Monday, February 06, 2006

92: "The Times That Try Men's Souls"

A little over two weeks ago, in an essay titled “GettysBLOG: Call for Anti-Slots Summit!”, GettysBLOG called for an Anti-Casino Summit, of all organized resistance to the casinos across the state. For some strange reason, this did not appeal to certain segments of that community (who shall remain nameless). The crux of the idea was not to count solely on separate efforts to defeat placement of casinos in certain locations around the state, but to also unify behind an effort that currently sits unmoving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Now, the newspapers report that Steve Maitland's bill to keep casinos away from heritage areas is dead in the Tourism Committee. The committee chairman, Robert Godshall, (R-Montgomery) has the hubris to refuse to pass legislation to the floor for a vote if it is likely to be repealed. Hello? What kind of idiocy is this? Give the floor the right to do their jobs, you nimwit!

So, the idea is simple. Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) has a bill going nowhere that calls for the repeal of the enabling legislation (Act 71 of 2004 - passed in the same sneaky midnight fashion as last year’s pay raise!). With four well organized but local groups fighting casinos in four different locations around the state, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if they unite, and start pulling numbers from outside their areas, they can drum up enough support to get that repeal passed with enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto.

At the same time, they must keep up their local efforts.

The natural choice, for at least titular leadership, is No Casino Gettysburg, by dint of their hard won place on the world stage, experience at handling a publicity campaign on a greater than local level, and their already enormous support base. They also have the moral position that has been the crux of their fight. It does not take a large step to take the argument from "not in Gettysburg, not in America's Town", to "Not in Pennsylvania, where the Nation began!" If another leader steps forward, fine, but to kick this effort off...

It is an effort that should have begun as soon as the casino applications were filed with the Gaming Control Board. Now, time's awasting!

What the anti-casino groups are fighting, as is Mr. Clymer, is money. Literally millions of dollars are being poured into this state by the gaming industry to put pressure on legislators NOT to pass Clymer’s bill. And that money has the undivided attention, heart and soul of a small group of men who wield a disproportionate amount of power in Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, Bob Jubelirer, John Perzel, Vince Fumo, Sam Smith, Bill DeWeese, Robert Mellow, Mike O’Pake, Jeff Piccola, and David Brightbill. These men represent the leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. They call the shots in Pennsylvania politics. And they love the money flowing into the state from the gaming industry. It is NOT, however, going into the public coffers. It is funneling through, among other sources, lobbyists, something Pennsylvania lacks any legal authority over because we are the only state in the nation with no lobbyist disclosure law. Legislators will not pass such a law because it would immediately affect the flow of such largesse.

GettysBLOG believes that the locations for the casinos was likely already decided before the passage of Acts 71 and 72, of 2004. Those men noted above knew it, and so, now, do the members of the Gaming Control Board. All will categorically deny it.

If you are a group fighting imposition of a casino in your community, can you afford not to believe that the locations were pre-determined? That is, locked-in place. The upcoming hearings are for show, and will not result in anything any different than what you get at a Township Supervisor’s meeting, “Oh, gee, I think it is an absolutely bad idea to put a casino in a community like East Falls, but I simply had to vote yes.” That is what they will say to the public when they announce the locations. If they will even become that public. They tend to operate in the darkest secrecy.

Folks, you have far, far more to fear , and much more to lose from the above mentioned crew of politicians and their unethical, dangerous gambling legislation than you do from George Bush tapping your cell phone calls.

So once again I urge the anti-casino groups, [No Casino Gettysburg, the East Falls Community Council's Casino Free Zone of Philadelphia, the Valley Citizens for Casino Free Development, and the Stop the Casino group from Limerick near Valley Forge, and others as they emerge] to band together in an effort to spread the grassroots campaign statewide, and to place great pressure on their Representatives and State Senators to get on board and support Paul Clymer’s repeal bill.

It must be done quickly. If not, the effort will die. Somebody in those groups needs to step up, develop a strategy and get this thing called Act 71 killed dead! It calls for leadership, and fast organization. How sad that in ten or eleven months, the possibility exists that these groups will say to themselves, "We had the chance to kill it, and did not act. Now it is too late."

Local grassroots organizations can make a lot of noise, but separately, they can be dealt with by the money the gaming industry is funneling into Pennsylvania.

Right now, intimidation is the name of the game. GettysBLOG, for example, has been viewed by someone in the IRS, using an IRS computer. To steal a quote from a great Monty Python film, "Message for you sir!" Another visit was made by someone from the National Counter Terrorism Center. There are others. And the word is, No Casino Gettysburg has gotten similar attention.

How pitiful it is that the rich and powerful should need to resort to these tactics to try to crush opposition to their great gambling pyramid scheme. (And that is all it is, ladies and gentlemen -- a pyramid scheme, where a few get rich, and then get out. The rest of us will left holding the bag, as it were, and that bag will be empty!)

Small fights invariably lose to big money. Collective fights can defeat that money. And according to an article in the
Allentown Morning Call (read this, it is VERY enlightening!), the time is probably right to get the non-leadership legislators on board.

Thomas Paine was an English born immigrant to Philadelphia in 1774, at the suggestion of one Benjamin Franklin, colonial representative to His Majesty’s Court of St. James. In the short two years he was in America, Paine lit the fires of revolution throughout the land. Everyone knows this from Paine’s Common Sense --

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

But few will recognize these as Paine’s words from The Rights of Man --

“A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

Or this, also from his famous Common Sense –

When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.

It is indeed time for men to stir, and to rise up against the oppression wrought by political money. Greed on a greater level than Gold Fever has infected the state Capital. You will not defeat that animal called greed by hammering at its many heads, but by cutting off its roots. Take away the enabling legislation and the casinos are dead in the water (where they were supposed to be!). Then let the politicians place a referendum for gaming on the ballot, and limit it as it was supposed to be, to the riverboats. But this business of allowing the casinos to be built wherever the Gaming Control Board (read: $$$$) decides to put them, in spite of any local zoning laws, or local opposition, is tyranny beyond what can be allowed. Ownership of casinos by politicians should not be permitted, yet it is, and it is also to be kept secret! The very same politicians who wrote and passed this piece of garbage called Act 71, are the ones who get to appoint the members of the Gaming Control Board who will make these "legal" decisions. At the very least, this is an outrageous conflict of interest! Act 71 of 2004 is loaded with many such items.

If that doesn’t put you all in a fighting mood, try one more from our good friend Mr. Paine –

“It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government.”

Organize, centralize, and spread the grassroots throughout the state. You can kill this serpent.

As the great Todd Beamer said, “Let’s roll!”


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!"

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

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