Saturday, April 22, 2006

PA Senate Race in The New York Times

EXTRA! EXTRA! The New York Times mentions the existence of Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals! Tomorrow's edition of The New York Times will publish an article by Robin Toner about the Pennsylvania US Senate race entitled "Pennsylvania Senate Race Tests Democrats' New Abortion Tack."

Toner does a pretty good job of discussing Democratic dilemma of Bob Casey:
National party leaders recruited him [Casey] for this Senate campaign, despite his position on abortion, because they believed he was the strongest potential challenger to Mr. Santorum. With that, they established a high-stakes test: can the Democratic Party, nationally and in the state, rally its abortion-rights base for a candidate who disagrees?
All of this has been said before. Unfortunately, Toner essentially treats Casey's victory in the primary as a forgone conclusion--sigh. Out of the entire article, she devotes six whole sentences to Casey's challengers.
Not everyone is on board; there is still anger and resistance to the Casey candidacy among some Democrats, which bubbled over in a Democratic primary debate here on Wednesday night. Alan Sandals, a pension lawyer challenging Mr. Casey for the Democratic nomination in the May 16 primary, has argued that abortion rights are under siege and that the party must not waver in its defense. Mr. Sandals was recently endorsed by the National Organization for Women. Chuck Pennacchio, another candidate in the primary, has assailed the party's national establishment for anointing Mr. Casey in defiance of what Mr. Pennacchio asserts Pennsylvania Democrats really want. Both candidates sharply criticized Mr. Casey on Wednesday for his endorsement of the Supreme Court nominations of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. "Be brave, Bob," Mr. Sandals admonished.

Toner's article is written from Lancaster in the aftermath of the second primary debate. Apparently, she wasn't in attendance that night. Nowhere does she mention the drubbing that Bob Casey took during that debate. Nowhere does she mention that Chuck Pennacchio's supporters outnumbered Casey's by 4-1 and Sandals' by 10-1. She sets up Sandals as the pro-choice alternative to Casey and gives Pennacchio third wheel status with a one sentence mention as "the other guy." By the way Ms. Toner, NOW PAC endorsed Sandals, not NOW. There are many furious NOW members who were not consulted for their PAC's endorsement. Sorry if Chuck--who is adamantly pro-choice--didn't roll over for NOW PAC's money, but Sandals was for parental consent before he was against it.

Toner could have done more to explain who these candidates are and how they differ from Casey, but--optimist that I am--seeing Chuck's name in the Times makes me smile.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pennacchio on Living Wage and Immigration

As I mentioned in my last post, I was a little confused by Chuck's comment during the debate that an American living wage could leverage foreign nations to slow the pace of illegal immigration. It seemed a bit out of left field at the time. Dr. Paul Durrenberger of The Centre Countians for Chuck Pennacchio clears it up:
Good work on the coverage in the blog…I’d disagree on only one thing…chuck’s bit on living wage and world-wide wages—the dilemma this guy faces is that he really does understand this stuff as a complex series of relationships, but it’s not easy to get all that into a 2 minute statement—hell, try giving an academic paper in 15 minutes when you’ve just figured out how to explain the whole world—anyway—I saw that as maybe tripping him up—he may have too much respect for his audience, but he won’t talk down to them or simplify for them—so the deal is like this—u.s. pays living wage and then in trade agreements sets terms for other countries to be our trading partners—instead of opening the whole world to corporations w/ world bank help, the idea is a bilateral agreement w/ each country—that would specify that they have to meet environmental rules, human rights rules, labor rights rules—and here the u.s. is a big offender--, and guarantee living wages—here also u.s. is offender. So if the u.s. leads the way, and demands trading partners follow, that brings everyone up—rather than making a race to the bottom as we have now w/ the wal-martization of everything—and walmart controlling retail markets to the extent that they can demand suppliers reduce their wholesale prices, and then manufacturers pushing that down as repressive labor policies in their countries (e.g. china, Columbia) and paying poverty wages. So current system is race to bottom; chuck’s alternative is to that u.s. sets the floor for wellbeing of working people. epd
Actually, this make a whole lot of sense. Thanks Paul.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Debate

Phew...I've just returned to State College from the debate in Lancaster. So what is the verdict? Bob Casey sucks as much in person as he does on paper. Casey was awful--really awful. Maybe Casey looked better on TV, but in person he seemed uncharasmatic, inarticulate, and just plain dull. Unlike both Pennacchio and Sandals, Bob Casey didn't say anything of great substance. He just spent the majority of his time talking about Rick Santorum. Even when Chuck or Sandals critically indicted him on an issue, Casey just blathered on about how Rick Santorum votes with the Bush administration 98% of the time. Hello? Bobbie? Did you forget that this was a primary debate? Until this point, I've based my distaste for Casey on his stated positions. Now, I can tack on an utter lack of personal magnetism.

Both Pennacchio and Sandals' websites have declared victory. So who won the debate? Well, it's tough to say, but one thing remains certain: Bob Casey lost. I'm not basing that soley on my opinion. According to the level of crowd noise and everyone to whom I spoke afterward, Casey lost. No one is excited about Bob Casey, and I'm not saying that as a Pennacchio supporter. While I did talk to one woman who said that she would vote for Casey, it was only because she felt that Chuck and Sandals didn't have a chance. Be that as it may, she said her views would be best represented by Chuck Pennacchio.

I think that Pennacchio and Sandals broke even. While each offered some well-formed answers, both Sandals and Chuck gave the occasional wierd response. For example, Sandals proposed an absurd 18 month moratorium on outsourcing. That sounds nice, but how the hell is that possible. Chuck sounded a little disconnected when explaining how a US living wage could leverage other countries to reduce illegal immigration.

Chuck did much better on the Iraq issue than last time. He was the only candidate to call for Rumsfeld's resignation. Casey wanted to stay the course, Sandals wants out soon, but Chuck came across as really wanting to get out. Chuck definitely seemed like the strongest anti-war candidate. Regarding Iran and nuclear proliferation, Casey wants to keep the option of nuking Iran on the table--jackass--while Chuck argued that the US must renew the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Sandals made a weird reference to the "Axis of Evil." He was trying to make a point about Bush invading the wrong country, but ended up calling Iraq "not that evil." Now, don't get me wrong, the whole "Axis of Evil" line sounds like a cheap line from Hulk Hogan, but Sandals sounded ridiculous here. Although Saddam had no WMD, he sure as hell was a monster.

I have to admit that I liked Sandals' emphasis on the need to address global warming immediately. He also called Darfur the greatest moral issue of our time. I don't think Chuck disagrees with either issue, but credit is due to Sandals for bringing them up.

Pennacchio really hammered both Casey and Sandals on the issue of money in politics. Sandals tried to act like money doesn't influence him, but Pennacchio rebutted him for flip-flopping to get the NOW PAC endorsement. Casey kept calling himself an independent candidate (I guess a Democrat with Republican views counts as an independent), so Chuck hit Casey hard for accepting so much PAC money. Chuck kept coming back to campaign finance reform as the root problem for many issues. Career politicians don't bite the hands that feed them, and Chuck is the only candidate who accepts zero PAC and corporate dollars.

Casey was a dud, Sandals was kind of funny, but Pennacchio had passion. Chuck was really fired up. I'm hoping that he didn't sound too abrasive. I talked to people who went into the debate supporting Casey, but left voting for Chuck. I also heard from a couple that liked Sandals as a moderate choice. Many of Sandals positions are in line with Chuck's but Sandals tried hard to paint Pennacchio as unrealistic. It's kind of ridiculous, but that's Sandals' niche. In the end, I think that both Chuck and Sandals performed well, but Chuck has my vote.


CBS 3 in Philadelphia has the video of the entire debate here if you missed it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Debate Tonight

Chuck Pennacchio, Bob Casey Jr., and Alan Sandals will be debating tonight at 7:00 pm in Lancaster. Be sure to watch it on PCN tonight (PCN channel listing)! If you don't have cable, you can stream it for free, live, on the internet. I'll be there, proudly wearing my Air America Radio T-shirt!

Monday, April 17, 2006

86% Pure Nerd

I found this quiz over at Dragonball Yee. It tells you how much of a Nerd/Geek/Dork you are.
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

I am quite honored to be a "Pure Nerd," but I am a touch worried about my dork factor.
Pure Nerd
86 % Nerd, 34% Geek, 43% Dork
The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.
Take that you dorky geeks! However, I have to admit that I love their picture of the "Pure Nerd."