What Trump and Carson Don’t Get About Minimum Wage and Self Reliance

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Last Tuesday, fast food workers in Philadelphia and other U.S. cities participated in the largest rally yet behind the Fight for 15 — a national movement to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. (On Thursday, a $15 minimum wage was one of the goals of The Million Student March.) President Obama has already called for a raise to $10.10, and both Democratic presidential frontrunners support a raise to at least $12. The movement is having a moment. We should all care about the outcome. But what may be just as interesting are the reasons some very influential people trot out when opposing it it.

Here’s the short case for raising the minimum wage: In every state, the $7.25 limit (which Pennsylvania usesfalls short of a living wage. A living wage is enough to cover basics like housing, food, clothing, education and transportation. That means the minimum wage employees supporting 60 million Americans couldn’t earn enough on the federal limit to meet basic needs.

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Philly Rep. Brendan Boyle: Joe Biden Is Running for President

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Many political observers think it might be too late for Vice President Joe Biden to jump into the presidential race. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been able to raise a ton of money already, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has gained momentum. If Clinton has the Democratic establishment and Sanders has the cranky old white man vote, where does Biden fit in?

Then again, many Obama bundlers have not gone for Clinton. And Biden has reportedly told allies to be ready. And now, comes this tweet, from Philadelphia Rep. Brendan Boyle.

Oh snap! Just when things got #Chillary, we started to #FeeltheBern. Now here comes #Joementum! Read more »

ICYMI: Here’s Everything Worth Knowing About the First Democratic Presidential Debate

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate in Las Vegas on October 13th. (Rex Features via AP Images)

The last time Democrats debated one another, George W. Bush was still the president, Lehman Brothers was still solvent, and most people probably thought Bear Stearns was a character in a children’s book. Since then, we’ve been subjected to a seemingly endless parade of incoherent climate-deniers, squirrel-eaters, nativists, assault-rifle-maximalists, uterus-controllers and Rick Santorums in nationally televised Republican debates, where the purpose appeared to be to see who could most quickly reduce American government to a series of Walmart distribution centers with an army.

So in a sense it was nice just to be able to watch a debate without cringing at literally everything that comes out of the candidates’ mouths, to be thrown some beautiful, marbled red meat, to be pandered to. I believe it was Jefferson who said that from time to time the tree of liberty needs to be watered with unrealistic campaign promises. Most importantly, the country was reminded that it is possible to gather more than two people on a stage together in public and have them praise, rather then trash, President Obama. Read more »

American Government? What a Waste.

I understand that Republican leaders in Congress are working to repeal Obamacare. What a splendid idea that is: to try to rid the country of a law that, while it has its flaws (mostly, it doesn’t go far enough), by all credible accounts is working remarkably well. This is their 61st attempt to jettison the health-care legislation. Way back in July of 2012, Nancy Pelosi tweeted that House Republicans had thus far devoted 88 hours and 53 minutes to trying to kill Obamacare. Can you imagine what that total is now, three and a quarter years later? Read more »

What Everyone Is Avoiding Saying About Hillary Clinton’s Email Scandal

Like everybody else, I’ve been reading way too much about Hillary Clinton’s emails. I’ve read that her use of a private in-house server violated federal law. I’ve read that her use of the server didn’t violate federal law. I’ve read that her using that server is a big-ass scandal. I’ve read that it wasn’t a big-ass scandal. I’ve read that she had information in those emails that was classified, and that she didn’t have information in those emails that was classified — at the time. Frankly, the whole mess makes my head spin.

Why does it make my head spin? Because I’m a Technically Challenged Person (TCP), and technology perplexes me.

I’m the person you don’t want to ask to take a picture of your family with your iPhone, because I’m the person who keeps seeing pictures of my own face on the screen of my iPhone when I’m trying to take pictures of my son’s football game. And I’m not alone. There’s a substantial subset of Americans who get very, very flustered when they can’t get the remote control to make the TV set come on. It’s been my experience that the children and spouses of people with this condition will rush to their aid and perform the necessary technical operations themselves, rather than patiently walking the TCP through it, because a) it stops the screaming so much sooner; and b) trying to walk a TCP through it is a waste of time. Read more »

Joe Biden Gets Emotional in Gripping Stephen Colbert Interview

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. During the event, Biden, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and actress Mariska Hargitay announced almost $80 million in grants to help eliminate a vast nationwide backlog of rape kits.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. During the event, Biden, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and actress Mariska Hargitay announced almost $80 million in grants to help eliminate a vast nationwide backlog of rape kits.

Veep, former Delaware Senator and son of Scranton Joe Biden got deep on the third episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. In an interview that was light on jokes and heavy on substance (watch below), Colbert and the vice president got candid and personal when discussing family loss (which both host and guest have experienced) and Biden’s will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation with a presidential run.

“Go, Joe! Go, Joe!” chanted some in the audience, to which Biden smiled, “Be careful what you wish for.”

“I’d like to address the elephant in the room — which in this case is a donkey,” quipped Colbert after discussion of the “one job” being the president’s confidant and policy advisor prepares one for. “Do you have anything to tell us?” Read more »

What Can Joe Biden Learn From Five Pennsylvania Presidential Losers?

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

Pennsylvania has long been regarded as a kingmaker when it comes to presidential politics — we still get awarded “swing state” status by pundits even though it’s been a generation since the state swung to Republicans in a presidential election. But we do a lousy job of electing our own.

The only native of the Keystone State to actually win the presidency? James Buchanan. You might remember him from his stint as The Worst President in American History. (That tends to happen when you stand by and let the nation devolve into ugly, bloody Civil War.) As Joe Biden — Scranton native, longtime U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware (aka “Pennsylvania’s third senator“)  — contemplates his own run for the presidency, he might want to consider the woes that have befallen his predecessors.

Here are five notable Pennsylvanians who failed to win the White House: Read more »

Police: Girl, 5, Abducted From Home Was Sexually Assaulted

Philadelphia police now say the 5-year-old girl abducted from a North Philadelphia home by an intruder was also sexually assaulted.

The incident happened Tuesday morning in the Hartranft section of the city. Cops say a man entered a home on N. Hutchinson Street through a window and took the girl. The victim told police the man took her by the hand, led her outside and began kicking and punching her in the home’s backyard. Read more »

Penn Expert “Star Witness” in Colorado Theater Shooting Trial

In this image taken from video, Dr. Raquel Gur, right, gives testimony during James Holmes' trial, in Centennial, Colo., Monday, July 6, 2015. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes' defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool)

In this image taken from video, Dr. Raquel Gur, right, gives testimony during James Holmes’ trial, in Centennial, Colorado., Monday, July 6th. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes’ defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool) | Inset, James Holmes at his booking.

The director of Penn’s Schizophrenia Research Center has emerged as a “star witness” in the trial of James Holmes, the lone suspect in the 2012 Colorado theater shooting that killed 12 people.

Raquel Gur, professor of psychiatry, neurology and radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicinek, testified Tuesday that Holmes’ intellectual functioning matched that of the suspect in another case she followed closely — that of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. She spent 28 hours with Holmes during the course of six interviews.

“Do you have an opinion, as to whether but for this psychotic illness, there would have been a shooting at all?” a defense attorney asked.

“I agree. There would not have been a shooting at all,” she responded. Read more »

A Miracle in Charleston

When the arguments about guns and race subside after last week’s Charleston massacre — and, inevitably, they will — there is one moment from the whole ugly affair that I expect to remember for a long, long time.

That moment came after the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, had been captured and brought before a judge to hear the charges and have bail set. In a moment unlike any I’ve experienced in court, the judge then allowed family members of the victims to speak to Roof.

And what happened was kind of extraordinary. Read more »

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