Sunday, September 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Sunday, September 14, 2014, 5:38 PM
The week gets off to a sad start with news that Tony Auth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former Inquirer editorial cartoonist who more recently worked at WHYY's Newsworks, has died of cancer at age 72. If ever there was a journalist who fought for truth, justice and the American way, it was Tony. But what really made him an inspiration to me and to so many others was that he consistently expressed what he thought was right -- not the viewpoint that would be the easiest or the most popular, and he spoke uncomfortable truths to people in power. His passing would have been a huge loss at any time...but the American conversation really could have used his wisdom in these muddled times. Rest in peace.
Will Bunch @ 5:38 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 5:24 PM

Like a lot of 50-something guys, I totally forgot about my anniversary the other day...and it was a round-numbered one, the 10th anniversary of becoming a blogger!

It's unimportant trivia but in the summer of 2004 there was a perfect storm of events -- I was looking for a new way to express myself, while the much-higher-ups at our then-owner (heh) Knight-Ridder were urging their newspapers to do more with this Internet thingee. Frankly, I don't think the then-regime at the Daily News had any motivation other than shutting up their Knight-Ridder bosses but in August 2004 they approved an "experiment" -- a "Web log" that would only cover the fall 2004 presidential race and be called "Campaign Extra!" because this is the Daily News and we put exclamation points after things!

Like most experiments, it blew up most of the time (although it existed online for years, it's now mostly vanished). The one thing I can remember -- and can proudly restate -- is that I promised in my introductory post that I would be "fair and seriously unbalanced." I think I've lived up to that in every sense of the word.

Will Bunch @ 5:24 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 3:57 PM

I wonder when we're going to get around to destroying -- or at least degrading -- these people:

The country is notorious for its draconian laws, which are derived from a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. In the space of two weeks last month, according to the rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed as many as 22 people. At least eight of those executed were beheaded, U.N. observers say.

It appears that the majority of those executed in August were guilty of nonlethal crimes, including drug trafficking, adultery, apostasy and "sorcery." Four members of one family, Amnesty reports, were beheaded for "receiving drugs."

Will Bunch @ 3:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 7:33 PM

There’s something different about this year’s 13th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America, September 11, 2001. It’s the first one since the May opening of the museum attached to the National September 11 Memorial at the former World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan – an inevitable rite of transition, as the horrific and vivid images from that morning fade into the somewhat foggier haze of history.

Visitors to the museum can see the significant and the trivial reminders of that day – from the wallets of the dead and the dust-encrusted boots of rescue workers to the farewell letter written in Arabic  by some of the al-Qaeda terrorists – but for some the museum’s lasting impression is its assertive and perhaps suffocating security. The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick, in an essay on the museum this summer, wrote of his alarm at watching security guards yelling “Don’t advance” at visitors who seemed to stray from the admission line, and “You there, down!” at children who stood on the concrete benches outside…as children are wont to do.

Wrote Gopnick: “The idea that we celebrate the renewal of our freedom by deploying uniformed guards to prevent children from playing in an outdoor park is not just bizarre in itself but participates in a culture of fear that the rest of the city, having tested, long ago discarded.”

Will Bunch @ 7:33 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 6:27 PM
Roger Goodell's case-by-case handling of his players' legal troubles is problematic. (AP file photo)
To paraphrase the cook on the Edmund Fitzgerald, "Fella, it's been good to know ya." (Actually not really.)
Will Bunch @ 6:27 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 3:12 PM

Homework assignment: Read this absolutely essential article in the Guardian by Trevor Timm -- I'll have some more to add later tonight. Here's an excerpt:

How many people wake up and ask themselves, “I wonder what Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger think about Isis?” Outside of a few TV bookers, absolutely no one does – but with war on the horizon, the nation’s most awful surviving warmongers get to go back on the television circuit and address members of Congress, explaining that, if we just drop a few more bombs, it’ll actually work this time! (Unlike all the other times.)

Thanks to this wall-to-wall fear mongering, a once war-weary public is now terrified. More than 60% of the public in a recent CNN poll now supports airstrikes against Isis. Two more polls came out on Tuesday, one from the Washington Post and the other from NBC New and the Wall Street Journal, essentially concluding the same thing. Most shocking, 71% think that Isis has terrorist sleeper cells in the United States, against all evidence to the contrary.

Will Bunch @ 3:12 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 9:43 PM
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 3: Traffic is light in front of the now closed Revel Casino on September 3, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. More than 5,000 employees at the Showboat and Revel Casinos lost their jobs as both places closed this weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Four of the twelve casinos with which Atlantic City started the year will have closed by the middle of September, putting almost 8,000 people total out of work. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis (Getty Images)

Let's be clear: There's only one person to blame for Ray Rice's firing from the Baltimore Ravens and his suspension from the NFL -- and that's Rice and his violent, reprehensible violence toward his future wife. But you have to wonder if the abysmal state of Atlantic City -- and New Jersey's bass-ackwards "economic development" policies -- played a tiny role in triggering the chain of events that caused Rice to bump ISIS terrorists off America's tabloid front pages.

How so?

Well, one angle that's failed to get a lot of focus on this whole sordid matter is how did TMZ Sports (Really? That's a thing?) even get the video? And why now, and not during the initial media frenzy earlier this year over how Janay Rice came to be knocked unconscious in an AC elevator? We don't know -- there's always a possibility that someone in local law-enforcement who was disgusted with Rice's legal wrist-slap punishment leaked it, or maybe a whistle-blower within the NFL, although the NFL has denied six ways to Any Given Sunday that it saw the footage before it was on TMZ.

Will Bunch @ 9:43 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 5:27 PM

You could say this was the best of times and the worst of times for journalism in Philadelphia -- which would be an embarrassingly trite cliche, so I guess you can file this sentence in the "worst of times" category. Anyway, I don't need to tell about the rest of the worst -- you probably know most it, and I'd get in trouble if I told you the stuff you don't know about. So what's the good news? Well, for one thing, the fast-shifting media environment has meant some good reporting over the last few years from startups like WHHY's Newsworks and the already departed AxisPhilly, with more creative disruption promised by the launching BillyPenn.com. among others.

But more importantly, we forget that -- amid the doom and gloom -- some of the best writing in the long history of Philadelphia has happened here in the last few decades, some of it in the last couple of years. Some of that work has been justly celebrated -- you know all about my friends and colleagues Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman here at the Daily News, who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the corruption on the Philadelphia police force that the Establishment will still go to any length to keep covered up. But a lot of riveting storytelling -- "longform," or "long reads" as the kids like to call it -- doesn't get the glory it deserves.

A new website is trying to change that. It's called Longform Philly (here's its Twitter feed) and it's a great way to kill. um, several hours . Some of the writers over at Tommy Rowan's new joint are pretty well known -- Mark Bowden, some guy named Bissinger, and you could also check out my favorite "lede" (journalismese for "the beginning") by the late great Richard Ben Cramer of the Inquirer. Even better, some of the cool stuff that my Daily News colleagues have done both recently and in the past -- Jason Nark with a touching tale of fatherhood, David Lee Preston on his mom, a Holocaust survivor, and Stephanie Farr's own, personal Philly Jesus -- gets its due.

Will Bunch @ 5:27 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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