Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Delco Repubs take a cannon to a rabbit hunt

Did Democrats who made the effort to come out in the Democratic primary in the 162nd House Assembly District on Tuesday cast write-in votes for Republican Nick Micarelli because:
A)     They think he’s such a wonderful public servant he transcends party?
B)      Certain Democratic leaders disliked the Democratic write-in candidate, Ken Harper, so much they secretly ran a behind-the-scenes campaign for the Republican candidate?
C)      Voters didn’t realize that Miccarelli is a Republican and just accepted the first rubber stamp that the nice poll worker thrust into their hands?
Nick Miccarelli
D)     All of the above?
I think it’s “all of the above” and I think that’s horrible for our supposedly democratic (in the small “d” sense) form of government.
It was, after all, a primary election, which means each party chooses its nominee for each seat to run in the November general election, most decidedly not the other party's nominee.
Yet 709 supposed Democrats voted for Miccarelli as opposed to 337 Democrats for Harper, better than two to one.
 I could maybe understand it if it had even been close, but, no, not even then. So my question is why?
 Why did the Republicans go to so much effort to get Miccarelli nominated on both ballots when he didn’t stand a chance of losing in November as a Republican?   Is it just for the sake of a press release or TV ad (“nominated by both parties!”)?  Just to rub the Democrats’ noses in  their ineptitude?
Why did the Democratic Party turn against Harper when it couldn’t find a candidate to run in the 162nd District in the first place and when Harper spent his own money to run as  a write-in in a primary where he surely knew that even if he was nominated, he would be a sacrificial lamb?
I sort of get the Republicans: they saw their opportunity and they took it.
I do not get those 709 registered Democrats who happily took the Miccarelli stamp and went into the voting booth to vote for a Republican, even one they know and admire, in the Democratic primary.
If there are that many Republicans in Democratic clothing in just one House district, that many people who changed their registrations to screw over the Democrats when they had the only exciting races going on in their own primary election, that's truly amazing.
But if that many Democrats did make the effort to come out to the polls in what was a pretty unexciting primary on our side but truly did not know, or ask, if they were voting for a Republican, that's pretty dismaying.
I have been a resident of Delaware County for more than 30 years, every one of them a Democrat, and perhaps that is why I will never understand Delaware County politics.
Actually I’ve never understood Pennsylvania state politics either, as in, cross-over nominations and a 30-day deadline prior to the primary to change your party affiliation.  You do know they don’t have these restrictions and confusions in other states, don’t you?
Somebody in the know, click on the comment box below and tell me why the enormous effort for Miccarelli in a district where he is the sure winner one way or the other.  There must be a reason.  Somebody educate me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

You say 'hello,' we say, 'goodbye'

Kraft Foods, Wendy's McDonald's Coca-Cola, Intuit, PepsiCo, the Yum! Corp. (KFC and Taco Bell), the Gates Foundation and Blue Cross/Blue Shield -- what do these companies have in common?
Other than that most of them make food that is not very good for you, their common element is that they have all dropped their membership in ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, in recent months or weeks or days, or will be dropping their memberships as soon as they expire.  And for that I say, "Yay and here's hoping there are many, many more companies to follow!"
I have been waiting for an onslaught of newspapers and TV, the Mainstream Media, to trap ALEC in the spotlight like the cockroach that it is, to finally expose it for the powerful destroyer of the Middle class that it is, but, alas, except for a couple of editorials in the New York Times, I haven't seen it.

What I have seen are countless web sites and small magazines and progressive organizations and now, shareholder activists, applying enormous pressure to ALEC members, corporations that pay $25,000 to $50,000 annually for the privilege of writing right-wing legislation in state capitols across the country, to get out while the getting is good.
Quick primer: ALEC is 98 percent funded by corporations and corporate foundations who pay the aforementioned thousands of dollars in annual dues and 2 percent by (Republican) state legislators who pay $50 a year or so annual dues.  ALEC claims not to be a lobby.  It is even better than a lobby.  It drafts "model legislation" that it hands out to its legislative membersat annual or quarterly conferences to take back to their states and introduce with a few specifics added.
According to, it has drafted more than 800 such bills.  A whistle-blower leaked these 800 model bills last July and they are all posted on ALEC Exposed.  Go there to read lists of bills or individual bills, or even bill titles, to get the flavor of this very anti-democratic, very secretive organization.
ALEC claims to be strictly pro-business, but it is very anti-worker, very right-wing and not above pushing bills that benefit its members to the detriment of the rest of the country.
For example, anti-immigration bills (Arizona and Alabama -- the prison-industrial complex), anti public sector employee bills (Wisconsin), school privatization bills (Calif. -- the charter school industrial complex),  anti-union bills (Indiana, Ohio), expanded "castle" or stand your ground bills (Florida, Pa., Wisconsin -- the NRA), Voter ID laws (Virginia, Pa., 21 other states), drug testing of welfare applicants (the medical testing industrial complex) and anti-environmental bills (everywhere).
One site,, which focuses on issues of interest to black Americans, has led the charge against ALEC ever since it became known that ALEC was behind the Stand Your Ground and Voter ID  legislation adopted in Florida and  dozens of other states.
That 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was gunned down by a self-styled vigilante in Florida and that Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minority and Democratic voters are issues of interest to not only black web surfers but also to a great many of us of any ethnicity who believe in fairness, openness and democracy.
In addition to,,, Mother Jones and The Nation magazines, Think Progress, the Huffington Post, Daily Kos,  People for the American Way, the Wildlife Defense Fund and a great many other progressive organizations, campaigns against ALEC are beginning to heat up in corporate boardrooms across the nation.
Activist shareholders are introducing proposals calling on corporations to issue annual reports disclosing their legislative and lobbying efforts.  These proposals are aimed directly at exposing ALEC.
UPS will have such as vote at its annual meeting in Wilmington, Del., May 3.  Of course, the corporations are advising their shareholders to vote against such proposals, but they always do try to deep-six such shareholder activism.
For a somewhat outdated list of major organizations that support ALEC big time, go to They still include General Motors, State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, Bank of America, American Express, Geico and Boeing as far as I know.  
That the very big corporations listed at the start of this post are deeply embarrassed to be associated with ALEC is the good news.  Let's embarrass the rest.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yes, kiddies, the Titanic really sank

So here's a fun thing.  I don't know that it's a fun fact, but it's a fun thing.  There were, apparently 10 or 15 or several thousand people -- I'm going to assume young people -- who were on Twitter yesterday tweeting each other that "Wow, I didn't know the sinking of the Titanic was a real event, I just thought it was a movie!"
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is this weekend,  April14-15.  More than 1,500 people died.  You can see the graves of many of them if you are ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I hope this was a silly  joke gone viral and not the ignorance of however many umpteen people being spread around the Internet, but you never know.
I do know that if I were not sure that something had really happened, and I was a young, technologically knowledgeable person, I might just Google that event before excitedly jumping into hyperspace to gleefully admit that I never knew it happened, especially something that really, really killed people.
The image above is a picture of the REAL bow of the Titanic resting miles down on the ocean floor, the same bow that was depicted in the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio pretending to be king of the world. 
Jeez how could you not know that Titanic director James Cameron  has made several dives to survey the actual wreckage of the ship?
How could you not know that Titanic is, in fact, lying there on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, that it has been extensively filmed and photographed, that it has been the subject of countless TV specials, that the artifacts recovered from the wreckage are currently up for a multi-multi-million dollar auction, that descendants of Titanic victims and survivors are at this moment on a cruise retracing its path?  Really? You didn't know any of that?
There were many famous people on board the Titanic.  I won't list them here, but here's a famous survivor on whom another movie and Broadway play were based: "The Unsinkable Molly Brown,." a great pioneer woman and suffragette. Visit her home if you are ever in Denver, Colo.
So here's a few other things you might want to look up before declaring, Lawdy me, I never knew that happened: The 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia (thousands dead and Philadelphia lost its chance to be the capital of the United States), the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986 -- anywhere from 4,000 to who knows how many dead -- people still dying from cancers caused by the meltdown).
The Bophal, India, gas disaster (1984 -- 3,700 dead in one day and thousands of others still dying from the chemical contamination), the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston (1942 -- 452 dead), the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (1911 -- 146 dead), The Station nightclub fire (East Warwick, R.I., 2003 -- 100 dead), The Ringling Brothers Circus fire, Hartford, Conn. (1944 -- 141 dead, one child's body still unidentified), the Hindenburg explosion (1937-- 36 dead) ... well I could go on and on and on.
But here's something to know -- or learn -- about these horrific disasters; usually something good came out of them so that fewer such disasters happen today.  
Better ship safety and communications systems, safer shipping routes, municipal health departments and water works, scientific research into the causes of disease, stricter building codes, the use of non-explosive helium to inflate balloons and lots of well-marked exits wherever large groups of people gather.
And if you ever hear a circus band play the "Stars and Stripes Forever" march, run for your life!.  Okay, do I have to tell you Stars and Stripes was a code to tell circus folk that something was terribly wrong?
Also, yes it is a good thing for governments to set high standards for regulating nuclear and chemical plants even if it costs those industries and its consumers something to be safe.
 "War of the Worlds," "Clash of the Titans," "Raiders of the Lost Ark"  -- these "events" didn't really happen.
Just so you know.