So which stories / issues / topics grab your attention here at the end of the week?
Completely stymied in its attempts to win a gasoline tax increase from Delaware legislators, the Markell Administration has unilaterally hiked weekend tolls on Route One from two to three dollars. Once again, Delaware resorts to a familiar ploy: Try to raise revenue disproportionately on the backs of out-of-staters. Delaware has already been the subject of negative articles in out-of-state papers about this practice. Doubtless we'll see some more. Of course, raising the gas tax was a non-starter for most Delaware legislators in an election year -- no matter the problems with the state's infrastructure. Even with the toll hike, Delaware's scheduled transportation upgrades remain in shambles.
Speaking of traffic woes, the gates open for the Firefly Music Festival in Dover. Promoters and DelDOT are congratulating themselves that staggered arrival times mitigated some of the traffic gridlock. Still, beware the congestion around Dover.
Honestly, I could not imagine ever attending such an event. Now, granted, I'm older now, but even as a teenager or 20-something, I was not drawn to big sweaty crowds under the hot sun. Nor to the wafting of marijuana or tobacco smoke. Misery rather than joy. Even if some of my favorite groups of all time were playing! But if some of the younger employees at our stations are any indication, Firefly is a big hit. And it's got to be a great boost for the Delaware economy. As DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt ruefully acknowledged to WDEL's Amy Cherry, too bad the Route One toll hikes weren't already in place this weekend!
The proposed casino bailout is still alive, despite Delaware's fiscal woes. Really?
The Delaware State Senate okays legislation to abolish Delaware's office of Chief Medical Examiner, replacing it with a new division of forensic science. The latest fallout from the drug-testing lab, evidence-tampering scandal: The Attorney General's office - in a preliminary report - found systemic failures, and an urgent need for reform. But critics of the legislation see an inherent conflict in having a law enforcement agency oversee state evidence labs.
Is another would-be Republican Presidential candidate going down in flames? In this case, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whom some thought to be the one guy who could bring together the Republican establishment and Tea Partiers? Prosecutors contend in now unsealed court documents that Walker participated in a nationwide criminal scheme to coordinate fundraising with conservative groups. No charges yet filed. State prosecutors say Walker, his former chief of staff, top adviser, and campaign operative had a conversation about illegal fundraising and coordination with national organizations and prominent G.O.P. figures, such as Karl Rove. In short, Walker was trying to assist his campaign, and the campaigns of his fellow G.O.P. state senators - facing recall elections in 2011 and 2012 - through illegal means. But the investigation has been in limbo since May, when a Federal judge ruled the probe represented a breach of the Wisconsin Club for Growth's free-speech rights.
From my initial analysis, Walker may still be in less political trouble than Christie. Arcane political fundraising and election laws can't compare with the idea that ordinary motorists suffered traffic gridlock at a toll booth because of political payback.
With the building Iraq crisis, liberals / progressives complain that the major news networks are giving too much airtime to the same neo-conservatives who prevailed on the second President Bush to intervene in Iraq. The argument: Why give them a platform when they were so grievously wrong about that previous Iraq conflict?
Yet, retired General David Petraeus argues the United States must launch "targeted" air strikes against ISIS, assuming the situation deteriorates further. Interviewed by Britain's DAILY TELEGRAPH, Petraeus declared his support for using drones against ISIS leader Abu Bakr el Baghdadi. But Petraeus professed disappointment that the situation in Iraq was deteriorating.
A headline to an analysis in FOREIGN POLICY: HOW MALIKI RUINED IRAQ: Not long ago, stability and security in Iraq seemed possible. Maliki's corruption shattered any hope of that.
That's one of the arguments of non-interventionists: Do we not "reward" Maliki by assisting his government in any way?
Indeed, the knives seem to be out for Maliki -- even among the Shi'a.
But interventionists here in the U.S. argue we simply can't allow a jihadist state to arise in a swath of Syrian and Iraqi territory.
Consider this headline from The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: HOME-GROWN TERROR: AMERICAN JIHADIST WANNABES FLOCK to ISIS-LIKE GROUPS in IRAQ and SYRIA: Muslim-American extremists from coast-to-coast, including New York City, head overseas to train for jihad -- and NYPD's terror chief is concerned about when they come back...
The "conservative" side of Pope Francis emerges (along with warning about the devil much more than his immediate predecessors; and staying with the Vatican line against the ordination of women): Addressing a drug enforcement conference in Rome, the Pope denounced attempts to legalize recreational drugs. Pope Francis warned even limited attempts to legalize such drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects." The South American nation of Uruguay, a neighboring country to the Pope's native Argentina, is now in the business of selling marijuana cigarettes in pharmacies. And of course, we know what's been happening in Colorado and Washington state.
Posted at 8:22am on June 20, 2014 by Allan Loudell
Regarding the gas tax hike: You do not raise taxes of any kind during an election year. Period.
I was never drawn to concert events like Firefly. Granted, they were not as plentiful during my youth. But still, never an attraction for me. Not the kind of people I wanted to hang out with.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 9:10am
Both liberals and neo-cons need to get the airwaves so we hear both sides, but if the coverage is slanted towards the neo-cons by the media, kind of makes you wonder what THEIR agenda is, as most media [especially electronic] are owned by parent companies these days, so not their own bosses. CBS owned by Viacom, NBC by Xfinity, ABC by Disney, Fox "News" by Rupert Murdock.
Do these parent companies have investments in the defense industry, thus affecting their slant on the news and who gets air time?
What I want to know is why doesn't DELDOT make those exit roads from Route 1 to Firefly better so they don't jam up?
Sounds like Scott Walker is in a heap of trouble. Well that's two G.O.P. governors [Christie and now Walker] who have been shown to have some flaws. Christie might be able to overcome it, but my guess is his shot at Prez for 2016 is not going to happen. Rick Perry and Jan Brewer, watch your backs.
Speaking of Rick Perry:
"[Rick] Perry said he has been warning the Obama administration for two years about the issue of “unaccompanied alien children.”
“I have been haranguing, bringing to the attention of, flagging issues on that border for multiple years,” Perry said. “You’ll recall I stopped on the tarmac to welcome the president in 2010, gave him a letter about border security. We wrote a letter and drew to his attention and tried to really focus he and his administration, particularly Homeland Security, on this issue of unaccompanied alien children who were coming in on the backs of these trains in 2012.”
Apparently Matt Denn will have a Republican [forget his name] to run against for State A.G.
Even Mitt Romney's making news:
"The surprise early frontrunner in New Hampshire’s next G.O.P. presidential primary is the loser of the last White House race – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who wipes the 2016 field by a more than 2-1 margin, a new Suffolk University-Boston Herald poll reveals."
Mike, you said it all about the Republican running for AG. I have no idea what his name is! He'll need lots of money just to get his name out there.
Onto Iraq. We went in there and destroyed a stable government. We owe it to those people to aid the new government to regain stability.
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 10:06am
The Republican running for Delaware Attorney General is Ted Kittila, now from the Wilmington area, originally from downstate (Seaford).
If someone primaries Kitilla, the Delaware Republican Party establishment will not formally endorse a candidate.
Interestingly, neither Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn nor Kattila has any experience as a prosecutor.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 10:19am
Thanks for the name, Allan. Matt Denn definitely has the name advantage over Ted Kittila. Kittila, being from downstate and now from Wilmington, possibly could unite the Delaware G.O.P. as the downstaters tend to hate anyone above the canal. That might prove useful in future years.
As JimH pointed out, Kattila has an uphill battle ahead of him, but you never know. As neither has previous experience as a prosecutor, that will help level the playing field a bit.
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 12:41pm
Mike: I think you're right about Perry... IF he successfully protects Texas from uninvited "guests", America will see how a real leader protects the citizens of one's state and the country... not people sneaking in the back door. If the border is not protected.. no real discussions about immigration can take place, and no solutions can be implemented.
Perry was also wise enough to refuse implementation of Common Core in his state...Scott Walker still supports CC.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 1:40pm
EarlGrey: I agree totally.
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 7:33pm
I too agree with Earl up to a point. What I mean is I have a lot of skepticism about whether or not most Americans will even vote based on immigration issues. You've heard the old saying: "It's the pocketbook, stupid!"
But not just the pocketbook. Most people vote either for name recognition or issues that affect them personally. Somebody from Maine or New Hampshire may not think border protection has any effect on their safety.
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 7:35pm
As clarification, northeastern people may see the Canadian border as a concern with regards to terrorists, but that's kind of on the back page whereas the Mexican border is front and center.
Sat, Jun 21, 2014 7:09pm
The gas tax shows what is wrong with the Markell administration. It has no staff worth its salt. Anyone who cannot make an logical argument as to why we NEED this gas tax needs to be fired. And for there to be any controversy, it can only mean the message was not properly sold.
The gas tax is the cheapest tax we have to citizens.... 60 percent of the revenues raised will be on the backs of out of state purchasers of our petrol.
Furthermore, when you put tax on gasoline, the consumer pays little or none. The price at the pump stays the same.... Gas costs 99 cents a gallon... On top of that in Delaware there is 32 cents added as both fed and state taxes... The new tax will make the tax added 42 cents putting the actual cost per gallon close to $1.40....
The difference between today's $3.65 and the cost of $1.40 is the cost of the speculation embedded into our current price structure... These are people getting their cuts...
If you raise gas and say it temporarily becomes $3.75, a very high number, people stop buying. When that happens, the investments take a hit. They drop their price 10 cents bringing the cost down to $3.65 where it is today...
We pay nothing extra. They eat it.
Since all this is propriety information and closed to both government and the public, there are two examples we can see today that show this to be true...
The first was during the crash of 2008. As stocks fell investors had to sell their hedges to pay the margin calls on their stocks, if they wished to still be afloat and not get taken over... So they did. The $1.40 we experienced in 2008, just after a summer's high of $4.33, is considered the clean cost of gas... It was a unique point in history, allowing us to discover this. Demand was the same. The depression had not yet affected incomes. The supply was the same, Refineries were producing as they were before and after. One could measure the gallons sold and made. All the same. The only difference was no one was interfering with the price, because all accounts were ... non existent....
The bottom was $1.40 per gallon...
Secondly, PA's tax is 10 cents more than Delaware's... New Jersey's tax is 10 cents less than Delaware.... Yet when you drive from NJ to PA, the gas is the same on both sides of the border.... How can that be? Demand... Those in NJ can sell just under the PA price and not lose a customer, even though elsewhere in the state, say the Pine Barrens, gas would be 20 cents cheaper....
Two rules to always remember... One gasoline prices are set by demand and demand only...
The second, is most of what we pay for gas, goes straight to the top 1%...
So by paying the 10 cent gas tax, we are shifting money from this fat cat's pockets over to rebuilding infrastructure.... Since that fat cat's money is probably destined for the Far East, that I my humble opinion, would be a very good thing...
Why the Markell administration was silent on pushing this, is one of two things... One, this was just a diversion. A ploy to distract attention (my guess) from the soon to be felt very unpopular educational reforms being sneaked through the legislature surprisingly very easily...
The second is as mentioned above, is the immaturity of the staff. If you hire only college-age staffers, you are only going to reach the level of college government....
That is a problem... Anyone hired under 30 was only born after '84, would only be a teen afer '97, and would have only been an adult in either the Bush or Obama years.... Unfortunately there is very little they do know about running government right... since there have been so few models in that time frame on which to draw ideas....
Sat, Jun 21, 2014 8:44pm
Kavips: BRILLIANT analysis. If only we could get oil out of the speculation market.
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jun 21, 2014 9:41pm
Kavips: I agree with Mrpizza excellent analysis.
Sat, Jun 21, 2014 10:59pm
I don't know if anyone is following the Republican panel investigating the lost IRS hard drive, but here is a hilarious exchange showing why this is a waste of your money and why no expense should be wasted in going further.....
what this means is that (a) the Lerner drive crash took place before any investigations and (b) the fact that her drive crashed was revealed to the GOP last year, and they didn't think anything of it.
Apparently Republicans think that the failure of Lerner's drive—and the fact that the IRS has only recently gone into painstaking detail about the circumstances surrounding the failure of her drive—are part of a massive plot that culminated in President Obama stealing the election from Mitt Romney.
But it happened three years ago. The Republican doing the question is simply an idiot....
BOUSTANY: Why wasn't this committee notified before a decision was made to completely recycle her hard drive?
Correct answer anywhere but a place you can be held in contempt.... would have properly been....
KOSKINEN.... Because Time Travel has not yet been invented, sir....
Obviously to anyone paying attention, there is no scandal here and if Republicans weren't so desperately hurting the the arena of real ideas, we wouldn't be wasting anyones time on it at all... This is why Congress is held below a 7% approval rating.
Zero Republicans in 2014.... It probably won't happen, but if it did, America would immediately rebound into the most awesome nation ever existing.
Sun, Jun 22, 2014 9:09am
Following is a comic illustration of our current "no boots on the ground" policy in Iraq:
In response to Kavips' posting about Republicans and Lois Lerner, I would say that if the Senate is taken over by establishment Republicans vs. TEA Party, that would be a "musical chairs" effect in which they swap one set of communists for another.
Thank God we have at least two Republicans with guts and backbone in Paul Ryan and Darrell Issa.
Either one of them make good presidential material for me.
Sun, Jun 22, 2014 5:48pm
By the way, while we're on the subject of presidents, there's something I need to set the record straight about. Despite all the media propaganda about Barack Obama being the first black president, those reports are totally inaccurate. Our first black president was actually Dennis Haysbert, commonly known as the "Allstate Guy".
Sun, Jun 22, 2014 9:12pm
To back up some of the things I've been saying about Iraq, here is a clip from Dick Cheney....
Sun, Jun 22, 2014 9:13pm
AS for presidential picks, go figure Pizza would choose a dishwasher and a car thief to run the country.
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 9:39am
"...Pizza would choose a dishwasher and a car thief to run the country."
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 9:26pm
A dishwasher and a car thief would be a better choice over what we have in there now!
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 10:29am
Is anyone else paying attention to the chaos going on at our Southern border?... Thousands of kids (and others) just showing up...and during this chaos, who else is slipping into our country? If we are no longer a nation of law, we will fall into complete chaos. One of the main purposes of government is the protection of its citizens and the borders of our nation.
This reminds me of the story about China's theory on how to defeat Russia... Tthe Chinese would send 1 million troops to the Russian border, surrender their weapons, and surrender to the Russians. The next day they would do the same thing...this process would continue until Millions of "prisoners" were inside Russia and they would overwhelm the "system" from the inside... That seems to be exactly what is going on at our border.
...one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 1:41pm
EarlGrey: Excellent question. Neither party wants to offend the Hispanic vote for this fall's elections, so neither will do anything, thus the chaos.
It seems that only citizens have to obey the law, illegals are welcomed with open arms by both parties, given all the help they need, not deported back, border patrols are not allowed to do their jobs.
Good analogy of China vs Russia. Mexico is doing the same thing [we took a lot of land from them back in the 1800's and my guess is they've not forgotten]. The Trojan Horse, we are being taken over. The easiest way to hide something is to keep it in plain sight so that you can't see the forest for the trees.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 3:23pm
Mike: The border problem is much bigger than Hispanic voters...there are a large number of OTMs (other than Mexicans) crossing into our country (among these OTMs are ultra-violent MS-13 members) and our government has no idea where they are because (as you said) they are hidden in plain sight...all around our country.
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 6:28pm
EarlGrey: My point is because of the political correctness towards the Hispanics coming here illegally nothing will be done so those other folks also are getting in. Close the border & we solve both problems.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 8:17pm
Well, at least Jack Bauer killed Margot Al-Harazi so we don't have to worry about her launching drones on us.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 8:24pm
Oh yeah, here's the link in case you need to catch up on it:
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 11:17pm
Mike: I agree with your point that PC is part of the problem (especially for the pandering politicians), and also agree that a secure border is needed before any serious immigration policy solutions can be discussed.
Here's a news story showing some of the illegal trespassers caught trying to break into our country.
EarlGrey: That news story just underlines even more the need to close the dog gone border. Come on Obama, quit kicking the can down the street [to use one of his expressions]. Get 'er done. Thanks for the link Earl.
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