Community Unity Gathering

A positive and peaceful gathering, this event will be a constructive outlet featuring community leaders and open dialogue, aimed at showing the president-elect our community’s commitment to ALL the citizens of this country. Come and show your support for gender equality, civil rights, labor, the environment, the LGBT community and immigration rights.

All are welcome to this family-friendly event. For more information, contact Jim Nixon, president of the Narberth Democratic Club.

Sen. Al Franken to Campaign for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken will campaign for Hillary Clinton across Pennsylvania, with organizing events in State College, York, West Chester and Philadelphia. At these events, Franken will highlight the stark contrast between Clinton and Donald Trump.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, Franken will discuss the importance of electing Democrats up and down the ticket and urge Pennsylvania voters to visit iwillvote.com to ensure that they have all the information they need to vote on Election Day.

Sen. Al Franken to Campaign for Hillary Clinton in West Chester

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken will campaign for Hillary Clinton across Pennsylvania, with organizing events in State College, York, West Chester and Philadelphia. At these events, Franken will highlight the stark contrast between Clinton and Donald Trump.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, Franken will discuss the importance of electing Democrats up and down the ticket and urge Pennsylvania voters to visit iwillvote.com to ensure that they have all the information they need to vote on Election Day.

PA Democrats Philadelphia Organizing Event With Clinton and Kaine

Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, will campaign together at public events in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas. They will lay out the high stakes of this election for Pennsylvanians, as well as their vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. They will also urge Pennsylvania voters to visit iwillvote.com to ensure that they have all the information they need to vote on Election Day.

Doors Open: 6:15 PM EDT

The entrance to the event is located at Paley Bridge at S. 33rd Street.

Public RSVP Link

Invocation for Texas Democratic State Convention

The dimming of America’s liberty, justice and mitzvah-centered, rather-than self-centered approach to existence is sad and frightening. Here are words of inspiration given by my colleague,
Rabbi Dan Gordon, June 9, 2012 at the Texas Democratic State Convention. As the daughter of a veteran, of blessed memory, I appreciate his words all the more.

Invocation follows the jump.
Dear Heavenly Parent,

Source of all Life and all Being. Our G-d of all of our ancestors, we, Your children, worship and revere You in many languages, from many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, households, meeting houses and fellowships.

We come to You today as a united country and peoplehood, praying for the guidance to make wise decisions and to empower a leadership in their wisdom.

By beginning this day with prayer, I invite each person here, every Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Quaker, Baha’i, Jane, Sikh, Unitarian, Deist, Atheist and others, to connect with your own spirit of unity for humanity.  

Today, we are Americans. Today we are Texans.  Praying that choices we make today will better the lives of all Texans, all Americans and all humankind.

For our prayer to be valid and heartfelt, we must put aside selfish concerns and be aware the needs of all.  We must share the goal of improving the lives of others. We must show appreciation for the courageous men and women, past and present, who have bravely defended our freedom; and we must work every day toward the goal of re-creating a country and world that honors that spirited military service.  

In the Bible’s description of the beginning of the world, we are taught that every day, at the end of the day, G-d gave His sacred work a grade:  He called it “good.”  At the end of six days, He called it “very good.”  But the seventh day, was blessed — not called “good” or “very good,” but “holy.”  

Today, my friends, is the Jewish Sabbath, the seventh day that tradition teaches, “G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”  We pray, dear G-d, that today, the seventh day of the week, the work we do will be better than good, better than very good, as we strive to reach the level of holiness.  

For what could be more holy, than working toward the goal that our Founding Fathers established on July 4, 1776 – allowing for all people the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Within those unalienable rights, I pray our Founding Fathers and our present day leaders always include the rights to pursue, health, education and employment.  

Our work today is holy — because as we know, what happens in Texas does not stay in Texas!  

As we look for guidance from Scripture, we recall one of Your most sacred teachings from Deuteronomy, Chapter 6 that states “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.”  This teaching begins with the word “Hear” and ends with the word “One.”  We need to hear each other to become one Nation under G-d.  

My prayer is not about defeating an opponent or denigrating someone’s character.  My prayer is for those who have chosen public service to truly serve the public.  My prayer is for our leaders, delegates and citizens to listen to each other, to hear the needs of our people, and to unite into one unified, spirited and holy nation.
As we embark on this sacred journey, our task is to make certain that the United States of America will always be a light unto the nations, the unquestioned example of goodness, righteousness, fairness and justice.  

I am honored and humbled to be the messenger to bless this delegation.  I can think of no better blessing than the one found in Numbers, Chapter 6, when the leadership of the time, Moses and Aaron, bless those who journey toward a Promised Land.  I offer the same blessing to you on your journey, to do the sacred work of leading us.

May GD bless you and watch over you.
May G-d’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May G-d’s presence shine upon you and grant you peace.

And we all say, Amen.

G-d Bless you and G-d bless America.

Senate Extends Tax Cuts For Middle Class On Strictly Party Line Vote

The Senate extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the first $250,000 of income. 51 Democrats voted for the bill, but Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Jim Webb (D-VA) joined all of the 47 Republican voted against it.

Earlier today, the GOP plan was defeated on a 45-54 vote. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted with the Republicans while Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted with the Democrats. The Republican plan would included even income beyond $250,000 in the extension of the tax cut.

Statement by President Obama follows the jump.
Statement by President Obama on the Passage of the Middle Class Tax Cut Extension:

With the Senate’s vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98% of Americans and nearly every small business owner.  The last thing a typical middle class family can afford is a $2,200 tax hike at the beginning of next year.  It’s time for House Republicans to drop their demand for another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and give our families and small businesses the financial security and certainty that they need.  Our economy isn’t built from the top-down, it’s built from a strong and growing middle class, and that’s who we should be fighting for.

 

A Senate at risk


111th Senate

Part 5 of American Vision by Bruce Ticker

“Enzi has already gotten detailed responses to the questions he raised. We know exactly how the 9/11 health clinics have spent their money, and so does Enzi.”
– Manhattan U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler

Whew! The American people were spared a U.S. Senate that might take command of its legislative agenda.

We do not want to jeopardize the Democratic Senate seats in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and other conservative states.

More after the jump.
Under the headline Senate Democrats’ minimalist agenda, The Washington Post reported that the Democratic majority has intentionally restrained itself to save seats in states like these.

The May 21, 2011, Post account states: “Democrats have decided to try to shield those lawmakers from the usual weeks-long debates and instead await for compromises to be reached behind closed doors. Reid’s approach is a bet that doing nothing looks better for them, so long as their arguments resonate with voters in 2012.”

Welcome to governance in the Senate half of the 112th Congress. Any wonder we have been stuck with an immovable Senate? Doing their jobs might cause some Democrats to lose their jobs in the November 2012 election. The Democratic leadership worried that they might lose their 51-47 majority if they overplayed their hand; two senators then were independents who caucus with the Democrats.

What, then, is the point of having a Senate?

Senate gridlock is rooted in the Senate’s composition that requires equal representation for all states, while leaving the House of Representatives with proportionate representation. Senate Democrats  represent all five states that opposed proportionate representation during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Rhode Island, which did not participate in the convention, is also represented by Democrats in the Senate.

Most low-population states are conservative or conservative-leaning. They are represented by Republicans in the Senate or alternate between the two parties. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota was defeated for re-election in 2004. If he represented New Jersey or New York, he almost certainly would be serving in the Senate today.

Daschle’s fellow Democrats do not want others like him defeated, so they adjusted their agenda to protect their Senate seats in swing states. Three of those states, where two incumbents were retiring and a third was up for re-election, are home to 3.5 million people – Nebraska, 1.7 million; Montana, 975,00; and North Dakota, 646,000.

So, 1 percent of the nation’s citizenry – out of 308 million Americans – can propel the Senate leadership to ignore or minimize the needs and concerns of tens of millions of Americans. Democrats in the 112th Senate represented 190 million Americans after the 2010 election and 204 million in the 2008 election before Scott Brown, a Republican, was elected on Jan. 19, 2010, to fill a Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Under these overall population estimates, each senator is counted as representing half their state’s population. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party is not counted here because he was elected as a Republican.

The four Democratic senators from New York and California collectively represent one-sixth of America’s population, 36.9 million in California and 19.5 million in New York.

That leaves 56.4 million Americans, and 135 million from other moderate or liberal states, in the lurch.

If the Senate represented the populace on a more proportionate basis, then far more attention would likely be paid to issues raised by the senators from high-population states such as New York and California.


Our present form of government was launched in a building at Wall and Nassau streets in lower Manhattan that was demolished two decades later. George Washington was inaugurated on the balcony on April 30, 1789. Eight blocks northeast, 212 years and four months later, two hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center towers.

It was this very form of government that threatened funding of two programs for New York City resulting from the 9-11 tragedy. One issue prompted bickering between a Manhattan congresswoman and a senator who represents fewer people than the number who live in her district. Manhattan alone comprises triple the population of the state that sent Mike Enzi to the Senate. For those who are confused by New York’s geographic composition, Manhattan is one of five boroughs that comprise NYC, population 8 million plus.

Manhattan’s population is 1,600,000 and Rep. Carolyn Maloney represents 700,000 people. The population of Enzi’s state, Wyoming, is 544,000.

In December 2010, Enzi opposed the Zadroga bill to compensate 9/11 workers sickened during the clean-up of the World Trade Center site. He was even accused of quarterbacking a campaign against the bill with a document that Carolyn Maloney called “a pack of lies.”

The New York Daily News attributed to unidentified sources the claim that Enzi, ranking Republican on the Senate Health Committee, was behind the opposition to the Zadroga bill, which would spend $7.4 billion over 10 years to provide health care and pay victims.

The revenue would be raised from closing tax revenues on foreign corporations. Because Republicans were against employing this source for revenues, New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, suggested other funding alternatives.

The News reported that the Republican document ignores their offers and labels the foreign tax provision a job-killer, and blatantly fabricates the claim that 95 percent of the workers were provided for in a recent $625 million legal settlement.

Only 10,000 people who sued, not the 30,000 who received some form of treatment, are covered by the settlement, the newspaper article clarified.

Calling these claims “a pack of lies,” Maloney said, “If these were legitimate concerns, why are Senate Republican leaders only raising them now, at the last minute, instead of years ago?”

Enzi would not respond to these accusations, but a week later he penned an op-ed piece in the News where he claimed that health-care providers that received federal grants for 9/11 health programs “have failed to tell Congress where that money has gone.”

In a follow-up letter to the News, Maloney and Jerrold Nadler (Ground Zero is located in his congressional district) wrote that “Enzi has already gotten detailed responses to the questions he raised. We know exactly how the 9/11 health clinics have spent their money, and so does Enzi.”


Obama signs Zadroga Act

In a Dec. 3 editorial, the Daily News employed phrases such as “distort the truth” and “torture decency” to describe Republican tactics. “They should stand at the graves of all those whose lungs were fatally destroyed, starting with NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who labored 450 hours at Ground Zero, and repeat the libel.” The bill was named after Detective Zadroga.

Next excerpt – Two senators, a high road and a low road

An illegitimate Congress? You betcha

Part 2 of American Vision by Bruce Ticker

The Republican leadership is asking its members to make a silly vote. — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, April 1, 2011

Blame Congress.

Even more, blame the rules of the game that enable the Congress we have.

More after the jump.
Congress is hardly the only culprit responsible for bad government, but Capitol Hill is the starting point. The majority in Congress can declare war, or shift this power to the president; raise or cut taxes, especially for the rich; send troops…not to mention the National Guard…to fight Muslims in two unstable countries; and provide or deny our most vulnerable citizens housing, food, health care and quality education.

Congress can also violate the U.S. Constitution, as did 221 members of the House of Representatives via some bizarre legislation on April 1, 2011.

All 221 members ignored Article 1, Section 7, of the Constitution which was recited on the House floor on Jan. 6, 2011. All supporters of the bill in question were Republicans, the very ones who insisted that the Constitution and its 27 amendments be recited when Congress opened its 2011-12 session.

All Democrats and 15 Republicans voted against H.R. 1255. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, said the bill “violates my conscience and the Constitution, and I cannot vote for it.”

Our system is not perfect, but the 221 representatives who voted for the bill cheapened our way of doing the people’s business.

H.R. 1255 required that a fiscal year 2011 spending bill, already passed by the House, would become law if the Senate would not pass a spending law by April 6.

There is a reason the bill never became law after that date – the Constitution, which requires that a bill can only become law after both houses pass a law and the president signs it, or the president refuses to sign and both houses override his veto by a two-thirds vote.

The provision reads, “Every bill which shall have passed The House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law.”

In the less than genteel debates over the April 1 budget bill, The Hill newspaper quoted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor saying,

Funding the government at the levels passed by House Republicans might be what Senator Reid wants, but surely even he would agree that it’s a better alternative than shutting down the government.

Cantor, a Republican from the Richmond, Va., area, was referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Some Democratic representatives recommended that Cantor and his flock read children’s books on the Constitution such as House Mouse, Senate Mouse, according to The Hill. Then-Rep. Anthony Weiner of Queens quipped, “It’s a much thinner book and it rhymes.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco invoked the most mature comment when she declared, “What you see on the floor today is no example of democracy in action. It’s silly. The Republican leadership is asking its members to make a silly vote.”


On the surface, Congress is representative government. After all, each of us can claim representation by one member of the House of Representatives and two members of the Senate, with the exception of those living in Washington and the U.S. territories.

Some Americans are represented better than others. In reality, Congress neither represents the majority of Americans nor adequately protects the rights of minorities. Congress is mainly hobbled by two inherent mechanisms and one of its own making.

First is the constitutional mandate for disproportionate representation in the Senate allowing each state equal clout – whether a senator represents 544,000 citizens or 36.9 million. Second is the stifling two-party system which thwarts meaningful participation of third parties and independent candidates in the political process. If more independents could get elected, is it possible that neither party could claim a majority in either chamber? The Senate’s composition is aggravated by the filibuster rule, which the Senate majority can revise or eliminate.

On May 30, 1787, the Virginia Plan was introduced to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia proposing a national government consisting of a legislature, executive and judiciary. The concept for a legislature subsequently materialized as two houses of Congress – each to represent American citizens on a proportionate basis. On June 9, New Jersey delegate William Paterson declared, “New Jersey will never confederate on the plan before the Committee. She would be swallowed up.”

Virginia was the most populous state at that time, followed by Pennsylvania. New Jersey was among the small states, yet now New Jersey outranks Virginia, respectively 11th and 12th in population. New Jersey was joined in opposition by delegates from Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and New York, the latter of which is now our third most populous state. Despite Delaware’s current ranking of 45th, all five states are part of the northeastern bloc that traditionally adheres to moderate and liberal policies. Each is represented by centrist or liberal Democrats in the Senate.

On June 11, Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed “that the proportion of suffrage in the first branch should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants; and that in the second branch or Senate, each state should have one vote and no more…As the states would remain possessed of certain individual rights, each state ought to be able to protect itself; otherwise a few large states will rule the rest.” Sherman revised his proposal on June 20 and was joined by fellow Connecticut delegates Oliver Ellsworth and William Samuel Johnson on June 29 in proposing a comparable plan, later to become known as the Connecticut Compromise.

“Too many – both among the large- and small-state delegations – were simply not in a mood to embrace compromise,” Richard Beeman writes in “Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.” “One by one, they rose to defend their ideas and, more importantly, the interests of their particular states.” The delegates ignored all three versions of the Connecticut plan until July 16, when they decided to split the composition of the two chambers. Members of the House of Representatives would each represent the same amount of constituents (that number now averages 720,000) and each state would be represented by the same number of senators.

Madison and four other delegates gathered the next morning, July 17, to discuss the July 16 decision. They found no takers to reconsider the Connecticut Compromise, which was formalized in Article 1 of the Constitution. Most delegates, displeased with the final product for varying reasons, signed the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, because their choice was to persist with the status quo or formalize the governing mechanism produced by the convention.

In the Federalist Papers, Madison argued for Section 3 of Article 1, which authorizes creation of a Senate with equal representation. The Constitution was ratified by 11 of the 13 states, and Congress as we know it today convened on Wall Street in lower Manhattan on March 4, 1789. George Washington was inaugurated as our first president on April 30, 1789.

Nine states were required to ratify the Constitution, made official by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788. North Carolina and Rhode Island made it unanimous soon after the government was formed.

Washington strenuously warned against the formation of political parties in his 1796 farewell address in part because “it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” Political parties indeed emerged. After the Civil War, the political process settled into a pattern dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties.

In 2006 and 2008, voters upset with Republicans mainly had Democrats as an alternative. In 2010, Republicans benefited. Independent or third-party candidates typically divert votes from the more preferred party candidate.

The filibuster was rooted in Vice President Aaron Burr’s verbal critique of Senate rules. He singled out a Senate rule requiring the majority to cut off debate, and the Senate scrapped the rule in 1806 without replacing it. More than a century later, political pressures produced the filibuster in 1917, requiring a so-called super-majority to end debate. The filibuster carried debate to the extreme in which debate could clog up Senate business indefinitely.


A tsunami warning buoy

The upshot of these events is a dysfunctional system that in 2011 produced a possibly illegitimate Congress; cuts to a tsunami-warning system; and the criminal conviction of an impeachment leader.

The swearing-in for 433 House members of the 112th Congress was held on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 5, 2011, as two other members – Michael Fitzpatrick of Bucks County, a Philadelphia suburb, and Pete Sessions of Dallas – attended a reception a few hundred yards away, in the Capitol Visitor Center, for more than 500 of Fitzpatrick’s constituents.

As Speaker of the House John A. Boehner administered the oath of office on the House floor, Sessions and Fitzpatrick watched Boehner on live television and recited the oath without leaving the reception, at 2:15 p.m. Predictably, House parliamentarians told them they must be officially sworn in, and Boehner administered the oath of office on Thursday.

Fitzpatrick said he thought that the Jan. 5 swearing-in would be held at 2:45, not 2:15. Any situation could arise that might prevent a member of Congress from attending the swearing-in.

Their failure to show up for the oath does not by itself jeopardize the operations of Congress. The act of casting votes for six legislative measures – before taking their oath of office – could be problematic.

Because two illegitimate congressmen cast votes, can these measures be legitimate?

If Sessions and Fitzpatrick paid attention when the Constitution was recited on Thursday morning, they would have been aware of Article VI, Clause 3: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.”

Sessions and Fitzpatrick violated Clause 3 when they voted to establish the rules of the House and a 5 percent reduction in congressional office allowances, according to The Washington Post. Their votes were stricken from the Congressional Record on Friday, but was that sufficient?

This fact remains: The House passed six measures in which two illegal votes were cast for each. That could make the entire package of bills illegal. Any one of these bills which, if they need to be ratified by the Senate and signed by the president, could be illegitimate because illegal votes were cast in the first place.

Sessions even chaired a committee meeting on Thursday.

They should have arranged to be sworn in before casting any votes. It takes plenty of gall to cast votes without abiding by the constitutional requirement to be “bound by Oath or Affirmation.” They should have known better. Sessions spent the previous 14 years in Congress and Fitzpatrick was first elected in 2004, defeated two years later and elected again the preceding November.

Their allies might argue that these measures would have passed without their votes, so it is okay to maintain the results. However, the initial inclusion of these votes could taint the end result.

Congress disregarded our constitutional principles. The House took legislative action that was not legitimate. The only way to make it legitimate is to wipe the slate clean and hold the votes and the committee meeting again.

The House not only violated the Constitution when it took on those six votes. The House persists in violating the Constitution so long as it refuses to straighten out its self-inflicted mess.

This is not parsing. The law is the law is the law. If our own Congress cannot abide by the law that binds it, then our system is automatically violated.

Next excerpt – Profiles in absurdity

Historic Montgomery County PA Inauguration

— by Bonnie Squires

For the first in 140 years, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, now has two Democratic Commissioners, making the Honorable Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards the first Democrats to hold the majority posts.  In addition, both Shapiro and Richards are Jewish, another historic first for the county seat in Norristown.  Shapiro had served for years as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, once serving as Deputy Speaker, and Richards had served as chair of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Commissioners.

More after the jump.
The third county commissioner, Bruce Castor, former District Attorney, and Shapiro and Richards have all pledged to work together cooperatively for the good of the county, reversing the former board’s often public fights and accusations.  In an era of economic downturn and tax shortfalls, the commissioners will be challenged to maintain the level of civility which they displayed during the Inauguration and celebratory luncheon which followed.  In a show of good faith, Castor, the Republican, even attended the Montgomery County Democratic Committee’s luncheon, and Castor even came to the podium when the Democratic Chairman Marcel Groen invited  him to say a few words.

Remarks by the President on the Status of Efforts to Find a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction

1:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  I’m going to make a very brief statement.

    I just completed a meeting with all the congressional leaders from both chambers, from both parties, and I have to say that I thought it was a very constructive meeting.  People were frank.  We discussed the various options available to us.  Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired.

    What we decided was that staffs, as well as leadership, will be working during the weekend, and that I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that, at that point, the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are and will hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that’s necessary to get a deal done.

More after the jump.
  I want to emphasize that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  And the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues.  But, again, I thought that all the leaders here came in a spirit of compromise, in a spirit of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.  Everybody acknowledged that the issue of our debt and our deficit is something that needs to be tackled now.  Everybody acknowledged that in order to do that, Democrats and Republicans are going to be required in each chamber.  Everybody acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of August 2nd to make sure that America does not default for the first time on its obligations.  And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides, but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by the American people, creating an environment in which we can grow the economy and make sure that more and more people are being put back to work.

    So I want to thank all the leaders.  I thought it was a very constructive meeting.  And I will be seeing them back here on Sunday.  A lot of work will be done between now and then.

                       END           1:05 P.M. EDT