Archive: June, 2011
Bruce is Bruce, but let's be honest: There is no E Street Band without Clarence Clemons, which is why the news that Springsteen's longtime sax man has suffered a stroke is so devastating to their fans around the world. The relationship between Bruce and Clarence is a loving and complicated one -- like so many in life -- and what they brought together to the stage is why people like me who don't attend too many other concerts have felt compelled to see the E Streeters every time they pass through town.
So while we're waiting on a miracle of recovery, here's the Big Man and some of his most famous work, the solo from "Jungleland":
This strikes me as the nicest thing anyone has said about Tom Corbett in the last six months -- that he's not Scott Walker. Amazingly, the speaker did not mean it as a compliment, however:
FreedomWorks is collaborating with local activists to push the governor to act more forcefully on voucher legislation. It was introduced into the GOP-controlled Senate as the first bill this year, but the schools legislation has now stalled. The conservative group is frustrated that Corbett -– who talked about school choice in his inauguration speech -– is not cracking skulls to pass controversial bills like Govs. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) have done in their states.
Another decline and fall of the American empire piece -- better than most:
The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence.
Empires decline for many different reasons but certain factors recur. There is an initial reluctance to admit that there is much to fret about, and there is the arrival of a challenger (or several challengers) to the settled international order. In Spain's case, the rival was Britain. In Britain's case, it was America. In America's case, the threat comes from China.
Typical liberals -- the Phillies' management actually believed that the road to prosperity was to spend, spend, spend. They claimed they could lower the losing rate to under 33 percent if we just threw $150 million at "mound-ready" Cliff Lee. Do you know how many wins that "stimulus package" has created so far. Three. That's right -- $40 million for every win created. And now the losing rate is going up instead of down.
How's that hopey-changey thing workin' out for ya, Mr. Montgomery?
It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs.
This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.
Anyone who's wondering why there's resistance to jacking up taxes for the Philadelphia schools ought to read this eye-opening post about superintendent Arlene Ackerman by my friend and ex-colleague Dave Davies, now over at WHYY. The big question is which is more appalling.
One thing that's very frustrating for a journalist in Philadelphia is the general lack of civic outrage. Some 14 years ago, I wrote an article that led to criminal charges against the campaign manager for a would-be (until the story came out) mayoral frontrunner; the aide never even went to trial because Ed Rendell and Bob Brady testified for her as character witnesses. Remember the hoopla a few years back about state lawmakers and their midnight pay raise? In Pittsburgh, they were carrying torches and pitchforks; in Philly, it was like, "eh."
Yesterday, thanks to the general manpower crunch here at the Daily News, I was drafted back into service for a day covering City Hall -- specifically, Mayor Nutter waiting until right after an election to inform Philadelphians about his scheme to bail out Arlene Ackerman with taxes on sugared soda (thank God I drink diet!), real estate, and higher parking meter rates (which were just raised already, if I'm not mistaken).
I had the weirdest experience today -- I was pulling into the parking garage here at the paper and listening to the top-of-the-hour news on NPR (does that surprise you?) when I heard a short soundbite from Mitt Romney's presidential announcement today.
"Oh my God," I thought. "It's Ronald Reagan." The cadence and inflection of his words sounded as if Romney had spent the last four years in front of a tape recorder, learning to mimic the Gipper's every little verbal tic. I thought he might conclude by saying, "I'm paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!," or "we begin bombing in five minutes."