All posts by carldavidson

New York Times Views Beaver County Voters

Photo: PDA’s Tina Shanon

A Rural Slice
of a Big State
Tests Obama

[The Tina Shannon quoted in this article is the Chair of the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America and a stalwart of Beaver County Peace Links, our local UFPJ group. Carl Davidson, also quoted, as well as being a supporter of PDA here, is also working with ‘Progressives for Obama’. All of us gave the writer a little help finding people to talk to, but he was a great door-knocker all on his own. The article captures, quite well, why this is a close race, why we must, despite a bumpy ride, redouble our efforts, remain resolute and focused — Stop McCain, Stop the War, Vote Obama 2008!]


New York Times
August 21, 2008

RACCOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Wander up a gravel road and ask George Timko about Barack Obama and John McCain and he wrinkles his nose. Neither of those guys strikes him as a prize.

Mr. Timko is a burly fellow, with close-cropped white hair and a Fu Manchu mustache, and a gold necklace that rests on his bare chest. “Barack Obama makes me nervous,” said Mr. Timko, a 65-year-old retiree with a garden hose in hand. “Who is he? Where’d he come from? ”

As for Senator McCain? He shook his head. “He keeps talking about being a prisoner of war back in Vietnam: Great. The economy stinks; tell me his plan?”

To roam the rural reaches of western Pennsylvania, through white working-class counties, is to understand the breadth of the challenge facing the two presidential candidates. But this economically ravaged region, once so solidly Democratic, poses a particular hurdle for Senator Obama.
Continue reading New York Times Views Beaver County Voters

‘Healthcare Not Warfare’ at Denver DNC!

UFPJ Rally
UFPJ Rally

Press the


on HR 676!

By Norman Solomon
Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign

In just two weeks, the 2008 Democratic National Convention will be history.
In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do.

This week, a front-page New York Times article referred to “progressive Democrats” as “crucial to Mr. Obama’s success.” At this momentous crossroads, Barack Obama and the progressive base certainly need each other–to defeat McCain and open up real possibilities for major shifts in policies at the federal level. Energizing that base could maximize voter turnout for Obama in November and then change national priorities in a way not seen since FDR’s first term in the White House.
Continue reading ‘Healthcare Not Warfare’ at Denver DNC!

Trumka Talks to Steelworkers About Obama and Racism

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers

No Good Reason

For Any Worker

Not Voting Obama

By Richard Trumka

AFl-CIO Speech, July 1, 2008

to Steelworkers Convention

I want to take a little opinion poll.

If you think America ought to keep going in the same direction George Bush and Dick Cheney have been taking us in stand up.

(Well, I’m going to cut some of you guys in the aisle a break and assume you didn’t understand the question.)

Now, stand up if you think it’s time we had a president who’s going to fight for national health care, sign the Employee Free Choice Act, strengthen OSHA, defend Social Security, end the war, and protect American jobs?

Well, congratulations — you just answered the question that’s stumped all the commentators and columnists and consultants in Washington, D.C. who are asking how Barack Obama is going to win the votes of workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Continue reading Trumka Talks to Steelworkers About Obama and Racism

‘Aliquippa For Obama’ – Fired Up, Ready to Go

Organizing for
Obama in a
Hard-hit Steel Town

By Carl Davidson
Progressives for Obama

You knew something special was happening when the youngest, freshest face in the room got up, took charge and called the meeting to order-“Hello, I’m Scout Sanders, and welcome to the first meeting of Aliquippa for Obama!’

Sanders was a full-time Obama volunteer, a student from the University of Connecticut, and her bright smile and enthusiasm brightened up a room of about 30 residents of Aliquippa and a few other nearby towns. Those who came were all ages, from young teenagers to retired workers in their seventies, a little more than half were African American, about two-thirds were women.

Aliquippa is a severely stressed milltown in Beaver County, Western Pennsylvania. At one time nearly 30,000 people lived here, mostly steelworkers and their families. Now it’s down to 12,000, with 6000 low-income African-Americans hanging on in the central area, with the white workers living in the border neighborhoods. The home of Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, and other great athletes, it’s a tough, no-nonsense place in dire need of a hopeful future. The meeting was in a bright and well-cared-for church-run coffee house, Uncommon Grounds, on the mostly boarded up main street. Continue reading ‘Aliquippa For Obama’ – Fired Up, Ready to Go

Battleground Report: Politics at the Raccoon Township Fair

Photo: Races at Raccoon Fair

and Obama


By Carl Davidson
Progressives for Obama

Tractor pulls, tilt-a-whirls and dirt track motorcycle races aren’t the usual setting for a literature table featuring the Obama campaign.  But the several thousand local residents who attend the annual Raccoon Township Fair here in Western Pennsylvania every June made it seem like a natural to us, especially after all the local turmoil over “white workers” in the recent Democratic Primary.

We set up our wares alongside others that featured local crafts by township women. The site was the Volunteer Fire Department Hall, next to the bingo games in the garage and the food concession in the kitchen, usually the site of the regular “Fish Fry” community fundraisers.

To the extent the township has a “village square,” the VFD buildings and grounds are it. Wedding, graduations and family reunions take place here, too.

We put up a big “4th CD Progressive Democrats of America” sign, together with plenty of Obama posters and literature, and “Healthcare not Warfare” petitions for the “Single Payer” health care plan in Rep. John Conyer’s (D-MI) HR676 Bill. The petitions are aimed at our local Member of Congress, Jason Altmire, to get on board. Last but not least, we set out everything we need to register new voters. Continue reading Battleground Report: Politics at the Raccoon Township Fair

GI Opposes Unjust War

Photo: GI Resister, Matthis Chiroux

US soldier refuses
to report for
active duty in Iraq

Agence France Presse

June 15, 2008 – A month after US army reservist Matthis Chiroux publicly refused to deploy to Iraq, the former sergeant on Sunday set himself up for possible prosecution by failing to report for active duty with his unit in South Carolina.

“Tonight at midnight, I may face further action from the army for refusing to reactivate to participate in the Iraq occupation,” Chiroux told reporters in Washington.

“I stand here today in defense of those who have been stripped of their voices in this occupation, the warriors of this nation…”, Chiroux read from a statement as his father Rob, who had travelled to Washington from Alabama to support his son on Father’s Day, stood beside him. Continue reading GI Opposes Unjust War

Democratic Convention Battles

Photo: Obama with Pittsburgh workers

The Antiwar Plank

By John Nichols
The Nation

Democrats were clearly seen as running on an antiwar platform in 2006, and they won big, grabbing control of both houses of Congress.

The lesson should have been clear: when the party defines itself as antiwar, it wins.

But after a year and a half of wrangling between Congressional Democrats and the Bush Administration over Iraq, that definition has blurred. So now, even as Democrats are poised to nominate a candidate who opposed attacking Iraq, key Congressional supporters of the likely nominee, Senator Barack Obama, and his chief challenger, Senator Hillary Clinton, are working together to craft a platform that bluntly positions the Democrats as the party that will bring the troops home and change the policies that sent them to the Middle East. So far, fifty House members, all superdelegates, have signed a letter endorsing the antiwar language.

“On the issues of Iraq and foreign policy, Democrats can’t be vague or fuzzy,” argue Representatives Barbara Lee, an Obama backer; Jim McGovern, a Clinton backer; and Sam Farr, uncommitted until after the primaries, in an open letter to delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The “Democratic Platform that will be ratified at the Convention in Denver will form our core statement of principles as a party for the next four years, principles that we will unite around in both the general election and beyond,” they add. “With only months remaining before we unite as a party in August, it is critical that we take action now to ensure that a clear statement is made in our platform: we will end the war in Iraq; the Republican Party will not.”These influential superdelegates agreed, even while the presidential race divided them, to unite to support platform language that calls for: “an end to the war in Iraq by initiating the safe and secure withdrawal of all US combat forces, leaving no permanent military bases behind; a robust diplomatic surge in the Middle East and beyond that includes negotiations with the Iranian government without preconditions that make sitting down to talk impossible; an end to the use of torture and the closure of our prison at Guantánamo Bay.”

Party platforms are often dismissed as meaningless. But presidential candidates and Congressional leaders do not treat them as such, and neither should antiwar activists. In writing the platform the relationship between the candidate and the party base is defined, and the message for the fall campaign is framed. Four years ago, after Democratic convention delegates finalized an agenda for the party’s campaign, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. dismissed it as “a cautious platform.” The chair of the party’s platform committee, Representative Rosa DeLauro, said simply, “It reflects John Kerry.” That was the problem. The platform’s “transparent vagaries on Iraq”–to quote antiwar activist Tom Hayden–signaled a tepid approach to the war debate that ceded vital ground to the Republicans. When Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich supporters attempted to add antiwar language to the platform, Kerry’s man, former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, rushed in to block them and bragged, “We didn’t give up anything.” Nor did they gain anything, as the results of that fall’s election demonstrated.

The House members who want strong antiwar language in this year’s platform aren’t trying to push Obama around; roughly half are Obama backers. Rather, they suggest, they are prodding the party to do what is necessary to prevail in November. “The Democratic Party needs this,” says Barbara Lee. “It will give the nominee the foundation and the [appeal to the] base to move forward and win.”

Will the platform process be flexible enough to accept what these superdelegates are offering? Perhaps. The closeness of this year’s nominating contest and the fact that the process will be led by backers of Obama, Clinton and John Edwards guarantees a more diverse platform committee, one that will be disinclined to rubber-stamp cautious language produced by consultants. The Win Without War coalition is mounting a campaign to get superdelegates to back the antiwar planks–and it will deliver petitions supporting it to regional platform hearings this summer and at the convention–while Progressive Democrats of America is working closely with Jim McGovern, who is likely to emerge as an outspoken grassroots supporter of the move. Says McGovern of the Democrats, “We need to demonstrate that we get it, and the platform is the place to do that.”

[John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written The Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress. Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.]