Friday, January 29, 2010

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Since Philadelphia Media Holdings is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, perhaps adding more value to your newspaper would be economically beneficial to you in the long run. For example, although The Philadelphia Daily News publishes six times a week, the Saturday edition itself is not worth the $0.75 cover price.

Have you considered publishing the daily comics in color like the vastly improved New York Daily News has recently begun to do?

Please pass along this information to your sister publication, The Philadelphia Inquirer, as this also concerns them. (*)


Allan Smithee

(*) postscript: The Inquirer printing the horoscopes instead of deleting them on Sunday would also be an improvement and perhaps help improve long term revenue as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Excerpts - Which do you find more credible?

Re: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

[ ] Why Obama is wrong about the campaign finance ruling

"The history of campaign finance reform is the history of incumbent politicians seeking to muzzle speakers, any speakers, particularly those who might publicly criticize them and their legislation. It is a lot easier to legislate against unions, gun owners, “fat cat” bankers, health insurance companies and any other industry or “special interest” group when they can’t talk back."

-- Jan Witold Baran, author of the book “The Election Law Primer for Corporations,” filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of Citizens United

[X] Reining in the high court

"Defenders of this vast expansion of corporate influence piously claim it's about free speech. But since when is a corporation, a creation of laws passed by governments, entitled to the same rights as an individual citizen? This ruling will give large business entities far more power than any individual, unless you happen to be Michael Bloomberg or Bill Gates.

"The only proper response to this distortion of our political system by ideologically driven justices is a popular revolt. It would be a revolt of a sort deeply rooted in the American political tradition. The most vibrant reform alliances in our history have involved coalitions between populists (who stand up for the interests and values of average citizens) and progressives (who fight against corruption in government and for institutional changes to improve the workings of our democracy). It's time for a new populist-progressive alliance.

"This court ruling should also challenge the fake populism on display of late, which disguises a defense of the interests of the powerful behind crowd-pleasing rhetoric against "Washington," "taxes," and, yes, "Obama."

-- E.J. Dionne is a Washington Post columnist.

[ ] Obama must compromise, Kennedy-style

"Finally, there would be tort reform. Standards of care, if followed, should protect providers from frivolous lawsuits. Malpractice suits and defensive medicine have a direct effect on health providers' operating costs, which has been estimated at $200 billion a year. Yet the 1,000-page reform proposals in the House and Senate are silent on the issue, as is the White House and the entire Democratic Party. This is not only a mistake of huge financial proportions, but also a strategic blunder. Aside from the savings tort reform could generate, it could also be among the missing links that bring Republican legislators on board.

"Unfortunately, Senator Edward Kennedy is not alive to help broker such a compromise. Given that and the result in Massachusetts, President Obama should honor Kennedy by doing what he would have done to realize his longtime dream of reforming health care."

-- Dr. Stuart H. Shapiro, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

[ ] Trickle Down Economics; The "Populist" Addiction -- David Brooks

Friday, January 22, 2010

5-4 Supreme Court ruling is welcome news to GOP


Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission


Majority Vote:

Majority Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices John G. Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Clarence Thomas

Minority Vote:

Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor


What the Justices Had to Say

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority:

"When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in concurrence:

"The text and purpose of the First Amendment point in the same direction: Congress may not prohibit political speech, even if the speaker is a corporation or union."

Justice Antonin Scalia, in concurrence:

"Surely the dissent does not believe that speech by the Republican Party or the Democratic Party can be censored because it is not the speech of 'an individual American.' It is the speech of many individual Americans, who have associated in a common cause, giving the leadership of the party the right to speak on their behalf. The association of individuals in a business corporation is no different."

Justice John Paul Stevens, in dissent:

"The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.. . .

"Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of the 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."


New York Times Editorial:

The Court’s Blow to Democracy

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding. Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.


Good Overview of Opinions at Klimbalan



Supreme Court Memo - Justices Turn Minor Movie Case Into a Blockbuster


Note: Editorial Cartoon by Mike Peters

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letters To The Editor

What God Might Say About Haiti

WHEN the unspeakable happens on such a gigantic scale as in Haiti, it's natural to ask, "How could a loving God let this happen?" As a person of faith, I can imagine God replying:

"I take responsibility for the earthquake and its horrendous consequences. My sorrow is deep, deep, deep. I just couldn't figure out how to make a dynamic world without shifting tectonic plates and fault lines.

"I didn't see a way to fill the world with life without also allowing death. It didn't seem possible to make beings capable of love without accepting the anguish of having the beloveds suffer and die. Can you forgive me for creating a universe that gives a place to all this suffering?

"Even if you can't forgive me, please know that I'm walking through the rubble in Haiti. I'm under the fallen hospitals and crushed schools, am sharing the agony of the suffering. I'm comforting the hurt, strengthening the weak, empowering the rescuers. Please join me."

Richard K. Taylor, Philadelphia

Fact Checking The Crossword

Please inform your cruciverbalist that boas are not a type of python. Scientifically they belong to different families, Boidae and Pythonidae respectively. Lumping them together because they are large snakes is as erroneous as considering my mother a monotreme because she, like a platypus, has hair and produces milk. I, like a boa's offspring, did not hatch from an egg; a fact to which platypus and python offspring can not attest. I know it's "just the crossword," but facts are facts and should be checked more carefully.

Randy G. Bradley-Campbell,
via e-mail.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food Stuff Consumption

Thursday, January 14, 2010

sm coffee (light/sweet)
1/4 lb. hotdog with brown mustard
cup of coffee (light)
1 hash brown bar (net wt. 2.5 oz.)
1 blueberry cream danish (net wt. 5 oz.)
1 cheese & berries danish (net wt. 5 oz.)
sm coffee (light/sweet)
3-4 handfuls of almonds
2 glasses of iced tea
1 chicken salad/provolone hoagie (lettuce/tomato/onion)
1 bag of baked potato chips (net wt. 1 oz.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Articles of Interest From Last Week

Climate Expert In The Eye Of An Integrity Storm

PSU prof targeted for global-warning views

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Michael Mann switched from physics to climate science back in graduate school because he thought climate offered a better chance to work "on a frontier."

He got his wish, and now, as the director of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center, he has experienced an aspect of frontier life more like the Wild West - a bounty on his head.

After dozens of Mann's personal e-mails were hacked in November, the tenured professor has been called a fraud, a clown, and worse by columnists and bloggers.

Irate citizens complained to a Pennsylvania state senator, who demanded that the university conduct a probe into Mann's scientific integrity. That inquiry is ongoing.

This is hardly Mann's first review. His work has been the subject of at least two major investigations by outside experts.

And last week, a message went around his department at the university, notifying everyone that a whistle-blower could make up to $12 million by uncovering fraudulent use of federal grants. One blogger gloated that the offer would lead to Mann's having "a very unhappy new year."

Click Here for complete Philadelphia Inquirer article by Faye Flam


Geithner's Fed told AIG: Limit Disclosure

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by Timothy Geithner, told American International Group Inc. to withhold details from the public about the bailed-out insurer's payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails between AIG and its regulator show.

AIG said in a draft of a regulatory filing that the insurer paid banks, which included Goldman Sachs Group Inc., 100 cents on the dollar for credit default swaps they bought from the firm. The New York Fed crossed out the reference, according to the e-mails, and AIG excluded the language when the filing was made public Dec. 24, 2008.

Click Here for complete Bloomberg News report

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Institute of Contemporary Art - University of Pennsylvania


January 15 - June 6, 2010
Walkthrough with Maira Kalman and curator Ingrid Schaffner

The ICA presents Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World), the first major museum survey of the work of Maira Kalman. An illustrator, author and designer, Kalman illuminates contemporary life with a profound sense of joy and unique sense of humor. Like a gift, her work appears to lift the spirits, no matter how ordinary or overwhelming circumstances may be. This exhibition features a selection spanning thirty years of original works on paper and design production, along with less widely seen aspects of Kalman's work in photography, embroidery, textiles, and performance.

This exhibition is one of the Independent Projects affiliated with Philagrafika 2010, a city-wide festival celebrating print in contemporary art.


January 15, 2010 - March 21, 2010
Walkthrough with artist Rob Carter and curator Lucy Gallun

Animation may conjure fantasy and make-believe. Everyday Imaginary, however, takes a close look at recent work that explores everyday lived experience—reality—either through animation or in dialogue with its techniques and imagery. Underlying these works is the idea of the "social imaginary," according to which, the way we conceive of ourselves—our nationhood, our cultural identity, our political affiliations—is constructed and therefore imaginary, although it has very real effects on our lived experience. Everyday Imaginary presents work that explores—both technically and thematically—the shifting boundaries between the real and the imagined.


Through March 21, 2010

Dance with Camera explores a crossover between artists and dancers who make choreography for the camera. Unlike the stage, the camera allows close-ups that bring us nearer the performer, while also expanding the notion of dance as time based. The exhibition features film, video, and still photography and is accompanied by a cinema program of iconic dance films. Spanning seventy years, the work of over thirty artists and filmmakers exemplifies the way in which dance compels artists to record bodies moving in space.

"No comparable show displaying works that effectively marry the potentials of the camera and dance has been seen anywhere else."
— Lisa Kraus, Philadelphia Inquirer

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Great Animal Debate

"I've had to overcome a lot, probably more than one single individual can handle or can bear. You take a look at what I've been through, you ask certain people to walk in my shoes, they probably couldn't do it. Probably 95 percent of the people in this world - because nobody had to endure what I've been through, situations I've been put in, situations I've placed myself in." -- Michael Vick after winning The Ed Block Courage Award


Letter To The Editor

RE Dom Giordano's op-ed on the award to Michael Vick:

The last time I looked, there was no mention of canines in our constitution or Bill of Rights. Normal people, unlike over-the-top dog-lovers, think that Michael Vick was wrongly accused and prosecuted for crimes against a soulless animal who should have no civil rights and should not be taking up time in our courtrooms. Michael Vick shouldn't have served one day in jail. That makes him a hero.

Mike Franklin, Marlton, N.J.


Opposing view by columnist Phil Sheridan

Monday, January 4, 2010

On This Date In History


Today is Monday,
January 04th
The 004th day of 2010.
There are 361 days left in the year.


Today's Highlights in History

On Jan. 4, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson outlined the goals of his ''Great Society'' in his State of the Union address.

On Jan. 4, 1896, Everett McKinley Dirksen, Republican leader of the Senate from 1959-1969, was born.


On this date in:

1896 - Utah was admitted to the Union as the 45th state.

1948 - Britain granted independence to Burma.

1951 - North Korean and Communist Chinese forces captured the city of Seoul during the Korean War.

1960 - Nobel Prize-winning French author Albert Camus died in a car accident at age 46.

1965 - Poet T.S. Eliot died at age 76.

1974 - President Richard Nixon refused to hand over tape recordings and documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.

1990 - Charles Stuart, who had claimed a gunman had killed his pregnant wife and wounded him, leaped to his death from a Boston Harbor bridge after he became a suspect.

1990 - Deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega was arraigned in federal district court in Miami on drug-trafficking charges.

1995 - The 104th Congress convened, the first entirely under Republican control since the Eisenhower era; Newt Gingrich was elected speaker of the House.

1999 - Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was sworn in as governor of Minnesota.

2004 - Afghans approved a new constitution.

2004 - Georgians overwhelmingly elected Mikhail Saakashvili president, two months after he'd led protests that forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down.

2006 - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke and his powers were transferred to his deputy, Ehud Olmert.

2007 - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., became the first female speaker of the House.

2008 - The government reported that the nation's jobless rate hit 5 percent in December 2007, a two-year high, fanning recession fears.


Note: Above Info via The New York Times