If you’ve ever met Jennifer Stefano (now of AFP), you’ll have come away with the impression that it wouldn’t be easy to silence her. Nevertheless, the IRS gave it the ol’ college try.
“It’s time for Scranton to face the simple truth. It is bankrupt.”
In other news, this should be interesting.
To say I’m sorely disappointed in a lot of Republican state Senators is putting it mildly.
Almost never should a person attempt a primary challenge on the basis of just one vote, but let’s just say I wouldn’t shed a lot of tears if some of the yes voters happened to lose their primaries.
Apparently some folks haven’t gotten the memo that we’re broke. And I don’t just mean PA, but the whole United States, federal, state, and local – soup to nuts.
As a whole, the legislature needs to man-up. Fix the pension system. Sell the liquor stores. Don’t expand entitlements that are going to bankrupt us sooner rather than later.
It’s a short list. Memorize it.
Remember the Eastern State Sport show that banned “assault rifles” from display at their gun show? Everyone got so bent out of shape, they cancelled it.
All of that meant that Harrisburg-area tourism groups and Farm Show complex organizers went shopping for a new host to a sporting show for the region. What do you know? NRA happens to host a smaller scale show just 70 miles down the road in Maryland right around the same time of year.
It was announced today that NRA has been selected as the vendor to run a much larger scale Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg during the traditional time of the Eastern Sport & Outdoor Show. Maryland, after pushing extreme gun legislation, now loses the economic impact of that show and Pennsylvania gets a new vendor for the sportsmen’s show that doesn’t hate hunters & shooters. To top it off, Reed forever loses the multi-million dollar show they once hosted. Anti-gunners lose and a pro-gun state wins.
Shadenfreude, you are so tasty.
JD Mullane from the Bucks County Courier Times is pretty much the only reporter following case inside the courtroom.
Thursday’s testimony had sensational details. The court staff, convinced it would attract journalists from around the nation, has set aside three rows of seats to accommodate up to 40 reporters. But all Thursday morning, as Ashly Baldwin testified to horror after horror, only one reporter was in the reserved seating — me.
Several local news outlets were there, scattered about the mostly empty courtroom. The Philadelphia Inquirer had a reporter there. NBC10 sent a blogger for its website. The AP stopped in, but the reporter told me that resources are thin and trial coverage is not gavel to gavel.
An hour into afternoon testimony, Jon Hurdle of The New York Times showed up, and a few minutes later was gone.
The lack of daily media coverage for the most sensational abortion trial angers pro-lifers who said there is a “media black out” on the Gosnell trial.
I asked one of the court staff why so few are interested.
“If you’re pro-choice, do you really want anybody to know about this,” he said, motioning to the filthy medical equipment set up in the courtroom.
… and there’s your answer.
I see at least a passing resemblance between the media’s treatment of the 2012 Benghazi quasi-coverup scandal and their lack of interest in Kermit Gosnell’s Abortuary*.
(* – Indications are that Chris Lilik coined this term. I submit that it should be part of the PAWatercooler Official Style Guide.)
After a prolonged period of virtual media blackout and attempts to shame the media into covering what is obviously a significant story, we are starting to see trickles of interest from major media outlets.
Of course, as with Benghazi, they’re covering the story mostly on their own terms, which in this case is a lack of government oversight. Nothing to do with the horrors inherent in the practice of late term abortion itself. In the Benghazi case, media reports ignored the politically motivated misdirection from the Obama administration and focused narrowly on procedural issues. They covered it, but they really didn’t cover it. (“What does it matter!?”)
This is the limit that shaming the major media will produce – the possibility of half-coverage, and on the wrong terms. Scream bloody murder all you want (-literally), news outlets will not listen.
My metric for whether a major story has been covered in any meaningful sense is whether it appears on the 6:30 national news. I watch a network news broadcast almost always five nights a week, rarely less than four nights, (-usually CBS, and always against my will), and I have yet to see the Gosnell story mentioned.
I use the “nightly news” metric in an attempt to separate completely disconnected low-information voters (and non-voters) from those folks who are low-information by no tremendous fault of their own. It ought to be the case that a person could read a national paper and watch the evening news every day and have some sense of what’s going on in the world. Sadly, this has not been the case for quite some time.
Conservatives will continue to have a difficult time at the ballot box until this information gap is addressed.
If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could compete for an Emmy, it would definitely be a winner. Its “Security Theatre” has become a cutting-edge soap opera, replete with comedy, drama and ultimately, tragedy.
And the latest episode is making the biggest headlines yet.
The TSA has sliced and diced a prior position, and is now permitting passengers to carry knives onto planes.
Yes. Knives. Those sharp, pointy things that can puncture a pilot’s jugular in a heartbeat, make flight attendants talk like Stephen Hawking, and create total pandemonium at 35,000 feet.
If so many people’s lives, not to mention the entire economy, were not jeopardized by this warped decision, it would be funny. But this is definitely no joke.
However, you can take solace. The TSA has shown great sensitivity to the 9/11 attacks by keeping box-cutters banned, despite the steely fact that their blades are but a fraction of those on the permissible knives. Another oxymoron we call “TSA Consistency.”
Even more comical is the TSA’s criteria for the knives. If the blade is no more than 2.36” long and a half-inch wide, it will fly the (un)friendly skies. The blade must also be one that folds away, which is, presumably, because the TSA thinks a 2.36” folded blade (which is locked when opened) can’t kill someone. More reassuring, the knife cannot have a molded handle, which should be a huge relief to everyone — except those who actually fly.
Why the monumental shift in TSA policy? In addition to wanting to be more in-line with Europe (honest to God, that’s no joke), it says security lines are congested because TSA screeners are confiscating thousands of such knives, and these items don’t pose a 9/11-type threat anyway.
Oh. So because druggies and shoplifters create logjams in our courts, we should just give in and make their actions legal?
And how exactly will lines be shortened with TSA screeners now using tape measures to ensure that 2.37” knives don’t slip by? Although, truth be told, they could all just emulate the Philadelphia Airport, where everything seems to get through.
The TSA is convinced that a 9/11 hijacking can never occur again because so much has changed: steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence. And there you have it: TSA’s “risk-based” security plan. Which is really great, except the parts about the steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence.
1) Yes, cockpit doors are strengthened, but since there aren’t self-contained bathrooms in the cockpit, pilots are absolutely vulnerable every time nature calls.
2) Is the TSA expecting passengers to work “fight-the-knife-freak” duty? And how many people are the TSA willing to sacrifice? It’s not just the doped up or drunk passenger who stabs the flight attendant because he hated the in-flight movie. It’s a handful of Mohammed Attas coordinating a vicious attack, each wielding several legal weapons. Sound familiar? It should, since box-cutters were legal on 9/11. Once the attack commences, then what? Maybe they gain entrance to the cockpit, and maybe not. But when you’re dealing with fanatics who can’t wait to meet Allah and all those supposed virgins, it’s going to be a bloodbath. And since sophisticated terrorists always utilize surprise, they will gain the upper hand immediately.
Can’t wait for the TSA press conference after an aircraft lands with 300 dead passengers and crew. “Yeah, they all got stabbed to death. But hey! We didn’t lose the plane!”
And guess what? The economy would collapse anyway.
3) Air marshals? Sorry, they’ve been sequestrationed, and only fly on a small percentage of flights anyway. For the record, they vehemently oppose the TSA knife policy. Next.
4) Better intelligence. Really? Where? Like in New York in 2010, when the Muslim fundamentalist Times Square bomber was caught by Lady Luck? You may remember him. After fleeing Manhattan, he went to the airport, bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East — in cash —, boarded the plane, and almost almost took off. And best of all, he was on the No-Fly List!
Or the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber who, only through sheer ineptness, didn’t bring down a jumbo jet over the U.S. He was also on our watch lists, and his own father repeatedly warned our intelligence communities of his son’s intentions, yet he too almost succeeded.
Out of curiosity, does that “better intelligence” include the countless alphabet-soup agencies that still wage turf wars with each other and don’t share information? Just wondering.
Of course, there is a much better solution. It’s called profiling, and it works really, really well. Just ask the Israelis, who know a thing or two about terrorists. (El Al has only been hijacked once).
But out of deference to possible hurt feelings, we refuse. In fact, because of our affinity for political correctness, we do the opposite. The TSA actually announces who doesn’t have to take off their shoes (all children under 12), and who won’t be subject to pat-downs (children, the wheelchair-bound, and pretty much anyone who complains). Which is all well and good except that the Brotherhood of Mohammed Atta has no problem sacrificing their kids, so guess on whom they will hide their explosives?
In 2007, the then-TSA chief lifted the ban on lighters and matches, admitting that policy was “security theatre.” Nothing has changed, as the TSA continues with policies that not only aren’t keeping the skies safe, but actually make them more dangerous.
Unfortunately, Security Theatre has become an all-too-true reality show, playing out every day at thousands of airports. And it’s only a matter of time before it crashes and burns.
But in the meantime, in the hope that Security Theatre can jump to the big screen, the least we could do is suggest some appropriate movie titles. Not sure if the copyrights have expired on these, but here’s taking a stab at it:
Jagged Edge, Blade Runner, Con Air, Fight Club, Skyfall, Airport ’13, and, in honor of when TSA officials fly, Snakes On A Plane.
Chris Freind is an independent commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
March 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm Comments (0)
Thank God for small miracles. Or, in this case, huge ones.
The decision of Pope Benedict XVI to step down — the first resignation in 600 years and only the fourth in history — has given the Catholic Church an unprecedented opportunity to save itself. And since the eleventh hour is upon the Church, the Pope’s action could not have come at a better time.
Whether the conclave of Cardinals takes advantage of this blessing or blows it all to hell remains to be seen.
As one of the Catholic faithful, I desperately want to believe it will choose the right path.
I want to believe the Church, without hesitation, will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the greatest, most benevolent institution the world has ever known.
I want to believe the Church will admit and address, head-on, that its hard times — the scandal, corruption and genuflecting at the wrong altar (that of political correctness) — are sins of its own making.
I want to believe the Church has finally learned to practice what it preaches, that humbleness will replace arrogance, and that it fully appreciates the value of not just forgiveness, but asking to be forgiven.
I want to believe that the new Pope will inherently understand that, in order for the Church to survive, it must adapt — not in ways that undermine the pillars of its divine theology, but by approaching its critical “earthly” issues with an honest, fresh perspective.
I want to believe that the Church will strive to better understand the value of perhaps the most powerful tool in the 21st century: public relations.
And I want to believe that the Catholic Church, once and for all, will cease being a paper tiger, resurrecting its once mighty political power.
But at the risk of sounding like Thomas, I have my doubts.
Given its recent history, the Church does not exactly inspire confidence that it has learned from its mistakes and gained the wisdom (and will) to embark on the path to growth. A gambling man would wager on the next Pope being Business-As-Usual, radiating the status quo and reluctant to make waves.
That would be a good bet, but it would be a losing hand for the Church, relegating it to a house of cards.
So what should the Cardinals do to ensure the survivability of the Church?
1) For starters, choose the right-looking leader. Honorable as he may be, Pope Benedict makes John McCain look downright boyish, so picking another frail, gray-haired/white-haired/no-haired Pontiff is a surefire way to completely lose the middle-aged-and-younger generations. Like it or not, appearance matters. And that is infallible.
Proof? FDR could have never won in the television age because America would not elect a man in a wheelchair. JFK’s youth and good looks gave him a substantial advantage over Nixon in the debates. Bob Dole versus Bill Clinton? Not even divine intervention could have helped Dole in that matchup. And since the death of European Christianity has largely occurred under older pontiffs, maybe it’s time to go younger.
However, choosing a pope on ethnic appearance would be a huge mistake. Sure, a black pope helps bolster Africa (the new battleground in the vicious Christian-Muslim wars), as a Latino does for Central and South America. But that vision is short-sighted, as it wouldn’t actually address, let alone solve, the Church’s problems.
2) Select an articulate, charismatic pontiff who, in both perception and reality, can effectively communicate that he is in touch with the true heart and soul of the Church — the rank-and-file. The new pope cannot afford to be aloof or insulated, since these are the very qualities that contributed so mightily to the Church’s decline. How bad has it become? One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic, and the 30 million who have left the Church, if counted as their own religious group, would be the third-largest denomination in the country. Vocations are a fraction of what they once were, and the obvious stigma associated with entering the seminary keeps even more away. And the stark reality is that, within a decade, Catholic education will be largely gone, leaving churches that much emptier.
3) Ensure the new pope apologizes in an unprecedented upfront, straightforward manner, not just for the scandals but the cover-ups. And that apology should extend down to every parish. Countless Catholics are still waiting for a genuine apology, and many parents feel that they are being put through the ringer because of priests’ sins. Praying in mass for the pedophile clergy, and those who covered up their salacious activities, is one thing. But the many priests who still view the scandals as overblown makes the sin mortal, as the continuing Catholic exodus and dwindling coffers attest.
4) Start talking about the positive aspects of the Church, restoring the credibility that has been shattered by years of sex scandals, shredded documents and cover-ups. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the entire world (second in America behind only the U.S. government) and administers the world’s largest nonpublic school system, yet most people are unaware of those phenomenal achievements — a massive failure in public relations. It’s time to tell that magnificent story and educate the world — again — on what it really means to be Catholic. Unequivocally, pride in Catholic identity leads to fuller schools.
5) Flex political muscle. From keeping its schools open (which saves billions in taxpayer money) to fighting government healthcare insurance mandates for abortion and birth control, success in the public arena only occurs when muscle is flexed It’s time for Catholics to take their rightful place at the political table, as all other religions do (despite having far fewer members). But that means playing hardball, unabashedly making its issues front and center in primary and general elections. The power of a newly awakened tiger — one that has shed its paper skin — would be an unmatched political force. But that power will only exist if people once again believe in their Church.
6) Allow priests to marry. And yes, consider allowing women to enter the priesthood. This would ease the resentment felt by many women towards a Church that treats them like second-class citizens. Even more important, women and married priests are the only measures that can ensure the Church’s survival. We can play with the numbers, pretending that seminary vocations are up, but the stark reality is that if nothing changes, there soon won’t be a Catholic Church in the traditional sense. The cock has been crowing a lot more than three times — more like 30 years — and yet the denials from Church leaders continue. The clock is ticking.
An all-male, celibate clergy has its origins in human, not divine, history. Forget Dan Brown theories as to whether Jesus was actually married. Priests were married (and possibly even a Pope or two), and were for centuries, with some historians placing that practice at over 1,000 years. While it was abolished for “religious” reasons, the real impetus was rooted in property rights. But since God invented annuities and life insurance in the 20th century, that problem has been solved. Married clergy certainly seems to be working in the other religions (who don’t have nearly the old age and pedophile problems), so the Church needs to get with the times.
Keep the faith but fight the corruption. That should be the ultimate factor in choosing the next pope. It doesn’t get any simpler, or more poignant, than that.
If such a leader can preach a positive message, modernize without compromise, and wield a political sledgehammer, then prayers for a reinvigorated flock will be answered, keeping Christ’s Church alive far into the future.
As printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
March 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm Comments (0)
You’ve done your required reading, right?
I could probably write ten thousand words about the pair of NYT articles I’ve begged people to read, but I’ll keep my response to a few select points.
Overall I find little fault with the article’s take on this issue. One simple graph makes that apparent. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
From what I can gather from various reports about the Romney strategy, there really was no messaging strategy. They decided to make one last go at the white-majority strategy, with catastrophic results. As pollster Kristen Anderson was quoted in the NYT piece, “Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community! Surprise, surprise! How have we not grasped that this is going to be really important?”
We’ve known about the diminishing white majority for some time. We didn’t just wake up one morning to a bunch of Latin-American immigrants and their children.
The excuse of the bad polling model not is a very good one. Not because it was impossible to have gotten that wrong, but because the strategy they decided to implement was a narrow, skin-of-your-teeth strategy that required every last thing to go right with no margin of error, even if they did manage to get the demographic weighting right, which they didn’t. There was no room in the Romney strategy for expansion. No room to persuade anybody, and the results show it.
Issues and Deal Breakers
Issues have some importance, though not all issues are created equal. The evidence that people really don’t vote exclusively on issues keeps piling up. I might even be persuaded to argue that issues are not even of primary importance. There are certain issues though –the deal-breakers– that deserve some attention.
In my opinion, abortion and the entirely fabricated birth control issue should not be deal breakers for most swing voters. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it at that.) Same-sex marriage may for some folks be a deal-breaker, though I can’t imagine it’s too terribly many since Obama ran in 2008 on a tepidly anti-SSM position. At the very least SSM combines with abortion and birth control to create a social super-issue. I really don’t have a good answer to this, though I would like to point out something that rubbed me the wrong way. The above-mentioned Kristen Anderson was said to identify herself as “socially tolerant” rather than “moderate”, as “moderate” is something like “Satanic” to base conservatives. I object to this supposedly improved designation on the grounds that everybody else must be “intolerant” if they object to gay marriage. I suggest reworking this, perhaps to “libertarian”.
Immigration reform is a deal-breaker for Hispanics. No, it is not going to mean Hispanics will suddenly wake up to Republicanism. It means we get an opportunity to make our case. And yes, as the article suggests, Rubio qua Rubio will not save us.
Nobody Ever Gets Fired
“I think there’s a very incestuous community of consultants who profit off certain tactics, and that creates bias and inhibits innovation.”
I’ve been complaining about this for a long time. If major changes don’t occur in the wake of 2012, the GOP should just pack up shop.
More than Tech – The Tin Ear problem
Of course, the problem is much greater than just the internet and social media. (I think most of the subjects interviewed in the article would agree to that general proposition.)
A major component of the techie complaint is that the Romney team ran an old-style TV and traditional media campaign. This is true, but I would also argue that even on traditional grounds the Romney camp exhibited a lackluster showing. They seem to have regressed from the Bush-era campaigns. “Applebee’s America” was published in 2006, so long ago that its antiquated title sells short the wisdom within its pages. Democratic campaign operations have taken this wisdom and expanded upon it. It seems to be a remedial reading recommendation for the Romney campaign.
Something the NYT article doesn’t directly address is what I’ll call the “tin ear” problem. Do Republicans not understand how they sound?
How many times lately have you heard the term “balanced approach”? How many times have you heard a Republican competently respond to that phrase? Even Deval Patrick and Harold Ford Jr recently talked about “economic growth” on Sunday morning talk shows. Most astonishing to me is the jujitsu reversal Obama has managed on closing tax loopholes. This is a Republican issue! Yet somehow Obama has made Congressional Republicans defenders of everything that is wrong with the tax code.
Do they not understand how badly they are being beaten? The more I see this pattern of behavior, the more I am convinced that they really don’t get it.
Forget “rapid response”, there’s not even a competent slow-response team.
Sometimes I think our problem is so enormous it would be easier to teach chimpanzees to fly F-16s.
“The Pennsylvania-New York border is the ‘Berlin Wall,’” Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Pennsylvania is West Berlin, and New York is East Berlin.”
“What’s happening in New York is just a continued decline in the economy of the Southern Tier. Those are the counties right along the border with Pennsylvania,” said Moreau. “Literally, people can stand there on the New York side and look just across the political border and see all this prosperity.”
Kinda glad I didn’t stay in NY after college, not that PA doesn’t have its problems.