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Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Evidence that Sestak is Putting his Hat in the Ring

ITEM: Read all about it: Joe Sestak strongly leaning toward a primary run against Arlen Specter.

(I actually wrote most of this over at my gig as the Progressive Examiner.)

It looks like the US Rep. Joe Sestak might be making a run against new democratic Senator Arlen Specter. Good for Joe if that's the case. That appears to be the news coming from TPM. From the link:

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate, TPMDC has confirmed.

"He intends to get in the race," says Meg Infantino, the Congressman's sister, who works at Sestak for Congress. "In the not too distant future, he will sit down with his wife and daughter to make the final decision."

The move would constitute a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who intends to run for re-election in 2010, after having switched parties earlier this year.

Earlier today, a Sestak volunteer and contributor received a handwritten note from Sestak himself, announcing his intent to run and asking for a contribution. The source provided TPMDC a scan of the letter:

If this is true then this is excellent news. Sestak is a little too conservative for my tastes but at least he's been a loyal democrat and its also clear that labor supports him. I don't trust Arlen and I'm not thrilled with the hardball that's coming from Party Leaders asking me to accept Arlen as a loyal democrat when, of course, Arlen is on record as stating that he never promised to be "a loyal democrat." The truth of the matter is that you could throw any two dozen statewide leaders into a room, aim a rock, and you would come up with a Democrat that would better represent both the party and the state better than Arlen Specter.

Related: This is from a Daily Kos post. Here are the issues that Sestak is for and you won't have to wonder if he'll be for them after election day:

Here is a summary of his responses: http://firedoglake.com/...

Does not agree that we have enhanced our security or intelligence thru torture. Believes it has placed service members at greater danger from countries that do torture.

Supports the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell". Would like to take the lead along with Murphy (D-PA) and Murtha (D-PA)

Supports Sec. Gates' recent proposal to transform the military to where it is not numbers but capability which measures the military.

Supports a health plan similar to one in Mass. which he says is similar to Obama's. Supports Medicare, Medicaid and public plan standards.

Supports stem cell research. Says "It's great having President Obama here."

Completely aware of same things we are: budget reconciliation requires only 51 votes to pass, and healthcare reform package has been virtually guaranteed the same fate...not sure why there was a Specter deal.

Supports labor/EFCA (co-sponsor)

Supports public healh care opinion [option]

Supports Obama's budget resolution (voted for it)

Supports cramdowns (voted for it)

Supports Cap and Trade (co-sponsor of Waxman's bill and Markey's bill)

Voted on bailout bill even though he received over 3500 e-mails and letters from constituents telling him not to. Said he read research
which said the bill was absolutely critical and voted with his brain and not his ideology.

Supports regulation in the Federal Reserve, and other institutions. Says we need proper reserves, transparency and reporting of trades. Comments ms. Brofsky of the CFTC who in 1998 tried to implement such.

Supports a commission to find out what really amount of torture occured. Supports using the justice system to punish those responsible for designing the policies.

Will turn down a bid for Senate IF and ONLY "If Arlen Specter truly embraces the principles and policies necessary for good governance and the economic, health, energy/environment, education, and defense securities needed by Pennsylvanians and by our nation...and we believe he will stick to them for the full 6 years"

Supports re-institution of the Assault Weapons ban, child locks, ATF Surprise inspections, etc.

by Tokar on Mon May 04, 2009 at 09:25:20 AM PDT

The trouble though is labor. Even if Specter votes for EFCA--and right now he's against it--they should support Sestak or another Democratic Party nominee. As someone who's lived in Pennsylvania most of his life I don't trust the state's labor organizations to make the right call on this one. And I don't see how Sestak wins without unanimous labor support. He would need the support of both labor factions to make a decent run.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here's my personal election aftermath for Pittsburgh. Or: Fetterman for Green Party Pgh. Mayoral Run.

Also Published at my Pittsburgh Progressive Examiner site)

I'm obviously happy that Robert Lavelle unseated Tonya (Look, the jobs issue is issue one. I can testify to that.) and that John Fetterman was retained as Braddock Mayor. I think he won with 297 votes. If you divide the one to several million dollars in free national advertising he got doing the carbon caps ads and translate that to votes I think that comes out to 6 thousand to 18 thousand dollars per vote. Well worth it.

Of course, Luke won which puts a damper on all things good and decent. But you know how the old saying goes: There is opportunity in crisis. This would be a great time for the Green Party to run a citywide campaign, a real campaign where you attempt to raise several million dollars, hire a fulltime canvas, etc. That's where you do the things you need to do in order to win a campaign and not just lose "symbolically". As Fetterman shows us, you don't need to be the mayor of a big town in order to have vision. Speaking of Fetterman, why doesn't the Green Party recruit Fetterman to run as the Mayor of Pittsburgh? There is such a thing as dual residency. His name recognition should make him competitive. Of course, that would require a Third Party with the imagination and skillz to organize itself out of a Paper Bag...yeah, the Green Party probably isn't it. Pirate Party anyone...?.

Around the Pittsburgh Internets: Maria has the rundown from most of the other blogs. Agent Ska has some highlights from the winning Rudiak campaign. And apparently Agent Ska, my fake virtual girlfriend and a known enemy to corrupt dem establishment figures within the city, got her car accidently towed. Or not. Mark Rauterkaus is already talking up Republican turned independent Keith Acklin. Mark is probably one of the best informed bloggers in this city but I just don't trust republicans. Maria has already bashed him and deservedly so. Acklin is only running as an independent because the Republican brand has been so tarnished. If only a left of center third party could step up to the plate....

First Draft of my Election Response

May 21

ITEM: I don't have time to do a lot of writing now. I'm obviously happy that Lavelle unseated Tonya and that Fetterman was retained as Braddock Mayor. I think he won with 297 votes. If you divide the several million dollars in free national advertising he got doing the carbon caps ads and divide it I think that comes out to 6000 dollars per vote. Well worth it. Of course, Luke won which puts a damper on all things good and decent. But you know how the old saying goes: There is opportunity in crisis. This would be a great time for the Green Party to run a citywide campaign, a real campaign where you attempt to raise several million dollars, hire a fulltime canvas, etc. That's where you do the things you need to do in order to win a campaign and not just lose "symbolically". As Fetterman shows us, you don't need to be the mayor of a big town in order to have vision. Speaking of Fetterman, why doesn't the Green Party recruit Fetterman to run as the Mayor of Pittsburgh? There is such a thing as dual residency. His name recognition should make him competitive. Of course, that would require a Third Party with the imagination and skillz to organize itself out of a Paper Bag...yeah, the Green Party probably isn't it. Pirate Party anyone...?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sorry. This story is no longer available.

Question For the Pgh. Lesbian Correspondents: Does Gay Marriage Trump Third World Conditions and Murders in the Black Community?

(Originally Published May 14 Before the Election)

Question for the Pgh. Lesbian Correspondents: Is Gay Marriage more important than black male joblessness and the resulting parade of drug war corpses that result from that? What issue is more "progressive"?

ITEM: Lavelle creates anti-Tonya website. By the way, I noticed that Maria linked to a piece by the Pgh Lesbian correspondents--which features routinely great writing--and they gave Lavelle the thumbs down because he was unclear on his position on lesbian and gay issues. You can read it for yourself. I also suspect that there's some reluctance about getting rid of a female rep on a mostly male council. Fair enough.

For the record and speaking for myself, the most persuasive case against Tonya came from a woman, otherwise known as Dr. Goddess, although I'm not sure who's she endorsing in the current race or if she's endorsed anyone. I'm fairly certain she hasn't endorsed Tonya.

Here's what she wrote about Tonya:

It's not a grocery store, goddammit! Our children are DYING. Get it? Dying!

I told Pgh United this from the very beginning. We shared this within One Hill. We told them not to let anyone market this bullcrap to us from the start. Of course a grocery store is an easy win and another way to GET MONEY from people in the neighborhood.

And so, I am sick of everybody at this point. And I am most sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, because she has wasted our entire community's time for the last two years. If we had someone really fighting for us, really going to bat for us AND (this is key, so pay attention) in the positions that she has been in (Planning and Zoning, the URA, close association with Mayor Ravenstahl and David Morehouse of the Penguins), we would not have to waste one moment of our time having to protest. We would be able to simply shake hands with the Mayor, shake hands with the Pens, shake hands with Dan Onorato and applaud our collective vision and masterplan for reinvestment.

I suppose if she was writing about this now it would be: "It's not about gay marriage, goddamnit!" I might also note that her critiques rise above "snark". She also wrote this later:

Tonya Payne does not deserve to be our representative. And I am calling on all of the people who remotely thought putting her in office was a good idea to please get your ballots ready to put her OUT.

But I guess the point of the matter for me is that we're facing Third World conditions within the black community. Manning Marable once wrote a book called "How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America" and it still holds up because its still true. If its a choice between gay marriage and ending this succession of murdered black teens involved in the drug trade then I think you can be a progressive and decide that the latter is more important than the former. I might note that with this stimulus we're looking at these same issues again. The rate of black crime rises proportionally with the elimination of meaningful blue collar work. I don't know if Robert Lavelle can change all that but if you're a person in his district I would think that you would want to give him the chance. To me, anyway, ending this parade of murdered black people trumps gay marriage as an issue, even as a progressive issue. Or, now that I think about it, especially as a progressive issue.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

BPEP is Looking for Election Protection Observers

ITEM: BPEP sends me some more stuff. Would you like to be an election observer?

The PA Primary Election on Tuesday is very important and there are several tightly contested races. We need your help to make sure everyone is playing by the rules, help voters trouble shoot obstacles and document voter experiences on Election Day. Whether you are one of the nearly 400 people who have been trained and participated in Non-Partisan Election Protection previously, or still needing to be trained, the voters need your time and diligence on Tuesday.


CLICK HERE to Sign Up Now for Our Non-Partisan Election Protection Program - May 19 PA Primary - Allegheny County

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You can volunteer as little as 3hrs. You can receive training on Thursday (5/14) at 5:30pm at the Hill House, Monday (5/18) at 6:30pm at Freedom Unlimited or on Election Day. We need attorneys, students, and members of faith groups, non-profits, unions and community organizations to help "Protect The Vote" on May 19, 2009 in Allegheny County. We are committed to protecting voters in "Each and Every Election" by informing voters of their rights, making sure that all votes are counted and every voice is heard.

Please print out our "Rolls to the Polls" flier.
B-PEP is pleased to be partnering with the Community Intervention Supervision Program. They are donating their Vans and Drivers to ensure that those who need a ride to the polls will get one. Help us advertise this important program.

The B-PEP monthly meeting is TOMORROW (Thursday) at the Hill House and will be preceded by an Election Protection Training that will begin at 5:30pm.

A big thank you to Pittsburgh Hopes and Pittsburgh Cares for all of the Election Protection Volunteers they are bringing on board.

After you have completed your Election Day Volunteering (in the morning or the afternoon)… consider attending the Thomas Merton Center's New People Awards Dinner with other Election Protection Volunteers. Contact Bob Maddock 412-322-9275 for a seat at the Election Protect/Black Political Empowerment Project/Regional Equity Monitoring Project/Black and White Reunion table OR get information at Election Protection Headquarters on Election Day.

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- The Hill House is located at 1835 Centre Ave - Pittsburgh 15219- Freedom Unlimited is located at 2201 Wylie Ave - Pittsburgh 15219Chairman Tim Stevens 412-758-7898 ♦ Vice Chairperson Celeste Taylor 412-670-0937www.b-pep.net ♦ b-pepinfo@b-pep.net

MoveOn rally for clean energy jobs tomorrow at noon.

MoveOn doesn't like the way the energy bill is being shaped in the US House. They plan a rally for tomorrow in the hope that Mike Doyle will work for a stronger bill. Here's the press release I received from MoveOn

Dear Philip,

This week, Rep. Michael Doyle will help decide the fate of President Obama's clean energy jobs plan. So MoveOn members are heading to his office in Pittsburgh tomorrow to show our support—can you make it?

Rep. Doyle sits on a powerful committee that's about to vote on a huge clean energy jobs bill. The latest draft of the bill came out on Friday—and unfortunately it looks like Big Oil and Coal may have succeeded in weakening key elements of President Obama's plan.

We need to raise our voices now to make sure the final version is as strong as possible. So we'll be at Rep. Doyle's office at 12 p.m. to show that folks in the Pittsburgh area are ready to make the switch to clean energy. And we'll drop off a green hard hat as a symbol of the millions of new, high-paying green jobs that are at stake.

It shouldn't take long—and we want as many people as possible to show our strength. Will you be there at 12 p.m. tomorrow?

Yes, I'll be there.

Sorry, I can't make it.

For the last several weeks, MoveOn members have been working overtime to pressure the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pass a strong clean energy jobs bill. We've organized tens of thousands of small-business owners across the country, and held meetings with dozens of local congressional offices.

But now the committee is ready to begin voting, and we've got no time to waste. Conservatives on the committee have been working to water down key provisions in the legislation—so our representatives need to hear from constituents who support a strong bill.

Can you join us tomorrow at Rep. Doyle's office in Pittsburgh?

Yes, I'll be there: http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=93796&id=16151-3053238-IbkVT.x&t=5

Sorry, I can't make it: http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51373&id=16151-3053238-IbkVT.x&t=6

Thanks for all you do.

–Adam, Lenore, Michael, Carrie and the rest of the team


Related: From 2 Political Junkies on the ad campaign to undermine clean jobs. According to this, Mike Doyle is still a strong supporter of the clean jobs elements of the bill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Older Press Releases

April 8th

PRESS RELEASE WEDNESDAY Or Writing Stuff Myself is Hard Day

ITEM: These are all interesting things going on about town and throughout the country. First up is State Rep. Jake Wheatley who asks the question: will any African Americans actually benefit from the stimulus package? Oh to see one black construction worker. What a crazy wild eyed dream. I met Jake once and while I was intimidated by his bouncer's body he didn't strike me as being a big policy guy. But he's speaking twice on Thursday.

Thursday: Meetings on stimulus and minority- and women-owned businesses

As vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, I am sponsoring a public meeting this week in Pittsburgh to help women- and minority-owned businesses and workers receive a fair share of federal stimulus money.

The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Foerster Student Services Center, Community College of Allegheny County, 839 Ridge Ave. on the North Side. This meeting is one of seven that the PLBC and state agencies will hold across the state.

I will also speak at another free event on Thursday about the need for diversity in the economic benefits of the stimulus. The Community Empowerment Association is holding a forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Schenley High School (formerly Reizenstein School), 129 Denniston Ave. in East Liberty.

These forums are in addition to an April 17 event where I will discuss the stimulus and inclusiveness with members and guests of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania.

You may also be interested in a new state Web site created to show where Pennsylvania's share of the stimulus money is going: www.recovery.pa.gov.

If you have a question about the stimulus or any state-related matter, please contact my office at 412-471-7760.

Next up is Planned Parenthood. I think they'll be successful with this one:

LAST CHANCE to overturn Bush rule

Dear PHILIP,

This is finally it. After months of raising awareness and a public outcry, working with congressional leaders, even filing a lawsuit — we are on the verge of overturning the disastrous Bush administration rule limiting the rights of patients to receive complete health care information.

This is your last chance to voice your support for President Obama's action to reverse this dangerous policy. Click here to add your statement of support now.

Just before leaving office, the Bush administration released a rule that limits the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information and services. The rule allows doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to simply withhold information about, for example, birth control and HIV testing and treatment. It also allows health care workers to deny any basic health care service based on their personal biases.

In order to overturn the Bush administration rule, President Obama had to write a new rule that must undergo a period of public review. The most important part of the review process is generating public support, and tens of thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters have already joined the effort.
Will you take a moment right now and add your name to the list of people who support the new rule?

When more and more families are uninsured and have difficulty accessing health care at all, and when at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection, implementing a rule that limits access to health services is unconscionable.
This is our last chance to speak up for patients' rights. Take action now.


Thank you, thank you, for your help today and during the next few weeks — until hopefully this rule is overturned for good.


And this is related and will be a tougher nut to crack but it relates to silly abstinence programs that science and reason and most importantly evidence tells us don't work. From, well I'm not entirely sure. I think its called Democrats.com. (Link here.) They bill themselves as the aggressive progressives.

Say No to Abstinence-Only Programs

As President Obama finalizes the details of his fiscal year 2010 budget, urge him to stop funding abstinence-only programs and direct our scarce public health resources to evidence-based programs that actually work.

Petition

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your outspoken support for comprehensive sex education. As you know, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs deny young people the critical information they need to make safe and responsible life decisions.

Recognizing that abstinence-only programs have been ineffective at best and dangerous at worst, I strongly urge you to eliminate funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded through Title V of the Social Security Act and the Community-Based Abstinence Education program in your 2010 budget.

In addition, I am asking you to include $50 million to fund comprehensive sex education to ensure that young people receive medically accurate, age-appropriate information about sex and sexualit