Pennsylvania has become a state with a significant majority of voters registered as Democratic. Yet, our Congressional delegation, state Senate and state House of Representatives are all at least 60% Republican. A substantial part of the explanation to this is an adroit political redistricting: "packing" (squeezing the opposition's votes into a few districts) and "cracking" (splitting pockets of opposition voters into separate districts where they cannot form a majority) to preserve the dominant party.
Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, "The Hope of Israel," is the oldest Jewish congregation in the city of Philadelphia, and the second oldest congregation in the United States. It dates its roots back to 1740 when Nathan Levy, upon the death of his child, applied for a grant of land at 9th and Spruce Streets from Thomas Penn, Proprietor of Pennsylvania, to consecrate as a Jewish burial ground.
Political satirist Steven Colbert gets to "better know" Rep. Matt Cartwright (D PA-17). They discuss marriage equality, crayons, immigration and the powerful Bike Caucus. Cartwright represents Easton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania).
A bill was introduced by State Representative Brendan Boyle. The bill would amend the Public School Code of 1949 to require all public and nonpublic schools in Pennsylvania to include in their existing curriculum age-appropriate education for grades 6-12 on the Holocaust and other
The bill in the Education Committee and is coming up for a vote on April 8. We are urging everyone to contact Mr. Paul Clymer (chair of the Education Committee) He can be contacted by calling tel. 717-783-3154. Please leave a message indicating you support the bill. Also have your friends and relatives do likewise.
Just before US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel and the PA, the official PA daily chose to print anti-American hate speech along with pro-Hitler comments in an op-ed:
Our history is replete with lies... [including] the lie about Al-Qaeda and the September 11 events, which asserted that Muslim terrorists committed it, and that it was not an internal American action by the Freemasons.
The op-ed further implies that Hitler was greater than both Churchill and Roosevelt, who were "alcoholics":
Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels' wings.
$27 million was raised Tuesday night at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner where over 1,400 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country gathered at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to demonstrate their love and support for the soldiers of Israel. FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark was the chair of the Gala, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley served as the evening's Master of Ceremonies.
A special delegation from the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region participated in the Gala event. Among the delegation members was the Executive Director of the FIDF Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey Region, Tzvia Wexler.
A large and exceptionally well-preserved ancient Roman floor mosaic, discovered in Lod, Israel, in 1996, and excavated in 2009, makes its final United States stop at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia before traveling to the Louvre in Paris and eventually, to a new museum being built just for it in Israel. Unearthing a Masterpiece: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel opens at the Penn Museum February 10, at 1:00 pm, for a run through May 19, 2013.
The exhibition opening begins at 1:00 pm Sunday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Dr. C. Brian Rose, Mediterranean Section Curator-in-Charge and content expert for the exhibition, draws guests into the process of "Deciphering the Lod Mosaic" at a 2:00 pm talk. A Family Second Sunday Workshop, "Marvelous Mosaics," invites guests of all ages to discover the many mosaics in the Penn Museum's collection, and create an original mosaic in the walk-in workshop from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
No, the award-winning actor and star of Broadway and film, Hugh Jackman, is not Jewish, as far as we know, but we could not resist including him, backed up by maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin, on the stage of the Academy of Music.
— article and all photos by Bonnie Squires
When the Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra held their annual Concert and Ball on Saturday, January 26, 2013, Jewish philanthropists and supporters of the arts were prominent on the scene. Their businesses, corporations, and family foundations were listed and depicted in the gorgeous program journal, where charities, schools, colleges, and other worthwhile community endeavors are photographed and sponsored.
The volunteers and executives in charge of the mammoth event were far-seeing enough to have booked Hugh Jackman as the main talent far in advance of his nominations for his role in "Les Miserables," for the Golden Globe award (which he won), the SAG award and the Academy Award. Jackman's energy and passion in rendering numbers from shows he has performed in, like "Carousel," as well as his role as Jean Valjean, inspired maestroYannick Nezet-Seguin and the orchestra to match Jackman's verve.
The Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia will mark its 17th year next month, March 2-17. The aim of the festival is enriching the American vision of Israeli culture and society through film. A slate of feature films and documentaries were selected with a goal of providing a diverse and impartial reflection of Israel. The program includes feature films, dramas, comedies and documentaries that are award-winning and have received wide recognition both in Israel and abroad.
Click on each event for more details and a trailer.
The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a tragedy that has been a jarring reminder of the disturbing prevalence of gun violence in our country and culture. Our outrage has stirred us from our complacency and we will not wait for the next atrocity to finally act.
As the nation mourns, we must also look forward and dedicate ourselves to preventing a future massacre. Yet, despite the media attention given to such mass shootings, we must remember that nearly 1200 Pennsylvanians lose their lives, and thousands are injured due to gun violence every year. Nationally, over 31,000 people die from gun violence each year. If the civil rights movement was the moral issue of the '60s for our community, eradication of gun violence in our society ought to be the moral issue of our time.
The best year in review piece I've seen came from Dave Barry. You can read it here, and you really should. Where else could you see gems like this:
In labor news, Chicago teachers go on strike over controversial proposed contract changes that would allow the school board to terminate teachers who have passed away. Meanwhile, the NFL comes under increasing pressure to settle the referee strike following a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans in which the replacement refs call four balks and three traveling violations, and ultimately declare that the winner is the Green Bay Packers. At the end of the month the strike is settled, and the replacement refs move on to their new role as Florida elections officials.
HARRISBURG, PA - The minimum wage will increase in 10 states on Jan. 1, modestly boosting the incomes of nearly 1 million low-paid workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
The minimum wage rates in those states will rise between 10 and 35 cents per hour, resulting in an extra $190 to $510 per year for the average directly-affected worker. Rhode Island's minimum wage will rise as a result of a law signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in June; the remaining nine states will raise their minimum wages in accordance with state laws requiring automatic annual adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
Members of the electoral college met today in all fifty state capitals and the District of Columbia to officially cast their votes for President and Vice-President of the United State. Here are some highlights from Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.
"What! No write-in votes for me?" — State Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA).
"I will quote loosely Vice-President Biden: 'This is a.... uh... big deal.'" — State Party Chairman Rod Smith (D-FL)
Arizona Public Radio reports that the state's electors cast their ballots for Romney — but not before three of them said questions remain about whether Barack Obama was born in this country. "I'm not satisfied with what I've seen. I think for somebody in the president's position to not have produced a document that looks more legitimate, I have a problem with that." — State Party Chairman Tom Morrissey (R-AZ)
More than five weeks after election day, almost all the presidential votes have been counted. Here's what the near-final tally reveals: The election really wasn't close."
In the weeks since the election, as states have completed their counts, Obama's margin has grown steadily. From just over 2 percentage points, it now stands at nearly 4. Rather than worry about the Bush-Kerry precedent, White House aides now brag that Obama seems all but certain to achieve a mark hit by only five others in U.S. history - winning the presidency twice with 51% or more of the popular vote
— by Antoinette Krauss, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
The Affordable Care Act was written to give states the flexibility to operate their own state-based exchanges and be the innovators of health care reform. Regrettably, Governor Corbett chose to reject this opportunity and instead handed the development of this new marketplace to the federal government.
Either way, Pennsylvania families and small businesses will finally have access to quality, affordable coverage through this new marketplace on January 1st , 2014. Pennsylvania's health insurance exchange will assure folks have high quality choices at affordable prices, and an easier time finding and purchasing coverage. It will bring stability, certainty and security to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Through the establishment of this new marketplace, and by accepting the new federal funding to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, Pennsylvania can cover up to 1 million residents who are uninsured today. The Affordable Care Act remains on track to bring security and peace of mind to Pennsylvania families.
We urge Governor Corbett to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop Pennsylvania's Health Insurance Marketplace and to accept Federal dollars available to strengthen our current Medicaid program.
That was Bibi's response to the UN General Assembly's vote to give the Palestinians a non-member observer state status. But having the 'right' does not obligate nor does it necessitate exercising that right.
Guy Raz (Host of NPR News' All Things Considered): Before the break, we heard from Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on what an upgraded status at the U.N. means for the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the U.S. strongly opposed that resolution. We asked Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, why his government sees it as a threat.
Michael Oren (Israeli Ambassador to the US): Because it represents an end run to the peace process. You know, the Palestinian Authority signed on agreements with Israel that said that there'd be no alternative to direct negotiations. The only way to reach a two-state solution for two people was for Israelis and Palestinians to sit and to work out the very complex issues between us. If you just run to the U.N. and declare that you're a state, you get the territory without giving the peace, you really haven't advanced the peace process. You've set it back.
Those are also violations of the Palestinians commitments to the United States. The United States is cosignatory to these agreements that say that there's no alternative to direct negotiations, and that's why President Obama also opposed the Palestinian move in the United Nations.
With Israel's announcement that it plans to proceed with construction in Area E-1, east of Jerusalem, earlier falsehoods about that land reemerge. Thus, Ha'aretz reports that construction in E-1
would effectively bisect the West Bank and sever the physical link between the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem.
Similarly, the New York Times reports:
Construction in E1, in West Bank territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war, would connect the large Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem, dividing the West Bank in two. The Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem would be cut off from the capital, making the contiguous Palestinian state endorsed by the United Nations last week virtually impossible.
So is it true that construction in E-1 would bisect the West Bank, and severing Palestinian contiguity, and cutting off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem? The answer is no. As CAMERA pointed out in 2005 (The Contiguity Double Standard):
Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank would be no more cut off with the so-called E-1 corridor than would Israeli contiguity if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, even with slight modifications.
Here's why. First, take a look at this map of the region.
The UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to the status of non-member observer state. As a result of the 138-9 vote (with 41 abstentions), "Palestine" now has the same status as the Vatican at the UN. Click here for the text of the resolution.
Abba Eban said many years ago that "If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions." Sadly, he wasn't that far off.
The UN vote to upgrade Palestine's status dealt a blow to the peace process. Abbas must negotiate with Israel, not the UN. No viable solution can be imposed by outside parties. The question now is how to move forward toward a two-state solution given this unfortunate and counterproductive action.
President Obama again stood firmly with Israel, and the US was one of the few countries to vote with Israel.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice is pro-Israel and is qualified to be Secretary of State.
Stevie Wonder bowed to anti-Israel pressure and backed out of a commitment to perform at a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces event. It's his right to make a statement. It's our right to make a statement by not supporting artists who don't support Israel.
Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Following UN General Assembly Vote on Palestinian Observer State Status Resolution
For decades, the United States has worked to help achieve a comprehensive end to the long and tragic Arab-Israeli conflict. We have always been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.
That remains our goal, and we therefore measure any proposed action against that clear yardstick: will it bring the parties closer to peace or push them further apart? Will it help Israelis and Palestinians return to negotiations or hinder their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable agreement? Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it.
(Update from US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland:
The Secretary met for more than two hours this evening in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, National Security Advisor and other officials. They briefed her on the situation in Gaza and the threat posed by continuing rocket fire to Israeli cities and towns. The Secretary offered condolences for the Israeli citizens killed and wounded in attacks today and over the past several days.
They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel's security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza. They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation. They pledged to stay in close touch as she continues her travels.
- promoted by Publisher)
Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.
Last week, Americans voted not just for President but also for their Representatives and Senators. Results were mixed. In the Presidential election, Obama edged out Romney in both the Electoral College (332 to 206) and in the popular vote (51% to 48%). In the Senate, Democrats overcame all odds and not only held onto but actually expanded their majority. However, in the House of Representatives, Democrats only picked up 4-8 seats out of the 25 seats they needed to retake control of the House. (Four seats remain undecided: AZ-2, CA-7, CA-52 and LA-2.)
Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH-2) took solace in keeping the House. "We'll have as much of a mandate as he [President Obama] will to not raise taxes."
How is that the same electorate shows up at the polls and hands victories to the GOP in the House and to Obama and the Democrats in the Senate?
In fact, Boehner is wrong. There was no mandate for the Republicans to keep control of the House. In fact, a majority of Americans voted for a Democrat to represent them in the House of Representatives. According to Dan Keating at the Washington Post:
Democratic candidates for the House got 54,301,095 votes (48.8%) while
Republican candidates for the House got 53,822,442 votes (48.5%).
But if that is the case, why did more Republicans get elected than Democrats?
What saved Boehner's majority wasn't the will of the people but the power of redistricting. As my colleague Dylan Matthews showed, Republicans used their control over the redistricting process to great effect, packing Democrats into tighter and tighter districts and managing to restructure races so even a slight loss for Republicans in the popular vote still meant a healthy majority in the House.
In most states where Republicans controlled redistricting, the Democrats' share of House seats was far beneath their share of the presidential vote. (Dylan Matthews)
That's a neat trick, but it's not a popular mandate, or anything near to it - and Boehner knows it. That's why his first move after the election was to announce, in a vague-but-important statement, that he was open to some kind of compromise on taxes.
For example, here in Pennsylvania, the Republicans control the Governor's mansion, the State House and the State Senate, and they used their control to gerrymander the state so that while the Democrats got a majority of the votes (53%) they only took 5 out of 18 seats (28%). They do so by packing Democratic super-majorities into a few districts. Brady won PA-1 with 85.0% of the vote, and Fattah won PA-2 with 89.4%. These huge margins represent wasted votes that potentially could have elected additional Democrats had the districts been drawn differently.
In this video, a Pennsylvania voter shows how the voting machine misinterpreted Obama votes as Romney votes.
I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.
I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said "It's nothing to worry about, everything will be OK." and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.
Meanwhile, in one precinct in Wynnewood, according to NPR, voters were turned away if they did not have photo id despite a Pennsyvlania Supreme Court ruling staying implementation of that law.
On Wednesday, State Rep. Babette Josephs will be discussing the problems encountered in last weeks election. As the President said in his victory speech Tuesday night,
Pennsylvania teens too young to vote are voicing their opinions Nearly 100 Jewish teens go to Ohio to participate in the Election
— by Carly Lundy Schacknies
They can't yet cast a ballot, but that isn't stopping Claire Akers, Jessica Cohen, Rachel Ellis, Hannah Frank, Kassidy Garcia, Emily Gorby, Micah Rabin, Danielle Salisbury, and Jeremy Witchel from Pittsburgh, Jack Mangurten from New Kensington, Marissa Snyder from Upper Saint Clair, Ellie Sullum from Clark Summit, and Johanna Ure from Wyomissing and the nearly 100 Jewish teen leaders from across the country from getting involved in the political process on November 5 - 7, 2012. They are attending BBYO, Inc's program, Voice Your Vote: An Issue Summit on the 2012 Election and Civic Responsibility, in Cleveland, Ohio.
On Election Day, the teens will choose their preferred candidate and will hit the campaign trail to advocate. BBYO has worked with the Romney Ryan and Obama Biden campaigns to assign the teens to some of Cleveland's busiest polling locations.
Let me make myself clear: President Obama will win Pennsylvania, and Mitt Romney's attempt to make a play for this state is more of a sign of desperation on his part than anything else. This is part of the old Republican playbook. They tried a last ditch attempt to expand the electoral base in 2008 when they were losing Ohio, Iowa, Florida and other traditional battleground states. Mitt Romney ignored Pennsylvania over the course of the last two years, and didn't ask Pennsylvanians for their vote. A week of advertising won't change that.
Tom Corbett and Carol Aichele are at it again. They've launched a page on the PA Voter site so you can report voter fraud. It's even uglier than it sounds. You can click on it here, but before you do, be warned, if you do, Tom and Carol are going to track YOU!
Notice: This website monitors and captures ISP information. By visiting this site, you consent to such monitoring.
Right above that warning is information about your internet connection: where you are, your IP address and your area code.
Here's what they're looking for:
This online election complaint form is provided for registered voters in Pennsylvania to submit a complaint to the voter’s county board of elections and/or district attorney. The site is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections in Pennsylvania. However, the Department of State has no authority to investigate or prosecute alleged election law violations.
Information submitted with this complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate authorities for possible use in future investigations and/or prosecutions.
So basically, they have no fraud here, they don't expect any, they won't go after anyone if there's some information provided, but they want you to look high and low and report it.
While we await a final ruling on Pennsylvania's Voter ID law, we must assume the worse and try to mitigate the damage by minimizing the number of voters disenfranchised by the law.
(JSPAN) The Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition is continuing to canvass for residents who do not have photo identification that meets the new requirements to vote on election day. The Coalition is transporting those people to Department of Motor Vehicles license centers to apply for the necessary ID. You can volunteer to help by phone banking, joining the canvass, providing transportation, or greeting and assisting people at the license centers. - Ed.
Former Congressman Tom Periello (D VA-5), President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, spoke to a gathering of activists at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
In conversation before the meeting, participants discussed natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and its environmental issues.
Periello addressed the activists, "I know all of you are community leaders, and you have various outlets where you can be heard. we not only want to give Pennsylvania-specific (statistics) about this election, but also the methodology behind them."
The Republican Jewish Coalition flew and bused volunteers to campaign yesterday Sunday, September 9 and today Monday, September 10 in three metropolitan areas:
Philadelphia and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
South-Eastern Florida, and
Ron Kampeas reports that this is part of a $6,500,000 microtargeting campaign funded in part by gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (pictured right at the RJC "Friends of Israel" reception at the Republican National Convention).
Ohio (1.3% Jewish) and Florida (3.4% Jewish) are once again battleground states and are being hotly contested by the Romney and Obama campaigns. Pennsylvania (2.3% Jewish) has traditionally been a swing state, but lately it has been considered fairly safe for the Democrats, and accordingly Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers' Super-PACs "Restore Our Future", "Crossroads GPS" and "Americans for Prosperity" all announced last week that they were pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan and concentrating their ad buys on more competitive states. We asked the RJC why they were skipping Nevada which is a very competitive state with a 2.8% Jewish population the most of any swing-state other than Florida, but Stu Sandler and Bill Wanger had no comment. (See comment posted below.)
The RJC invited us to observe their outreach effort in work in our area. Local members of the RJC were joined by supporters bused in from Bethesda, Maryland and the New York area. Some volunteers flew in from as far away as California. In all about 400 Republicans were assembled at the Radisson Valley Forge Casino Resort.
During the breakfast, RJC leaders and volunteers were all eager to share the views with us. One deplored a "certain strain of the Jewish community that cares more about the Democratic party than about Israel." I asked if she was referring to extreme elements of the grassroots or about any particular elected officials, and she cited Rep. Alysson Schwartz as an example saying
Allyson Schwartz will be a Democrat [sic] believer until the day she dies even if they start wearing brown shirts
(a reference to the color of the uniforms of the Strumabteilung which played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power). Other members of the crowd echoed Lynne's contempt for the Democratic Congresswomen and cited DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Former Rep. Robert Wexler, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro as "traitor to their faith."
I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms with Lynne Lechter, Republican Committeewoman in Lower Merion and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly (shown right at the National Women's Committee of the RJC at the Green Valley County Club in 2009). Asked about the Republican platform which echoes Rep. Todd Akin's support for a blanket ban on abortions without any exception for rape or incest, Ms. Lechter said that to her "platforms are not relevent. People don't always agree with everything in the platform." However, she felt that the original Democratic platform "underscored the hatred of Democrats for religion and Israel."
The 22nd annual Stu Bykofsky Candidates' Comedy Night, a benefit for Variety, the children's charity, was held this evening at Finnegan's Wake. Since this is primarily a political blog I didn't take notes on the speakers who aren't running for office. As always, this is not intended to be an exact transcript, just rough notes I took at the event. It would be impossible to capture every joke, especially the longer, more involved story jokes, but I made an effort to provide some idea of each candidate's routine.
In anticipation of the new restaurant, please join us for an exciting Food Series featuring the engaging, creative and funny wisdom of Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and the culinary talent and skill of the chefs of Citron and Rose, Michael Solomonov and Yehuda Sichel.
First part of the series for Rosh Hashanah follows the jump.
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