PCCC Endorses Daylin Leach in PA-13

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has formally endorsed State Sen. Daylin Leach for Congress.  He is running in PA-13 to succeed Allyson Schwartz who s running for Governor.  Daylin is one of the most liberal members of the state legislature and has led on progressive issues both while serving in the House and Senate.

From the PCCC:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is endorsing Daylin Leach for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 13th District, calling Leach a “game changer” and praising his leadership on popular progressive issues such as expanding Social Security benefits, raising the minimum wage, and making college more affordable.

“Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren have proven that bold progressives in Congress can change the national conversation. Daylin is one of those game changers,” said Adam Green, PCCC co-founder. “When Wall Street front group Third Way attacked Elizabeth Warren and Social Security, Daylin could have remained silent — especially since his outgoing Congresswoman, Allyson Schwartz, was a Third Way Chair. Instead he denounced Third Way and demonstrated the kind of clarity and bold leadership we need in Congress.”

In response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Third Way President Jon Cowan and Third Way Senior Vice President for Policy Jim Kessler attacking popular progressive ideas, Leach told Huffington Post:

“I found the editorial appalling, quite frankly. Social Security literally lifted up entire generations of senior citizens out of poverty. I support Elizabeth Warren’s proposals [to expand benefits] and I would not consider myself a Third Way type of candidate in any respect.”

This week, Leach joined the PCCC and progressive candidates from across the country to launch a joint petition calling on Republicans to support raising the minimum wage, a key economic issue ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Tomorrow’s national endorsement and fundraising email to PCCC members is copied below. The PCCC is fundraising for Leach’s campaign from it’s membership base of over 2,000 members in PA-13, more than 29,000 members in Pennsylvania, and nearly 1 million members across the country.

During the 2012 election cycle, the PCCC members raised over 2.7 million dollars for candidates through 250,000 small-dollar donations including hundreds of thousands of dollars for multiple House campaigns. PCCC members made over 2 million calls to voters for progressive candidates. Over 30 PCCC-endorsed campaigns won, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for U.S. Senate and Mark Takano (D-CA), Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) for Congress.

Pete Seeger, Hero, Dead at 94

A true hero for social and economic justice has died.  Folk singer Pete Seeger succumbed at age 94 after a life of fighting for the people through his music.  The creator of anthems such as Turn, Turn, Turn, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and If I Had A Hammer among others performed at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in a memorable performance.  He will be sorely missed but will live on forever in his music.

A selection of his work:

From Farm Aid:

I’ll add this classic from Bob Dylan sung by Peter, Paul and Mary because I’m feeling outraged today about the lack of social and economic justice in our nation.

Houghton Challenging Pitts in PA-16

Attorney and former State Representative Tom Houghton kicked off his Congressional campaign yesterday in a small horse barn in Lancaster County.  The picturesque location outside Columbia was cold so the assembled audience moved inside the structure.  Houghton served one term in the State Assembly and is challenging incumbent Joe (He’s the) Pitts.  

When first elected to Congress Pitts pledged to apply term limits to himself then abandoned the idea and ran again, and again, and again.  He is one of the most extreme ideologues in Washington and was profiled in the book “The Family.”

Houghton lives in London Grove, Chester County.  It is a stones throw from Lancaster County, Delaware and Maryland.  Once a sleepy little place it grew rapidly as developers turned farmland into McMansions.  Tom’s signature issue is agriculture and he was the initial sponsor of the law which came up with the concept of branding Pennsylvania products with the “PA Preferred” name.

Because the event moved into the barn my video mostly shows his back but you should be able to hear his speech.

He answered some questions including two by me about Reading and Berks County.  I now live in this District.

MLK and Terror

On this Martin Luther King Jr Day I am reminded of his philosophy, some of it borrowed from the immortal Ghandi, that terror should never be met with terror.  That violence should not be matched by more violence.  Their beliefs in non violent action was successful in overcoming horrible repression. Meeting the terror of the KKK, for example, with sit-ins, prayer and song saved countless lives which would have been cut down by powerful majority forces.  Enough lives were lost practicing non-violence for crying out loud.  

It wasn’t just a strategic tactic however.  It was deeply held belief that violence simply begets more violence and the only way to break the cycle is with love.  I’m reminded of this while reading Jeremy Scahill’s shocking book Dirty Wars:  The World Is A Battlefield.  As I read about American death squads running around Asia, the Middle East and East Africa assassinating Muslims for no reason other than a suspicion that they might know someone else suspected of being a terrorist I’m shocked at what our JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) forces do in our name I can’t help but wonder how many new terrorists are radicalized through our stupid, short term tactics.

We will pay for this dearly down the road.  If only George W. Bush and Barack Obama had used those hundreds of billions of our dollars instead on humanitarian efforts…  Instead of creating blood enemies after blowing up entire villages filled with women and children (and, perhaps one terrorist) maybe we could have created something positive:  a school, a well, a hospital.  What if we’d made friends instead of enemies?

In the spirit of MLK ask yourself if our lust for war has really made us safer and if that was the smart course?

The Boozy, but not Newsy, Mass Media

by Walter Brasch

The Big Story this past week was the Golden Globes awards.

The Golden Globes, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and broadcast by NBC, drew 21 million viewers for the three-hour ceremony, preceded by a one-hour Red Carpet gush-fest hosted by “Today” show personalities. There wasn’t one TV or film personality the hosts didn’t fawn over.

Tamron Hall several times excitedly told the viewers that last year she watched the Golden Globes on TV, and now was so thrilled to be on the Red Carpet to interview fellow celebrities.

Hosts praised the gowns of the women; the women returned the compliments to Hall and Savannah Guthrie.

No one said anything about the spiffy tuxes that Matt Lauer or Carson Daly wore. However, more than just a few viewers noted that Lauer began the telecast watching celebrities through a pair of sunglasses. Lauer, who long ago transitioned from journalist to $25 million a year celebrity, justified the Jack Nicholson look by saying the sun was in his eyes. It’s possible the director, producers, lighting technicians, and camera operators couldn’t figure out how to position Lauer and the pulchritudinous multitude without having the sun affect them. It’s also possible that someone from the Honey Boo Boo family will become a five-time “Jeopardy” champion.

To make sure the viewers knew the Golden Globes were not the staid Oscars, the hosts and some of the celebrities referred to the amount of drinking before, during, and after the presentations. There is, apparently, a correlation that the Golden Globes are a looser, much more fun ceremony because the stars can sit at dinner tables and shine all night long. Some of the TV and Golden Globes staff, and probably some of the stars, may have even chosen to get a Colorado high before the ceremony. Cate Blanchett, who won a Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a Drama,” navigated to the stage and declared, to no one’s surprise, “I had a few vodkas under my belt.”  By the time Jacqueline Bisset got to the stage to accept her award, the orchestra had already begun to play the “Your time is up” music. Emma Thompson, seeming to bond with college sorority girls, came onto the stage with her shoes in her right hand and a martini in her left hand. She was there to present the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, proving that actors will always upstage writers.

Boozers Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford stayed in New York, preparing whatever wine or other liquor they would feature in their one-hour “Today” show gab-fest the next day.

The day after the Golden Globe awards, newspapers ran innumerable color pictures of actresses, making sure to identify whose designer gown they were wearing. There is nothing wrong with that. The people in the TV and film industry, whether star or gopher, work hard and are every bit as professional as any doctor, lawyer, or cosmetologist. However, there are questions about the professionalism of the news media.

During the week of the Golden Globes, there actually was some hard news.            Forty-five homes were evacuated in New Brunswick after a 122-car Canadian National train derailed. Seventeen of those cars, carrying propane and crude oil from North Dakota, burned. Only because the wind was blowing away from a populated area was a major disaster averted. It was the sixth major derailment since July of trains carrying the toxic and highly flammable crude oil from the Bakken Shale of North Dakota.

In West Virginia, Freedom Industries spilled almost 8,000 gallons of the chemical Crude MCHM into the Elk River near Charleston. That spill caused more than 1,000 residents to go to emergency rooms for a variety of ailments, including rashes and breathing problems. The 300,000 residents who were affected had to rely upon bottled water for at least a week. The contaminated water, which traveled down the Ohio River, was too toxic even to be boiled, cooled, and then used.

In Chicago, four persons were murdered this past week. In Baltimore, there were 16 murders in the first two weeks of the year. Across the country, more than 200 Americans were murdered last week.

There are several ways to determine news media priorities. You can count column inches or air time; the Globes easily won in that category. You can check placement of a story, whether on a page or in the TV line-up. Chalk another win to the Globes. But there’s also another way to determine what the media think are important. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out more than 1,200 press credentials. This would be probably at least 10 times more media personnel than those who covered the train derailment, the chemical pollution, and America’s preoccupation with guns.

More than 4,000 media credentials were issued in 2005 to the press to cover the celebrity trial of Michael Jackson in ocean-beautiful Santa Barbara, Calif. The International Olympic Committee is issuing 2,800 press credentials for the Sochi winter Olympics; about 6,000 press credentials were issued for the 2012 London summer Olympics.

It’s just a reality of the entertainment-driven news media that thinks it’s being relevant by splashing soft puff and entertainment news all over its good-for-one-week porous sheets of newsprint or the air time it leases from the FCC.

[Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth investigation of the environmental, health, and economic effects of horizontal fracturing to capture natural gas. The book also includes extensive analysis of the collusion between corporate interests and politicians.]

Judge Strikes Down Voter ID law

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley ruled the state’s onerous Voter ID law as unconstitutional this morning.  Republicans in Harrisburg pushed it through in order to disenfranchise voters whose demographics run largely Democratic.  The effort was naked election rigging and violated citizen’s voting rights.  This is a victory for voters and the PA ACLU.

How to Kill Your Business In One Simple Step

The minimum wage has stagnated to such an extent that current workers earn less than those making wage did in 1968.  These wages have decreased in purchasing power ever since because it has not kept up with inflation.  This is why many municipalities now require living wages for all workers.  Santa Fe’s is about to go to $10.43/hour for ALL workers.

The owner of the Pennside Drive-In, about a mile from me, went onto the front page of today’s Reading Eagle complaining about those of us endeavoring to insure his workers earn a decent wage.  Not a living wage, mind you, just a decent wage.  Tipped employees currently earn $2.13/hour and that’s eaten up by taxes on their tips so their only actual source of income are those tips.  That’s why I tip 30%.

Greedy bastards like Gary Intelisano don’t deserve to stay in business if they don’t think their hard working employees deserve a raise.  Boycott the Pennside Drive-In.  It isn’t difficult, their prices for so-so food and ice cream are outrageous.  No wonder the place changes hands every year.  I bet Intelisano doesn’t make it to fall.

Christie Caught With His Hand in the Bully Jar

Fort Lee, New Jersey lies across the river from New York City and is a bedroom community for many who work in the Big Apple.  I was born and lived in Bergen County until I was eight so I have some knowledge of Jowsey.  It is home to many people of attitude and Gov. Chris Christie is just an example of that side of the Garden State.  Of course Tony Soprano was also but no one would consider electing him to statewide office.  Christie has always reminded me of the HBO gangster character.

While running for re-election last year the popular Guv was soliciting endorsements from Democratic officials.  The Mayor Fort Lee, a Dem, refused to do so.  Christie apparently retaliated by closing several lanes onto the George Washington Bridge at rush hour.  An elderly woman whose ambulance was delayed as a result of the traffic jam died when EMT’s couldn’t treat her symptoms in time.  Christie has denied all knowledge and involvement in the scandal.

Oops, now the AP has released emails and texts implicating his Deputy Chief of Staff.  Of course this scandal has had Christie’s fingerprints all over it from the start.  It’s exactly the type of political revenge in which he revels.  He also denied any of his staffers involvement in the affair until yesterday when he finally came clean when the evidence went public.  So who in the world would believe anything he says about his own involvement?

Gerlach Anounces Retirement From Congress

Congressman Jim Gerlach announced he will not seek re-election to Congress this year.  The former State Senator and Congressman cited time away from his family, the grind of running every two years and Washington gridlock (for which he is largely responsible) for his decision.  The open seat is garnering national attention as a possible pick-up for Democrats.

I expect State Sen. Rafferty to make  amove on the GOP side.  Rumors also are speculating about Sam Rohrer, Curt Schroder and others.  On the Democratic side I’ve seen names such as Sen. Judy Schwank and Doug Pike.  I spoke briefly with Schwank about the seat two months ago on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee which approached her about running.  At that time she declined to run.

Pike ran in the Democratic primary four years ago and is a fixture at Democratic Party functions.  He padded his resume back then claiming health care management experience he really didn’t have and lost a close race to Manan Trivedi.  I’m not sure he’s currently living in the 6th District as borders changed with redistricting.  One possible entrant I would get excited about is State Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County.