think-tank-topper-980x100

Introduction

Posted: 9:16 PM EDT Sep 02, 2014   Updated: 10:18 AM EDT Sep 03, 2014

The Think Tank is dedicated exclusively to thoughtful, civil discourse about the issues of our day. It is a forum for the genuine exchange of ideas. We encourage you to contribute or simply to read on for your own edification.

Submissions from local residents are evaluated and chosen by the editorial staff of 69 News Entries should be between 500 and 1000 words, and responses to editorials should be of similar length. Personal attacks will not be posted. Please email your submissions to thinktank@wfmz.com. A photograph of the author is requested for use on the Think Tank web page.

Gov. Tom Wolf to people of Pennsylvania: We have a choice

Posted: 12:27 PM EST Feb 08, 2016

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf official portrait By Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pennsylvania

To the People of Pennsylvania:

We have a very tough set of choices to make with this year’s budget. Our commonwealth is in crisis and we stand at a crossroad.

My proposed budget provides a clear path for a promising future for our state. It assumes the bipartisan budget agreement that proved elusive in December is ultimately enacted this year. It provides a spending plan for 2016-17 that builds upon that agreement. It invests in our schools, meets critical human service needs, fully funds our pension and debt obligations, and eliminates the structural budget deficit that has plagued us since the Great Recession of 2008. My proposed budget lays out the path we must follow if we want to pursue financial responsibility and a hopeful future. It proposes that the state take its rightful share of the responsibility for funding our schools; it proposes that this investment include a reasonable share for early childhood education and higher education; and it proposes that we actually fund these investments with real sources of revenue. It includes key government consolidations along with targeted investments that build upon the bipartisan budget agreement. It faces up to reality and does the difficult things we need to do to bring it into balance. It will allow us a foundation to achieve a more hopeful future for Pennsylvania.

There is another path. For far too long our commonwealth has spent in excess of revenues. The gap was always made up with one-time patches and wildly optimistic assumptions. We can choose a path that continues to ignore financial reality and pretends the commonwealth’s budget is in balance when it clearly is not. That path abandons any bipartisan compromise. That path will result in a deficit of more than $500 million by the close of this fiscal year, and would balloon to more than $2 billion by July of 2017. All funds for our state-related universities and any other non-preferred appropriations would be eliminated. Another $1 billion would be cut from education doubling down on the deep cuts of the past. Human service funding for counties, intellectual disabilities and autism, home- and community-based services, and child care would be reduced by $600 million or more. This path will lead us into a dismal future of shuttered schools, higher property taxes, and lower bond ratings that lead to higher borrowing costs for state and local governments. The consequences of such action are grim. These consequences cannot be ignored.

We have a choice. We must choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. It is time for us to finish the job and restore Pennsylvanians’ shaken faith in their government. It is time to fund our schools. It is time to face financial reality. It is time to give Pennsylvania the bright future it deserves.

Sincerely,

Tom Wolf

Trump: 50 years in the making

Posted: 12:09 PM EST Feb 01, 2016   Updated: 12:23 PM EST Feb 01, 2016

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

The Republican Party for more than 50 years has cultivated a narrative to attract and hold the working class, high school-educated, anti-intellectual white male voter who feels politically and economically emasculated in his own country. The party has sought to attract and hold the modern Republican voter who resents and fears the disappearance of the 1940s Ozzie and Harriet American society he grew up in. The party began recruitment of this type of voter when it welcomed defecting southern Democratic voters after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Over the years, the party has promoted a narrative that made clear who was at fault and to blame for the cultural and economic changes in America. In the 1960s and 1970s, the party focused on the rise of Blacks, women, homosexuals, the poor, Hispanics, people of color immigration, and liberals of all stripes who were changing the American social and political culture.

In the 1980s, beginning with Reagan, the party focused blame on the federal government and asserted that it was incompetent, untrustworthy, violent to middle class values, and an impediment to individual success. In the 1990s, the party encouraged voters to believe that the blame for the lack of social, economic, and political success of middle class white males was affirmative action (Blacks, Hispanics, and women) and liberals masquerading as Republicans. In the 1990s, the assertion that only conservative ideological purity would restore America began to take root within the party. The culmination of these narratives and perspectives was the formation of the tea party within the party after the election of Obama in 2008.

The tea party bore fruit in the 2010 and 2012 elections and the party took control of the House and Senate. The tea party base expected that decades-old promises made by the party would be fulfilled and the policies of Obama would be turned back. Here is the problem – nothing changed. "Obamacare" was not repealed. In fact, it was fully funded. Abortion funding through Planned Parenthood was continued, not ended. Homosexual marriage became the law of the land by a Supreme Court decree written by Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee!

Middle class wages remained stagnant under the Republican domination of Congress. Rather than restoring middle class, high wage, blue collar, low skill jobs; the loss of these of jobs continued. The size of the federal government and the budget deficit increased under the republican Congress without any serious resistance. The Republican base voter felt it had been lied too and they resented it. To make things worse, the political influence of tea party activists was actively resented by the party establishment. The tea party base resentment of the party establishment selection of Romney was further compounded by the fact that he lost.

Donald Trump 2 Into this decades-old resentment, steps Trump. When he declared his candidacy for the presidency, he instantly took primary control of the long standing issue of immigration from the party establishment by asserting that Mexico was sending rapists, murderers, and other criminals into America and that is why the wall must be built. While in politics some level of civility is required, Trump rejected political correctness because, "political correctness is killing us" and we don't have time for it because America is going down the tubes. He stated that there needed to be a ban on all Muslims entering America until the incompetent federal government, "figures out what the hell is going on."

Trump established his anti-political correctness bona fides when he said John McCain was not a real hero because all he did was get captured. Trump said, "I like people who were not captured." Trump has made clear to the press, especially FOX news, you, "can't toy with me like they toy with everyone else." With his bone fides as the leading birther during the 2008 election, upon entering the race he broke the presidential hopes of long time social conservatives like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Scott Walker with little more than his physical presence. He has made the Christian conservative bona fides of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee irrelevant. With nothing more than his bluster and presence, he neutralized the exclusive command of the tea party credentials of Ted Cruz.

Trump is the beneficiary of the creation of the confrontational, anti-establishment politics created by the party in 1968, 1980, and 2008. Trump is popular not only because he has tapped into the politics of government resentment that the party has nurtured since 1980, he has also tapped into the base republican voter who resents the party itself. Trump has taken advantage of the party establishment disdain for the tea party.

Trump, in the end, is a populist who is masculine in running for president. He has his own plane, which arrives like it's Air Force One. Trump examples confrontation and independence. After fifty years of party weakness, to his supporters, Trump is someone who will fight both the left and the ineffective Republican establishment. When attacked by opponents or by the media he demands public apologies and gets them. He needs no funding from Wall Street or the Republican political donor class. He commands the attention of the media by the force of his personality. He does not need to poll nor is he beholden to conservative media (FOX and conservative talk radio) to connect with voters. Trump has not been humbled by the party and media presidential system; it's been the other way around.

Trump has not only commandeered the party social conservative narrative without being a social conservative, Trump has commandeered the entire conservative movement of the past fifty years without being beholden to any of those who created it or to all of its canons. The tables are now turned. Trump's campaign says this is my house now.

Saving you money

Posted: 9:23 AM EST Jan 29, 2016   Updated: 9:37 AM EST Jan 29, 2016

U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts official portrait By U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, (R) Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District

There are two ways of looking at federal spending. Either money is essentially government property, and government grants economic privileges to the people, or money is essentially the property of the people, and government simply uses a part of it for the common good of all.

I believe strongly in the latter view.

When considered in the abstract, the difference is clear, and few would defend the former view. But, in practice, the former view perniciously sneaks into the background of many popular ideas today. For example, Nancy Pelosi famously said that "tax cuts are spending." Barack Obama, in his 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, said that tax cuts are "giving money" to people. It might sound academic, but this idea has dramatic consequences for governing. It’s the difference between a government who must prove its stewardship to the people and a government to whom the people have to prove their stewardship. The fundamental attitude you bring to matters of spending affects every legislative decision that Congress must make.

On the people-based or society-based model, which is called conservatism, saving government money is about saving people money. Ultimately, whatever the government spends must be paid for by people: the real tax rate is the spending rate. When the government borrows money, it is just making a promise to tax people later. The money must be repaid either now or at some other time. This is also why left-wing politicians tend to emphasize the annual budget deficit, whereas conservatives emphasize the overall spending level.

U.S. Capitol building.jpg I have worked throughout my time in Congress to bring down spending because it's the people's money, not the government's money. The people not only deserve to keep their own money, but they know far better what to do with it than do bureaucrats in Washington.

Last year, President Obama signed into law legislation that was developed in the subcommittee I chair that makes sure that seniors on Medicare can count on their doctors being there, and reduces government spending by $3 trillion in the long run. This was one of Congress’ most important achievements all year.

If you stacked three trillion single dollar bills on top of one another, it would reach over two-thirds of the way to the moon. To anyone but the federal government, that’s a lot of money. But our government owes over $18.4 trillion already—money that has already been spent, is gone, and must be paid back. That's an $18.4 trillion tax hike hanging over the American people.

This is not even to mention the amount of money that, under current law, will be automatically spent. Social Security and Medicare alone are set to cost the government—and, ultimately, the people—about $90 trillion. Considering that the total global economy is currently estimated to be worth between $78 and $108 trillion, the people will have a heavy burden to carry in paying for all of this spending.

$100 bills Maybe if the government could reasonably defend its spending practices, then it wouldn’t be so frustrating that it spends so much. But some waste is just inexcusable. The federal government knows of at least $124 billion in mistaken federal payments in 2014. About one out of every 8 dollars spent by Medicare is spent erroneously.

For another example, right now, it is illegal for states to dis-enroll many people from Medicaid—government health insurance for the poor—who have won the lottery. If you receive a lump sum lottery winning, then, under current law, you can go right back on Medicaid the next month.

I've introduced legislation to fix this. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it will save the government—ultimately, the people—about half a billion dollars over the next decade. That's money that people can spend on products they like (not that politicians like), save for college or retirement, invest in companies that create jobs, or donate to charities that are a lot more effective than the government.

With a record-high number of Pennsylvanians going without heat this winter, it’s simply unacceptable to have government waste money. It's downright immoral, because it’s not the government’s money—it's yours.

Police use of force, race, and the Constitution: The Fourth Amendment is part of the problem

Posted: 7:19 PM EST Jan 05, 2016

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

On November 22, 2014, two Cleveland, Ohio, police officers were called to investigate a "man with a gun" in the park.

The caller told the dispatch that there was a juvenile in the park flashing a toy gun. The juvenile was later identified as 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The police were only told by dispatch that there was an active shooter in the park.

The police officers arrived at the park and as they stopped, opened their car doors, Tamir was shot and killed.

The film of the shooting showed that the police arrived at the scene, and Timothy Loehmann fired his weapon within two seconds.

On December 28, 2015, the grand jury impaneled by Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty, following his recommendation, determined that the two police officers should not be charged with the death of Rice.

In his statement, McGinty said, "to charge police... the State must be able to show that the officers acted outside the constitutional boundaries set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States. Simply put... human error, mistakes and miscommunication... did not indicate criminal conduct by police." Here is the problem, McGinty is totally correct!

Police accountability in use of force is not governed or defined by mistake, incompetence, or stupidity.

Police use of force is governed, as far as criminal and civil liability is concerned, by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment says, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...”

The operative word in the phrase is unreasonable.

Think of reasonable as acting normally or as expected under the circumstances.

The Supreme Court held in Tennessee v. Garner (1985) and Graham v. Connor (1989) that police use of deadly and non-deadly use of force is a seizure and thus only governed under the Fourth Amendment.

The Court held that police only violate the Fourth Amendment if they act unreasonably.

In subsequent cases, the Supreme Court has held that the legal question is “Was the level of force used, under the totality of the circumstances and facts known to the officer at the time, viewed from the perspective of the officer, reasonable?”

The Court has also made clear that Fourth Amendment analysis is not subject to hindsight and does not consider whether the officer was in fact right or wrong in assessing the situation. In cases of ambiguity, the officer gets the benefit of the doubt.

Tamir Rice, no indictment In his statement, McGinty said, "On close examination... recent enhancement of the surveillance video... it is now indisputable that Tamir was drawing his gun from his waist as the police car slid toward him and Officer Loehmann exited the vehicle... [I]t is likely that Tamir... either intended to hand it to the officers or to show them it wasn't a real gun. But there was no way for the officers to know that because they saw the events rapidly unfolding in front of them from a very different perspective."

McGinty is totally correct!

Assuming McGinty is correct regarding what the video shows; the shooting was clearly self-defense.

Self-defense is allowed if the use of deadly force was reasonable, under the totality of the circumstances, to prevent death or great injury.

The legal issue is assessed from the shooters perspective. The legal question is whether a reasonable person in that situation (1) would have perceived the danger as life threatening and (2) would have used the deadly force used by the shooter.

In regard to police shootings, the Court has held that it does not matter if in fact there was a danger or police incompetence helped create the danger.

The Fourth Amendment only requires that at the moment deadly force was used, the perception of danger and the reaction to it was reasonable.

In his statement, McGinty said, "Minutes before, they had been assigned to respond to a Code One report of a guy pointing a gun at people... [T]he police were prepared to face a possible active shooter in a neighborhood with history of violence... Officer Loehmann had just seen Tamir put an object into his waist... A moment later, as the car slid toward him, Tamir drew the replica gun from his waist and the officer fired. Believing he was about to be shot was a mistaken — yet reasonable— belief given the high-stress circumstances and his police training. He had reason to fear for his life."

Again, McGinty is totally correct!

Christ, the pope and what Christianity says about those in prisons

Posted: 1:28 PM EDT Sep 28, 2015   Updated: 1:18 PM EDT Sep 28, 2015

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

In the Book of Isaiah 42 and 61, two things are said of prison. It is written that it is the will of God "to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house." The Prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus, that God sent Him "to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

As beautiful as these words are, what do they mean in the modern day of high incarceration rates across the industrialized nations of the world, much less the less developed nations of the world?

Pope Francis provided an answer. He is long known for washing the feet of prisoners and others who are considered "less than" in society, but on Sept. 27, the pope, while visiting Philadelphia, went to a local prison and explained the meaning of the words of Isaiah.

The pope visited the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, which is a medium security prison within the Philadelphia Prison System. When the pope arrived, he was presented with a wooden chair that the prisoners made for his visit. The chair was a replica of the chair that the pope sits in as Bishop of the Church in Rome.

After thanking the inmates for the chair, the pope began his speech by identifying with the prisoners as human beings who, along with their families, do indeed suffer for their behavior. He said, "Thank you for receiving me and giving me the opportunity to be here with you and to share this time in your lives. It is a difficult time, one full of struggles. I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society. . . . I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own."

Note that the pope did not say they did not deserve to be in prison. He made clear that, "This time in your life can only have one purpose . . . . enable your rehabilitation." In noting that "confinement is not the same thing as exclusion," the pope made clear that Christ has provided a way for all men to rehabilitate themselves. He said Jesus made a way through the act of washing his disciple's feet. The pontiff explained that Jesus, "wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet which hurt from traveling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey. He doesn't ask us where we have been, he doesn't question us what about we have done. Rather, he tells us: 'Unless I wash your feet, you have no share with me.' Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the Father always dreamed of, the life for which he created you. Jesus comes to meet us, so that he can restore our dignity as children of God. He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission . . . . [H]e washes our feet so we can come back to the table. The table from which he wishes no one to be excluded. The table which is spread for all and to which all of us are invited."

Pope blesses Philadelphia inmate - small The pope explained that all of society has a part in this process of redemption and rehabilitation. In defending the value of rehabilitation and those who are to be rehabilitated, he said, "rehabilitation . . . benefits and elevates the morale of the entire community and society." He bemoaned that, "It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society." Moreover, he warned that the pain of the incarcerated matters and, "Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society 'condemned' to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain."

Pope Francis ended his speech with a simple prayer, "Let us look to Jesus, who washes our feet. He is 'the way, and the truth, and the life.' He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change. From the lie that says no one can change. . . . May God bless you and protect you and His face shine upon you and may He grant you peace. Thank you."

From the early 1980s banishment and physical control have replaced rehabilitation as the stated primary purpose for the operation of prisons in America. But Jesus said, "you visited Me in prison . . . when you did this for the least of these." The pope reminds us that it is the will of God that those in prison are not to be abandoned but rather to be cared about and helped. As it is written in the scriptures, "to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison. . . . to heal the brokenhearted . . . .[and] to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

The president and the N-word

Posted: 7:58 PM EDT Jun 29, 2015   Updated: 1:57 PM EDT Jun 30, 2015

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

On June 22, President Obama, while being interviewed on a local radio show, commented on the issue of race in America and said, "what is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow. And that’s still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it. Racism. We are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't overnight completely erase everything that happened 2[00]-300 years prior."

The firestorm to President Obama's comments focused on his use of the N-word. His point was that racism is historical, it's more than words, it's implicit, subtle, and complicated. And all the commentary has been on his use of the word itself and why he can use it and other can't.

But a more telling story is how and why the media ignored what he said before the N-word comment, that, "I always tell young people in particular: Do not say that nothing's changed when it comes to race in America . . . It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact." The media, both conservatives and liberals, failed to report his comments in context. They both seek to sensationalize rather than report on what he said. They both use his race and race in general to support their objective. Conservatives reported his use of the N-word to portray the President as an angry Blackman who hates America and uses race to explain everything. Liberals, who use him when he speaks about racial injustice and complain when he doesn’t, reported his statement to portray the President as an honest Blackman speaking truth to power.

In explaining why he focuses on the cases of police shootings of young Black men, it was not to attack the police, but rather to foster a social valuation of the lives of young Black men. He explained, "What is required is a sense on the part of all of us that what happens to those kids matters to me – even if I never meet them. Because my society is going to be better off. I’m going to feel better about the America I live in. And over time, I'm confident that my children and my grandchildren are going to live a better life if those kids also have opportunity."

The president explained in the interview, "So what I tried to describe in the Selma speech that I gave, commemorating the march there, was, again, a notion that progress is real, and we have to take hope from that progress. But what is also real is that the march isn't over, and the work is not yet completed. And then our job is to try in very concrete ways to figure out, what more can we do?"

The inconvenient truth is that he is correct that it’s is short sighted to constantly use history as if America has not changed. For 246 years (1619-1865), slavery was on the American shores. For 100 years (1865 to 1965) Jim Crow Apartheid conditions reigned in America. But realize that 246 years of slavery and racism and 100 years of legal Jim Crow was stripped from the law in only 14 years (1954-1968). As the President observed, "That's where we have to feel hopeful, rather than just say that nothing's changed – we have to say, 'Wow, we've actually made significant progress over the last 50 years.'" The nation that had racial segregation in 1968 elected and reelected an African American man 40 years later. No assertion is made that racism is eradicated, but this nation, in less than two generations, has turned around values that were more than two centuries old. America is better than she was and she is conscious that she has further to go. Few nations can match that.

Trust but verify

Posted: 3:40 PM EDT May 28, 2015   Updated: 4:10 PM EDT May 28, 2015

Patrick J. Bower, Vice President for Development By Patrick J. Bower, Vice President for Development, St. Luke's University Health Network

One of Ronald Reagan's most memorable aphorisms was the phrase "trust but verify."   He quoted this Russian proverb frequently during arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union during the late 1980s.  We would do well to remember President Reagan's sage advice -- especially in light of the recent and disturbing news that four cancer-related charities controlled by a Tennessee-based family have been accused of collecting $187 million in donations, while providing almost no services to the people they claimed to help.

In case you missed the story:

Leaders of these four alleged sham-charities promised to spend 100 percent of the proceeds on services like hospice care, transporting patients to and from chemotherapy sessions and buying pain medication for children. Yet it was reported that about 99 percent of the donated funds were used to pay telemarketing firms and the salaries of unethical charity executives who contracted with them. What little money these disreputable charities spent on services was used to mail so called "cancer boxes" filled with sample-sized portions of snacks and random personal care products to individuals.

If these allegations prove to be true, the actions of a few individuals could undermine public confidence and make it harder for legitimate cancer-related charities to provide the helpful services cancer patients and their families so desperately need.

During my 30-year career as a non-profit executive and fundraiser for health-related causes, I have developed my own version of Reagan's "trust but verify." This litmus test guides both my personal giving and my professional associations. Following it has helped ensure the hard-earned money and time I choose to give actually benefits people in need:

Keep Donations Local--Ask people who have had cancer about the organizations that have had the most impact on their care and support those organizations, either directly or indirectly.  While national charities may have slick fundraising materials, most of the contributions they receive will not be used to benefit people from our community. If you do chose to support a national charity or its local branch, ask them to document the percentage of the gifts that are used to benefit local people.

Be Suspicious of Telemarketers--While it's true you must spend money to make money, a fundraising cost of 50 cents or more to raise a charitable dollar should invite you to pause and ask questions.  Many professional telemarketing firms will use 90 percent or more of all charitable donations collected to pay for telemarketers. Be especially suspicious of charities you have never heard of or charities that do not provide documented services in your area.   

Ask Questions--Any legitimate charity will proudly document the services they provide.  Resist the urge to make a gift--no matter how worthy-sounding the pitch--until you understand how your gift will make an impact.  Visit the charity's web site and consult independent charity watchdog groups like   Guidestar and Charity Navigator.

In the Lehigh Valley, we are fortunate to have a number of highly-effective cancer charities that do a great job of meeting the needs of local patients and their families:

The Women's 5K Classic has become one of the largest races of its kind in the country.  Held each October, the dedicated volunteers who organize this event have successfully raised and distributed $2.5 million to local organizations engaged in the fight against breast cancer and other cancers impacting women.  

The Boutique at the Rink has a 40-year tradition of collecting and reselling gently used treasures in what is arguably the region's largest rummage sale.   Proceeds from this 100 percent volunteer-led, post-Memorial Day sale are used to advance cancer and hospice care in our local community and help make life better for patients and their families.

The Cancer Support Community, a relative newcomer on the scene, now provides more than 700 programs each year--all free of charge--to support cancer patients and their families on the journey to wellness and recovery.

Our Local Non-Profit Hospitals which include St. Luke's University Health Network, Sacred Heart HealthCare System and Lehigh Valley Health Network, have established cancer compassion funds to help patients with medications costs, transportation to chemotherapy and other life-enhancing services.

In recent years, donations to the St. Luke's Cancer Center have been used to bring new technology including Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) to the Lehigh Valley.  With IORT, women being treated for breast cancer receive one treatment of radiation in the operating room that often replaces the need to return to the hospital for the traditional 30-day course of radiation therapy.

Another new technology recently funded by charitable donations is frameless stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Patients who previously had to have a metal frame bolted into their skull to receive radiation therapy for brain cancer can now receive their treatment using a soft, non-invasive mask-like covering that fits over the face.  Donations have also been used to support advances in hospice care, including the construction and ongoing operation of the region's only free-standing inpatient hospice house, a special place for patients in need of more supportive care as they approach life's end.  

Patrick J. Bower, Vice President for Development
St. Luke's University Health Network
484-526-4135

Leadership for a Better America

Posted: 1:48 PM EDT Mar 09, 2015   Updated: 9:21 AM EDT Mar 10, 2015

Joe Sestak By Joe Sestak

This week I officially launched my campaign for the United States Senate, driven by the strong conviction that, when we work together, we can help restore the American Dream for all.

For too long, ideology has paralyzed our government, and “trust deficit” is the phrase I use to describe the state of our union. I am entering this race because I want to change that, and we must start by holding our leaders, of both parties, accountable for their actions.

For the next few weeks, I will cross Pennsylvania on foot – all 422 miles, from New Jersey to the border with Ohio – to demonstrate that I intend to be a different kind of Senator, one who will walk alongside and be a reliable advocate for all communities.

As the precocious narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird reminds us – you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. So in that spirit, I want to earn the trust of Pennsylvanians – one step at a time.

We Pennsylvanians are rightly proud of our unique place in American history. For it was here, over two centuries ago, that our founders aspired toward a more perfect union – one that promises to promote the general welfare for all and secure the blessings of liberty for each.

These twin constitutional pillars have given us a practical pathway to govern, unlocking the talents of rugged individuals while ensuring shared prosperity for the common good. They have prodded us to strike that pragmatic balance to make government work for the people. And when we have succeeded in that, our nation has achieved great things as one.

Today, as we face an increasingly competitive global economy, we must do no less.

My views on leadership were formed, for the most part, during my 31-year career in the United States Navy, where I eventually reached the rank of a three-star Admiral. I saw how American leadership is most effective when it embraces and empowers the dual tenets of our unique national character: rugged individualism in pursuit of the common mission.

To ensure individual achievement, we provided every sailor career-long training and education, enabling each of them to contribute fully to our general overall military readiness. At the same time, we retained our sailors’ commitment because each had the opportunity to achieve individually the skills he or she valued as their personal contribution.

We, in other words, created ladders of opportunity, and our people were brave enough to climb them on their own. No doubt about it, I could not have successfully commanded the 15,000-sailor USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier Battle Group if the military did not prepare and empower our people to serve a collective purpose.
It is an approach that brings unity to a mission, not divisiveness.

The success of our nation should be no different. Americans want a government that gives them the opportunity to apply their innate abilities, intellect, ambition, and persistence for their individual achievement, while ensuring a shared investment from our collective resources so that we all might benefit.

They want leaders who will lead the country based on facts and analysis, plot a course of action, and be held accountable for the results. Americans just want an effective government to do its job well.

And so –

Knowing that 28 million small businesses create 70 percent of all new jobs – shouldn’t we work together to ease their access to loans, lessen burdensome regulations, and keep corporate power in check?

Knowing that 66,000 of our bridges are structurally deficient, and that less than 10 percent of American households have access to high-speed optical fiber lines – shouldn’t Congress stop bickering and start funding a world-class infrastructure and broadband system so we can thrive among all nations?

Knowing that the $1.2 trillion in student loans account for more debt than auto loans and credit cards – shouldn’t we act now to address both sides of the college affordability equation by broadening access to federal aid (a program President Eisenhower started) while holding colleges accountable for skyrocketing costs?

Knowing that American workers and small businesses face stiff competition in the global marketplace – shouldn’t we work together to strengthen institutions, such as the Export-Import Bank, to help them excel around the world?

These are not abstract, philosophical questions; these are real, immediate challenges that people across our state confront every day. So this month, as I cross Pennsylvania on foot, I want to earn your trust and show that I have what it takes to help us confront these issues.

Joe Sestak is a former Navy admiral and U.S. congressman (PA-07). He is presently running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

The election of 2014: The political landscape has changed, but that's all

Posted: 11:13 AM EST Nov 05, 2014   Updated: 11:13 AM EST Nov 05, 2014

Dr. Arthur Garrison, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice at Kutztown University By Arthur H. Garrison, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University

In 2008, the Republicans lost not only the presidency, but the House and the Senate. The decimation was without equal in recent memory. The Democrats won, on paper, a veto proof majority in the Senate. But rather than crawling off the stage of political power, the Republicans licked their wounds and decided that they would start and maintain a political street fight with the Democrats, in general, and with Obama, specifically.

The Republicans, under Mitch McConnell, developed a singular strategy: to make President Obama a one term president. The Republicans lost the major political issue of the 2008-2009 political season, the passage of Obamacare, but developed a political ground force that would later drive them to success – the tea party. The Democrats won the Obamacare battle, but lost major amounts of political capital and political fighting spirit in doing it.

In 2010, with the credit going to the tea party, the once-decimated Republicans took control of the House (winning 63 seats) and control of 26 state legislatures and 29 state governorships, which gave them control of state redistricting and the ability to make sure the Democrats’ agenda would be shut down in Washington. Through redistricting and gerrymandering, the Republicans have created a political lock on the House for the next decade.

In 2012, the Republicans lost the presidential election. The coalition that supported President Obama in 2008 came out in 2012 out of fear of the Republicans. The Republicans remained in firm control of the House and for two more years, the obstruction strategy of politics prevailed. The strategy was multifaceted. First, with uniform agreement, the Republicans advanced the narrative that nothing the federal government does is competent or useful. They fostered and maintained an anti-government mood within the electorate. Such a mood, by definition, hurts the party holding the presidency. Second, the Republicans exercised perfect political message discipline in asserting that they were not obstructionist and do nothings but rather they stood for principles that were not open to surrender for the appearance of cooperation. Third, they were relentless in projecting the narrative to their political base that Obama was at best incompetent and at worse, illegitimate and one step short of being criminal. Lastly, they made clear that the 2014 election was not about voting for Republicans, but it was about voting against Obama. The strategy worked.

The 2014 midterm elections leveled the Democrats. The Republicans picked up seven seats in the Senate and won twenty-three gubernatorial elections, including states like Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and South Carolina. The Obama one term strategist Mitch McConnell will take a new place among the top political leaders of the nation.

From 2008 to 2014, the strategy has been to oppose, resist and plan for the next election. The Republicans own Congress, but the crown jewel of politics is still in the hands of the opposition party. There is no reason the strategy will or should change. Politics is a game of power and winning. Governing is about policy and results. It's the former that has borne fruit for the Republicans. The latter would only give the Democrats something to run against in 2016.

The political landscape has changed, but the politics of the landscape have not. Today, national politics is not about voting for something, it's about voting against something. Fear, not hope, governs what people do at the poles. This was true in 2010, 2012 and now 2014. The next two years will be the same. For the Republicans, the political season of 2014-2016 will be about opposing Obama, House and Senate committee investigations, settling internal political power currents within the party, selecting a candidate to run in an open presidential contest and getting ready to defend 24 seats in the Senate.

Response to Ebola situation has been inadequate

Posted: 10:21 AM EDT Oct 17, 2014

Cong. Charlie Dent, (R)- 15th Dist. PA By Charlie Dent (R), U.S. Congressman representing Pennsylvania's 15th District.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered and are impacted by this terrible outbreak.

A special debt of gratitude is owed to the health care professionals on the frontline, both here in the United States and in West Africa, delivering care to the sick.

I am increasingly concerned about the federal response to the Ebola outbreak. Several Americans have been infected with the virus, including two healthcare workers who were exposed while caring for a Liberian citizen carrying the disease.

Given recent developments, the execution of the containment strategy and protocols must be revisited. Moreover, a single point of contact to coordinate the federal response and communicate with the American public is an immediate imperative. While the CDC, FDA and other governmental entities have critical roles to play in the unfolding developments and response, the Surgeon General of the United States is the logical choice to fill this much needed role for greater coordination and better communication.

President Obama’s current nominee for Surgeon General has been held up in the Senate – and not solely by Republicans. A number of Democratic Senators have opposed the nomination as well.

The President, for the good of the country, should immediately put forward a nominee, preferably someone with an extensive knowledge of epidemiology and infectious disease control, who would engender broad bipartisan support.

Further, I recently met with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem where Ebola was discussed. The FDA must do everything it can to encourage and support the rapid development of life-saving, anti-Ebola drugs, vaccines and early detection methods.

Finally, with regard to travel restrictions, the President must consider temporary and targeted travel restrictions from impacted countries if leaders from the CDC, DHS, and other officials on the front line of this public health crisis believe that doing so would contain this outbreak and protect American citizens while not impeding efforts to combat Ebola at the source of the crisis.

Although this is a trying situation for our nation and the world, it is not time to panic.

I pledge to work with the Administration and my congressional colleagues to ensure that our health care providers, communities and nation have the tools they need combat the spread of Ebola.

Advertisement
Advertisement
 

On this Day

  • Good Times cast photo

    Sony Pictures Television

    On this day: February 8

    The Boy Scouts of America is founded, the gas chamber is first used in the United States, the first NFL Draft is held, "Good Times" premieres, and women's ice hockey debuts as an Olympic sport, all on this day.

11 foods that will age you

bottles of beer with condensation

FreeImages.com/Matthew Bowden

Did you know that your diet can also affect the way you age? Eating too much of these foods will make you look older than your age.