Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jobs or Gates? It is no contest.

The Smerconish' Program has a daily poll question.  Go to his site, vote, and he’ll usually talk about it the next day.

Wednesday’s question was simple.  Job or Gates.  Two giants of the tech field.  Apple or Microsoft.  Steve Jobs, I think, will get the lions’ share of the vote on this, primarily because of the consumer products that Apple keeps rolling out.  He’s the active face of Apple.

Bill Gates, on the other hand, is the “retired” head of Microsoft.  I do the quotes thing because no one seriously believes that he isn’t being contacted when something big is happening in Redmond, Washington.  People love to complain with what they got.  Most of us have PC’s and that is the face of what we have, the really big nerd with the glasses.

I would easily pick Gates.  Why?  At the birth of the PC field you had the smartest of the smart working in technology.  Mainframes from IBM, CDC, or Unisys stepped down to superminis from DEC, DataGeneral and Wang.  Xerox was so far ahead of the curve it wasn’t funny.  The Department of Defense was still developing the internet Infrastructure.  PCs weren’t serious competition.  Radio Shack had the distribution channel.  All of these outfits had wildly innovative and imaginative people.

Running these firms were the Bomar Brains of the highest intellectual power and the egos to match.

Gates conquerored all of these concerns.  Microsoft was so big that at one point he had to prop up Apple so there would not be anti-trust legislation against Microsoft.

In the business world, no one could touch his company.  Yes, they have been sued for business practices, but that is part of the game.  They have written the rules of the road (Gates has paved “The Road Ahead”).

If it were not for the business acumen of Bill Gates the PC revolution would never have been born.  Each of these companies mentioned above had different views of the world related to tech.  Gates’ view of the world and the ability of know when to fight and when to sit out allowed him to win this high tech version of a cat rodeo.  No one is seriously left standing.

Turn and take a look back at that road.  It is strewn with the business corpses and carcasses of those who fell.  Remember The Commodore 64, Atari, Visicalc, Lotus 123, Boralnd Pascal, Netware – all products by players that got outplayed by the master.

The tech world needed a stable platform and rules on which to build upon.  It needed to be open enough to develop what was needed organically, and flexibly.  The rules needed to be structured enough to play nice with others.  Microsoft did a lot of research into ergonomics.  How are we going to interact quickly with the computer.  If you look closely at a Microsoft based PC there are certain rules all your programs follow.  Microsoft was big enough to impose those rules.  No one else was.

At a certain level we are not programming computers, but programming people – Gates got the really early and implemented.

I won’t downplay Apple’s ergonomic features, but on the other hand it is a closed system.  Applications are centralized.  At a certain level it stifles competition and creativity.  Even this week Apple has made news because they want to prevent explicit material and apps from the iPhone.  I cannot imagine Microsoft stifling anything as long as what you do isn’t messing with somebody else’s programs or doing something blatantly illegal (like stealing Microsoft software).

Being in the industry for about 30 years, I realize that when you buy a Microsoft product a couple of things are true.  On operating systems, wait for a couple of weeks after the first service pack is released before really recommending.  When Microsoft moves into a new market or system you need to give them until about version 2 or 3 before the product is really good.  By the time version 4 of whatever program we are talking about hits the market – it is unbeatable.  It will generally be a mature offering and wipe out the competition.  (By the way, you can get a free version of what was essentially Word Perfect as part of Open Office.)

For those of you in Steve Jobs corner, can you run a program from the Lisa on the latest Mac Notebook?  I can still run a program from the era of the 286 machines (20 years or so) , generally without a lot of tuning, on a Windows 7 box.

I’ll take Bill Gates any day.  While all the brainiacs were playing chess – he was beating their brains out playing the “Business” game.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is it Time to "Einhorn" Specter?

Arlen Specter wants to swiftboat Joe Sestak in the primary race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat. Specter is running ads taking shots at Admiral Sestak for not having a nice working environment while hunting terrorists. (Not really a place most of us want a “make-nice” environment.)

I was thinking about when pointing a finger four others point back at you. Is there anything in the finger pointing past of Senator Specter that may come back to haunt him? I started thinking about how an issue could create a Willie Horton Series of ads that could totally devastate Senator Specter Campaign. Since the Senator wants to dig stuff up about his opponent, why not go after the Senator’s past?

Karma is pretty funny when it uses irony. While Arlen Specter is ripping Joe Sestak for not being nice while killing terrorists; Arlen Specter has a pivotal role in letting a murderer go free.

The irony is most of us in the Philly area had forgotten about the Unicorn Murderer, Ira Einhorn. The calendar decided to step in with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Those of us with enough grey hair were reminded that Ira Einhorn was a local community activist who organized the first local iteration of Earth Day in Philadelphia.

We were also reminded that Einhorn is a convicted murderer. There is a blog eruption of folks writing about this guy – check your local Google (search for “ira einhorn arlen specter”) for all sorts of people talking about this.

What does this have to do with Specter and Willie Horton? Remember when Michael Dukakis was running for president and the Bush campaign effectively tagged him with Willie Horton. Horton was paroled by folks a few levels away from Dukakis. But Dukakis was Governor, so he got credit for the crime spree that Horton went on after parole.

Given those rules, Specter is much closer to the Einhorn issue and should be held just as responsible given his penchant for pointing fingers. In 1979, as Einhorn was busted Arlen Specter was the former Philly DA. Specter represented Einhorn and secured bail on this murder charge. Einhorn only had to put up $4,000 so that he could skip off to France. Makes you wonder what kind of strings did the Senator pull to get such a low bail (it should have been close to $100,000)?

You can look at the Time Magazine article by Steve Lopez (a long time Philly writer who also wrote "The Soloist") of this as well as countless books on the Unicorn Killer. The bottom line is that Specter’s bail maneuver created a legal morass that generated years of court decisions, civil lawsuits, Legislative actions in the Pennsylvania assembly, 2 convictions, and an international incident with the French Parliament. Just the money alone that was wasted in trying to get this guy back is astounding. Should Specter get credit for all heartaches and legal bills caused by his actions here?

I hope that in terms of fair play, since Specter is using the GOP Political Operations Handbook in a Democratic Primary, that the Sestak Campaign can take a few pages and show the rest of us how to stand up to a bully like Arlen Specter.

It would be cool to see some Willie Horton style ads. Ask the family of Holly Maddux, the girl Einhorn murdered, what they think of Arlen Specter’s agility at securing bail. These ads will have more power than the Willie Horton attack ads, because Specter ACTUALLY DID let a killer skip the country.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It is time to make up a snow day...

School Districts are responsible for the Health, Safety and Welfare of their students.

Pennsylvania requires school districts to provide 180 days of instruction per year.

Students who display reckless or dangerous behavior are disciplined.

Opinion Piece from Joe ‘the nerd’ Ferraro

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Lower Providence Township (Pa.) issued an Emergency Event. A large snowstorm was on its way that eventually dumped over 30 inches of snow on our region. Any person who was driving without proper equipment would be subject to fines and towing. This event was to last until Saturday. This is a good use of government; an irritated Mother Nature coming and for reasons of public safety they tried to get everyone off the roads.

Thursday morning, Methacton School District, which serves Lower Providence and Worcester Townships, opened schools. They violated the snow emergency declaration. When the high school students arrived at 7:30 am they went to class. By 9:00 am they were told they were going home. They were no changes in any forecast for the day in that hour and a half. The school district dropped everyone off before lunch.

Everyone knew that a large storm was coming. The school district put people at risk from across the region. We are not only talking about the students, but the teachers, bus drivers, janitors, and office staff that directly needed to be at school, but live elsewhere. We are also talking about the parents who drove their kids to school and the older students who could drive.

Look at some of the economic impact of what overriding the public safety officials in our community did. Parents of small kids who thought the coast was clear to go to work were called back home an hour or two into a workday when they were notified that school was letting out early. Someone needs to be home to accept the kids. How much in lost wages are we talking about? What about the disruption to those businesses? At school were lunches prepared for the day? How much of that food was wasted?

Now, look at what the kids lost. A day of school. Hey, snow day – great – let’s have fun. But this wasn’t a snow day. I think the Administration gamed the system. A regular snow day gets made up later in the year when Mother Nature is in a better mood. Because the Administration did this little catch-and-release stunt they were able to clock that 180 day number down by one day. A call to the Pennsylvania Department of Education confirmed that the school district does get credit for bringing the kids into school and doing nothing with them. What is more, the state has no recourse for this behavior.

Our kids were not only put at risk, but they were ripped off. We want kids in school being instructed because the competition in the world they will enter is fierce. Our American way of life is dependent upon having these kids ready to compete. An education was not delivered to these kids on this day. At this point, they can’t get that day back.

Our community was not only put at risk, but we were ripped off. The entire point of paying taxes for a school system is to get educated kids as a result. When a School District does this, well, I keep hearing campaign slogans about fraud and abuse. How is our community going to get back the resources expended on this abuse of the system? Think about things like the gas for the buses that was wasted transporting our kids for a day of nothing.

In order to get the scope of the amount of money wasted here, a Right To Know Request was submitted to Methacton School District asking 2 things: how much does it cost to operate the school district for one day, and how many times in the last 3 years was school dismissed early due to weather conditions. At the maximum time allotted by state law to respond to a Right To Know Request, Methacton School District sent a letter stating that they don’t keep track of this sort of information.

Can anyone say Financial Responsibility?

The question now is, “How do we make our kids and our community whole again?”

This is tricky and complex.

Getting lawyers to sue ourselves is really out of the question. First there needs to be an honest accounting of how much we lost that day. It needs to be categorized by teachers and staff and the hard administrative costs like gas and food.

The teachers have been absolutely wonderful for the past couple of years working without a contract. I almost feel bad as a parent for what I am about to ask. Can you see yourselves to giving us a free day of instruction for our kids to make up for what the Administration did here?  You have really extended yourselves and, as a parent, your professionalism is truly appreciated.

We need the Administration to work an extra day gratis also, but they need to reimburse the community for the costs associated with this gaffe. Those who made this decision need to make the school district whole again.  It is not fair that this bad decision be taken out of the hide of the taxpayers.

When a student misbehaves, there is discipline. The Administration misbehaved when it opened the schools after being told by the proper authorities not to do this. If any of our children pulled a stunt like this in our homes by pulling this kind of a fast one we would correct them immediately. They would need to pay for what they have done. As the Administration metes out punishments on kids who step out of line, it is time for those who did this to own up.

The Methacton School Board needs to step up now to make these kids whole quickly, otherwise, they will never be able to run a campaign on the concepts of Health, Safety, Welfare, or Fiscal Responsibility.

This will become a real lesson in respecting authority.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pedophilia and the Power of the Church

On a recent Smerconish Radio Program the host posited about the root cause of the pedophilia problem in the Church. He was going to run a poll with 2 choices: celibacy or homosexuality. He got a message from a listener and reluctantly added a third choice, mental disturbance. (I will be curious about the results.)

Think about it for a moment, you have to have a mental disturbance by definition to commit this crime. One could argue that OCD, ADHD, alcoholism or other addictive behaviors are also mental disturbances. We generally don't lock up these folks - it is too broad a term. Mental disturbance also makes it sound like we are looking at a genetic issue.

There is another cause that is encapsulated, but being glossed over. Redefine the act of pedophilia as the act of raping a child, which is in essence it is. Shift the vocabulary and all of a sudden you can add causes of rape and sexual assault to this list. Among causes of sexual assault is the need for power and intimidation in the person committing this crime.

Power. The addiction to power.

It is powerful to stand up and have people listen to you. I used to do stand-up on open-mic nights. I hesitate to call it comedy because I would rip through a 5 minute routine in about 3 minutes 30 seconds. No joke could settle in for the laugh because I was on to the next line. (Doing stand-up comedy with poor timing or delivery is like being a pitcher without an arm.) But when you hammer the joke and nail the real laugh, it is a natural high you can't get anywhere else.

Every Sunday morning the priest does 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. It is not a comedy routine, although some guys can be pretty funny, but the power is there. Once a week, by religious fiat, groups of people come to hear what YOU have to say. And they have to listen and do what YOU say because sitting behind YOU is Christ on the Cross, and in the Tabernacle. A few minutes later YOU will make dinner for everyone where YOU will transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Next Saturday, in most places, YOU will hear confessions where YOU are protected, by law, to hear the most inner intimate secrets of those who come to YOU. YOU will tell these people what they need to do to be right in the eyes of God as YOU pronounce penance.

Given my brief time in the spotlight, I can only imagine how high this type of power can make somebody warped.

When the draw of an addiction becomes too great, the addicted will do anything to get that feeling again (I write goofy blogs and call talk radio stations). Talk to someone in AA, if you are a part of their life. Addicted people are not stupid, many are highly intelligent. Drug addicts know their bodies so well that they know exactly how much of their selected cocktail they need to get the feeling they want. They are smart enough to get their fix until the emotional Ponzi scheme collapses under its own weight.

The drug here isn't ingested or mainlined. It is societal attention. It is Power.

It may be an oversimplification of what is going on when a priest abuses his power. I think the act of abusing a child in such a heinous way is an abuse of power. That need for power comes from an addiction to the power granted to these guys. It is an abuse of power when the next priest covers it up, because the source of power for that next priest is threatened by the first priest's behavior. Remember, each priest up the chain to the Vatican likes their power. Each priest's power source is threatened. We are now seeing the emotional Ponzi scheme collapse under its own weight.

This addiction to power is not just manifest in this sexual criminal behavior, but it also manifests itself when the Church wields its political clout. Leafleting cars against abortion on the Sunday prior to Election Day, refusing communion to pro-choice elected officials, 6 of 9 Supreme Court Justices being Roman Catholic, are manifestations of the political power.

The structure of the Church knows they are caught. Writers are penning articles about those who would have the Pope arrested - and they are being taken seriously. The Church is starting to make really stupid moves such as Easter Weekend's off-the-wall comparisons of this scandal to the Holocaust. These are folks addicted to power and seeing their supply being cut off. They are worried about their next fix. That makes things even more volatile. This will be a problem until some sort of intervention is conducted at the highest levels of the Church.

At some point, there needs to be recognition that an addiction to power plays a role in this massive tragedy.

Dr. Cornel West - SCOTUS - hmmmmm

The Stevens retirement may define the 2010 elections more than anything else. If played properly by President Obama, all the anger of the Tea Party Activists can be exposed and blanched out of the system. The vetting, nominating, and selection process can show one way or the other if they are a racist organization or not.

First part of this is the timing of the selection process. As we sit in April, Obama can take his time until mid to late May to produce the first name. The clock will start to run on the process.

The elephant ballet of delay will kick in as they will ask for more and more time to vet the selection. (Does it really matter who it is?) Hearings won't begin in earnest until the middle to end of July at the earliest. That time vacuum will be occupied by the talking heads of cable, radio, and print.
Remember what was happening last July? Go back to the days where Congressional town halls were thrown into disarray by the screaming of knuckleheads.

This time the act won't be fresh. This time the general population will see these people as just mean-spirited. Their own anger, the fuel of their own fires will consume them. The large swath of independents will not wish to become associated with them.

Second, announce the first candidate (of a possible two). I hope the President nominates Cornel West. Yes, the guy with the Don King hairstyle. Yes, the Dr. Cornell West with the 2 Ivy League degrees, the ton of books and essays. The Dr. Cornel West grounded in Christianity.

I understand this pick is Don Quixote on acid, but think about this for a few minutes. Just watch a smart, articulate, African-American, intellectual facing off against the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is a man who is closer to the ideology of the African-American community than Clarence Thomas will ever be. The African-American community comprises roughly 15% of our population and is not currently represented on the court. This is a man who will speak for the large percentage of the African-American population that is currently forced consumers of the legal system.

The first knock on Dr. West will be that he doesn't appear to be a lawyer. I have been trying to find out for the last couple of days. He is just a really smart guy. But this exposes something about the Supreme Court. You don't have to be a lawyer to sit on the court according to the Constitution. There are already 8 lawyers with egos the size of Montana. Putting Dr. West on the court will make these guys slow down and explain themselves to someone who is not a lawyer. They will need his vote to make a decision; they will need to be smart to get it. Dr. West is an intellectual with fire in the belly who won't back down.

Since the Supreme Court only deals with issues that are related directly to the Constitution you don't need the full breadth of the law. Dr. West, as a philosopher, will give the court a needed non-legal viewpoint. He will be able to think outside the legal box to help shape the way we live in a different manner. Judging is about wisdom, not being a lawyer. Why not have someone trained in the art of wisdom?

This nomination will become the real referendum on race. If the Tea Parties are as racist as some suspect, they will implode over this choice. Their already palatable anger will boil over. That ugliness will work in the favor of Dr. West. If they are not racist, they will actually give him a fair and respectable hearing. In any event they will be given a chance to really prove where they stand.

The lead up to the hearings will be a circus as the GOP minions pour over text after text written by Dr. West. This will give the GOP a chance to over-play their hand as they attempt to demonize Dr. West. I think it will backfire. If there is one person who I think that can stand in the crucible and defend his words, it will be Dr. West. It will be the forum of a lifetime for him and he will rise to the occasion. He gets a real shot at the brass ring.

Even if he does not survive a hearing at the Judiciary Committee, his views and intellect will be on display for all to see. He will make all of us think. If Dr. West wins, we all win with a powerful force to be seated on the court.

He would be seated by September and his confirmation becomes the topic of the election. If the GOP acts the way I think it will, they will have totally ticked off the electorate with their "Party of No" Act flavored with unbridled racism. The general public will take their boorishness out on them at the polls.

If he loses the confirmation the time line again points at the "Party of No" being obstructionist prior to the general election. The President can select a more conventional pick, like Hillary Clinton, who would sail thru the confirmation and nomination process. There is no way there would be enough political capital left in the GOP gas tank for a pitched battle against her. The bonus being watching the Clintons in campaign mode prior to a general election.

By the time November rolls around the Obama administration will have allowed the GOP to fill the air with hate. It will be the GOP's choice to act responsibly. If there are racist overtones it will be the opportunity for all Americans to stand up to the vile speech and prove that there is no longer tolerance for racism at the polls.

Dr. West becomes a gut check for all of us.

I hope that he would be into it...

FWIW - I put up a Facebook page for Dr. West... Check it out.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Westboro Church @ Temple - Winning is an Attitude

I am a Temple Owl - Class of 1984 BA Math.

John Chaney, hall of fame coach, brought the "Winning is an Attitude" mantra to the Acres of Diamonds on North Broad Street.

Westboro Baptist Church and Traveling Freakshow decided to set upon North Philly on April 1, 2010.

The rhetoric ratcheted up this week with their "victory" in court. A victory that the country has said in unison to their faces, "Here's your blood money, but we stand with the Snyder Family against YOU."

But what happened on April 1st?

Westboro didn't show !


Could it be the 1,100 or so students who kept peaceful control of their campus?

Could the Westboro folks have realized they were over matched when driving thru the streets of North Philly? They realized they weren't in Kansas anymore.

I don't know about that, but I do know you need to read what the Temple News Online said, (link) !

The journalism majors did a great job of covering this. (There is hope?) What really surprised me is the lack of any other coverage by the regular media. I get that there are quarters that want to extinguish Westboro by cutting off their media oxygen, but something else got strangled here.

As I searched the local media outlets - no stories. There were a few lead-ups to this thing, but I still can't find any of the usual suspects broadcasting this.

The images from the Temple site made it a different story on a number of levels. I would have loved to have been at the counter-protest. It sounded like a real fun party. Students standing up responsibly to something that really is evil. It would have been great for the media to catch people doing the right thing and telling us about it.

Is this the real recipe for stopping these folks? Massive counter protests - fight hate speech with good speech?

Has Westboro left themselves open to something else here? They stated they would be showing up on campus and requested security for their antics. Should they be billed for the security that came out to protect them? Why should Temple University (read the parents and students) and a cash-strapped City of Philadelphia pay for protecting this congregation?

If the University is passing on these costs to the students and parents, can each student and parent go to small claims court and file a claim against Westboro?

This is kind of like walking up to Pat's Steaks' window, ordering one "wid, wiz, mushrooms" and walking away. Very uncool, why should Jim's eat the cost of what was ordered. This is what Westboro did. Freedom of speech - ok, but they need to take responsibility for what they did here.

Can the City charge this outfit for the services rendered? The Parking Wars TV show is based on the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Release the hounds !!!

BTW, looking at the Westboro Church's picket schedule,, the entry for Temple is long and rambling. At least I include paragraph breaks to help with context. But it goes to the core of what they are after.

Yes, that is what this nation needs, more pushy loud-mouthed professors yip-yapping lies about Matthew Shepard. What part of SHUT UP do you silly wise (wo)men NOT understand?

This organization now admits it is about shutting down the First Amendment for other people. Can they be legally stopped using the same laws that has allowed them to survive this long?

Another quote is just as disturbing.

You will eat your babies!

Is that a command? Is that what this organization wants us to do? Is that what this organization will ultimately force us to do? Are they advocating murder? Does this make Westboro, by their own admission, a terrorist organization?

Going back and looking at the images of "the protest that wasn't" makes me realize that Winning is an Attitude. We all won on April 1.

I have never been prouder to be an Owl.

In the interest of being fair and keeping things in context, this is the entire Temple entry. Westboro has already changed their page...

04/01/2010 6:45 PM - 7:30 PM Philadelphia, PA Howard Gittis Student Center of Temple University 13th St. & Montgomery St WBC to picket the Laramie Project where they hate their brother in Filthydelphia. Yes, that is what this nation needs, more pushy loud-mouthed professors yip-yapping lies about Matthew Shepard. What part of SHUT UP do you silly wise (wo)men NOT understand? Listen up false prophets, if not for you Matt would not be in hell - right now! You did that, and instead of being ashamed, you sin more and more behind it. Our message for Filthydelphia, and DOOMED american theatre troops is this: Matt Is In Hell! God Hates Fags! God Hates Fag Enablers! You will eat your babies! Bloody Obama! Hell Is Real - Ask Matt! Judy Sent Matt To Hell! That is correct, if not for that disobedient woman lying to the little boy. I say, if she and her capon (now divorced from him) husband had one time told little Matthew some truth from the Bible - he would be alive To Day! Hebrews 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Before too long, there will be no more "To day"s. Obama is on the move, people, and that is all there is. See you in Brookfield! Praise God! AMEN!

04/01/2010 6:45 PM - 7:30 PM Philadelphia, PA Tomlinson Theater of Temple University 1301 W. Norris Street WBC to picket this Filthydelphia hot spot as they put on "Rent". Happy April Fool's day, how very fitting that you would need to be reminded of what fools you all are for messing with the God and King of Kings by flaunting and promoting filth to your generation. You will not be laughing or mocking God as you fly through the air as God spues you from that land with his hot displeasure. Leviticus 20:22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. The SPUEING time, she comes! Antichrist Obama will leave you to wallow in your own filth as he escapes clean away to become King of the World, and God will be laughing at you! Praise and FEAR Him! AMEN!

Unite the Nation or Untie it?

The media has now engaged in the "What Next" portion of the health care debate.  It stands back and looks at the angry battlefield smothering before it.  The warriors of talk now turn inward and decry the lack of civility.  Militaristic terms abound in the war on health care.  The forces of the Red were defeated when an ideological traitor moved to the Blue side.

Can the Blue Army enjoy the victory -- no -- we have a spate of real criminal activity that is fully covered from bricks through windows to obscene phone messages to spitting on congresspeople. 

It sells a lot of stuff on TV and in newspapers.

Columnists write about how we got here -- but offer no solutions.  I am starting to look at these folks as banging gongs.  They are part of the problem.

It is whining by the media that has set us upon one another.  I am tired of the whining.  We need something to unite us as a people -- not to untie us as a nation.  The Tea Party has exposed itself as too angry to be taken seriously.  They are too insulting to want to become a part of.

Saturday, I went to a meeting of a group trying to find a different way.  They call themselves the Coffee Party.  This is their mission statement:

The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

Across the country they held meetings in coffee houses.  The one I attended in Wayne, Pa was in an upstairs room.  It wasn't raucous or nasty.  People weren't put down for their views.  During the meeting people were free to disagree with things being said -- and get this -- they weren't treated badly for having a different opinion.

The interesting thing is they have no preset agenda.  It is not for or against the government or health care or anything else.  It was made clear that folks in Wyoming may have a directly opposite view and political view points than the people in Pennsylvania -- they will still be welcome.

There were a couple of points to the meeting. 

  • Why should this movement exist?  Anyone who showed up at the meeting is disgusted by the public discourse.  It is nasty and they are sick of it.  The folks attending refuse to become nasty themselves.  This is the Silent Majority of the 2010's.  These are thoughtful people out to change the government.
  • Get on the map!  The people on the national level of this group want to make their presence known immediately to their congresspeople.  A couple of us debated the wisdom of showing the chasis of a car off before having an engine, but that we understand that this is a legit way to go also (if not now, then when?)
  • What will this group start doing?  Being on the ground floor of a new movement allows one to step in and really help the initial steering.  The smaller the group the more effect one can have.  The moderator, Mike, got guidance from the National People for suggestions.  One suggestion was campaign reform.

The 25 or so people in the room broke off into smaller groups by congressional district to think about what affects their home environments.  We had 4 congressional districts represented.  The groups made posters and took pictures.  They are trying to schedule face time with their Reps.

This is a start.

This isn't as sexy as having people throw verbal fecal material at one another.  And that is the point.  What these folks are trying to do is tone down the rhetoric. 

I saw a lot of people in the room who are first timers.  They were never involved before.  They are naïve and that is a good thing.  Being naïve means you don't know what can't be done.

If the media wants to promote civility, it needs to promote a group like the Coffee Party.  If the Tea Party was given tons of free media, why not these folks?  The media can ignore this group and allow it no traction, but will that begin to frustrate an already tense populace?  If the media  wants to keep raking in the cash by accenting irresponsible behavior, it can continue to do so.  We are in a free society.  However, the media now is culpable when someone gets hurt.  Not in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of every person who judges them cynically as they untie the nation. 

The national leadership of the Coffee Party has thrown a lump of clay onto a wheel in order to create an empty vessel that can be filled with adult discussion on serious topics.  The optics of thoughtful discussion are a great way to get to sleep.

Maybe we need to declare a war on civic sleep?