Stand with the #WalmartStrikers in Boothwyn, PA

Stand with Walmart Workers in Boothwyn, PA

For those interested in getting involved, or who believe the Walmart Workers Black Friday strike is only happening in another part of the country;  look no further then Boothwyn, Pa in Delaware County. OUR Walmart, the Organization  United for Respect at Walmart is organizing a nationwide strike on Black Friday in order to draw attention to the abuses workers face at Walmart. And if you are in the area of the Walmart at Larkins Corner in Boothwyn, Pa, come out and support the workers.

The mission statement for OUR Walmart explains the purpose of the organization better then I could:

“OUR Walmart works to ensure that every Associate, regardless of his or her title, age, race, or sex, is respected at Walmart. We join together to offer strength and support in addressing the challenges that arise in our stores and our company everyday.”

Whether or not you believe in Unions, Collective Bargaining or the changes the Labor movement in this country seeks to address. OUR Walmart is trying to address an injustice almost all of us can agree is wrong. That injustice is the targeting of workers who try to speak up for what they believe, the firing of workers who want nothing more then a voice or a future.

This isn’t some foreign ideal, some unAmerican desire. The strike is about hard working Americans who have had enough of being told that they aren’t worth the bother; shut up and be happy that they have a job. The rights that OUR Walmart are demanding are rights that I enjoy at work. The only reason I enjoy these rights is because at some point someone enough. And I stand with the Walmart workers who this Friday are saying enough and standing up for their rights.

You can find an OUR Walmart strike in your area by clicking on this link

New Pennsylvania Voter ID AD compares love of country with possesion of Photo ID

After fumbling on the previous Pennsylvania Voter ID AD, which to say the least was little more than a donation to a consulting firm stocked with GOP Staffers, the Corbett Administration is spending valuable Commonwealth resources on a new AD, valuable resources which would be better spent on education. However, the Republicans have to work extra hard to spin the bill that, according to Majority Leader Turzai, will “allow Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania

This time the Corbett Administration decides to level the charge that you are unpatriotic if you can’t furnish one of the Voter ID Bills approved ID’s:

“If you love your country, it’s time to show it (stated by a women holding a state ID) (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/voter_id_patriotic_ad.php?m=1)”

Kevin Deely, a Democratic hopeful for State House in the 131st, told ProgressMo Shuffle that the commercial:

“…pours salt in the wound and is a slap in the face to every voter, especially our seniors and the disabled, who have to jump through enough hoops already on a daily basis.”

Comparing a Photo ID to loving ones country is quite a stretch for an administration that is working extra hard to hold true to Gov. Corbett’s desire to keep the vote down in Philadelphia. During a 2010 speech at a gathering outside Philadelphia the Governor stated. (Video of Speech)

Will Dunbar, Democratic Candidate in the 177th and vocal critic of the voter suppression attempts of the Pennsylvania GOP told ProgressMo Shuffle that love of country is not an excuse to place obstacles in the way of voters:

“Once again the Republicans have found a way to spin the voter suppression bill. This Voter ID Bill negatively affects seniors, minorities and students. Hopefully our Supreme Court Justices will see it that way on September 13th.”

I for one do not have an issue with the idea of a photo ID to vote. I actually have found myself in agreement with an argument laid out by Norman Ornstein of the Conservative American Enterprise Institute in his call for a Voters Right Act of 2012. This act would require documentation used for obtaining identification for voting free, requiring a separate federal ballot, changing election day to the weekend and other common sense reforms to how we access the polls in the United States (Read the Full Article)

As stated by Ryan J. Reilly of Talking Points Memo, The Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill, which could affect:

“More than 1.6 million Pennsylvania voters….including more than 1,000 voters who are in the state’s “Voter Hall of Fame” because they voted in 50 consecutive elections. (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/voter_id_patriotic_ad.php?m=1)”

is not about a Photo ID. It is about a party and ideology beholden to Anti-Tax Pledges, Corporate Welfare and fear.

Not a fear of voter fraud that was so nonexistent that Governor Corbett didn’t prosecute one case while Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Instead a fear of an ever-changing demographic that is tired of a never changing ideology. A demographic that is growing tired of those who are quick to shout “USA” and “God Bless America” while attacking truths we all hold self-evident.

Why isn’t anyone asking the right questions when Republicans try to rely wedge issues?

Driving home yesterday from the airport I saw a billboard which kind of made me chuckle and now makes me wonder. The billboard I saw was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike around mile marker 350 and it stated: “Obama supports Gay Marriage and Abortion…Vote Republican”. That of course is a great talking point if all the voter cares about is two wedge issues and nothing else; however, it has brought to my attention something that has troubled me. Why isn’t anyone asking the right question when Republicans try to rely on these issues?

How can you stand up for individual liberty when you don’t believe that individual liberty that you have to marry can be extended to another part of the population? I mean is it only your liberty to decide what is or is not acceptable the liberty you stand for, I just don’t understand. If it is from a Christian or another religious perspective I still don’t understand how two men or women marrying affect your marriage. As a Christian I personally believe that nothing another person will do affects my marriage, for God united my wife and I and if the state or another church would unite a same-sex couple it makes no impact what so ever on my marriage.

As far as abortion, I am not pro-abortion; I personally doubt anyone is. I just personally don’t believe that is a decision the Government or you should make for another citizen. Especially in the cases of rape and incest, how can you or the State seriously make that choice for another family? And if it is about the sanctity of life, where does that sanctity go after the birth since those Republicans that the billboard wants you to vote for want to cut SNAP benefits that will help at risk children and other vital social programs that help the 470,000 children in Pennsylvania according to the Childrensdefense.org whose family rely on these programs.  Are you willing to pay the taxes, or require the wealthiest Americans to contribute more, or do you only care the child is born and then they are on their own?

Furthermore on the sanctity of life issue how about the 30,000 Americans who will die from gun violence, yet no one has the courage to address that issue. Or the 45,000 Americans who die annually from lack of health care according to a 2009 Harvard study and the main talking point of these Republicans is to repeal ObamaCares which expands health care to 34 million more Americans and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 236,000 Pennsylvanians who now have access to affordable health care.

When I see these Gay Marriage and Abortion billboards I am forced to question the ability of those who make these pleas to win on the issues. How do any of these two issues fix the economy, create job or lower the deficit. Gay Marriage and Abortion are two issues that should be left to the responsibility of those who have to make the decision and that is not me, not you and definitely not the State.

You will never guess where I had my greatest culture shock on my Southern Road Trip

Just got home from an amazing road trip of the South and I’m not going to lie, I was expecting to feel the same culture shock that I had when attending a country music festival in North Carolina.   

I was waiting to be wowed and shocked by all sorts of political signs, I mean this is an election year and we were driving through the bedrock of American Conservatism. To my surprise the greatest shock I received was a little past the Delaware River on my way home from the airport. Yes, in Pennsylvania. 

Around mile marker of the Pennsylvania turnpike was a huge billboard, quite massive and caused me to laugh and make the “come on” expression:

Obama supports Gay Marriage and Abortion….Vote Republican

I mean I saw one anti-abortion billboard outside of Jackson, Mississippi, but they just had the vote on a personhood amendment that was narrowly defeated. Didn’t see one say in the “Don’t Say Gay” state of Tennessee. I was actually shocked to see as many Obama signs as I did, but that was in Memphis.

 Nothing in Georgia and nothing in the great state of Alabama where after his inauguration Governor Bentley had to walk back and apologize for a comment on how those who haven’t accepted Jesus as their savior are not his “brothers and sisters” (I guess I am his brother even though I think he’s an ass). 

Then back into Mississippi and into Louisiana where Gov. Jindal used the comparison on how mardi gras works for New Orleans but might not work for another state to respond to why Romney Care was good for Massachusetts, but ObamaCares is bad for the nation.  

But I guess the Pennsylvania Republican Party would prefer to focus on the important issues that will improve the economy. You know how every Democrat wants to abort your pregnancy and if they can’t abort your pregnancy they want your kids to become gay to destroy the sanctity of marriage. 

I never thought that  Pennsylvania would shock me more than Mississippi or Alabama. Thankfully the Pennsylvania GOP was there when I crossed back into this great commonwealth to remind 

me about assumptions.

Could ALEC be behind PA HB2191 (Payday Loansharking Bill)

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC has been making more and more news of late. ALEC which prides themselves as a:

“Nonpartisan individual membership organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions.” (http://www.alec.org/)

has been a mechanism of a corporate takeover of our state legislatures through the use of model bills that are introduced and voted on by our elected officials and corporate funders of the group. I have written two articles already about ALEC’s involvement in bills introduced to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and when I was asked to look into HB2191 and an ALEC link I jumped at the opportunity. The crazy thing is while I was planning on doing an article on this bill I never thought of an ALEC angle.

While Rep. Chris Ross (R-158) is not on the list of ALEC politicians exposed by SourceWatch.org, seven of his co-sponsor are reported as ALEC members. These seven representatives to the Pennsylvania House are:

Rep. John Evans (R-5), Rep. Thomas Killion (R-168), Rep. Nick Kotik (D-45), Rep. Ron Marsico (R-105), Rep. Ron Miller (R-93), Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65), Rep. Stan Saylor (R-94 and the Majority Whip)

These seven ALEC politicians, including Rep. Kathy Rapp the sponsor of the wonderful ALEC model HB1077 (PA Ultrasound Bill) and Chris Ross’ fellow Chester County Republican Thomas Killion who according to sourcewatch is a member of ALEC’s Commerce, insurance, and Economic Development Task Force (which contains the financial services subcommittee), along with Nick Kotik make up two of the three Pennsylvania Representatives on the committee.

One of the main corporate peddlers for this bill that if it passes according to the Center for Responsible Lending states:

“payday loans will be granted an exclusive carve-out from the state’s historic usury laws, thus allowing 400% annual interest rates on payday loans” (www.responsiblelending.org)

is Cash America, a Texas-based company whose core purpose and values according to their corporate site include the claim that they act with a servant’s heart was exposed by the Columbus Dispatch (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/02/04/policy-group-pays-for-legislators-trips.html) as part of a secret ALEC scholarship fund in Ohio. This fund went to pay for twenty Ohio Republican legislators to go to the 2011 ALEC conference in New Orleans. According to Sourcewatch, Cash America donated to ALEC on the “Vice-Chairman” level which included a 25,000 dollar donation in 2010. It should also be noted, that in a press release by Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-200) reminds us that:

“one of the companies pushing for enactment of House Bill 2191 – Cash America – is the same company the state Supreme Court prohibited from making illegal Internet payday loans to Pennsylvanians. In its decision, the court explained that Cash America’s business model is to charge astronomical interest rates” (http://www.pahouse.com/PR/200043012.asp)

Many faith-based organizations have also come together to oppose this bill that would allow companies like CashAmerica to not only exceed the 24% interest rate cap in place, but charge as high as 680% (according to the Center for Responsible Lending). The Pennsylvania Council of Churches, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, Friends of the Poor, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and St Martin Center have united with various organizations to stand up to this legislation that would as Martin Luther claimed in regards to exploitation and usury:

“oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread” (http://lutheranadvocacypa.org)

The mammoth rates that payday loan companies like CashAmerica and other’s that Rep. Ross’ bill exposes Pennsylvanians to exceeds even Investopedias definition of a Loan Shark, which only goes as high as 100% as the interest a loan shark might consider.

This bill, like most that can be linked to ALEC are a cancer on our state legislatures and must be eradicated at all costs. We should be looking for ways to help Americans out of debt, not overburden them with loans that exhibit interest rates that most mob families wouldn’t charge. The “servants heart” that companies like CashAmerica and the legislators they have ensnared is quite distinguishable. We must stand up to ALEC once again, the fight will not be easy but as Frederick Douglas said:

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress”

PA Senate passes Voter Suppression Act 26-23

Despite passioned appeals from the twenty member Democratic Senate Caucus, the Pennsylvania State Senate sent HB934 back to the house with the GOP stamp of approval 26-23 today in Harrisburg.

Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) tried to point the sheer lunacy of  Representative Metcalfe’s HB 934 trying to fix a non existent problem of voter impersonation. 

Senator Leach’s appeal that “300 people are more likely to struck by lightning before one act of voter impersonation is discovered” fell on deaf ears.

Senator Schwank (D-11) emotional account about a 95 year old constituent, whom she helped get to the polls in 2008 when the voter dialed 911 in order to find a ride to vote. This  proud Pennsylvanians voting record went all the back to the depression, and this bill would have disenfranchised her. 

Then Senator Hughes (D-7) tried to remind the Senate floor how this bill doesn’t protect the franchise, but suppresses it. Democratic Senate members tried to no avail to protect approximately 700,000 Pennsylvanians access to the franchise today. Only three Republicans would cross the aisle on this bill that Keesha Gaskin of Brennan Center of Justice compared to an illegal poll tax:

To avoid having these laws become illegal poll taxes, states must make IDs available for free.(http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/reject_voter_id/)

HB934 does not offer free State ID’s to Pennsylvanians in need. However, it does offer them the opportunity to vote if one can afford the fees that come along with obtaining an ID. 

Senator Daylin Leach tweeted a response to this authors comment noting the Senators passionate appeal to his fellow Senators to vote nay. 

@daylinleach: @ProgressMoShuff  Sadly, this bunch isn’t very persuadable.

Unfortunately, as I would reply to Senator Leach:

@ProgressMoShuff: @daylinleach unfortunately they were all too persuadable last summer at their ALEC meeting in NO. #votersuppression they can find $ for.

One can only hope Pennsylvania House Democrats can convince enough house republicans to vote against this bill when it returns to the house. Sadly, I fear the likelihood of that is slim to none.

PA Senate to vote on ALEC Modeled Voter ID Act

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Tomorrow the Pennsylvania State Senate will vote on HB 934, the Voter ID Act passed last summer by the Pennsylvania House. This bill, which aims to address so called voter fraud in the Commonwealth, will in fact make it harder for many Pennsylvanians to access the poll in April and May for the primaries and November for the general elections. According to Keystone Progress:

“Supporters of the bill have been unable to show any evidence of voter identity fraud in Pennsylvania, because safeguards against fraudulent voting are already in place in our state. Worse yet, the legislation will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions to implement.  Long lines at polling places are likely to form, leading other voters to simply give up and go home. “

This bill, which models ALEC’s founder Paul Weyrich’s, Republican strategy for victory does little more than propose a fix to a non existent problem in order to increase Republican chances at the polls.

“They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132×7538890)

I do not see how preventing access of citizens to polling locations can help anyone’s leverage, and in my opinion such a view makes me want to throw up (nice little Rick Santorum quote to show the sheer stupidity of the view). The fact that the party that claims to support individual liberty is constantly coming up with ways to restrict liberty is an irony all on itself. However, all joking asides, legislation like HB 934 does not create the kind of Commonwealth that Pennsylvanians need, or deserve. While, I fear it is too late to stop this bill from reaching Governor Corbett’s desk, bills like these are the very reason Pennsylvania needs to become the 25th state in the Union to offer her citizens the power of legislative referendums.

Other PA Bills that have been modeled after ALEC bills can be found at http://alecexposed.org/wiki/Pe…

Could ALEC be behind the Pennsylvania Ultrasound Bill?

Earlier this week I wrote an article on Pennsylvania House Bill 1077, The Woman’s Right to Know Act. A bill, which would require medical providers to offer an ultrasound prior to an abortion. HB1077 was forwarded to the floor from the PA House Committee on Health with a 15-7 vote on Feb 6, and  appears on the legislative calender for March 12th. Since, the Majority Leader is a co-sponsor of the bill, it would be safe to assume it has a decent chance of being heard. HB1077, has received a lot of backlash, and in the wake of the Virginia bill it has left this writer wondering, where these bills come from.

The question I pondered is who could be behind this legislation requiring a medically unnecessary procedure and purely ideological based bill. Then I remembered the Progressive Media Workshop I attended in Madison, Wisconsin last October and Wisconsin State Assemblyman Mark Pocan who told us about a shadowy group bringing conservative legislators and corporations together. I know it sounds like a mystical conspiracy of JFK like proportions. However, in the current days of Super-PACS and Citizens United it is nearly impossible to know who is funding what and where some of these bills are coming from. ALEC may be the answer.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy,

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians)

Furthermore, the American Legislative Exchange, or ALEC as it is more commonly known claims it,

has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ((http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians))

with ALEC being one of the forefronts of the conservative ideological infrastructure it lead me to ask the question, is HB1077 one of those model bills.

Of course, I’m not some big time New York Times investigative reporter, with an entire news department, credentials and sources galore. However, I decided to look into this dilemma as a concerned citizen. I cross referenced the proposed bills co-sponsors with the members of ALEC, reported by the Center for Media and Democracy. In a matter of minutes, I found Rep. Rapp (R-65) and 23 other PA Reps are listed as having ties to ALEC, and everyone of her 23 fellow Rep/ALEC members cosponsored the bill; including the Democrats cosponsoring the bill.

Then I took a look at Virginia Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22), sponsor of Virginia controversial ultrasound bill, who I found is a proud member of ALEC. Her webpage she proclaims it under her memberships and touts her Telecommunication Task Force assignment, an assignment she shares with among many other PA ALEC State Chairman and bill cosponsor Representative John Evans (R-5).

I for one would like to see this whole arrangement investigated more, I don’t claim to have the know how, or time to dig into the case completely. Whether it be through legislation that requires more transparency, or a reporter in the heralded spirit of those muckrakers of the past. Pennsylvanian’s deserve to know who is behind the legislation we are seeing. If these bills are one of the 1000’s ALEC claims  to be pawning off on willing ideologues. The only special interests that our local, state and federal elected officials should represent is the constituents, not some faction of conservative extremism.

PA House GOP shooting blanks

Those pesky regulations are under attack again. Not the business ones that drives Republicans mad, this time it’s all about guns. Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone (R-39) has a new frightening idea for Pennsylvanians. Believing that requiring law abiding citizens to obtain a license to carry a firearm (LTCF) is “patently unjust and constitutionally questionable”, Rep Saccone is seeking co- sponsorship of legislation that would remove the requirement for Pennsylvanians to carry a firearm; open or concealed.

I thought I heard it all yesterday with HB1077, The Woman’s Right to Know Act. The closer we get to the November elections,  the closer to the far right end of the political spectrum these bills are going. We need the PA General Assembly to work on making an environment where jobs are easy to access, not guns.

You can read the text of his memorandum here at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/W…