Saturday, March 27, 2010


Please take a moment and read the posting linked below. It is a very moving commentary on what our culture is becoming. I have read many stories like this over the past few years and I fear we have not yet reached bottom.

  • Every time Jerry Springer brings some toothless wonder on TV we get a little lower
  • Every time Oprah exploits someone in pain we get a little lower
  • Every time we watch some clod try to search for wife over 8 week arch on TV we get a little lower
  • Every time we tune into to see what Kim, Khloe, Brody or Paris are doing for dinner we get a little lower
  • Every time we spit on congressman or call a civil rights hero a nigger we get a little lower
  • Every time we trip the swishy band fag we get a little lower
  • Every time we protest outside a dead soldiers funeral we get a little lower
  • Every time we don't vote we get a little lower
  • Every time we walk past a homeless person and feel nothing we get lower
  • Every time we turn the TV off rather than see what is happening in Haiti we get a little lower
  • Every time we laugh at someone who stutters, limps or is not a pretty as we think we are we get a little lower

I could go on but you get my point; we have become a very coarse and less caring society and I am guilty as anyone else. I have a lot of work to do on myself and from time to time I may ask for some advise or assistance with my often overwhelming failings. But I have to try.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Unable or Unwilling?

How hard can it be to do the right thing? I ask myself that question whenever I watch the Congress of The United States of America in action. Everyone knows what the problems are and yet our elected members of the House and Senate seem to have little interest in actually solving them.

The Democrats are the party that believes in government and yet they are so reticent to use the levers of power they are given as the majority party. The Republicans are supposedly the party of limited government (unless it has to do with social issues and then they are more than happy to grow governments influence). Yet this party that promotes small government has no problems using the power whether they are in the majority or the minority.

As a Democrat I am glad to see the Republicans going through similar identity issues that we went though in the 70’s & 80’s. They are in a battle royal for the heart and soul of the party. Like the Democrats before them the extremists are winning the battle and they are becoming intolerant of dissent and diverse views. They are having active primaries and many of their sacred cows are in danger of losing primaries; Crist in Florida, Bennett in Idaho and McCain in Arizona and in New York they are in such disarray that their presumptive candidate for Governor Rick Lazio is in danger of being pushed aside by a man who was a Democrat 5 days ago. The Democrats have just the opposite problem we are too diverse we are two or three national parties and it is to the credit of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama that they have been so unified. But they are Democrats so it may not last long.

Both parties are so beholden to the people who pay the bills that they are afraid to challenge them on any issue. There will be no Sister Soulja moments unless they are desperate. Having said that, one would think I would now come out for public financing of campaigns and or very strict campaign contribution limits. I oppose both because I think they violate the First Amendment and there is nothing more important to the survival of this great republic than the freedom of speech.

My solution; candidates are not allowed to raise money on their own. After the primary all campaign funds must come from the national or state parties and if there is any money left over after the primary the candidate must give it to a 501c3 charity. The candidate is not spending as much time fundraising and hopefully will not be as beholden to special interest contributors.

The issues our elected representatives are facing are complex and it is easier to discuss who is patriotic, who can and can’t get married, hate immigrants, hate Europeans, get angry about the content of a text book, be outraged over an art exhibit, pretend the other party is more corrupt then they were when they were in the majority, question an opponent’s sexuality, worry about movie ratings, debate salt content in food and audition to be a chat show host.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Happened To That Angry Young Man?

I was surfing through Twitter early Sunday morning; I can spend hours each day exploring my way through it. I came across a link that really set me off. It was an article about a Tennessee travel executive sending out an e-mail comparing the First Lady to a chimp, he even included photographs of Michelle Obama in an awkward moment and a chimp with makeup on to prove his point. He of course has apologized and said he meant nothing racist by this and it was just a political statement. As a result some of the state’s largest tourism authorities have cut ties with him. Good.

I just exploded on Twitter. I posted probably 10 tweets on the topic of the racist conservatives and how no one is holding them to account. I was brought to a point of such anger that I had tears in my eyes by the time I said all that needed to be said in 140 space messages. When I had calmed down I realized that I had not been that emotional or angry about a political or social topic in a long time. When I say a long time I mean since my twenties.

What happened to that angry young man?

In my teens and twenties I was not only looking for the answers but I was sure I was going to find them and often I thought I had. Once I had the answers I was going to save the world. If not me who? I participated in anything that I thought would help me to help the world become a better place. I attended meetings, conferences, lectures, readings, protest marches. I blocked traffic, stood on street corners with a bull horn, carried a sandwich message board signs, pointed my finger in opponent’s faces and lectured and hectored everyone I came in contact with. I was politics and social action 24 hours a day. Wrote letters, made phone calls and knocked on doors. I campaigned as hard for school board candidates as I did for presidential nominees. I stuffed envelopes, drove people to the polls, gave speeches, gave sermons and raised money for candidates and causes. I had an array of issue pins that I wore on the lapels of my jackets that if melted down I could have rebuilt it into a minivan. I rarely ate, rarely slept and was a 6’ tall 125lbs of passions.

In my thirties I began to realize that I may not be able to change the world but I had to keep trying and the most efficient way would be to pick a few key issues and just focus on them. If I were more focused I may be able to make a dent into the problems of our world. I focused on AIDS and civil rights (in its many forms) with a side interest in defending Israel. I became less strident and found that I could win more people over with a well researched and thoughtful argument than I could with yelling at Rick Santorum through a bull horn and lying down in front of his limo. If provoked I could still revert back to my old more strident ways but now it took a great deal more effort.

In my forties I decided it was more important to save myself instead. And, I think I did.
On the Sunday before Election Day 2000 I went for a lazy lunch and shopping expedition to Manayunk with my three best friends. Walking down the street laden down with shopping bags we all stopped and watched an earnest young man speak to everyone he could about Al Gore, we all smiled and someone said “Remember when that was you? You were so cute then.” Later on as we were walking up the other side of the street the young man stopped us. He noticed we all had our Gore pins on and thanked us for our support and we thanked him for doing this for us, he walked on with a big smile. As we were going into Jakes for a cold clear Martini I looked back at him and a part of me wanted to go back and be that kid.

In 2004 my friend Bob Freeman had a general election opponent and he asked me to work a poll for him. He sent to the ward where I grew up and I had a great day reconnecting with old friends of my parents. The Republicans had a very nice retired school teacher there and we had a nice day talking more about than just politics. The Kerry campaign had some students from Yale going door to door in the neighborhood and they were told to come to me for general directions. The youngest of these bright young men decided to confront my Republican colleague about her reasons for supporting George Bush. He was rude, he was confrontational and he had all the answers. I sent him packing and apologized to my new friend. Then I thought, oh my God was that me at his age? The next day I related this story to my family and asked the same question. My parents said yes, I had all the answers and yes, I could be confrontational but I always remembered my manners and worked hard not to be rude.

So, now that I am beginning my fifties and I have saved myself is it time to try and save the world again? Is that the siren call a political campaign calling me? Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ten Commandments for the Twenty-First Century

I came across this while procrastinating writing another piece for here and one for View From the Third Floor.

Vanity Fair writer and all around big thinker Christopher Hitchens has published the following. I think he spot on with this.

From Christopher Hitchens: Ten Commandments For The Twenty-First Century

1. Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or their color.
2. Do not even think about using people as private property.
3. Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations.
4. Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child.
5. Do not condemn people for their inborn nature.
6. Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent upon the web of nature.
7. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus.
8. Turn off that fucking cell phone.
9. Denounce all Jihadists and Crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions and terrible sexual repressions.
10. Be willing to renounce any god if any holy commandment should contradict any of the above

What do you think?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PA 15th Race: Meeting John Callahan

I have watched with great interest the success of John Callahan. Until recently I believed someone with such a meteoric rise had to be one of Bethlehem’s Golden Boys born within the confines of the Sun that was Joseph Leeson Sr. As previously discussed he is a self created Golden Boy encouraged by his wife. I have observed him at social events, charity fundraisers and making a quick stop at the Apollo Grille for a meet and greet. He owns every room he is in, everyone wants to be in his orbit, women want to be with him and men want to be him.

I met him for the first time before last year’s local election primary at the home of a neighbor (a local mover and shaker) who was hosting a reception for the candidates he and his wife were supporting for City Council and District Judge. We mingled with neighbors we rarely see. Bethlehem’s Mayor came over to us and said “Hi I’m John” not I’m Mayor Callahan or even I’m John Callahan but “Hi I’m John”. Having spent a lifetime of stroking the egos of politicians I responded with “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mayor Callahan” (these guys love being called by their titles, even out of office) but he seemed uncomfortable by my formality so I called him John. While speaking with us his attention never left us and he seemed actually interested in what we had to say. I was the one who moved on and ended the conversation; it is usually the other way around with politicians. He spent a few moments with no one to talk to but did not seem uncomfortable with it. At the time the highlight of the evening was Linny Fowler asking someone to summon us to her side because she had not met us and just had to. I was honored to say the least.

This past Tuesday I attended the Mayor of Easton state of the city address before members of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. I love these things and if I had my way I would have attended each mayor’s address but I could only justify attending the Easton one. I was standing there looking a little awkward because I had no one to talk to at that moment and looked over and there was the Mayor of Bethlehem the Democratic Candidate for Congress of one the top 5 congressional races in the country doing the same thing. When I looked over I caught his eye and I figured he recognized me from somewhere so I walked over and introduced myself.

“Hello Mayor I’m the guy who said nice things about your wife last week”. I am not sure I have been embraced so warmly by anyone I hardly know in my life. He laughed and thanked me a few times. We talked about what I wrote, how hard Mafalda worked on her remarks. We talked about his children, me, the campaign and some of the reactions to what I wrote; the good, the bad and ugly. What impressed me most though was in this room full of important people, men and women he should be speaking to asking them for support and contributions. A room full of movers and shakers, a room full of Republicans that he could be working his many charms on and he chose to pay all of his attentions on me. He never once looked around the room or looked over my shoulder for someone more important to speak to. When we started speaking we could have been the first two in line for the buffet but now we were two of the last people to get to our seats.

This ability to focus only on one person or small group of people at a time is a skill only the most successful of politicians have. He has the rare ability to make the person he speaks to the most important person in the room. I have had conversations with the high & mighty and small town & wannabe politicians; I have met few candidates with the people skills of John Callahan.