Happy Thanksgiving from PA Democratic HQ

I wanted to share just a few of the things we’re thankful for over here at the PA Dems headquarters:

Governor Tom Wolf: From expanding Medicaid and granting 350,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians access to quality, affordable healthcare, to enacting online voter registration and making the ballot box more accessible– Governor Wolf wasted no time getting to work to put Pennsylvania back on track.

President Barack Obama: Thanks to President Obama, our nation has seen 68 consecutive months of private sector job growth and unemployment at its lowest point in seven years. We’re also really grateful for the time the President dropped the mic at this year’s State of the Union address.

Our candidates: Democrats ran great races across Pennsylvania this past November. We’re thankful for our historic Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Commonwealth Court sweep, as well as the county and municipal pickups. 

YOU! Most of all, we’re grateful for the hard work and dedication you’ve put in supporting the Democratic cause and helping elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We couldn’t have done this without you.

This has been a great year for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and we’re so glad to have you on our team—so from our Democratic family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you,

Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Happy Thanksgiving

email from Governor Tom Wolf, 11/26/15:

Most folks know that the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution were all drafted in our commonwealth.

But many Pennsylvanians may not realize that our country’s very first Thanksgiving was proclaimed by the Continental Congress in my hometown of York.

In October of 1777, the Continental Army defeated the British at the Battle of Saratoga, a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. Our Founding Fathers, who were gathered in York because the British occupied Philadelphia, issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation on November 1 to give thanks for the victory at Saratoga, and among other things, to count education as a blessing for its importance in our democracy:

“schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety.”

I agree with our Founding Fathers: a strong education is necessary for a free society to prosper — and that’s why I’ve stood my ground and insisted that the Legislature pass a budget that restores funding for Pennsylvania schools. Continue reading

Anti-Muslim Is Anti-American

by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, 11/23/15

There seems to be no bottom to the cesspool of Islamophobic rhetoric coming from Republican candidates.

The tone of anti-Muslim musings post-Paris attack has become so poisonous that it cannot portend anything positive.

In the latest, the Republican front-runner said the United States would have “absolutely no choice” but to close some mosques. And, when asked by a reporter, he seemed to suggest he wouldn’t have a problem registering Muslims, which many have condemned, comparing it to the way Jews were once treated. (After heavy bipartisan criticism, he tried to walk back his remarks about the registry.)

And then Dr. Ben Carson drew a tortured parallel between Syrian refugees, who are mostly Muslim, and “a rabid dog running around your neighborhood.”

Robert McCaw, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera that Carson’s remarks were “unthinkable,” saying, “There is only one thing you do with a rabid dog — and that’s put it down.

Indeed, this is the problem with reckless, racist rhetoric: Each utterance tosses one more log onto the bonfire that can burn out a space for the unimaginable….

keep reading and see links at New York Times

Have you no sense of decency, Sir?

by Joe Sestak (email, 11/20/15)

If you have seen my editorials or TV appearances this week, based upon my military experience I’ve been focusing on how we must change our strategy to defeat ISIS for our security.

But there is something that I’m equally concerned about based upon that military experience in defending our ideals: public leaders who are undermining America’s founding principles by condemning those of another faith.

When I was Captain of the USS Samuel B. Roberts, a Muslim sailor new to the ship asked me if there was a private room where he could pray at times during the day. My head pilot immediately offered up his own office for the sailor to use – the pilot didn’t characterize the sailor by religion, but as just a fellow sailor, one of us.

I would have laid down my life for the Muslim sailors I served with – as for any Jewish, Christian, Sikh, or non-believing shipmates. They would have done the same for me.

I know people are concerned about terrorists and the security of America, but I was stunned to hear Senator Pat Toomey say we should refuse entry to Syrian refugees unless “we know with certainty that the person is a Christian.” Continue reading

How We’re Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety

by Amy Pope, Whitehouse.gov, 11/17/15

The President’s number one priority — and my focus every day — is the safety and security of the American people. At the President’s direction, bolstered by a global coalition of 65 partners, we are taking the fight to ISIL — working together to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group.

The tragic event in Paris last week was a horrific attack on humanity, but we have always said that defeating an enemy as dangerous and determined as ISIL will be a long fight. Now, even as we intensify our efforts in coordination with our partners to take ISIL out, we cannot turn our backs on those most threatened by the terrorist group.

The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that occurred in Paris. To slam the door in their faces — to decide not to help when we know that we can help — would be a betrayal of our values. It would be un-American.

That’s why, once it was concluded that we can do it safely, the President announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year. We remain steadfastly committed to that plan because it is consistent with our values and our national security….

keep reading at Whitehouse.gov

East Whiteland Election Results Analysis

by Bill Holmes, East Whiteland Dems, 11/18/15

For the third consecutive Township Supervisor election, a Democratic Supervisor candidate has won a hard fought contest. The last 2 Supervisor races have been decided by less than a 1% margin. These small margins reinforce what we have been communicating to voters in recent elections – each vote matters!

Generally speaking, Democratic candidates did well in East Whiteland. Here are some of the highlights in the township.

All of the Supreme Court candidates outperformed their opponents and captured nearly 55% of the overall votes.

Court of Common Pleas judicial candidate Julia Malloy-Good won East Whiteland with nearly 54% of the vote.

County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone was the top vote getter for the County Commissioner’s race. It should be noted that this is the first time that a Democratic candidate for a county row office seat has won in East Whiteland.

These results reflect the hard work of our Committee people and volunteers. Once again we have demonstrated that grassroots efforts can make it a difference. Please consider getting involved as there are plenty ways to volunteer.

How to bridge the school funding gap?

Editorial, Delco Times, 11/16/15

Debate about funding education in Pennsylvania was the driving force to the election of Gov. Tom Wolf and the subsequent stalemate in getting a state budget passed.

Now, with reforms and potentially more money on the horizon for schools, there remains a concern even with more funding, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

A recent study by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, titled “Undermining Educational Opportunity,” showed that “bottom line, the funding cuts hurt most the students who could least afford it, and continue to do so,” said Stephen Herzenberg, director of both the policy center and the Keystone Research Center.

“Pennsylvania ranks as the worst state in the nation for funding inequality between its wealthiest and poorest school districts, with the spending gap per student between these two groups more than double the national average,” education analyst Waslala Miranda, the author of the study, wrote.

The study analyzed funding cuts to schools in the first year of Gov. Tom Corbett’s term, blamed on the removal of federal stimulus grants, followed by restoration of funding in 2013-14….

keep reading at Delco Times

Joe Sestak: U.S. must change strategy toward Islamic State

by Joe Sestak, Allentown Morning Call, 11/17/15

Twin terrorist bombings in Beirut; an explosion in Ankara; a Russian plane brought down in Egypt; and 129 dead in Paris. All this after the death of up to 17,000 Iraqis and the dislocation of millions of Syrians within the caliphate that the Islamic State, or ISIS, first brutally established in eastern Syria and western Iraq. In the latest U.S. response, 50 Special Forces were sent to Syria.

ISIS is certainly a threat as an international terrorist organization — but it is more than that, something much more consequential. ISIS is an aspiring rogue state that now occupies land the size of Belgium and controls a population of 6 million, equivalent to Norway’s.

Accordingly, this demands a different U.S. strategic approach than the 50 Special Forces represent.

With reported assets of $2 billion and an annual revenue flow of $600 million, ISIS’ diverse financial portfolio runs from oil field profits to taxes, ransom to theft. The revenue flows into governmental institutions overseen by administrative bureaucracies that run judicial and law enforcement systems, along with providing state services….

keep reading at Allentown Morning Call