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I earned my bachelor's degree from a conservative Catholic university in the region where I grew up. A few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find out there is an unofficial Facebook group of fellow LGBT and allied alumni. As you can imagine, the university would never be affiliated with an official group of this nature. But that's what a lawyer for the university claimed people might think in his cease and desist email to leaders of the alumni group this week. Guess what happened right before that threat? (more after the jump)

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Today we were presented with one more reason why the un-democratic filibuster has to go. 56 senators out of 100 voted to move ahead with the annual defense authorization bill, including allowing the repeal of the wasteful, discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell policy that endangers our national security by kicking out qualified troops. But 56 out of 100 wasn't enough, under Senate rules. That's just crazy.

If you want a more detailed writeup on why the filibuster has to go when the Senate rules window is open briefly in January, I can't do better than this 2009 piece by Thomas Geoghegan. Now what do we do about it? More after the jump.

Poll

Which bill blocked by Republican filibusters would you most like to see passed?

17%12 votes
14%10 votes
8%6 votes
4%3 votes
26%18 votes
24%17 votes
4%3 votes

| 69 votes | Vote | Results

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Unfortunately the power of the online moneybomb can cut both ways, as extremist Christine O'Donnell has apparently raised $1 million this week, a big amount for any state but especially for a state like Delaware that has a population low enough that it only has one representative in the U.S. House.

That's another reason we can't take the Delaware race for granted (along with Sen. Reid's less-than-helpful "my pet" comment about Chris Coons). And it's another reason why we need to donate now to three "Bang for Your Buck" Senate candidates who can help us reform, maybe even end, the filibuster.

Poll

Who's your favorite of these 3 Bang for Your Buck Senate candidates?

28%9 votes
40%13 votes
25%8 votes
6%2 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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After Tuesday's Delaware primary shocker, I think there are two important questions:

  1. Where will progressive dollars go furthest in Senate races?
  1. Will spending in those races help end or reform the filibuster, the one thing above all else that has blocked the progressive change America voted for in 2008? (No more of that "we need 60 votes" stuff. Thomas Geoghegan had an excellent summary in 2009 of why the filibuster has to go.)
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Pennsylvania is one of the places where some state legislators are introducing a version of Arizona's "show me your papers" law. (The lead sponsor here is a Republican rep who is running for lieutenant governor - Daryl Metcalfe, the guy who called veterans for energy independence "traitors".)

One of his cosponsors let some inconvenient truth slip out during the press conference yesterday. And for more unintentional hilarity, today a newspaper reported on contradictory comments from a PA state Senate Republican. More below the fold..

Poll

Which of these is funnier?

17%6 votes
17%6 votes
29%10 votes
35%12 votes

| 34 votes | Vote | Results

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(Written in response to someone who asked on Facebook what I think of Hoeffel for governor) I'm generally cautious by nature. I've often gone with the "most electable" and "more moderate" Dem candidate in primaries because I don't want to risk losing a key district or statewide office. But I'm planning to vote for Joe Hoeffel for governor in the primary. I expect to support the Democratic nominee even if it's not Hoeffel, but Joe Hoeffel is my first choice. My reasons go beyond him being the only Democrat running who supports full marriage equality. I think Hoeffel has the best position on several major issues and is showing more leadership on those issues.

I don't really buy the "Joe can't win" talk. I remember thinking in 2002 there was no way "liberal Philadelphian" Ed Rendell could win the Democratic nomination, let alone beat a Republican for governor. I'm glad I was wrong about that. :-) Yes, Joe's behind in fundraising right now, but if he does win the primary, I think the party would unite to help him raise enough to be competitive with the Republican nominee.

Poll

If you live in PA, who do you support for governor?

78%93 votes
6%8 votes
8%10 votes
0%0 votes
5%6 votes
0%1 votes
0%1 votes

| 119 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM PST

Specter Changes Name to "Pat Toomey"

by BenPA

In a shock to many political observers, Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced he will change his name to Pat Toomey.

"The name polls well, several points ahead of 'Arlen Specter'for some reason, and I already support some of the same policies as Toomey, like the flat tax. I believe this is consistent with my statement when I switched thatI would not be a loyal Democrat. No one should be surprised. I'm just going back to my maverick ways," Specter said.

Poll

Who do you want to win the PA Senate primary?

73%54 votes
23%17 votes
2%2 votes

| 73 votes | Vote | Results

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It's become clear that one of Sen. Specter's main arguments against his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak, will be "Sestak missed a bunch of votes in the House." His campaign has even put up a "No Show Joe" website, and Specter recently "compared Rep. Joe Sestak’s missed votes in Congress to going AWOL while serving in the Navy." (Seriously, he said that.)

I fully expect that Specter will spend a big portion of his nearly $8.7 million* trying to define Sestak as a congressman who missed a bunch of votes. So I was curious to find out just what these missed Sestak votes were about, and if any of them were even close. I went through a handy Washington Post database that shows all of Congressman Sestak's missed votes. Many of them were things like commemorative resolutions or renaming post offices. I found a total of 68 potentially significant votes on things such as appropriations (spending) bills, other bills, amendments, and procedural votes.

Poll

Do you care about these missed Sestak votes?

23%11 votes
69%32 votes
6%3 votes

| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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(I haven't heard much about this in the health care debate, so if others have been addressing it, by all means please post links to those articles or diaries. The more the merrier!)

Remember how Wall Street and the banks and their allies like Phil Gramm got deregulation through Congress in part by saying the financial casino gamblers needed freedom for "innovation"?

Poll

Do you trust the health insurance industry to do the right thing without facing competition from the public option?

11%3 votes
18%5 votes
40%11 votes
29%8 votes

| 27 votes | Vote | Results

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As you may have read, a Pennsylvania state senator announced yesterday that he plans to introduce a civil marriage equality bill.

Today, one of the state's largest newspapers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is running an online poll and at this writing, marriage equality is losing 36%-61%. Please go vote for civil marriage equality!

Poll

Which pro-LGBT bill would you rather see the PA legislature act on first?

61%41 votes
35%24 votes
2%2 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Since (as covered elsewhere on DKos today) Sen. Specter continues to give Democrats more reasons to say "We should give this guy our nomination WHY exactly?" -- I thought you all might enjoy this:

Pat Toomey: "Reagan carried this state twice. I don't think this state has changed."

More -- including info on what I have as a total of 4 non-Specter Dems either in or eyeing the race -- after the jump..

Poll

Who's your choice for the PA 2010 Democratic Senate nomination?

7%18 votes
5%12 votes
62%146 votes
0%1 votes
0%1 votes
8%20 votes
14%34 votes

| 232 votes | Vote | Results

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Thanks to all those who have encouraged this effort. ("Now that Sen. Arlen Specter's switching to be a Democrat, let's keep the pressure on him so he votes like a PENNSYLVANIA Democrat and not a 'conservadem' (conservative Democrat) from Nebraska or the South.")

Realizing that plenty of people aren't on Facebook and don't necessarily want to be either, I've created a blog: Specter Watch. (The related Facebook group is here.)

Poll

On a scale of 1 ot 10 (10 being the highest), what is your current opinion of Sen. Specter?

1%2 votes
0%1 votes
2%3 votes
5%6 votes
6%7 votes
8%9 votes
15%16 votes
19%20 votes
15%16 votes
14%15 votes
7%8 votes

| 103 votes | Vote | Results

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