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markpkessinger's Journal - Archives
Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Fri Dec 02nd 2011, 04:15 PM
... and was comprised of far too much by way of non-stimulative tax cuts. But the President, not yet disabused of his silly notion that he was dealing with rational adults across the aisle, insisted on incorporating "Republican ideas." The result was a stimulus that certainly helped, but not to the degree it could have had it been larger, and did not meet the Administration's projections.
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Posted by markpkessinger in Latest Breaking News
Thu Nov 24th 2011, 01:56 AM
...but why not just return to hand-counted, paper ballots? Sure, it means we might have to wait several days, maybe even a week or two, before the final tallies come in. But paper ballots make it much easier to verify actual. votes in the event of any question. Seems like instantaneous results are a pretty small sacrifice considering the stakes.
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Thu Nov 10th 2011, 11:19 PM
... but I don't apologize for the content of it (see http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu... ). In my fit of pique, I apparently misconstrued the intent behind some things, and for that I also apologize.

Here's a little background, to hopefully give folks an idea of where I was coming from when I posted my tirade.

I grew up not 30 miles from Penn State. I am not an alumnus, and am not even particularly a football fan of any sort. But I have plenty of friends and family who live in the area, and who are major Nittany Lions fans. They are all, to a person, utterly devastated by these events. In various threads here today, I've seen some truly over the top characterizations of the Penn State community -- characterizations that do a gross injustice to the vast majority of students, alumni and fans. They are most certainly NOT a bunch of willing enablers of child abuse who value football above the safety and welfare of children.

I realize that, in the actions of some of students who rioted last night, such an impression would be easy to take away from it. I don't defend their rioting. But I do, at least, have an idea where they are coming from. I spent a considerable amount of time online last night, talking/corresponding with students at PSU, both Paterno defenders and non-defenders. I tried to explain to some of the hardcore defenders that the rest of the country was reading their actions very differently from what they themselves were trying to express, that they were sending the wrong message. I still believe that. But I have to say that some of them were remarkably articulate about why they were upset, and they made some very valid points that merit at least a bit of understanding, even if not agreement. Below are some of their arguments, as I understand them (and there are certainly counterarguments to be made as well). Among the points they raised:

  • By far, the majority of the kids I spoke to were in full agreement that Paterno should have done more, and indeed was morally obligated to do more, either by advising the grad assistant to go straight to the police, by calling the police himself, or, after weeks went by and no action had been taken, demanding action himself. And they seemed to think this was the prevailing view among the students.

  • Penn State has a policy in place regarding the protocol to be followed upon receiving this kind of complaint -- a policy that complies with state law, and which is likely virtually identical to similar policies at colleges and universities across the state. Whatever else may be said about what Paterno did and did not do, or about what he was morally obligated to do, the fact is he complied with the law. Many of the students feel that if there are going to be requirements over and above the policy -- requirements which, if not met, can result in dismissal -- then those requirements should be clearly delineated in the policy. They feel that it is rather unfair, when such a policy is in place, to impose additional requirements after the fact.

  • Related to the point above, they point out that if failure to go above and beyond the stated policy is an offense worthy of dismissal, they are outraged that the same standard has not been applied to McQueary.

  • They agree the administration as a whole dropped the ball on this. But some pointed out that by Paterno notifying the athletic director, and the athletic director in turn notifying VP Gary Schulz, who oversees the university police, that police were effectively notified, and responsibility for the fact that Schulz failed to instruct university police to investigate is a matter that properly falls on Schulz, not on Paterno.

  • In light of these, what the students believe are mitigating, circumstances, they felt Paterno should have been permitted to finish out the season and then retire.


Not once, from anyone I spoke to or corresponded with, did I hear a suggestion that Paterno shouldn't have done more. There was not one who wasn't thoroughly disgusted by the events. As I said, there are counterarguments to each of the students' points -- and I made them to those I talked to -- but their points are worthy at least of some consideration. So that's why I reacted so strongly to suggestions by some here that these students were more interested in football than the safety of the children and other similar nonsense. Those kids were in tremendous pain last night. They acted out, unfortunately very inappropriately, in a manner that gave to those outside the institution a very distorted view of what the majority of students think about the whole affair. What I am pleading for is just a bit of restraint, a bit of understanding, before labeling them all "enablers of child abuse."

And again, I apologize to all for the intemperate tone of my earlier remarks.

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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Sun Oct 30th 2011, 08:20 PM
Below are three quotes from the late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). For those who might be a little too young to remember much about him, as you read these quotes, keep in mind that when Goldwater ran for president against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, he was generally considered to be about as far right as a politician could be in this country and still be electable. i mean, this was the guy who said, "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the <Republican> party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them. (Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)).


A lot of so-called conservatives today don't know what the word means. They think I've turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. It's not a conservative issue at all." (1994 Los Angeles Times interview.)


I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
(Speech in the US Senate (16 September 1981)).
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Mon Oct 17th 2011, 10:40 PM
... One of the things that is so threatening about the OWS movement is that none of our professional politicians can quite get their arms around the thing. So they push for a set of defined goals or demands, trying to pigeonhole the movement into a narrower political agenda that can easily be either opposed, co-opted or exploited. In its present leaderless, inchoate form, OWS represents an enormous threat: not only are the political pros unable to pigeonhole it, neither to they know how large the movement will grow or how long it will last. And that is PRECISELY the movement's strength, and exactly why it should resist premature calls to declare a specific set of policy objectives!
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Tue Oct 11th 2011, 01:35 AM
Protesters were told the female jail is full, so they are being taken to an "undisclosed location" for an "unspecified period of time" until they can be moved into the female jail.

What a fucking outrage!
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Thu Sep 29th 2011, 12:52 PM
To the editor:

The column by Dr. Charles E. Greenawalt II, published in this paper on Sept. 28, concerning the proposed changes by the state's GOP leadership to the way Pennsylvania awards delegates in the electoral college to presidential candidates, grossly mischaracterizes both the current system as disenfranchising Pennsylvania voters, and the proposed change as somehow being more fair.

In trying to sell the GOP's plan, Dr. Greenawalt suggests, quite dishonestly, that because President Obama won nine of Pennsylvania's 19 congressional districts in the last election as opposed to John McCain's ten, that voters in the ten districts won by McCain were somehow "disenfranchised" in the last election. Not only is his claim patently false, the actual result of the proposed change would be to give the collective will of Pennsylvania voters less influence in the outcome of presidential elections relative to voters of other states.

Dr. Greenwalt fails to mention that while President Obama won only nine out of 19 districts in Pennsylvania, he won 55% of the popular vote. Since Pennsylvania, like 47 other states, uses a "winner-take-all" system of awarding electoral votes, the winner of the state's popular vote is awarded all 23 of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.

The determination of how many delegates to the electoral college each state has is made by a weighted system, whereby states with larger populations are awarded more delegates than those with smaller populations. Thus, Pennsylvania, with its 12 million plus residents, had 21 electoral delegates in the 2008 election, whereas a state like Vermont, with its population of 635,000, has only three.

Currently, there are only two states which allocate electoral votes by winners of Congressional districts: Maine, with 4 electoral delegates, and Nebraska, with 5. All the rest, including Pennsylvania, use a "winner-take-all" method of allocation. Under this winner-take-all system, the collective influence voters of a given state have on the outcome of the presidential race is proportionate to the size of that state's population. Thus, California, as the most populous state, has the largest influence with 55 electoral votes. Likewise, a state like Texas also has a very large influence with 34 electoral votes.

Had the proposed system been in place in 2008, McCain would have received 10 of Pennsylvania's electoral votes, and President Obama would have received eleven (9 for each of the districts in which he won the popular vote, plus an additional 2 for having won the state's overall popular vote), resulting a net win for President Obama of one electoral vote. What this means, in effect, is that collective will of Pennsylvania's 6 million voters would have had only one-third as much weight in the outcome of the election as that of Vermont's 325,000 voters. In the 2008 election, under the current system, the will of the majority of Pennsylvania voters represented a share in the electoral college of approximately 4%. Under the proposed GOP change, with the winner of the popular vote gaining only a one-vote advantage in the electoral college, Pennsylvania's share in the electoral vote would have been reduced to slightly less than two-tenths of one percent. Tell us again, Dr. Greenawalt, who is really being disenfranchised here?

The only scenario under which the proposed GOP plan would be remotely fair to the majority of Pennsylvania voters is if substantially all the other 47 states that currently use the winner-take-all system were to likewise change their method of allocating electoral delegates to the same kind of system the GOP is proposing for Pennsylvania. Otherwise, if only Pennsylvania makes the change, it will result in Pennsylvania voters having only a third of the influence on the outcome of the electoral vote than a state like Vermont, even though Pennsylvania's population is almost 18 times the size of Vermont's.

So what is really behind this push for changing the system? It is worth nothing here that no such change is being proposed in states like Texas, where the GOP already has an advantage. This change is only being proposed in so-called swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The goal here is pretty obvious: it is an attempt to give the GOP an unfair advantage in those states where the vote is closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, while retaining their existing advantage in states like Texas. It comes down to a system where, in closely divided states like Pennsylvania, a minority of voters would be given an unfair weight, whereas in states that have solid Republican majorities, the minority party would be given no such advantage.

Dr. Greenawalt is certainly correct that eliminating the electoral college would be a difficult and cumbersome prospect, requiring a Constitutional amendment. But so long as it remains in existence, the only remotely fair way to allocate electoral votes is to do it the way substantially all of the other states do it.

The change proposed for Pennsylvania is an attempt by the GOP to disenfranchise the majority of Pennsylvania voters, who tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, while leaving intact the weighted system in states where Republicans have the majority. It is nothing more than an attempt to game the system for partisan advantage, at the expense of Pennsylvania voters.

Mark P. Kessinger
New York, New York
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Thu Sep 29th 2011, 12:50 PM
To the editor:

The column by Dr. Charles E. Greenawalt II, published in this paper on Sept. 28, concerning the proposed changes by the state's GOP leadership to the way Pennsylvania awards delegates in the electoral college to presidential candidates, grossly mischaracterizes both the current system as disenfranchising Pennsylvania voters, and the proposed change as somehow being more fair.

In trying to sell the GOP's plan, Dr. Greenawalt suggests, quite dishonestly, that because President Obama won nine of Pennsylvania's 19 congressional districts in the last election as opposed to John McCain's ten, that voters in the ten districts won by McCain were somehow "disenfranchised" in the last election. Not only is his claim patently false, the actual result of the proposed change would be to give the collective will of Pennsylvania voters less influence in the outcome of presidential elections relative to voters of other states.

Dr. Greenwalt fails to mention that while President Obama won only nine out of 19 districts in Pennsylvania, he won 55% of the popular vote. Since Pennsylvania, like 47 other states, uses a "winner-take-all" system of awarding electoral votes, the winner of the state's popular vote is awarded all 23 of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.

The determination of how many delegates to the electoral college each state has is made by a weighted system, whereby states with larger populations are awarded more delegates than those with smaller populations. Thus, Pennsylvania, with its 12 million plus residents, had 21 electoral delegates in the 2008 election, whereas a state like Vermont, with its population of 635,000, has only three.

Currently, there are only two states which allocate electoral votes by winners of Congressional districts: Maine, with 4 electoral delegates, and Nebraska, with 5. All the rest, including Pennsylvania, use a "winner-take-all" method of allocation. Under this winner-take-all system, the collective influence voters of a given state have on the outcome of the presidential race is proportionate to the size of that state's population. Thus, California, as the most populous state, has the largest influence with 55 electoral votes. Likewise, a state like Texas also has a very large influence with 34 electoral votes.

Had the proposed system been in place in 2008, McCain would have received 10 of Pennsylvania's electoral votes, and President Obama would have received eleven (9 for each of the districts in which he won the popular vote, plus an additional 2 for having won the state's overall popular vote), resulting a net win for President Obama of one electoral vote. What this means, in effect, is that collective will of Pennsylvania's 6 million voters would have had only one-third as much weight in the outcome of the election as that of Vermont's 325,000 voters. In the 2008 election, under the current system, the will of the majority of Pennsylvania voters represented a share in the electoral college of approximately 4%. Under the proposed GOP change, with the winner of the popular vote gaining only a one-vote advantage in the electoral college, Pennsylvania's share in the electoral vote would have been reduced to slightly less than two-tenths of one percent. Tell us again, Dr. Greenawalt, who is really being disenfranchised here?

The only scenario under which the proposed GOP plan would be remotely fair to the majority of Pennsylvania voters is if substantially all the other 47 states that currently use the winner-take-all system were to likewise change their method of allocating electoral delegates to the same kind of system the GOP is proposing for Pennsylvania. Otherwise, if only Pennsylvania makes the change, it will result in Pennsylvania voters having only a third of the influence on the outcome of the electoral vote than a state like Vermont, even though Pennsylvania's population is almost 18 times the size of Vermont's.

So what is really behind this push for changing the system? It is worth nothing here that no such change is being proposed in states like Texas, where the GOP already has an advantage. This change is only being proposed in so-called swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The goal here is pretty obvious: it is an attempt to give the GOP an unfair advantage in those states where the vote is closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, while retaining their existing advantage in states like Texas. It comes down to a system where, in closely divided states like Pennsylvania, a minority of voters would be given an unfair weight, whereas in states that have solid Republican majorities, the minority party would be given no such advantage.

Dr. Greenawalt is certainly correct that eliminating the electoral college would be a difficult and cumbersome prospect, requiring a Constitutional amendment. But so long as it remains in existence, the only remotely fair way to allocate electoral votes is to do it the way substantially all of the other states do it.

The change proposed for Pennsylvania is an attempt by the GOP to disenfranchise the majority of Pennsylvania voters, who tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections, while leaving intact the weighted system in states where Republicans have the majority. It is nothing more than an attempt to game the system for partisan advantage, at the expense of Pennsylvania voters.

Mark P. Kessinger
New York, New York
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Thu Sep 29th 2011, 12:50 PM
...by one Charles A. Greenawalt II, Ph.D., senior fellow at the Susquehanna Public Policy Institute. At the end of the editorial, there is a note describing that institute as "a non-partisan, non-profit research organization based in Hershey." It may have appeared in multiple publications, but I saw it on the site for the Lock Haven Express ( http://www.lockhaven.com/page/content.deta... ). It basically amounts to a sales pitch for the Republicans' proposed scheme of changing the way Pennsylvania's electoral votes are counted. Currently, Pennsylvania uses a winner-take-all system, whereby the winner of the state's popular vote gets the whole delegation's votes. This is the system used by every other state except Maine and Nebraska. Under the proposed change, electoral votes would be awarded on a per Congressional district basis. In 2008, President Obama won 55% of the state's popular vote to John McCain's 44%; however, in terms of Congressional districts, McCain won 10 and Obama won 9 (the districts the President won were more populous than the ones McCain won).

If the GOP plan had been in effect in 2008, rather than getting Pennsylvania's full complement of 21 electoral votes, 10 would have been awarded to McCain and 11 to Obama (9 for the 9 Congressional districts in which he won, and the extra two awarded because he won the overall vote). That would have meant that President Obama, despite having won 55% of the popular vote in a fairly large state, would have enjoyed a net benefit of ONE electoral vote over his opponent. But Greenawalt tries to say that because McCain won 10 districts and Obama 9, that voters of those 10 districts were somehow disenfranchised! It's an outrageous and utterly false claim. He goes on to suggest that the proposed system would be fairer. But as I pointed out in a response that I have submitted (but has not yet been published), it would only be fair to the majority of Pennsylvania voters if the other 47 states who now use the winner-take-all system were to switch as well. But of course, nothing comparable is being proposed in red states.

If that isn't bad enough, later in the piece he discusses the practical difficulty of eliminating the electoral college and going with a direct popular vote. He adds, "...this kind of switch puts a premium on ACORN-style voter fraud and voter buying - something that was shown to be highly evident during the 2008 elections. It's a bald faced LIE, coming from someone who purports to be writing in his capacity as a fellow of a "non-partisan" organization!

Below is an excerpt, but you really should click on the link above and read the whole thing. In a reply to this OP, I will post the response I submitted for publication.

A way to make sure all votes matter in awarding Electoral College votes


September 28, 2011
By CHARLES E. GREENAWALT II, PH.D. - senior fellow of The Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy


< . . . >

(I)n the 2008 election, Republican candidate John McCain won the majority of votes in 10 of Pennsylvania's 19 Congressional districts, almost all of them being in Pennsylvania's areas that are more rural. However, Barack Obama was awarded all of the state's 21 Electoral College votes.

Did the votes of those voters in those 10 Congressional districts really count? Could it not be construed that these voters were disenfranchised?

The proposal by state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to award Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes based on the winner in each of the state's congressional districts deserves some worthy consideration.

One reason why is the issue of voter enfranchisement. As the above example shows, many people do not have a vote that really counts in the presidential election because of the current winner-take-all system. A switch to the Congressional District Method (CDM) would mean that the votes in all of the state's Congressional districts would really count toward awarding Electoral College votes in the Presidential election.

< . . . >

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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Mon Sep 26th 2011, 05:51 PM
The NYPD's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, issues a bald-faced lie in his statement about the use of mace at the protests. In the link below, he is quoted as saying, "Pepper spray was used once, after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video. EVERYONE should contact the mayor's office as well as the NY Times to call him out on this lie. Even if the video was edited (and I don't believe it was), at the point the officer sprayed the young women, the netting was already deployed and they WERE NOT RESISTING. The pepper spray was an act of pure malice!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/nyregion...
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Mon Sep 05th 2011, 05:35 PM

AlterNet / By Jim Sleeper


Why Obama's Beltway Apologists are Letting Us Down


< . . . >

(Drew) Westen's game-changing essay, "What Happened to Obama?," landed in The New York Times' "Sunday Review" section on August 7 like "a rhetorical nuke dropped on ground zero in the liberal heartland," according to the blogger Andrew Sprung in a post titled, none too gently, "A Lover of Fairy Tales Casts Obama as Villain in Chief."

< . . . >

One thing that all these uncomfortable defenders of Obama share, besides their alarm about Westen, is disdain for "liberal" politics and policies. Some even use the L-word openly as an anathema hitherto employed only by conservatives (and, awhile back, Communists!)

< . . . >

But who set up this hall of mirrors in the first place? Who, trapped in their own ire and elitism, convinced that the world is a place too hard for liberalism and its civic-republican bulwarks, has wound up serving the global wrecking ball? Isn't it time these scribblers stopped peddling the line that people who want to challenge it need to grow up? Isn't it time we started reading Jonathan Schell's The Unconquerable World, which recounts how movements based on cooperative power, from the one aroused by Tom Paine to others in India, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and even in the American South, have reconfigured vast, national security states without making compromises like those we've left Obama to make?

Isn't it long past time to accept the consequences of acknowledging that while George W. Bush abused the body politic and a productive economy, only Barack Obama has dampened the civic-republican hopes he aroused, and only he has declined to rescue capital from itself on behalf of a commonwealth? Won't a new republic have to emerge from better premises and precedents than those offered by Drew Westen's critics?

Read full article at: http://www.alternet.org/story/152297/why_o...


http://www.alternet.org/story/152297/why_o...
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Posted by markpkessinger in General Discussion
Sat Sep 03rd 2011, 01:23 AM
Thank you, Sabrina, for stating so eloquently and powerfully the concern and frustration so many of us are feeling. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly have said it better!
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Posted by markpkessinger in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Aug 30th 2011, 02:50 PM
... a shift towards a (very slightly) earlier model of family living accommodations where multiple generations live together under one roof is, in itself, Not A Bad Thing. I was born in 1961, and as a kid and probably well into the 1970s, there were probably more households in this country who had an elderly grandparent, or even aunt or uncle, living with the family than there were those that did not. In my case, my grandmother did not live with us, exactly -- she slept every night in her own home about a mile away -- she spent virtually six days a week with us. Dad would pick her up in the morning, and take her home sometime after dinner. Dad had a retail propane and appliance business, with the store in the front part of the building in which we lived, so my grandmother would often mind the store if Dad was out on the road or otherwise occupied. When my Dad was growing up (in the very same house), they had one of his grandmothers and a great uncle living with the family in their later years. I think it is a much healthier model than simply shipping grandma off to a nursing home or assisted living facility (unless, of course, that's what grandma wants).
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