POLITICS Feed

Why trust Philadelphia's new voting machines?

Rabb voting machines yt
We  received a voicemail on our landline from Pennsylvania State Representative for the 200th district Chris Rabb (pronounced like "dab") with an invitation to try out,
this past Friday, Philadelphia’s new ES&S voting machines at the Wadsworth Branch Public Library. Your correspondent planned to first attend a yoga class at the nearby Lovett Branch Public Library, then head over to Wadsworth to get acquainted with the new machines which have been in the news. See Philadelphia's New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopoardy... Coincidentally, PhD renaissance man, yogi and fair election activist Josh Mittledorf was substitute teaching. After class, I asked Mitteldorf to explain his concerns about the new machines. He pointed out the ES&S company’s sordid history and claimed that the software it uses could possibly skew results; even election officials purchasing the machines do not have access to the software to verify its integrity because, in legal terms, the software is considered a trade secret.

I headed off to Wadsworth where a representative from the Philadelphia City Commissioners' office walked me through how to use the new machine and referred me to Rep Rabb for any additional questions. The voting process is initiated when a voter inserts a physical ballot into the machine.  On a large display screen, the voter then touch taps the candidates they want and, when done,  the printed ballot with the voter’s choices shows up behind a window panel for the the voter to approve before submitting their vote. Predictably, on the demonstration machine, your correspondent voted for Democrat Party candidate Nick Foles for President and Green Party Candidate Julius ("Dr. J" Erving) for U.S. Senate. Then it was time to buttonhole Rabb.

Interview with Rabb

BR (your correspondent, Brian Rudnick): Are these machines secure?

CR (his Pa State Rep Chris Rabb): No.

BR: How do we know the election is not being stolen?

CR: We don’t.

BR: We don’t? Well that’s not good.

CR: I agree. Just like any system, Any system  is imperfect.

BR: Any system- even a paper ballot system…

CR: Well paper ballots can be stolen…

BR: Why don’t we have access to the software in the systems?

CR: I don’t know.

BR: You’re our representative, can you ask?

CR: The City Commissioners’ office is here so you can ask directly.

Watch video of activist and Pennsylvania legislator expressing concern about integrity of new ES&S voting machines in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Neighbors react to presidential candidates debates

Of the approximately 15 people your correspondent approached Friday morning to gauge their reaction to the Democratic presidential primary debates on TV Wednesday and Thursday nights, only three had watched one or both of the debates. Some of the remainder thought that there were just too many candidates at this time to make tuning in worthwhile. Responses of other non-viewers were “I don’t watch TV,” “I was asleep at nine”, “I get my news from social media” and “I watched 30 seconds of Joe Biden and had enough.” Here are what the three had to say

BR: What were your impressions of the first Democratic Party presidential debates?

Biden and Sanders were predictable Mcdowell debate reactionGeorge McDowell: One- too many candidates for an effective debate. I think a couple people started to make a name for themselves but ultimately it was just too little time to get any serious sort of issues really drawn out. BR: Anyone impress you , depress you? GM: Kamala Harris, I thought, was effective last night. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were somewhat predictable. A couple had some good answers and stood out somewhat but it still was very hard for them to really get across their messages during the time that was allowed.

 

Too many but I like Harris, Buttigieg, and intrigued by Yang

Esberg debate reactionTema Esberg: I'm overwhelmed with the number of people who are battling for attention. It’s hard to focus on anyone and learn anything meaningful about any of them other than how they perform in that moment when they're vying for the moment to get their pre-scripted lines out. That's my general observation. BR: Anyone you definitely would not vote for or would consider at this point? TE: I think it's too early. I did start liking some people more than others but recognizing that I liked them for their performance in that moment. I was surprised that I liked Buttigieg’s performance so much. I like Kamala Harris. I was disappointed in Biden and I was intrigued by Yang …So I shouldn’t say “shit show” on your video?

 

Biden's the right man for the job

Whitehead debate reaction

Jay Whitehead: First day it appeared that the candidates were just trying to show what they had. They really didn't seem important to me. Nobody really said anything significant. Last night it got pretty in-depth. I think Joe Biden, regardless of how Kamala kind of pinned his ears back a little bit, I think he's the man for the job. I'm impressed with Kamala. But Joe -I want to see Joe Biden become president. I think he's got the fortitude and I think he's straight up and down American no matter how you shake it – no crooks, no books. Just straight up and down. BR Would you like to see Biden on a ticket with Kamala? JW:I’d like to see Kamala on a ticket with Biden.


Germantown celebrates Juneteenth freedom from slavery

Juneteenth libation
At Philadelphia's Juneteenth celebration in Germantown, Iraina Salaam performs a libation ceremony in honor of African ancestors as members of Boy Scout Troop 1719 and the Tyehimba drum group look on. Juneteenth, June 19th, is a celebration that marks the day in 1865, two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery. Also in the video Cerise Dash sings "Oh Freedom," a spiritual. Watch video of Germantown, Philadelphia's Juneteenth emancipation from slavery celebration featuring a libation ceremony, gospel spirituals, colored Union infantry troops and more

Click here for  photo slideshow

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Juneteenth chickenbone

Author Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks sells copies of her recent book with many photographs by noted photographer John W Mosley about the racially segregated beach between Mississippi and Missouri Avenues in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


Kushner envies Zuckerberg's Facebook Data - painted

Jared kushner envies data of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg painting
 
"These are some of the folks that have been haunting my dreams. These are the folks that I've been thinking about, watching on TV...and so much of the imagery... I feel a need to process it in some kind of way that helps me cathartically to just deal with everything that's going on. It's also a way of exercising my free speech. This painting is called "Data Envy." This is Jared Kushner [senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Trump] looking curiously or longingly at Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook founder. He's interested in data, how to use that data machine that is Facebook to potentially win over the whole country. There's moments that I can picture in my mind that results in what we are living through now." Germantown painter Colleen Quinn's other dark portraits depict former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Quinn was exhibiting at the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival. Watch video of artist describing her painting of presidential advisor Jared Kushner longing for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his data.

Exiled Romanian bronze sculptor mounts outdoor show at Woodmere

Farcas bronze
 
Viorel Farcas, a sculptor in bronze in the expressionistic, figurative tradition and whose works are in the collections of notable European institutions left Romania in 1985 as a political refugee. Under the Romanian dictatorship his works were destroyed for being "politically incorrect" as his wife Mihaela euphemistically put it when she showed me around her husband's outdoor sculptures at the Woodmere Art Museum. I had videoed Farcas and Museum Director of Exhibits Rick Ortwein installing the pieces the day before and coming back to take some still shots, she had approached me without introducing herself at first, asking what I thought of the work. Farcas has made his home in Philadelphia since arriving in the U.S. and has produced 100s of monumental pieces but has not had a showing at a major area art institution and neither has sought out the limelight. In his sculptures, long arms and limbs are often attenuated, frequently disjointed and reassembled with disturbing yet graceful, artful effect. Museum Director Bill Valerio is excited to mount this show of Farcas' work, officially opening on September 22. For more information see https://woodmereartmuseum.org/experience/exhibitions/expressionism-in-bronze-the-sculpture-of-viorel-farcas
 
Farcas arm

Turning Pennsylvania Blue

Turnpablue
Under the auspices of Turn PA Blue and Indivisible Philadelphia Northwest, Ann Mintz distributed packets of postcards to 20 some neighbors at the High Point Coffee Shop in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia this Wednesday. Seated around tables, each week the group hand writes postcards to voters in the surrounding counties urging them to support Democratic Party candidates in November elections. Boosting Jennifer O’Mara, Democratic candidate for state representative in Pennsylvania’s 165th district in Delaware County was the focus of this week’s efforts. Mintz cited research showing individualized postcards can boost voter turnout up to 3% which can make a difference in close elections. In a recent instance, a Democrat won a legislative seat by a mere 76 votes. Named for an aunt who was murdered in the Holocaust, Mintz relates that the administration’s immigration policies are very personal to her - handcuffing of 4 year old immigrant children, separating them from their parents. She also deplored the administration’s attacks on the LGBT community, tax cuts for the wealthy and the rollback of environmental protections. “I want my country back” Mintz intones. She notes that a health reporter from the Washington Post is visiting an upcoming postcard writing session with an interest in writing about how political activism is helping people cope in these times. Watch video interview of activist organizing voters to write postcards for Democratic Party Candidates in 2018 Pennsylvania midterm elections.

Photo: Sue Wells of Wyndmoor (left) and Charlotte Law of Manayunk (right) were among nearly 20 people gathered at the High Point Café in Mount Airy writing postcards in support of Democratic Party candidates in neighboring counties running for the Pennsylvania state legislature. In the center is Andrea Koplove, Director of Outreach for Turn PA Blue which is also spearheading canvassing and phone banking events throughout the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections.

November 6  Election Day Update: Southeastern PA turns blue!

Update form Andrea Koplove of Turn PA Blue

"Hello Red to Blue,

Before the news cycle moves too far ahead, I want to thank you for the indefatigable, unbelievable, and never-ending support of each and every one of you who gave your time and energies and resources to organizing, canvassing, hosting, fundraising, postcarding, and phonebanking for the entire slate of candidates running up and down the PA ticket! Here's some of what we did over the past few months:

  • We volunteered for over 560 canvassing shifts, knocking more than 17,000 doors in five counties.

  • We met for twenty-one Wednesdays at High Point and wrote more than 24,000 postcards to voters.

  • We participated in nine phone banking parties and made nearly 5,000 calls.

  • We greeted countless voters at the polls and helped ensure that our candidates had coverage at every single polling location in their districts throughout Election Day.

Our work made a huge difference!

 

Please take a moment to savor these election results:

 

PA HOUSE

We netted an amazing eleven seats, with fourteen flipped seats in Southeastern PA (SEPA)! Among those for whom your hard work paid off are many familiar names: Liz Hanbidge, Joe Ciresi, Joe Webster, Steve Malagari, Melissa Shusterman, Wendy Ullman, Danielle Friel Otten, Dave Delloso, Mike Zabel, and Jenn O’Mara. As if you need more proof that every vote counts, O’Mara won by just 163 votes!

 

PA SENATE

We broke the Republican super-majority and picked up at least five seats. Among the victories were four candidates whom we supported in SEPA: Katie Muth, Maria Collett, Tim Kearney, and Steve Santarsiero. Tina Davis’s race is still too close to call, with Davis trailing by a mere 100 votes.

 

Just remember, these are seats that have been gerrymandered to prevent us from winning, which makes these results all the more staggering. Way to go!

 

US HOUSE

Finally, SEPA contributed 4 US Congressional flips that were central to winning the House majority (currently at 28 seats and counting) for the Democrats!

With pickups including SEPA’s Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild, and Chrissy Houlahan, Democrats can now provide a direly needed counterbalance to the destructive policies of Trump’s GOP.

 

What's next? That's easy: MORE WORK AND MORE RACES TO BE WON!

More on that in the coming weeks..."

 


Palestine Teach-In draws hundreds in Philly

From the Facebook Event Page

"Join us on June 30 for our Palestine teach-in! This event brings together an amazing group of scholars, organizers, activists, and teachers for a day of teaching and strategizing. Whether you’re looking for a basic introduction or advanced analysis, the event will be a valuable experience." Hosted by Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books in Germantown.

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Meanwhile  Weavers Way Co-op may have gotten around the boycott Israel issue by selling Equal Exchange Olive Oil produced by Palestinian small farmers

Palestinian farmer olive oil


College bound Syrian refugee survived bombings

Syrian refugee survived Assad bombs
When Philadelphia Inquirer syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin called on a young man to pose his question after her talk, "7 years, 4 months and counting: the Syrian Civil War" at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia on Saturday evening, she addressed him by name. In an interview afterward, M. Eisa, a Syrian refugee, who had been living with church Reverend Jarrett Kerbel, echoed what Rubin had concluded- that the presence of foreign forces from Russian, Turkey and Iran fighting in pursuit of their individual agendas bode very poorly for the civilian population remaining after millions of Syrians have fled. As Rubin put it, they are fighting over Syria's dying body. Rubin believes the United States missed an opportunity to militarily back non-Islamist rebel forces many years ago and a United Nations powerless against Russia's security council veto, has sealed Syria's fate. M Issai says he tempted fate in 2013 when he stayed amidst regular bombing by the Russian supported Assad regime of his Homs neighborhood in order to finish 9th grade exams. He then fled with his mother to Turkey via Lebanon, received a scholarship to attend Friends Select High School in Philadelphia in 2016 and now is bound for Bard College in upstate New York where he intends to study philosophy. Of friends and family, he has lost a lot. "I don't think there's a single household in Syria that hasn't suffered losses." Grandparents and aunts who remain are facing economic hardship and food shortages. Watch video interview of young Syrian refugee describing escaping bombings by his own government and taking refuge in Turkey and U.S. and the plight of his remaining countrymen and women and kin.


Impeach Trump Party draws candidates for Congress

Impeach trump party democrats midterm election
Your correspondent, a reliably strident protester of former candidate – now President Donald Trump, signed an online petition earlier this year calling for Trump's impeachment. This past week I received an email invitation from Tom Steyer at "Need to Impeach" inviting me to "and [sic] impeachment party", space permitting. The invite didn’t explain at all what would happen at the party but I sniffed free food. Sure, I would "stand with Tom" as other emails asked me to do. Steyer turns out to be a billionaire former hedge fund manager turned born-again environmental activist and Democratic Party candidate funder and fundraiser. I adhere to the credo that “behind every great fortune is a crime,” so it didn’t take long to find an academic critique of hedge funds that concludes they provide no social value and while they provide returns on investments no better than average they do make some managers extraordinarily wealthy. ​

https://www.alternet.org/economy/hedge-funds-serve-very-little-useful-purpose-except-make-few-people-very-rich

In a subsequent email we were instructed to arrive at the Liberty View Ballroom at the Independence Visitor Center in downtown Philadelphia with photo ID. We arrived. The other partygoers were mostly middle aged and white like us but much better dressed. We were ushered into a room with waiters walking about offering hors d'oeuvres and an open bar! I schmoozed and conducted some interviews

I engaged Paul Shrader, a tall man with an “impeach trump” t-shirt, the only one I spotted sporting political attire. He was an ATF-Explosives certified military man who felt it wasn’t appropriate to continue service in an administration where 130 people in leadership positions do not, according to him, have security clearances. Working with the enemy? he asked disbelievingly. That’s the number one thing you don’t do and that the administration has been doing.

I also interviewed Lindy Li and Rich Lazer, both young idealistic Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District. The map was redrawn just today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to correct court found Republican Party gerrymandering. Li, who came to the US from China when she was 5 years old, was propelled into politics when a shooter killed children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, 2012. The date happened to coincide with her birthday and, in her words, damaged her “eternally.” She is vehement about diminishing the influence of the NRA in gun control matters and big oil on environment, climate change matters. Lazer had just resigned his position as labor liaison for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and opposes Trump‘s measures clamping down on sanctuary cities and calls for Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice in the FBI’s investigation of Russian state operatives’ interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. I also saw candidate Nina Ahmad who smartly drew attention to herself with a sign with her name on it.

Steyer eventually took a high seat at the front of the room alongside Pennsylvania State Representative Donna Bullock who spoke about how her constituents were being damaged by both Trumps policies and his manner. Seated at her right was Baltimore psychologist John Gartner who has been making the case that Donald Trump suffers from deteriorating pre-dementia and malignant narcissistic personality disorder. He speculated Trump might find relief, vindication and perverse pleasure in starting a nuclear war.

Steyer followed with remarks abut the need to energize college students to participate in the midterm elections. When he couched the situation as one of "absolute" right versus wrong, your correspondent impolitely rose before the third and final question that had been chosen from ones earlier submitted by attendees, to question Steyer about his extraordinary wealth. Steyer promised to be transparent. Considering how unrevealing he was in the party invitation, that’s a good thing.

Watch Impeach Trump Party video interviews with people and candidates for Congress here.


Paper-mache penguins not real, science is

Ceramic found object art penguins science real
Found object/ceramic artist Lisa Schumaier constructs whimsical and politically pointed raku and paper-mâché sculptures. In one, small paper cutouts with the faces of friends and family members pump signs up and down in front of a large paper-mâché Republican Party elephant. Originally, the figures were protesting the first Iraq war, then the second Iraq war and now they are about to find new purpose when Lisa adds pink pussy hats to some. She does projects with students and, in a subtle nod to the science is real movement, they’ve fashioned rolling soda can penguins 🐧, bobbing wire hanger penguins and affixed penguins to the base of one of the large scene installations Lisa has prominently on display in the hallway outside her studio with in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Artist Center. Watch video tour of artist's funny political protest art and interview.