Politics


The Philadelphia Socialists have turned to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise money for their operations.

Here is their pitch;

Who We Are

Philly Socialists is a locally-based political organization which was founded in 2011. In that time we have become one of the leading activist organizations in Philadelphia and one of the most dynamic socialist groups in the nation, with a number of accomplishments to our name.

What We Can Do With Your Support

With your help, in 2015 we plan on:

  • Expanding our reach by organizing a new branch in the city (taking us up to three active branches in Philly).
  • Continue offering our free GED classes for working class Philadelphia residents and free English classes for non-native speakers and new residents.
  • Take on and win a number of fights defending tenants against the predations of greedy slumlords.
  • Launch an independent tenants union based on the successes we’ve had with tenant organizing among working class residents.
  • Host a number of political education events to promote socialist, proletarian and working class ideas to Philadelphia residents.
  • Maintain a presence and offer additional support to the mass protest movements which periodically spring up in the city, with a special emphasis on feminist and anti-racist solidarity.
  • Hold a block party celebration at the site of our community garden.
  • And much more!

Why We Need Your Help

To retain a resolutely independent political perspective and an orientation toward class struggle, Philly Socialists has always strived for financial independence. From the beginning, we’ve avoided taking donations from foundations, unions, political parties, nonprofit institutions, as well as businesses (big or small). This has allowed us to navigate our own course free from meddling by bigger political players.

But this also means we rely heavily on the financial support of our members and sympathizers. Our activist members make regular monthly contributions (dues) to provide us with a budget for flyers, clipboards, posters, banners, supplies, and all the other infrastructure necessary to operate a political movement.

But we also sometimes need to ask for one-time donations from our members and supporters. We keep our solicitation to a minimum, but now is one of those times we need your support. Our goal of $10,000 through this one-time fundraiser will allow us to provide small stipends to as many as three (3) part-time organizers.

Other Ways You Can Help

We’re an activist organization composed of and fighting for poor and working class people. Not everyone in our group can make a financial contribution, but everyone can do something. If you live in Philadelphia, consider getting involved in our organizing efforts; we always have something popping. If you can’t help us meet our fundraising goals and you aren’t able to get involved in our activist work, please help us spread the word and share this Indiegogo campaign with sympathetic friends.

At least they’re out in the open.

The best part of the campaign though isn’t the Philly Socialist t-shirt or the radical art that you can get in return for a contribution but for the true believers willing to contribute $5,000, the chance to have a tractor or other heavy equipment factory will be named after you.once the Revolution has occurred.

I guess the Socialists don’t see the irony in using a Capitalist tool like crowdfunding to raise money for their very anti-Capitalist goals.

Sensing that there is still an insatiable appetite for news aggregation from the right, former Drudge Report editor Joesph Curl unveiled his new Right Read site Monday according to The Huffington Post

The Maryland Republican Party is in a celebratory mood and with good reason after having won back the governor’s mansion after an 8-year run by Democrats and gains in the state house that gave them  the highest number of state delegates in their history.  They’re still in the minority by a large margin but their election showing has buoyed their hopes for the future.

That improved mood was evident at the state party convention this past weekend at the Turf Valley hotel and conference center in Howard County which was attended by approximately 300 delegates and guests as they basked in the November victories and elected party officers for a two-year term.

While there were a few contested races, there was a glitch in the voting during one of the contests when the complex formula used to calculate votes failed.

I say complex because three years ago delegates narrowly voted to approve a formula based on how the counties voted for the gubernatorial candidate.  The net effect was to reward the more Republican areas of the state with more weighted votes at the expense of heavily Democratic counties.  In essence they the out the one-man, one-vote principle and made it impossible for anyone trying to simply count votes to see how their candidate was doing.

There are 303 central committee members that are eligible to vote in a state party election.  Thanks to the convoluted formula, there are 540 point something total possible votes.

When the formula failed state party chairman Diana Waterman was left in a lurch as the person who devised the formula had left the convention and another person who could have helped couldn’t be found.  They eventually fixed the problem and voting continued, but if one-man, one vote (what a concept!) had been in place as it should have been , this problem never would have occurred.

Many of those running for office this past weekend professed their support of the return to this simpler and more logical method, but delegates have heard this before with no action being taken.

The Republican Party is on the upswing in Maryland, but this issue divides many central committees and creates rifts that will prevent the party from moving forward in a big way.  It’s not easy being a Republican in a heavily Democratic state, but the ill will among various central committees  threatens to stall further progress and the state party hierarchy needs to  get their heads out of the sand an fix this if they want to move forward as a unified party.

 

 

hogan2 (1)

Republicans in Maryland are partying today like it’s 2002, after businessman Larry Hogan beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown by a 51.5% to 46.8% margin and in the process becoming the first Republican to hold that office since Bob Ehrlich won a dozen years ago.

Hogan ran a smart campaign by focusing on jobs, taxes and the state of the Maryland economy, reminding voters that the O’Malley-Brown administration was responsible for over 40 tax increases during the last eight years and that i was time for a change which fit perfectly with his Change Maryland group which he started several years ago and served as the base for his campaign launch.

This election was much like 2002 when Ehrlich, ran against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend- who added her maiden name in an effort to try and woo voters who liked the Kennedy clan, but who was a very weak candidate much like Anthony Brown was this year.

Brown was handicapped by the tax and spend record of the Democrats and failed miserably in trying to spark any enthusiasm from the Democratic base.

Even so, the race was Browns to lose with a 2-1 registration advantage that should have all but guaranteed him a victory.

Instead he stumbled much like Townsend did by losing counties that O’Malley had either won or was competitive in his two victories.

Here were the keys to Hogan’s victory;

Baltimore County – won by 52,000 votes which is comparable to Ehrlich’s 64,000 vote margin in 2002.  In 2006 the margin was just 8,000 votes and in 2010 he lost by 1,000 votes.

Howard County- won by 5,000 votes.  Ehrlich’s margin of victory  in 2002 was 10,000, but lost Howard by less than 700 votes in 2006 and 10,000 in 2010.

Montgomery County- lost by 61,000 votes. Ehrlich lost by 67,000 in 2002, but that grew to 78,000 in 2006 and 109,000 in 2010.

By winning Baltimore and Howard and reducing the deficit in Montgomery, Hogan robbed Brown of the votes he needed to offset the traditional Republican strongholds on the Eastern shore and Western Maryland and cleared a path to victory.

Hogan was criticized by some Republicans for spending so much time and money in Montgomery County, where it’s virtually impossible for a Republican to win, but the goal wasn’t to win as much as it was to get 40% of the vote.  Hogan fell short of that with almost 37%, but that was far better than Ehrlich’s 30.5% in 2010 comparable to Ehrlich’s 38% from his winning campaign in 2002.

The Brown campaign may go down as the worst Democratic gubernatorial effort in Maryland history, as he garnered 43,00 fewer votes than Townsend- who was the standard bearer of bad campaigns until yesterday and was a whopping 275,000 votes less than O’Malley received in 2010.  All this while Hogan increased the Republican vote totals by 70,000 and was more than Ehrlich had managed to get in the last two elections.

While winning the governor’s race is a big deal in deep blue Maryland, the reality is that Hogan will be severely limited in what he can accomplish over the next four years as he still faces an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature, but any progress he makes by blocking and  slowing down ruinous Democratic policies will be a victory for all Marylanders.

Hogan

One of the biggest surprises of this election season has been the governor’s race in Maryland where Republican businessman Larry Hogan is taking on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown turning what should have been a runaway victory for the Democrats into an increasingly tight race that is attracting national attention.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Hogan, who runs a real estate firm in Anne Arundel County, served as former Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s Appointments Secretary and entered the race with probably the best name recognition among the four Republican candidates and easily won the primary as expected.

His next task was to focus on Brown and how to beat the incumbent Lt. Governor in a state where the Democrats hold more than a 2-1 registration advantage, and who also had raised millions of dollars for the race.

Rather than get bogged down in social issues which may matter to conservatives, but are poison in deep blue Maryland, Hogan chose to focus on an economic message of jobs and taxes- especially the latter since the O’Malley-Brown administration has been responsible for over 40 tax increases in their eight years in office, including a one-cent increase in the sales tax and a gas tax increase that pegs the taxes to the increase in inflation.  What a brilliant idea! Peg a tax increase to inflation-which we know will increase by some measure every year and therefore guarantee a stream of revenues to the Democratically controlled legislature forever even though taxpayers aren’t guaranteed raises to pay for the taxes.  And by the way- both the sales tax and gas tax hits the lower end of the economic scale the hardest- a group that the Democrats are supposedly the champions of.

This strategy, which the Brown campaign had dismissed is working for Hogan as Democrats who are tired of the increasing tax burden are increasingly warming up to Hogan’s message.  That forced Brown to pledge in one of the debates to not to increase taxes during his term- which voters are having a hard time believing considering his track record in Annapolis.

With the polls showing an increasingly tight race, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has put the weight of the Republican Governors Association behind Hogan with money and his endorsement.  Christie has come to Maryland to help Hogan, capping it with an appearance Sunday in Baltimore to a packed house of enthusiastic and reenergized Republicans.

While Hogan has been eating into Brown’s base, his best hope is for a scenario like 2002 when Robert Ehrlich beat incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to become the first Republican governor in Maryland in 36 years.  There are some similarities to that race with Brown, like Townsend being a weak candidate and with Democrats showing little enthusiasm for Brown.

A measure of that lack of enthusiasm are the appearances of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, which drew small crowds and those that came mainly wanted pictures of the politicians and didn’t come to hear Brown.

Brown still has the edge in this race thanks to the Democrats large registration advantage, but thanks to his weak campaign, an-off year election and early voting numbers that were designed to help the Democrats showing that they are not very interested in this race spells trouble for Brown.

Democratic apathy though will not be enough to propel Hogan to victory. Republicans must turn out to vote and the independent/unaffiliated voters-which is the fastest growing group of voters in the state also need to cast their votes for Hogan in above average numbers.

Republican voters in Maryland often complain that their vote doesn’t really matter.  While that may appear true in most years this year is different and their votes are crucial if they are serious about ending one-party rule in the state.

Hillary

Hillary Clinton, whose book tour hasn’t exactly gone as planned, defended her high college speaking fees by saying she donates those fees to charity- The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Clinton was trying to fend off criticism of the massive wealth she and Bill have accumulated since leaving the White House, when she made her comments to ABC’s Ann Compton.

All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation.

That’s generous of her. While the donated money doesn’t add to her family’s wealth it does keep them in the spotlight and advances their personal agenda which could benefit her if she decides to run for president again in 2016.

Clinton said the point of her speaking tours isn’t to collect money, but to spar debate about income equality- and based on her $200k plus speaking fees makes her the poster child for income inequality. That just shows how out of touch she really is.

Hillary’s college speaking fees have come under fire recently when students as the University of Nevada Las Vegas demanded that she turn down the $225,000 the university is scheduled to pay her for a speech in October. This has led to an investigation of Clinton’s speaking fees at other schools which has shown that she has found the college speaking circuit very lucrative.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the former Secretary of State as she has been criticized for saying that she and Bill were “dead broke” when the left the White House and struggled to pay their mortgages (plural), and that they weren’t “truly rich,” despite earning over $100 million since 2001.

In 2012, the Democrats made a big deal of Mitt Romney’s vast wealth, but at least he built businesses and created jobs. Hillary’s wealth has been created by writing books and giving speeches,- not exactly something that benefits the middle class and gets Americans working again.

The annual conservative lovefest is concluding today and I can’t help but feel that the conference which is now in its 42nd year is beginning to lose its luster.

There were a lot of changes this year, some seen, some unseen by the attendees, but all signaling that the conference may be running into trouble and that its long-term future may be in danger.

One of the biggest changes was that CPAC hired an outside company to handle the sponsorships and exhibits this year. With that change also came a large increase in fees for organizations to participate.

Even though the fees had been on a steady march upward they were still considered affordable by most of the organizations that I spoke with.  But this year the minimum fee to co-sponsor increased from $5,000 to $18,000.  After some howls of protest, the minimum fee was lowered to $9,000, which is still an 80% increase in one year and slightly above the rate of inflation.

Not only that, because of rumored financial issues, CPAC eliminated the Thursday night dinner and replaced it with a smaller event, decreasing the value of a sponsorship since sponsors received tickets to an albeit overpriced dinner.

CPAC also reserved fewer meeting rooms for sponsors, explaining that it was a hotel decision since they needed the rooms for other groups.  But I know that wasn’t true because a check with the hotel a few weeks before found that there were at least three meeting rooms available that weren’t part of the CPAC block.

Exhibitors this year were also subjected to newer and tighter access rules to the exhibit hall, with each exhibitor being given just two passes for their staff and with every badge being checked scrupouslly at the doors by a guy who looked like he was a bouncer from a bar.

The worst part of the exhibit rules, were the shortened hours.  Where in the past sponsors and exhibitors could access their booth early in the morning and stay into the early evening,  CPAC limited the hours to five each for the first two days and four on the last day.  That’s fourteen hours of official time compared to an estimated twenty-five in previous years.  This isn’t an activist oriented exhibit hall, but one that resembles a professional trade show and makes CPAC look very corporate.

In speaking to some long-time attendees the feeling is that the fun has gone out of CPAC.  One person I spoke to said he used to look forward to the event, but now is pretty lukewarm thanks to all the changes.

A few groups have dropped out in protest of the inclusion of GOProud, a gay Republican group, and the American Atheists –  though that invitation was rescinded after a loud protest by co-sponsors.

For those that were either priced out or were protesting the inclusions of gays and atheists there was an alternative meeting on Thursday sponsored by Breitbart called the Uninvited. It was only a one-day meeting, but it could possibly grow into the counter-CPAC if things keep going the way they have been for the last few years.

As the exhibit hall shrinks and sponsors flee, CPAC will become less important to the movement in the future as true conservative alternatives spring up to take its place.

 

Maryland exchangeWhile the failures of the federal government’s healthcare website are now legion, individual state exchanges have also had some problems and one of the biggest failures is in Maryland.

Maryland’s exchange was supposed to be a model for then nation, with outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) hoping to use it as an example of what he accomplished as part of his springboard to a potential 2016 presidential run.  O’Malley was so confident that nothing would go wrong, that he even appointed his Lt. Gov Anthony Brown to oversee the rollout in an effort to assist Brown who hopes to succeed O’Malley as governor in November.

But all has not gone well.  The exchange has been been plagued by numerous problems and a panicked O’Malley has even convinced the Democratically controlled legislature to pass emergency legislation to provide insurance for those that weren’t able to obtain coverage by January 1.  This is expected to cost the state between $5 million to $10 million and is seen by Republican legislators as both a sign of the exchange’s failure as well as an unnecessary expense.

I know these problems are real and heard from a friend of mine yesterday who was very frustrated with her experience in obtaining a new policy.

Here is what she wrote to me;

Yes, I’m one of those who had a great health plan..not through work..our premium was 1203 a month..we were told we could keep it for 2014 ONLY..at 1595 a month..whoa !! same plan ?!? ..sooo I went to md health connection…which was a 6 week endeavor…applied, enrolled in a plan…started calling CareFirst 1/3/14 to find out what was next…between the two i have over 100 hours worth of hold time…even took days off work to get this done..was told there was a glitch in getting my paperwork..then was told they were given the wrong amount..yet, they still telling me i had to pay for January …ummm..January is over…and now February is half way through…last thing i heard they had the wrong amount, also, showing no monthly credit…still waiting…i even faxed them screen shots of the my pages from md health connection website..still nothing..no change..no insurance..its infuriating !!! I’ve been trying to pay for my plan since 1/3/14…its more than scary not having coverage..i did everything the way i was “told” to do it..everything on my end done correctly..yet, I’m stuck..no one to call, no one to get answers from…

She was perfectly happy with her old plan, but couldn’t stomach a 32.5% increase in the premium for the same plan.  An increase that wasn’t uncommon for CareFirst policy  holders, and a direct result of the implementation of Obamacare.  She then went to the Maryland exchange seeking the affordable insurance that President Obama promised only to wind up in a maze of bureaucracy and without insurance.

This type of foul up has marred the O’Malley administration and provided fodder for Brown’s main Democratic challenger Doug Gansler who has been hitting Brown over the failures of the exchange, but has also been forced to walk a tight line so that he doesn’t give the Republicans the edge they desperately need in what has been a one-party state for decades.

My friend isn’t the only victim of Obamacare but could easily serve as a poster child for the failures of the program.

Hogan

With Martin O’Malley finishing up his second and final term in office Maryland voters will now face the choice of choosing a new governor giving Republicans a chance of reclaiming the governor’s mansion they lost 8 years ago.

But it won’t be easy in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-1 statewide as well as a distinct fundraising disadvantage.

Up until last week the Republicans had a choice among three good, but weak candidates, Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George and former congressional candidate Charles Lollar.

While they are all good men, they all suffer from having a small base of support  and aren’t very well known across the state among voters, including Republicans.

That changed last week with the much anticipated announcement  that former Ehrlich administration cabinet secretary and longtime political activist Larry Hogan was entering the race.

While Hogan’s late entry will make it even more of a challenge in the fundraising department,  he comes into the race with a huge built in advantage over his opponents- a 75,000 plus email list that he has built over the last few years through his Change Maryland organization.

As a matter of fact Hogan has been preparing for this run as soon as he started Change Maryland, by building name recognition and support and traveling throughout the state giving speeches and stumping for other candidates.

The probability that Hogan would eventually enter the race has no doubt contributed to the poor fundraising to date by his now opponents as donors have largely held off  contributing to Craig, George and Lollar in any significant fashion while waiting for Hogan to make an official announcement.  The last financial disclosure reports show that Craig has $183,000 on hand, George $15,000 and Lollar $6,000.  That pales in comparison to Democrats  Lt Gov. Anthony Brown with $7 million and Attorney General Doug Gansler with $6.3 million on hand.

With such a huge fundraising disadvantage, Hogan and the Republican Party should hope that Brown and Gansler have a knock-down-drag-out fight that will forces them to spend a large chunk of their funds and leave the primary winner, bloodied and bruised from the fight, giving Hogan an opening.

This will be a long-shot bid as they usually are for the GOP.  This isn’t like 2002 when former Rep. Bob Ehrlich became the first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew when he faced the one of the worst possible candidates the Democrats could run- Lt. Gov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who only added her maiden name when she thought it would help her chances.  Ehrlich subsequently lost to O’Malley twice, with the 2010 campaign being an utter disaster.

Lt. Gov. Brown isn’t a particularly strong candidate, and he has been stung by Gansler for the problems with the Maryland health exchange which O’Malley put him in charge of to help his campaign, but his connections and fundraising make him a formidable opponent.  Gansler has been planning for this run for years, and will have to work very hard to beat Brown and will also be quite formidable should he win the primary.

Rather than go through a cash-draining primary the other candidates should drop out before the primary and clear the path for Hogan.  They need to be united and not divided if they really want a legitimate shot at winning and turning back the Democratic tide that has infected the state.

ObamaSuperBowl

President Obama was interviewed prior to the Super Bowl on Sunday, and spent most of his time defending his actions while avoiding directly answering O’Reilly’s questions.

During the extended interview which was taped, O’Reilly asked Obama if he thought he had been unfair during the live interview and Obama answered in the affirmative.

Absolutely, of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway.

O’Reilly then asked him in what way was he unfair.

We just went through an interview in which you asked about health care not working, IRS, were we wholly corrupt, Benghazi.

Uh, what did he expect?  Questions about  Michelle’s 50th birthday or what Sasha and Malia will do after Obama leaves the White House?

The questions that O’Reilly asked were ones that his administration has tried to avoid directly answering because they don’t have a good answer and it exposes the web of lies that the administration has been hiding behind.

O’Reilly did what he had to do and he was both respectful and fair.  The left thinks otherwise which only reinforces this as they were squirming along with Obama.

As a matter of fact O’Reilly could have been tougher and dug deeper, but he didn’t and that’s okay because he still made Obama uncomfortable which everyone who watched could see.

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