It keeps getting harder and harder to defend Pennsylvania's first-ever elected Democratic attorney general. Kathleen Kane. Maybe that's for some defense attorneys, it's getting easier and easier to defend your clients against Kane's office.
Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike...please. It's a difficult road to avoid if you're trying to get from these parts, in and around Philadelphia, to anywhere in the western or northern part of the state. When it was built, beginning in the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, it was a marvel of modern civil engineering, and tolls were needed to make that happen...fair enough.
But in recent years (at least if you're like me and refuse to get E-Z Pass) you need to make sure you hit a cash machine before you enter the Turnpike...or maybe bring one along with you. It seems like the toll is always 10, 15, 20 percent higher every time I drive it, and I drive it pretty often; if you take it all the way to the Ohio border, you may need one of those microfinance loans.
"They would not listen, they did not know how. Perhaps they'll listen now."
The last time I heard the word "anarchy" tossed around so much was when the Sex Pistols' LP was released back in '76. There's several Republican senators and commentators who might have a coronary by the time the night is through, which can only mean that President Obama has issued his long-awaited, shocking-yet-not-at-all surprising executive order on immigration.
This is the political civil war that I predicted two days after the mid-term election. Has anyone checked on the status of Fort Sumter lately?
In the end, Obama's move will be judged on the three Ps -- policy, politics, and procedure. The policy, of course, is a no-brainer -- keeping families together and seeking a realistic solution to the plight of at least some of the 12 million strivers who are now trapped in legal limbo; the failure of Congress to come together on this has been a political meltdown of epic proportions.
Part of me wanted to weigh in on yesterday's dueling announcements by Lynne Abraham and Anthony Williams that each is entering the 2015 Philadelphia mayor's race; after all, I've been pretty clear in the recent past what I think, politically speaking, of both Abraham and Williams (Spoiler alert: Not very much). On the other hand, I wasn't at either announcement, so in a rare burst of fairness I decided to hold back. But Dave Davies, a former Daily News colleague, now at WHYY, did go.
When state Sen. Anthony Williams kicked off of his mayoral campaign yesterday, the event was richly stocked with those in the city's political class who want to be around a winner.
On the day after the election, I wrote a lengthy post noting that while many factors went into the Democratic Party's shellacking in the mid-term elections, by far the greatest was the Democratic Party itself, and the whimpering cowardice of the people it foolishly ran for office in most places. Disconnected from the day-to-day concerns of the working people they purport to represent, not even brave enough to support programs that are actually working (let alone, heaven forbid, their president), the only surprise on Election Day was how close a few of the Democrats' inevitable defeats ended up. I noted the party wouldn't bounce back overnight, and that any comeback would require a great deal of soul searching.
How's that coming so far?
Not good....not good.
This is Philadelphia, where we arrest Jesus one day, go crazy for the Pope the day after that, and on the third day, we hand the keys to the city over to a casino. Once again, Springsteen was right: It's hard to be a saint in the city...this one, anyway.
That said, the news that Pennsylvania's anonymous gambling poobahs have granted Philadelphia's slow-train-wreck-coming 2nd casino license to the future operators of a parking-lot-ringed abomination near the sports complex called the Live! Hotel and Casino is about as exciting as the 76ers latest D-League free agent signing. (Also, note: When you need an exclamation point to tell people you're alive, that's never a good sign.) The gaming palace strip-mall is headed to a location, at 9th and Packer, site of a Holiday Inn, where 95 percent of Philadelphia can ignore it. Mayor Nutter, who seems to be finally finding his voice now that he's leaving office, spoke for most of the city yesterday when he said: "It is what it is."
Gone are the days when we pretended that a new casino operator could be made to bring some architectural pizzazz to the table. With one gaming parlor on North Delaware Avenue and with neighbors in Bensalem and Chester, we know now what to expect: A lifeless dead-air Amazon-style warehouse, except with rows of slot machines instead of boxes of "50 Shades of Gray." Yeah, there are some pluses -- there'll be some more blue-collar construction jobs, and hopefully Live! in South Philly can be an escape valve for a few of the thousands of gaming workers who've been laid off in Altantic City -- folks who should be in our thoughts and prayers, especially with the holidays and winter's chill approaching.
There are certain words and phrases that simply don't have a good history. I mentioned last week that some observers felt that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was being unnecessarily provocative when he used the term "uprising" -- a loaded word, as it was popularized during the era of slavery -- in an effort to warn off violence in Ferguson. The town is already on pins and needles this week awaiting word from a grand jury in the police-shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager.
The track record for the phrase "state of emergency" is also not particularly good. It's an extraordinary measure -- calling up troops and granting sweeping powers to a chief executive -- intended for extraordinary times. And such times certainly come -- natural disasters like a Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy, for example. Politically, however, a "state of emergency" tends not to be good. Before today, the most recent "state of emergency" in the news was in the African nation of Burkina Faso, where a dictator invoked it in a desperate (and unsuccessful) bid to cling to the power he'd held for 27 years. It was a "state of emergency" panel that tried to oust Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev in an anti-reform coup as the USSR collapsed in 1991. Historically, a "state of emergency" is when civil liberties get tossed out the window.
Today, Missouri's Nixon declared a "state of emergency" in Missouri -- a move that allows him to press the state's National Guard soldiers into duty, immediately. This, despite the fact that there's currently no unrest or violence in or around Ferguson or greater St. Louis, and there's not even official word on when the jury will decide the legal fate of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown on Aug. 9. At first blush, his order seems a little less Sandy and a little more Burkina Faso.