It has been a difficult and challenging few days for the country as we appeared to be on the edge of a real bank and credit market meltdown. As a blogger and commentator on politics I was reaching sensory overload. As a specialist on rooting out hypocrisy and double standards in political stories there was just so much material available in the bailout story that I didn't know where to start.

So what to do? Watching the news late last week the answer hit me. Suspension! Just suspend the blog for a couple days and all would be well and everything would be sorted out and I could get back to work. Better minds than mine came up with that way of dealing with a crisis so who am I to disagree. I mean how many things can you do at once?

But now that our national leaders are making great progress on the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, stopping the national run on banks, the thousands of people losing their homes, the inability of main street businesses to get credit, the bankruptcies and mergers of historic investment firms, and the potential collapse of the economy as we know it, I can get back to what really counts and is so vitally important here in our state of PA -- the Bonusgate story and whether or not anyone was conducting "political" activity in our state capitol over the last 50 years. I know, I know. It's hard to imagine. Maybe you are even "shocked, shocked" to learn there has been "political activity" going on in the legislature. But hey, keep things in perspective. They tell me it's important.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is Corbett on another planet?

A Captian Renault post: Earlier this week Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett announced that he would not indict anyone else in the Bonusgate investigation before the election. This was no surprise to me. After all, as Captain Renault I set the standard for "shocked" hypocrisy and double standards so I know it when I see it. But Corbett is doing everything he can to set the hypocisy and double standards bar very high. Even the conservatives who run the chain of papers connected to Richard Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune Review wonder what planet Tom Corbett is on. In a scathing editorial posted this week, The Valley Independent called Corbett's investigation a "...mess of his own making".

And what a mess he has made.

From the editorial:

"It's been mishandled; it's clearly one-sided at this point," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, who is running against Corbett for the attorney general's post.

We agree. Whether purposefully or not, Corbett has brought a partisan tinge to his corruption probe. He knew full well that Election Day was coming when he announced his first round of charges in July and that the clock was ticking on the next indictments.

This editorial was one of a number from newspapers around the state this week questioning Corbett's motivation and rationale for not indicting Republicans before the election. I could have saved them a lot of time and paper. His motivations are simple: apply a double standard, indict Democrats before the election, give Republicans great ammunition to use in campaigns throughout the state, help Replicans win elections, make the Republican party grateful so he can run for Governor in 2010.
The Valley Independent editorial went on to provide some advice to Corbett:

Corbett should have planned his investigation and his release of information better so that voters -- and the accused -- could be confident that they were dealing with the law, and not a politically motivated stunt.

Well I have a little Captain Renault advice for the editorial writers at the Valley Independent: You are a bit late.

This investigation has been a "politically motivated stunt" from the beginning -- complete with massive amounts of hypocrisy and applied double standards. The Main Stream Media has been slow in recognizing this glaring fact but Corbett's latest action may (and I mean may) help them see the light. What's that you say? Surely no one in such a high profile position like Attorney General would bring politics into the justice system. Not in PA. Not in America.

Oh no? Open up your wikipedia or just google two words: Alberto Gonzales.

Developing...more to come...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Watch CBS Videos Online

A Captain Renault post: Check out this video! Obama is a fan of Casablanca! It is one of his favorites! I know my blog has been getting some attention lately but I didn't realize how far we had reached on the national scene. My only disappointment is that Sen. Obama didn't do an imitation of me -- Captain Louis Renault!

Ok. Ok. Umm. So maybe it wasn't an endorsement of my CasablancaPA blog. But hey, that's no more of a stretch than AG/SC Tom Corbett claiming there are no politics involved in his Bonusgate investigation. Anyone who listens to what he says, or who reads his comments and quotes, or who watches him on a news program or a video, knows he is stretching the truth -- at best. Me? I think he is just plain ol' lying through his teeth. But maybe that just me.

But maybe not. As you can see from my previous post where I highlight the Checking the Balance blog, there are more and more people in PA every day who don't buy what Corbett is selling. More and more people, bloggers, voters, editorial writers in PA and even some (but not many) very cynical main stream media reporters are starting to view Corbett and his "investigation" for what it is: a thinly disguised partisan effort to help himself politically and to help his Republican party in this November election. Calling Alberto Gonzales!

Developing...more to come...

The "Corbett is a dangerous partisan prosecutor" Tide Rises

A Catain Renualt post: Remember the guy in this picture? Alberto Gonzales has been the poster boy for subverting the justice system with partisan politic action as a prosecutor. Well, AG/SC Tom Corbett is now giving Gonzales a run for his money.

The blogoshere is humming with info about Corbett's outrageous use of partisan politics as our state's top law enforcement official. Corbett's recent announcement that he would not be indicting any Republicans before the election did not surprise me of course since I know about hypocrisy better than anyone and Corbett is, if nothing else, a supreme hypocrite.

But his decision did surprise some and outraged many. There is LOTS more to be posted by me on this part of the Bonusgate story -- including some scathing editorials on Corbett's blatant use of political prosecutions (and non-prosecutions) as a way to advance himself and the cause of his Republican party.

For now I want to give major props and a shout out to one of the best blog sites covering the Corbett fiasco and PA politics. This blogger has plenty to say on this subject and he/she does it well. The site is well written, well researched, and always on top of the Corbett shenanigans and other interesting political stories and tidbits. Check out Checking the Balance and see how the tide is rising against AG/SC Corbett.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Shock" and no Awe: Corbett won't prosecute Republicans before the election

A Captain Renault post:  As you can imagine, I am "shocked, shocked" to hear Attorney General (and Space Cadet) Tom Corbett tell us all today that he won't be bringing any more charges related to Bonusgate before the election.  That means of course that after 20 months of investigations and grand juries all over the state, AG/SC Corbett will NOT be indicting any Republicans any time soon.  I am "shocked" that he now says he has run out of time to charge Republicans.

Of course, maybe he "ran out of time" to indict Republicans because he and his fellow space cadets spent well over 18 months investigating only Democrats.  Or maybe he can't indict Republicans because the House Republicans destroyed all of the hard drives in their caucus computer operation.  Or maybe the statewide Republican party leaders just flat out told he he can't indict Republicans before the election -- this state is just too important in the race(s) for President, Congress, and the State House.  Why ruin a good thing?  Using all of my skills in recognizing hypocrisy and double standards when I see them my guess is: all of the above--and more.

You can almost see AG/SC Corbett in the smoke-filled room with the party bigwigs during the recent Republican National Convention laying out the plan to "run out of time" before the November election.  "We have a great issue Tom", "we can beat Democrats over the head with Bonusgate", "PA is so important -- don't ruin our chances Tom". 

It is not hard to imagine the conversations that took place in the Twin Cities.  This was a convention after all attended by the current chief of staff to Republican Minority Leader Sam Smith (Tony Aliano) and by Rep. John Perzel's former chief of staff (Brian Preski).  Let me emphasize theses point: all of the major players in the PA Republican party were there -- in the same room, at the same meetings, at the same lunches, dinners, and bars.  The very official supposed to be investigating House Republicans is having a good ol' time with some of the key House Republican players at the Republican convention.

AG/SC Corbett is now barely even pretending to be even-handed in this Bonusgate investigation.  Despite all of the rumors and inside the capitol buzz over the last month about Republicans "being in trouble" Corbett comes out today and makes it clear that the Republicans can continue to use the Bonusgate and "corruption" issue against the Democrats in PA in this election year.  Corbett plays the good Republican soldier today and and the public, reporters, editorial writers and especially Democrats be damned.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Good scene: Casablanca

I want to share my favorite video with you to remind all of my readers why I am the best at covering, uncovering, and exposing the hypocrisy and double standards woven all through the Bonusgate story. Very few do hypocrisy better than me. Although I have to admit, so many of the players in the Bonusgate story are trying very hard to compete with me for the "icon of hypocrites" role.

Friday, September 19, 2008

An email indictment of Corbett's partisan investigation

A Captain Renault post:

One of my sources sent me a copy of this email which appears to have been sent recently to House Democrat members by corbettperspective@gmail.com. This is a very interesting and impressive email and does a great job of pointing out the hypocrisy, double standards and just downright partisan activities being applied by Attorney General/Space Cadet Tom Corbett in his "Bonusgate" investigation. (I am envious: "shocked" hypocrisy is supposed to be my specialty).

Below is the text of the email that my source provided to me:
House Democrats:

Rumors are rampant that partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett will indict House Republicans before beginning his bogus self-imposed moratorium on the Bonusgate investigation for October. http://www.politickerpa.com/wallyedgepa/1737/republican-heads-could-roll-more-likely-towards-end-next-week

If he does, you should be demanding that the presentment be as comprehensive and far reaching as that brought against your fellow Democrats. You should be wary of falling under the spell of a weak presentment issued by Corbett to lull you and the public into believing he has been conducting a balanced investigation.

First, let's put the scope of the investigation into perspective.

According to the Associated Press and House Democratic attorneys, over 135 House Democratic employees and even Democratic House members have been forced to testify under oath "…the caucus has paid so far to about a dozen lawyers who represented more than 135 caucus employees and a small number of Democratic state representatives." (AP, 7/31/08)

When it comes to Republicans, the number of staff is conveniently vague. Sam Smith says "I have no way of knowing how many have been subpoenaed or who will be." (Patriot 9/10/08) The Patriot reports possibly 30 (Patriot 8/14/08) and unlike some of you, not a single Republican member has been questioned. (Post Gazette 8/16/08) Most importantly, unlike Democratic staff and members who nearly all were compelled to testify under oath, most Republican staff were merely interviewed by friendly Republican prosecutors. (Herald Standard 9/7/08)

Next, let's put the timing of the investigation into perspective.

Corbett consistently tipped his Republican colleagues in the legislature off to what to cover up by nailing House Democrats first. In fact, by strategically staggering the investigation, Corbett gave his Republican friends months and in some cases nearly a year to destroy evidence and prepare those staff likely to be brought in for puff interviews by his equally partisan investigators. This timeline shows how Republicans were given plenty of time to prepare:

4/16/07 – Corbett empanels Grand Jury (Tribune Review 4/12/07)
8/23/07 – Corbett raids Democratic offices (AP 8/30/07)
9/10/07 – Corbett compels House Democratic staff to testify before Grand Jury (Patriot 9/12/07)
10/22/07 – Corbett issues first subpoenas for House Republican documents (Post Gazette 10/24/07)
2/12/08 – Corbett issues first subpoenas for Senate Republican documents (Patriot 2/13/08)
Circa 8/1/08 – Corbett interviews first Republican House staff (Post Gazette 8/7/08)

Finally, let's put Corbett's guidelines for the investigation into perspective.

He has consistently said all he and his Republican investigators can do is follow the available evidence: "[Corbett] has told his lead investigators, 'Follow the evidence. There are no reins on you. … We don't care who it is. If there's evidence, go forward.'" (Indiana Gazette 8/27/08)

This supposedly unbridled non-partisan search for evidence has been a farce. Four times as many Democratic staff as Republican staff have been subpoenaed. No Republican members have had to testify or have even been interviewed. The schedule of the investigation has given the Republicans ample time to destroy evidence, most notably their hard drives and servers. (Patriot News 8/3/08)

Now that you have a better perspective on the matter, what does this mean for you?

Only half the battle is won for you if Corbett brings charges against Republicans before October 1. You can't allow him to simply indict Matt Wright and call it a day. (AP 10/24/07)

Everyone is aware of how wide ranging the campaign operation maintained by the Republican caucus is:

Hard drives have been destroyed. (Patriot News 8/3/08)

Campaign materials were stored on Republican servers. (Inquirer 2/18/07)

Republicans admit that campaigning in their caucuses was prevalent, particularly in the Office of Regional Coordinators supervised by John Hanley. (Post Gazette 12/17/07 and Lebanon Daily News 7/20/08)

Republican members sent tens of thousands of campaign donations to the HRCC through Republican Capitol offices, specifically to Jeanne Schmedlen in Speaker Perzel's office. (Campaign finance reports 2004 to 2006 for Micozzie, Geist, Cornell, Killion, Denlinger, True, Harris, Millard)

Republicans maintained a massive data base for political campaigns using state funds (Post Gazette 9/11/08)

Beyond the rampant campaigning, Republicans were clearly benefiting from their postions in power:

A high ranking Republican staff person ordered Republican IT staff do personal work on his home. (Post Gazette 9/11/08)

John Perzel made hundreds of thousands of dollars from insider deals through his family's charter school in Philadelphia. (Daily News 5/8/04 and 5/20/04; Inquirer 5/19/04 and 6/2/08)

Nick Micozzie orchestrated an underhanded shuffle of WAM money in Clifton Heights, possibly destroying public records in the process. (Delaware Times 7/26/08)

Oh, and by the way, it doesn't look as if there will be any charges against Senate Republicans before Octorber 1st (and consequently the election). This shouldn't be surprising since Senate Republicans have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Corbett's campaigns.

Demand balance! Don't settle for charges against a former Republican rank and file member. Don't be distracted by a weak and impotent presentment brought by Corbett in order to avoid further criticism before his re-election. (end of email)

Partisan AG Corbett blasted for his "political timetable" for new indictments

A Captain Renualt post: Attorney General (and Space Cadet) Tom Corbett has recently said to reporters that unless he can indict more people (republicans?) by October 1st, there will be no indictments before the election.

He is being roundly criticized for this decision by editorial boards throughout the state. AG/SC Corbett goes on to explain to reporters that indictments after Oct 1 would appear to be "too political".

OH...and it wasn't "too political" to indict just DEMOCRATS in July of an election year? Give me a break. As one editorial board wrote..."Ask Rep. Sean Ramaley"...if the July indictments had any impact on the November elections.

So surprise, surprise, after 18 months only investigating House Democrats, AG/SC Corbett is running out of time to indict any Republicans before the election. I know, you are as surprised as I am.

In the meantime, House Republican candidates are running all over the state using Corbett's indictments of some House Democrat staff and current and former officials to beat Democrat candidates over the head with "Bonusgate" nonsense. I know, you are shocked about that too.