Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rudy's Out

Well, Rudy Giuliani's out of the presidential race. John McCain stands a real shot at becoming the Republican nominee, with Mike Huckabee still present as a dark horse candidate.

To me, this makes it even more imperative that the Democrats choose Obama as their nominee. If McCain gets the Republican nod and we choose Hillary, the game's over before it started. McCain has a strong draw among independents, while Hillary's main base of support is among the Democratic faithful.

Obama, on the other hand, has a strong draw on independents himself. He would be able to offset McCain's strength on that regard. Furthermore, he does not have the questions about his character that make life difficult for Hillary.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Casinos and the Economy

A recent post on the Hallwatch blog examines the economic impact of the proposed Foxwoods and SugarHouse Casinos, and finds they add up to a big drain on the city's economy. Rather than attracting lots of new money and jobs to Philadelphia's economy, they will take business away from other recreational activities.

To me, the ultimate objection to the casinos is moral rather than economic. Casinos, like lotteries, are what Richard Russo calls "taxes on ignorance." They prey on the gullible and those suffering from gambling addictions. They ruin families, increase the crime rate, and devastate neighborhoods. (Anyone who disagrees with this should take a look at Atlantic City. Outside of the immediate casino area, much of it is a slum.) There has to be another way to improve conditions in this city.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Recycling Trash in City Hall

A recent editorial in the Philadelphia City Paper, as well as a recent post on the Young Philly Politics blog, discuss the rehiring of Clarena Tolson, the less than effective Streets Commissioner from the Street Administration.

This is a bad move for Mayor Nutter on mulitiple levels. First, as anyone who's seen the conditions on Philadelphia's streets, she has not been taking care of primary jobs. College friends of mine who are from different cities and towns are shocked at the number of potholes they see here.

Furthermore, Tolson has been condemned by Philadelphia green groups such as the Recycling Alliance, which claim that she has stood in the way of Philadelphia recycling efforts. Given that these groups were among Mayor Nutter's earliest supporters, alienating them may be a very bad move.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Huckabee and the Fanatics

I know this blog is supposed to be on hiatus, but I found a very important post on Andrew Sullivan's blog about Michael Huckabee's connection to reconstructionism, an ideology that advocates reforming the Constitution along Biblical lines. Huckabee has held major fundraisers at the homes of Reconstructionists, suggesting he will be at least somewhat sympathetic to their aims.

I do not want to sound too alarmist. After all, he may just be paying them lip service in order to get their votes. Nevertheless, any connection to such a group of fanatics is cause for concern.

Read more here.

Brief Hiatus

This blog will be going on a brief hiatus over the next few days as I will be visiting a university I am hoping to attend.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some More Reasons Not to Vote for Hillary

There are a number of reasons why I think Obama is a better candidate than Hillary Clinton, if you want to vote for a left wing candidate.

1. Labor Issues
Barack Obama is strongly supportive of a living wage and the rights of workers. He has even participated in picket lines for striking hotel workers. Hillary, on the other hand, has hired a PR man, Mark Penn, who has helped company's such as Cintas bust unions, as this Nation article reveals.

2. The War
Many harp on Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. However, that did not prevent him from coming to the correct conclusions on Iraq. Meanwhile, as Christopher Hitchens points out that Hillary has had to make some alterations in her Iraq stance.

Furthermore, Hillary has little more foreign policy experience than Obama, mostly limited to PR visits to foreign capitals.

Obama addresses these issues in this interview with David Letterman:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Express an Opinion, Lose Your Job

A column in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer by Daniel Rubin reveals a disturbing case of attempted censorship by a public relations firm tied to the Foxwoods Casino.

The public relations firm in question, Tierney Communications, fired one of their vice presidents, Peggy Griffin, because she wrote a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer warning of the casino's potential effect on her neighborhood. She had already made the firm aware of her stance on the issue before they hired, and she did not mention her affiliation with Tierney. Nevertheless, they dumped her, putting a potentially damaging mark on her career.

Some might question her willingness to work with a firm that supported a cause she opposed. However, she made it clear she would not work on the Foxwoods account, and did not let her employment there make her censor her beliefs.

Tierney Communications must not be very good at public relations, as the move has already garnered them negative coverage in the Inquirer and a nasty letter to the editor.

Here is a link to Tierney's website so you can contact them about the decision. Make certain any letters or e-mails you send are polite and to the point.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Quasi-Catholic Schools and Eminent Domain

Monica Yant Kinney's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer is a very poor treatment of the recent judical ruling allowing the city to seize someone's house so that a group of nuns can build a school there.

Never mind the ethical implications of seizing someone's house. Since the Supreme Court ruling Kelo vs. New London, which widely broadened the state's right to seize people's property for practically anything it wants, there have been greater and greater attacks on property rights. Reading Ms. Kinney's article, you wouldn't imagine someone was losing their home. She just calls it a "rundown rowhouse." I guess poor people don't have property rights in her view.

Doing this for members of the clergy is especially gauling. Ever heard of the separation of Church and state, Ms. Kinney? Sure, the nuns claim they won't try to convert the students, but we all know that is bull. The very fact that they are nuns shows they are religious fanatics, and not to be trusted.

If Ms. Kinney is that gullible, she shouldn't be a journalist.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Horrible / Beautiful

Walking around past a train trestle in Kensington today, I was reminded of just how horribly beautiful its bleakness can be. Against the grey sky, the barren trees and dilapidated warehouses had a stark, arid quality that just exudes so much beauty it is incredible. It is like something out of an old gothic print.

In the near future, I will begin posting to this blog photos of my neighborhood that I feel capture its arid beauty.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Open Letter to the Democratic Primary Voters of New Hampshire

To the New Hampshire Democrats Who Gave Hillary Clinton First Place Standing:

What the hell is wrong with you?

How could you all be taken in by a so obviously manipulative politician who is incapable of taking a firm position on any issue? Are a few tears all that's needed to win your votes?

Some of you will no doubt point to her "experience" in government. WHAT EXPERIENCE? Her only official position has been one term in the Senate, only a few years more than Obama. Just being married to someone in high office doesn't count. The only governmental position she held during her husband's presidency was being put in charge of health care, and we all saw how that worked out.

She is also belatedly trying to position herself as an agent for change. The only change coming from her vaunted 34 years of experience has been a change in her husband's mistresses.

If you are nostalgic for the Clinton years, and harbor secret hopes that her husband will really be running the country, go ahead and support her, but don't try to pass it off as a vote for experience. If you had really wanted experience, you would have voted for Joe Biden or Chris Dodd.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Prayer for Michael Nutter

Well, it's Mayor Nutter now. I wish all the luck he can have, as he'll need it. I watched his speech live yesterday. He had a lot of passion, and very admirable goals, but he'll have a really difficult time getting them accomplished. Cutting the murder rate by fifty percent is no easy task, nor is overcoming an anti-educational culture in our city's lower classes, both black and white, to lower the high school drop out rate.

I am going to reprint William Penn's famous Prayer for the City. If I'm correct, Mayor Nutter will need all the prayers he can get.

A Prayer for the City

"And thou, Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province-named before thou wert born-what love, what care, what service, and what travail there have been to bring thee forth and to preserve thee from such as would abuse and defile thee.

Oh that thou mayest be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee, that faithful to the God of thy mercies, in the life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the end.

My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blest and thy people saved by his power."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Interesting Article on Young Philly Politics

The always good Young Philly Politics blog has an interesting editorial about legalizing prostitution in Philadelphia. Although this is a complicated issue, I think there are some worthwhile arguments for it.

For further on this, read my comments on the article itself. Congrats to poster Zorro for writing about this delicate issue.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What's REALLY Behind Last Year's Bloodbath

Well, last year ended with 392 murders in Philadelphia, slightly less than 2006, despite a gruesome summer.

What was behind this violence, and its sudden decline. There is no one solution, but I think this NPR story holds some clues. What we saw was good law enforcement in action! Yes!

You see, according to federal drug enforcement officials, such as Drug Czar John Walters, there were major successes in curbing the amount of drugs, particularly cocaine, coming into the country early this year. One of the first places hit by the cocaine shortage was Philadelphia, where the scarcity started in May. In the following summer, there were massive amounts of violence.

Coincidence? I think not.

You see, drug shortages contribute to violence in at least two ways. First, drug gangs start competing more for territory, in order to make up for lost revenue. Second, drug addicts become more desperate for drugs, which means they became more violent and willing to rob people.

The story also contains a clue to why violence dropped later in the year. As one Philadelphia detective they interviewed notes, the shortage ended with the summer, creating less stimulus for violence.

Of course, this is not the only reason for the drop in violence. Violence always drops somewhat after the summer ends. Furthermore, the Philadelphia Police have been given impetus to crack down by the election of a reformist mayor, a new, tough police chief whom precinct captains will want to make a good impression on, not to mention a spate of Philly police officers getting shot.

Nonetheless, I think this is worth considering when we look at our nation's drug laws.