Consider, if you will, the plight of the poor institutional Democrat. People are confused over just what today's Democratic Party stands for -- and nobody is more confused than the various liberal groups that are supposed to be "the base" of the party. In dozens of races, Democratic candidates are running away from the millions of newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, while tripping over each other to adopt "me too" Republican-lite programs, like an unwise travel ban as a response to the Ebola overhype. Such cowardice doesn't take a single vote from the GOP, but it will surely make some Democrats think twice about even bothering to vote on Nov. 4.
No wonder actual progressives are looking at strategies to work around the Democratic Party as much as work with it. This weekend, I wrote about the arrival in Philadelphia of the Working Families Party, which over the last decade has pushed politics leftward in New York City, and wants to do the same here. Here's an excerpt:
An underlying message of the Working Families' push is that more than six decades of Democratic rule in Philadelphia has thwarted radical change.
As The Post’s Mark Berman has snarkily noted, the pumpkin festival debacle “was reminiscent of Ferguson, one might say, if one was willing to equate years of simmering tension finally boiling over with a bunch of college kids setting things on fire.”
That has not been lost on people in Missouri. On Monday, a group of protesters armed with pumpkins descended upon the St. Louis Justice Center, a common site for post-Ferguson demonstrations. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Steve Giegerich was on the scene, and reported that two people were arrested.
There's an outstanding front-page story in today's Daily News by Dana DiFilippo about a traffic stop and violent encounter three years ago in North Philadelphia that raises questions about police conduct, their account of the event, and our local system of justice. Here's an excerpt:
"I would never stoop that low to plead to something that I did not do," Lewis said in a letter to the Daily News from the State Correctional Facility at Waymart, where he is awaiting a Nov. 12 trial. "Those officers most definitely broke some of my bones. However, they didn't break my spirit."
A prison inmate who denies his guilt is nothing new.
Wow....at this point there have been so many "white riots" in the last couple of years -- Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara, Penn State (more than once), and just this week, Morgantown, and now, most epic-ally of all-time, the great Pumpkin Festival riots of Keene, N.H. It's gotten to the point where all of the obvious jokes, about how the white community needs to have a serious conversation about getting our own house in order, or asking where are the (white) fathers, have been made again and again and again. O you silly rioters of mid-season college football wins and smashed pumpkins, you make comedy too easy!
Still, the ironies abound (and not just the appearance of would-be New Hampshire senator Scott Brown, who seems to inspire bad behavior wherever he goes). Keene is the town that was ridiculed just a couple of months ago by HBO's John Oliver for buying a mine-resistant armored personnel carrier and for citing the need to protect the annual Pumpkin Festival (although I guess the assumption was protect it from al-Qaeda and not from boisterous Natty Light drinkers). Will Oliver apologize? Of course, in reality, the real-life response this weekend of the Keene police -- in riot gear, lobbing tear gas -- is every bit as questionable and should get the same level of scrutiny as it did in Ferguson. It probably won't, though.
Speaking of Ferguson, if you have a few minutes read the news accounts of what happened in New Hampshire -- the youths who set fires and threw rocks or pumpkins were described as "rowdy" or "boisterous" or participants in "unrest." Do you remember such genteel language to describe the protesters in Missouri? Me neither...I wonder why.
See this. It's the Philadelphia Union logo, with its snake loosely based on the Gadsden flag made popular in the American Revolution. You may know that image as "the Tea Party flag," since it was adopted as a symbol of the right-wing movement that started so magically* on the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2009. But once upon a time, the iconic snake and the "Join or Die" motto not only called for "union" (hence the association with the 21st Century soccer team...get it?) but for core principles like free speech.
But exercising your 1st Amendment rights at the Union's partially taxpayer-backed soccer palace in Chester is complicated, as a few disenchanted fans learned during the team's last home game of the 2014 season on Saturday night, when the boys in blue didn't quite salvage a hugely disappointing season with a 2-1 win over defending Major League Soccer champions Sporting Kansas City.
As noted here last week, the Union missed the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 seasons and a growing number of fans -- rightly, in my biased opinion -- blame the bizarre personnel moves of the teams' founding CEO (and a part owner), Nick Sakiewicz. So much so that several fans in the River End -- home to the way-beyond-fanatical supporters' group the Sons of Ben -- brought homemade banners to show their displeasure.
It's no secret that things haven't always gone smoothly for Gov. Corbett in his effort to woo minority voters in Pennsylvania. Most famously, the one-term GOP governor -- who's in the fight of his life for re-election -- last year told editors of Philadelphia-based Al Dia at a roundtable that he didn't have any Latinos in his cabinet, adding: "If you can find us one, please let us know."
Now, according to a report going viral tonight on social media, Corbett's re-election campaign found an African-American woman to stand next to the governor on his website photos.
Not an actual woman. According to Buzzfeed, the black woman who gazes at Corbett was Photoshopped from a stock picture.
Here's the backstory: The Philadelphia School District -- in turmoil over its budget woes and last week's vote by the School Reform Commission to cancel its labor contract with teachers -- thought it could be a good idea for a "parent appreciation" event that featured a teacher-union-bashing movie called "Won't Back Down." Subtle, huh? (Also, arguably the worst abuse of a Tom Petty song ever...but I digress.) One of the sponsors was Comcast Internet Essentials -- whose parent has a complicated history with ed reform.
So about a dozen activists from the Philadelphia Student Union showed up last night to shut that thing down. Not only did they pull it off, but they infuriated an SRC member (who, in a remarkable coincidence, works for Comcast) at the event, Sylvia Simms. She's captured on video (watch it below) yelling at the protesters, but her words are inaudible. Students claim they she screamed that the demonstrators go to "failing schools" (how's that for a loaded statement?) and that they should go to jail.
UPDATE: Simms told the Inquirer today that students mischaracterized her remarks, although it's still not clear exactly what was said. "It wasn't like that," she said told the paper. "I've noticed we have a lot of failing schools. It's my job to try to fix as many schools as I can."
Philadelphia spends millions of dollars to tell the world -- tourists, young entrepreneurs, expansion-minded CEOs -- why they should come here. And they make a pretty good case -- a bustling Center City and a growing roster of hip neighborhoods, one of the best restaurant scenes in America, arts and culture, Fairmount Park and the ever-expanding Schuylkill Trail, world-class universities, winning sports teams, all at a cheaper cost of living than New York, D.C. or Boston.
Unfortunately, when you sell Philly to the outside world, you a) gotta take the bad with the good and b) remember that, especially in this corner of the globe, no other media outlet has more influence than The New York Times. And when readers picked up (or clicked on) the Times this morning, they saw kids running across cracked asphalt on a faded school yard. In Philadelphia.
As they say in those omnipresent ads....XOXO?