Zack Pelta-Heller

Zack Pelta-Heller is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. He holds an MFA from The New School.

Recent Articles

Double Negative

“Meet Bob Casey's campaign team,” begins Senator Rick Santorum's most recent attack ad . Released statewide in Pennsylvania on September 22, the ad depicts Casey's closest contributors smoking cigars in an ersatz campaign headquarters that is revealed at the end to be a jail cell. The ad suggests that Casey has surrounded himself with criminal fund-raisers, and alludes to allegations that Casey awarded favorable contracts to Commerce Bank while he was auditor general. It's typical of the commercials that Santorum and his allies have been running for the past several months, at the cost of $10 million. Those attack ads enabled the two-term senator to gain ground in the polls all summer long. But it now looks like Santorum may have taken his ad war too far. The bright news had slowly dimmed for Casey over the last half year, with polls documenting his once double-digit lead steadily vanishing over the past seven months. Keystone and Zogby, which gave Casey an 11-point...

Vet Offensive

On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Democratic congressional candidate and Navy man Joe Sestak invited me to see him speak at the Friends Meeting House in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, a bucolic Philadelphia suburb that is part of the 7th Congressional district. Pacing in the aisle of a crowded room, Sestak put our nation's lack of emergency preparedness in the context of the Iraq war. “When one and a half weeks in Iraq covers the entire FEMA budget,” Sestak said, “our priorities are wrong.” Sestak's rhetoric echoed his response to President Bush's weekly radio address on the costs of war, which the Democrats tapped him to deliver on August 19. Behind Sestak stood the American flag, along with enlarged black and white photographs depicting flooded New Orleans streets and the now iconic pandemonium at the Superdome. Also along the back wall was a framed copy of the Peace Testimony of the Society of Friends. At one point an audience member asked Sestak...