Thursday, November 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2014, 9:06 PM
President Barack Obama speaks during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Bourg, Pool)

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.


Will Bunch @ 9:06 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2014, 3:58 PM
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is following his father, who had a mayoral run of his own in 1971. "He shook up the world," Williams said when announcing his own candidacy.

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.

His report was not encouraging:

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.

Will Bunch @ 3:58 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 7:56 PM
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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.

Will Bunch @ 7:56 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 6:16 PM
RIP to one of the great soul voices of our lifetime, Jimmy Ruffin:
Will Bunch @ 6:16 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 9:00 PM
Philadelphia's second casino license was awarded to Live! Hotel & Casino. (Rendering by Darien St Perspective)

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.

Will Bunch @ 9:00 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 17, 2014, 7:17 PM
Demonstrators protest outside the Ferguson police department on October 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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.

Will Bunch @ 7:17 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 17, 2014, 3:50 PM
Michael Grant, 28, aka "Philly Jesus" was arrested Friday. (Instagram)

I know, I know, it's too easy (and someone on Twitter already said this...I already forget whom) but the city that booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus has now arrested Jesus. You could see this coming, though, when they started cracking down on Elmo and his friends over on Sesame Street.

Is there a serious point here? Maybe. "Philly Jesus" was arrested for asking folks for money in taking a picture with them...soliiciting. Perhaps they could have just simply told him to knock it off? Do we arrest too many people in this country? I have a hunch we'll find out, for better or worse, this week.

Will Bunch @ 3:50 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, November 16, 2014, 8:03 PM
Jonathan Gruber of MIT.

It turns out Kim Kardashian may not have been the biggest, um, hindquarters in the news this past week. Unless you live in a cave somewhere If you watch a lot of Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh, you've surely heard the case of Jonathan Gruber the world's most famous celebrity health care expert some guy who teaches at MIT and apparently did such a good job advising Mitt Romney on his successful government Romneycare that they asked him for input on Obamacare, too.

This week. video surfaced of Gruber -- who should be called MacGruber, since he seems to be skilled at blowing himself up -- speaking at an academic conference here in Philadelphia last year. We learned some important things when the video went viral. First of all, apparently you can be a moron and still get a teaching job at MIT. The key soundbite was that  Gruber said that "the stupidity of the American voter" helped the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, become law in 2010. This was, in his opinion, because voters didn't understand that healthy young enrollees would be partially propping up the expansion of health insurance to millions of Americans. He also suggested that the Congressional Budget Office didn't understand the plan well enough to score the personal coverage mandate properly, as a tax.

This is what drives me crazy about the right-wing outrage machine and its constant focus on gaffes. (Liberals, for all their many flaws, focus a lot more on "gaffes" like invading Iraq for no reason or blowing up the world economy in 2008, but I digress...). In this case, though, there could actually be some substance behind the gaffe -- we'll talk about that in a minute. But the real "news" here is still just a gaffe, which may explain why a lot of mainstream news outlets have offered little or no coverage, infuriating conservatives.

Will Bunch @ 8:03 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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