WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PROGRESSIVES TO TAKE A STAND FOR CHUCK PENNACCHIO AND AGAINST THE REACTIONARY BOB CASEY
DWT team member, my old pal Ken, made some good points in his comments about what a terrific U.S. senator our fellow James Madison High School alum Chuck Schumer has turned out to be. No argument there. But what kind of a head of the DSCC has he turned out to be? I suppose the only judgment that "counts" (for him or for his thoroughly abhorrent, anti-grassroots counterpart at the DCCC, Rahm Emanuel) will be the one that is made after the November elections. Will the Democrats have taken back the two Houses of Congress? Made inroads? Los seat? But no matter what the results, the recruiting and "crowning" of corporate candidates, in the face of genuine grassroots activists, by both these guys is disturbing. If I see a Democrat is endorsed by the DLC or recruited and pushed by Emanuel, I always feel an immense sense of distrust. To see what Emanuel is doing to Christine Cegelis in Illinois and how boneheadedly he's interfering with the grassroots campaign of Jerry NcNerney in the crucial race to unseat arch fascist villain Dick Pombo in California, and similar moves in other races around the country, makes me surer and surer that I am no longer a Democrat, just a progressive American patriot often forced to choose between two horrible corporate political parties primarily concerned with the career goals of their respective leaders. Is Schumer as bad as Emanuel? I'm not sure. I was sickened to read about his backstabbing pettiness in teaming up with Tom Suozzi to make problems for Eliot Spitzer in his run for the governorship of NY. But that's just dirty NY politics not DSCC politics. But is he trying to help button-down corporate-Dem John Morrison against grass roots populist John Tester? And it sure looks like he has helped obliterate the chances of progressive favorite Chuck Pennacchio to make theo-con, social reactionary nightmare Bob Casey look like a done deal.
Last night I was at a local DFA meeting with Jim Dean out in Mandeville Canyon. It was nice-- a real participatory democracy kind of thing. And with tons of awesome info from Dean and activists from the area. I loved it. And I heard a lot of grumbling about the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race-- especially about the frustration of progressives and grassroots activists over the "inevitability" of Bob Casey. Someone got a phone call about how Casey had endorsed Alito while we were complaining about how Pennacchio had never gotten even a fair hearing. This morning Chris Bowers over at the awesome MY DD blog ran a piece about the treachery of Ed Rendell (and Casey) regarding the Alito confirmation process, "Joe Clark is Turning Over in His Grave." This has all made me take a closer look at Chuck Pennacchio's race.
In the past, some of my friends have told me to stop worrying about Casey because he's an economic progressive and very pro-Labor and anti-racist. Who knows how true any of that is; he's a just a vague corporate candidate hoping that Santorum's own hideously egregious record causes his defeat. Casey is vague and the kind of playin' it safe candidate reactionary DLC consultants always love. But most of all, my friends say, "Besides Casey can beat Santorum and we have to take that seat." I want that seat as much as anyone. But does "we" include someone who feels moved to endorse Alito even though he says nothing about where he stands on real issues? DLC-type Democrats have managed to get a mantra going in Pennsylvania that Casey is the only one who can beat Santorum. But why have we been listening?
Chuck Pennacchio is a way better candidate in every way. His record is a Democratic record and his stands on issues are Democratic stands. Last week my former local newspaper, THE POCONO RECORD, ran a story about Pennacchio's visit to my old hometown, Stroudsburg. "He is pro-choice on abortion, opposes the Patriot Act and supports immediate pullout of United States troops from Iraq. He advocates universal health care and a sharp increase in the minimum wage to bring it to what he calls a "living wage" of slightly more than $9 per hour. He also says he will not accept donations from political action committees or corporations." If you're a regular reader of DWT there's a good chance that sounds as good to you as it does to me. Casey, on the other hand, though somewhat stealthily, is anti-choice, supports capital punishment, has said he would have voted to attack Iraq, and has now gratuitously butted into the Alito confirmation process with an endorsement, although almost every Democratic senator opposes him and only one reactionary Democrat who frequently votes with the Republicans, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, supports him. Pennsylvania ain't Nebraska.
A slew of Pennsylvania bloggers have come out for Pennacchio today including Lawyers, Gun$ and Money, The Liberal Doomsayer, the Rubber Hose blog, Night Bird's Fountain, and Mad As Hell. I encourage you to read his website and, although I haven't met him in person myself, I am also endorsing Chuck Pennacchio today-- as well as starting an ACT BLUE page for him.
MAY 7 UPDATE: How the DSCC and the worthless political Establishment guaranteed a race between two right-wingers