Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Did Your Rep X Vote With Scott Walker?

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.02.28

You are a Wisconsin State Employee who is maxed out. Every month you do the financial ballet. It flows in sync because you are a responsible steward of the family's finances. Your spouse is working, the kids are in school, but you can't take a second job to make ends meet (that working for the State thing).

Forget about shame for being in this position. You are playing by the rules.

You live in a district served by Representative X. Rep X is one of those GOP members who voted with Scott Walker to cut your pay and is going after your ability to bargain. It is not hard to see that Rep X's vote means your household financial ballet has come crashing to the ground. I am referring to this person as Rep X because I want them devoid of human qualities; just like they think union members working for the state are just numbers.

You are going to have to move out of Rep X's district. It is coming because you cannot afford it. You can hang on for a while, but its coming. Rep X's vote offered you no protection against the mortgage company that isn't going to cut you a break. (Didn't we cut those guys a break last year?)

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Rep X valued giving tax breaks to businesses before he valued the people he directly works with. Rep X was supposed to be your boss and manager. Rep X's vote means that he doesn't get the most valuable resource to a company is the people who work in it. Rep X likes other companies and their people better. In the corporate world, this is like having someone on Coke's board helping the people at Pepsi.

Maybe it is time that Rep X feels some pain with you. You know when he goes to the store or Walmart or Target or the barber shop, or the dry cleaner or church -- he needs to be buttonholed by you. Feel free to get in his face. You are an American and have the right to redress grievances. Rep X IS your Rep.

Elections have consequences, but so do individual votes. Make sure you make him feel good about himself. Because his ego has already been stroked by his GOP echo chamber of commerce, insulated from people's problems and pain.

When you put your house up for sale -- make sure that you put a sign up saying that Rep X is the guy who did this to you. He represented somebody else's interests before he represented yours. There are going to be enough houses in the neighborhood going through this. When Rep X did this vote he affected enough of the population to cause a depression in real estate prices from stressed selling. It is just another little way that Rep X -- and his warped economics have rooked you and all your neighbors.

I hope your spouse is coming with you when you have to move out of the district. Finances are a major cause of divorce. Rep X has used government policy to destabilize your family. Are those the real GOP Family values?

Maybe when Rep X's spouse is out and about a piece of your family's mind can be delivered to them in the grocery store or the hair dresser or the PTA meeting.

Thinking about the PTA and the kids... hmmm. Is it that cold to subject Rep X's kids to indirect comment? Your kids are going to have to leave the school they have been attending, so what happens at the good-bye parties? What about Little League when your kid has to leave the team, should there be a big party with the reason you are leaving underlined?

You know how you would coach basketball or soccer in the community, or ran with the fire company? Rep X has created those holes in the fabric of the community too.

What about church? Why not organize "Walker Parties" at your church (named for the guy Rep X likes more than you). We know you or other members of the congregation are going to be moving on, so why not say good-bye properly? This becomes a lesson about one's brother's keeper. I hope you have a preacher who gets it.

It is clear this guy does not value you or your family or really the immediate community he lives in, is it so bad to let him know that you hear him loud and clear?

Banging Gongs at a Union Rally

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.02.28

I really hate it when organizations parachute outside people into local situations.

The outside people think they know an area because they went to school in a city or town a decade or two before or they once had a cheesesteak when they came to Philly.

Everyplace is different.

I went to a rally Saturday in support of the folks fighting in Wisconsin. It was put on by a group whose name rhymes with Smooth-Con. They parachuted their person in from Washington DC -- always a bad idea. If you are coming from somewhere else -- the place to find the most clueless people to you locally is DC. At the start of her remarks she said how great it was to be back in town after going to Penn ten years ago. Great -- Ivy Leaguer from DC telling us what is going on in Philly.

Over the course of the next hour a variety of folks stepped up to talk from various local unions. That was okay except it was the same thing over and over. The speaker would be introduced by some chanting, and some of the speakers would go into some ranting (not all of them).

We all get that the people in Wisconsin are having a tough time of it. We appreciate and support and applaud their efforts. We get that it is good to have unions. That is why we were there. We were the converted. We were the choir being preached to.

Speaker after speaker got up to whip the crowd up into the chants. I was feeling like I was in some kind of a cult or something.

"We Have to Fight !"

"Unions Now !"

"Support the Teachers !"

Ok, I get it.

We stood and listened in front of the Love Statue near City Hall in Philly as union member after union member rallied the troops. But for what? It was a loud crowd yelling slogans. The organization could have been renamed Bang-Gong.

I was reminded of an old Bill Cosby routine where he's playing Temple Football and the coach's pregame speech fires everyone up to the point of Tasmanian Devils. The coach's frenzy ends with everyone ready to charge the field -- "LET'S GO GO GO" -- the team is yelling "LET'S GO GO GO" -- they run to the doors of the locker room to run to the field. Unfortunately, the doors open the wrong way and the entire team is crushed by their own enthusiasm.

I went there with the idea of hoping to speak on the fact that nominating petitions are now being circulated in Pennsylvania. I am looking for candidates for my local school board to help the teacher's union. When registering with the outfit that rhymes with Tooth-Pong the day before -- I stated I wanted to speak. In fact, when I got there an hour ahead of time to volunteer to help set up -- the organizer had gotten my message as well as an Allentown School Teacher who had driven in. We were both led to believe we'd be speaking. Even a legendary DJ from the region, Michael Tearson, showed up and offered his services. He was led to believe he would have a chance to speak.

As Michael Tearson would had said, if he got the chance, we are part of a continuum across all 50 states that is standing tall with those in Madison. The Teacher from Allentown wanted to emphasize how their group is getting the short end of the stick and needed help. The hour was spent yelling FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT. But what is needed is HELP, HELP, HELP.

Had I gotten the megaphone, I would have said all the yelling is well and good, but the unions have a real opportunity right here and right now not only to make their voices heard, but to affect real change.

Nominating Petitions are the way you get on the ballot here in PA. I am sure they are called something else where you live. You take a nominating petition and go to your neighbors and get them to sign it so YOU can get on the ballot. If you really want to support unions, you can get elected to a School Board, or a Board of Supervisors, or Selectmen in your town and go about really supporting Unions and Working People in a REAL way. Not screaming and yelling, but by being in a position where you CAN help the situation. I thought there were people in that crowd who could have run for office. Maybe a few of them could have won. But they need to be asked.

The real shame and crime of what I saw today was a huge stack of people fired-up and ready to go, but undirected to a place where they could actually get their needs met; at the ballot box. We are always going to have the evil of two lessers in November if we don't get people to step up in February and March. That is the door opening the wrong way. That is how our people are crushed by their own enthusiasm.

In PA we have about 10 more days to circulate our petitions -- to find good people willing to run.

After the hour-long rant, I asked the DC paratrooper why nothing was said about petitions. She said that her organization doesn't get involved in politics.

At that, the woman from the organization was Poof-Gone.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'd Like to Recall a Congress...

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.02.18

I am not a lawyer, but I have read the Constitution.

At the end of Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution the following phase sits:

"The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."

This clause has stopped people dead in their tracks from forming recall movements against members of Congress. ...there may be a different way to look at this.

First off, impeachment means someone, somehow broke the law. Maybe they sold their influence (we all know Congresspeople would NEVER do that) or took a bribe to land them in hot water with their fellow Congressfolk. It is just amazing that in the 227 years we have been operating under these laws NO ONE has been bounced from the Lower House of Congress by impeachment. It makes me wonder why we are in the mess we are in.

There is a problem with this clause. It has to do with a conflict of interest to have other Congresspeople sit in judgment of their peers. An impeachment process in Congress is coming from the wrong folks - the peers of the offending official. A Congressperson in Utah doesn't care if the Congressperson in Maine is messing up.

It is not a violation of the law to act stupidly, or against the interests of the constituents, therefore impeachment isn't even the right tool. It is actually in the Utah guy's best interest that the Maine guy is incompetent because Mr. Utah can take the lunch money off of Mr. Maine.

But allowing legislators free reign to destroy the government for two years unfettered is downright crazy. We need our government to be more reactive to us.

In other parliamentary systems there can be a 'Vote of No Confidence'. At anytime, you can get enough legislators together to say, "Our government isn't working", they can call for new elections. Given the fact there is a much smaller ratio of representatives to citizens, the representatives are going to hear from the citizens with much greater force and intensity.

But, we don't want to recall the entire Congress, or bring the government down. Just looking to recall Congresspeople - individual Congresspeople. If your Congressperson is stepping out of line you may want to stop them; but there is no facility to do this.

A recall is a bottom up procedure - it is coming from the people who are being served or mis-served by the official.

As we are watching what is going on in Wisconsin, there are provisions in their state law to recall their governor (Link). Unfortunately, the governor has a one year grace period to do real damage to the system there before the will of the people can be heard or exercised. I am hoping there are some really sharp lawyers up there who can open the door to start a recall process for the Governor in a much quicker fashion. The fact there is a process means there is a method of redress.

Redress? Where have I heard that before? The end of the First Amendment ? (Link) - you know the one that is all about worshiping at state sponsored religious schools and having Free Speech if you are on Fox News- yeah - that one.

The quote is:
"and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

A recall petition IS "petition(ing) the Government for a redress of grievances." It is sitting right there in the First Amendment. It is teasing us with its tongue sticking out any waving its hands from its ears singing "nah-nah-na-nah-nah".

Since amendments supersede the document of the Constitution (trumping Article 1, Section 2) it would follow that all we need is an administrative procedure to recall a Congressperson who is acting out of line with the wishes of the public.

I am not proposing that Recall be taken up for any minor thing. A recall petition needs to have a significant number of signatures.

I would take from one of two populations. The first population is from the folks who actually voted in the election that put the targeted official in Congress. (We know who voted in the election, but not how they voted.) If a petition can get a number greater than all the people who voted against the person plus 51% of the people who voted for the person, that would make a successful recall initiation. In other words, more than half of your base has turned against you and is working with your opponents.

The other population would be 60% of the actual registered voters in the district. I realize that number is insanely high when only about 40% of the voters turn out to vote, but the idea is to have a method of redress. If you can wake that many people up to the fact this officeholder is doing a bad job; then yeah, they need to be recalled.

The fact is - the First Amendment gives us the right of redress. It should be up to the courts and executive branches, as part of the system of checks and balances, to create the administrative procedure to make this happen. Or the state legislatures need to put recall procedures into play to recall federal officials who are out of line.

Because the truth is self-evident that the federal legislative branch isn't policing itself and we need a method to exercise the Right of Redress.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lots of Screaming Going on Around HuffPoLand

Published: Personally 2011.02.14

An Internet Radio Guy, Rick Smith (Link), reached out to me last week. He wanted to know my take on the HuffPo / AOL Merger. He reached out as I was at a basketball game - so I didn't make the show. But I did start to think about it, and what I am seeing other places on the web.

Arianna Huffington merged with AOL.

Good for her.

Arianna Huffington developed a focal point on the web - a left leaning focal point. Part of the mix was the bloggers and posters who made it a different place on the web. She cashed out. She made her money on the venture. That is the way it works. It is a business deal.

I have been here since August of 2009. I got really lucky to get a slot here. I have seen a lot over this time period.

I can only imagine Ms. Huffington may have gotten tired of the whining. She's hiring more and more moderators who were going through comment after comment. Before they reorganized a few months ago, I used to help out occasionally with the moderation when things got nuts. Some of the stuff that didn't get through was downright nasty and abusive and corrosive.

Posters were whining about the moderators.

She puts in a state of the art language filter to take the load off the moderators- more whining.

HuffPo tried different stuff to grow.

They added badges - whining.

They would add community moderators - whining.

It seemed no matter what was going on - whining.

We hear the sale is announced and guess what -whining - this time from the blogger class who feel they are somehow ripped off.

If I were Ms. Huffington (I have never had the pleasure of meeting her), I would think of this sale as a $300,000,000 bottle of aspirin. I'd be throwing my hands up saying these folks will never be satiated. (Robert Gibbs, anyone?)

Posters and bloggers who write (or wrote) for Huffington Post must realize what they are (or were) doing is driving eyeballs to this focal point. This was a team effort. It worked. Think of this site as the 800 pound gorilla.

I think some of these bloggers lost sight of something. What do you want to do and why are you doing it? It is a question that needs to be constantly asked of yourself and recalibrated with each environmental change and each post and posting entry. If you want to get paid - guess what - you need to figure another way to solve that puzzle. (I am still working on that one.)

If you want an outlet that can challenges the Right Wing web sites, look at what you are writing and why. Your sweat equity is the activism you seek. You cannot change the world the same way if you have a hand out asking for a payday. (It doesn't seem to be the way the Left works.)

Over the last week or so I read a lot of hand-wringing and sky-is-falling stuff. I would see pieces from other people who posted or blogged here ripping this site. You know what - if you had a slot here you sat at important crossroads of the internet. If you think what you are saying is that important that others will follow you - create your own site - become your own Arianna. No one is stopping you but yourself.

This is a business. It has a business model. Bloggers don't get paid. Those are the rules. Live with it. (When there is a site where the bloggers get paid, I would love to come and compete for a slot there. I know how to open a can of Chester, PA on somebody.)

As for me, I look at it as an honor and a privilege to have my name associated with THE Huffington Post. It has given me an outlet, and a resume as a writer. I am learning this writing stuff by the Helen Keller method of walking into walls and sticking my hands on hot waffle irons. I know my stuff has started to get out there. That is part of paying your dues. If I did get a paying gig with this somewhere, I wouldn't have an issue reposting stuff here after the fact - or writing specific stuff for this outlet. There is something to be said for being loyal to people that cut you a break.

As for the posters and bloggers who whine about this, guess what - you still have a forum here. Act like adults. I hear enough complaints that the other side doesn't act like adults.

The Left got its' fanny kicked in the last election. Stop with the circular firing squad and get your collective act together. The Right Wing in 2009 kept their feet moving.

It is a downward spiral that some of the folks are engaged in: complain by writing nasty things, it gets deleted by moderation, complain about the moderation, that stays up, other posters see this is garbage, and they move on to other sites. Repeat this cycle enough, no one remains.

What was a vibrant site with a left viewpoint becomes whined out of existence.

There is something to be said for being loyal to people that cut you a break. I think at lot of people owe some appreciation to Ms. Huffington.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Person, One Vote -- Not in Pennsylvania

Originally posted on Norristown Patch...

I woke up on Tuesday morning to read the following op-ed piece on local news stationKYW by Larry Kane. To us in Philly, Larry Kane is kinda like Walter Cronkite or Daniel Schorr, only a lot younger and a heck of a lot more alive.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- In one week, voters in Pennsylvania go to the polls to elect nominees for November. In some cases, candidates have twice the chance, because they're cross-filing -- running on both party's ballots.

Cross-filing really means you have a chance to win it all during a primary. That's why many candidates for township commissioners, school board positions--both with great powers to raise taxes and control budgets -- file as candidates under both party's banners. Candidates for judge quite often do the same.

If you file and win just one party's election, you face off against an opponent in November. If you win both, you're the winner. Cross-filing is banned in some states, but in Pennsylvania, the rare exception, it is legal. It's really doubling down on the chance to avoid a battle in November.

There are a few minor quibbles with Kane's assessment that only those really involved in politics will pick up on, but he really does nail this.

Here's a few thoughts to add to this process:

People not registered as Democrats or Republicans (non-Major Party or NMPs) are frozen out of the process.

Given the exceptionally small numbers of people who vote in these elections, an even more minuscule number can decide who runs the show for the rest of us.

In Pennsylvania, we have 12.6 million people according to the U.S. Census. According to a study at George Mason University, there are roughly 9.5 million Pennsylvanians eligible to vote. Just under 4 million people voted for governor in last year's general election. That translates to roughly 31 percent of the general population.

In a primary election, we can expect a turnout of about 15 percent of the registered voters, which translates roughly to about 10 percent of the population.

In terms of who votes, that means in a two-way race, only 5 percent of the people need to vote to tell the rest of us what is going to happen -- 5 percent telling the other 95 percent what to do.

Have you ever thought about how much it costs to run an election from a taxpayer standpoint? Here in suburban Philly, a minimum of four poll workers are paid $90 each. The Judge of Elections gets $120. There may be additional poll workers needed for a busier polling location. There are 425 polling locations here in Montgomery County. So the base price to run the poll in terms of people costs is:

4 poll workers @ $90 = 360

+ 1 judge of election @ $120 = $480

$480 x 425 locations = $204,000

We are not even factoring in transportation costs for the machines, general maintenance of the machines, printing the sample ballots, prepping the machines, counting the votes at the end of election night and all the fun challenges related to the recall process.

Now, how fair is it that only members of the major parties may participate in this process?

Should the two major parties be called upon to foot the bill because, after all, the primary system is set up for their benefit and their benefit alone?

Cross-filing, as Kane brings up, creates a shut-out situation for those not involved in with these political parties. Is it really one-person/one-vote? I am surprised some hot-shot lawyer hasn't brought up an "equal protection under the law" type of argument to make this system fall down.

One fair solution may be to completely open up the primary process in Pennsylvania. The parties nominate as they have before, but anyone who is of age and in good standing may cast a primary ballot.

I realize there may be goofiness on the part of those who want to jack the other party's nominees, but I am sorry, each party will need to be active enough to defend their own ballot positions. (That is like asking for legal protection because your organization is incompetent.)

A formula for who gets ballot access in November can be implemented.

2 x (number of slots open) + 1, with each party entitled to at least one person per slot.

If there is no third-party candidate, then the next highest vote-getter gets the option to play in November.

Example 1: Mayor, a singular position, will allow three highest total vote-getters to vie in the general. If more than three parties are represented, then only one person from the top three parties moves on. If there are two parties represented, each will get a slot with the next biggest vote-getter making it without regard to party.

Example 2: If a school board has five slots open, then the top 11 people move on. You could actually have a situation where the GOP has five nominees, the Democrats have four, and there is a Green Party person and a Tea Party candidate.

In November, the candidates would be ranked by how many votes they got in the primary. The primaries would mean something. (That school board race could actually have all five GOP members at the bottom!)

An open primary is much fairer than barring a larger and larger segment of the population who is checking out of the two-party system.

After all, why should a non-partisan pay taxes to promote the Democratic or Republican parties' nomination process?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rich Guy Discounts -- 2011

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.02.10

Last year John Boehner was running his mouth saying that younger American workers are going to need to work longer and harder to get to Social Security.

This year Senator Richard Shelby is running with the same theme.

These guys are wrong!

Congress is setting up a battle between generations, young vs. old. The real battle should be those who can pay and are getting away with this vs. those who cannot pay and do not have a voice in government.

In order to make the Social Security solvent, before asking one worker to toil one more day, the government needs to remove the wage cap on Social Security. Congress has made the situation worse by LOWERING the Social Security tax rate for 2011.

Below are some tables that describe how Social Security worked last year with a 6.2% rate and a $106,800 wage cap. This is essentially a copy of what I placed here last year (Link). The line item for $174, 000 represents what a member of Congress makes serving us.


For 2011 the Employee Rate went down to 4.2%. Just so we are talking apples and apples, here is a copy of last year's table with the updated rate.


As you can see the Rich Guy Discount is still the same. That 89% discount for a millionaire is still just as appalling as last year. The discount grows if you are pulling down more than a million...

What does this data mean?

Congress is cynical. (Like that is news.)

Yes, they lowered the tax rate! Big whoop! The purpose of this tax is to fund social security. You get out of something what you put into it.

If you haven't noticed there is a large tidal wave bearing down on us. It is the retirement of the Baby Boomer Generation. Lower the taxes going into that system, there will be less going out of it when it is needed.

Let's look at the difference from last year to this year...


Those last two columns are the monies we need to fund social security that are being taken out of the system. No wonder the post Baby-Boomers are being asked to work longer -- they are de-funding Social Security right before our eyes at the same exact time it will be needed most.

I realize advocating for multiple things at the same time is difficult.

Here is where we should be going:
  1. Remove the Cap (Have I said that enough?)
  2. Make a uniform retirement date. It is not right to ask younger people to work longer while allowing older people to check out earlier. Everyone plays by the same rules. Are we Americans or are we communists?
  3. Make the funding rates target to the retirement date. Lowering this rate at this time is insanity.

When I see stuff like this, my paranoid mind shifts into the Mencken Cynical Mode.

It is almost as though Congress has a plan:
  • We'll get the younger people to work longer so the boomers can retire !!!
  • The older people vote in higher numbers than younger people -- so we will get to keep our jobs.
  • Anyone younger than the Boomer generation is too stressed out taking care of their kids or aging boomer parents to really do anything about this.
  • Kids in school or recent graduates have had science and math resources diminished so they won't be able to size up the situation here to see what is happening to them.
Congress is still asking for younger people to work longer without removing the wage cap.

It is wrong on soooo many levels.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rocks and Hard Places -- Is That Where You Want Our Kids?

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.02.06

Public schools sit between a number of rocks and hard places.

  • Tax Payer Groups with nothing better to do than complain about taxes, no matter how small, or how they may benefit others around them.
  • Seniors who have checked out of society. Not all seniors fit this mold, but there are a significant numbers that basically say, I got my kids educated - it is your problem to educate yours. Don't tax me.
  • Those without kids who blame kids for all society's problems.
  • Those who believe the public schools did a disservice to themselves or to their kids and are now on the warpath to dismantle or cripple it.
  • Those who don't want their kids associating with others who are not "like" themselves are paired with the parents who feel the public school supply an inferior product. These groups are pushing for subsidies for their own kids' school system.
  • Those who feel that government is a failure no matter what evidence you can give them to the contrary.
  • Those who think public schools are evil because they aren't teaching "my" value system.
  • Contractors who gouge the system for their own benefit.
  • Those who don't like any unions whatsoever - they go berserk with the idea that teachers are in a union.
  • Sometimes the unions themselves (I am sparing no one here).
  • The politicians who get elected pandering to these groups. They love to cut the budgets. There is no meat or bone that cannot be mistaken for fat. There is no twist or turn they won't make to get your vote.

I am sure you can add to this list of people who don't want a vibrant school system, but you get the idea.

Where do you fit in this slipstream?

  • Are you are a parent in the public school?
  • Are you are a satisfied parent of a public school alumni?
  • Did the public school system do right by you?
  • Are you are a retired teacher, burned-out and appalled at the state of public education? You know what needs to be done because you've been there and done that. You know how those still in the classroom are struggling.
  • Do you care about your own property values?
  • Are you tired of the divide and conquer?

What do you want to do about it?

I will bet in this upcoming local election people from the Rocks and Hard Places groups will be fielding candidates for your local school board. They will be working together towards their common goals.

There are too many people in these combined groups that do not wish success for your kid in the public school system.

Are those the folks you want dictating what goes down for your kids' education?

This country is, theoretically, of the people, by the people, and for the people; you are one of the people.
You have every right as a citizen to step up into running for your local school board - or helping get good people elected. When you step onto a board like this, keep in mind you are one of a number of people. You don't have to do it all. If you can think and act as a member of a team, you are needed.

You will notice there is NO mention of party affiliation -
  • Democrat
  • Republican
  • Tea Party
  • Green
  • Independent
  • Non-Partisan.

You will notice there is NO mention of political ideology -
  • Left
  • Right
  • Liberal
  • Conservative
  • Progressive.

That is because the education of our kids is beyond all these labels. It is worth stepping up and defending a system that will give everyone's kid a running start into adulthood and allow this country to prosper.

Not stepping up allows the rocks to pile onto the hard places - the kids are at the bottom.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Glenn Beck Deconstructed on Right Wing Radio

Published: Personally 2011.02.03 - Opinion

Right Wing Radio station, WPHT 1210 AM, in Philly (the new big fat greek talker, or whatever they are calling themselves now) is Michael Smerconish' flagship. The station went through a purge such that the only Talker not fully Right Wing and over the edge is Smerconish.

The funny thing is - he may be their biggest money maker. (Accenting this fact make be the way to really bring down Right Wing Talk Radio.)

Thursday, Michael Smerconish played audio clip after audio clip of Glenn Beck's Doomsday Predictions one after the other. He started with Beck's take on Egypt. It morphed into a full critique of Beck.

Then he opened the phone lines and challenged his listeners to defend Beck.

Smerconish walked away unscathed. He took callers with venom who tried to talk down to him and attempted to admonish him as an unruly child. One caller he flicked away, Anna, was upset that she thought by her defending Beck's racist tag line about the President hating white people she was somehow being lumped in with other, more common, racists and not regular Glenn Beck supporters. She got on the air a second time and made the claim she was not a racist, and prays for everyone.

A number of Tampa callers (Beck's radio proving ground) related that Beck was an entertainer. But some were split on how much he should be watched or taken seriously. Smerconish even made a bet with one of the callers that at some point in the future Beck will be hawking a new, different Doomsday scenario.

Smerconish' thesis is - Beck is entertaining with facts that are inaccurate. Beck also has a cyclic, ramp-it-up quality to get people to tune in the following day for more Beck "wisdom". Beck has gone so far over the top there is no ceiling left.

Callers reinforced the entertainer motif, combining it with hucksterism that Beck is pushing Gold, Survival Rations, and buying land with water rights. (I wanted to build a fallout shelter after listening to the guy.)

It is not a new position given Jon Stewart's outrageous takes on Beck, but it is who is saying it.

Smerconish used to be a froth-at-the-mouth Right Wing host. Time and events has moved him to the middle. He is also making the point that no one on the Left can fully take on Beck - not Media Matters or Maddow or Schultz or The Keith.

He is essentially saying, because all these folks are on the opposite side of the battle, The Left Blue Army, nothing they say can be taken seriously.

The only way to call Beck out is from either behind the lines of the Right Red Army, or from a sniper post from the middle.

Smerconish has now moved across the lines to a new radio form in no man's land. He is the ONLY purveyor of Moderate Talk Radio. He is the sniper.

(Yes, I realize the media is not a warscape. But it almost seems like a military analogy is proper, if not politically incorrect.)

Because he can attract thinking people to his show - from both sides - he is getting traction.

Look for Smerconish to end up with an hour show on either CNN or MSNBC. When one of the prime time shows eventually fail (they always do), it will be hard to keep this guy off the air. He is ready for prime time.