You've got to hand it to Republicans and their enablers in the right-wing media like Fox News. Inspired by the words of Vince Lombardi, they know that in politics that winning isn't everything, it's the only thing...and the GOP and its 19th Century ideas can't win unless YOU don't vote. Of course, when I say "you," I mean people under 30, blacks, gays, Latinos, Asians, women, and college-educated professionals. You know, the folks who showed up in big numbers in 2008 and 2012 to elect Barack Obama...but pretty much sat on their rear ends in 2010 when older, white, middle-class voters threw a giant Tea Party at their local polling places.
The right wing thought it had an answer with voter ID laws, since the record showed that, in an amazing coincidence, the people less likely to have a valid ID card were members of those same groups that have voted Democratic -- especially minorities and the young. (In Texas, where everything is bigger, including the bias, a gun permit is valid for voting...but not a college ID card.) But that doesn't cover everyone on the list. What about young single women? -- many of them driver's licenses! So what can be done to keep them from the polls? Well, you can always just ask them to stay home.
I give you Fox News' Kimberly Guifoyle:
...and read the Daily News' massive, in-depth report on the ups and downs of Philadelphia's gentrification in the 21st Century. It a big project that only a (somewhat) big newsroom with big ambitions and big talent can pull off, and they did it, with a lot of help from the paper's editor Michael Days and especially from recent Daily News returnee Yvette Ousley, one of the most Philadelphia-y Philadelphians you could ever meet.
It's take people who know Philadelphia to know that gentrification is a classic case of opportunity...and crisis. I think most of us would agree that it's a better "problem" to have than what the city was facing in the '70s, '80s and early '90s -- decay and a steady flight of residents. But making the city a better place isn't a matter of just bringing in new folks and kicking out the ones who've been there for decades. To the contrary, new townhouses and gastropubs don't mean jack-doodlely-squat if we don't provide real opportunities -- economic, educational, and otherwise -- for the longtime residents who have been the heart and soul of this city. But do this right -- and it will be that rare moment when a rising tide really did lift all boats.
It's been just 24 hours since journalism's Ben Bradlee -- one of the handful of folks in our lifetime you wouldn't feel awkward describing as a "legend" -- passed away at the age of 93, and the streaming torrent of obituaries, tributes and first-person remembrances continues to flood the Internet. Actually, it's safe to assume that a fair number of folks who are under the age of 40 and who aren't in the media business don't even know who Bradlee was -- he retired as executive editor as the Washington Post in 1991...not only before wide use of the Web but before hardly anyone outside of Arkansas had heard of Bill or Hillary Clinton. In other words, a long time ago.
But for us folks of a certain age, Bradlee is a perfect storm of remembrance -- inextricably linked to one of the biggest stories of modern times (Watergate), played in an Oscar-winning role (by Jason Robards) in "all The President's Men," confidant to a glamorous president (JFK) and taker-down of a crooked one (Nixon), and an icon of the glory years of a now faded industry (newspapers). For the Beltway insiders who populate cable shows like MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Bradlee's passing was a kind of a cultural Pearl Harbor-type event.
In a way, I thought the obituary outpouring underscored several long-held beliefs about newspapers and the people who run them. In more than 30 years in the business, I've worked under a relatively small numbers of top editors (less than a dozen) and while their styles varied dramatically, from the gruff and the profane to the surprisingly low-key, each shared one thing: They conveyed something of an air of mystery to their underlings. Everywhere I've worked, the rank-and-file reporters knew the top editor worked hard, but no one really knew what the heck he (and unfortunately, it's always been a "he") did all day. The Bradlee remembrances are more of the same -- leaving his office a couple of times a day to walk across the newsroom, inspiring and sometimes frightening his lowly minions, then disappearing into a glass office again to do God knows what. It was no surprise that in the breaking news reports last night, I saw more clips of Jason Robards playing Bradlee than I saw of Bradlee.
There's a great scene in "Seinfeld" -- OK, there's a lot of those, but I'm talking about the one where Jerry reserves a mid-sized car at the airport rental agency, only to be told that they're out of cars. Jerry notes that having a car ready is the entire point of the reservation.
Agent: "I know why we have reservations."
Jerry: "I don't think you do..."
In the same vein, I have to wonder if the Chinese Communist Party understands "why we have Communism." The folks that are currently running protest-wracked Hong Kong on behalf of China's corrupt totalitarian regime have casually admitted that while the workers may control the means of production, etc., etc. when it comes to power of the rich oligarchs in modern Chinese society, the masses won't be losing their chains anytime in the near future:
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.