Sunday, February 14, 2016

POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2015, 7:48 PM

This has been a pretty bad week for the world -- and, much less importantly, CNN. From doing everything it can to whip Americans into a frenzy about any terror threat that it can find -- no matter how vague -- to asking the mayor of a U.S. town with a large Muslim population if she's "afraid," to stenographically reporting the outrageously provocative and utter false utterings of one Donald J. Trump, "the most trusted name in news" has done everything possible to abuse any trust it actually had.

Of its many recent crimes and misdemeanors, two things jump out. Today. after Trump launched a blizzard of offensive and blatantly dishonest statements or Twitter posts -- including a bizarre claim that he saw "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks and (I swear I'm not making this up) retweeting bogus crime statistics intended to make blacks look bad that may even trace back to an admirer of Adolf Hitler -- CNN knew it had to do something. But terrified of using the "L" word about the man who has been pure ratings gold for CNN, the piece asked merely, "Does Donald Trump transcend the truth?"

First of all, that's not even the proper use of the's like they're wondering if Trump is so amazing that he goes beyond the truth. Second of all, the short-fingered vulgarian does not "transcend" the truth. He is out and out LYING! It's really not that hard to say.

POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2015, 7:09 PM
Adolf Hitler

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in The History Place. Please read the entire article here. Most importantly, please click on the hyperlinks for some very important background and context:

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis waged a modern whirlwind campaign in 1930 unlike anything ever seen in Germany. Hitler traveled the country delivering dozens of major speeches, attending meetings, shaking hands, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and even kissing babies.

Joseph Goebbels brilliantly organized thousands of meetings, torchlight parades, plastered posters everywhere and printed millions of special edition Nazi newspapers.

POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 7:12 PM
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivers a speech on "Democratic Socialism in America" to students at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall in Washington on Nov. 19, 2015. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

First, quickly, some exciting news. My major project -- the one that caused me to be absent for much of October -- is quickly coming to fruition. It's an Amazon Kindle Single (i.e., a short, reasonable priced e-book, published by and sold through these that I wrote in 2011 and 2013) on the life of -- and life on the 2016 campaign trail chasing after -- Bernie Sanders. This e-book (tentatively titled, as of today, "The Bern Identity") should be out in less than two weeks. It's part interpretive bio, part what passes for gonzo fear-and-loathing style reporting on the '16  race from Manassas to Burlington and all the way to Vegas, baby. But at heart it's simply an effort to answer a question: How did one man -- who was radicalized by all the lies and hypocrisy he encountered growing up in the late '50s and early '60 -- stay true to that vision...while everyone else around him dropped out, sold out, or just plain gave up?

One of the many things I learned was the story of how he came to reject both the Republican and Democratic parties as a young man. It happened during one of the most iconic moments in 20th Century U.S. politics, the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 -- a turning point for both the newish medium of television and the way we elect our presidents. To many, it was the start of a shining moment for liberalism that came to be called "Camelot" -- but 19-year-old Bernard (as most folks called him then) Sanders, watching in the lounge of his University of Chicago dorm, saw it differently. He'd say later he was physically nauseated by both the hawkishness of Kennedy and the dishonesty of Nixon, who took a more moderate line on Fidel Castro's Cuba even as he was involved in planning for the Bay of Pigs.

Soon, Sanders joined the campus chapter of the Young People's Socialist League, the so-called "Yipsels" -- at the same time that he was becoming a leader in protests against racial discrimination in housing and public schools. For someone with the kind of political ambitions that the future U.S. senator clearly harbored, a "socialist" tag might be the kind of past he'd try to whitewash later in life -- especially since more Americans have said in polls that they'd vote for a Muslim or an atheist for president than said they'd vote for a 'socialist." Those who once harbored more radical ideas in the late 1960s or '70 who are still in politics are more likely to have become Wall Street-friendly raging moderates. (Cough, Hillary, cough cough.) But that's not away the head-down, pounding endurance route of Bernie Sanders, one of Brooklyn's top cross-country runners in the late 1950s, He's that rare politician determined to convince you of his vision -- even if it takes his entire lifetime! -- rather than pander to what he thinks you want him to say.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 4:33 PM
In this Nov. 13, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a town hall event at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

In 2003, a two-star Army major general, Robert Dees, retired after a decorated 41-year career as a soldier in which he became a top officer in the legendary 101st Airborne Division and served as commander of a combined U.S.-Israeli missile defense force.

In the 12 years since, Dees has committed himself to his new crusades  -- making the U.S. military and the fighting forces of its global allies into missionaries for his deeply held Christian faith, and speaking out against the threat to America posed by a rival religion, Islam.

Currently the director of the Institute for Military Resilience at the Christian fundamentalist Liberty University, founded by the late evangelist Jerry Falwell, Dees -- as reported by James Bamford in a recent expose in Foreign Policy -- argued in a 2005 newsletter that the U.S. military may be the best way of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the broader American public. He said "the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens."

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 6:04 PM
Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

It's been a long, sad week -- and so we're just catching up with some old business. Like the most recent Democratic debate, which took place on a Saturday night -- the black hole of American television -- as part of the party bosses' strategy to make sure that any challengers to Hillary Clinton get as little public exposure as possible. So if you're Sen. Bernie Sanders, you have to say something pretty controversial to break through, especially on a weekend when the media is (justifiably) covering the Paris attacks 24/7.

As you might expect, the democratic socialist from Vermont did not disappoint:

[CBS NEWS MODERATOR JOHN] DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?

POSTED: Monday, November 16, 2015, 9:59 PM

I don't see eye-to-eye with Pennsylvania's new governor, Tom Wolf, on every matter, but he's done some good things since taking office in January -- none better than what he just did this afternoon:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, pledged to welcome Syrians approved by the federal government's stringent process.

Gov. Wolf wants Pennsylvania to continue to build on its rich history of accepting immigrants and refugees from around the world, but he is also committed to protecting Pennsylvanians and will work with the federal government to ensure it is taking every precaution necessary in screening those families coming into the country,” Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said in a statement.

POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2015, 7:18 PM
A girl holds a candle in memory of victims of the Paris attacks, in the coastal town of Limassol, Cyprus November 15, 2015. (REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou)

The heartbreaking news on Friday night managed to be both shocking and numbingly familiar at the same time: A massive terrorist attack in the streets and against public venues in Paris, carried out by seven or eight vile thugs from the terrorist group ISIS, armed with automatic weapons and twisted ideas about God and humankind. Their  tactics vary from New York to Madrid to London and elsewhere, and the casualty numbers rise or fall, but this Paris attack, with 129 dead and many more wounded, was especially barbaric. The 21st Century rituals of terror, however, from the candlelight vigils to our leaders' immediate but vague promises of revenge, always remain the same, painfullly so.

In the initial fog of savagery, it's hard to know what to say, other than to express our deep, deep sorrow for all those who lost loved ones, and our limitless love for, and solidarity with, the people of Paris. In the darkness of such a moment, we have to unleash the light of the billions who love humanity and who abhor the use of violence, the forces that affirm life.

The scenes that were disrupted on Friday by these thugs -- watching a rock concert, entering a big soccer game, or just dining out in an ethnic restaurant -- could have been happening here in Philadelphia or Bangkok or Peoria. It's why we say Nous Sommes Tous Les Parisiens -- "today we are all Parisians," bonded in the universal blood of hope and fear.

POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2015, 6:11 PM
Aerial view of a Marcellus Shale drilling operation near Waynesburg, Pa. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)

So in what's been a pretty hectic week so far, as the world counts down to the arrival of red Starbucks coffee cups and the end of Western civilization as we've come to know it, Gov. Wolf and Pennsylvania lawmakers kind of sneaked in a budget deal. And there's definitely some good things in there, including a significant increase in the amount of money for schools. And here's the best part of this tentative framework for a budget -- everybody's paying his or her fair share!

Haha, for a second there I had you going, didn't I? Are you new to the Keystone State or something? Of course everybody isn't paying his or her fair share. Big Oil and Gas is getting another Get-Out-of-Taxes-Free Card. The rest of us? We're getting fracked. Again.

First of all, here's the deal, with the "best" parts highlighted in bold:

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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