Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Football, Food & Curing Cancer - This Sunday

I am attending/volunteering at the 2nd Annual Chili & Wing Cook off to benefit the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.

The event is a presentation of the great people with Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce.

Watch the Eagles VS Giants game and eat some great food.

Local restaurants and caterers will be offering up some of the tastiest grub you will find anywhere. Sam’s Club will be providing the extra large screen TV’s

Why: Benefit the National Cancer Society

Where: Hampton Inn Easton – Route 248 between 25th ST/22 and route 33.

When: This Sunday, November 1 - doors open noon – game starts @ 1:00

Cost: Only $15.00 / Cash Bar / Pizza, snacks, energy drinks

Details: Prizes for best team spirit – best chili – best wings – there will be exciting raffles

Special Souperbowl Rematch
Meals on Wheels is making Seafood Chowder / North Star Adventure is making Cream of Crab Soup

For more details on buying tickets or to become a chili or wing vendor

Contact the Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce
610-759-9188 or 610-759-5262 or contact me

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Bias In The Fox House

I have been amused by watching the members of the chattering class fall all over themselves to defend Fox News and to be critical of the White House’s decision to freeze Fox out of guests from the administration. These talkers hate Fox News and wish nothing but professional ill will to anyone involved with the network. They believe that Fox gives journalism a bad name and yet they pretend this outrage at the White House’s exclusion of the network.

The President and his people can speak to whomever they choose and not speak to whomever they choose. There is a long history of Presidents and staff freezing out certain reporters, newspapers, radio stations and now cable news networks. Bush 43 did not allow his people on MSNBC. It’s not like the people who only watch Fox are really interested in anything the President has to say. After all they have an addict and a philanderer to tell them what is moral and the right way think. The chatterers are trying to make it sound as if the President is ignoring large quantities of voters. The viewer ship for any given FOX show is a few hundred thousand and we are a nation of over 300 million people. If you only get your news from Fox the chances are that you are not going to vote for many Democrats or the President anyway. How many tea bagging birthers do you know who are saying positive things about Barack Obama?

I am not sure it was wise to telegraph this strategy as publicly as the White House did; it has become yet another distraction. On the same token I understand why the President would not want to reward the network that has spread the birther movement, created that racist tea bagger event in DC and led the ridiculous drumbeat against his stay in school and work hard speech during the first week of school.

The critics of the President say he is only speaking to friendly questioners or at least questioners who have shown proclivity to the center left. I watched most or part of his most recent Sunday chatathon. The questioners asked the tough question and did not seem to hold back. The downside that morning of all things Obama was the lack of diversity in the questions there was some slight variations but overall the questions were all very similar. Despite the best efforts of the punditry that were left out of the marathon the President seems to be well served by the effort and one can point to that weekend was when his numbers began to rebound.

The Fox News networks conservative bias is clear. The critics like to point out the MSNBC is also biased but in the more liberal direction. It may is true that some of MSNBC’s stars are more to the left than the hosts of Fox but a show hosted by Joe McCarthy & Joe Kennedy would be to the left of Fox. For the critics to compare the bias found on Fox to the bias found on MSNBC is like comparing the intellectual drive & pursuit of knowledge by Sarah Palin and that of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yes, Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow tend to side with the President on most issues but I have also seen them come after him when they believed he fell short. How many times did we see Fox challenge Bush/Cheney? Does Fox have a host that leans left to compare with the conservative leaning MSNBC host, Joe Scarborough? If The Fox News network showed even a slight interest in covering both sides of the story I believe the President would reward them with some of his staffers but as long as the network continues to carry the conservative/ Republican message as loyally as a staffer of the RNC, they deserve to be left out of the good graces of the Obama administration.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Are You Reading?

Instead of a re-cap of the news I thought I take a look at what America is reading according to the New York Times Book Review. Go on to see the complete lists. The only book on this list I have read is True Compass by Ted Kennedy. I cannot pass judgment on the quality of the books but I can comment on the fact that they are on the list and what it says about us as culture.

#16 The Case For God – by Karen Young – Ms. Young is a former nun and she is trying to rescue God from atheists and literal true believers. How do you rescue God from someone who does not even believe that God exists? If you are a true believer than what is there to rescue, you are already on Ms. Young’s side. In the old days I would have picked this book up and the chance is I would not have finished it.
#15 The National Parks – by Dayton Duncan & Ken Burns – A companion to the PBS Show. I have seen this book and it is a great coffee table book. Your friends will be impressed with your support of PBS. Keep in mind that you will have to dust it but it will make a great last minute gift to your secret Santa. Not that Ken Burns needs anymore money but someday I hope he will spend some of it on a big boy haircut, I mean really, one would think someone as old as Mr. Burns would stop having his mommy cutting around the salad bowl she puts on his head.
#14 Culture Of Corruption – Michelle Malkin – This little gem has been on the list for 10 weeks and is about how corrupt the Obama administration is. I read the dust cover of the opus and then took a shower. When this book came out the administrations was only a few weeks old and yet this genius is calling it the most corrupt presidential administration. To really appreciate this author please look up some of her visits to Fox News or her column in the NY Post. I know George Will, George Will is a friend of mine and Michelle you are no George Will. She is someone that only a birther could take seriously.
#13 Half The Sky – By Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl Wu-Dunn - Mr. Kristof is a must read for me and he should be for you too. His columns in the NT Times are compelling. For many years he has exposed the heinous sexual crimes and oppression against women throughout Asia and Africa. This book continues that campaign.
#12 End The Fed – By Ron Paul – The Texas Congressman explains why the Federal Reserve Bank needs to be abolished. The Tea baggers try to claim the honorable Mr. Paul as their own but he has not embraced them. He is a thoughtful and decent man who truly believes in a small government and libertarian principles. He is not a nut case and should be taken seriously.
#11 America On Purpose-By Craig Ferguson – The comic and talk show host writes about his life and journey to citizenship. I don’t care, I don’t want to be mean but really I do not care.
#10 Official Book Club Selection-By Kathy Griffin- the comedian writes her memoirs, again.
#9 Outliers-By Malcolm Gladwell – This cat is really interesting but I don’t think I’m smart enough to really get him. I tried Blink and I blinked all the while I was falling asleep.
#8 The Greatest Show On Earth-By Richard Dawkins-A defense of evolution and a counterattack on intelligent design. I am sure this is well done but do we need an entire book on it. All we have to do is slap these morons on the back of the head and quote Cher “Snap out of it”
#7 Where Men Win Glory-By Jon Krakauer- Mr. Krakauer is a brilliant writer and few people tell true stories with more clarity, you cannot put his books down. Because I am cheap I will wait for the paperback or take it out of the library. His other books were gripping. This one is about the Pat Tillman friendly fire death.
#6 High On Arrival-by Mackenzie Phillips-Yuck! We have all heard the details. I can’t even think of a clever comment on this train wreck of a life.
#5 The Murder Of King Tut-By James Patterson-I suspect that it is the author that is driving the sales on this book. How many people really care about the death of the Boy King of Egypt?
#4 The Time Of My Life-by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi-A memoir. Again, not to be mean but I really just do not care. I am sure he was a very nice man and their relationship appears to be one for the ages but why would I want to read about it?
#3 True Compass-By Edward M. Kennedy- The memoirs of one of the pivotal figures of the last 40 years. A great read. I can hear his voice as he is telling me the story of his life.
#2 Arguing With Idiots-By Glenn Beck-It should be titled Arguments By An Idiot. I wonder if the people who buy books by Glenn Beck actually read them. I have never heard one person quote me one thing from any of this blowhard’s books. I hope what I just wrote makes this clown cry because the headache his rambling gives me brings tears to my eyes.
#1 Have A Little Faith-By Mitch Albom-I am sure this is a very nice and comforting book. I will not be reading it.

Well, there you have it my review of the bestselling books in the land. I have not read them and I will not be reading most of them but I will not let that little fact get in the way of my expressing my opinion on them. Wow! I feel just like all those people who were critical of the Presidents back to school speech before they even had a chance to read it. I like the bliss that ignorance brings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Let Rush Alone

I don’t really understand the fascination with and the national obsession that is Rush Limbaugh. Every media outlet was all over the story of the quest to be part of a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams. Every newspaper, website, network news program, talk TV shows, radio talk shows, most water coolers and every lunch room in the country were obsessed over this story. Here is the boiled down version. A radio talk show host was going to be a minority partner investor in one of the worst football teams in the NFL. Rush was going to have no real authority with the team, he was not going to be involved in day to day management decisions and nothing he said or did was going to impact the players or the greater game itself. He was going to write a fairly large check and hope to someday get a return on his investment. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. This is not really a story and certainly not worthy of the 24 hour, day in and day out coverage it received.

Why was this nonsense such a big story? Rush Limbaugh is a huge star. He is someone people love to love and love to hate. He represents what is great about the American dream. If you work hard, if you are unique, if you have some talent you can be very successful. You don’t have to be a Harvard grad; you don’t have to be born into noble or wealthy conditions to make it to the top of your field. You just have to have that certain thing that attracts people to you. You also have to have the guts to stick with it. You have to have the fortitude to enjoy the highs and make it through the lows. He is one example of the success that can happen in this great country.

Make no mistake I am not even close to being a fan of Rush Limbaugh – in fact on my Twitter site I vowed never to use his name and refer to him with a reference to some self control problems he had a few years ago. I think most of his comments are shallow and only touch the surface of the issues; I don’t think he really digs down and does the hard work to find solutions to our many problems. He has been around so long that even the most casual listener can predict where he will fall on any given issue. This is why he said he hoped the President failed because he knew it would get the attention of the MSM and he would be back in the headlines. It will be interesting to watch to see how far he is willing to go now that Glenn Beck is sucking up so much of the right wing oxygen. It will be fun to watch if these two get into a wing nut cage match.

His being dumped by his fellow investors says more about the type of men they are than it does about the people who led the drum beats in opposition to Rush being part of the NFL. Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony & Gloria Estefan are all investors in the Miami Dolphins and nothing changed expect the men who really run the team have some fresh cash flow. Rush was going to be in the same situation and yet the entire nation convulsed over this issue. How was this important? Why did we care? What was really the point? If a man who has earned his money honestly and has worked hard for it wants to spend some of it on a sports team let him. It’s his bloody money and if this how he wants to spend it, so be it. I can think of far more harmful things someone like Rush Limbaugh can do with all that money.

I am calling on congress to set up a special committee to look at every investor of every professional sports franchise because the American people have the right to know that their sports teams are being funded by men and women who neither are without flaw nor have never made a controversial statement.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are You Smarter Than An Immigrant?

Last week a friend asked me for some assistance with her citizenship test practice sheet. She had most of the questions already answered and answered correctly, thanks to the Internet. I don't think the government cares how one gets the answers they just want the person to get the answers. My friend had multiple answers for each question thus giving her more options per question in case her first answer does not come to her. She did a very thorough job and I told her so. She really did not need my assistance but since I am the politics/history geek she was very proud of herself.

There were 100 questions and she will be asked to answer up to 10 of them. The questions will be chosen randomly by the examiner and it is up to the examiner if they will be oral or written. She must get six correct.

Here are the questions I would ask of someone born and educated in this country. Let me know how well you do. I will publish my answers tomorrow. I don't have a copy of the official answer guide, I am just assuming my answers are correct.
  1. What is the Supreme Law of the land?
  2. What is freedom of religion?
  3. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
  4. We elect U.S. Senator for how many years?
  5. If the President and the Vice President are both unable to serve, who becomes President?
  6. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?
  7. There were 13 original states. Name three?
  8. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
  9. Name one American Indian tribe.
  10. Who was the first President?
  11. Who was President during WW I?
  12. Name one of the two longest rivers in America.
  13. What ocean is on the west coast of America.
  14. Name one state that borders Canada.
  15. Name one state that borders Mexico.
  16. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
  17. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
  18. Name one U. S. territory.
  19. Name your U. S. Representative.
  20. Name one branch or part of the U.S. government

Since my test is for people the birthers do not have to worry about I am asking 20 instead of 10 questions.

Good Luck

Monday, October 12, 2009

They Are Out There

I am one of those people that other people think they can talk to. Maybe it's the Howdy Doody face, I just seem to be approachable. Or it could be that anyone who knows me knows that I have an opinion on everything. I have a little knowledge about a lot things and it takes me pretty far in dealing with these folks who just feel compelled to speak to me.

I was speaking with some people about not much of anything when one of them said she was sick of Michelle Obama and how she was always talking about how hard it is to be black and how she is looking for sympathy for being descended from slaves. My head nearly snapped off as I turned to look at her and could only utter Huh? (witty I know). She said that she was tired of blacks blaming white people for their ancestors slavery when it was their fault to begin with. Now I am not above having a bring it on conversation with people but this was neither the place or time. But, I had to ask for more details.

I pointed out that it was white people who were the slave owners and that the slaves that were being owned were black and from Africa. Who else was there to blame. Her response: They were. Thinking she was just trying to get a rise out me I said "Yeah they just jumped onto those ships and put themselves in irons and set for a better life in America as property of some fat white guy and that the women were particularly eager to be raped and have their children sold to other plantations - good times indeed." She said the the wealthy Africans sold the poor ones to be slaves and therefore it was the black peoples own fault. I said that they were still slaves though. She responded that reparations were bullshit. I looked over to another person in this little group who just stood there with his mouth open. I asked if she was serious or was she just trying to get a rise out of the old white liberal with the black life partner. She informed me that she was serious and that the fact of it was not open to debate. I was stunned and I wanted to learn more about the genesis of this theory but other people came up and the subject was dropped. My other friend just shrugged, chuckled and congratulated me on my self control.

I am rather fond of the this woman, I think she has a lot of street smarts and common sense, or at least I did. She is hard working, smart, has raised two children alone and decided to go back to community college to better her life. So I was kind of floored by this. I have never seen any racist behavior in how she reacts with other people. We never really talked much about politics so I really don't know where she stands on other issues but I never got the impression she was a wacko right wingnut. Maybe she is. I just hope to hell she's not a birther.

This brief conversation made me wonder about how these theories get started. Are the people who dream up odd theories and conspiracies unstable? Are they delusional? Can they be treated with drugs and psychotherapy? Do they have too much free time on their hands and then their minds wander off the reservation of normality? And, what about the people who subscribe to these theories, what is it that allows them to believe this stuff? What happened in their lives to leave them open these ideas?

Did you know there are many people walking around out there who actually believe that President Obama is the Anti-Christ?

Next time you are in line at the grocery store look around you and try to pick out the person that thinks Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster in the White House and took his body out to the national park where he was found. Does the person with the soy milk, turkey burger and a head of lettuce in his basket really believe there are 13 Grand Masons that really control everything in the world? Maybe I am just being paranoid?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And the Award goes to...

I have posted the President's response to winning the Nobel Prize below. But first my thoughts.

My first response was surprise and then I thought the haters are going to have a field day with this and they have. I have not spent a lot of energy listening to what they have to say, it has all been pretty predictable and of course exaggerated. The same people who were happy when a great American city lost out on the Olympics are now unhappy they the world has embraced the American dream. Are these people really patriotic Americans and really how much do they love their country? Is their hatred for President Obama and their lust to return to power so strong that they do not realize that this is not just an honor for President Obama but an honor the American people who elected him?

As a nation we should be proud that our President has won this award. But, are we? Some of us are. I am. I admit that it may be a bit premature but the fact that the international community now views the President of the United States as a figure of hope is an honor that can not and should not be ignored. Ronald Reagan referred to America as a shining symbol of hope that the world looked up to. By awarding the President of the United States this award today the Nobel Committee acknowledges that.

This award will assist the President on the international stage. It reflects the international community's relief that change has come to Washington and that the United States is once again ready to lead not as a bully but from the bully pulpit. Awarding the Nobel Prize so early in his term is a down payment on the future of America's world leadership.

From the President:
This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.
That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.
This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.
So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Does the Right Wing Love America?

For more than a generation or at least since the late 1960's the right wing in this county has claimed to love this country more than the left. "America Love or Leave it", "God Bless the USA", "Morning in America" were some of the slogans the right has used to help them in their flag waving. They claimed to be more loyal to this country than the left. Remember all the grief the Dixie Chicks went through. Note all the talk radio drama when Michelle Obama inartfully described the pride she had last year. And, the Democrats were not allowed to be critical of the Bush foreign policy

The left allowed the right this claim because many of my brothers on the left are intellectual snobs. It was beneath them to wear a flag pin, they would not put their hands over their heart during the national anthem. These may seem like small things but image matters in politics. The left supported the right to burn the flag, favored ending school prayer and supported a more open, permissive and multicultural society. All things I agree with on constitutional and moral grounds but the left allowed the right to turn these things into anti-American activities. They of course are not. The left never really learned how to fight back. Maybe it is beneath us to get into the gutter with these people.

But, it turns out the Right wing only loves this country when the Republicans have power. We have a US Senator going to travel to Honduras to support an illegal goverment and give voice in oppostion to the policy of the US government. Some would call that treason and you know the GOP would be calling for criminal charges if the parties were reversed. It was fine with the right wing that a member of Congress shouted the President was a liar during a joint session address. Again, if the shoes were on the other party there would have been calls for criminal charges. The President of The United States travels to Copenhagen to support a great American city in it's bid for the Olympics. A project that would have generated tens of thousands of jobs, brought in millions of taxes and billion dollars of tourist money. The Republicans, their supporters and the addicts that are their chief spokes people on the radio and Fox news are happy, thrilled, overjoyed that America lost. Is this an example of "My Country Right or Wrong"?

I hope someone out there can explain to me how hoping Chicago lost it's bid and partying like it's 1956 when it did lose is pro American. To me it looks like these people really hate this country and if that's the case they should leave. I will be more than happy to be standing on the docks or tarmac and give them a big wave goodbye.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Review of Recent Events

  • The Pope has a spider crawl all over him and it makes the evening news.
  • Does anyone really think that if Obama did not go to Copenhagen the GOP would not have criticized him? Had Chicago lost and POTUS did not try they would have questioned his patriotism.
  • Can how John Boehner maintains his tan be healthy for him?
  • The democratically elected government of Honduras is overthrown and the US reacts in concert with the rest of the world and condemns this action. Sen. Jim DeMint R SC decides to go the Honduras and say the world is wrong. Democracy is not to be supported by the leaders of the Republican party. Where will that lead?
  • Speaking of the leaders of the Republican party - the two biggest leaders named Glenn and Rush were happy the US lost the bid for the Olympics. These two addicts are happy the US lost and yet their supporters call them patriots. Stop and think about that for a moment. They hate our President so much they are happy the US did not win.
  • A Democrat gets a little colorful on the house floor and the GOP calls for him to apologize. This is the party that gave us Birthers, Death Panelists, Matthew Shepard's death was a lie, the census is bad, school health programs are secret sex / abortion clinics, the First Lady is related to apes, the Democratic health care plan will kill the disabled and not cover members of the GOP and YOU LIE. And, they really expect the American people to support their outrage?
  • In Harrisburg leaders want to tax your tickets to the State Theatre but not cigars.
  • In Harrisburg our elected officials get paid yet do nothing for over three months.
  • In Northampton County most council members are too busy to do their jobs and yet they collect their paychecks.
  • The punditry tries to equate the Ensign scandal to the Letterman scandal. A US Senator cheats on his wife with a staffer's wife who is also on his staff, gives a job to one of their children, gets the male staffer a job as a lobbyist which is illegal for him to hold and has his parents write a really big check to the man, his wife and two of their three children and the other is a comedian who had affair(s) with adults on his staff. Are they really the same? Both are wrong but one is the same US Senator that moralized about everyone else caught up in a sex scandal and one made snarky jokes about them. Are they really on the same level?

It is a world gone mad I tells ya a world gone mad.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Legislative Process Does Not Work

Pennsylvania is not alone with a dysfunctional legislature, many legislative bodies in this country do not work.

In California the leadership was forced to lock people in the chamber so they would be forced to hammer out a budget, I'm sure this violated some fire escape laws. In New York state three power hungry guys switched parties and then switched back but in the mean time younger members were asked to run to the front in order to wrest control of the microphone. Then the three returned to the bosom of the Democratic party and were rewarded with leadership positions. One of the party switchers is on trial for slashing the face of his lady friend.

But states are not the only legislative bodies in a state of disrepair. The Philadelphia city council threatened to strip the mayor's office of vital funding that would have left the city less safe unless the mayor restored funding for their tax payer funded cars. The New York city council voted to ignore the instructions of the voters and allowed themselves and the mayor to run for another term, but just this one time. Sure. The Easton city council voted to appoint the mayor/president's wife to fill an unexpired term. Allentown might as well not even have a council they are so ineffective and impotent. And, then there are the Easton and Bethlehem school boards. Someone needs to contact the Bravo Networks Andy Cohen about a reality show.

The failings of the Congress of the United State are so well documented on an hourly basis that I don't need to go into a details here. The low lights are so bountiful that I don't know where to begin.

Legislatures do not work for a few reasons. There is too much money to be made and spent in campaigns. The parties are so weak and have not real power that they cannot command any loyalty, see money. And, everybody wants to be a star, no one wants to work their way up through the system, it is so bad that freshman are given chairmanships of subcommittees before they even can find the private member only restrooms.

Member loyalties are to the contributors and to the special interests that assisted the candidate during the campaign. The parties no longer contribute anywhere near the money to the candidates that the interests do. Campaign managers come from lobbying / consulting firms and not from the party organization. Party is merely a line to run on and little else.

The government has gotten so big that congress has been forced to expand the reach of it's oversight role, thus creating committees and subcommittees to look at everything from defense spending to the maintenance of the restrooms at parks. Each needs a chair and a ranking member.

School boards are exempt from the money interest since their campaigns cost very little and the members are not paid. School boards don't work because few members really care about the big picture. Many people run for school board to promote a personal agenda, my favorite school board members are the ones who send their children to private school. What really is their motivation in seeing to the education of other peoples children?

One commonly suggested fix to the money problem is to enact strict campaign financing reforms to wring the money out of the system. On it face this appears to be a good proposal but these proposal will not pass Supreme Court review because they violate the first amendment to the constitution. My dear friend Bethlehem City Treasurer Kaija Farber once told me that in Finland a big billboard is set up in the center of the community and candidates running for local office are given the space the size of a poster to list their reasons for running, that's it. Not a bad idea considering there are still posters from the 1968 presidential race along some of our highways.