On The Road To The DNC: American Presidents

DocJess is on her way to the Democratic National Convention. She will be covering it for DemConWatch, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and West Chester’s Daily Local. Here is her first report…

— by DocJess

It was over 500 miles and 8 hours, but a reasonably uneventful trip. Crossing the border from Virginia to North Carolina, my nimble fingers managed to get James Taylor’s Carolina on my mind into the CD player at just the exact moment.

Mostly though, it was about presidents. A shout out to Dwight Eisenhower, whose dimsay at the state of American roads during WW2 made sure that I, and everyone else, can travel across the country, up and down the states, or around in circles on a giant interconnected Interstate highway system. Most of my trip was on 81, which intertwined with Route 11, that it replaced. No 81? The trip would have taken more than double the time. There was very little construction on 81 compared to the amount that obviously needed doing. Thanks GOP House, she said with dripping sarcasm, for an under-authorized Highway Bill. Ike, I’m sure, is turning in his grave that his party will not even fund the filling of a single pot hole.

And then there’s Lincoln. My travels took me near Gettsburg, Antietam, Harpers Ferry and big billboards advertising what “plantations used to be” – how different an America before the Civil War.

There was the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, “A National Treasure”  according to the signs. I wonder what Teddy Roosevelt would think about how we are now managing what is left of our environment, our national parks, and our ecosystem.

Finally, the was FDR. As I made my way through the Appalachians, I couldn’t help thinking about the Great Depression, and how a combination of smarts and dollars not only put people back to work, but also brought electricity, indoor plumbing, and other infrastructure throughout so much of America, including those Appalachians.

Yes, kids, that is what I think about alone in a car for an extended period. It did fire me up for everything this week – that sense of looking at history to move forward. As opposed, of course, to the GOP which looks at history and yells “take me back”….

On my agenda today: pick up my media credential and parking pass, attend the morning press conference, and then on to Carolinafest. I hope to have pictures up all day on the Twitter feed.

Are You Registered to Vote? Are You Really Sure?

I spent a lot of this past weekend working voter registration in suburban Philadelphia. My compatriots and I had signs, we had tee shirts. We were, for this time of year, inundated with potential voters, people needing to update information, people who needed absentee ballot applications, and most interestingly, people who wanted to check if they were registered, or had potentially been purged.

In the past month, the state of Pennsylvania has purged 758,000 voters from the rolls. If you think these are people who have died, or haven't voted, you'd only be partially right. They've also purged active voters.

The first night, we checked about 20 people, and found 3 of them had been purged, including one who had voted in the May, 2012, primary. I posted the information to Facebook and Twitter, asking everyone I knew to check their status, and between them and the table checks over the weekend: 7 people purged. And that's just people I came in contact with.

If you live in Pennsylvania and want to check if you've been purged, you can click this link. Having a voter registration card does NOT mean that you are still registered. If you live in any other state, you can use this link to find your state's registration check website.

More after the jump.

Starting on Saturday, there were a lot of people who approached asking what Mitt's choice of Paul Ryan meant for the outcome of the election. Since all voter registration drives MUST be non-partisan, meaning that whoever wants to register, to any party, is treated kindly, and his/her application is accepted and processed. Therefore, it was necessary to respond in a non-partisan fashion. The best I could come up with was that the conservative Republicans were very happy with the choice of someone who had written the Ryan Budget plan which dismantles Social Security and Medicare, along with holding all other government spending to 3% of GDP and vastly increasing both the overall deficit and taxes for everyone earning under $250,000/year, and the Democrats love the choice because it gives them a far better chance of winning. If you're a Democrat and want a free “Save Medicare, Vote Democrat” bumper sticker, click here.

No matter how you vote, it's important TO vote. My maternal grandmother was arrested, and went to jail, twice in the 19-teens so that my mother and I could vote today. I come by voter drives honestly, and in Grammie Sadie's memory.  Perhaps you'd like to join me. It's fun, it's interesting, and it's important. Even my 17 month old puppy worked a shift, her first of what will be many. If you're interested, please drop me a line at docjess at demconwatchblog dot com.

Make no mistake. This is a seminal election, and its outcome will influence what kind of America our country becomes. We'd love to have you at registration, but you may prefer to work in some other capacity: I can get you hooked up there, too, whatever your choice of volunteering. 

Game On: Romney/Ryan=end of the country as we know it

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

In choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has made an even more extreme choice than John McCain made in choosing Sarah Palin in 2008. You can tell I'm serious because I didn't say Mittens, Spunky and John-Boy, and haven't picked a nickname for Paul yet.

The Ryan choice completes Mitt's morph from moderate Republican businessman with aspirations of ultimate power to the signing pen for Grover Norquist. If you don't know what that means, you need to know.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of Washington’s most influential anti-tax conservatives, told National Public Radio in 2001, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Grover Norquist and his organization are the folks who make Republican candidates at all levels sign a pledge to never raise taxes. This ultimately led to the teabag contingent coming close last summer to denying the US government the ability to pay its bills, in direct violation of the US Constitution. If Ryan hadn't been born, Grover would have invented him.

Because there are so few undecided voters this year, Mitt needs to shore up the conservative fringe of the Republican base. Ryan is the choice to do that. In spades. 

In the spring of 2009, I heard Paul Ryan speak on his proposed changes to health care at Cato. I thought he was joking. But no, he wants to completely destroy Medicare, Medicaid and every other social program. Don't believe me? His budge, in full, is after the jump. 

Here's the Cliff Notes version

It substantially restructures Medicare; cuts Medicaid, food stamps, and transportation infrastructure; and it reduces the top tax rate from 35% to 25%. Regarding Medicare, the 2011 version of the Ryan budget would transform it from a government-run program to one where future seniors receive a voucher or premium support to purchase health insurance from private insurers. The Congressional Budget Office said the plan would force most seniors to pay more for their health care  than under the current Medicare system. […]

Ryan and his allies say a bold plan – reforming entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid – and slashing discretionary spending is needed to reduce the deficit and debt. But critics argue that the pain comes primarily from the poor and middle class. An analysis from the liberal-leaning Center on Budget Policies and Priorities says that 62% of the spending cuts in the Ryan budget would come from low-income programs, while 37% of its tax benefits would go to those making more than $1 million per year.


If you want to read the full CBO analysis, click here. For a synopsis, click here. If you are confused as to what percentage of the Federal budget is currently spent on what, see the true breakouts here.

This is going to be THE issue of the election. That is, the question of whether the US government exists to  protect our borders, enact legislation, print money, oversee the courts, and work for the interests of the citizenry, or whether government ceases to exist at all. And make no mistake, the ultimate goal of Ryan and Norquist is to destroy government so that the United States is a corporate fiefdom. Mitt's out of the mix on this one, so long as they give him the title, he doesn't actually care what else goes on around him. 

So get up, get informed, and get active. This is the seminal election: the one where we hold the line against the darkness or end up a third world nation. No snark  – it's that extreme.

PA Voting: What a Week in Pennsylvania

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

Yesterday, the NCAA and the Big Ten came down on Penn State in ways that show sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, there is justice in this world. It's possible that form of heavenly lightening might strike twice here in the Keystone State.

As you are likely aware, the Corbett administration in concert with the most racist and backwards elements of the PA General Assembly and state Senate passed legislation in March of this year making it close to impossible for almost 10% of all registered voters to vote this November. Yes, really: 9.2%. Source.

You make think there's a lot of fraud going on in Pennsylvania. Well, no. The state stipulated that there is no voter fraud:

This was stipulated as part of a court case brought against the state on behalf of legitimate voters who will be denied suffrage, and which we posted on when the suit was filed back in May.

There's no doubt that the law was enacted solely to disenfranchise minorities who would more likely vote for Obama than Romney. Really. The guy in the clip is Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai. 

More proof that the disenfranchisement is targeted here

And now the Feds are involved under the 1965 Voting Rights Law. Not Section 5, which relates to those states that had discriminated in the past, but Section 2, which states:

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups identified in Section 4(f)(2) of the Act. Most of the cases arising under Section 2 since its enactment involved challenges to at-large election schemes, but the section's prohibition against discrimination in voting applies nationwide to any voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. Section 2 is permanent and has no expiration date as do certain other provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Thanks Eric Holder! 

In a letter sent to Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele on Monday, DOJ requested state data on registered voters as well as the state’s list of individuals with driver’s licenses and ID cards. Additionally, DOJ requested information on the state’s efforts to educate voters about the new law as well as documents and records supporting a March 14 statement from Gov. Tom Corbett (R) which claimed “99 percent of Pennsylvania’s already have acceptable photo IDs.”

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez requested Pennsylvania send the information to federal authorities within 30 days.

The case is in court tomorrow, and if it somehow gets past the judges, even with an appeal in place, the Feds are on it. 

For those of you in Pennsylvania interested in making sure voters are registered, and that people without IDs get them if things stall before the election, click here to get involved. If you live in Chester County and want to work on local registration, Cheryl and I are launching Friday night and continuing on through the last possible day. Drop me a note if you're willing to give us 2 hours. 

All Politics is Local: 2012 Version

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch with a special note to PJV readers.

Last night was the kick-off meeting for our local OFA group. It was part “hail, hail the gang's all here” and part “welcome new neighbors.” Interestingly, with the exception of the two field reps from OFA, all the attendees were women. The field reps gave information about how the campaign will be interfacing with the volunteer group, and what kinds of support and interaction we can expect from them. There are some changes from 2008, all for the good.

The most interesting part of the evening for me was when we went around the room and each attendee explained why she was there. OH! The anger at what is happening in America. The need to protect what we've got, and get back what we've lost. The need for this election to propel us forward and not return us to, as the conversation went”…The 1950's”….”No, the 1850's”…”You're both wrong, the 5th century.”

The next thing was how hungry these women were for direct, factual information. It appears that a lot of people on the right can spew lies with lots of numbers and fake facts: the attendees wanted fact sheets that they could memorize so they could speak truth to the lies. (And certainly, we'll be passing out that data.)

Why all women? It seemed a little odd to me. I know men working on the campaign, and we certainly had men involved in 2008. After thinking on it overnight, I have come up with a few theories. First, women are angry. Especially women of a certain age as we fought for contraceptive rights and abortion rights so many years ago and can't bear to see that work undone. As an aside, I personally remember trying to get birth control many years ago and being told I had to bring my husband with me. (Yes, a LONG time ago.) While men are involved in the “get pregnant” process, and for some reason men will say “we're pregnant”, I don't buy it. Men don't have the physical connection to pregnancy that women do. While they can believe in equal rights and even get “sympathy pains” – they don't know from morning sickness, swollen feet, the cravings, the hormonal fluctuations….and THEY are never in danger of losing a job because they're pregnant, nor sidelining a career because a potential boss thinks you will get pregnant. 

Second, it may just be that the women who came to the organizing meeting last night are more interested in the beginning stages of organizing and planning. When the invitation was sent, there was an option to attend the meeting or ask to be contacted later for phone banks, lit drops and all the other boots on the ground activities. More than 50 people asked for “contact me later” and there were people of both genders on that list. 

Finally, it doesn't matter. We had a great crew turn out last night. A lot of passion, a lot of drive and enthusiasm. Others will join us as we move forward. Are YOU in? If you want to get involved now, click here and sign up. 

Special Note to PJV readers: DCW is a national blog, so where the meeting was last night is of no import to most of our readers. However, many PJV readers are local to the Philadelphia area. Would YOU like to get involved but don't know any one at the local level? Perhaps this would be your first campaign and you don't know how to get started. I am personally located in Chester County, but know the players throughout Eastern PA, and some in South Jersey. If you have questions about getting involved, or just want your local contact to reach out to you directly, drop me a line at docjess at demconwatchblog dot com and I'll get back to you. If nothing else (and there are many, MANY, other things) as Jews we cannot allow our country to fall into the hands of theocrats who would make America unfriendly to everyone but Christians. 

Pennsylvania Hatred Redux

Bernie SandersCrossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

It's not enough for the Corbett administration and its cronies in the legislature to deny suffrage to the poor, elderly and minorities. The administration, through its budget, is going to cause death and intolerable suffering amoung those least able to provide for themselves.

The numbers projected in Philly are striking: Some 4,000 mentally ill people will lose outpatient services; 400 of them will lose case management services; and 500 to 600 people with chronic mental illness will lose out on housing support, according to [Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Donald] Schwarz, meaning “We expect people will be discharged from hospitals and other places into homeless shelters.” Thirty to 40 young people with intellectual disabilities who would have received bridge services between youth and adult support systems will not. Sixteen percent of hospice beds for patients with HIV/AIDS will be cut: “There are folks that will die on the streets in Philadelphia because there will not be hospice placements.” One out of two daytime mental health emergency teams and six out of eight walk-in centers dealing with emergency mental health services will likely be cut. And 437 addiction treatment beds will be removed, meaning more people will stay in the already strained prison system due to lack of treatment options. As for those homeless shelters — which can be expected to absorb much of this new overflow — they'll be losing critical case management services. (emphasis mine) Source

Dying on the streets. Could there be anything more shameful? 

PICA is the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. It was created two decades ago to help Philadelphia with its financial crisis, and to this day provides support and analysis. PICA has reviewed the Corbett budget and its impacts on Philadelphia. Its report is after the jump.

Last night on Al Sharpton's show, he had a segment on voting rights, which included an interview with Daylin Lynch, a terrific PA state senator. Also, a clip of Corbett, (at about 7:15) from 2010 about how Corbett wants to discourage turnout in Philadelphia. Obviously from the budget, it's not enough to deny suffrage, but he wants “those people” gone from Pennsylvania. 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

PICA Report:

Mitt Romney’s Dog Seamus: The Rest of the Story

Reprinted from Democratic Convention Watch

My dog Fiona would not run away
My dog Fiona would not run away.

You've certainly heard Mittens Romney talking about how his dog Seamus “liked” being strapped to the roof of the family car for 12 hours. I never believed that because I'm a dog lover, and I know dogs like to be IN the car. Some are good car-riders and will sit in the back seat enjoying the scenery and some air. (As an aside, if you're going to go on long trips, and your dog likes to stick his/her face out the window, consider eye protection to prevent eye damage from flying bits of debris and road dirt.)

H/T Dan for letting me know that there is now proof that not only did Seamus not like riding on the top of the car, shown by having diarrhea which went down the back window of the car, but once the Romneys arrived in Canada, the dog ran away. Source.

Now I'll admit that Fiona is well cared for. That's a picture of her in a soft-material mini-cart at the pet store. Before you yell “spoiled” please be aware that her paw had been injured at camp and she's got a phobia about walking on shiny floors. We were at the store to buy a shoe for her foot because it was going to snow overnight, they were going to salt, and salt is bad on open wounds. We're actively working on the fear thing, and her paw is all healed. (Fiona wants to be a rough and tumble puppy, but she's actually a tumble and OWWW! puppy. Her first birthday was last Saturday.)

It takes a certain type of person to strap a dog to the top of the car for TWELVE hours. The Seamus stories indicate that the dog wasn't let out of his cage for  the entire trip. It's not just that I wouldn't leave a dog strapped to a  roof for twelve hours, I wouldn't leave a dog alone in a house for 12  hours. When my friend Libby and I went out to Illinois to pick up Fiona at 10 weeks, we stopped every two hours to let her out, give her some water, not to mention that one of us was with her at all times in the back seat of the car because she was so young. It caused the trip (which was about the same travel distance as Mitten's vacation trip) to take two days to allow for enough time to give her appropriate rest breaks out of the car. Olivia traveled up and down the east coast with me, and there were always rest breaks.

More after the jump.

How someone treats those who are weaker says a lot about the person that can easily be extrapolated. Mistreat a dog? A being dedicated to loving you unconditionally? There is something terribly wrong with someone who shows such disregard. Kind of like people who mistreat their children. Or other people's children. The most common kind of financial theft against the elderly comes from their children. Again, the stronger preying on the weaker.

Bo and Barack
Bo doesn’t have to ride on the roof.

So here we have this guy running for president, and he's a bully. He mistreats his dog. Quite unlike someone else running for president, who knows how to treat a dog while in the car. Mittens is also a serial liar: I don't even need specific examples here. Pick a topic and he's been on at least three sides of it. It is not surprising that he is against women's rights, education and the safety net. Like kids who swing cats by their tails, they just don't grow up right in the head. Rumour has it that when Mittens is done stealing the nomination with a lot of help from the GOP establishment (Exhibit A) he'll pick Bob McDonnell as his running mate. Yup, the governor of Virginia, which is about to become the only state that sanctions the forcible rape of women. (Exhibit B)

I consider myself an informed voter. I keep lots of files on political players. Have a lot of stuff on Romney which was relatively mundane (for a Republican) prior to his self-immolation this year. I had thought he'd be the toughest possible opponent that President Obama could have this year. But once he's someone whose dog followed the lead of Vietnam draft dodgers and escaped to Canada just to get away from a terrible situation you have to say that while a lot of the Republican field (real and potential) is nuts (Bachmann, Spunky, Santorum) morally degenerate (Cain, Gingrich), stupid (Perry), outright dangerous (Paul, Perry, Gingrich), theocratic (Santorum, Bachmann, Spunky, Cain, Perry), Mittens takes the cake.

Remember: elections are decided by those who vote — get involved and make sure that this animal abuser never gets anywhere near the White House except on the public tour.

A Review of “The Submission”

The Submission” by Amy Waldman, reviewed by Rabbi Jack Riemer

Do you remember what happened a few years ago when a group of Moslems wanted to build a mosque &mdash well, it was not exactly a mosque; it was more like a Jewish Community Center with a gym and classrooms as well as a place of prayer — at Ground Zero — well, it was not exactly at Ground Center, but it was meant to be built a few blocks away? The country went berserk. How dare they desecrate the sacred ground on which Moslems killed several thousand people and destroyed one of America’s iconic symbols? True, the Constitution provides freedom of religion for all, but so what? Does that justify this kind of an insult? Don’t the feelings of the families of those that died on 9/11 have priority over the Constitution?

For weeks, insults flew back and forth, as zealots on both sides called each other names, and the politicians tried to stake out a position that would straddle the conflicting claims of the public with the principle of freedom of religion.

The issue seems to have calmed down, at least for a while, since the people who were planning to build this mosque-or center-or whatever they will end up calling it if they ever build it — turned out not to be able to raise the money for it-at least not yet-and as the media turned its attention to other matters.

Amy Waldman wrote most of this novel before this bruha took place, but it raises the same kind of questions; Are American born Moslems entitled to their civil rights, or are they all to be stereotyped as terrorists out to kill us? Do those who lost loved ones on 9/11 have special claims on the memorial which is being built there, or are professional architects and artists the only ones who are capable of making aesthetic decisions? Are Jews entitled to suspect Moslems, in view of the fact that they have been the special targets of violence by Moslems in many countries, or should Jews be the defenders of civil rights for Moslems, because their own place in this country depends upon civil rights?

These are some of the questions that Amy Waldman deals with in this novel.  She gives no easy answers. Her characters are complex and ambivalent on these questions.

More after the jump.  
The central character is Mo Kahn — short for Mohammed — an assimilated architect whose parents came from India. He submits his proposal for a Memorial Garden to be built at Ground Zero, and, in a contest in which no names are allowed to accompany the submissions, he wins. And then he must justify his claim that his work is simply a work of art, and that it is not motivated by any desire to glorify the killers of 9/11 or even to pay tribute to Moslem Art.

As the issue heats up, Mo gradually changes his own attitude to his work and to this country. He starts out as an urbane, sophisticated liberal, who has no interest in, and no commitment to, Islam, but he is deeply offended that his work is being judged as Moslem propaganda when he believes deeply that he designed it with no such motive in mind. Little by little, in response to the attacks on him and on his work from the zealots, he begins to reconsider his heritage, and to insist on his right to be a Moslem American and on his right to be an architect who draws of many sources including Medieval Moslem Art, if he so wishes. He even goes to a mosque to pray, something that he has almost never done before in his life, perhaps to help determine for himself who he really is, or perhaps in order to defy those who are reviling him.

Another character in this novel is Claire Burwell, who is a wealthy woman, with some knowledge of art, whose husband died in the Twin Towers. She is the one who champions his submission in the first place, and she is the one who gradually persuades  the others on the panel to choosing it. But the more she sees the anger and the hysteria that the choice arouses, the more she is tempted to back down and take away the prize and given it to someone less controversial.

There is Paul Rubin, the politician, who only wants to make the furor go away so that it will not inflame the city and effect the next election. There is Sean Gallagher, a frustrated and angry man, whose brother died in the Twin Towers, and who sets out to lead a rebellion against the choice, so that he may have acquire and some importance for himself. And there is Asma Anwar, an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, whose husband died on 9/11, and who only wants to stay in this country, and to be inconspicuous so that she will not be sent back, but who gets caught in the center of the controversy..

Amy Waldman brings these different characters, with their different agendas, together in this novel. They bounce against each other like billiard balls ricocheting. Sometimes they attack each other; sometimes they influence each other, and sometimes they seem like people caught in a tinderbox of conflicting emotions and intentions.

Ms. Waldman pits these characters, not only against each other, but also against their own inner drives and emotions. Each one reveals layer after layer of feeling, as the story spins out of control. At the end, we come away simply sick at the ugliness, the instability, and the chaos that manifested itself within so many of us in reaction to what happened on September 11th. We become aware through this novel of how angry, how unstable, how shocked and how vengeful we all felt in the aftermath of the events of that day. And we are forced to wonder and to worry about the question: Ten years after the calamity, have we healed yet, and if not, what will it take to restore sanity and stability, patience and calm, to us?

Novels do not usually set out to raise moral questions, but this one does. And the answer to these questions of have we recovered and have we purged ourselves from the trauma and the anger that 9/11 did to our souls,will come from what reactions this novel arouses. It is a gripping story, but it is meant to be more than just that. What kind of a country America will be will be determined, in some part, by how we come to terms with the trauma of this horrible event, whose tenth anniversary has now arrived. I hope that it does not take ten more years for us to calm down and to think rationally, instead of striking out in all directions, hurting the innocent, chasing the guilty, and injuring ourselves most of all. And I think that this book may help us in this task.

Rabbi Jack Riemer is a frequent reviewer of books of Jewish and General interest in America and abroad. He is the co editor of So That Your Values Live on: Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them, and the editor of the three volumes of the The World of the High Holy Days.  

Obama and Boehner: Lies and Truths

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

Well, well…did you watch the speeches last night? PURE Kabuki theater. Obama did a nice job of explaining how we came to this point, but his train left the rails when he was presenting the “solution” without mentioning that there were no increases to revenues. Boehner lied when he said there was bipartisan support for cut, cap and balance. Oh hell, he lied about everything except his name.

These two speeches were designed out of desperation. It's pretty obvious that the votes don't exist in either chamber to pass anything. Sadly, the Rethuglicans decimated the Gephardt Rule, which worked well for decades: it basically allowed for automatic-ish raises to the debt ceiling. Obama won't invoke the 14th. So all that's left is for the president to go on television and ask people who didn't even vote to figure out who their reps are and call them. Even that was a little half-baked: you'd think he would have said “If you need to find your Rep's or Senator's contact information, we're now listing it on whitehouse.gov.” I list that info all the time, it's easy to get and post. (Senate link, House link. Total time: less than 30 seconds.)

So where are we? Fundamentally, screwed. It takes time to get legislation through Congress, and we're close to out of time. The last hope is that after Harry's Wednesday vote, it goes over to the House, Boehner agrees to schedule a vote, and it passes this weekend. If you think that will all happen successfully, you are probably also a fan of the scene in Woody Allen's Sleeper where the scientists of the future point out that hot fudge sundaes, steak and cigarettes are good for you and carrots will kill you. 

The real truth is that America is simmering not just in outrageously hot weather (yes, teabaggers, there IS global warming) but in even hotter anger at a government which has become completely dysfunctional. Obama's right – call your reps — tell them to pass a raise in the debt ceiling, talk about shared sacrifice, and tell them you vote. Then figure out how quickly you can learn to fiddle. 

Is it 2012 Already? PA-6 Re-Districting and Rematches

Cross-posted from Democratic Convention Watch

While Pennsylvania limps along with the redistricting process, it looks like the same names who ran in PA-6 last year will likely do it again next year. In 2010, there was a bitter Democratic primary between Doug Pike and Manan Trivedi. Manan won by 714 votes, and went on to lost to Jim Gerlach by 14 points. Manan has already started raising money (he sent a letter), and Doug is leaning towards running (I asked him).

Can both of them run against Jim? Maybe. The 6th district was created in 2001 FOR Jim Gerlach. Back in March, I posted on the current map, the census data, and the likelihood that the sole PA district that wouldn't change is Bob Brady's district, as no one messes with Bob Brady. You'd think the state would have made some progress since then, but this is Pennsylvania. The redistricting committee is always made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and a chair selected by the four. As usual, they couldn't agree, so it went to court. The committee, with its court-appointed chair, is supposed to come up with a plan by 11 August. 

As of this writing, the most likely outcome is that Mark Critz's district (Murtha's old district) will be the one to go away. From a census perspective, it's the most reasonable. This redraw will pit Jason Altmire (CD 4) and Mark Critz (CD 12) in a primary. The GOP committee (and it is) will try hard to also force Allyson Schwartz (CD 13) and Chaka Fattah (CD 2) into a primary. However, it's likely that Tim Holden's area (CD 17) will grow to include Scranton, and become a more safe Democratic seat. This in turn will shore up the Republican pockets Lou Barletta (CD 11) needs. 

Meanwhile, the GOP wants badly to increase their holds of the 6th and 7th. The 7th was Joe Sestak's, but is now Pat Meehan's. I haven't heard that Joe is thinking of running again. The eastern parts of these districts would have to move to force the Schwartz-Fattah primary. If the 6th moves north, and the 7th moves west, Manan would be in the 6th (he lives in Birdsboro). Jim would be in the 6th (West Pikeland), but Doug may well be in the 6th, as he lives in Tredyffrin (which was part of the 7th until 2001). So a primary re-match is a maybe, but Jim will certainly be challenged. If you're having trouble with what's where, click on the map to see a larger version. It's hard, I know, as some of the numbers are across the state from one another. 

We'll have to wait a while to find out where Manan and Doug will run, and it would be great if they could run without having to re-fight that primary, which was ugly. Both are solid candidates, and without having to spend time, money and resources on a primary would have a good shot against both Jim and Pat. There is a lot of animosity against both of the incumbents from long term Republicans who feel that they, especially Jim since he's been there longer, have abandoned Republican ideals for their sell-out to the teabaggers. Thus, Democrats running on what will likely be a bring back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid platform will perform well. Remember, demographics in this area skew old.

I'll be back with a more detailed look after the districts are drawn next month.