Friday, July 29, 2022

Should Local Governments Deposit at Banks Making Political Contributions?

Lehigh Controller Mark Pinsley, who'd like to be State Senator Mark Pinsley, is urging Commissioners to pull its $145 million in accounts with Wells Fargo Bank. It bothers him that this banking giant, through a PAC, has contributed to anti-abortion Governor Gregg Abbot.  At their July 13 meeting, they voted 6-3 to evaluate how the county makes its deposits. 

It should be noted that Wells Fargo itself is making no political contributions. Those instead come from a PAC formed by employees. 

Comm'r Zakiya Smalls suggested that deposits should be with local banks. "Why were we ever banking with them?" she asked. A state law requires that any deposit must be with a bank that can cover all the assets deposited. This limits a county's ability to deposit at smaller banks. Smalls insists there are at least four regional banks that can handle the county's money.

They voted 6-3 to seek deposit policies in place at the county and to get a determination from the solicitor's office on the legal process for changing banks. Voting No were Antonio Pineda, Ron Beitler and Jeff Dutt. The remaining six Commissioners were Yes. 

Though he voted in favor of a review, Comm'r Dan Hartzell worried that the county could be opening up a Pandora's Box by tying deposits to political contributions. Comm'r Dave Harrington, a lawyer, observed that linking deposits to political contributions could be unconstitutional. 

Beitler, one of the No votes, took issue with the story penned by John Micek for Pennsylvania Capital-Star, in which Micek referred to yet another story asserting that Commissioners voted to begin the process of divesting from Wells Fargo. Beitler noted that several nonlocal news outlets are incorrectly reporting that the county has begun the process of divesting from Wells Fargo. "It's just not what happened," he asserts. 

I personally like the idea of investing as much as possible in local or regional banks so long as the assets can be covered. I also believe that any attempt to penalize a bank because of political contributions made by its employees, is a blatant violation of the first amendment. 

Wild-Scheller Race Will Be Close

Incumbent Congress member Susan Wild,is seeking re-election to a seat she first won in 2018. She was re-elected in a close race against business owner Lisa Scheller in 2020. Scheller is facing Wild again. Usually, once a Congress member is re-elected once, it gets easier. But that's not the case for Wild. Her congressional district was redrawn and now includes a small portion of Carbon County, which is more conservative than the rest of the district. 

The Cook Political Report rates her race as "lean Republican," while Sabato's Crystal Ball calls it a "toss-up." 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Democrats Continue Losing Voters in Northampton and Lehigh County

Democrats continue to lose their edge in both Northampton and Lehigh County, while Republicans and independents are making gains. 

Northampton

Northampton County's registration statistics, as of 7/25/2022, are as follows:

Total: 221,010, compared to 211,593 in 2016.

Democrats: 97,744, compared to 98,929 in 2016.  Democrats accounts for 44.2% of the total registration, compared to 47% in 2016. 

Republicans: 80,439, compared to 73,638 in 2016. Republican registration has increased from 34.8% to 36.4% of the total registration.  

Other: 42,827, compared to 39,026 in 2016. Independents have increased from 19.15% to 19.34% of the total number of registered voters. 

Lehigh

Lehigh County's registration statistics, as of 7/25/22, are as follows: 

Total registration: 234,996, compared to 236,081 in 2016. 

Democrats: 97,710. This is 47% of the total number of registered voters, compared to 49% in 2016. 

Republicans: 81,836. This is 34.8% of the total number of registered voters, compared to 34.15% in 2016. 

Other: 42,602 This is 18.1% of those who are registered, compared to 16.8% in 2016.

Source: Pa Dep't of State.

We Should Know Today if We Are in a Recession (Updated)

Yesterday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, in the midst of imposing yet another 0.75% short-term interest hike, dismissed concerns that we are currently in a recession.  Given that this is the same expert who assured us that inflation was transitory, his opinions inspire little confidence. I'm Monday morning quarterbacking, but he should have started raising interest rates last year, when the economy was booming. Now I suspect that interest rates are being increased in a recession. That's going to make things painful. 

A classic recession exists when GDP declines for two consecutive quarters. Our GDP declined 1.6% in the first quarter of 2022.  We'll find out today if the GDP shows a decline for a second quarter in a row. If it does, we're in a recession. Powell, who is grasping for straws to explain his failure to act last year, has already asserted that the labor market is too strong for there to be a recession. But what he fails to note that there is always a lag between actual unemployment and reports showing a spike. The Biden administration, in advance of today's report, has dispatched the same people who said inflation was transitory to deny we are in a recession. 

Here are some other dates to watch:

August 5 - jobs report for July. (Always OK in the summer)

August 10 - July inflation report. (I don't think it can go much higher)

September 16 - next Federal Reserve meeting. (Expect an interest rate hike)

When Trump was confronted with COVID, the only crisis that he did not create himself, the biggest mistake he made was his attempt to deny its existence. Biden has made the same mistake with inflation and the state of our economy. 

The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have it. 

Updated 11 am: The data is out. The economy shrank in Q2. This is the second quarter in a row that the economy has dipped. This fits the classic definition of recession. The same experts who insisted inflation was transitory are saying everything's fine, nothing to see here, look at the jobs, etc. 

Denying a problem exists is no way to make it disappear.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Democrats Have Bills That Will Strengthen and Increase Social Security

I am often critical of my fellow Democrats because we tend to be too elitist and woke. But I am encouraged by some recent proposals. Congressional Democrats have introduced bills that will both strengthen and increase social security payments by as much as $200 per month. This legislation is going nowhere, however, without Republican support.  

Many seniors are heavily dependent on social security for much of their income. But funds will run out within 13 years unless the fund is replenished. This will be accomplished by raising payroll taxes on people who earn more than $250,000 per year, in one proposal, and $400,000, in another. 

Democrats are also proposing that the way the annual cost of living adjustment is calculated be adjusted to make it more realistic. 

I am aware of no Republican support for any of these measures. Instead, The Hill reports that Republicans would rather "reform" social security behind closed doors. 

I agree that we Democrats have our flaws. But if you think the Republican party is the party of the little guy, think again. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Grand Central Wants to Expand Landfill

Grand Central Landfill was at Northampton County Council last week to advise that it wants to expand its landfill, located in Plainfield Tp and smelled in Pen Argyl, by 325 acres. This is one of three landfills located in Northampton County. According to Waste Management, which owns the landfill in Plainfield, it will have to cease operations in about five years unless Plainfield Tp approves a zoning change. This will mean a loss of 126 jobs and about $2 million in annual revenue for the township. The expansion will extend the life of the landfill by 20 years. 

The facility is hosting a tour on August 22, and you can attend by calling 1-888-373-2917 or emailing afors1@wm.com. 

The county has nothing to do with the approval of landfill expansions, but is required to have a 10-year plan for the disposal of its solid waste. 

According to Waste Management's Scott Perin, most of the garbage accepted now (between 60-70%) comes from Northampton, Berks and Lehigh County. That includes all of Allentown's garbage. 

The proposed expansion is going to be a battle. 

Plainfield Tp Supervisor Don Moore, who apparently had advance notice of the meeting from a member of Council, was at the meeting to express reservations before a presentation had even been made. He even brought a map. He noted that two years ago, a request to rezone farmland for the expansion was denied. Moore failed to note that the principle of res judicata has very limited application to zoning appeals. 

Moore added that a majority of township residents oppose an expansion, as evidenced by the 2021 election results. There was no ballot question on a landfill expansion. 

As someone who has smelled all three landfills from time to time, I have little doubt that many people affected by the odor are opposed. 

But I smell something worse. I smell collusion between a member of Council (most likely Zrinski)  and a Plainfield Tp Supervisor (Don Moore) to cut off a taxpaying business at the knees before it even presents its vision. 

Blogger's Note: WFMZ-TV69 also has a story on the proposed expansion.     

Update at 10 am: Don Moore denies the existence of collusion. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Late Roman Republic Shows What Can Happen to Our Democratic Republic

On January 6, 2021, there is little dispute now that President Donald Trump, in a desperate attempt to cling to power, unleashed an angry mob on the capitol. His goal was to prevent Congress from certification of election results. He was glued to Fox News and was watching the action in real time and did nothing to stop the violence for 187 minutes, even though a feces-smearing horde was both armed and willing to hang the Vice President. America's noble but fragile experiment in democracy nearly came to an end that day.  This is why the congressional investigation into precisely what transpired is so important. Though some Congressional Democrats may have political motives, the Republicans who have provided most of the testimony belie the assertion that this is just politics. It's much more than that. Those of you who are familiar with the late Roman Republic and its downfall into autocratic rule by a string of emperors, should be well aware how easily any democratic government can be perverted. 

Rome existed for about 300 years as a monarchy before it tossed out its kings in favor of a republic around 509 BCE. That form of representative government endured nearly 500 years until it finally fell under the rule of "first citizen" Octavian, better known as Caesar Augustus. What happened? 

There have been numerous books on this topic, all with multiple theories. Let me provide my own, with analogies to what is going on here. 

First, there was wide wealth disparity between optimates "the haves" and populares "have nots." Optimates controlled the Roman Senate. Populares had little authority by comparison.  So the Roman Republic was actually more of an oligarchy, in which the few made the rules, largely to benefit themselves. 

America's democratic republic is slowly but surely morphing into an oligarch as well. A Princeton study demonstrates quite clearly that policies favored by most of us receive scant attention from our elected representatives, while those favored by the wealthy and campaign contributors receive all the attention. 

Second, in the late Roman Republic, there was a rise in demogogues. This started with the Gracchus brothers. They appealed to the masses with promises of land reform, but would incite the mob with violent rhetoric. and were often accompanied by armed thugs. Government was in gridlock, very much like the government we see today. 

Third was the rise of authoritarians. Pro-plebe Gaius Marius was the first Roman general to march on Rome. What followed was a purge of pro-optimate citizens. Then came pro-optimate Lucius Cornelius Sulla ("no greater friend, no worse enemy") who purged the populares and had himself declared Dictator for life by a cowed senate. After enacting a number of reforms to ensure that optimates remained in control, Sulla gave up his title. This is something Julius Caesar, himself a populare and an optimate, could never understand.  The reforms failed and Rome descended into civil war after Julius Caesar decided he might as well march on Rome, too.  He was both an able administrator and perhaps the best military commander the world has ever known. Whether he would have stabilized Rome will never be known because senate assassins killed him. 

"Democracy" had become both undemocratic and unstable for Romans. They were probably relieved when "first citizen" Octavian became Caesar Augustus and ruled Rome as a benevolent (sort of ) dictator.  Democracy here is far from democratic. Like the late Roman Republic, our elected officials are almost always in gridlock.  There has been a rise in authoritarian types on the local (Lynch), state (Wolf, Matriano) and national (Trump) levels. The executive branch is asserting itself in ways that were unthinkable until the Vietnam War. We have presidents who legislate by Executive order, while governors imposed lockdowns with no regard to the people being hurt. 

And like Gaius Marius, Sulla and Caesar, we had a President incite a mob to obstruct Congress in an attempted coup. 

The Roman Republic lasted five centuries before devolving into an autocratic state. We have only existed half that time and are in deep peril. To those who would like to see our democratic republic stick around, that is why the J6 committee matters.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Amazing Display of Good Sportsmanship in Annual Tour de France

The Tour de France is a multi-stage bicycle race that rages mostly through the mountains of France. This year's race covers 2,068 miles over 21 days, and will end on July 24. This story is not so much about the race itself, but an amazing display of good sportsmanship you can see in the video above. 

This year's race has basically been a two-man battle between Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark) and Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia). Pogačar has won it for the past two years, but Vingegaard had climbed into the lead by a scant two minutes. He is wearing the yellow jersey, which is always worn by the race leader. 

Pogačar has been relentlessly attacking Vingegaard over the past several days to take the lead. He won the race on Wednesday and continued his attack yesterday as the duo descended from a mountain. Unfortunately, he took a corner too sharply, went into a ditch and fell. 

This made things way for Vingegaard, who could easily outpace his chief opponent. But he did something I've never seen in any sport. He slowed down and waited for Pogačar to catch him. When he did, the two shook hands and then continued to race each other. 

Vingegaard said afterward that it "wouldn't be nice" to take advantage of Pogačar's fall. "Of course I waited."  He then complimented his fellow team member Wout Von Aert as the best cyclist in the world. 

Pure class.

Something we rarely if ever see in anything, let alone sports. Our leaders could learn a thing or two from this example.

Good News For Gracedale!

One of two possible death blows facing Gracedale was a proposal to increase the amount of nursing care that must be provided to each resident on a daily basis. Currently, there must be 2.7 hours of nursing care daily for each resident, but very serious consideration was being given to increasing it to 4.1 hours. It's very likely that Gracedale, which had to reduce its census to meet the current state standard, would be unable to meet this new minimum requirement. But that threat is over.

In his report to Northampton County Council last night, Executive Lamont McClure advised that the new state standard will be 2.87 hours of nursing care per resident per day (called the PPD). This is much better than he had hoped. 

It appears Gracedale will be able to meet this new standard. Recent PPDs are as follows: 7/15 - 2.83; 7/16 - 2.6; 7/17 - 2.51; 7/18 - 2.84; 7/19 - 2.96; 7/20 - 3.0. "I am fairly that, by the time the new regulation kicks in, we will be able to meet it at the current census," he said. He expressed hope that the census (there is a waiting list) can increase. Currently, the home is using agency nurses to provide care, until more employees can be hired. McClure believes the home is now "on the right track." 

J6 Hearing: Hawley Haulin' Ass

 

Last night was the 9th of the J6 hearings. Because the Select Committee has uncovered additional evidence, hearings will resume in September. I was amused at the sight of Senator Josh Hawley fleeing from a crowd that he helped incite. 

Clark Kent covered the hearing for the Daily Planet

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Independent Auditor Gives NorCo Highest Possible Audit Rating

Northampton County Council received its annual report of its 2021 finances yesterday, thanks to an independent audit. The county received an unmodified opinion, which is the best opinion a county can get. No material misstatements were detected, as well as no comments suggesting a need for better internal.

Some highlights:

The county's net position has increased by $42 million over the past two years. 

64% of the county's revenue comes in the form of federal and state grants. Only 25.7% is the result of tax revenue.

The increase or decrease of the amount of money in the general fund at the end of the year, as compared the end of the previous year, represents the profit or loss of the county. Northampton County ended 2021 with $7.9 million more than it had at the end of 2020. So the county showed a $7.9 million profit. 

The general find balance at the end of 2021 was $61 million, and $48.9 million of that is unassigned. Thus, the county had $48.9 million to spend. 

The only suggestion was that all staff receive training in cybersecurity.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Bethlehem City Council Votes For Back Yard Chickens

Over concerns raised by Bethlehem Mayor Willie Reynolds, Bethlehem City Council last night unanimously voted to lift its current ban on back yard chickens. Before this becomes law, however, City Council will have to vote again on the measure.

The proposed ordinance (you can read it here) permits residential homeowners to keep chickens for noncommercial use on their property after getting a permit from the animal control officer. Plans must be submitted showing floor plans for a chicken coop and chicken run. 

Only 40 permits will be issued in the first year, after which City Council will review the program and determine whether it has been successful. 

No roosters will be permitted. 

Council member Paige Van Wirt, who proposed the ordinance, said her motivation was the pandemic, which showed us that we suffer "for reliance on systems that our fragile." Council member Hillary Kwiatek, who also sponsored the measure, stated that this was an issue she had been discussing two years ago. 

There was support from members of the public at City Hall. Local resident and prominent realtor Lucy Lennon, who is also an animal lover, dismissed concerns about smell, noise and disease/

Lennon told Council that chickens are as clean as any other animal, and odors associated poultry are the result of irresponsible owners. She indicated that a chicken's noise is at 40 decibels, while a golden retriever's bark is 115 decibels. She noted that, worldwide, 455 people have died of avian flu since 2008, not one of them from the US. In the same time frame, 403 people died falling out of bed.  

Kelly Allen, a Professor of Food Studies, observed that six diseases are associated with poultry, compared to 16 for cats and 18 for dogs.  

Mayor Willie Reynolds wanted to put the brakes on the ordinance. He stated that it was "unprecedented" for a City Council to vote on an ordinance after the administration requests a committee hearing, and he had asked for one.  He said he was "disappointed and a little bit shocked" that City Council would take action when his administration sought a committee hearing. He warned against rushing.

Van Wirt told the Mayor that she received his request for a committee hearing just six days before the scheduled vote. She added it was a measure she had been working on since February, and Reynolds could have sought a hearing far sooner.

Reynolds, who eventually had to be stopped by Council President Michael Colon, insisted several times that there should be a committee hearing so that his Department of Health, the police and other citizens could present their concerns. 

"I have found out all the details," stated Van Virt. 

Laura Collins, Bethlehem's Department of Community and Economic Development Director, read into the record a letter from the city's Board of Health, opposed to the ordinance as drafted, raising the specter of salmonella. And a Deputy Police Chief said officers would have difficulties enforcing the ordinance.  

Neither Easton nor Allentown, two of the Lehigh Valley's three cities, permits chickens. 

In other news, Hotel Bethlehem principal Bruce Haines wants the Historic Hotel Bethlehem to continue its USA Today rating as the top historic hotel in the U.S. Voting for that coveted title goes on until August 15, and Haines said everyone can vote once a day for Hotel Bethlehem at votehotelb.com. He added you can cast a vote on every device, too.

"This sounds like real life voter fraud," wisecracked Mayor Reynolds. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Freight Rail Trumps Passenger Rail

Yesterday, I told you why passenger rail is unfeasible here in the Lehigh Valley. In a recent op-ed, Northampton County Exec Lamont McClure argues we should at least study the issue, though we've done that already. He hinted at a rail line from Allentown to the Big Apple. A $250,000 regional rail study, released in 2010, revealed that it would cost $1 billion for a passenger rail line to New York City, serving about 800 riders. In a floodplain. That price has obviously gone up over the past dozen years.

In addition to cost, the 2010 study listed the following problems:

• Floodplains - Small areas of 100-year floodplain are present in several locations adjacent to the right-of-way and within the right-of-way in Easton, Glendon and Lower Saucon, Bethlehem, and Fountain Hill. The right-of-way (ROW) is located within the 100-year floodplain in Allentown.

• Wetlands - Rail ROW crosses wetlands and a creek on the approach to the proposed Allentown Station at Banana Joe’s site (former passenger station).

• Historic - Rail ROW is adjacent to the historic Lehigh Canal and is part of the Lehigh River Greenway. (We'd be eliminating a pathway used by numerous south sideresidents for exercise and to get to work at the casino or other shops, forcing them to congest the south side with more automobiles) 

• Park lands – The Hugh Moore Historical Park is located adjacent to the ROW on the north side.

• Ecology - The ROW is located within the Lehigh Slopes Natural Area in Williams and the Steel City Slopes Natural Area in Bethlehem. The locally-significant Steel City Slopes are located on a north-facing slope above the Lehigh River in Lower Saucon Township and supports a diverse herb and fern habitat. Proposed work would be contained within already disturbed areas.

• Easton Station - Small area of 100-year floodplain located within ROW on the north side of the alignment.

• Bethlehem Station - Located on former industrial property. Any hazardous materials impacts from the Bethlehem Steel operation would be mitigated by the BethWorks development.

• Allentown Station - Located entirely within 100-year floodplain.

Even more importantly, the expansion of passenger rail will require privately-owned freight lines to cede control of its tracks to accommodate Amtrak.  "To do anything to knowingly undermine the fluidity of the freight network is frankly wrongheaded and at odds with the overarching goal of maximizing freight movement, " says Ian Jefferies of the Association of American Railroads. 

It completely ignores the importance of freight rail, both to our economy and our environment. Freight rail owns 140,000 miles of track, transports a third of all exports and 40% of our long-distance freight volume. It has become immensely profitable, earning $71 billion in 2019, and its volume is expected to grow 50% by 2050.  

Environmentally, it emits about 25% of the pollution you'll find from trucking. It handles what are often called the "middle miles" as intermodal containers are offloaded from ships directly onto trains about 200 cars long and then are passed off to trucks for the final miles.

Expansion of passenger rail, which has never made a profit, will actually result in more congestion because there will be more trucks on the road. 

We already have passenger trains going to NYC. It is called Transbridge Bus, and is privately owned. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Zrinski to Auction Original Artwork

Fresh off her State Senate loss, Northampton County Council member Tara Zrinski is hosting a fundraiser to pay legal fees incurred in a frivolous lawsuit contesting the vote tally. She claims she's also raising money to help fund the campaigns of other unspecified women. "The future is female," she explains.

Like Hunter Biden, she will conduct an auction "featuring some of my original artwork."

Why Some Still Wear Masks

I really enjoyed wearing facemasks. It was a great reason to avoid shaving. Many people prefer me masked, although they'd like to see the mask made of duct tape. I fell out of the habit a few months ago and only rarely see them now. I was a bit surprised, on Saturday, to see an elderly man with one on the D&L Trail. 

I was cycling north and had just passed him near Slatington. It was still pretty muggy, so I stopped to drink some water. He caught up with me (not hard to do) and asked me whether he should be on the right or left side of the path. 

I told him it made no difference to me, but the etiquette on bike trails is that walkers stay to the right and are passed by cyclists on the left. He said that is contrary to what he had always been taught. He was taught to walk on the left side of a road so he can see traffic approaching him.

I agreed that is good practice on a road, and is something I do myself. I told him trail etiquette is flexible and what he said makes sense. 

As he spoke, I tried to keep away from him as he had a mask on and I thought he might be worried about contracting COVID. He could see me backing off and then explained he wears a mask on the trail to keep bugs from flying in his mouth. 

This guy was 85 years old and was walking as well as someone in his 20s. He was in incredible shape. 

I asked why he does not ride a bike. 

"My wife won't let me,"   

Passenger Rail: The Reality

An op-ed glorifying passenger rail, penned by Northampton County Exec Lamont McClure, has been published in Lehigh Valley Live. He thinks it's time to return to passenger rail, which is undeniably popular as a concept. I see the crowds mass in Jim Thorpe to catch a glimpse of a steam locomotive lumbering through the gorge on its way to White Haven. I loved riding Amtrak myself last year on a trip from DC to Pittsburgh after riding my bike in the opposite direction for 330 miles. It made no difference to me that a scheduled eight-hour trip took about 12. I was in no hurry, and it was certainly faster than my bike. But that's the problem. Most of us are very much in a hurry. We have promises to keep and employers who pay us to at work as opposed to riding the rails. Passenger rail is simply unrealistic here in the Lehigh Valley, and has been for decades.

One of my readers used to live near Clinton and did a lot of work in Downtown Manhattan. Here's his experience.

"I never - not once - took the train from High Bridge to Newark. Why? Because it made 13 stops between High Bridge and Newark, and took an hour and 45 minutes. Instead, I drove to Summit (about 35 miles away and roughly a 45-minute drive); caught the express train to Newark (about 15 minutes); and, then transferred to PATH.

"For one solitary minute do you believe the State of New Jersey/NJ Transit would allow an express train from A'Town to Newark or Penn Station using its tracks? That would be population suicide for western NJ. The last proposal I saw (a few years ago) would essentially just extend the NJ Transit route to A'Town. The estimated rail time to NYC would be something on the order of two-and-a-half or three hours."

"Based on a rosy estimate of ridership, it was estimated that the per passenger cost would be almost five times the cost of a ticket.

"While in the Lehigh Valley, I often traveled to Manhattan by bus. First with TransBridge; later with Bieber (at Hellertown). The Bieber bus was an express with no stops until the bus reached the PATH Bus Terminal in Manhattan. Travel time (depending on time of day) was between 90 minutes and two hours."

"Game. Set. Match."

The only way passenger rail that could possibly work is hi-speed.. That would never include a stop in the Lehigh Valley. It would be a train between two large cities. If feasible here, private business would have done it already 

Also, expansion of passenger rail necessarily means that freight rail would have to give up some tracks or track time. Freight rail is highly profitable and is the main reason why there are not even more trucks clogging up our highways. We would actually be creating more traffic congestion and spewing even more pollutants by interfering with freight lines. 

Yes, everyone loves cho-choo trains. But they are unfeasible. What is feasible is expanded mass transit and encouraging the use of buses instead of stigmatizing their use. We could create more bike infrastructure at little cost and start insisting that developers like those who built on Jaindl Boulevard actually be required to install sidewalks instead of treating pedestrians like garbage. We could install bike racks at public buildings and private businesses, especially as ebikes become more popular. I see no rush to do any of those things, but we'll spend millions we don't have to tell us what we already learned the last time we studied passenger rail in 2015. It won't work. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Did US Secret Service Aid the January 6 Attempted Coup?

We all know that Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump White House aide, testified that Trump was apoplectic when Secret Service agents refused to drive him to the capitol on January 6. She was relying on what she had been told by two agents, one of whom was in the President's SUV. No sooner had she finished testifying than right wing news sources were claiming Hutchinson was incorrect and secret service agents were ready to set the record straight. But we now also know that a DC police officer who was part of the motorcade has corroborated at least some of what Hutchinson had to say. Even more disturbing, it appears that the Secret Service deleted text messages in January 5 and 6, after they had been requested by the Select Committee. Most worrisome of all is that the Secret Service attempted to whisk VP Mike Pence away on January 6.  Were they trying to keep him safe or did they want him out of the way so that there could be no certification of the vote count? While I believe the Secret Service almost certainly acted honorably, Caesar's wife must be beyond reproach. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Inflation Will be With Us For Some Time, Possibly Years

Yesterday, we received the unsettling news that inflation was 9.1% in June,its biggest increase since November 1981. President Joe Biden has attempted to temper this bad news by pointing to a recent drop in energy prices. Unfortunately, he's wrong. Inflation will stay with us for some time, even if the Federal Reserve continues raising interest rates. 

Clear Value Tax, a vlog authored by a CPA, explains. In the '60s, inflation was very low, with annual figures like 1.1 and 1.3%. This changed when Richard Nixon was elected President. Inflation began to rise dramatically, probably as a result if spending related to the Vietnam War. At first,Nixon was willing to suffer some inflation if it meant more people would be working. The opposite happened. Stagflation. And when he imposed a 90-day freeze on prices and wages, we went into recession. To make matters worse, he abandoned the gold standard to prevent foreign counties from buying up gold with our dollars. 

Inflation in the '70s ran from a low of 3.3% in 1972 (Nixon's second term begins) to 11.1% in 1974 to 11.4% in 1979. Unemployment was 6%. That's when Jimmy Carter was elected. 

Everyone blames him for inflation, but he actually inherited it. 

At this time, Paul Volckert was appointed to the Federal Reserve. He needed t restrict the money supply and did so by letting interest rates reach as high as 20%. This certainly reduced the supply of money, but unemployment soared even higher. So did inflation. It was 13.5% in 1980 and 10.3% in 1981. 

Jimmy Carter, who appointed Volckert, was a one-term President.

Fortunately, Volckert's draconian measures did pay off. By 1983, inflation dropped to 3.2% and became far more manageable in subsequent years.It took about three years with much higher interest rates. 

These days, we proportionately pay far less for food and energy than we did in the '70s. So we are not feeling the crunch as badly. But we had far less debt. 

Inflation existed at the end of WWII as well, with supply chain disruptions and massive spending. But it was brought to a stop in about two years.  

Like Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden will be a one-term President. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Lincoln's Prophetic Warning About January 6

Yesterday, the House Select Committee conducted its seventh hearing in its investigation of the January 6 attempted coup at the US Capitol. It included excerpts of former White House Counsel's Pat Cipollone's testimony about a heated December meeting in the White House in which he and others took on the Trump Insane Caucus. They were recommending that he seize voting machines and appoint Sidney "Release the Kraken" Powell as some sort of special counsel to investigate nonexistent election fraud. That never happened, but the very next day, Trump issued his now infamous "will be wild" tweet calling on the mob to descend on the capitol on January 6. There was also evidence that some Trump insiders, including Steve Bannon and General Michael Flynn, knew he was going to call on the crowd to march on Congress. Finally, there was evidence from Liz that Trump himself recently tried to contact a witness who is on tap. Legally, it is becoming more and  more likely that there will be a criminal referral. Politically, these hearings have been death by a thousand cuts for Trump. If polls are to be believed, half of GOP voters have finally awakened from the mass hypnosis and are ready to dump him. 

These hearings, as Congressman Jamie Raskin observed, make Watergate look like a cub scout exercise. They have grown increasingly more and more intense and damaging to the Cult of the Leader. I was especially drawn by Florida Congressman Stephanie Murphy. She's no socialist. A blue dog Democrat, she is a Vietnamese refugee who fled from a violent Communist overthrow. On January 6, she was forced to flee again. 

Congressman Jamie Raskin's is perhaps the most eloquent member of this Committee. Yesterday, he pointed out that what had happened was exactly what Abraham Lincoln warned us about way back in 1838,  when he was just 28 years old. In his first major speech (the Lyceum Address), Lincoln spoke out against a mob that had a few weeks before chained a black man to a tree, set him on fire and then watched him die. Only one hour before, he had received his freedom.

Lincoln, very much like Socrates, warned that the greatest threat to democracy lies within. "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Lincoln later added, "There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, . . ., one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable."

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Beware of Heat Exhaustion

In my younger days, I could go outside with a T-shirt and shorts in subzero weather. But I hated the heat. Now that I'm an old fart, cold weather makes me stiff and sore, while the heat actually loosens me up. So I love being outside to walk, run or cycle. Having said that, precautions must be taken to avoid heat exhaustion.  The chief among these is drinking lots of water. I missed up a bit on that on Sunday and yesterday, and was in the beginning stages of heat exhaustion. 

Most of my cycling is along shaded trails. The temperature is almost always a good 10 degrees cooler than on the open road. Even on my commutes to and from the courthouse, at least three miles are along a trail. But Sunday, I did a 20-mile road ride with no shade. I had only intended to ride about 10, so I had no water. On Monday, I had one or two errands in my commute, so I stayed on the roads for 24 miles. I started drinking in the final 12 miles, but by then I was beginning to get heat exhaustion. 

I've experienced heat exhaustion several times as a runner. Usually, I get a feeling of nausea and start bonking. That began on the ride home, so I stopped and drank 2 quarts of water on the ride home, Then I took an hour nap. I'm fine now, but know this can get out of hand fast if ignored.   

What really helps me in the beginning stages of heat exhaustion is to drink a fizzy drink.   

Today will be a light day at the gym.

Per Diem Workers at Gracedale Denied Bonuses Given to Everyone Else

On May 19, Northampton County Council voted overwhelmingly (8-1, with John Brown opposed) in favor of a $2,500 per year bonus for Gracedale workers over the next four years. The only exceptions were the Administrator, Nursing Director and her top deputy. Council member had suggested limiting bonuses to those who work directly with residents, but was swayed by Executive Lamont McClure's argument that it was "absolutely critical" that everyone receive it.  But "everyone" apparently fails to include Gracedale's 14 or so per diem workers. These are part-time workers called upon to work at least six days per month (and usually more) at the nursing home.  

One of these per diem workers (her name is  Kelly) informed County Council last week that the recent contract changes failed to give the $2,500 bonus to per diem workers. She emailed her union boss, and heard nothing. She emailed the administration, and heard nothing. She indicated the bonus being paid is wonderful and deserved, but added most of the per diem workers are long-time employees (Kelly has been there for 23 years) who are worthy as well. In fact, recent contract changes that force them to work six instead of four days per month is an indication they are needed. 

One AFSCME rep told Kelly that it was McClure who decided against bonuses for per diem. But a Gracedale administrator told her that the union was against giving the bonus to per diem workers, even though they are union workers, too. 

Kelly left right after speaking because she was working that night. 

Council member noted that nothing excluded per diem workers in their resolution approving bonuses  But they were being asked that night to approve these contract changes. McClure told Council that he was unable to guarantee that union members would approve the contract changes if the entire package was rejected. 

He failed to expressly state whether he had on his own removed the "absolutely critical" bonus from per diem workers. He did note that he did not participate in the actual negotiations but was kept up to date on them. 

He assured Council that "side agreements" with unions are often made. No one asked him to pursue such a side agreement, but it was crystal clear that this is what Council wanted him to do.  

Hopefully, this problem is rectified immediately. It should never have existed. 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Nothing Unprecedented About Unprecedented

Yesterday, I watched the three-part Unprecedented documentary airing on Discovery Plus.  I was able to subscribe to a free seven-day trial to do so. If you can do this, it might be worth your while to do so. If not, save your money. There is nothing unprecedented about Unprecedented. 

This documentary is based on interviews with Trump and his children both before, during and after the election. Trump himself sat down for three interviews. 

Regular readers of this blog know I detest Trump. I've never liked him. I always considered him a boorish con artist, even back in those days when he pretended he was a Democrat.He certainly displayed his boorish side in all three interviews. It is very clear that he played on the "politics of grievance" to get himself elected and inspire a fanatic cult following.  But I already knew that.  The documentary actually helped humanize him, at least with me. 

It showed a man who genuinely loves and cares about his children. He was a good father, even though he was unable to attend their games when they played sports. They are all remarkably close, and obviously care a great deal about each other.  

One of the interviews shows him reacting to things he has seen his children say in video. He was obviously very proud of them all.

The documentary also makes me wonder whether he sincerely believes that he won the election. In the January 6 hearings being conducted by the Select Committee, one of the points being made is that Trump knew he had lost the election, but was desperately doing everything he could to cling onto power. After listening to him, I think he may honestly if mistakenly think he won. 

I also was impressed by how his children, especially Ivanka, accounted for themselves.  She was the voice of moderation. Donald Jr., really is as fanatical as he sounds, but is sincere. His Dad's into golf while he is into shooting and hunting. It's a habit he picked up from his grandfather. 

Interestingly, none of his children were willing to speak ion camera about the January 6 insurrection. They were smarter than their father, who made the mistake of saying that those who breached the capitol were "smart people."  

The Church of Trump fed fear and anger to people. It worked in 2016. It failed in 2020 after COVID-19 proved that the cult leader was unable to solve the only crisis he had no hand in creating. 

He gave people simple answers to complex problems, which they loved. There is no simple answer to gun violence, illegal immigration, runaway inflation and a looming recession. Getting rid of Democrats or liberals is posed as a solution. This reminds me of what misanthrope H.L. Mencken once observed, "For every complex problem, there's a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

Friday, July 08, 2022

NorCo Council Approves $2 Million Grant For Affordable Housing in Forks Tp

Northampton County Council last night unanimously approved a $2 million grant to Lehigh Valley Habitat for Humanity for the purchase and development of over 11.5 acres in Forks Tp, located off of Kesslersville Road. The land will be used to build 65 homes for first-time home buyers. 

The property is being sold for $2.3 million, and already has zoning and planning approval for medium density residential.  The project is expected to provide affordable housing.

Executive Director Jess Elliott, daughter of former County Council member Diane Elliott, explained the process. A family must first be income qualified and provide employment verification. The prospective owner must have a credit score higher than 600 and commit to 250 hours of "sweat equity," i.e. volunteer work in building the home. The owner will typically get a 3 BR home with 1 1/2 baths, secured by a 30-year,m interest-free mortgage. 

County officials indicate that the property must still be appraised. It had been previously zoned for a warehouse.

County Council also approved $250,000 in grants to assist seniors with home improvement projects like emergency roof repairs. 

Finally, it approved a $300,000 grant to address food security in the Northampton Area.

The funds for these grants comes the American Rescue Plan Act.    


NorCo Council Votes For Air Monitors

 On June 16, Northampton County Council voted to table a request for $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to set up air pollution stations at numerous points within the county Although Council members seemed to agree with the idea, they wanted more detail on the project management fee.  Those details were provided, and last night, County Council actually approved $2,000 more than what was originally requested. But it was a divided vote. All Democrats and Republican John Cusick supported the grant, but Republicans John Goffredo, John Brown and Tom Giovanni were opposed.

Goffredo played Devil's Advocate for the trio of naysayers. He indicated that the monitors will definitely show air pollution but wondered, "What are we going to do about it? ... Are we going to tell people to drive less? Go to work less?  ... What is the end game?"

Andrea Wittchen, founder of the Lehigh Valley Sustainability Network, along with Lehigh University's Dr. Breena Holland, were on hand to respond to Goffredo. Witchen said that the air monitors would show where truck traffic, particularly diesel, have a detrimental impact on air quality. The data collected could then be used by municipalities to amend zoning and planning ordinances to make air quality part of a required traffic impact study for proposed warehouses, leading to a possible reduction in size of of truck numbers.

"I understand the big, hot topic is warehousing and truck traffic," said Goffredo. "If you're not somebody who relies on that - if you're not a truck driver or operator and you don't work in those warehouses - these might seem like inconveniences to a lot of people.

"A lot of people depend on these jobs. As somebody who does depend on these jobs and has a lot of people work for me who do depend on those jobs, it's getting to a point where we're starting to feel like second class citizens just for driving a diesel truck."

He noted people are driving diesel trucks because people are buying things from these warehouses. He noted there is high demand for products from warehouses, and "we are handcuffing what the market is already demanding."

Council member Tara Zrinski said that nobody is taking any jobs away, and the intent here is to make the community safer for the many people who already suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems. She added that the data from these monitors would give municipalities, if they so desired, the data from which to adopt ordinances to stop warehouse saturation.

Berks County HA Poised to Take Over NorCo HA

Berks County Housing Authority is poised to take over administration of public housing in Northampton County. Management of public housing in Northampton County had been administered by Lehigh County Housing Authority, but Lehigh gave notice of its intent to end its relation with Northampton after residents complained about unresponsiveness. The divorce between Northampton and Lehigh is supposed to take place August 1, but Northampton is seeking an extension so that Berks can get situated. 

"We found our angel,:" said Northampton DCED Director Tina Smith. That angel is Gwendolyn Didden, the Executive Director at Berks. She told Northampton County Council last night that "residents are our primary concern."  She promised to bring more responsive management to public housing.

She plans to spend two days a week at Oliver Border House, located in Nazareth, and stated that a Berks employee who lives in Lehigh County would help manage the buildings. She noted that she needs to conduct audits and inventories, but her primary concern is making sure staff is on hand to respond to repair calls. 

"We don't want to give somebody a building we wouldn't live in ourselves," she remarked. She added that, at one time in her life, she relied on the voucher program so she could keep her family together. 


Thursday, July 07, 2022

Schlossberg Flees Allentown School District

Allentown School District has been propped up with $9.8 million in CARES Act funding, with Lehigh County throwing in another $2 million of the CARES Act funding it received. It picked up another $43 million from The American Rescue Plan Act. With all of the federal cash, the last ting you'd expect from any school district or municipality right now is a tax hike. But that's precisely what has happened. It has imposed a 5.3% tax hike despite the federal fund infusion. State Rep. Mike Schlossberg is patting himself on the back because he managed to get another $6.4 million for the school district in the most recent state budget, although this sum still falls far short of what Allentown should be receiving annually from the state. 

Schlossberg knows this. In fact, he won't be paying the annual school tax. You see, he recently moved from his home on W 19th Street to a more affluent neighborhood in South Whitehall. His school taxes willnow go to Parkland School District 

Romney: We Are a Nation Divided

Yesterday, I told you that many Trump supporters are not the Republicans, conservatives, Libertarians or patriots they think they are. They are instead fascists who've been deluded into joining the cult of Donald Trump. I have friends and family who voted for this guy, but they are under no illusion about what he is. Many prominent Republicans have been speaking out against him, with more joining the ranks on a near daily basis. They are vilified by the fascists as traitors or RINOs for putting their oath to the Constitution above loyalty to the cult leader. Most, whether it is Mitch McConnell or Liz Cheney, are more conservative than Trump ever was. They also have something Trump, despite his millions, never possessed - integrity.   

Last week, I posted a powerful speech by Liz Cheney calling on fellow Republicans to choose our representative democracy over Trump. Today, I wish to refer you to Mitt Romney's America In Denial.

He notes that this denial afflicts all of us: 

"Even as we watch the reservoirs and lakes of the West go dry, we keep watering our lawns, soaking our golf courses, and growing water-thirsty crops.

"As inflation mounts and the national debt balloons, progressive politicians vote for ever more spending.

"As the ice caps melt and record temperatures make the evening news, we figure that buying a Prius and recycling the boxes from our daily Amazon deliveries will suffice.

"When TV news outlets broadcast video after video of people illegally crossing the nation’s southern border, many of us change the channel."

"And when a renowned conservative former federal appellate judge testifies that we are already in a war for our democracy and that January 6, 2021, was a genuine constitutional crisis, MAGA loyalists snicker that he speaks slowly and celebrate that most people weren’t watching."

I think this denial afflicts us all. Joe Biden ran on a promise to unite us. His biggest failure as President has been his inability to do that. We need leadership that will stop telling people what they want to hear and start telling them the truth. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Rise of American Fascism

Since the beginning of last year, there's been a sharp increase in ugly comments attempting to justify every mistake Trump has made and vilify everyone who fails to see things their way.  I refuse to publish some of the more vulgar attacks or ignorant remarks, but the ones I do are bad enough. It's finally dawned on me that the persons making these comments might call themselves patriots or conservatives, but they are noting of the sort. They are actually fascists. 

Fascism is defined as "[a] form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

This is classic Trump. He has given us a cult of the leader promising national restoration (Make America Great Again) after decades of corrupt government ("Lock her up") from democrats, a dishonest media ("fake news"). elitists in the deep state. His fascism was, like it or not, legal until January 6. That's when, just as Mussolini marched on Rome in 2022 to seize power, he nearly succeeded in engineering a coup at the capital. 

Since that time, there have been a multitude of arrests of those who breached the capitol. But there have been no consequences at all for Trump and those in his inner circle who actively plotted to undermine our democracy. If our representative democracy is to survive, there must be consequences for those who tried and are still trying to destroy it.  This is why the January 6 hearings are so important. 

It might surprise you to know that Socrates was highly dubious about democracy. His chief concern was that it was too easy for someone who is utterly incompetent to win an election based purely on popularity. This in turn leads to demagogues like Trump or, on a more local level, Steve Lynch. 

Many of you who voted for Trump did so because you thought he was conservative (he's not) or because  you hated the alternative. But many of you have been swallowed up by this cult. 

Here are some warning signs from Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works.: 1) A mythic past in which we were great, but his has been taken from you by "demon," "subhuman" Democrats (terms that have been applied to me). 2) Propaganda presenting the "other", be they liberals or illegals, as relentless enemies to your very existence.  3) Anti-intellectualism rejecting science and other experts. The leader will tell you what to believe, not Dr. Faucci. If he wants you to inject bleach, you better do it.  4) Get people used to lies. Tell them what they want to hear instead of the truth. 5) The leader will tell you that you are a victims of illegals taking your jobs, elitists telling you what to say, 6) You will be told that you are better and higher on the pecking order than the other. Germans were better than Jews and Trump supporters are patriots who are better than illegals, Democrats, etc. 7) Loyalty to the leader. This tops everything. It is why Cassidy Hutchinson was so severely attacked. Loyalty matters more than truth, 8) Patriots who want to Make America Great Again are necessarily law abiding even if they breach the capitol. This is because the leader exhorted them to do so, and by definition, the leader can do no wrong. As Trump him self has said, he could shoot someone on a public street and would suffer no consequences.  9) The role of fear. - The leader will warn you that transgenders plan to change the sex of your children, and you need toxic masculinity to stop these woke people from ruining this great nation. 10) Cities are scorned. The cities are portrayed as Sodom and Gomorrah, where the elitists congregate and BLM destroys infrastructure. Outside of the cities, hard-working Americans do the real work.   

Willie Reynolds Sez Confederate Flags on Display at July 4 Reading of Declaration of Independence.

In a report to Bethlehem City Council last night, Mayor Willie Reynolds reported that "several people reached out to me" about the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence by the Lehigh Valley Tea Party at Payrow Plaza. These complaints centered on supposed Confederate flags on display. He also noted that no permit was sought in advance for this reading. 

Now how people reached out to Reynolds is unclear to me. His office refuses to accept calls from the unwashed masses. These must be special people on his safe list. 

Reynolds did go on to note that confederate flags are protected speech under the first amendment. But were there any flags there? 

I spoke to one person who was there and who videotaped the entire event. No confederate flag was observed. 

I suspect what really bothers some people in a one-party town is that the tea party is reading the Declaration of Independence.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Yes, There Still Are Kind Souls Out There

Our Independence Day celebration was marred by yet another senseless shooting on Monday at Highland Park.  Whether we are gun rights or gun control advocates, it's sickening to see mass shootings become near weekly occurrences. We demonize each other on social media all the time. I see that on this blog every day. I wonder whether our dehumanizing attitude towards others, be they left or right, makes it easier for these solo shooters to pull the trigger. It's got to be a lot easier to kill someone if you don't really think of him as human. We are a divided and sick nation, but there is still good in us. Let me provide a small example from the weekend. 

I'm preparing myself physically for some long bike rides at the end of the summer. So in recent weeks, I'm getting out as much as I can. On Sunday, I went for a 36-mile bike ride along the D&L Rail Trail, starting at Cementon. I had plenty of water and know where I can stop to get more, which I ended up doing. My brakes worked and I think my tire pressure was OK, though I forgot to check. I had a new cambium Brooks saddle, which is supposed to be one of the best saddles out there for keeping you from getting a sore ass. It worked fine on a 20-mile ride, but I wanted to see for myself if it held up in a longer ride. 

The saddle was great. So even though I battled headwinds and a brutal sun once I got above Slatington, I was pleased. When I turned around the wind was at my back, the grade was slightly downhill, and I was able to move pretty well.  About 1.5 miles north of Slatington, my rear tire popped a flat. I carry a tube, pump and levers, but am an idiot when it comes to these things. Several readers who have ridden with me can attest to my overall incompetence. Plus, changing a rear tire is a little dicey. I decided to walk my bike to Slatington for what I was sure would be a several-hour ordeal.

In the span of about five minutes, a cyclist on a gravel bike stopped to help.  Thanks to what were almost entirely his efforts, we had the bike going again in about 15 minutes. He even used one of his CO2 tubes to inflate the 29" tire. I was able to finish the 11 miles I still needed to go.

This guy could have just sailed by, but fortunately, he did not know me. My payment for his services? I had to promise to go to church on Sunday.  

Friday, July 01, 2022

Liz Cheney: A Time For Choosing

Team Trump has been trying its best to vilify Cassidy Hutchinson, one of the very few former White House staffer who's had the courage to say the Emperor is wearing no clothes. Sean Hannity called it rumors, "a ton of hearsay, and a lot of impeached testimony." Laura Ingraham called Hutchinson's testimony an "audition tape"for a job on The View. Mark meadows, through a "spokesperson," denies he ever sought a pardon. And lots of right-wingers know what the Secret Service agents will say, though they themselves have said nothing.  But there is one conservative Republican who stands behind Hutchinson. Her name is Liz Cheney. She delivered a powerful speech to the Reagan Foundation (you can see it above) Wednesday afternoon while right wing talking heads were rolling around onthe floor, frothing at the mouth. “Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.

Here are some excerpts. 

The domestic threat facing America

"[W]e are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic. And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man. Now, some in my party are embracing former President Trump. And even after all we’ve seen, they’re enabling his lies. Many others are urging that we not confront Donald Trump, that we look away. And that is certainly the easier path. One need only look at the threats that are facing the witnesses who’ve come before the January 6th Committee to understand the nature and the magnitude of that threat. But to argue that the threat posed by Donald Trump can be ignored, is to cast aside the responsibility that every citizen, every one of us bears to perpetuate the republic."

Trump Summoned the Mob

"He summoned a mob to Washington. He knew they were armed on January 6th. He knew they were angry. And he directed the violent mob to march on the Capitol in order to delay or prevent completely the counting of electoral votes. He attempted to go there with them. And when the violence was underway, he refused to take action to tell the rioters to leave. Instead, he incited further violence by tweeting that the Vice President Mike Pence was a coward. He said, “Mike deserves it.” And he didn’t want to do anything in response to the hang Mike Pence chance. It’s undeniable. It’s also painful for Republicans to accept."

On BiPartisanship

"I serve on the Armed Services Committee and I have differences, as I’ve said with most of the democratic members of that committee, but we also share much in common. Among my most competent, honorable, and serious colleagues, are a group of women veterans that I serve with on that committee. Women like Mikie Sherrill from New Jersey, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, former DOD official Elissa Slotkin from Michigan.

"We debate issues. We have big disagreements. We don’t come out on the same side most of the time, but we respect each other. And I know that those women, those veterans love this country and they are on that committee. And they’re in Congress, because they want to serve the nation and do the right thing. And for 61 years, that tradition of unifying across party lines has meant that the Armed Services Committee and the House of Representatives, every year produces the National Defense Authorization Act in a bipartisan fashion, usually in a unanimous fashion, providing resources for the defense of the nation. And that is a model that we should follow for the rest of Congress and for the rest of this country. We need to debate and defend our beliefs. But we also have to work to build the future, where we remember that despite our differences, we are all Americans."

Younger People, Especially Women, Will Save This Country

"I have been incredibly moved by the young people that I have met, young people who approach me everywhere, at home in Wyoming, in Washington, DC, in airports all over the country. And I will tell you, it is especially the young women, young women who seem instinctively to understand the peril of this moment for our democracy, and young women who know that it will be up to them to save it. And I have been incredibly moved by the young women that I have met and that have come forward to testify in the January 6th Committee. Some of these are young women who worked on the Trump campaign, some worked in the Trump White House, some who worked in offices on Capitol Hill, all who knew immediately that what happened that day must never happen again."

The Courage of Cassidy Hutchinson

"America had the chance to meet one of these young women yesterday, Miss Cassidy Hutchinson. Her superiors, men many years older, a number of them are hiding behind executive privilege, anonymity, and intimidation, but her bravery and her patriotism yesterday were awesome to behold. Little girls all across this great nation are seeing what it really means to love this country and what it really means to be a patriot. And I want to speak to every young girl watching tonight. The power is yours and so is the responsibility. In our great nation, one individual can make all the difference and each individual must try. There are no bystanders in a constitutional republic. And let me also say this to the little girls and to the young women who are watching tonight, these days for the most part, men are running the world and it is really not going that well."