Monday, December 21, 2009

When will there be a Fox Counterbalance from the Mainstream?

In 2008 the Left was active and engaged. We spent our time, our money, and our hearts to get Obama elected. In 2009 we left him twisting in the wind.

Fox has done an outstanding job in 2009 in thwarting any initiative President Obama has attempted to undertake. It really wasn't Fox itself and its' shameless promotion of anything that could damage the president (over the weekend I saw boxed images of Homer Simpson over top of the President). Part of this credit needs to go to the media.

The MSNBC guys were happy to show their disdain for Fox News all the way through the year. They would enjoy laughing it up about these silly teabaggers. But they really did nothing with their bully pulpits. And the same goes for the blogosphere. What did any of these outlets do to take back the streets?

Obama as a politician is smart enough to see what winds are blowing. There is a symbiotic relationship between Obama and the media. He knows the kind of political coverage he gets will allow him to move more freely. I am not talking about coverage of a speech or an appearance somewhere. I am talking about political cover. Fox provided the GOP all it needed and then some.

Where was Obama's? This is what is so disgusting. (Obama is not blameless here, he needs to step up a little, but, it is his rookie season and I expect things to get better.)

What did the Left do to protect the political cover we granted to Obama? What did the media do to counter-act the real live activism that Fox has brought to the table? The Mainstream Media really did nothing for the Left in 2009. The fact I made news for challenging the President if his knees were getting weak should not have been news. It should never have gotten to that point.

If a media outlet endorsed or came out for the President in 2008 they needed to back it up in 2009. I saw Stewart and Colbert doing it with the same intensity in 2009 as 2008, but not a lot of others.

The media for the 2009 Left became a pointer.
  • "Hey look - Fox is creating its' own storm and covering it."
  • "Hey look at all those angry people at the town halls!"
  • "Hey look at all the big rallies that Fox is self promoting."
  • "Hey, I wonder why the poll numbers for the President are dropping."

Fox practiced yellow journalism on steroids. Over a hundred years ago we got into the Spanish-American War on the back of this type of journalism. The Right has seen what the Left did in 2008 and determined to stop it in 2009. They did it - kudos to them.

The media on the Left was focusing on real policies that make peoples' eyes glaze over - the Right gave them eye candy. No matter how ridiculous or goofy - the message was there. The messengers were fighting for their side.

I you really believe in what you did in 2008 was a worthy endeavor in 2008 and you worked hard in 2009 to help the President, I am happy to be shoulder to shoulder with you. If you took a vacation in 2009 and expected Obama to wave a magic wand to make it all better - here's a news flash - nothing will happen without your continued involvement.

Here is something YOU can do to start 2010 out properly. This is from a Facebook Group looking for members. It is one guy who needs YOUR help. Yeah, I know I have spammed this around a little bit.



I still think there are enough people on the Left who will do something.

  • It is time for the so called Mainstream Media to help our country.
  • It is time for the so called Mainstream Media to get its' hands dirty and allow the United States to become strong again.
  • It is time for the so called Mainstream Media to stand up to the bullies who are beating down Obama and taking away the dreams of our nation.
  • It is time for the so called Mainstream Media to get off the sidelines and help fix what they have allowed Fox News to destroy.

We need the same amount of oxygen in the room as Fox granted the teabagging loons.
We need a fair crack at getting the steering wheel back.

It is good for the reader to do some work sometimes.

I think we are all up to it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vote Against the Weasels Today

I call in to the Smerconish Show enough for TC, the producer, to know my voice on pickup. When today’s poll (please go there and vote after reading this ) was announced I could not resist calling. The original poll was a 2 choice poll as to who is more in the wrong between two politicians, the Senators from New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Politico back story is related by this link. The upshot is Senator Schumer used a nasty word when told by a flight attendant to act properly on an airplane. He had a childish reaction to being corrected by someone doing their job. Senator Gillibrand was sitting next to the Senator.

A GOP aide overhears what goes down and decides – great story, “I am going to be a good little flunkie and run to the press with this.” The aide becomes an unnamed source for the tempest in a teapot. It becomes a story on Politico, the New York Post, Smerconish and who knows where else. They ask Schumer for confirmation, he owns up to calling the flight attendant a nasty name. They ask Gillibrand for her reaction and she does not dime out her collogue.

The binary reaction of who is more morally wrong and should be rung up ensues. Hey, here’s a news story, if you are in the Senate you are probably a prima donna. Senators may on occasion, like the rest of us, exhibit bad behavior.

On today’s Smerconish show the poll was about chewing out these two pols. Childish behavior or covering it up – there are great choices. I heard the poll and dialed in with a third. What about the weasel in the seat behind the two Senators who was eavesdropping. Running around telling tales out of school to the press could be one of the offenses. If we are going to go thru the morality play, let’s make sure we have enough players to fill the stage.

The cool thing about this “Right Wing” Radio show is the flexibility of the host. Michael immediately got it, had John the Webman change the poll on the site. When I checked before writing this note over 20% of the respondents are tired of the weasels. I knew I nailed it when they were still talking about my cal 20 minutes later.

I am writing this for a couple of reasons:
• You can call out weaselly behavior.
• You can call talk radio if you bring something to the table.
• You can affect change everyday.

Please help affect change in a small way and make a vote on his web site today.

Epilogue - This vote ended up with over 25% of the respondents agreeing that the bad actor was the snitch who dimed out the situation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I am tired of leaving the field to the Teabaggers and other assorted lunatics. I see the anger at Obama being met with a lot of silence and hand-wringing.

You want to do something?

This is from a Facebook group looking for members.

Host: Countdown to JANUARY 15, 2010

Type: Meetings - Club/Group Meeting

Network: Global
Start Time: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:00am
End Time: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 12:00am
Location: WASHINGTON DC - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to the Mall



We need to show our numbers, our vigor, and our commitment to REAL, SUBSTANTIVE, AND FUNDAMENTAL (not incremental) CHANGE in a way that will capture the national media's attention and call attention to our discontent. This astroturf, right-wing, TeaBag movement has been successful in creating the misperception that "Millions" of Americans are fed up with Gov't (specifically Obama).

THE REALITY, however, is that many more of us voted for our President because we hoped for more from our government. More compassion, more diplomacy, more honesty, more protection, and more equality.


This is a worthy group to join. Please re-post this on threads you think may want to see this.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's not the Climate Warming - It's the Frozen R & D

Global Warming.


Sarah Palin will/won't Debate Al Gore

Climate Scientist Harassed At UN Press Conference By Deniers

Copenhagen - a hundred stories.

Gore Tackles Palin, Fights Back On ClimateGate: 'What In The Hell Do They Think Is Causing It?'

I wish it were this easy. It ain't.
Whether there are temperature variations or not...
Whether some scientists went rogue or not...

I don't give a rat's you know what.

Climate change is a symptom and not the direct problem.
None of it explains how we are going thru resources at an alarming rate.
We are squeezing the earth like squeezing a zit.

It doesn't matter about doctored science or Al Gore or Sarah Palin or Deniers or Alarmists.

  • It matters about the 6+ billion of us wanting to eat.
  • It matters about the 6+ billion of us wanting to drive.
  • It matters about the 6+ billion of us wanting to have light.
  • It matters about the 6+ billion of us wanting to be warm.
How do we as a human race rectify the waste we generate and justify the resources we use?
That is what this is about.

How are we going to be sustainable
  • as a human race?
  • as a country?
  • as a community?

It is about the Green Economy. It is about our country falling behind on Research and Development.

As we are playing into and watching these soap operas unfold like a warped WWF storyline, every other country is getting their act together.

Back in June I attended a conference by the Solar Energy Industries Assn. (SEIA). The information available was astounding. Real products you can put on your house today with the tax credits were on display with the contractors to do the work. Fantastic !!!

I started to walk around the area that held the abstracts, the scientific papers and research driving this new Green Economy. It was looking at the UN without a lot of USA representation.

I walked away saddened that we are now floating behind the curve. We are dependent upon the Middle East for Oil, we are quickly becoming dependent upon the Pacific Rim and the EU for our technology.

It gets me angrier and angrier that our country, that is supposed to be the best on the planet, is mired in a debate whether we are destroying a part of the planet. We are killing ourselves by proving how utterly stupid we are.

If scaring the hell out of us with a Global Warming issue real or not, doesn't get us to move to a Green Economy then we are dead in the water.

We need to ramp up our engineering and tech fields. Part of the President's job is to put a goal before that is reachable. When Sputnik launched, Ike scared us to learn. Kennedy inspired us to get to the moon, applying that technology to drive a large part of our economy. The germs of the Green movement started under Nixon, gained credibility under Carter and were wiped away under Reagan. The Clinton years saw us use technology thru the Internet as an economic engine. Bush saw tech as a way to surveille.

Obama sees the Green economy as the engine to get us away from big oil and other interests. It will never get off the ground if this race to be stupid is allowed to continue. We will be owned by other interests than Middle East Sheiks.

The argument gets couched as
  • Some people want to actually act responsibly thru governments
  • Others wanting a free ride for everything all the time.

Listen up teabaggers...

It is time to pony up,
or really be subservient to foreign powers.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The President Visits Allentown !!! ( and I'm out in the cold)

Got an email the day before the President is starting a listening tour asking for human wallpaper. “We need you to be pasted at the Lehigh Carbon Community College up in Schnecksville.”

I actually like this type of stuff because it gives me a chance to listen. On the way in I saw some folks I wrote about a few blogs ago from Berks County. The Prothonitary candidate lost his race down there, but his spirits were high since he learned a lot about the process and was happy to be in a crowd to welcome the President. With him was a spark-plug’s spark plug, Beatrice H. who better be working for somebody and delivering (some people just jump out at you).

I had more than a chance to stay with the Obama supporters on the access road into the complex - with the signs and cooler chants and music. Yeahh!!! Hooray for our side!!! It is cool in a campaign, but I am at a different point right now.

There was a small group of teabaggers about 50 yards down the road. I grabbed a Healthcare sign and took the regular jawing as I walked by and stood about 20 yards past them. I held a sign and gave a big smile and thumbs-up to and anyone driving by. You can tell from the faces and thumbs who is with you. I noticed there may be a genetic link between people who drive German luxury vehicles and the inability to give a thumbs-up. Yes, they would smile and wave, but no thumbs-up. Did get a couple one-finger salutes, but they were very few. It gives me a sense of the crowd.

Soon the teabaggers left for another spot on the campus, where the President was actually going to drive past. I followed a short time later. Part of me doesn’t like giving the opposition too much open space. At the new spot I saw people in blue shirts asking Obama to save our jobs. TV cameras from news organizations and student projects filtered in and out to record the crowd. My favorite was a day-care provider who brought all her pre-school charges to see the President. Kids with flags is as American as it gets.

Each side had a Megaphone Point Person (MPP). It appeared the job of this person was to irritate the other side. I will need healthcare passed soon as the Obama MPP nearly blew out my eardrums.

The most interesting place for me is at the point these two forces meet. It is actually about a 10 foot corridor from the last Obama supporter to the first Teabagger. It is almost, ‘we want to get close to you, but we won’t mingle with you’. That is the space I enjoy the most.

I thought it was a hoot when the old GOP lady stated calling me a Communist. I let her know that I was an American, born here, raised here, working here, raising my kids here. But to her I am still a Communist. People from both sides got in between the shouting. A Teabagger came up to me and asked if Van Jones should be where he is. We both agreed he may be too far to the left, he walked away without complaint.

Miguel, who I have seen elsewhere (I asked him what he was running for and he said, “Not yet”), basically was trying to be peaceable about things while looking for the common ground with the teabaggers without giving up core values that he holds. We talked for a few minutes and he moved on.

The Blue team was yelling “O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a”. The Teabagger’s MPP tried to sing “God Bless America”, don’t worry the talent scouts won’t be calling.

I started talking to a teabagger with a sign and a Glenn Beck hat, Dave. Dave is getting his info from Glenn Beck and that is that. Obama bad. SEIU bad. Beck does a great job with his expose pieces and Glenn has made the case. I asked Dave about conservative values (I know there are liberals who would call that an oxymoron), where he got them from and the like. Dave is a small business guy who pays close to $500 a month in Health Insurance Premiums. He knows all the stuff for his family is on him. He is worried about the economy, just like everyone else. I asked Dave about the Invisible Hand. He never heard of it. I told him about Adam Smith and how he was really the Philosophical Father of Conservative thought. We talked for a bit more and while I didn’t get him to change anything – he is thinking. While he didn’t get me to change – I am thinking.

As Dave and I broke off, I moved to the front of the rope line, about 50 yards from the road the President would traverse. Still in between the groups the yelling back and forth intensified. “O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a” met “Obama Must Go” to create white noise that no one can think thru. The MPP’s for both sides changed their batteries.

There was more of the undercurrent trash talk going on when I finally said to a teabagger with a flag, “When are you guys going to start your own Party?”

“We’re taking over the Republican Party”, and he was proud of it.

“That’s great. Where do the moderates go?”, I responded.

“I’ll tell them where to go”, a voice jumped out.

“There will never be a third party here. The moderates will stay with us.”, from another voice.

“Why?”, throwing the ball back to them.

“Because the state is a two party state”, another said.

“What if I told you that you could freeze the Democratic Party out?”…

They really perked up.

After I explained some of the nuances of precinct politics, they said, “Why should we listen to you? You want to see us go down.”

“You don’t have to listen to me, fine. Think it out for yourselves”.

It was cool watching the wind drop from their sails. I could almost see the wheels turning, “Do we yell at this guy? Do we engage him further? Is this a Democratic plant?”

The MPP’s picked up again. One would say something and the other would have to respond. It just got annoying after a while.

Finally, one of the about 7 people standing there decided to see what my starting point of view was. “Do you believe in the Consitution as it was written?”

“It is a living document.” (Conservatives hate this answer. A good rejoinder is, “It wasn’t written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John”.)

“Who wrote it?”

“Madison, but the selling of it was really the Federalist Papers.” (Conservatives love the Federalist Papers, so if you are going to debate these guys, take some time to understand their playing field.)

Once my street cred was established, Kevin, the inquisitor and I starting talking. I asked him about the Invisible Hand. He got his street cred as a real conservative.

We started talking. For real talking. We both had our signs in hand, we both see the same sets of problems before the country. We are both scared as hell as to what is happening. Both our spouses work in the Healthcare field. We have kids at roughly the same stations in life. We are the same guy (he’s a little older, I’m a little heftier).

After a few minutes we were both getting ticked at the MPP’s. We weren’t Liberal guy vs. Teabagger. We are a couple of Americans who know we are sitting under a pile of bricks about to come crashing down around us.

The funniest thing was as we were solving all these ills, a reporter from the local East Penn newspaper came up to us, said he took our picture without us knowing it because we were just talking. He took our names and towns and went on.

There is something really wrong when it is news that a couple of Americans are talking TO each other instead of AT each other.

An MPP announced that the President’s motorcade was close. Kevin and I broke off. We went up to the line and cheered and jeered or whatever. I was surprised at the small size of the motorcade, but I guess Obama is cutting costs.

The last thing I remember yelling today was a rejoinder to the Teabaggers, “Obamas got to go!”.

“He’ll be ok, there’s a men’s room inside.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dithering... Not So Fast! (or a jammed Roller Derby Queen)

President Obama’s West Point speech was met with anticipation by all those concerned about the wars currently being waged. Some “Americans” has so much anticipation that they couldn’t wait for the speech to start their cheap shots.

Dick Cheney has been circling around the political discourse like the GOP’s version of the Roller Derby Queen ( I’ve had the Jim Croce song in my head for days where he sings about the “Meanest hunk o’ woman that anybody ever seen down in the arena.” He circles with the “dithering” charge, the next pass around the track is the old “he’s inexperienced” shot to the back of the head, tries to take out the Presidents knees with a “weakness” charge.

I am taking a step back for a moment on the “dithering” charge. I don’t know the exact timeline of how Obama put his decision together, frankly, I don’t care. He has done his due diligence. But Obama has done this right. I am not saying that because I like the feel of my Obama Pom-Poms in my hand. The more I see of the President, the more I like.

I really think he had the skeleton of this plan worked out at least 4 months ago. These 90+ days were the machinations of marshalling his resources. He took the advice of military council, whether it was Secretary Gate or General McChrystal or the General Petraeus or Secretary Powell. I think a lot of phone calls were made and a lot of people asked. He also took a lot of input from the political class. I don’t think for a moment there will be a problem getting the votes for the funding of this, because it has already been done behind closed doors. No Drama.

Look at the last month. Obama wasn’t going to a Far East Trip to check out Sushi and Won-Ton. I am sure he enjoyed the Forbidden City, but I am sure those conversations behind closed doors were something along the lines of, “This is what we are doing. Can you offer any tips, since this is your neighborhood over here?”

The nicest touch was the first state dinner. Who was the honored guest? India is the largest democracy on the planet !!! These people have probably the next most to lose in the region if this thing goes haywire. It cannot be underestimated the stakes India has in this game. It was a Mumbai massacre that is making this region even more flammable.

If you are going to get your ducks inline, it is cool to have about a billion of them on the other side of Pakistan. I wonder if there is a firewall strategy going on here if things get out of hand with Pakistan?

Back on the domestic front, I would not be surprised at all if the McChrystal comments about 40,000 troops were a trial balloon requested by the administration of the military. The military is really doing its job because it knows this project has to be sold to the American public.

Speaking of selling things to the American Public, will it be easier or more difficult to get health care reformed if all the oxygen in the room is being taken up by these military issues? The healthcare debate now has a counter-balance in the public discourse.

The logistics for these things takes months to plan.

What you are hearing is only the sound of a Roller Derby Queen being jammed by a Power Forward.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

To quote Paul for Sarah...

The Sarah Palin feeding frenzy is in full force.

The father of her grandchild is posing for skin mags.  We can’t call him a son-in-law because her kid hasn’t married the guy.  (It is a good thing too, since a marriage like that looks like a car wreck from 5,000 miles away.)

Her ex-brother-in-law is now in the media making comments about her book.  Huff Po Link Here 

There are numerous scandals and ethics violations going an about her.  (ebay airforce from Alaska, anyone?)

The troubling part of this whole thing is that she is wrapping herself as a political Christian.  She wants God to open the door a crack for her to rush in.  This makes her a darling of the Evangelicals, and that is fine.

However, St Paul talks about how to select a leader, or elder in his letter to Titus. The quote I am using is from  Just so that we all have a common translation I am placing the link.

Here is that translation:

 5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

6An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

7Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

8Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

You may draw your own conclusions.

Some notes to first reactions received when this concept was posted in another blog on HP.

  • First, is Sarah Palin using a Christian base from which to launch herself?  Is that launchpad a demographic foundation?  A theoritical foundation?  If any of those questions are yes, then it is proper to quote the passagages as part of inspired Christian text.  She is asking to be an elder or leader, these questions, I believe, land very close to the border of judge not, lest you be judged.  She is asking us to pass judgement on her to be a leader.
  • Second, from a non-religous standpoint, a lot of people have a problem with St. Paul because of other views, myself included.  That doesn't mean that the man couldn't have come up with a good idea that stands the test of time.  I think this quote removed from a Christian context is one of these.  In other words, it is ok to seperate out the religous baggage and look at this quote as just a good idea.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sarah Palin and the Great GOP Cleavage of 2009

Oh, I am not talking about THAT cleavage (clean up your mind).  This is about the Great GOP Cleavage of ideology that is happening today, right now.

Lining up for the firing squad on the Far Right of your screen are the Tea Bagging Birthers led by the Winkin’ Wasslin’.  Going Rogue is the first foray in what I believe is a series of books Sarah Palin will be using to make her case for the White House.  This book is about putting her into perspective.  Later books will be about the direction she wants to take the GOP.  I’ll leave it to others to pay for her book in both the cash to possess it and the time to read it.

Lining up in the Center of your screen are the moderate Republicans with nowhere to go.  I could make the snarky case this group is led by dynamic people like Joe “Droopy Dog” Lieberman or John “Dr. Frankenstein” McCain.  Their supporting cast would include folks like Tom Ridge, Rudy Guliani, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and both Senators from Maine.  People who have some level of credibility in the GOP, but the general public can see them as reasonable people, even if they don’t agree with them on issues.  I will even put castaways like Arlen Specter in this group.

Right now, today, 30% of the electorate deems Sarah Palin White House worthy.  That means 70% of the remainder are going to be split out with Democrats, Independents, Moderate Republicans, Greens, Blue Dogs, Purple Rain People, whatever.

Today, right now, give about 50% to Obama and the Democratic Party.  Blue Dogs can easily split from the Donkey Party and bind themselves into another group.

That leaves about 20% of the electorate with nowhere to go.  The idea of Smiling Sarah in the White House is as much as an anathema to these folks as is an Obama Presidency.

This may be the best opportunity for a third party to come about in our lifetimes.  The question is who gets the furniture and kids as we watch this very public divorce proceed.  I’ll buy popcorn.  This will be better than Jon and Kate.

I am using the word Cleavage not only as a fun word to use, but defining it as the point where the GOP begins to really split apart.  The NY-23 race is the first real fissure.  Disaffected elephants in the room started the Conservative Party for their one candidate to run.  That works great in NY for a single race. 

We are talking here about a movement within the GOP that will split it apart. The Cleavage Moment will be defined by a formal declaration of another party for the Far Right Wing (the Conservative Party?) or some other mechanism supported by the Moderates (the party to be named later?).

Election Laws favor a 2 party and only a 2 party system. 

There are some smart people on both sides of this divide.  They are going to need to do some mechanics.  While they are in the fight for the soul of the party, which appears to be leaning towards the far right, some people need to get on the stick to begin creating another entry to the two party system.

There are side effect benefits for the GOP to do this.  For example in Pennsylvania, a number of elected offices are held by minority party members.  These offices are by design.  A number of counties have 3 commissioners where only 2 may be of a given party.  That leaves one minority member as a token watchdog.  In the polling places there are the offices of Majority and Minority Inspectors.  Both candidates run for the post of Inspector, the person who wins the most votes, regardless of party, is the Majority Inspector (they appoint the paid operators for the day).  The person who gets the next most votes AND is not a member of the Majority Inspector’s Party becomes a Minority Inspector (they appoint the paid clerks who check people in).

There are places in Pennsylvania that I can see the Democratic Party being completely shut out of the political process if the GOP splits into 2 distinct parties.

Here is an example how the system is rigged, systemically.  In 2006, Green Party Candidate Carl Romanelli needed 67,000 signatures on nominating petitions to gain access to the statewide ballot to run for the US Senate.  The 67,000 figure was generated by calculating the 2% of the previous election totals, pulling numbers from the air and asking the Witches from Macbeth to work on their Eye of Newt.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have a $200 filing fee with a 2,000 signature threshold.  So for the new party to get into gear, they will need to do over 30x times the work of an existing party.  Kind of an interesting take on equal protection under the law, isn’t it? 

As an aside to this story -  Romanelli, desperate to get into the race, actually contracted with GOP operatives to get signatures for his nominating petitions.  It gets even weirder from there.  The Democrats challenged Romanelli’s petition in court.  Romanelli got bounced from the ballot because of suspect signatures (surprise, surprise) and an $80,000 fine for attempting to get on the ballot.  The ONLY other person to be fined in such a way was Ralph Nader trying to run for President. 

More weird stuff, 2 years later, the Attorney General in Pa indicted the Democrats involved in challenging the signatures, accusing them of doing so on tax payer time.  This scandal was dubbed Bonusgate.  Last week the former GOP Speaker of House of Representatives did a perp walk as part of the Bonusgate investigation.  I am waiting to hear if there is any connection to the Romanelli race.  This is a big story on the horizon.

As far as the mechanics of what is happening now, both sides in this GOP ideological war would do well with a strategy of establishing new digs in case they lose control of the main portion of the party structure.  Neither side can guarantee a win in this case.  Both sides of the GOP need to hedge their bets by bringing legal barriers down now if they are going to be viable next year or in 2012.  I am sure the Keystone State is not unique with the 2 party stranglehold. 

Here’s to watching videos of some great GOP Cleavage…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tactics of the GOP First Unit Bill

Aesop Fables are great teaching tools.  I like the one where a father goes to his kids, hands them each a stick and says, “break the stick”.  They shrug their shoulders and break the sticks.  No big deal.  Next day, he hands each of them another stick and says put your sticks together and bind them.  Then he says, “Now break this” as he points to the bundle.  They shrug their shoulders and try their luck.  Not so easy.  You can almost hear the dad telling them, “Its’ a lot tougher when you guys stick together, isn’t it.”

If you watch C-Span, you will notice a sculpture on the wall of bound group of sticks to either side of the dais where the Speaker of the House sits.  I don’t think that is an accident.

I am irritated.  Not at the GOP.  I can’t be any more irritated at them as I would a snake I find in my backyard as it tries to bite me.  I expect to be injured if I try to handle such a creature.

I am irritated at the Democratic Leadership for a number of things; first, not having the foresight to prepare 2 bills.  The first being the, “GOP First Unit” bill.  You can think up your own acronym for it.  That is the one that has no input from the GOP to essentially say, “This is what we will pass if you don’t play straight with us.”  We would have had single payer, or fully funded Medicare for All -- the real Democratic dream bill.

The second bill, would be the one where the GOP can come to the table, if they wish, to offer comment or their input. The Omnibus General Task Health Care Reform Bill (aka TOGETHER).  That would have been the one the President would have signed if everybody played nice.

Schedule votes for both bills on the same night.  Use pressure from the passage of the first bill, to get TOGETHERness on the second.

The problem is the Democrats in Congress pride themselves in being a bunch of twigs.  I don’t know if it is the leadership or the nature of the party, but they lost for everybody.  Had they stuck together, as the GOP opposition had, in monolithic fashion we would be looking at what 70% of our citizens were asking for.  We would be really looking at a GOP on the ropes and down for the count.

By being too cute by 2, the Democratic Leadership let them up off the mat.

Next reason I am irritated at the party leaders is that they granted passes to a bunch of Congress people.  If you hadn’t noticed, the President is getting beaten up in the press lately over health care.  He needed to know the Democrats in Congress, many of them there because of the coattails of Barack Obama, needed to back him, AS OUR LEADER.

We needed every one of those votes.  Each one that went the other way gave space for the GOP to hammer the Democratic Party.  Instead of a win of 220-215 wouldn’t it have been more impressive to the Senate to have a vote of 259-176.  How would those talking points have gone on the Sunday Morning Blabfests?

We needed to get the country thinking that the Democratic Party is united; we will work together on our own, because we have the votes to do it.  When that image is projected it makes it more difficult for the waffling senators to play games with this thing.  The Democratic Leadership in the house needed to get into the heads of the General Public as well as the Senators across the Capitol building.  We needed the full bundle of sticks for the aura of fiat accompli.

My next irritant is the 39 soon to be former Congresspeople who have the Audacity of Dope.  2010 will be a replay of 1994.  It is because of health care and these Democrats that we will deserve to lose.

I am sure every one of those Congress people were asked what they wanted in the bill.  I am sure many of them got provisions they asked for.  Once you ask for something and it is included, you cannot turn your back on it and vote against it. 

If your Congressperson was voting against this bill to preserve their seat in 2010, I have a newsflash for them, “It was already gone.  You weren’t going to win anyway.”  Do you really think that the GOP will let up on you?  You may as well have cut you leg open in the water and announce to the sharks that you are in the water, it’s lunchtime!

If you live in a county served by one of these people, I would ask that you call your Democratic County Chairperson and committee persons and ask them not to circulate the Congressperson Twig’s nominating petition.  This Congressperson has now rendered them self useless and weak as well as clueless.

4% of our people are still out in the cold.  300,000,000 x .04 = 12,000,000 people. 

What are the core values for the American People?  I keep thinking about Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want.  I thought the Democratic Party was the best vehicle for serving all of us.  The Democratic Leadership asked us, the electorate, to provide them with the tools to support President Obama.  They weren’t shy about asking for money on this either. 

We did our part. We not only expect, but demand, that heads get banged so we get what we have asked for.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Day for A Day

I am a proud Pennsylvanian.  The current Phillies run is great – the team is now being compared to the 1929 Philadelphia A’s as the best ever (an analysis done by Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago had the audacity to say Connie Mack’s A’s were better than Ruth’s ’27 Yankees).

I own a Pottsville Maroons 1925 Championship T-shirt.  I drink Yuengling beer.  I used to be able to name close to 30 Tastykake pies (I thought I was impressing my future wife with that skill).

You take the good with the bad.  I can live with 10,000 Phillies losses or watching Temple get continuously rooked at football, or seeing the Maroons Championship taken away from them by the  NFL (yeah, they were corporate pinheads back then too).  That doesn’t diminish my pride at being from the original Quaker State.

Sometimes I am not as proud to be a member of the Keystone State.  A couple of rouge judges in Wilkes-Barre, in the Northeast part of the state, destroyed the lives of thousands of young people because the judges were on the take.

These “people” (in quotes because I really don’t know what they are) abused their power as judges.  I will not value them as people by using their names.

Here’s a link to’s coverage of the PA Supreme Court vacating case after case because these guys set up a scam where the juvenile court system became the feeder system to a bunch of for-profit detention centers.

These judges rushed kids through the juvenile justice system for truly minor offenses, rewarding them with 3 months at these prison camps.  Many times the kids had no legal representation and were immediately whisked away to do their time.

Now that these clowns are caught, they are trying to weasel their way through the system.  It appears the legal system can’t truly handle their own.  Evidently a deal was cut to allow these guys on the street after doing about 7 years.

If you want cynicism, this is the rawest form.  Sending a kid to jail on unbalanced charges for money and ruining their lives deserves more than any system we have in place can accommodate.  (PA has a death penalty on the books, but we’d never be able to strap them down. ) It is as much an insult to even think seven years can atone for what they have done to either their direct victims or to the rest of us. 

They have broken the system and truly damaged all of us.

How about some sentencing flexibility? These guys should get to serve one day for each day they sentenced each kid to do.

During the serving of a given kids’ sentence, if the kid wants to stop by and lecture these guys on the how screwed up society is, let them do it.  No weapons, because these losers behind bars will need to be preserved for the next person they rooked over.

And for this type of punishment, I am not just talking about the judges here.  Anybody that had anything to do with this, knew about it and let it slide gets the same deal.  That means the prosecutors, the bailiff, or a cop who thought he saw something and didn't do right by these kids -- they get it too.

We all saw the story about the 15 year-old raped while her classmates looked on after the homecoming dance.  We are all as much horrified at the actions of those who did the deed as we are at those who stood by.

There is a moral equivalence here.  The system has no problem (as do most properly thinking people) in going after the bystanders.  Why are the bystanders in Wilkes-Barre not pursued?

There are enough parts of our society that have no or diminished faith in our system.  I lost a lot of it with Gore v. Bush.  I lost more of it when a Green Party candidate was given an $80,000 fine for just trying to get on the election ballot (my next rant).

If any of us go to court, we don’t need to be looking over our shoulder thinking, “Is this guy on the take?”

It will make me more proud to think we can come up with a better way to flush out this type of garbage.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Out-Teabag the Teabaggers

It is becoming evident that in some cases just calling your congressperson isn’t going to work.  They are just too dense.  They think we are a bunch of phone stalkers.

The timing is right for the next step.  Events this week show this issue is come to a tipping point.

The results of the election were bittersweet (thank you NY-23). 

Michele Bachmann wants to scare our representatives with angry protests.  She wants more teabagging. 

Dan Froomkin suggests taking to the streets in his post:  Not all of us can make it to DC for such a march.  But we need to do something.

I think we can out-teabag the teabaggers.  I suggested in other posts that you need to sell your body to your congressperson to get them to see the light on Healthcare.   (

Now there are people staging sit-ins.  This is absolutly great!!!

Take a look at the following links:

Swarthmore College is Organized -

Mobilize for Healthcare, ,is really taking it seriously .  There is even a section on what to expect when you get arrested.  Fantastic site and a wonderful resource.

Portland, Ore has gotten their act together -

However, these sit-ins are occurring at Insurance Companies.  I am afraid the Insurance Companies are laughing up their sleeves.  They are driven by cash and profit.  Sit-ins at their HQ doesn't affect them.  After all, these guys are the original death panelists.

It may be more effective if sit-ins were being staged at local Congressional Offices.  We need to negotiate with people who have the power to do something.

If your Congressperson or Senator is not supporting the public option it is time for a good, old-fashioned sit-in.  At their local legislative office(s) next Friday from about 9 am on park your fanny in near the door.  Bring a guitar, sitar, or just some nacho chips and cheese to share.

Bring a sign.  Dress-up.  Scare the socks off of them just by showing up in the costume of a concerned American. Actually, they need to see your smiling face telling them quietly that you want this and you are willing to work with them, not against them.

I am saying to start this on a Friday because they are normally home in their district on Friday (unless they have one of those special Appalachian Trail/Argentina appointments).

All summer long we got to see all sorts of protesting going on from the right wing.

  • Birthers did it,
  • Baggers did it,
  • Even the death panelists did it,
  • so let’s do it...

(sorry - I’m channeling Cole Porter)

Now is time to embarrass and enlighten them with your presence.  Get your butt in front of their doors.  They can invite the cops to visit, but you still have the right to assemble (unless the Patriot Act took that away too).

Let's use some honey to attract people to our side instead of vinegar.  It is extremely effective to show your congressman and their staff your smiling face with your neighbors in tow.  Feel free to go in individually to speak to the staffers, introduce yourself and tell them why you want this.  Ask to see the congressperson, I am sure they would personally appreciate your input, after all they are supposed to be working for you.

If you are uninsured or unemployed or disabled having a rough time of it, stop by and let them know how much you would appreciate some help.  You know, healthcare as a right, not just for the privileged.

If this works on Friday, great!  If it doesn’t, stop by again on Monday and bring a few more friends.

This is really crunch time people.  I know this is a little short notice, but sometimes the most fun is had with little or no notice.

If a bunch of Teabaggers can do this why can't we?

I remember the climax to a movie that used the line, "There are more of us than there are of you...".

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bishops of Atheism

I was listening to the Michael Smerconish Program where the main guest was Dr. Richard Dawkins.  He was hawking his new book.

Dr. Dawkins is one of what I call the Bishops of Atheism, people spreading the gospel of non-god.  To him anyone who believes in God is delusional. 

He claims to follow The Golden Rule.  You try going up to your neighbor and tell him his entire belief system is warped, there is something wrong with him upstairs, and expect him to say, “Have a nice day, Joe”.  Yeah, and he's calling ME delusional.

He has no problem throwing billions of us under the bus.  Yes, I said BILLIONS of us.  A Billion Roman Catholics here ( not including at least a half BILLION combined Eastern Rite Orthodoxies plus Protestant plus Evangelical churches), a BILLION Muslims over there, a BILLION Hindus hiding in the sub-continent; that is a pretty big darn bus.  I haven’t included all those who believe in God, but are not part of a formal religion, or one of the ones enumerated here, or have rejected the concept of religion and still have faith in God.

I guess it is good we are self contained on this planet.  Maybe since we are all so delusional, it may be better for him to place himself in some sort of institution, isolated for his own protection. 

Aside from being extremely arrogant, he is wrong on his premises.

It is understood just having overwhelming numbers doesn’t make a position or proposition correct.  You need some basis from which to operate. I know, I will use logic!

Logic is the tool that the Bishops of Atheism use.  It is their Genesis to the Fundamental Evangelicals.  You cannot assail logic; we all know logic is all powerful.  It is what can be used to eliminate the existence of God!  I think Douglas Adams had some thing go poof in an exposion of a logical bomb somewhere in the Hitchhiker Series.

Here’s a little secret I learned from 2 semesters of logic taught by a guy named Dr. Wisdom (no lie, I couldn’t make that one up) at Temple University in the 80’s.  Logic has limits.  It is called a tautology. (I misspoke here and have been corrected by Neal Jansons.  I should have said paradox.) It is a breakdown in the logical system.  You can also check a book called called Godel, Escher, Bach for a different take on this.  It is best to demonstrate.

I have 2 statements, you tell me what the result is and I will have a counter argument to you.

1 – This statement is true.

2 – The previous statement is false.

After you twist you logic around for a while you realize that logic is a tool.  Just like a hammer or a wrench.  You can’t use a flathead screwdriver on a Philips head screw; it is just not the right tool.

If you are going to call me delusional for my belief in God, whatever His or Her form would be; then you better come at me with a pretty big tool.

Sorry champ, your tool just ain’t big enough or consistent enough to move me off my belief in God.

The Bishops of Atheism are very good practitioners of Sophistry.

My point is I cannot prove the existence of God using pure logic (nor do I wish to).  But neither can you disprove the existence either.  We are at a stalemate.

Here is Pascal’s bet.  Two statements:

I believe in God.

There is a God.

Either can be true or false. 

If I believe in God and there is a God, I should be in good shape when I pass on. 

If I believe in God and there is no God, I’ll have lived a good life, but no harm, no foul when I pass on. 

If I don’t believe in God and there is no God, I’ll have a “whatever” life, it means nothing when I pass on. 

If I don’t believe in God and there is a God, I may have a slight problem when I hook up with Him/Her when I pass on. 

That is why I look at The Bishops of Atheism as very wise fools.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breakfast with the Scars

On the national level the blood sport game of politics is played on a grand scale.  Locally, the rough and tumble can leave real scars and scarring. 

I doubt that some of the talking heads on TV have families that would associate with each other at the Home and School Association, or the local supermarket.  Places where they would have to interact with families of those they are ripping for a living.

In local politics, these are the people you see at the lacrosse field when your kids are playing or at Augie’s Auto when dropping off for an oil change or grabbing a Pizza at Tosco’s (well-done Sicilian with ground beef is recommended).  There is real skin in the game here.

I call it a game for a reason.  Baseball is a game, basketball is a game, football is a game; but they don’t mean much.  In 1960, who won the presidential election, World Series, Rose Bowl (the NFL is too easy everyone knows the Eagles beat the Packers!), NIT Championship (the NIT was the bigger one back then)?   How did each of these events shape our national lives?  Politics is the only game that means anything. 

Local politics is where your life is affected the most.  It is also the least attended to.  That means if you get involved you have the biggest bang for your buck.

I wrote on the Berks County Democratic annual dinner a few weeks ago.  The Joe Sestak campaign asked if I could attend their county meeting. Berks County has a full slate of qualified candidates ANY Democrat would be proud to have.  It was a Saturday breakfast meeting in October – great idea.  You are not taking away any canvassing during crunchtime.  Start knocking on doors with a fresh attitude and a full stomach. 

I am still trying to figure out the real dynamic of what went on.  Berks is not a unique place.  I am sure things like the following are going on across the country.  A substantial portion of the county is served by Congressman Tim Holden.  He has been a Democratic stalwart for close to two decades.  I learned his district carries a 40% Democratic base.  This tells me the Congressman is listening to all constituencies and can successfully navigate his way back to DC every two years.

When I sat down at the breakfast meeting, I intentionally found a spot near a wall (appropriate for a firing squad) where no lit for candidates was placed. I am a guest delivering an announcement (Ned Lamont from CT endorses Sestak on Monday at Independence Hall). 

As the room filled, some of the more passionate and committed members of the committee sat near me.  I share their belief that Single Payer would be the best solution for health care.  This is part of a group that has taken control of one of the bridges connecting Reading, Pa. to the rest of the world.  On Fridays these folks carry signs for peace, health care and social justice.  They are moving the ball down the field nicely.  They are also for one of my candidates’ primary opponents.  The opponent has tactically set political positions; Single Payer, Pro-Life, Anti-Civil Union.  I suspect the bridge folks are attracted to his moral purity of Single Payer and can sweep all other things under the rug.

Since the seat I occupied wasn’t dressed with literature, I didn’t know there was a motion to be discussed.  The bridge group passed out literature about an amendment to the motion.  Didn’t pay much attention, but soon realized a circular firing squad was forming.

The bridge group was attempting to force language upon the entire county party that would formally hold accountable the Congressman’s vote on health care without naming the Congressman directly.  If they thought they could have gotten a motion to rip the Congressman’s toenails out if he didn’t go with them on health care, they would have tried.  Any waffling must be punished.  The guns were being raised.

The next hour and a half was that special ring of hell reserved for Roberts Rules. 

  • Motion,
  • amendment,
  • amendment to the motion,
  • flanker in motion,
  • v-cut to the left,
  • amend the word expect to urge,
  • amend to purge urge,
  • everybody sit down,
  • who has the urge,
  • now stand if you are for the fifth amendment and against the fourth one. 

When the firing stopped, by a series of close and hard fought votes, the committee decided to URGE any Democrat to support health care. 

The party chairman did an outstanding job of minimizing the damage, but some was inflicted internally.  I complemented him on running an excellent cat rodeo at the end of the meeting.

Basically, the underlying debate is; what is the purpose of the Democratic (or any) Party and how should it be used.  A long time ago I came to my conclusion the (Democratic) party system is an executive search committee for our government.  Find the best qualified people, warts and all, endorse them, and back up your endorsement with elbow equity and/or cash.  Get them in to do their stuff.  This is the group of people who narrowly carried the day.  They were the old heads of the party who don’t go away when a particular issue isn’t on the table.

An alternative position to this is that the party system is a vehicle to be used as a way to enact specific societal change.  In this case it was health care or bust.  Last year it was Hillary/Obama. These are folks that bring fire to the party.  They have the expansive energy to get things done.

I saw a political fight where everybody lost.  At least 98% of the people in that room are for health care with a public option at the minimum.  The first casualties were the row office candidates that need the full attention of everybody in the last month of a local campaign.  The worst scar was the sense we are all in this together.

Both groups are necessary for a vibrant party.  Mix them in the wrong amounts and you can have an explosion that can destroy a party. 

Want to see my scars?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Boy in the Balloon - Let's Watch it Pop!

The surreal once again took over.  A 6 year old theoretically was whisked away by a weather balloon.

Helicopters, National Guard, Talking Heads – wow this is great TV!

Must watch TV!  Let’s have an OJ chase.

Must watch TV!  Let’s have a chase like the one Fox broadcast for most of the day that Obama won the Nobel.

Must watch TV!  Let’s overanalyze like every other micro-event.

Give me a flipping break.

I am not in the media, I just write on a blog on a really cool site.  The media is a business.  They wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t making a buck.

Come on, we all know a buck is being turned here.

Every cable news outlet ran with this thing.  Every news organization has had their 2 cents on it.  Every newspaper in the country had something on it in their first section.

In between Ed Shultz, or Wolf Blitzer, or Shep Smith’s gaping eyes of amazement on a new UFO is a common theme.  In between Today or GMA family shots of the kid hurling is a common theme.  As every word is delivered to the doorstep is a common theme.

Advertizing dollars!  In between segments, a word from our sponsors!  YEEEAAAAHHH!  I know it sounds almost trite and cynical.

I am calling this a publicity stunt.  The cost estimate to the government is about $2 million.  Those are tax dollars there.  They are being whisked away, floating above the cheering cameramen below.  We the taxpayers are getting nothing in return.

Ok, so we can go after the bonehead dad who started this.  At the end of the day he won’t be worth much financially.  Certainly not enough to justify the public sector cost.  From my perspective, this bonehead dad did this for one reason, to get on the tube.  The media was more than willing to watch this family break up for profit on the Wife-Swap Channel or whatever.  (Any family values commentary can go here…).  He figured he can go one better by setting up his own amateur hour.

The Media is The Message – The Message is The Media.  Where have we heard that before?

I believe the media circus concerning this was set in motion by the media.  At what point does the media have an obligation to pay for its’ content. 

I know I will never get a straight answer for this, but wouldn’t it be cool to see the revenue numbers for a typical Thursday into Friday with no off-the-wall chases or goofiness.  Then look at the revenue numbers for the latest dog-and-pony show.  I have to believe those media outlets made out great.

The least the media can do is reimburse the treasuries of the first responder organizations who went out of their way to be part of the drama of the story.  I say that tongue-in-check - those first responders did a great job just doing what they do.

How much extra did they take in yesterday?  Wouldn’t it be nice for the media to have a 6-year-old’s value system of sharing?  … a 6-year-old’s value system of right and wrong?

Now that would be surreal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Can't We Just Say "Obama, We're Proud of You?"

I know this may become a piece of Saturday morning pizza.  Sometimes overlooked or thrown out.  If you have it for breakfast you get a different taste than Friday night.  I waited to write this so I could look on the blogs and absorb the media to get a perspective on the announcement of Obama's peace prize.  How he did/didn’t deserve it.  Too soon to tell/maybe it is encouragement.  Obama is evil/good.  Snub to W/Hurray for Barack.  The Nobel will cripple/enable him.

These articles tell me something else.  It is a mirror on us.  We are now small petty people.  Peck-a-little, talk-a-little, cheep, cheep, cheep, peck-a-little, talk-a-little.

What kind of people have we become?  Our leader has won the planet’s greatest honor, The Nobel Peace Prize.  It is something for little kids to sing about.  (I am sorry to you indoctronaires.)  It is a great excuse for low-class people to snipe.  I thought about this 2 years ago when Al Gore took home part of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The media machine has geared up quickly to distract and diminish the substantial.  Dismantle it before, God forbid; Obama gets any traction out of this.  This action is coming from both the left and the right.  It is disgusting from both ends.

Is there a bigger honor to be bestowed upon a person living or dead?  Yes, blessed are the peacemakers.  It is not some quaint notion.  It is now what we must do to survive.  The planet is too small, the weaponry too good, and the populations too on edge.

The world rejoiced to see Obama elected.  Over the past decade, the United States’ ego had become bigger than the land masses of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo, and North Korea combined.  The nominations closed in February, when the fresh newness of this administration still had a banana oil smell (like a new car). 

I believe this selection is as much about what lies ahead for Obama as much as it is a rebuke of GW Bush.  Two stolen terms in the White House, yes stolen terms by the GOP, has crippled the world economy and killed thousands of people.  The world looked at our behavior over the last decade and is rightly appalled.

The selection wasn’t announced until October.  As the committee went through its deliberations, I am sure it was not lost on them that the United States, or at least a rabid portion of the right, was loudly rejecting Obama.  Death Panels and Birthers; Tea Baggers and armed protesters are not lost on these folks.

We have seen too many leaders fall in the process of assimilating power or using it properly.  Lincoln, Gandhi, JFK, MLK, RFK, Benigno Aquino, Rabin, and Bhutto come to mind.  After something happens we lament that we should have done more while they are here.

The people on this committee are Swedish citizens.  I wonder how many recalled the assassination of their Prime Minister, Olof Palme in 1986.  Palme was a Social Democrat.  He was a lightning rod for both the left and the right.  When he got power and authority he did something with it.  Spoke for peace, justice and equality.  If you Google him and look at his biography from any number of sources, you will find that our President has an affinity for his positions.  Palme’s murder investigation is still open.  It has the requisite number of conspiracy theorists.

This is the world saying loud and clear that the right wing zealots in the United States are out-of-line with everybody else on the planet.  The world recognizes we have a special leader.  Obama is in a state of flux.  In physics terms we are at a moment, or a turning point. On one side of a lever stand GOP activists and racists trying to do anything they can to attack this president.  Shoulder to shoulder with these sycophants are the egotistical Democrats in Congress haven’t figured it out yet that Obama is the leader.  The world is rightly giving Obama more credit than some bloated loon Senator from Montana.

The world is standing on the other side of this lever with jaws dropped on the floor trying to think of something to do to help.  They have caught this act before. 

I am damn proud that my President, Barack Obama, has won this accolade.  I am tired of the Arizona Staters that say he hasn’t done enough to warrant anything.  I am sick of the morons using pretzel logic who think this will cripple him.  This is the world speaking to us.  We could try to listen for once.

Have some pizza and think about it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rubber Chickens in Reading...

The aging Senator leaned in on the dais, his right hand starting to show what arthritis can do.  His digits flare downward slightly.  It made me think about how uncomfortable it must be for a guy in his 80’s to be glad handing a crowd of a couple of hundred people.

His voice is still there enough to remind one of a figure who ran for president a couple of decades ago.  He is clear with the standard stump speech and the obligatory one-liners.

Polite applause greeted the fact that he has visited Berks County close to 70 times during his Senate tenure.  He talked about a long career in the senate where he chaired different committees and stopped the likes of Robert Bork.  There were cheers to the projects put in place using the monies he had secured on the Senate floor.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am talking about Senator Arlen Specter. I attended the Berks County Annual Dinner outside Reading, Pa. last Friday night as a guest of the Joe Sestak Campaign. 

When the Senator switched parties earlier this year I held some hope and held my breath. The man comes with 29 years seniority in the Senate.  Our state can’t get that very easily.  It is not as though we can trade two congressmen, a mayor, and three future draft picks to Vermont to get a decent senator with seniority who can hit a curve ball.  I was hoping when he changed his jersey we would have someone who cut a decent deal for himself that would benefit Pennsylvania in the long run.  I expected to see a senator who would be dogged in his support of President Obama.  We have our 60th Senator, why mess with that?

I wasn’t crazy about Joe Sestak getting into this race. He is my congressman.  He could have the job for life if he wanted it.  As far as I am concerned this candidate is manna from heaven.  Normally, when I look at a candidate I ask what has the person done with their life?  Would you talk to them in the grocery store about small talk?  Do they run a successful business?  Are they involved in their community in a special way?  What do the kids look like?  Do the people around them look sane?  Getting a personable 3 star admiral who ran a carrier fleet who likes Philly sports with every member of his large family pulling for him, well, it is hard to go wrong.

As I start to exhale I am realizing, personally, that Specter is not right for Pennsylvania at this time. When he talked about stopping Bork, I thought about Specter allowing Clarence Thomas entry to the bench.  If this were a Republican Dinner instead of a Democratic Dinner, would Specter have congratulated himself on allowing Clarence Thomas to the seated on the Supreme Court bench instead of stating he blocked Bork?

It is still not lost on me that Bush v. Gore was a 5-4 decision.  I once silently stood with my back to Sandra Day O’Connor in protest as she spoke at a July 4th awards ceremony at Independence Hall a few years ago for the same reason.

When the movie JFK came out I had to be pulled off the ceiling of the theater when the Kevin Costner character revealed it was Arlen Specter that came up with the single bullet theory.  I was blown away not only by the theory itself, but by how long Specter has been around.  I don’t know the greater amount of time that has passed; when Specter became a Republican or when the Eagles (NFL’s version of the Cubs) last won a championship?

When Specter came over, he could not figure out how to put a Democratic uniform on. In front of the president, he stated that he would not go along with all of Obama’s policies.  He was going to pick and choose.  This guy is supposed to be a master politician.  The Dems in the Senate, showing rare backbone, revoked his seniority status.  No chairmanships, no clout for Pa.

Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is another spot where I scratched my head.  If you read the law nowhere, I mean NO WHERE, does the law revoke a secret ballot.  It appends methods to allow workers to organize.

Specter played games with this issue.  I called his office in the spring and asked directly about EFCA and was told the Senator was towing the GOP line.  I think he has since come over and is supporting EFCA, but he damaged the President by playing politics with this. He has allowed the president’s opponents space to work with to attempt to bring down this president.

Obama showed a great deal of class through this.  He came to a fundraiser to help Specter in Philly.  All the party mucky-mucks were there.  I understand they got a solid seven figure take on the night.  I get why the President has to do this.  I get why the party hierarchy has to do this.  The next time we get someone to switch parties; they can’t let them hang out to dry.  They don’t want the prospective Democrat to say, “Well, look what happened to Specter.”

I sat in the room with the folks from Berks and listened as Specter talked about the 2009 local races and how the Democratic Ticket there would do well and how he would do whatever he could to help.  It was met with a very nice, respectful applause.

I am feeling like I am not that far from the rank and file Dems with their feet in the trenches.  We will respect the man and his office.  When Specter’s remarks turned to 2010 and asked for help in his races next year.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Campaign a Trios...

New Jersey sits about 20 miles from here.  It is a peninsula bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware River and Delaware Bay.  It is free to go into the state and people gladly pay to leave (all the toll booths are set up on the Jersey side).  Some people think you need a passport to leave the state, but that is just a rumor.

Politically, they are more advanced than my home, Pennsylvania (some call us Pennsylbama or Pennsyltucky).  Jersey allows open primaries.  That means that Democratic voters can select Independents or Republicans in their primaries.  It also allows for more Independents in general.  This is a good thing.

The race for Governor across the river is starting to look interesting.  It is a 3-way race, as much as you can have one these days.  If you haven’t seen Independent Chris Daggett’s commercial please check it out now.  It is entertaining and creative.  

I don’t know any of these guys from a hole in the ground.  I have no dog in this fight.  But what I hope happens here is the double-clutch.  The double-clutch is the point that makes you re-think something.  An event makes us break out of our routines to react differently to the environment.  Today, a good three-way race can make a good double-clutch.

Ok, let’s look at a standard 2-way race – D vs. R; Blue vs. Red; Phillies vs. Mets (notice I put the good guys first on those…) you don’t have to define yourself.  You define your tactics and strategies to the opponent to give you the best advantage.

If my opponent is soft on gun-rights, call up the NRA, they’ll be happy to stir the pot for you.  If the opponent wants to eliminate all taxes everywhere, you can always find the public school parents who are directly benefitting from those taxes and they will have a vested interest in defeating your opponent.  If your opponent has a clearly defined stand on the abortion issue you get a guaranteed team on your side, either pro or con.

Two way races allow you to paint your opponent into the corner so that you can maximize the space in between you.  It is a linear game.  As an example, I’ll use the Casey – Santorum race a few years ago (notice I put the good guy first again…).   Pennsylbama is really defined by the far Southeast Corner of the state (Philly and the 5 surrounding counties) which are trending more blue over the last few years, the 30-40 mile radius around Pittsburgh which tend to trend purple, and the rest of the state have different shades of red. 

Catholics are big here.  I mean REALLY BIG here.  If you want to see a saint in a glass coffin, stop by St. Peter’s Church basement in North Philly and pay your respects to St. John Neumann, philosopher and the founder of the Catholic school system in Philly (very cool guy for a bishop).

Bobby Casey is the son of Robert Casey, the governor who, in 1992 stood up to the powers that be in the DNC over the abortion issue and was ostracized from the convention.  When Robert Casey Sr. ran for re-election he took all but one county in the state (mine unfortunately).  Bobby is pro-life, but not in your face about it.  I call him a social justice Catholic, meaning he puts the meaning of the entire Gospel into action (subversive things like feeding the poor, helping the sick – real nasty stuff), not just picking and choosing the parts that look good politically.  Casey would probably be about 5 to 6 on a Liberal - Conservative scale (1 = uber Liberal; 10 =  Limbaugh and Friends).

Faced off against him was Rick “the Rabid” Santorum.  This guy is already trying to run for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination.  He is an in-your-face Catholic who had no problem whatsoever interfering in the Terrie Shiavo case.  I place him at about a 10 on our scale.  His first 2 Senate elections were against polar opposites, Harris Wofford, a man who truly walks the talk, is about as a 1 as you can get.  Ron Klink ran against him 2000, appeared to be a 2-3 liberal, but got no traction.

With a two way race, Casey was perfectly poised to clean Santorum’s clock.  Casey, being a step or two around the midpoint line allowed all the people to the left of him to stand at his back.  Casey could eat into the Catholic vote that was previously exploited by Santorum.  I like having a soft-spoken low-key Senator that helped guide Obama to the White House.

We now have the three-way going on in Jersey.  With the introduction of a viable Independent to the race, the linear idea is out.  Daggett is viable because prior to any advertizing being run he had broken the 10% barrier.  It is no longer a Blue vs. Red scenario. The idea of painting one opponent into a corner is not going to work.  As you saw in the commercial, Christie is portrayed as a whiney fat guy with a North Jersey attitude.  Corzine is too self-absorbed to look at his surroundings.  This is a great double shot at both of them. 

Psychologically, Daggett may also be playing to the South Jersey crowd, who are generally fed up with being defined by North Jersey.  You could draw a line just north of Trenton and split the State in two and both would probably be happier. (If Texas leaves the union, this may be a way to keep our 50 state limit.)  If the major parties split the North and Daggett can run the table in the South…

The question now is how do the campaigns answer this challenge?

We now have 3 camps going negative, but it is an odd dynamic.  Both major party candidates are now double teamed.  Any negative messaging sent out against the other major party will be seconded and amplified by the Daggett camp. 

If left unchecked, Daggett can keep driving the negatives against both sides and it will eventually work.  He is actually running against the 2 party-system.  In a warped way his going negative against both equally keeps him above the fray.  If he has the cash and can continue to make his case, he may be able to force one of the other camps to drop back to take him on directly.

The first campaign that goes after Daggett instantly gives him the credibility he needs to gain ground.  It will also send the message that the double team worked, because now that campaign has opened the second front.  That means the campaign that didn’t go after Daggett will have a more room to launch clearer shots at the first aggressor.  In other words, Daggett will be doing the dirty work of the non-aggressive campaign.

The aggressive party that attacks first will also need to be careful of the effect of being too negative.  It is kind of like, “what is with this guy that he can’t say anything nice about anybody”.  If we get to that point, you may see that campaign go into a death spiral, benefitting the Independent.

This opens the opportunity for the non-aggressive campaign to go positive.  Instead of defining your single opponent in terms of their weaknesses (the two-way race), you have to define why you should be elected because of how great your ideas or programs are.

There are a hundred other permutations here, but it creates the double-clutch.  If you want to get rid of the negativity in these elections, maybe encouraging the third party candidates is a way to go. 

Who would have thought the New Jersey would be a leader here?  Go figure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Damage that Time has Done


This is a follow-up to a post I wrote last week on civility, Hey, I Got Your Civility Right Here, Champ!, where I outline that we are uncivil because it pays.

Over the last couple of months a really smart guy, James Rucker, put a web site together to bring the Forces of the Civil to bear on one, Glenn Beck.  The man got tired of the racist rants being put forth by Glenn Beck and did something about it.

ColorOfChange.Org asked web surfers to lend their names to a list after reading a call to arms about Glenn Beck.  Travel the link and lend your name too, if you like.

I like this guy.  He is a stand up guy who has gotten folks to see his point of view.  Better yet, he has the ability to lead people to do something to change their condition.  This is a man to reckon with.

The result is that a number of big ticket sponsors have left the Beck echo chamber and the main stream media has double clutched.  This is fairly old news.

However, as we the people, start to flex our vocal chords and change our spending habits, Time Magazine has done a complete cover package with Glenn Beck sticking his tongue out at the rest of us.

Hence, the title of this post  (and you thought it was about the conflict between my expanding waist line and my modified Atkins Diet (anything that moves is fair game for lunch…)).

Time has, in the name of The Almighty Dollar, undone what Mr. Rucker has set to do by giving Glenn Beck this forum.  This is the beginning of a rehab job for Beck.  Time is trying once again to make it okay for people to sponsor this “person”. 

Yes, the cover of Time, as they like to tell all of us who will listen, is for really important people or subjects.  This gives Beck credence where he should be reviled.  (I guess this is where I can say Time has had Hitler, not only on the cover a number of times, but as Man-of-the-Year 1938.)  Beck is controversial and confrontational for the same reasons as Jerry Springer and Nancy Grace, to make a buck.

Beck is a right wing demigod and is dangerous because he is creating the same environment that Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon created prior to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.  As you may recall, Rabin won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for trying to solve the knots that bind the Middle East from attaining any sort of peace.  Rabin sought real solutions to problems that still exist in the region.

The right-wing of Israeli politics created a similar environment where it was okay for a demented Orthodox law student to take matters into his own hands and kill Rabin after a rally in November 2005.  The eventual political beneficiaries of this act were Netanyahu and Sharon.  These are people who have stalemated the process over there for the last decade and a half.

Am I putting Beck and Time at the same level as the ultra-right-wing of Israeli politics?   In my opinion, yeah, they go there.  These people are creating a dangerous environment that saying it is ok to be racist and carry on like our country is being destroyed, and giving them a warped intellectual license to do something about it.  Seeing guns at forums where the president is speaking scares the daylights out of me.  These people are creating the American Taliban. 

The over-acted emotional soliloquies that Beck performs could eventually have the effect of creating the space for an American Yigal Amir, the right-wing nut job that killed Rabin.  Time, by it's irresponsible journalism, is providing gasoline for this arsonist.

But can any one person be held responsible for what we are seeing unfold before our eyes right now.  It will be like the accident scene that took Princess Diana.  A lot of idiots on cable will cluck their tongues saying how the paparazzi drove the Princess into the wall while the other parts of the media pay big bucks for the pictures.

I am not saying that I want Time to be censored by the government, I am saying I want Time to be censored by you, in the marketplace.  Just like James Rucker has stood up to a bully like Glenn Beck.

We are still at a point where we can do something about this.  We all see where the road is going.  If you want to do something about this here are some starters:

  • Find your voice.  When in conversation and somebody is making the goofy remark, nicely, and I mean nicely, challenge them on their facts.

  • Email Time:  Let these guys know what you are thinking.  When I send my email to them I’ll be posting a link to this article once it posts on the site, with a little note to say that Time is acting irresponsibly in its coverage.

  • Copy what you send to some of the sponsors of Time’s web site.  It is especially effective if you are an AT&T, or Sprint, or Comcast, or Liberty Mutual customer and let them know how you feel. 

  • Comment here with some other ideas.  I am not that smart, help get me a clue.  I'll incorporate the best ones with names and dates into the text of this article.

Imitation is the sincerest for of flattery, it’s time to do the James Rucker thing.


Addendum:  I just got out from under a rock.  Katie Couric is now celebrating this person, giving him the same rehab job as Time has.  Please include a note to CBS News on their feedback page...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hey, I got your Civility Right Here, Champ!

I try to participate in talk radio when I can. This morning I tried to call into the Smerconish Show when he brought up the topic of Civility. Why is the discourse so coarse? A number of people rang in with things like: the media did it, declining family values, technology makes it easier to see all of us in a raw state.

The point I was trying to get in, before he ran out of time was, being uncivilized pays - not only with cash, but in getting what you want.

How many of us had any clue before last week what a Joe Wilson was? He is getting free air time and a huge monetary boost from right-wing donations by being a jerk. Last count close to a million is going to him.

How long has Jerry Springer been on the air or in syndication with his act? He has paid for a lot of stuff by getting a segment of the population to watch his brand of “civility”. Springer is too easy of a choice for this.

We can look at the “reality” show phenomenon, where we are watching to see who loses it. We can point, cluck our tongues and the produces walk away with a wad from ad $$$. How many people watch American Idol for Simon? It isn’t enough that really talented people get their due, they need to be ripped afterwards. We are rewarding the ripping.

I remember Crossfire on CNN. Intellectual mud wrestling that became unwatchable after a while. This spawned (spawned is the right word here…) the network cable morass where uncivil behavior isn’t called out but celebrated. It pays with the ratings rolling in.

Part of uncivil behavior is allowing a falsehood to stand or stoking a fire that is self-generated. It was ok to demonize people like Richard Jewell. This was a guy who saved a lot of people’s lives during the Atlanta Olympics. He found a pipe bomb in a sack and did what he could to clear the area. He should have been celebrated as a hero.

When the cops started hitting dead-ends, they leaked his name. The media ran with it, and he ended up a poster boy for the incivility of the media. You can make a buck on that. And, after all we are a capitalist society.

Jewel died about 2 years ago. He spent the remainder of his (I believed directly shortened) life trying to clear his name and pick up the pieces. In a civilized world we are supposed to look out for one another. I wonder if Jewell would take the same actions again if he had a do-over.

For more uncivil behaviors – look at CNN Cash Cow Nancy Grace! If a show exists to make money and only to make money, there are no human ethics involved. Unbelievable as it may seem – she’s still there making money on other people’s misery and making people miserable. What would the Duke Lax families or the family of Melinda Duckett (who committed suicide after a session of Grace Civility) have to say about the rewarding of the uncivil? ( Should these folks get a cut for being part of the entertainment, or talent, for those evenings where Ms. Grace got the good ratings? ) She still gets cash and a nightly seat at the table. The victims of the uncivil attempt to move on with their lives.

Uncivility has its non-monetary trophies. How about when we go to a sporting event and work the ref? A lot of us do it. One of the masters of this is Pa. Governor Ed Rendell, he is a fixture at Penn Quaker games. He screams, but he gets the calls for his team. He gets what he wants by being uncivil.

Staying more in the political realm, what does a candidate do when they are down in the polls in the home stretch? That’s right – go negative! “Pull that other guy down, because I have to have that seat no matter what, or what I destroy in the process.” When was the last time a seat was vacated after some sort of election fraud?

The rewarding of bad behavior is only part of the problem. It starts the cycle where uncivility is the solution to any public problem.

What is the penalty for being uncivilized? There are a lot of people who see this stuff, but being too “civilized”, don’t want to challenge the boars who are inflicting the pain. They are afraid to be seen as somehow unseemly to stand up to these bullies. Guess what, the milquetoasts are as much a part of the problem as the bullies raining down the half truths.

There will be no penalty when no one speaks up.

I have been in and out of local politics for about 2 decades now. I have worked on a number of campaigns where a critical juncture is reached. We would have the opponent dead-to-rights on an issue (a state auditor’s general reports saying the town isn’t managed properly, or the white chief-of-staff of the incumbent surveilling the black challenger’s house (we think it was on state time)) and those involved wouldn’t go forward to stand up and speak in a load clear voice. Nothing negative, just report the facts in a civil dispassionate tone. They wouldn’t do it. Those were campaigns that would be lost.

When the town fathers where I live tried to ram through a museum, hotel, and conference center (the American Revolution Center or the ARC) inside Valley Forge National Park, people involved stood up to them. The residents had some outside help too - but it would not have arrived if there weren’t people in the town ready to call out the abuse of power. The forces-that-be had all the money in the world, the Governor, the local newspaper; printed flyers mailed first class to residents’ homes. The incumbents lost the subsequent election hands down, because they incumbents were acting like bullies and some people actually stood up to them. The ARC is being built in downtown Philly…

That fact is we are coarse because we reward it. Answer - Stop rewarding it. Glenn Back is feeling the heat because somebody is standing up to him.

I hope that President Obama calling people out on the incivilities will lessen the rewards for acting like a dope. Whether the Kanye comment was leaked or not we all need to just start calling this behavior for what it is…

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson: Don't Censure - Take His Time

Joe "the Screamer" Wilson really stepped in it. He needs to do some sort of pennance for what he did to the president. And, quite honestly, the Shimkus guy should get the same treatment.

Censure isn't the right call here. It simply becomes the Red Badge of Courage for more of the people to act like idiots. "Hey, Wilson was the first to get the censure, what do I have to do to be next line line"? We are dealing with a pre-teenager mentality here.

I know, we've got teens. We've lived through it. Here are a couple alternate of suggestions.

Take his time away. Since every thing in Congress runs on a seniority system, why not penalize him 2 years plus one day of seniority. Since Wilson is a 4th term congressperson, that puts him in line behind all other 2nd, 3rd, and 4th term congresspeople for committee assignments and pecking order. It doesn't penalize his constituients by making him resign. We avoid the media circus that would ensue when Mark Sanford attempts to appoint an Argentine Reporter in his place.

How about "Slave Time"? No, this isn't a racial thing. It is a concept of disipline we used in our household when the kids were younger. Since we are dealing pre-teen behavior, let use solutions proper for the age frame.

Slave Time means that if Kid A (Joe) does something nasty to Kid B (Barack) then Joe has to do everything that Barack wants to do for a fixed time frame. When you have an older brother giving a beat down to a little sister, it is entertaining to see the older brother play nicely with his sister and her dolls for 20 minutes or so.

It would be neat to see Joe Wilson as the point person for healthcare for a while. He has to suck it up and play nice, or his time gets extended. I'd love to see him on Fox or MSNBC touting the president's ideas for at least a month or so. Who knows, he might convince a few of his collegues to go along with Barack. They can sit down for a few beers afterward.

I can see Shimkus playing dolls with the first children for about an hour.

Mumbled apologies or standing up in front of everybody for questionable dress downs, doesn't really do much for moving forward. It just gets people madder and more resentful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who will be the Killer D's

I saw the speech last night and some of the reactions to the proceeding then slept on it.

Did I see all the things I wanted to see?  No, but I have enough to go on.

I saw the President box out in the low post. 

For those who don’t follow basketball, boxing out is what a forward (the 4) or center (the 5) does under the basket to control the real estate of the lane.  Obama’ position is the 4 or power forward.  You battle the other team’s 4 or 5, jockeying for position as a shot goes up for a rebound or put-back.  You are also responsible for creating a lane for a teammate to drive for a layup.  You stick your butt out and take up as much space as possible.  It is grunt work.  Good boxing out is nasty.  It allows space for your teammates to work.  It is a skill that is not easily quantified.  You get little credit and many fouls when you do it right.  If you follow the game long enough, you realize why a guy like Reggie Evans was a fan favorite last year for the Sixers.  It is one of the most important jobs on the court.  No team can win without a guy who will give it up for the team.

Obama created the space for the Democrats to work.  He outlined a lot of stuff, but did not get specific in the semantics.  It is the same thing he has been doing throughout this process.  He opened up the lane once again for prima donna Congresspeople to drive the lane for the layup.

I saw the President throw some elbows.  Sharp, but not as many as I would have liked.  Going after the Republican Mythology of 2009, he called their religion for what it was, bogus. 

  • Death Panels – Bogus
  • Fed $ for Illegals - Bogus
  • Fed $ for Abortion - Bogus
  • Government Takeover – Bogus

He is leaving the opening for the GOP to become a coherent party.   He set a nice back pick when he said “you will be called out” for lying to the rest of us. 

I liked the how he jockeyed for position when he said that if you (the GOP) continue to play games you will be dismissed. 

I saw the Republicans trap themselves in their own trash talk.  The last thing you want to do if you don’t have juice is to trash talk a superior opponent.  The only thing it does is get you madder and madder.  It gives you the opportunity to dig a little deeper to stick it to the big mouth.   All summer the Republicans have been running their mouths like the poser who has no game.  They really stepped over the line (as if they haven’t been living there for the last six months) with Joe the Screamer.

I liked the pat on the rump to Senator McCain over his proposal from last year.  The most telling statement for me came afterwards when Senator McCain dissed President Obama saying he was wrong to call out the death panelists.  If McCain is going to continue to leave Obama hanging in the air with the offer of a fist bump from the President, I would say that McCain is just another poser.  I am looking for his quick dismissal.

I want to see player-coach Obama knock some Democratic heads in the huddle.  We’ll only know that by the resolve the Congressional D’s have coming back out on the floor.  They need to show some game face.  I still don’t know exactly what the play is as far as Public Option vs Co-op vs whatever they are going to call it.  I want to be able to call them the Killer D’s next week as they begin to execute the play. 

Am I as fired-up as I was hoping to be – no – but I am still hopeful.  I want to see them run up the score – I think they can still do that given the fact they are playing a team with a truly offensive offense and an undefendable defense.

When does the dance team show up?  Wait – Keith O with cheerleaders’ tights and pom-poms is a scary thought.