Tuesday, November 20, 2007



You can't believe everything you read-- and when the writer and his publication have a markedly reactionary and distinctly Republican agenda, as is so often the case with regional newspapers and the lackeys who work for them, you're better off ignoring whatever they have to say about politics altogether and just heading straight for the high school sports scores. It's bad all around the country, but I've probably never seen it so bad as in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, where the Allentown Morning Call functions as a mouthpiece for the forces of right-wing reaction. Their DC-based political "reporter," a wet-behind-the-ears, two-bit hit man named Josh Drobnyk seems to have a goal-- and it isn't reporting.

Drobnyk is out to derail Democratic chances to defeat Bush rubber stamp Charlie Dent. By any standard, the tripe he pours out about the Democratic candidate-- in the Morning Call and at the paper's poisonous website, Pennsylvania Ave.-- wouldn't pass muster at a beginners journalism class. It goes far beyond partisan bias and into the realm of character assassination and premeditated propaganda.

But at least we can turn to the internet for some reality, right? Um... not in the Lehigh Valley, apparently. Aside from Drobnyk's asinine and transparent distortions, the two bloggers covering Sam's campaign against Dent are even worse than Drobnyk. One is apparently the mentally ill chief of staff to hack local politician Lisa Boscola. Bernie Kieklak uses the name "Bernie Takes NO prisoners" when he blogs. This summer he went to Lehigh Valley Ramblings and left-- and then defended-- a vicious, filthy, sexist rant.
Sammy Bennett is a phony political whore who gives good head and makes cheap, blatant political opportunists look like Mother Fucking Teresa. Even her [we don't use that word at DWT] is made of plastic.

And the site owner, Bernie O'Hare is a volunteer for a putative Democrat challenging Sam, but who basically agrees with Dent on almost every important issue. Remember, Bernie Kieklak (Bernie Takes NO Prisoners) is on the public payroll. The other Bernie admires his political acumen and his way with words but wrote this about him recently: "...over the past few weeks, he's posted increasingly bizarre and bigoted comments about nuking Iraqis and Muslim holy sites, followed by sexist rants directed at Sam Bennett and female bloggers."

A DWT reader alerted me to this situation writing that "it looks like there is someone in Allentown who is going after Sam Bennett big time ugly." To me it looks like there are more than one-- starting with Drobnyk who seems to think journalism is regurgitating press releases and unsubstantiated claims from Republicans and while slyly-- if clumsily-- undermining Democrats. And wasn't I surprised to see that he had come across our chat with Sam at Firedoglake and tried using it to stir up animosity against her.
Bennett, who’s challenging Lehigh Valley Rep. Charlie Dent, a two-term Republican, was interviewed about a month ago by the liberal Web site Firedoglake.com, where she criticized Pennsylvania freshmen Democrats Jason Altmire and Chris Carney for being too soft on the Bush administration.

“Far be it from me to speak ill of another Democrat but I’m very, very deeply disappointed," Bennett was quoted as saying by Howie Klein when asked whether she might "turn into another Chris Carney or Jason Altmire, both freshmen Democrats who have been supporting the reactionary Bush agenda since being elected last year."

She continued, according to Klein: "There’s a motto, to paraphrase, that is very important to me-- something we raised our children with: ‘If I am silent people think I agree.’ There are hard, hard fought battles-- like a woman’s right to choose, and like the GBLT communities’ rights to have basic civil rights every other American is entitled to-- that some of the votes that we have seen by the folks on our side of the aisle not only are disappointing in the immediate but upend many, many years of work by people who have dedicated and given their lives for these basic values. And when we get to the war in Iraq…very, very troubling.”

I have that interview on tape and Sam never criticized Altmire or Carney; I did. His overly hackish coverage, when not presenting Dent's talking points as indisputable facts, consists basically of talking about fundraising. And aside from the $140,000 Dent was given by Tom Delay, Denny Hastert and other crooked congressional Republicans in the form of PAC donations, his biggest source of campaign contributions came from big corporations and lobbyists eager to lock up his vote on their issues, particularly HMOs and hospitals, the chemical industry, real estate companies, electric utilities, banks, pharmaceutical companies, contractors, etc.

And when Drobnyk has written about issues, he parrots Republican talking points.
She said she supports a 12-month deadline for pulling troops out of Iraq. Dent opposes timelines, but wants to shift the mission away from combat and toward counterterrorism and training Iraqi forces.

On immigration, Bennett said she would have supported a Senate bill that failed earlier this year that would have provided a path to citizenship for the nation's illegal immigrants. Dent opposed that plan.

Overall, she aims to cast Dent as a lawmaker in lockstep with President Bush."Charlie Dent represents the wishes and interests of the Bush administration on a consistent basis rather than the best interests of his constituency," she said.

Dent campaign manager Shawn Millan called that argument a "tired" line from Democratic opponents that isn't backed up by his votes in Congress.

"When you actually look at the issues that impact the people in the Lehigh Valley, Charlie clearly has their interests in mind and not the administration's," Millan said.

He pointed to Dent's support for embryonic stem cell research-- in contrast to Bush-- and to his opposition to the administration's immigration proposal. "She is not going to make any political hay by saying that Charlie Dent is failing to represent the people of the 15th District. There is nothing to bear that out." Key to the contest will be the support of the national parties. For now, that's confined to news releases from each parties' campaign committees attacking the other candidate, and to helping Bennett with campaign hiring decisions. A more important indicator to watch for down the road will be whether the committees put money into the race. If they do, it's a sign they truly believe the contest is up for grabs.

Perhaps a real reporter might look at Dent's voting record instead of just passing along-- as fact-- Dent's campaign manager's assertion that Dent isn't a rubber stamp. He certainly is a rubber stamp on the most important issue facing America today: Iraq. Since getting to Congress Dent participated in 21 roll call votes regarding Iraq. And how many times did Mr. Not A Rubber Stamp differ from the extremist positions of Bush and Cheney, positions that are highly unpopular in the Lehigh Valley? None... Dent's voted the Bush-Cheney line 21 times out of 21 opportunities.

On a related matter, the well-being of America's military personnel, Dent participated in 13 roll calls and he voted against our military men and women and for Bush every time except for one procedural vote. And when it comes to granting special privileges to big Republican campaign donors, like credit card companies, nuclear energy companies, and oil and gas companies they know they can count on Charlie Dent 100% of the time, no matter how badly it hurts his constituents. Why not, with Josh Drobnyk the only reporter covering him, few in the Lehigh Valley will ever find out the true story about Charlie Dent's record.

Instead they'll just think the race is about Sam not attracting big donors and about Sam being "pro-immigrant."

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