Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

Minimum Wage Hike Passes in 4 Red States

Posted by randyshannon on November 6, 2014

Unbundling the Democratic Agenda

Fast food workers on strike for a $15 an hour wage.

Is it a coincidence that all four states that voted to raise the minimum wage yesterday are Republican strongholds? At least one of those states (Arkansas) and most likely two (Alaska, where Mark Begich is behind but has not conceded) are replacing Democratic incumbents with Republican senators. Nebraska, where Republican Ben Sasse was elected to the Senate with 64.8 percent of the vote, and South Dakota are among the reddest states in the country.

Yet all four voted to raise their minimum wage, three of them by margins that could fairly be described as overwhelming. Moreover, they raised those minimum wages a lot, to levels that more liberal states would envy. One useful way to look at it is to consider not only the new minimum wage numbers, but place them in a national context by adjusting them withgovernment data on the cost of living:

Alaska, January 2016 minimum: $9.75
adjusted for cost of living: $9.10
Arkansas, January 2017 minimum: $8.50
adjusted for cost of living: $9.70
Nebraska, January 2016 minimum: $9.00
adjusted for cost of living: $9.99
South Dakota, January 2015 minimum: $8.50
adjusted for cost of living: $9.64

For comparison, the $10.00 an hour minimum wage that is set to kick in for California comes to $8.86 adjusted for local prices. In other words, Nebraska — Nebraska — will have the highest real minimum wage in the country. The National Employment Law Project, a supporter of the initiative, estimates the $1.75 an hour minimum wage boost will directly affect 143,000 workers in a state of 1.9 million and raise total wages by $117 million a year.

Two lessons might drawn here. The obvious: There may be support out there in more liberal states for substantially higher minimums. If $9.00 can pass in Nebraska, it’s worth asking if, say, $11.25 — roughly the same in real-dollar terms — or even higher can pass in California.

The less obvious lesson: Political parties in a losing position can succeed by unbundling their policies and try to pass the most marketable parts of their agenda without the legislature.
By and large, political agendas are sold like cable packages, as a big take-it-or-leave-it raft of policies. Much as with the cable packages, the customers (ie. voters) take them while gnashing their teeth and complaining that there are no other options.

In this case, Democrats, seeing no market for the full party package have had to take a good look at the policies they are selling and pitch thee most attractive ones a la carte via ballot initiatives. By definition all ballot initiatives take issues directly to the voters. What’s different here from marijuana or gun control votes is that, despite the support of a few Republicans like Mitt Romney, the minimum wage is a central Democratic issue, and the campaigns were financed mainly by the party’s core contributors.

In Nebraska $600,000 of the $1.2 million cost of the minimum wage initiative (big h/t to the indispensable Ballotpedia) was underwritten by Dick Holland, who’s been called the Nebraska Democratic Party’s “most generous and dependable contributor.” In Arkansas thebiggest contributor was the Interfaith Alliance, a consortium of Democratic-leaning religious groups.

The reddest states are the places where the Democrats have the most incentive to unbundle their policies and sell them through ballot initiatives, and so they’ve wound up passing aggressive increases in the minimum wage. This is not a totally new phenomenon — for many years Republicans in California went directly to voters with tax cuts. What’s new is just how effective it has proven to be. Fully 65 percent of Arkansas voters and 59 percent of Nebraska voters marked the ballot for higher minimum wages. So what percent may vote for other especially palatable slices of the Democratic agenda, like expanded health care for poor children? We may get to find out in 2016.

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Lesson from History: 150 Years Back, Elections Mattered, Too, Only Then the GOP Was Progressive

Posted by carldavidson on November 2, 2014

1864, Lincoln vs. McClellan: How Allegheny County voted

A pivotal presidential contest in the thick of the Civil War, the election was hotly contested in Pittsburgh. Note the role of the ‘Wide Awakes,’ the Insurgent Youth of the time.

20141102hoabelincoln001local Cartoon of Abe Lincoln and Gen. George McClellan prior to 1864 election. Illustration in Harper's Weekly, June 25, 1864.

Cartoon of Abe Lincoln and Gen. George McClellan prior to 1864 election. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, June 25, 1864.

Voting rites in 1864: messy and unfair, but rough justice

By Len Barcousky

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nov 2, 2014 – While the editors at Pittsburgh’s Gazette and Post disagreed on almost every issue, the rival newspapers were united on one topic: the importance of the presidential election of 1864.

“The hour has come,” The Pittsburgh Daily Gazette told voters on Nov. 8, election day. “The decisive blow must be struck today.”

“The main issue … is no less than the preservation of our country and with it the preservation of our liberties,” The Daily Pittsburgh Post opined.

Despite worrisome results in congressional elections a month earlier that showed Republican gains, Democrats in southwestern Pennsylvania were counting on a win in the presidential contest.

The Post was the city’s pre-eminent Democratic newspaper, and its editor, James P. Barr expressed confidence.

Six days before the election “the Democracy of Washington, Beaver and Allegheny counties, with their wives, children and sweethearts, turned out en masse to vindicate the Union and the Constitution,” the Post reported Nov. 4. The mass meeting was held in Clinton, Findlay Township.

The march of Democratic supporters, led by Allegheny County delegations from Moon, Crescent, North Fayette and Findlay, “took three-quarters of an hour to pass,” the newspaper said. “The States were represented by a wagon filled with young girls, appropriately clad and adorned, drawn by 35 horses ridden by lads uniformly clothed …”

Why 35 horses and riders? The Union, until the admission of Nevada on Oct. 31, 1864, had 35 states.

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Credit Unions’ PAC Finances Mitch McConnell Campaign

Posted by randyshannon on October 18, 2014

Oppose Credit Unions’ Support for Politicians Who Oppose Working Families’ Interests

by Randy Shannon

Most of our credit unions are members of CUNA – the Credit Union National Association. CUNA’s political action committee has donated $20,000 to right wing Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. They plan to spend another $300,000 in radio and TV adds for McConnell in hopes that he will become Senate Majority leader.

McConnell is in a tight race against Democrat Alison Grimes in Kentucky.

Please sign and circulate this petition. Contact your credit union officers and ask them to pass a resolution against this expenditure of our money. 

Sign Petition HERE


McConnell Bid Earns $300K CULAC Support

Mitch McConnell

CUNA told CU Times on Thursday that its political action committee, CULAC, filed notice with the FEC of a $300,000 independent expenditure on behalf of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his re-election campaign.

McConnell is locked in a tight race against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Ky.). If the current minority leader wins his midterm bid, and Republicans win a majority of Senate seats, McConnell would presumably become majority leader, setting the Senate’s agenda.

CULAC, CUNA’s PAC, has already donated $10,000 to McConnell’s campaign as well as $10,000 to his leadership PAC, according to Trey Hawkins, CUNA vice president of political affairs.

NAFCU’s PAC contributed $7,500 to McConnell, according to NAFCU Vice President of Political Affairs Katie Marisic.

CUNA plans to spend approximately $274,000 on television advertisements for McConnell and $25,000 in radio ads.

A CUNA spokesperson told CU Times they have not planned independent expenditures for additional candidates at this time.

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Republican Cuts Kill

Posted by randyshannon on October 13, 2014

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PA Auditor General: DEP Fails to Protect Our Water

Posted by randyshannon on October 11, 2014

Ambridge Reservoir Arial Photo by Steve White

Ambridge Reservoir Arial Photo by Steve White

Auditor General Issues Critical PADEP Audit

Pennsylvania Environmental Organizations Applaud Investigation’s Goals

Report’s findings mirror concerns raised by Pennsylvanians dealing with water contamination

Harrisburg, PAPennsylvania’s Auditor General office released a highly anticipated audit of the Department of Environmental Protection’s performance regarding shale gas development today. 

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale stated that the audit “…shows that the meteoric growth of the shale gas industry caught the Department of Environmental Protection unprepared to effectively administer laws and regulations to protect drinking water and unable to efficiently respond to citizen complaints”.

The report is available here:

For the last 18 months, environmental and citizens groups have been in touch with DEP regarding our grave concerns about procedures and policies for water quality monitoring, testing, and response in the face of the shale gas boom. It has long been clear that:

  • they lack transparency;
  • result in the withholding of vital data from affected households and the public;
  • force residents to undergo prolonged exposure to contaminants that can impact health;
  • and delay action necessary to correct pollution and ensure that operators provide clean drinking water to those who need it. 
  • The audit confirms that basic reforms are needed to address the harms communities are experiencing from shale gas development in the Commonwealth.

“The Auditor General’s inspection is not just a capture of deficiencies within the agency in present time but a call to the future to take actions that will improve agency policies & operations so that public confidence in the agency can be restored & we can better protect drinking water & public health”, said Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Policy Associate, Clean Water Action.

“For countless Pennsylvanians in the Marcellus and Utica, the Auditor General’s findings come as no surprise. His frank assessment of the deficiencies within the DEP accurately tells the story of an agency that was unprepared to deal with shale gas development’s impacts on our water supply and, by extension, our communities. The tenor of the agency’s response included in the report is discouraging in its denial of many of the problems the Auditor General has cited and its misguided belief that it has satisfactorily addressed some of the other issues, particularly those dealing with transparency and public access to critical data,” said Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth.


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Students Plan City-wide Strike to Defend Philly Schools

Posted by randyshannon on October 8, 2014

PHL Students Announce Plans to Strike as Mayor Praises SRC

Students vow to be truant until SRC restores union’s contract.

October 7, 2014
By Flood the Drummer
CLICK HERE to read "PHL Students Announce Plans to Strike as Mayor Praises SRC."By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris 10.7.14: Philadelphia – (Politics): The reason the Philadelphia School Reform Commission quietly voted to cancel their labor contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers yesterday was to push them into contributing to their healthcare and reinvest the savings back into the classroom, particularly ensuring nurses and counselors would be on sight and that school buildings are stocked with the appropriate supplies, like pencils, pens and toilet paper.

But in response to the news, students didn’t cheer and applaud the five-member, state controlled board, instead they announced their intentions to strike on Wednesday, October 8th 2014, and every day after that until their teacher’s contracts are restored. As organizers noted on their Facebook event page, the peaceful protest(s) will include students arriving to their schools, but not entering the buildings.

City Hall nor school district headquarters have responded to the threat of widespread truancy, however, the mayor did express his support for the SRC and hopes others can see this for what it is: “another consequence of this horrible situation our schools have had to face year after year.”

Mr. Nutter, in his statement which was released this afternoon, brings attention to Principal Linda Carroll of Northeast High School who has a operating budget that breaks down to $5 a student.

“That’s inexcusable,” said Mayor Nutter, who noted he was pleased that Dr. Hite has chosen to reinvest the savings in schools.

Mr. Nutter wants the PFT and the School District back at the negotiating table, as does PFT President Mr. Jerry Jordan and his attorneys. Mr. Jordan yesterday said the last proposal to cross the table was from the union, and they’re waiting on the district to respond.

In the meantime, the students in Philadelphia – who all this political maneuvering is allegedly for – are organizing themselves in support of the teacher’s union and hope their voices and opinions will one day matter as much as politicians and their appointees

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Its October – Get Out the Vote

Posted by randyshannon on October 2, 2014

Canvassing in western PA

Canvassing in western PA

IBEW 712 Hall

217 Sassafras Lane, Vanport, PA

Phone Banks on Wednesdays from 4-8

Literature Walks on Saturdays from 10-2

Union members and Progressive Democrats welcome!

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PA Republicans Appeal to Racism

Posted by randyshannon on October 1, 2014

Racist Campaign001


by Randy Shannon

PDA 12th CD Chapter

Progressive Democrats of America – Economic & Social Justice Team

Most people already know or sense that Pennsylvania has dropped from 8th to 47th in job creation under Corbett. That’s an important issue that Corbett lies about in this campaign mailer.

The real message in this mailer is subliminal. “The effectiveness of subliminal messaging has been demonstrated to prime individual responses and stimulate mild emotional activity.” – Wikipedia

The images of Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf are several shades darker than the images of President Obama in this Republican mailer. The reality is that Wolf’s skin color is much lighter than Obama’s.

The purpose of this subliminal message is to stimulate voter turnout with an appeal to racial prejudice based on skin color. The Republicans consider this effective now because they have spent the last couple years spreading racist images, jokes, cartoons, references, insinuations, insults, and lies about Obama. They expect many voters to stay home on election day, discouraged by the failure of the government to address so many problems. So the strategy is to use fear and racism to boost the turnout of Republican votes, overcoming their passivity in this election.

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Progressive Democrat Rep. Lee Statement on US Bombing Syria

Posted by randyshannon on September 23, 2014

Congresswoman Lee Releases Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

Written by  Congresswoman Barbara Lee | Press Release

Congresswoman Lee Releases Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

Oakland, CA – In response to the airstrikes last night in Syria, Congresswoman Lee released this statement:

“I am gravely concerned about the expansion of U.S. airstrikes into Syria and continuation of airstrikes in Iraq.

It is clear we are rapidly becoming more involved in another war in the Middle East.

President Obama has put together a strong international and regional coalition to address the ISIS threat. We must now leverage this regional coalition to achieve the political solution that will end this crisis. Only a political solution that respects the rights of all Iraqis and Syrians will ultimately dismantle ISIS.

I have called and will continue to call for a full congressional debate and vote on any military action, as required by the Constitution. The American people deserve a public debate on all the options to dismantle ISIS, including their costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities.

The rapid escalation of another war in the Middle East underscores the danger of the blank check for endless war passed by Congress in 2001. I could not support this blank check for endless war or the 2002 blank check for war in Iraq. I have introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force and continue to build bipartisan support for their repeal.

There is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq and Syria. In fact, continued U.S. military action will result in unintended consequences. We must remember the roots of ISIS – President Bush’s ill-begotten war.

Congress needs to debate the political, economic, diplomatic and regionally-led solutions that will ultimately be the tools for U.S. and regional security.”


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

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Obama Launches New Illegal War

Posted by randyshannon on September 23, 2014

“There Is No Military Solution” –

But Obama Launches a New U.S. War in Syria

In response to the initiation of U.S. bombing in Syria, Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute, issued the following statement:

23 September 2014

President Obama’s decision to bomb Syria stands in stark violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. It contradicts his own commitment, stated a year ago in the UN General Assembly, to reverse Washington’s “perpetual war footing.”


IDLIB, SYRIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Syrian children are on the ruins of a destroyed building as civil defense teams undertake a search and rescue operation among the ruins of it, in a region of Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria, on September 23, 2014. United States of America (USA) have launched air strikes against the targets of terrorist organization ISIL in Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria. (Photo by AA Video/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

IDLIB, SYRIA – SEPTEMBER 23: Syrian children are on the ruins of a destroyed building as civil defense teams undertake a search and rescue operation among the ruins of it, in a region of Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria, on September 23, 2014. United States of America (USA) have launched air strikes against the targets of terrorist organization ISIL in Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria. (Photo by AA Video/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

And it portends disaster for the people of Syria, the region, and much of the world.

The White House stated goal is to destroy the headquarters of the violent and extremist ISIS militia. But you can’t bomb extremism out of existence. The U.S. bombs do not fall on “extremism,” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people – men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.

President Obama was right when he said there is no military solution to the ISIS crisis. Bombing Syria, without Congressional authorization, without United Nations approval, in direct opposition to the stated position of Syria’s government, will only make that crisis worse. It will give ISIS and its allies a new basis for recruitment, it will strengthen the repressive Syrian government, it will undermine Syria’s struggling non-violent opposition movement, and it will further tighten the links between ISIS supporters in Syria and in Iraq.

The bombing should stop immediately, and be replaced with a U.S. policy based on

  • Supporting an intensive new UN-based diplomatic initiative involving all parties in the region
  • Opening direct talks with Iran and Russia based on shared opposition to ISIS – with Iran to jointly push for ending anti-Sunni sectarianism in the Iraqi government, and with Russia to work towards ending the multi-party civil war in Syria
  • Pressuring U.S. allies in the region to stop their governments and people from arming and facilitating the movement of ISIS fighters
  • Shifting the war funds to a massive increase in humanitarian assistance

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