Month: April 2008

Should you find yourself at home tonight…

take a moment to check out Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.
His guest is the most talked about man of the cloth since Jim Bakker, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. After weeks and weeks of having everything from his connection to Barack Obama to his patriotism speculated on, he’s going to have his say.
And I must commend him on the journalist that he’s about to say it to.
I go to a lot of journalism conferences and, to be honest, I’m impressed by very few people. I see the Stuart Scotts, Anderson Coopers, and Al Rokers of the world and while I appreciate their talents, they don’t impress me.
Now Bill Moyers, he, like the Newshour’s Ray Suarez and Gwen Ifill, and Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, impresses me.
He doesn’t care what you think about the information he’s presenting. He just cares that you got the information. Unlike most journalists these days, he doesn’t let corporate titans, government big-wigs, or anyone else keep him from the truth.
That’s why I’m glad that Rev. Wright chose to go on his program. While he’s going to get asked some tough questions, I know deep down that they’ll also be fair. Moyers does his homework.
That’s why he and Suarez, are the only journalists of whom I have an autographed picture.
If you’re in Philly, you can check out Bill Moyers Journal at 9 p.m. on WHYY-TV12. If you don’t live here, go to for more information.
Also, let me know what you thought of the interview. I’d really be interested.

A poem from The Nation

I was doing my normal post-work online reading when I came across this poem.
What I love about Calvin Trillin is that he expresses what I feel, but don’t have the talent to put in poetic form.
I’m guessing that this is in honor of all of the folks in Pennsylvania’s Alabama section who believe that the deciding factor in choosing a presidential candidate is whether or not a flag pin is being displayed in plain sight. What cracks me up the most about this is that these are the same people who don’t have health insurance, don’t have a job because the steel mill closed, and are about to not have a home because the predatory lender that gave them their mortgage is coming to foreclose any minute.

Patriotism, 2008
Calvin Trillin
I backed the war in Nam OK, Though I used pull to stay away. A patriot? But can’t you tell? I wear a flag on my lapel.
My company’s now based offshore; We don’t pay taxes anymore. A patriot? But can’t you tell? I wear a flag on my lapel.
That clean air stuff’s not meant for me. I drive a German SUV. A patriot? But can’t you tell? I wear a flag on my lapel.
We needn’t build a grand memorial To patriots. It’s all sartorial.

The circus….

that was the Pennsylvania Primary has left Philadelphia, and is headed toward Indiana and North Carolina.
That’s good. Better them than us.
I enjoyed Pennsylvania’s moment in the sun as much as the next person, but I’m so over it now. There were too many “gotcha” questions. Too many signs. Too much he said/she said.
But not enough questions asked like “Both of your health care plans appear to be fiscally irresponsible when you consider our current deficit. Do you have a plan B or if not, what program is on the chopping block? HUD? Homeland Security?”
But that said, there’s a lot of stuff that was instructive about that six-week long slog. Such as……
(a) We media types haven’t learned a damned thing from the 2000 Presidential Election. Those that called the race for Hillary Clinton with one percent of the vote in got really lucky. If Philly and the suburbs had really come out for Barack Obama, we’d have seen some “Dewey Defeats Truman” style headlines in the papers this morning. I think that there should be some rule that says that you can’t call the election until at least 20 percent of the vote is in. That’s a slightly more accurate picture.
(b) Anyone that thought that Clinton was going to drop out of the race depending on how Pennsylvania went for her needs to send me what they’re smoking because it’s obviously some good shit.
She wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what the voters said. The reason: It’s no longer about winning the popular vote and getting the nomination in the conventional way. I think that she knows that route is impossible. The idea now is to make Obama appear so unelectable that when she pulls the pin on the superdelegate grenade, she can do so with a clear conscience.
So if you have any friends in Indiana or North Carolina, tell them to expect this kind of stuff instead of actual issue discussions.
(c) It doesn’t matter if you’re a biracial child, have a degree from Harvard, and can hold a crowd with your voice. In America, if you look black, you are black. Now don’t get me wrong. I give all kinds of props to Obama for attempting the whole post-racial campaign thing. But you’re dealing with people who have no understanding of the Black Church, liberation theology, or even the fact that the only things that you can hunt with an AK-47 are people. That’s a battle that you’re going to lose every time.
Like I keep telling folks, the story isn’t that Obama lost. It’s that he, as a black man running for statewide office in Pennsylvania, came within 10 points. (or nine if you’re talking to the Associated Press.)
(d) “Street Money” is an anachronism that seems to only exist in Philadelphia. You can’t get around it. This city resists change like few places do. If you get the nomination Sen. Obama, you might want to remember that. You can say that you won’t pay it, but the college kids may have finals in November. I’m just sayin’…
(e) There needs to be more diversity in political coverage, period. Sure, you get the occasional Black, Latino, Asian, Native American gay or female pundit. But they’re only brought on to talk about their individual community or issue. There should be more diversity in the day-to-day coverage of these campaigns.
I think that most so-called minority journalists are intelligent enough to talk or write about anything placed in front of them. Hell, if someone had brought me on to talk about the primary, I could have told them point blank that Obama had a snowball’s chance in hell in Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania, and parts of the five-county Philadelphia region because of those municipalities’s attitudes toward people of color.
For example, I worked in a newsroom in Bucks County where the word “nigger” was tossed out in the same way that someone would say “pass the salt” despite the executive editor’s best efforts. And don’t get me started on the fact that a friend of mine got literally run out of Berks County for daring to enforce the nation’s fair housing laws.
In other words, “bitter” was the tip of the freakin’ iceberg.
But now, everyone is gone, and it’s all over.
While the Pennsylvania Primary was a pain in the ass, it did have some good moments. I got to see some journalists that I only see on television. I have more notepads, and free Tastykakes than anyone ought to. I got to hang out with one of my favorite journalists during the debate. And I also got to help one of the students here at Temple get her first professional journalistic clip. (I love being a professor!)
The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been a chance to see Jon Stewart up close. He’s a cutie! I’ve always had this thing for handsome, smart-assed, Jewish men.

Since I’ve been blogging here…

I’ve had friends of mine call me regarding the results of the Pennsylvania Primary. Some of them are pretty heartbroken because they’re Obama partisans and were hoping that he’d bring Clinton down for once and for all.
First of all, no matter what happened tonight, Clinton wasn’t dropping out of the presidential race. Girlfriend is committed to staying in until the bitter end. Even though Obama has raised his delegate total by another 65 delegates, meaning that she hasn’t gained much with the 75 she’s picked up, Clinton isn’t going anywhere.
Second of all, let’s face it. Pennsylvania is a Hillary state. It’s filled with white, blue collar folks. Despite not actually having lived in Scranton for years and having attended not only one of the Seven Sisters schools but also an Ivy, she can at least pretend that she speaks their language.
And thirdly, and this is most important, you should have known what was going to happen because Ed Rendell all but guaranteed it. He said six weeks ago that there were Pennsylvanians that wouldn’t vote for a black man, even one with a white mom.
Everyone got in Ed’s ass when he said it, but not because he was wrong, but because he was telling a secret that everyone knew anyway. Having lived in Pennsylvania’s Alabama section for nearly three years and watched as a friend of mine got run out of town for trying to enforce the federal fair housing laws, I can safely say that Ed was being kind.
Although, I can also say that it’s a good thing he’s not running for reelection.
I’ll have a good postmortem of the primary for you tomorrow. I’m going home to try and get some sleep now.

It’s now official…

Farnese won.
Johnson won.
Payton won.
I’ve been saying to folks for a minute that last year’s Democratic Mayoral Primary here in Philadelphia was going to have an impact that would be felt for a long time. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the chair of the Democratic City Committee, ran in the primary and came in third.
I predicted that although he was still chair of the party, the attempt to be mayor would weaken him if he lost.
It did.
None of these guys had the party backing.
All of them won.
Looks like Mayor Michael Nutter inadvertently created some kind of monster.

Some more media stuff

I’m going to put more on this in my Out and About column for the Philadelphia Public Record.
But I have to say that I’ve been more than a little disappointed with the media coverage of the Pennsylvania Primary.
In fact, let me expand that to include the whole presidential race.
The job of journalists, or at least how it was always taught to me, is to go out, get the news, present it, and allow the public to decide what it believes or doesn’t believe.
Instead of journalists doing that, they have instead been deciding who the front runner is, who should step out of the race, whether or not a candidate should be harshly questioned for the general election, and what non-issues to harp on.
In other words, the Fourth Estate has treated this more like a WWE contest than a contest to decide who gets to clean up the mess left by the last person that was allowed to skate into the presidency because the media focused more on manufactured issues than on real ones, you know, like that little altercation we’re in in Iraq.
But the Associated Press Managing Editors gave John McCain a standing ovation when he spoke to their group last week.
Why do I get the feeling that I’m going to be working overtime on this blog come the general election?

With 42 percent of the precincts in…

Hillary Clinton has a 10 point lead over Barack Obama.
After looking at where that margin of victory is coming from, it makes total sense.
I mean, her husband’s campaign manager said it best: “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”
Alabama is coming up big. But like I said, it’s supposed to. If Clinton didn’t win those counties, the world as we know it would have come to a sudden and violent end.
But now, with other precincts coming in, it’s back down to a six point margin, which if nothing else proves that this blog is going to be changing with every passing second.
If you get info that I don’t have, post it and I’ll check it out. Let’s get interactive!!!

Sure, everyone’s looking at the national races…

but we’ve got some local contests that bear watching as well.
In the First District Senate Race, it appears that Larry Farnese, a friend of the incumbent (and indicted) State Senator Vincent Fumo is going to upset John Dougherty, the business manager for Electricians Local 98. This race was Dougherty’s to lose according to some observers, and it looks as if he’s done just that.
Meanwhile, in another upset, Incumbent State Rep. Harold James is losing to Kenyatta Johnson, a community activist who used to work for State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
And last but not least, despite the best efforts of the ward leaders in his district, Tony Payton has managed to keep his State Representative seat. With 76 percent of the vote in, Payton is beating Guy Lewis, his challenger 63 percent to 37 percent.
More in a moment…

It’s 9:30 pm. and…

It’s a six-point margin with 18 percent of the precincts in.
In order for it to be the kind of victory that would justify Howard Dean’s not telling Hillary Clinton to call it a day, it has to be a double digit victory.
I don’t know if Philly and the suburbs have had their say yet, but I think it’s pretty premature to call an election with so few of the precincts in. In fact, it’s pretty irresponsible.
I’ll keep you posted.