Until Further Notice

To make this as short and sweet as possible, it’s time I face the reality that this project requires a time commitment that I’m very sad to say I cannot keep up with right now. I am the field organizer for a state representative campaign and I’m also enrolled in college full-time, and although just a couple months ago I tried to tell myself (and you…oops!) I could dedicate a full effort doing my best in those two endeavors and stay on track doing the same on the schedule I wanted to keep for this show, now that classes are in full-swing and the campaign is gaining momentum towards that I have to accept that unfortunately I cannot.

So this is my official notification that for now I have to drop the assumption that I can do a full show (at least four PA Headlines, The Breakdown, and three Worst Pennsylvanians) every single month and putting up a notice whenever I can’t. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to make new videos at this point. For now I need to use my time as an investment in my future and focus on work instead of fun endeavors like this.

I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been watching and reaching out to me and the show, and it’s great to see that there has been a steady and growing stream of people checking this site every single day even when I haven’t had time to add new stuff. I also won’t be posting anything for the PA Politics Video Hub for now so this post will stay at the top.

The best way to make sure you get alerted when new videos come out is by following the show on Twitter @CounterpointPA because I tweet links to everyone who follows the show when I put a new one out. I’m not sure when exactly that will be, but to me it’s only a question of when, not if.

March 24, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Show News / Site News

Rachel Maddow Covers Shrinking Availability of Abortion Services in PA

March 5, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: PA Politics Video Hub

Chris Hayes Covers PA Fracking Explosion & Absurd Pizza Coupon Corporate Apology

February 20, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: PA Politics Video Hub

No February 2014 Edition of the Show

There will not be a February 2014 edition of Counterpoint PA. The January edition bled into the first week of this month, and there has not been enough news to fill an entire show in the last two weeks. I want to start the March 2014 edition the very first week of March, so the couple stories I had lined up for this month will almost certainly be featured then anyway. See you then, and keep checking this website for the rest of February anyway as I will still be putting up videos in the PA Politics Video Hub when I see them!

February 19, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Show News / Site News

In-Depth Democracy Now! Coverage of “Kids for Cash” Scandal

February 12, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: PA Politics Video Hub

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Interviewed on Hey Rubino

H/T friend of the show John Rubino who you can tweet @HeyRubino

(and lt. gov. candidate:)

February 12, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: PA Politics Video Hub

PA’s Worst: Republican Pushes Pro-Discrimination Proposal in PA House – Counterpoint PA Jan 2014

And the winner is Republican state Representative Gordon Denlinger of Lancaster County who is reportedly seeking cosponsors for a bill he wants to introduce in the Pennsylvania House that would make it legal for businesses to discriminate based on race, religion, gender, or literally anything else based on the business owner’s beliefs.

Trust me, I really wish I was making this up, but unfortunately I’m not. This Pennsylvania Republican is not content to merely “stand athwart history yelling ‘stop!’” as legendary conservative commentator William F. Buckley explained conservatism, but is trying to actively go backwards in history and reverse the clock on civil rights.

Lancaster Online reports “Denlinger is circulating a memo seeking supporters for a proposal that would protect the rights of private business owners who want to decline service based on their convictions. The proposal — called the Freedom of Conscience Amendment — would allow employers, store owners, Realtors, hotel managers and others to deny jobs, groceries, homes or rooms to anyone offending their ‘sincerely held beliefs.’”

That’s right folks, the Freedom of Conscience Amendment, for business owners whose consciences demand that they not sell to black people or rent rooms to Muslims or employ women. As long as the racism, religious prejudice, and sexism are sincere.

The piece goes on to say “The proposed amendment would ensure that the beliefs held by private business owners exempts [sic] them from anti-discrimination laws pertaining to employment, housing or service based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, education or disability.”

You know, it’s starting to feel like every time I think my expectations of Pennsylvania conservatives could not possibly be lower, they somehow manage to prove my expectations of them are actually way too high.

State Representative Gordon Denlinger told Lancaster Online, “There are many beliefs that people hold that the majority would say are repugnant, and I’m certainly not endorsing discrimination in any form … But my belief is that each individual must be free to believe whatever they want without fear of government harassment.”

The guy trying to pass a law legalizing discrimination by businesses says he’s not endorsing discrimination in any form. How about the law you’re trying to pass? And do not try to conflate the freedom to believe what you want with the freedom to discriminate based on your ignorant beliefs. The government protecting people from discrimination is not the policing of personal philosophy. Business owners can already have any personal beliefs they want about whoever they want, they just can’t treat customers differently because of those beliefs. This is not about the government harassing business owners based on what they think, this is about business owners’ being allowed to discriminate. This conservative Republican lawmaker in the Pennsylvania House wants those kinds of business practices that were banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to once again be legal, taking us back fifty years. And he’s saying so out loud.

State Representative Gordon  “I’m not endorsing discrimination in any form, I just want anti-discrimination laws to be really easy to get around” Denlinger – not allowing people to buy things, apply for jobs, or live in certain places because of their race, religion, or gender are forms of discrimination – the Worst Pennsylvanian of the Week.

Historical picture sources:








February 6, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Human Rights, Justice, Pennsylvania House, State Government, Women's Equality, Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week

PA’s Worser: Conservative Group Masks Self-Contradictory Obamacare Attacks as “Policy Analysis” – Counterpoint PA Jan 2014

The runner-up is Elizabeth Stelle who’s kind of becoming the Bill-O the Clown of Worst Pennsylvanians. She’s a policy analyst for the conservative advocacy group the Commonwealth Foundation, and this is her third time making PA’s Worsts for absurd remarks about President Obama’s health insurance regulation overhaul often called Obamacare.

Part of Obamacare expands Medicaid, the public health insurance program for people living in poverty, but because of a US Supreme Court ruling, each state has the option to accept Medicaid expansion or not. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Medicaid expansion would “expand health coverage to between 600,000 and 800,000 hardworking low-income Pennsylvanians, lowering the state’s uninsured rate by over 50% …”

Now most people probably wouldn’t see giving health insurance access to hundreds of thousands of uninsured people as a particularly complex ethical quandary – but then again most people aren’t conservative policy analysts.

Elizabeth Stelle first made Worst Pennsylvanians for rhetorically asking “Is it moral to place more Pennsylvanians in a failing program infamous for poor health outcomes?” in an anti-Medicaid expansion editorial published by PennLive [note: I mistakenly say the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the video]. She made the list again when she more bluntly stated quote “Medicaid is immoral because it provides poor quality care,” in an email exchange with me among other hilariously bad arguments.

So while I’ve been saying the Commonwealth Foundation really opposes Medicaid expansion because it’s a government program and they’re anti-government extremists, Elizabeth Stelle has been saying no, no, no, it’s because Medicaid is low quality health insurance.

Now, in a recent piece called “Five Facts about Obamacare Enrollment,” one of which is indisputably proven by a whopping two pieces of anecdotal evidence, Stelle writes quote “an estimated 250,000 Pennsylvanians received [health insurance] cancellations [sic] letters thanks to Obamacare.”

Stelle conveniently leaves out a very important point here, which is why these plans were canceled. As the very source she provides attests, these plans were canceled “because they do not meet the higher standards of the federal Affordable Care Act.” In other words, those plans were too low quality for Obamacare’s high standards for health insurance.

So if Obamacare offers low quality health insurance, that’s bad, and if Obamacare bans low quality health insurance, that’s also bad? The only consistent things about that are you always say Obamacare is bad no matter what, and the more important subtext that public health insurance is always bad and private health insurance is always good. She says public health insurance that’s allegedly low quality is “immoral” to give to the uninsured, but canceling private health insurance that’s objectively so low quality that it doesn’t meet minimum coverage standards is outrageous evidence that Obamacare is apocalyptic. Because the free market is never wrong? I say again Commonwealth Foundation: just be honest. You would oppose Medicaid expansion no matter what because it’s insurance from the government. And you’re completely entitled to that opinion. Just stop trying pass it off as “policy analysis.”

February 5, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Health Care, ObamaCare in PA, PA Establishment Media Fail, State / Federal Crossover, Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week

Changes to Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week

Two things about Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week:

1.) Instead of putting all three “contestants” in a single video, I’m now splitting it up into three videos. (Which you probably already noticed if you’ve watched it before.) So don’t worry, there are still two more coming out.

2.) It doesn’t look like I’m going to get the other two videos up by tonight, so I’m going to miss my self-imposed deadline of getting all videos for the January edition out by the end of the month. (I was on schedule when the week started, but stuff out of my control popped up I had to deal with.) Good news, however, is that I should be able to have it all up within a week from the first one – so you’ll get to see it soon, and my OCD isn’t too badly inflamed about bleeding into February because it’s still within the span of a week which fits the segment title. Sorry about the wait!

February 1, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Show News / Site News, Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week

PA’s Worse: Dem Gives Pitiful Excuse for Fracking Deregulation Vote – Counterpoint PA Jan 2014

This is Counterpoint PA, the only grassroots progressive newscast exclusively about Pennsylvania politics. I’m your host, Aaron DiDonato. And now, time for Counterpoint PA’s special homage to Keith Olbermann, the Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week.

The bronze goes to Democratic state Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, who not only voted for a bill to give the fracking industry the same liability immunities for fracking with abandoned mine drainage instead of fresh water that volunteers get under Good Samaritan laws for trying to clean it up, but also gave one of the worst excuses for voting for it that you could imagine.

Within a month of the state Supreme Court striking down part of Pennsylvania’s fracking regulation overhaul for violating the state Constitution’s environmental protections, which was covered earlier in this edition of Counterpoint PA, Senate Bill 411 passed the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee 16 – 9 with several Democratic votes, including state Senator Hughes.

Abandoned mine drainage (photo source) is polluted water that flows out of abandoned coal mines, and Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act limits the liability of people who clean it up. Senate Bill 411 would amend Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act to give the fracking industry those same immunities for fracking with this stuff, injecting millions of gallons of this into the ground in what in many cases would be otherwise pristine areas.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network calls Senate Bill 411 “a bill written by and for the gas industry” that “would extend broad immunity to end-users of AMD (including gas well development or manufacturing facilities) who cause damage to adjacent landowners or downstream riparian owners” which would “prevent workers and all others who are injured by an AMD end-user’s operations from holding accountable those responsible for the injuries they cause” and “encourage moving polluted water into unpolluted higher-quality watersheds, while protecting end-users from responsibility for pollution they cause in those areas.”

Now I imagine that it’s pretty hard to come up with an excuse for voting for a bill that would give you the same Good Samaritan immunities for fracking with abandoned mine drainage that you would get for cleaning it up, and there’s some evidence of that in state Senator Vincent Hughes’ explanation for doing so. PennLive reported that “Sen. Vince Hughes, Democratic Chair of the appropriations committee, said he voted for the bill to “further the process,” but hoped the language will be tightened.”

Uh…what? Why would you want the process furthered on a bill you know is bad? I could see voting to further the process on a good bill hoping to make it even better before final passage, but not on a terrible bill like this. Tighten the language? I guess that would mean state Senator Hughes wants the fracking industry to get some environmental Good Samaritan immunities for fracking with abandoned mine drainage, just not too many? Right. At least the other Democrats who voted for this were intellectually honest enough to let the vote speak for itself – on this issue they think it’s more important to protect frackers than the environment.

Maybe state Senator Vincent Hughes really doesn’t think the bill is good enough even though he voted for it, and maybe he’ll even vote against it when it’s up for a vote in the full PA Senate, but when fundraising time comes and he’s trying to get donations from the fracking industry, you can bet he’ll be touting his committee vote for Senate Bill 411 as much as any of the others.

January 30, 2014 · Aaron · No Comments
Posted in: Environment / Energy, Fracking, Pennsylvania Senate, State Government, Worst Pennsylvanians of the Week

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