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.