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.