If there is a formula for buying a four-year trip to the Pennsylvania governor’s mansion, Tom Wolf may be privy. The former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has begun a media blitz that took him from a mere two percent at the end of November 2013 to 38 percent at the end of February 2014. Because of his personal successes, Tom Wolf has been able to contribute around $10 million to his campaign plus over three million from supporters.
The following chart from Huffington Post clearly illustrates the effects of large amounts of money in politics:
The media has been doubtless and insistent that Allyson Schwartz would be the Democratic candidate for governor, but a string of conservative votes on issues ranging NSA surveillance to food stamps effectively alienated much of the Democratic base. Although Schwartz is a big money establishment candidate herself, the increased monetary pressure from the Wolf campaign has not helped her cause.
It seems that the race for Pennsylvania governor is no longer a battle of ideas, but rather, a battle of the wallet.
Those of us who choose to engage in political activism know that cable news generally over-editorializes under the guise of straight news. Despite the rare exception, cable news channels like MSNBC tend to favor establishment candidates with name recognition over better candidates will bold ideas. While we have come to expect this sort of push from the cable news channels, the line between fact and fiction should never be crossed to better sell a candidate. After reading Max Lockie’s article on the Democrat’s 2014 push for marijuana legalization, I became convinced that MSNBC is in the tank for Allyson Schwartz, one of the Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor. Mr. Lockie claimed that Rep. Schwartz has “led the charge” on marijuana reform in Pennsylvania, a claim that could not be further from the truth.
While Allyson Schwartz may have name recognition, her gubernatorial aspirations have left a hole where her principles once resided. Perhaps that’s not a surprise, as Schwartz is a member of the least popular Congress in the history of the United States of America. The recent string of so-called “conservative” votes made by Schwartz make her look calculating not practical. For instance, Allyson Schwartz was recently the only Democrat in Pennsylvania to vote against an amendment that would have protected our Fourth Amendment rights and limited NSA surveillance of innocent American citizens.
In the case of marijuana, Rep. Schwartz appears to be making a crude attempt at shoring up yet another voting bloc (i.e. the majority of voters aged 18-49). On the issue of marijuana, Rep. Schwartz has been consistently silent until another candidate for governor, John Hanger, former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, started gaining traction with his three-part plan to regulate marijuana in Pennsylvania. NORML rates Allyson Schwartz with a -10, meaning she voted against bills like H.R. 5672, which would have prevented the use of Federal funds to block implementation of medical marijuana in several states. Recently, when a group of 18 House members wrote a letter asking President Obama to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, Schwartz elected to exclude herself from the list of signatories.
The only candidate who has been consistent on the issue of marijuana is John Hanger. Unlike Rep. Schwartz, Mr. Hanger did not cherry pick his position on marijuana based on growing grassroots support for another candidate; instead, he has been forward and transparent. John Hanger’s plan is split into three parts to ease the transition from marijuana criminalization to regulation in Pennsylvania. The first segment of his plan is to pass legislation allowing the medical community and patients access to medical marijuana. Following medical marijuana is decriminalization, and finally, taxation and regulation for adults aged 21 and older. Despite pleas from desperate parents and cancer patients, Allyson Schwartz has made a calculated decision to exclude even medical marijuana from her web site’s “On the Issues” section.
After some uproar, MSNBC changed the wording from “led the charge” to “lent her voice” which is an improvement but illustrates the establishment-centric focus pushed by the company. It’s is this type of “reporting” that has slowly pushed politically-minded Americans away from cable news and toward independent shows like The Young Turks. In Pennsylvania, the candidate for marijuana reform is John Hanger and MSNBC should have written the article to reflect that, not to merely find an excuse to give Allyson Schwartz a shout out.
The time has come to legalize and regulate marijuana in the United States. The ill effects of prohibition have plagued our citizens for much too long, promoting needless suffering by delaying necessary medical treatment and ruining lives by shuffling marijuana users through the criminal justice system. All across this country, otherwise law-abiding citizens are thrown in jail or fined for smoking a plant less addictive and less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes, and patients in non-medical marijuana states cannot obtain medicine needed to treat serious conditions like cancer and epilepsy. While removing marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is not a magic bullet, it is one step toward just and evolved marijuana laws.
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The implications of the so-called “fiscal cliff” extend far beyond temporary market fluctuations and fiscal contraction. By securing a favorable deal, President Obama not only secures a deal that economists sanction, he also secures a strong political position for future legislative battles. In his first term, President Obama began most negotiations by making various concessions only to have the Republicans drag legislation further and further to the right, well out of the mainstream of America. It seems that President Obama has learned from his political mistakes, as evidenced by his first proposal which included transferring debt limit responsibilities to the Executive Branch and mild short-term stimulus.
If President Obama signs a deal that extends the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent, it will reinforce the idea that the president can be easily pushed into caving to GOP demands. By remaining steadfast in his dedication to fulfilling this long-running campaign promise, President Obama is forcing the GOP to make a decision. Republicans can allow taxes to go up on all Americans to protect 4 cents on the dollar for two percent of Americans, or they can reasonably extend tax cuts for those making under $250K. Public sentiment is lopsided. A new poll indicates that a mere 27 percent would blame the president if a deal was not reached, whereas more than half would blame Republicans.
At this point, the Republican Party seems more interested in securing its own demise in order to preserve ideological purity than securing its political future by appeasing the public’s desire for compromise. The result of their misplaced priorities has been a public display of division. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has urged other Republicans to take Obama’s deal, whereas pro-Republican special interest groups have threatened primary challenges, massive ad buys, among other things. If President Obama is able to achieve something close to his initial proposal, which represents an important balance between revenue and spending, he will have successfully tempered the fringe’s influence on the Republican Party giving him an edge in future negotiations. It will also represent a victory for the American people, who largely support President Obama’s proposal.
The Republican Party ignores the will of the people at their own peril. Ignoring the outcome of a decisive election will likely prove disastrous for a party already dealing with the reality of America’s changing demographics.
Today, I came across an article written by Fred Barnes called “Same Old Obama.” It was one of the featured articles on RealClearPolitics meaning it will likely garner quite a bit of attention. The article claims that President Obama is being partisan by touting tax rate increases for the top two percent of earners. Mr. Barnes attempts to make his point by saying:
The voters, he said, endorsed the idea, in effect giving him a mandate. The majority of voters agreed with me, Obama told reporters. “By the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”
According to the exit poll, that’s not true. It found that 47 percent of voters prefer to raise taxes only on the wealthy. Obama got 51 percent of the total national vote.
While it is true that President Obama garnered 51 percent of the popular vote, Mr. Barnes is wrong about the exit poll numbers. It should be stated that Mr. Barnes does not source any of his information, but the number he mentioned matches only the CNN exit poll. Exit polling conducted by CNN found three things:
The CNN exit poll did find that 47 percent of Americans believe that tax rates should be increased for the top two percent, but it also found that 13 percent of Americans believe that tax rates should be raised for everyone. In the end, the CNN exit poll found that 60 percent of Americans want taxes to go up on the wealthy, at the very least.
It is quite clear that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents agree that taxes should go up on the top two percent. Mr. Barnes should correct his article to reflect the facts and the will of the American people.
Rachel Maddow had a great segment describing Super Tuesday exit poll results, which showed that increased voter participation among the rich pushed Mitt Romney over the edge. Maddow showed that Romney lost in every other income bracket in Ohio and Michigan.
“I’m not concerned about the very poor,” said Mitt Romney.
What a statement! These polls merely add to the pile of evidence that suggests Mitt Romney is just another rich guy looking out for the rich. If lower and middle class voters feel that Romney does not share their values, they will vote for the other guy. That’s exactly what we are seeing here. The dynamic between the 99% and 1% has never been more stark.
Let’s face it. In the end, this is an election driven by monied interests, and super-secret Super PAC money. It’s merely a playground for a guy like Romney, someone who feels entitled, that the safety net catches all of “our poor,” that “corporations are people,” and that dogs like being strapped to the roof in a kennel.
What’s going on America?
Editorializing would be a waste of time. The videos featured below speak for themselves.