Friday, December 24, 2010

Want to Come to a Real New Years' Party?

Published: Personally 2010-12-24 10:12:41

New York's New Year's Eve a bunch of people stand around in the street and watch a ball drop (oooohhh-aaahhh). They call that a party? Stand over here. No, stand over there. Get crushed. 6 or 7 hours of this? Nah, no way. Been there - done that.

Pasadena may have a bunch of flowers and a TV Contract. Yeah, the marching bands are great there. The floats are well done, but it's all pro's.

You want a party? You want a party that is real? You want a party that is good clean (except for the beer) fun? THIS is a party that should be on YOUR bucket list. Forget getting hung over in New Yourk New Year's day, come to Philly.

Yeah, that's right, I said, "COME TO PHILLY", you got a problem with that? Come to our house. We'll let you in.

Philly on New Years' Day has a huge block party called the Mummers Parade. Entire neighborhoods get together to out-compete each other in Humor (Comics Brigade), Fashion (The Fancy Brigades), Music (The String Bands) throughout the day as about one third of the city either lines Broad Street or is marching.

Parts of the city are just closed down. Forget about getting from one place to the next, especially around South Broad Street. If you can't have a good time here, well, you just can't have a good time.

The secret about the Mummers is slowly getting out. The Brigade Division winners from last year's parade...


made it to a segment of one of the nationally televised talent shows and blew everyone away. (Link)

This is Broadway level stuff done NEW every year by people who just like to do this stuff. You can see how much these folks love putting this stuff together and making it happen. Yeah, those with no humor may find it hokey, but I love hokey and fun.

The String Band attacks of Banjo and Saxes guarantee you will never hear these instruments the same again (Link). The sets you see in all of these links are carried by humans into place. You will see all of these sets are on wheels. There are performances on Broad Street prior to the big event before the judges.

The real fun begins AFTER all of this. A better and bigger secret is the after party. Everyone is welcome. Come to Two Street. I cannot describe this party any better than the text on this You-Tube video. (Check out his five part YouTube Videos on last year's party starting with this link.)

When you go to see the Mummers on TWO STREET you can't help but get overwhelmed by the infectious spirit of good will to all, no matter your race, color, sexual orientation, financial level or anything else. If depressed when showing up there I guarantee within a couple of minutes your depression will vanish and be replaced with Joy and celebration for life in general. It makes you feel happy to be alive.

The videos posted here or the related links do not do this party justice. You have to be here for it. These guys will blow you away...

Like many good things in our society, they are vanishing. This parade may be one of them. Finances are taking their toll as is the short attention span of our society. If you want to see and feel something really special before it goes away, come to Philly this New Year's Day.

Come to Philly. Come to our house. The door is open.

I know where I will be with my family this New Year's Day... See you on Two Street...

Happy New Year !!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Want to Stick Up for Some Bi-Partisanship?

Published: Personally 2010-12-17 22:33:18

I wrote about Bi-Partisanship being punished (Link) last week. I also wrote about No Labels being this nice, new shiny movement of people who want to help Bi-Partisanship (Link).

I will be at the Montgomery County Commissioners Meeting Wednesday, December 22 at 10 am. I will sit through the meeting until the time when citizens can get up to speak. I want to tell the Commissioners that I support their efforts to act in a Bi-Partisan manner.

The county government is under fire from the GOP controlled newspaper and the party structures on both sides. I will ask the Commissioner to stop funding this partisan activity that the county newspaper of record engages in. I am all for Freedom of the Press. I just don't want my tax dollars funding it.

If you are tired of this garbage of party first driving the narrative, join me in speaking up for Commissioners Joe Hoeffel and Jim Matthews. Guys reaching across the aisle, doing the right thing are being pummeled. This is tailor made for those who want civility and a break-out.

I don't care if the No Labels (Link) folks want to come or not, or Coffee People (Link) want to come or not, or if I am sitting there as the lone citizen willing to speak for these guys. They need a hand (hint, hint).

If you aren't doing anything, It would be great to meet you. The Board of Commissioners will meet in the Board Room on the Eighth Floor of One Montgomery Plaza, Norristown, PA (Link).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Something is Missing in the Middle with No Labels

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-12-13

I went to the No Labels Launch. There were lots of high-wattage people wandering on the stage and around the auditorium. The No Labels Movement is looking for a way out of the insane political marginalization that our country is experiencing right now. It is an admirable movement and worth checking out (Link).

Speaker after speaker shared how when they were elected to Congress (lots of Congresspeople spoke) the caucus system would essentially mold their souls. Upon arrival to Congress , they were handed a jersey by their caucus leadership and were told, wear it or be primaried, or blackballed, or sent to watch bad Dr. Who episodes in the basement of the Capitol. The unwritten rule - do not contact the other side. Most would capitulate and not perform contacting maneuver. The Congresspeople talked about all the negative effects of this environment.

No Labels is looking for a method to supply backbone to those who would stand up to these forces. This group realizes that just because you were elected as a Democrat from the 3rd District of State A, you are no different than the Republican elected for the 5th district of State B. You both volunteered, ran, and won the same chance to serve your country. You are equal to all except the overlord masters of the evil party system. Those who maintain this system will make sure that a challenger will await you to deliver your sentence as political traitor, if you dare cross the line.

The goals of No Labels are pretty solid. They want to work within the system we have. They don't appear to looking at a third party. It is about serving for the common good. The do not want people to change their ideology. Using standard outreach methods, they want to set up college chapters across the country to find young people to enter the system. (One could say to mold them before either of the other parties get to them, which may not be a bad idea.) They want to set up a chapter in every congressional district. There are metrics on which to hold officeholders accountable. All of these things are well and good, but it appears they are working at an extremely high level if they want to invite the number of people they hope to get. Everything appears to be targeted at the national level.

This is part of a continuum. The Coffee Party (Link) is a Publicly Speaking Civilly 101. No Labels is a grad course. It was proper the launch was held at Columbia University in New York. The Coffee Party is looking for people to engage in discourse -- they will not politicize. No Labels is about putting discourse into action. As I looked at the people running the show, they are all impressive national folks, but I think they are missing a middle step.

They don't have a real hook to bring people to them. Yes, there is know-how, but there is no why. Why should someone who has checked out of the system give a rat's rear end about Congress right now? They can't do anything about it until 2012. These people just elected need to figure out which way is up before being held accountable for anything. Am I being generous, yup, ya gotta let them do their job.

If I had control of the No Labels chess board, I would make the following moves. Recruit the committee people of both parties. Yes, those who are already there! The lowest ranking elected officials in the country would be constructed as a Pawn-line. They are the grunts given the Mushroom treatment by the party bosses -- placed in the dark and fed a lot of -- well you know. Take their temperature. I will lay odds the party bosses aren't doing it very often. Ask them what they want and what they are looking for out of the government. Engaging committee people in this way, the No Labels people may spark something in these activists. If nothing else, they will know where they stand in their environment.

If there are committee vacancies, get No Labels people appointed. Define No Labels people as those who will ask if what they are doing benefits their communities first (as opposed to the party). These are your bishops.

Once engaged, set them loose to find people for school board elections that are the best their community has to offer -- regardless of party affiliation. Given school cuts, finding parents who want the best for their kids should not be hard to find. They would make a potent knight attack. 2011 will be a year of local elections. Use 2011 as a training ground for 2012.

That will fill some of the gap in the middle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bipartisanship -- It Must Be Punished

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-12-09

The Norristown Times Herald screams the headlines about a county commissioner being served a subpoena for Grand Jury testimony about the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law (Link).

The newspaper eavesdropped on conversations two commissioners were having at a local restaurant. Since there are only 3 commissioners in Montgomery County, PA (Montco) -- 2 of them is a quorum. It is a no-no to discuss county business away from a public forum like that. Sunshine Laws were set up for this purpose.

I am not going to comment on what these guys were talking about over their cheesesteaks, I want to go a little further back into the motivations of this newspaper's stalking project. The Times Herald wants to go after the Commissioners on an abuse of power jag -- that is fine. However, their hands need to be clean to do it.

First off, I think this newspaper is a GOP mouthpiece. The editor, Stan Huskey, has used his media outlets to ask the public for ways the GOP can gain control of the political structure. Dragging the government down to get your aims met is now a tried and true method. Stan has been working the press for the last three years with his opportunity.

Bruce Castor, one of the 3 Commissioners, is a hyperventilating Republican -- the reason the Times Herald loves him.

He is also a rejected suitor. Castor felt he was 'owed' the position of being Chairman of the County Commissioners by virtue of his vote totals. Castor essentially demanded that the other GOP Commissioner Jim Matthews, the brother of Hardball's Chris Matthews, give him his vote. Castor was acting like a child. Matthews realized this is not in the public's best interest he went - Bi - yes he started swinging both ways: he came out as a bipartisan (which is saying a lot, as Jim Matthews used to be a frothing-at-the-mouth GOP Official). Matthews and the Democratic Commissioner Joe Hoeffel cut a deal to allow Matthews to be the Chairman.

Apoplectic is too tame of a word to describe the Castor reaction to this crushing defeat. I now understand why they call it Castor oil. Over the last 3 years my teenage daughter acts more mature than Bruce Castor, even when we try to get her to clean her room. Every peccadillo that Castor whines about is dutifully noted by the Times Herald for greater distribution and to stoke the fire.

As the elongated Castor hissy-fit continued the two commissioners put the practice of Bipartisanship into action. It is painful to watch the county meetings, the other two public servants realize there is work to do and have moved around this loser. Castor has isolated himself by his petulance, and essentially forfeited his office by his personality. Part of being in politics is having at least some baseline ability to work with people you may not like.

If he was working in the real world I wonder if he would be fired for his inability to act as a team member?

With all this drama, Montco is running smoothly, there is actually a balance of power in our local courthouse. Montco has a AAA bond rating, that's pretty good. There are burps here and there, but then again, where aren't there rough spots these days.

This Bipartisanship junk might actually work.

The party structures don't like the fact that these two guys are working together. Candidates are being recruited to step up against those who would injure the party orthodoxy. In other words, instead of supporting guys who are working like adults, the Party Structure is aligning itself for paybacks. Both the Democratic and GOP Chairmen are on the record at taking potshots at the Bipartisan Commissioners (Link).

There must be the uniformity of hatred. Each party needs the others' animus in order to keep the hate alive. With a closed primary system in Pennsylvania, the parties can get away with this.
The Times Herald is there to stoke the fire.

While all this is going on, the Times Herald is being subsidized by the county. Because of Sunshine Laws, governments are required to advertise in newspapers. The county needs to have a newspaper of record. In Montco it is the Times Herald. They get a couple of hundred grand from the county every year to print Sheriff Sale notifications among other things. The only problem is, the county puts what appears to be the entire surveyor's report in the paper, driving up the costs. If you are not a surveyor, can you make sense of it? It is kind of a cynical thing to do, but we are talking about the Times Herald and a formerly fully GOP controlled courthouse. It takes time to correct stuff.

Since the Times Herald wants to gather evidence against the Commissioners, and the Commissioners actually approve the advertising payments to the Times Herald, are these conflicts of interest that need to be resolved immediately?

In Montco there is a plant run by Philadelphia newspapers (The Inquirer and The Daily News). They employ more people than the Times Herald. They also have a larger circulation than the Times Herald. They also only put the pertinent information about sheriff sales in the papers -- to keep costs down.

Would a fair solution to the problem here be to move the county's paper of record to another outfit that can do it better and for less taxpayer dollars?

If the Times Herald wants to call itself pure and wrap the Constitution's Freedom of the Press around itself, I am certainly cool with that. But I don't think that I need my tax dollars going to an outfit that is trying to take down an operational Bipartisan Government.

It's kinda like asking for money for people with minds that hate...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Should He Have Done?

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-12-07 11:04:32

Oh, that was a great performance by the President last night!

I thought I watching the intellectual return of the Chevy Chase pratfall. The incompetent act of changing a light bulb played for laughs by a supposedly low-wattage President (Ford).

This was a supposedly high-wattage President (Obama) who can't figure out which way the bulb turns. (clue: Rightsy-Tightsy, Leftsy-Loosey) He set us up so beautifully as he said how much he didn't like this or that. Then he jammed us. He screwed the bulb to the left and shattered it on the floor.

What should he have done?

How about some brinksmanship? Screw that light bulb in to the right!

The unemployment benefits were timed to end in December -- remember the summer? Now THAT is a real pressure point that was left on the table! He could have used the prospect of all those unemployed folks sharpening their farm implements to go after their local congressperson.

You thought the Tea Party was angry? He would have unleashed the real anger of our nation directly at where it belonged -- the GOP obstructionists and the Democrats who let this sink in the Senate.

Get ready to push 40,000 volts through that light bulb!

By the way, you cannot tell me there weren't guys in the Senate looking at the calendar this past summer as they debated extending the unemployment benefits saying, "Oohhh look at what else ends after Christmas."

Why wasn't the campaign promise on the $250k border on the tax cut extension dealt with DURING the summer? What would this single issue alone -- with its fat 70% idea approval rating -- have done for Congresspeople in tight races? That have won at least a few of those seats that went for the GOP? How many Democratic Congresspeople went down because the Democrats had the whole shooting match and did nothing?

I can deal with nothing being done back then if Obama is going to use the impending pressure of a complete meltdown to his advantage. (Yes, Mr. President, you are allowed to scare the hell out of us if that is what you need to do to git 'er done.)

He took all the pressure off. The Senate can have a nice Christmas, how nice of him.

What should he have done?

How about making the GOP soil themselves with the idea they were on the hook for the tax increase? They did everything they could to stop progress, now let them live with their victory. Remember there are people sharpening their farm tools out there...

He could have used the timing of all of this stuff. He could have gotten up from the table and said, "Fine, you voted against everything I put out there. You own it. I did my part."

The President can tell the Congress he won't see them until at least the Monday after Christmas. The President can say to these guys, "Go Home, enjoy spending time in your district, no problem."

As he walks out of the room he can look back and say to them, "Enjoy your holiday. I'll be talking to your constituents."

Meanwhile, the President could get the Democratic Party to organize unemployed families to start singing Christmas carols at the homes of those Congresspeople who voted against the President.

He could have used the Christmas break to break the GOP. He would have instantly fired up his base. "If you want that unemployment extension, you will need to help me fight for it. I am not doing this by myself." We would have flipped the switch and taken the day.

What does he do? He caves.

As it sits now, we are borrowing more and more from our kids! Unacceptable!

It is not just the GOP that is doing this, it is the Democrats.

In chicken, sales or negotiating, the first one who blinks loses. Obama has become President Blinky.

The GOP played the brinksmanship game when they voted all this stuff down. (Now, they know they can do whatever they want because they got President Obama to back down.)

What will he really go to the wall for? We had to drive him by the scruff of the neck to get the partial pieces of HCR done. How's that DADT going? What is up with all those bankers and their bonuses?

If the next two years are looking like these first two he can forget re-election. Even if we personally wanted him and did everything we could for the guy, he will lose. This was the breaking of the "No New Taxes" pledge. It isn't that he isn't a nice guy, that IS the problem -- He's too nice of a guy. He needed to deliver a hard foul and could not do it.

I am looking for a new set of light bulbs with enough wattage to illuminate our problems while we can actually work on them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TSA and the School of the Cowering

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-22

Last week I got a robo call on the cell phone from my school district. They had an emergency drill! They were happy. They felt the need to interrupt everyone's day to tell the world that they sent trained police dogs into the high school to sniff out lockers. They were soooo proud they found nothing.

(I don't think the administrators have noticed that none of the kids use their lockers anymore for fear of drug sniffing dogs. The tip-off should have come when they would see kids with chiropractic problems lugging 60 pound backpacks everywhere. But, that will be our little secret.)

And they had a lockdown drill too! They just couldn't contain themselves as they told the parents they were training our kids in case of a terrorist break-in in suburbia!

As the media goes nuts with the "Don't Touch My Junk" guy, I think we have reached the stage where we have to talk, as a society, about the Fear Jail we have placed ourselves in.

Can anyone say we are the Land of the Free anymore when we allow TSA agents to grope us in the name of some sort of secure utopia? When commenting on this, I was really blown away by a guy online telling me, "What's the big deal, it's just like getting arrested." I am really sorry, but, I think the reason we had (note the past tense) an amendment about illegal search and seizure was to address a government police state playing either "Cop-a-Feel" or "Scan-UR-Boobs."

Can we say we are the Home of the Brave anymore when we teach our kids to cower in a classroom as part of a drill? Seriously, that is what the schools are teaching our kids. To sit down, hide, and be afraid. Be very afraid. "Hey, someone is coming into your school with a gun to hunt all of you down. Here is what you do. Hide in the corner of your classroom at an off-angle to the door so the shooter won't see you." Yes, it is cowering when you all line up against a door so some 21st Century Angel of Death can pass through your high school halls.

These kids are being trained to think someone is coming to kill them! How can train kids to hold Freedom dear when they are trained to be afraid of everything?

I got some news for the cowards that pass themselves off as Americans Educational Administrators. If someone is breaking in to your little suburban fortress to kill people, they are going to know exactly where they are going. They will have a clue as to which classroom they are going. Stacking the kids together in one corner of the room only makes it easier for them to kill more kids at once. If you have someone crazy enough to break in with weapons, they know they aren't getting out. They will be trying to take as many people with them as possible. Grouping people together just makes the lunatics' jobs easier.

This grouping also prevents anyone from standing up to these would be terrorists; you know maybe an act of bravery by some kid? Have any of you administrators ever taken a look at what happened at Pearl Harbor? The airplanes were all grouped together. The Japanese took them out quickly. Had those planes been spread out, there would have been more resistance to the attack that day.

But that would fly in the face of everything schools teach. A Japanese proverb that every nail that sticks up will be hammered down is the effective mandate.

Gone is the real individualism of what we think or thought America was. How are we teaching our kids to question authority? What would happen if a kid actually questioned why we need to be prepared for a Red Dawn style attack on our schools? How do our institutions react to questions they can't answer? How many times has a Columbine tragedy occurred in the last decade? What does it tell our kids when we need to fear something that is statistically minuscule? What perspective are we giving these young adults as they venture in to the world?

The scariest thing is these kids cannot define Freedom.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Middle is Starting to Win

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-18

On Thursday, November 18, 2010 the following link announced:
"Philadelphia's 'Big Talker' makes big changes with Smerconish, Beck, Hannity"

Beck and Hannity are leaving Philly!

As those on the center and left start to whoop and holler, this seismic change in the radio market means the middle is starting to win.

"Michael Smerconish is moving to the PM Drive."

It is interesting that of the three, only Smerconish did NOT make any of the montages at the Rally for Sanity.

It may be that the ratings are falling, or that the BigTalker realizes that there is a market in moderation. The Big Talker (WPHT), a 50,000 watt flamethrower of a station, broadcasts on 1210 AM and is a clear channel station. I have picked up St Joes' basketball games from as far away as Western Massachusetts on this station. Aside from being based in Philly, the fourth largest radio market in the country and the second largest on the east coast, WPHT can be picked up in New York and DC in the evenings.

The station management realizes how both ends of the political spectrum are polarizing and people are tired of it. Over the years, Smerconish has intentionally moved from a political hard right position to the center.

Smerconish' morning show starts with Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You." The radio show means it. Smerconish, while very polite, makes it clear that both ends of the spectrum leave a lot to be desired. As someone who has listened to talk radio for years, this movement is really appreciated.

All of this is a calculated risk for him. He could have played it safe and stayed as a ranting right-winger. But sometimes an opportunity is too good not to take a shot at. The talk radio landscapes in major markets are populated with the right wing. You can almost look out on a vista a see a long plain of untapped potential marketing. Cater to these folks, and you have a shot.

Air America Radio failed because they set up a mirror image from a position standpoint. We'll just set up shop on the left and they'll come to us.

What Smerconish did, and is doing, is much smarter. From a position of success and strength on the right, he is slowly moving the window to the center. As he is doing that he is pulling those listeners from his right-leaning base with him. He is also adding people from the middle and the left as he moves to the center. There is real talk on this talk radio program. We don't have to think the same, but we can talk respectfully.

A side effect of this movement is Smerconish appears to be more comfortable in the skin of a moderate rather than a right winger. Growth and growing is a matter of maturity. None of us are where we were 20 or 30 years ago. If we look back at positions we held then, or what was acceptable to us then, we might upbraid ourselves now.

He doubled down on his wager when he left the GOP earlier this year. It appears to be paying recent dividends as he got a second shot to talk one-on-one with the President in late October, now a week-long gig on Hardball subbing for Chris Matthews. The radio show is now syndicated across the country -- including DC and New York. If you aren't getting the station directly, you can stream it live from his site.

As a moderate, I am hoping that Smerconish will get more gigs at a national level.

Here's to hoping that he can clone himself.

Disclaimer: I have a blog here because Michael Smerconish allowed me to ask the President if his knees were buckling a year ago. In the hours after that, I asked the folks at HuffPo if I could blog for them. Thanks, Michael for the shot...






i am available for cloning....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eighty Students Needed to Cover College Football Losses

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-15

Some things are really starting to tick me off.

I got three kids and am looking at college costs.

They all play sports, but not the holy game of football.

My oldest is going to a small liberal arts school in the Lehigh Valley. Part of the reason he chose the school was they had a lacrosse team with a lousy record and a great guy coaching it. Liberal arts are all about learning and participation (yeah, we bought that line).

Unfortunately, the school discontinued the program right before the opening of the lacrosse season last year. They allowed the kids to play the year and got their fannies whooped by the other teams. But their small squad compared to the other schools' made me realize that my freshman son was getting more field time in one year that the other school's players would be getting in four years.

When the parents group from the lacrosse program tried to find out what was going on, it was the head of the football boosters that was one of the ones appointed by the school to "calm us down." I went away with a low opinion of the school, a lower opinion of college athletics, and an even lower opinion of football programs (I really think football is afraid of lacrosse.)

In today's paper was this article about Villanova Football trying to go to the Big East. (Disclaimer: I am a Temple grad, so I cheer for the Owls and anyone playing Villanova.) But the following passage struck me hard as a parent who is looking at schools as my high schoolers are getting to that age.

The following is from the middle of the article:

Q: Can Villanova make money playing Big East football?

A: That's not the right question. Villanova loses money now playing football in the Colonial Athletic Association at the Football Championship Series level, even as the defending national champion. The school spends almost $5 million, while taking in just $1 million in revenues. Expect the school to try to hit roughly that same mark right off the bat in the Big East, allowing for about a $4 million hit. The difference is that the school's spending will triple, but the TV and bowl shares would make up for it.

Q: What is the biggest expenditure?
A: Right off the bat, Villanova knows it can't keep housing the football offices underneath the stands at Villanova Stadium. It will need to build a facility for football like it did the Davis Center for basketball. If the Davis Center cost roughly $20 million, think more than $30 million for a football center, with offices, locker room, weight room, etc. That's outside of the yearly expenses.

I was immediately drawn to the $4,000,000 number. I wrote it out for effect. I then decided to take a look at how much tuition was at Nova. If you go down to the middle of the page you will see the following:

Estimated Annual Freshman Cost 2010 - 2011

Tuition $39,350
Room - Average of Types 3, 4, and 5 $5,640
Board - "The Alternative" meal plan $5,000
General Fee $300
Health Fee $280
Freshmen - All Colleges (includes laptop) $50,570

I like math. I am glad they get a laptop.

To cover the costs of the football program right now, Villanova is looking at, in terms of per student:

$4,000,000 it loses in the football program / $50,000 (we'll round down) = 80 students.

As a parent who is looking to educate my child, it is taking 80 kids' tuition -- or, rather, their parents' -- to field a football team that loses money. Maybe some people need to look into a good business school (Hey, Nova has one! link). Hmm... tuition for 2010-2011 is $92,000? Maybe not.

I could depress you even more by doing the math for the $20,000,000 or $30,000,000 figures put up in the article.

Yes, I know I can do this exercise for Temple or Moravian or whatever school. But part of the point also to be made here is that Colleges cost a bundle to deal with. What are the values of the particular college? Where are they putting your cash once they get it, or get it from your kids' future earnings?

With all the data coming out on head injuries coming from the sport of football, isn't it ironic that a student athlete will be taking on a huge debt to have an education concussed right out of his head before he leaves the school?

Instead of expanding this sport, would it be more ethical from a financial and physical standpoint to start constricting it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Actually, 15 Percent of the People Are Telling 85 Percent What to Do

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-08 23:28:31

Post has been updated !!! The flaw revealed below...

The United States Elections Project is an information source for the United States electoral system. The mission of the project is to provide timely and accurate election statistics, electoral laws, research reports, and other useful information regarding the United States electoral system. By providing this information, the project seeks to inform the people of the United States on how their electoral system works, how it may be improved, and how they can participate in it.

Dr. Michael McDonald, Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University

This is all from their website (link).

They have a quick analysis of the 2010 General Election (link). I am sure the numbers will be updated and are in a state of flux.

Based on his early analysis, Dr. McDonald finds that 218 million people were eligible to vote in the election (Voting-Eligible Population column to the right).

Only 87 million availed themselves of the activity (Highest Office (est.) column to the right).

Let's work with those numbers.

87 / 218 = .399 is just under 40% turnout.

I did a cursory look around at the margins of victory for the GOP, just some old fashioned gut-truthiness and pulled a number of 53% as a margin of victory for argument sake. Going up or down with that percentage won't diminish the point I am about to make.

39.9% * 53% = 21.9 %

That means roughly 22 % of those who are eligible to vote are telling the other 78% what to do.

Do you still feel like you live in a Democracy?

Is this acceptable to you?

(I'll send you a prize if you can find the error I left in my analysis...)


Here is the flaw...

We have 300 million people in the country.

The 87 million * 53% of GOP voters set the rules for everyone.

That number of 46 million voters going for the GOP Team gets to tell the total of 300 million Americans what to do.

46 million / 300 million = about 15%.

That means in reality 15% is telling the other 85% what to do.

It was just a little bit too depressing and confusing to put out there first.

Sorry, no one got it. But there were some really good tries...
I may try this again sometime...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hey MSNBC -- Help Us!

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-07 21:53:00


Oh, a two day suspension.

Wow that hurt.

This weekend's blogosphere looked like an asylum where the escaped pyromaniacs were torching all the uberKEITHS hair.

I really think this thing was played for ratings by ranting.

MSNBC obviously was feeling the heat from the heat Professional Left web sites. Enough people were signing boycott petitions, almost as many as a Rally for Sanity...

MSNBC could not cut the cash cow. It doesn't matter of a bunch if suspected GOP hatchet men are rumored at the door ready to burn the place down from the inside. The name of the game here is money and ratings.

THE KEITH has proved he is viable. Honestly, if they let the guy go, how long do you think it would be for him to land at CNN or start his own shop? They had to keep him. Give him a couple of days off and call it even.

There was a triumphant return for THE KEITH.

However, THE KEITH played it cute on Tuesday. That is ok. He is also a citizen with the same rights that we have or any corporation has to donate what he wants to whom he wants and now he can keep it secret if he chooses (I hope he incorporates himself, like Michael Moore suggested...).

There really is no journalism now, only media activism. FOX gets this, MSNBC doesn't.

If MSNBC wants to do something, they need to help those of us at the grass roots levels organize. I am sorry, but the 1950's are gone. Murrow is gone. Thurber is dead.

MSNBC is playing against a team that has updated the 1890's Yellow Journalism Handbook. Anyone notice media similarities between the Spanish-American War and the Iraq War?

FOX is organizing for the Right Wing. The Left needs the assistance on the how to get involved in stuff. Many places will have local elections next year.

Will Fox be using this as a dry run for the GOTV and organizing efforts of 2012?

It is time for MSNBC to step up and do right by the Left Wing. Point-and-Snark ain't cutting it. You guys have the bully pulpit. HELP US !

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's Keithier to Keep Him on the Shelf ... for Now

Published: The Huffington Post 2010-11-05

First reaction to the latest Keith Olbermann-sticks-his-foot-in-it episode is:

The longer MSNBC keeps Olbermann suspended the more they come off like holier than thou boobs.

MSNBC is playing by the 1950's Marquess of Queensbury journalism rules.
Fox is playing by the 1890 yellow journalism rules.
MSNBC is getting their heads handed to them.

Kudos for Olbermann for putting some money where his mouth is.

Shame on MSNBC for playing the game halfway.

Put this as my Facebook status and a whole load of people seemed to like it...

As I expounded -- I realized something. This could be a ratings bonanza for a serial ranter.

Think about it. This is lighting up the internet for Keith!

But Olbermann is actually fighting for attention.

Part of me is wondering if there is some theater going on in the background. Olbermann donated quite some time ago to the campaigns. He knows the rules. He's a smart guy. The exposure of this donation and suspension actually is causing a firestorm in Blogland. I wonder if this is a manipulation for ratings and to rally around THE KEITH.

There will be a triumphant return of THE KEITH!

There is a sweet spot to keep Keith off the air to maximize attention, while not allowing attrition to other things, like say, Comedy Central. (If I were programming at Comedy Central, I might put the previous evening's re-runs of Stewart and Colbert against the suspended Olbermann spot, just to see what happens. What about going live at 8 for Stewart?)

But more than an apology or whatever mealy mouthed words stuffed in Keith's mouth by the corporate suits need to come out when Olbermann comes back. He needs to come back with an attitude. He and the rest of the MSNBC Crew need to start playing the game like FOX.

We could use some blue astro-turf over here. As I said before, MSNBC is only going half way. I am not asking them to go with half truths or no truths, but hammering truths. The left needs a counter balance.

Keith needs to help with some how-to stuff on activism. How do we do this at home? The left needs grass roots help. Enough with the point-and-snark!

I really think some of this is being driven by all the attention the Comedy Central folks have earned. They are eating MSNBC's lunch right in front of them.

I am looking forward to MSNBC retooling a little bit and to start coming out swinging. The 1950's Edward R. Murrow stuff ain't cutting it. We, not the Center, not the Left, but the country needs a legitimate counter-balance to FOX. I like Thurber, but he's been dead a while.

I want to see MSNBC partying like it's a yellow 1899!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Direct Political Result of the Rally for Sanity

Published: The Huffington Post 11/1/2010

The image below is a direct political result of the Rally for Sanity.

Voters in Lower Providence and Worcester Townships in Pennsylvania will see the following sign at their poll on Tuesday.

It is highly unusual for a political party to endorse a person outside its party.

The state has a closed Primary system, but allows citizens to cross-file for the position of School Board Director.

The Democratic Party in these towns are opening up the process for their endorsement in next years' school board races to all citizens.

The political parties need to act sanely if they want to be respected.

There is no reason why anyone who is a member of a political party cannot petition their local party to do something like this.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dick Gregory and the Rally for Sanity

Published: The Huffington Post 10/31/2010

The Stewart/Colbert Concert was great! The people in the crowd were as awesome as the acts on stage. How much fun it was to do the wave for an actual purpose! A very clever way to figure out how many people were in the crowd?

As I heard The O'Jays, I was worried that when Love Train was playing the circling helicopters were going to start dropping cans of Coors Light -- WKRP-style. Did anyone else notice the cross in the sky formed by the vapor trails of 2 airplanes minutes after Father Guido Sarducci? (I'll let a Pastor buddy of mine know next week...)

My vantage point was at the Coffee Party's Sign the Constitution display (CNN iReport Link). I was the idiot with the long beard and retro-Phillies cap hawking the Constitution:

If you sign the Constitutional today - you can get
  • Freedom of Speech,
  • Religion, and the
  • Right to peaceably assemble cars in Georgia and Tennessee!

Wait -- wait there's more!!! We'll even throw in protection from unreasonable search and seizure!

Ladies - would you like some Suffrage? Come on over and sign up!

What that's not enough - we're even repealing Prohibition today - just for you.

Often imitated, never duplicated! Come sign today. No credit card needed,

This is your birthright!
We promise not to phone slam you.

A really cool thing about being in DC this weekend was meeting other Huffington Post posters and those really involved with the Coffee Party. All were bright, intelligent, and a lot of fun.

Glad that my mom and aunt drove down for the day. My 17-year-old son really grew up a lot yesterday as he got to the 12th row with his crew. He went down with his buddies, and I think we just passed a parenting milestone when they all got back OK. I saw one of my nieces with her Penn State posse.

The most important thing I experienced was something happenstance. Somehow some new friends and I ended up at Busboys and Poets. It seemed to have the psyche of a 50's beatnik outfit. On stage were Van Jones (link) and Amy Goodman from Democracy Now (link). They were doing a dog-and-pony before signing their new books. We were seated as their segment was winding down. Then this guy who looked like Grady from Sanford and Son was up on stage with them. I couldn't hear at first then I realized, it was Dick Gregory. I flipped.

Some 20-somethings at the next table gave me the eye, I went over and explained who that guy was up there. Dick Gregory is a giant in the world of comedy. His weapon of choice was a keen eye for the current state of affairs and questioning all social conventions. Gregory and Mort Sahl are comedic bookends. Both use the current political environment and the news to make us laugh and think. Gregory is contemporary of Bill Cosby.

Dick Gregory is a leader in the Civil Rights movement! I read his autobiography over 30 years ago (Up from Nigger -- and yes it should be required reading with that title for every school kid in the country). I can still recall how he broke the corporate will of companies that refused to serve African Americans.

He bought stock in the parent companies of the offending hotel or restaurant. When he would be challenged for service, he would say, "Would you refuse service to the owner of this establishment if he came in?"

Naturally, the staff person would say of course not. At that point Gregory would produce the stock document and essentially say, "Well, it would seem that I own the place, serve me."

I listened to what the man had to say. He also spoke about comparisons to the present with the Great Depression and was having nothing of it.

I will do my best to quote, but the essence of his message was not an echo from the day's rally, but the Doppler Effect that preceded 90% of the people in the room and the Stewart/Colbert Rally.

There will be an election Tuesday. Your people may not win this election. But the people do win are also Americans. They are us. They talk like we do -- act like we do. They are Americans. We are all Americans.

I did mention I am an idiot in this piece. When he stepped down from the stage I got up and shook this man's hand. He was very gracious as I told him what a hero he was to me. The 3 hour drive home in the middle of the night went by in a jazzed flash as I thought about the things this man has done. I don't agree with everything he says or does. But I stand in awe of his ability and humor as he defends all of us as members of the human race.

This man is the funny, human philosophical grandfather of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Please look this guy up online and see what he is about.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eric Cantor Implosion

Published by the Huffington Post 10/29/2010 09:11:18

I don't know much, but I know this.

When a political campaign gets nasty, it is close.

If you are running for an office, you head is in the game. You are getting donations from scores of people who see you vision of the future. You see the goal right there before your eyes. What are you going to do?

You think about Wednesday morning after crying in your beer the night before after the returns come in and you lost by 9 votes or 61 votes or whatever small number was the difference. You are going to replay the decisions in your mind that says, "Should I have gone for the jugular?" What are you going to do?

If you are an incumbent, you are scared. Somebody like Eric Cantor has been nationally celebrated for being the only Jewish Republican Congressman. You are being challenged. Very good ads (below) are being run by a sacrificial lamb whose hooves have turned to claws. But the guy is rag tag at best. You are polling at around 50%. You can certainly win because you know you will get some undecided's, but you've been around for a long time, and just squeaking by isn't going to have any national luster. Your identity is tied to being a Congressperson. Anything that challenges your office, challenges you. Has the office and attention warped you?

Your opponent, Rick Waugh (link), doesn't have the resources you do. He doesn't have your resume. You aren't even going to give him the time of day.

A funny thing has happened on the way to the victory lap. Your refusal to debate Rick Waugh, is turning into a liability. You Tube videos are starting to show up of you actually dissing voters (link). The real unforced error is having a group of pot-bellied, good-ole-boy sheriffs man-handling citizens who are active in the process:

These things are getting the media play just for their abject stupidity. There has not yet been the transference to the Waugh campaign. The question is now not how badly you are going to thump this guy, Rich Waugh, but do you have enough of a dwindling lead to hold on? Is this weekend long enough for the transfer to occur? All the money in the world can't stop the waves like this from lapping the beach. It is just too late.

Will there be more unforced errors being brought on by the panic attacks of the political end game? I am getting the sense the published mainstream polls are inaccurate because of random sample issues. I believe there are internal polls showing a different story. That is why we are seeing vile and violent episodes as this campaign season winds down.

If the Waugh campaign had enough people and resources, they could set up laptops at the polls running a continuous video loop of the Congressman Cantor dissing people mixed in with the beat-down. The poll workers would not have to say much to those undecided voters going to the polls.

My only surprise is that the mainstream media has not looked at Rick Waugh at any length. He doesn't appear to be a witch, or using medications that he appears to have stopped taking. He seems normal enough. It is a shame that the big media can't look at a regular guy as a contrast to Eric Cantor.

The issue of being a Congressman for just some of the people may actually stick around as a decent issue. I just don't know if there is enough time left in the Waugh Campaign to make a difference.

Note: I just got a message that is legit to put here:
I just got called out by Nathan Cox.
"I sure do wish you could've been a little less biased, and MENTIONED, the CONSTITUTIONAL CONSERVATIVE, named Floyd Bayne running against Rick Waugh and Eric Cantor as well. (link) (in case you weren't aware)"
Nathan you are right to say something!
I am happy to give you a piece of my floor.
My apologies.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Does an Endorsement Really Mean?

Published on the Huffington Post 2010-10-27 16:37:01

Big bold letters glare from the front page bottom of the right-wing newspaper:

CeaseFirePA endorses state Rep. Bryan Lentz

Hmmm, someone on the left might think, hey this is great. The Times Herald (link) is actually good for something.

Bryan Lentz is running for Congress in my district. I can look out my back deck and see a local gun and rod club. I cansee both sides on the whole 2nd Amendment thing. I am pretty neutral on this.

But, my part of the district has a lot of 2nd Amendment folks. The Times Herald article and headline was not about cutting Bryan a break or even attempting to report the news. It is actually the alarm bell going off for the local NRApeople.

The GOP candidate had a horrible debate debacle and has allowed Lentz to tie him in the polls. Last week it was big news that the race is now a toss-up -- now this Times Herald article.

This cuts to the core as to what does an endorsement mean?

Candidates, party political committees and interest groups dance in a surreal public mating ritual. It is almost worthy ofa Mutual of Omaha / Monty Python segment. The party political committee gets some exposure and feels like it has done something. The candidate gets to trumpet -- hey somebody likes me." The interest group gets someone they hope will be on their side and then the can generate some press and marketing.

The Lentz situation is a little different. Since Lentz has essentially tied this race and the right-wing
Newspaper has sounded the alarm for the NRA. It may shift the balance of this election. Since this is a new variable in the equation, it is actually up to both sides, CeaseFirePa and the NRA, to make their case as to who gets to serve.

In fact, Joe Biden was stumping for Bryan Lentz. Biden is based out of northern Delaware, just across the border from the 7th District in southeast Pennsylvania. You can't tell the two districts apart. Just about the first thing out of Lentz' mouth at this rally was about the gun laws.

As someone who wants to see Bryan Lentz as a Congressman, I see the endorsement of CeaseFirePA (link) as damaging, at this point. It is now up to CeaseFirePA to step up. Their words and abilities are being tested. The NRA boogieman is now loose in the countryside.

CeaseFirePA needs to prove that it is worthy of even making an endorsement. (Yes, I know they have a 1st Amendment Right.) By this I mean that unless this organization can supply the Lentz Campaign with volunteers to make phone calls, work the street, and man the polls in equal numbers and strength to what the NRA people are doing, then all that

CeaseFirePa has done is allowed the GOP opponent to activate his base.

Endorsements should not mean that a group just sits in judgment of a candidate and gives their blessings.

Endorsements should mean that you or your organization are going to work to see what was said actually means something. Can your group defend its endorsement?

Work doesn't mean sitting at a keyboard kvetching endlessly. It means calling people, volunteering for GOTV (Get Out The Vote Operations), sending cash, working the polls.

Every person who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 voted for change. That was an endorsement of an idea. It is now time to have that endorsement mean something. Just like CeaseFirePa's reputation is on the line in this election, anyone who voted for change in 2008 is also facing the same test.

Did your 2008 endorsement mean anything?

Can you defend it?

Will you?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury as a Tea Party Member Scorned

Published 2010-10-20 10:32:03  Huffington Post 

Fact List:

  • Virginia (Ginni) Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
  • During Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings, Anita Hill raised the charge of sexual misconduct in the workplace. During the Clarence Thomas confirmation, Hill
    could not fully substantiate the misconduct claims as the episode devolved into a "he said-she said" conflict. Clarence Thomas was confirmed.
  • Polls in this election are tightening.
  • Liberty Central is a Conservative Activist Web Site
  • Quote from Liberty Central

Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, President and CEO

Ginni is a new social entrepreneur and the Founder of Liberty Central, Inc. Ginni is excited about launching and finds the new citizen activists

  • Ginni Thomas called Anita Hill on October 9, 2010 asking Hill for an apology.
  • Hill called the police and FBI.
  • The story about Ginni Thomas' phone call broke on October 20, 2010.


The Democrats are closing in on victory as more and more Tea Party Candidates are doing more and more loopy things.

Thomas, in her role as a conservative activist, has taken an opportunity to further muddy the waters with respect to the election. Bringing back this soap opera into the

media so close to the election is a method of taking oxygen out of the room with respect to the serious issues the country is facing.

Re-hashing this issue may help GOP turnout in this election.

Hill needed substantiation and real proof she wasn't being punked. She waited until the investigation was complete before going public this. Credit goes to her for not making the same mistake twice.

This ultimately favors the Democrats. The amount of off-the-wall stuff entering the media is directly proportional to the realization that your side will lose. The GOP is now throwing the kitchen sink at the Democrats.

I hope the Democrats know how to duck by calling Ginni Thomas' actions for what they are -- more political theater.

Note: I am getting some feedback as "How does this help the GOP?"
Answer: Ginni Thomas' world is ultra-conservative.
They see Hill as a liar and part of the wall of liberals. She is taking a shot at her in hopes of reviving those emotions.

See it from the Thomas' standpoint. Just like Christine O'Donnell, she thinks she is scoring a touchdown by rehashing this now.

It is taking news cycles away from the Democrats. I think it is smart and will work if the Democrats don't call Thomas out on it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fact Check vs. FACT CHECK

10/15/2010 Published By Huffington Post

Don't you hate it when people play fast and loose with the facts? Political season has a lot of that going on. What follows is my opinion.

While doing research for another piece I hit this page.

I don't know if it will be there very long after this article gets the attention I hope this gets, but here's the core of what I am going after:

(Glenmoore, PA) - Today, the campaign of Congressman Jim Gerlach released a FACT CHECK on Manan Trivedi's misleading new television ad.

"Manan Trivedi's entire campaign ad is false and misleading. No one has ever attacked his military service and the fact is he hasn't lived in this district since he was four years old. Trivedi is the most liberal, out of touch candidate that has ever run against Jim Gerlach," said Mark Campbell, spokesman for Gerlach's campaign.

"He supports higher taxes, more spending, and has very extreme positions like using tax dollars to pay for abortions, and supporting condom distributionin our public schools. You can read his documented answers here."

When most of us in the political world see something like this, we want to see the original. Since there was no URL, Iwent to the web site. You know the one. The one everyone looks for when there needs to be a level playing field with credibility.

So when I went to look for something about this race nothing was there. That was troubling. I called, emailed and eventually got this response:

Hi Joe,

I hope nobody is confused by the way Rep. Gerlach (and many others) are using the term "Fact Check" these days. It's a generic phrase, and anybody can use it. But it shouldn't be mistaken for the one and only, original ""

The critique to which you refer to is the product of Rep. Gerlach's campaign, and is a partisan political document. We haven't mentioned him or his opponent on our website at any time during this campaign, and we haven't examined that particular ad, or reached any conclusion about it one way or the other.

I hope that helps. Feel free to quote any of this as you please.

Brooks Jackson

Brooks was very nice when I got her on the phone and suggested that it may be time for to use a logo or something to denote that the reporting is accurate. I am sure it isn't the first time that suggestion was made, and it won't be the last.

In the common lexicon of today's world, FactCheck, as in, has become somewhat of a Kleenex Brand in political circles. To fact check something is different than to FACT CHECK something. To say FACT CHECK it is to imply a brand or a proper noun. It is being used in this way in the mainstream media.

As one can see, there appears to be a level of intentional confusion being placed into the Gerlach attack piece. I guess that goes with "Voter Beware."

The really sad thing is in order to score a small point with the political ad, it appears a sitting Congressman's campaign has no trouble eroding the reputation of a legitimate watchdog organization.

It is almost as though the Gerlach Campaign can't use its own moral authority to call out a Trivedi ad as false. (I hope you notice that I am making no judgments on the validity of the Trivedi ad.) They had to make up some other authoritarian figure (FACT CHECK - not to be confused with FACTCHECK.ORG) as a shield. Oh, a higher authority said it, so it must be right.

But since they needed to make up an imaginary authority figure, how much of the rest of what they are saying will hold water? Maybe the campaign doesn't believe it has credibility of its own and that is why it needs to create something that will give it to them. Are those running the campaign caught with their own cynicism showing?

So the ultimate irony of this situation is: The Gerlach Campaign has eroded the credibility as the very thing they are using to gain credibility.

Pulling a stunt like this may produce a desired effect among those who are "his" people, but it desensitizes the rest of us to want to trust ANYTHING we read or watch.

The country is hungry for a pure source of truth - now more than ever. When someone who is supposed to be a leader in this country appears to be fouling one of the few reservoirs of good information, is it any wonder everyone looks around as we are ticked off at one another?

Lunchtime with the DFA.

I was invited to lunch this week (this is a significant first for a pimple-on-the-rump blogger). Jim Dean, who runs DFA (Democracy For America), was in Philly checking on a number a races that are tightening. Among them were the big races in the area: Sestak, Lentz, Murphy. Today's lunchtime menu served Manan Trivedi.

Of the major races around Philly, Trivedi has the toughest assignment. He is taking on an incumbent GOP House Member. Joe Sestak (Senate) and Bryan Lentz (PA-6) are going for open seats and Patrick Murphy (PA-8) is the incumbent.

When you are an incumbent the race is about what you are doing -- currently -- for the community you are serving. In a lot of ways you are running against yourself. Are you taking care of your citizens (read:customers) properly? That means not only answering the phones and cutting red tape for people, but playing the game of politics in a straight manner. Even if you can cut all the red tape in the world and have the President's ear for a beer, you still need to do as you say in the media. As long as you keep your nose clean, you will get re-elected. (That is why I am against term limits; I don't want to remove a person who is doing a good job.) Murphy needs to make his case to the voters. He can run a fully positive campaign on a long list of achievements in the job.

Open races are different because it is more about what kind of person each candidate is. There is actually more vetting going on because there usually no track record of job performance for the office in question.

Candidate needs to get out and make the case for themselves. You have more of an option of going negative or positive. Both Sestak and Lentz are both running balanced attacks. Recent days see them as either getting even or starting to pull away.

Challenger races are the toughest. That is why having DFA in the room for Manan Trivedi is an important thing.

Elections are about marketing. Elections are about selling. Part of selling is creating a need. Some campaigns create this need cynically; others actually see the need to replace an incumbent. Trivedi is in a race that needed a challenger. Jim Gerlach, the GOP Congressman, is a pretty standard GOP Member. It appears he only votes against the GOP Leadership when the issue at hand is out of reach.

Trivedi can use the Healthcare issue as a bludgeon against Gerlach as the district has a large number of drug firms located there. Healthcare reform would play very well in this district for Trivedi since Gerlach voted against it. Trivedi can also sell himself as a Doctor and an Iraq War vet. Given the treatment of Veterans' issues by previous administrations, Trivedi has a unique perspective to improve this situation.

The healthcare issue is one in which DFA operates best. Just the fact that DFA has sent its head of operations to this campaign is significant in that resources don't go to campaigns that are losing. Big guns don't come out for non-fundraising events.

I don't know what the polls look like in this race. But I am certain that if DFA is looking at this race, it is a tight one.

Personally, I think that Manan's best bet is to attach to the large veteran population in the district and mobilize them. It is rare when they don't come out and support their own.

This double-barrelled approach (DFA Healthcare, and a Vets' Outreach) should pay dividends as this race winds down.

My next lunch with these guys, I'll actually wear a tie.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Final Notes About the Closing of a School

I get letters from people asking me to write different things with my space here. I try to do what I can. If I can't do something justice, I pass the word to someone else that can do better than me. Sometimes I get notes from my Congressman, Joe Sestak. 

There are things that are beyond politics. This is one of them.

It is sad when a church or a school closes. Faded memories are reignited as the to-do list for closure is written.

Around Philadelphia, Catholic populations have been shifting for decades. Northeast Philly saw Cardinal Dougherty High School close. After the buildings have been stripped of their possessions, there are memorials to attend to. I am honored to pass the word on something like this.

Bill Eves committee chairperson for the Cardinal Dougherty Vietnam Memorial is looking for any family members of the 27 Cardinal Dougherty students that were Killed in Action in Vietnam.

The committee would like the family members to be part of the re-dedication ceremony on Nov 11. If anyone knows any of the family members please contact
Bill Eves via or
Bill Crean via or or call 856-461-6637.

These are the men who are the Cardinal Dougherty Killed in Action. If these names bring a memory or you know a family, please feel free to reignite a faded memory. Listed are the men by class and date of Taps.

  • James P. Kelly 27-Sep-1965
  • James M. Lynch 29-Jul-1967
  • James J. Kline 14-May-1968
  • Lawrence J. Bolger 27-Jun-1967
  • John J. Gallagher 17-Dec-1969
  • Michael F. Bingham 28-Jun-1966
  • John J. Murphy 07-Jan-1967
  • William G. Behan 10-May-1968
  • Gerald J. Kelly 14-May-1969
  • Charles L. Isley 20-Nov-1966
  • William E. Lund 21-Mar-1967
  • Thomas A. Duckett 02-Nov-1966
  • Joseph H. Wilhelmi 10-Jun-1967
  • Victor A. Spadaro 30-Jul-1967
  • Thomas K. Lyons 01-May-1968
  • Louis R. Lordi 17-May-1968
  • Leo J. Mangold 03-Mar-1969
  • Leo B. Smith 23-Mar-1969
  • Herbert L. Farrington 01-May-1967
  • Edward B. Spear 05-Oct-1968
  • Michael J. Crescenz, M.O.H. 20-Nov-1968
  • Michael P. Warner 21-Jun-1969
  • Thomas J. Laughlin 13-Apr-1970
  • Donald C. Wood 20-May-1968
  • David C. Piotrowicz 15-Dec-1968
  • Charles E. Diamond 02-Feb-1970
  • James M. Reinhardt 13-Apr-1970

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why I Don't Believe Any Polling Data

Math was my major at Temple University (1984).

We needed to take Probability and Statistics as a required course. Polling deals with trying to use statistics to measure or predict an outcome. The data you use to make your conclusions is the most critical part of the puzzle.


If you have garbage for data you get garbage results -- GIGO -- Garbage In Garbage Out.

I do not believe any poll can be valid at this point for following reason:
You cannot get a random sample of likely voters.

Years ago in the pre-cellphone era -- the pollster had the white pages as a universe for his sample. Know the exchanges and you could make the calls for an entire district. We all knew Havertown, PA had exchanges in the 610 area code (or 215 if you are older) or 446, 449, 789, or 853. If we were doing calls into there we knew right away who we were dealing with.

Exchanges and for that matter, area codes, are no longer geographically dependent with the ability to transport your number with you.

Do you own a cell phone? Is it listed? Does your college aged, registered to vote kid have a cell phone? Is it listed? How are the pollsters going to get to you if you aren't even on their lists?
Now, ask yourself, who still owns land lines? Older folks, right? Even some of those folks are losing them to become wireless. They are now unreachable.

Any polling to land lines are now skewed by definition. You are not going to get the younger voters. Unless you somehow get their phone numbers from working in another campaign, you can't get to them to ask them anything.

Even voter history files do not always contain correct phone numbers.

There is still a large and growing ocean of voters who are off-the-grid to the pollster. They may be registered to vote, but they are not active enough to give their numbers to anyone. No one can reach them to see if they are going to vote or not, much less where they are leaning.

Until bad sampling issues are rectified, the only poll that means anything will be the one conducted by the government in November. Until then, I think everyone is flying blind.

Honesty of Questions:

Many polls broadcast have loaded their questions. We all hear these type of polls:
"Do you think we should let the cannibal Democratic candidate anywhere near a morgue, or do you favor having armed Republicans guard our honored dead?"
This may sometimes be called a generic congressional poll.

Seriously, I know the questions really aren't that bad, but many times the subtlies of the questions key the respondent to the "correct" answer the pollster is looking for.

Are the questions neutral? How can you tell? You need to look at them yourself.

What to do?

One really needs to look at the polling sample and methodology combined with the actual questions prior to giving or reducing the credence of a poll. That is really the job of the media. (Yeah, I know the great job they do...) As a citizen, we need to question all the information coming from the boob tubes and internet.

For now, I am not putting too much faith in anything that has the word "poll" attached to it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's Evangelical Problem

As a Christian, I know that forgiveness is something we have to grant here on earth if we want to get to heaven, but in politics, asking forgiveness has become a political ploy.
In the Gospels, Jesus Christ states clearly in two places that one thing won't be forgiven:
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin. (Mark 3:28-29)
Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
Christine O'Donnell may have a bigger problem than this Senate race.

Is hanging out on Satanic altars an affront to the Holy Spirit? Is subsequently making jokes about it while cashing in? (One can only assume that Bill Maher pays his guests on his dog-and-pony show. Plus, Christine was paid in the media attention she got out of talking to Bill Maher.)

Has Christine O'Donnell recanted her experimental time playing with the occult?

Surely 99.44 percent of the time no one would care about what this woman believes and when she believed it. However, when someone is setting themselves up as a moral vanguard, these questions are legitimate.
No one can look into the eye of God and know what the Almighty will do with this situation at the end of her days. Those in Delaware just have the days that sit in front of them now to make a call.

Delaware is a fairly diverse state for its size. It may only have three counties, but it has substantial urban areas of Wilmington and Dover, lots of farmland, and ocean playgrounds. Think of a more relaxed New Jersey. And there is a substantial number of Evangelicals in the Diamond State. Are these revelations going to cause cognitive dissonance as they go to the polls to vote?

I have used the quotations from Paul's Letter to Titus on numerous occasions:
For a bishop as God's steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents. (Titus 1:7-9)
Christine O'Donnell is asking to be a bishop of our country. As someone actively courting the Evangelical vote, how does she fit into this mold of leadership?
Are Paul's words about leadership still applicable today?
Will Evangelical voters be able to forgive Satanic ritual and make Ms. O'Donnell a bishop of their secular fold?

Is Chris Coons, the opponent in this race, legitimate in playing this card if the race gets tight? After all, the man has a Master's in Ethics from Yale Divinity School. Evangelicals may be tempted to look seriously at a Democrat that has a serious background and grounding in things theological. Coons can attack O'Donnell legitimately at her base. Court this vote, and I think he could reach it. He would have a shot at getting 90 percent of the vote.

That, more than anything, could derail a tea-party express.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Fear Sanity (and Combs)

The Stewart / Colbert March is the one I have waited for over the past year. I will be there.
I will snark, but reasonably.
I will yell, but quietly.
On their Facebook pages (Sanity Link / Fear Link) over 200,000 have committed to at least one of these rallies. Many like me, who sanely fear, signed up for both. Given the intense build-up this will get over the next month it is not unreasonable to think that double this number may attend.

The timing of this twin rally is a gamble. The Fear and Sanity in DC Rally lands on the last, most intense, weekend of the campaign season. The number of people who would otherwise be home, in district, making phone calls, building A-Frames, canvassing - is staggering.

If I were a campaign manager for a congressional seat, I would be pulling more of my hair out because my best people are going to be in DC at crunch time.

Hmmm, why not the weekend of the 23rd? 
As Jon Stewart announced this rally he spoke about the scheduling. He's calling the shot on this and that's great. Being a parent, I get why you need to be home for Halloween. It is just too important. He also mentioned the shows would be in DC the week before.

Wow, what a great way to build up this event. A long parade of at-risk pols and those Democrats ready to romp will be what the Democrats need to take on the Party of Tea. As an orchestrated slow release of feel good before the caffeine jolt of a rally; it can work.

The rally will come 3 days before the election. This will wash out ANY last minute surprises that the GOP may have in store. It will also prevent the Democrats who know how to eat their own feet, from foot-in-mouth disease. They can't screw this up.

Will the Comedy Central Crew be able to create enough of a political adrenaline rush that can last until Tuesday evening when the polls close?

If they can pull it off and turn the angry Tea Party Express into the expressionless and numb, the credit will go to this group of individuals. The Democratic Party has been on the ropes as is gives up political yardage by the mile.

This is the goal line stand. I am happy to have:

The Clowns to the left of me and
The Jokers to the right.

BTW, If you cannot be there:

Get a cardboard cutout of yourself

A wooden stake

Send it with someone who is going to the rally.
We need your spiritual image for the head count.
If they can bring it back, set it up at the polls as a reminder that "you" were there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Attack of the Sestak Clones

Actually this isn't about Congressman and Senate Candidate Joe Sestak, per se. It is about something happening over the last six years in the Southeast corner of Pennsylvania.

Congressman Joe Sestak isn't the prototype for the cloning. That honor goes to Iraqi Freedom Vet, Greg Philips. Greg retired from the Seabees as a Lt Commander. Seabees are essentially the Navy's Corp of Engineers. They go into tough spots and work engineering miracles. Greg is an architect and attorney by trade. He's a good at both disciplines too.

In late 2003, word was that Greg was thinking about a suicide mission - aka becoming a sacrificial lamb. Greg was going to unseat Representative Curt Weldon. Having lived in Weldon's district on and off because of gerry-meandering, I knew Weldon was a better congressman to the Balkans than Audubon (my hometown). I live in Montgomery County, as does Greg, but about 60-65% of the district sits in Delaware County (Delco). Parts of the district are in Chester County - but we don't talk about THOSE guys.

Delco (and you thought it was just a battery) has been controlled by the GOP since about the Civil War. It is funny how these Republicans out-lived Communism (I wonder how the Delco GOP will do competing with cockroaches after a good nuking). But Democrats did have a REALLY good Congressman here for a while; Rev. Bob Edgar was swept in by Watergate. So it is possible that if all the cylinders click together the Democrats can win.

The PA-7th district is home to a lot of defense industry. Boeing lives at one part of the district. There is a lot of retired military in the area. Perception at the time in these parts; and I guess across the country, was that the Democrats were soft on Defense and low on experience.

Did I mention that Greg is an Iraqi War Vet as well as an architect and attorney? (a prototype?)
Curt Weldon had never really been seriously challenged for his seat. Either a candidate would have too little money or too much baggage or whatever. Democrats would get beaten like a drum.

In 2004 the top of the ticket had a war hero running the show, John Kerry (pre-Swift boating). It was looking good. Some cylinders were locking into place. More cylinders clicked when candidates from other parts of the district bowed out and Greg got the nod. It was a nice primary win.

In the back of our minds we knew that Greg could be deployed, but we thought that there would be no way a GOP controlled government would deploy a candidate for office. We talked about that possibility but dismissed it as sheer lunacy. We could have a field day with it. Curt Weldon moves an opponent into a war zone. Can you say Uriah?

We underestimated the lunacy. Greg's unit got deployed. We thought about trying to keep Greg on the ballot. If for no other reason, it would generate good press all over the place. He wanted no part of it because it would split his mind while in theater. It was more important for him to focus 100% on his troops. In mid-summer we said good-bye to Greg. We found a replacement for Greg, Dr. Paul Scoles, but it wasn't to be. The drumming continued in November.

But the GOP was obviously scared. Weldon blinked. Amazingly, Greg was back in town around the start of 2005. I don't care who will try to allay my Rube-Goldberg-Conspiracy-Theory-Constructing-Mind on this, but my opinion is that strings got pulled to get Greg out of the way for the election.

What it did tell me was that the Democrats could win in a "blue-dog" district. Make no mistake for all the Haverford Colleges and Swarthmore Colleges that live in the 7th, it is a conservative machine here.

Greg found a flaw in the conservative armor. Too many GOP officials have not served anywhere - Chicken Hawks having no problems spilling blood. This flank can be exploited by intelligent, qualified men and women who have served.

In 2006, Greg wanted to take another shot at the seat. By this time the scent of a ripe seat was picked up by Admiral Joe Sestak (Joe's Link), who grew up in the Delco part of the district. Sestak had his ducks in line and Greg knew he couldn't compete, so he bowed out. Sestak easily took the primary.

Weldon's own hubris got him in the end. Some unforced errors, an FBI investigation, and a mood souring on the GOP helped another Iraqi War Vet make it to Congress. Sestak was elected in 2006. To stay there Sestak opened his office 7 days a week and made voter services an art-form. In 2008 the GOP candidate could not see Sestak with a telescope. Sestak could have been a lifer in the PA-7th.

In 2006, another Iraqi War Vet, West Point Professor, and JAG officer; Patrick Murphy joined Joe Sestak in Congress. Representative Murphy's 8th District includes parts of Northeast Philly, Montgomery and Bucks Counties - ringing the Northern parts of the region. He is the 2006 model of Sestak Clone - (with all due respect to the professor, the Admiral gets the headline because of the 7th District, rank, and the fact Sestak is running for Senate. Although, The Attack of the Murphy Clones would have sounded as good). (Link for Patrick)

The 2010 models of the Sestak Clones include State Representative Brian Lentz, a former prosecutor, and - you guessed it - Iraqi War Vet. Bryan is also a former Airborne Ranger, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division and among his official commendations is the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Bronze Star for Service. Being in the 7th District, Bryan is looking to replace Sestak as the Admiral tries his act in the Senate. (Link for Bryan)

In yet another suburban Philly District, the 6th, Dr. Manan Trivedi, a young doctor from Reading is challenging a GOP member that barely hangs on time after time. Did I mention the good doctor was one of the first guys on the ground in Iraq who ministered to the injured? (This guy has a great immigrant back story too.) The 6th District is a bizarre gerrymander that winds from next to Philly, through Montgomery and Chester Counties and to the Outlet Malls of Reading. This covers the much of the western suburbs of Philly. (Link for Manan)

Across the country we can see the numbers of vets who have returned from active duty, step up and compete on the field of politics, and won. Of this batch, Greg is the prototype. Many times the first guy through doesn't always make it, but the hole he creates in the line allows others to run to victory.

I would love to get a chance to ask former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean next week if this is a by design for a candidate or did we just organically grow a bunch of really accomplished Democrats who served in the military?

Dean will be at a fundraiser for both Lentz and Trivedi next week. (Link for the event.)
I hope Greg will be there as the prototype.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chattering Classless

Gen. David Petraeus
Gen. Ray Odierno
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Attorney General Eric Holder
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
Presidential Adviser David Axelrod
All of these heavy hitters have weighed in on the Rev. Terry Jones' plan of burning a Koran on September 11.
All have stated that the Gainesville, Florida Pastor is wrong and places our troops in further danger. International gains made diplomatically are being damaged by this bigoted parochial Pastor's effort to sell his book. (You can link to his web site to see it, but I won't do him the favor of placing his link here.)
Countering the face of our government are members of the American Chattering Class who are now saying that the Administration is wrong to take on this issue.
  • If the administration were to treat this guy like a gnat, he'd have no credibility.
  • Now that he has been noted by the Administration, he has instant credibility.
  • The Administration has made the problem worse!
The problem is our chattering class is not factoring in the chattering classes in the Muslim world. If we can have a right wing media dominated by a Rushbeckistan, with a capital of O'Rhannityville that will attack anything President Obama does with gusto for ratings, wouldn't it stand to reason that there is a similar set-up on the other side of the planet that is looking at US through a similar prism?

Anything that happens behind that prism is twisted for maximum embarrassment to not only President Obama, but American Culture itself.

If you were sitting in Afghanistan, Iraq, or even places where our military is not active like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan or Indonesia what kind of media sausage is being made over there?

Gen. David Petraeus is living on the ground in theater. He has boots on the ground and I think the American media needs to allow him to make the assessment about what the media in Islam-Land is doing to us.

Remember, part of this war is for hearts and minds.

Take the reaction to events like the NYC Mosque, the arson at the Mosque' construction site in Tennessee, now this Pastor's Koran burning stunt - isn't that good meat for a bitter sausage labeled:

"They are Americans and they hate Islam?"

I am sure there is some fat guy with a drug issue who bloviates on the airwaves in Islam-land that everything we do is evil. I wonder if there are radio talking heads that talk about restoring honor to places like Kabul, or Cairo, or Mecca. I am sure they can get a ton of people out to march for them.

We are getting our heads handed to us by the Muslim media. This pastor has helped create a nightmare for us over there. Not only diplomatically, but militarily. The general has spoken up at the right time with the proper message of the danger this money grubbing pastor has placed our troops in.

The Administration echoing and having the General's back on this topic is certainly the proper thing to do.
Now, if we can only get this pastor busted for

  • using his Freedom of Speech to attack another person's Freedom of Religion,
  • or inciting a riot,
  • or treason because he is giving aid to our enemies (in terms of recruitment materials)

then, we may have something.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

'Ground Zero Mosque': What Team Do You Want to Play On?

The signs are out.

The protesters are screaming.

Foam forms around the mouths:

"You can't worship like that here!"


Am I talking about the NYC mosque protests or Westboro Baptist Church protests?

They really are the same thing:
  • Group of people gets a bunch of signs,
  • Goes to a place where people want to worship in a different manner,
  • Lets out all their frustrations.

Sounds great, looks wonderful, doesn't it?


The mosque issue is one where a line gets drawn in the sand. Either you are for it or you are against it. Those against it include proponents of the "moderate" or "reasonable" position of, "Well, they really should to move it."

Ask those "reasonable" people when this mosque may be built at this location. Are they answering with a fixed time?
There is no fixed time.

Ask those "reasonable" people where this mosque may be built now. Are they answering with a fixed place? What is the radius from Ground Zero beyond which Muslims may build?
There is no fixed place.

A right isn't granted to a people only when the majority says it is OK. A right may be exercised at any time or place.

Either you are for Freedom of Religion or you are against it. That is the line.


If you are playing on the Westboro Baptist team on this issue, then no matter how quiet and reasonable-sounding you are, you are allowing the bigots across the country to score a big touchdown. Your position is allowing the more vociferous on your team the space to put the Muslims away.

Think about it: because of your voicing of the soft you-have-to-move-it opinion combined with the loud and angry Westboro crowd, you may actually get the Muslims to cow to the supposed majority in New York City. Congratulations.

Will we start this whole charade again when a group of Muslims wishes to rent space in the new World Trade Center (if it completes before the Rapture) for a prayer area?

Now when a group of Muslims wishes to open a mosque somewhere else, maybe in Tennessee or in your neck of the woods, those fighting the Muslims know they can beat these people back. Get the signs out, start screaming, and those people in the funny hats will go away.

You don't have to say anything. After all, it isn't like Muslims are Americans or anything.


Now that you have set up a second-class citizenship status for Muslims (and don't kid yourself, because you have), how are we going to manage this?

Are we going to have special laws for practitioners of Islam?
Or will these series of laws apply to anyone non-Christian?
We can't leave Jewish people out, so they are in.

And what about the atheists? Are they "preferable" enough?
We'll vote on those guys.

Anyway, we need to set up a bunch of laws to allow people of the preferred faiths better access to the rights over those of the non-preferred faiths.

When you allow this type of pressure to be successfully applied to a group of Muslims, this is where we are going. It is not ridiculous to speculate on our future this way.

Can you say Nuremberg Laws?


Is that the America you really want?

What team do you want to play on?