Friday, November 30, 2007

Will Blacks Back Barack?

Andrew Sullivan reports that Barack Obama may just stand a chance at gaining the support of black Americans. Although he cites no statistics, Sullivan points to reports that some African-Americans are tired of Hillary Clinton taking their support for granted. He uses this as evidence for his contention that an African-American would stand a chance at being elected President.

I am not totallly convinced one way or the other. I certainly hope that at this point people have gotten past prejudice enough to elect an African-American to the executive office. Nonetheless, I must take issue with Sullivan's certainty on the matter, especially when it comes to lower middle class and working class white people. My own experience tells it isn't the case.

Furthermore, we have to consider the experience of the African-Americans themselves, who are very doubtful about the matter. I just can't believe that a gay, Catholic Englishman is better position to just the racial situation than the African-Americans themselves. Sorry, Andy...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican Parking Authority

Two days ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer, an article revealed that local Republicans have established a death grip over the Philadelphia Parking Authority, with local ward leaders calling the shots and pressuring employees, both directly and indirectly, for campaign donations. Read more about it at the Young Philly Politics blog.

This just goes to show that Philadelphia's Republicans have become mired in the same corrupt political establishment as the Democrats. At this point, we may need to bring a third party in, like the Libertarians or the Green Party, to clean things up.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is not completely dead,as this expose demonstrates. However, I must quarrel with one Young Philly Politics commenter who claims that this is proof that the Inqy hasn't turned into a right wing den of lies. Anyone who doubts that that is the case should take a look at the columns of Kevin Ferris, Jonathan Last, and Michael Smerconish.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Comedy in the Inquirer

This morning, while I was sitting in my barbershop-Grillo's on Allegheny Ave.- waiting for a haircut, I happened to glance at the editorial page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In it, I found a genuinely comic letter by one Frank Solis.

Mr. Solis's contention is that recent efforts by Democratic senators to keep the Senate in session so that President Bush cannot make recess appointments are an example of-gasp!-socialism. He derides these efforts as a "typical socialist gambit" and claims they are part of a democratic effort to impose "secularism" on our country. (Never mind the fact that, compared to Europe, American is a bloody theocracy.)

Honestly, Mr. Solis, it's called a parliamentary maneuver. If you can't deal with that, maybe you should move to a dictatorship. (I hear Pakistan is getting quite interesting these days.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Hail the New York Times

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I treated myself to a copy of the New York Times. I have to admit, it is the greatest newspaper I have ever read. It's all in the detail. They go into more depth, and have more on the ground reporters, than most newspapers.

One example is their treatment of the Iraq War and the Surge. While acknowledging that the increase in troops has decreased American casualties, it is careful to point out that there are still a number of problems facing Iraq, particularly the divide between those Sunnis who are now allied with us, and the Shi'ites who now run the Iraqi government. These problems raise the potential of a civil war, and should not be ignored.

Compare this with Kevin Ferris and his editorials in the Philadelphia Inquirer. While briefly acknowledging the possibility of future setbacks, he goes on to crow about how the Democrats are wrong and appealing to sentimental patriotism.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Shock Doctrine-Naomi Klein

Here is a video that I saw online today. It is on the website of Naomi Klein, an anti-globalization writer and activist, who has recently published a new book called The Shock Doctrine. The book focuses on the privatization of such traditionally governmental functions as disaster relief, ranging from Hurricane Katrina to private mercenary armies such as Blackwater.

I do not necessarily agree with everything Naomi Klein argues. For example, she claims the Falklands War as an example of her theory, when it was really Argentina that started the war, not Margaret Thatcher, as you might deduce from the video. (Although it is true she benefited from the war.) I have posted the video here:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Philadelphia Ron Paul Rally

I know this is a century in blogging terms, but this previous Saturday, I attended a rally for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul at Independence Mall in Philadelphia. It was a very exciting and thought-provoking experience.

According to some estimates, roughly 4,000 people attended the rally. I was lucky enough to get a pretty good seat. A lot of the people ended up standing. (Initially the seats were reserved for veterans, but apparently too few veterans showed up to justify it.)

If nothing else, Ron Paul attracts a diverse crowd. The supporters ranged from working class, dyed in the wool libertarians to punk anti-war types with five piercings. There was one African-American woman dressed up as the Statue of Liberty (She's in the second photo down on the latter link). You don't see many candidates who can attract a crowd like that.

Of course, I don't agree with every position Ron Paul has taken. That made this whole thing a rather interesting study in group think. I ended up cheering for things I didn't really believe in, such as withdrawing from the UN and an end to gun control. It was like the force of the crowd just swept me up. I just wanted to fit in.

I will leave you with some footage of the rally,just click here and here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pakistan Moves One Inch Closer to Utter Chaos

Well, Benazir Bhutto, the corrupt politician who is currently Pakistan's best hope for democracy (God, or Allah, help the Pakistanis!), is now under house arrest by the Musharref government. Is any one in doubt that Pakistan is going to hell in a handbag. They've locked up the woman who represents the road to elections, and she's a damn rocky road at that.

For more info, see the post at the Reason blog by Nick Gillespie, including my comments under MPG.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Nutter

Michael Nutter has been elected the mayor of Philadelphia. It'll be up to him to get the city out of its current hole. I am skeptical of how much he'll actually accomplish, partially because of the fact that not all of the city's problems are under his control-crime is to a large extent the function of the state of the economy-and he has a city council made up largely of the same old corrupt democratic establishment.

In the end, it's largely in the hands of Philadelphia, as the Young Philly Politics blog notes.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Reflections on a Lockdown

In the few days that have passed since the lockdown at La Salle University, I have been thinking a bit about the whole issue of fear and safety in modern society, and the need to strike a balance between prudence and living in a state of total panic.

Too much nowadays, we seem to go constantly from one type of crisis to another, with little respite or sense of proportion. We are panicking about toys from China, school shootings, MRSA, and Iran, all at the same time. Far from being the utopia predicted by futurists, the twenty-first century has been in a continual state of mass hysteria.

This naturally has provoked a backlash in at least some quarters. Libertarians, such as the publishers of Reason magazine, feel that our state of panic has produced too much regulation, unduly limiting human freedom. They have a point in some respects, such as drug laws; however, they often take it too far, rebelling against event prudent measures such as limited gun control.

In the end, the problem is largely traceable to mass media. Our modern communications infrastructure and twenty-four hour news networks do alert us to major problems, such as overseas events. However,they also create a heightened sense of fear by hyping every new threat that appears, leading to overreactions such as La Salle's.