Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo Journal: Nativity Scenes of Wilkes-Barre

(Above) From Chapel of Christ the King, King's College, PA.

Close-up of creche at King's College.

Manger Scene at Public Square. Donated by the people of St. Mary's Church of the Maternity, located nearby at 40 Park Ave. Wilkes-Barre.

Luzerne County Courthouse.

Regarding the last picture, the photographer noticed only afterward that the baby Jesus is apparently missing. It is possible that he was stolen, or that he may have simply not yet been born. More inquiry will be made into this subject later.

Also, the reason the manger in the last picture is jumbled up by Santa and candy canes behind it is that county officials do not want a lawsuit on their hands, which would likely be by brought by the the ACLU again on behalf of the same person(s) who contacted them last year. Although the scene now looks jumbled, and is now farther away from the corner, it looks cool against the enclosure of the early 20th century court house building.

Update 12-25-10

On Christmas day the baby Jesus was found safe and secure in the manger.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top Ten Worst Christmas Songs

by NuPo music critic

This is a list of the most annoying Christmas songs & renditions of songs, many of which are broadcast by "soft rock" stations in favor of better songs or renditions. Some are used as background music in big box stores. (Sorry if one of your favorites made the list.)

Warning, listening to any of the more accursed songs mentioned below may result in getting them stuck in your head. To get them out, try listening to better Christmas songs or renditions.

* Added in 2012

1. Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who'd be a turkey at Christmas?)*
There really ought to be a law against this song. The singer, Elton John, sounds like a maniacal drunk pervert harassing someone. We fear it will become a radio regular...since the radio always promotes the worst.

2. Santa Baby -When I heard this, I remarked that it sounded like Fran Drescher --the nanny-- composed it. I concluded that a Jewish woman from New York must have written it, because of its NY-Semitical "nyah nyuh nyeh nyih" intonations. It turns out I was partially right; a Jewish man named Fred Ebb from Manhattan wrote this cheeky monstrosity in 1953. Chaim Potok warned us of these sorts of monstrosities.

3. The Man with the Bag*
It all boils down to a "man with a bag"... Reducing things to this level of description is so warm and endearing, and way better than something like Old Saint Nick (sarcasm). There seems to be a sprouting genre of jazzy celebration "Christmas music," and this song belongs to it.++

4. Jingle Bell Rock -This song seems to be the favorite of soft rock stations, and its menacing prevalence is one reason why it tops the list. The reader may also remember this song from the movie "Mean Girls," in which it was used to sexualize Christmas--Christmas of all things! This is a typical rock & roll song, and if Christmas songs had IQ's, this one's would be vegetative-grade.

5. Unknown Title* This song involves the lyric "Sing Noel" and eventually deteriorates further into a sort of "eh eh eh eh sing Noel" that sounds like wretching. Please let me know if you can find the title. Anyway, it's bad because its tune gives the impression of someone singing a song intently without knowing what they're singing about. It implies sincerity without purpose, if that were possible.

6. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree -A soft-rock radio station favorite that provides more evidence for the equation: Rock + Christmas = Fail.

7. Last Christmas I Gave You my Heart
"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart But the very next day, you gave it away." The lamentations of an organ donor's ghost who mourns at seeing his heart rejected by his donee, this is another favorite of soft rock stations, and totally unsatisfying. There's an evil sort Beatlish tinge to it, and its lyrics sort of remind me of the song that goes "I'll do anything for love--but I won't do that."

8. Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells"
This rendition scores highest on the perversion index. A normal rendition of "Carol of the Bells" has an inspiring melody from the traditional Ukrainian song Shedryk and is arguably one of the best Christmas carols when performed by Robert Shaw or anyone willing to sing it normally. There are also decent instrumental versions of it, such as this piano piece. Sadly, T-S Orchestra has set it to a horrid electric guitar--hardly an instrument that is capable of communicating its melody--and most plebeians out there probably think T-S Orchestra originally composed it. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra ought to be exiled to the place of their namesake for bastardizing this dear tune.

9. Mahalia Jackson's Rendition of "What Child is This?"
"What Child is This" is a beautiful song, set to the beautiful melody of "Greensleeves." But somehow Jackson manages to bastardize thoroughly, with her "Whi-ile She-epherds" lyric being totally undesirable. The tune of Greensleeves is the work of centuries of mastery, but Jackson's rendition illustrates how one person can nullify all of it. Thus, this rendition makes this list because of its high score on the perversion index.**

10. All I Want For Christmas is You
Lyrically it's a moot point since slavery is illegal, but the real reason this song makes this list's just too "pop" and too feminist to fit a decent definition of Christmas music.

And now that we've endured mention of these "soft rock" and other depressing tunes & renditions, the reader is commissioned to listen to some good traditional songs which are bound to be better.

Top Ten in 2010
1. Jingle Bell Rock
2. Santa Baby
3. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
4. "Christmas Canon" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
5. Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells"
6. Mahalia Jackson's Rendition of "What Child is This?"
7. Last Christmas I Gave You my Heart
8. Happy Christmas (War is Over)
9. All I Want For Christmas is You
10. Do You Hear What I Hear

**As a side note to #6 on the list, I must inform the reader that in Christmas carols, a singer exists to communicate the music of the song; the song does not exist to communicate the nicety of the singer's voice. Although a nice voice may be pleasant, it should ultimately be subservient to the song in order to effectively communicate the melody, and if Jackson had highlighted the tune "Greensleeves" rather than her own wretched jazzy bellowings, then she may have done a good job. This isn't to say adaptations are always bad, some can even be improvements, but jazzy adaptations are ill-suited for communicating rather unjazzy English airs. A similar episode happened when one opera star tried to sing popular Christmas carols. She sounded bad because the carols were not written to meet the needs of opera singers, and so also, carols are not intended to be sung by wailing jazz singers.

++The main time one hears jazz music as background music in stores is during Christmas. I guess this is some sort of paean to the past, but we're only allowed to go back to the jazz age when Jews such as Irving Berlin were writing Christmas music that didn't mention God or Jesus. It seems we're not allowed to go back farther, to pre-20th century Christian Christmas music, with all its majestic tunes and lyrics which usually concerned the nativity or blessing from God. If only the tunes were allowed to survive as instrumentals. But then again, the

Dishonorable Mentions:

11. Handel's Messiah Rocks "Hallelujah" -A holiday show that shouldn't be, for it perverts with rock & rhythm that which ought to be melody. The syncopated beat is a terrible perversion the original Hallelujah. This rock rendition proves that it is easy to tear things down and to pervert what is good.

12. Happy Christmas (War is Over)
This one was actually composed by a Beatle--John Lenon. There's a sort of straining quality to it that is too self-centered for a celebration that is supposed to be either festive or holy. McCartney's blasé "Wonderful Christmastime" was also considered for this list, but was found to be too light-hearted and not disturbing enough to make it.

13. Do You Hear What I Hear?
I wish I didn't. Composed in the early 60's, although it seems it could be from earlier, the chorus of this song is weird. It just tastes bad musically, sort of like some art does visually.

14. In Dulci Jubilo (aka Good Christian Men Rejoice)-This song is by no means malevolent to the idea of Christmas, like many in the top ten, but it is uninspiring and doesn't fit in with any good old carols. The tune is just kind of awkward.

15. "Christmas Canon" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
This is the first [now second after re-ranking] appearance of this horrible group on this list. Let it be stated that this song ranks high on the perversion and effeminacy index, and gets stuck in one's head very easily and is difficult to get out. T-S Orchestra composed the part with the lyrics--the effeminate part. Although Pachelbel's Canon--the tune they bastardize--is not traditionally a Christmas carol, T-S Orchestra's devalued rendition of it is frequently played by commercial radio.

16. I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus -I wish you hadn't.

16. Christmas Shoes -If I had heard this song earlier, it may have made the top ten. The corny country lyrics aren't the problem; the problem is its un-moving melody combined with its sappy emotionalism. Also, it sounds particularly horrendous when sung by a choir: avoid hearing a choral rendition of it at all costs.

17. "Hodie Christus Natus Est" by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
This is an older tune, composed at the beginning of the baroque period (late 1500s early 1600s). This song's bumptious first stanza rubs me the wrong way (the "Hodie, hodie, hodie, hodie" part). Yet the rest of the tune is borderline pleasant, sounding very baroque and like one of Bach's compositions. Because a good portion of it is decent, this tune did not make the top ten, but its beginning verse nevertheless warrants the entire tune a dishonorable mention.

Comments on the NFL & NFL Network

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should encourage the banning of women from locker rooms because the players don't like being seen naked by them. I know doing so may be considered non-PC, but it's worth it for the players.

Also, I'm really getting sick of the show-boating by players like DeSean Jackson (pictured below). Think about it, whenever he taunts a defender after scoring a TD, he basically says to him: "that million contract extension isn't going to be yours, and you won't be able to help your (possibly poor) relatives."

I'm also sick of the convulsive seizures payers have after every single play they make.

The Whole Pinkification of the month of October was really annoying. It's one thing to fight for a cause, it's another to be in-your-face about it. The aesthetic devastation caused by the breast cancer racketeering out-weighed any tiny marginal benefits from additional donations garnered by it.

Finally, I applaud the efforts to discourage helmet to helmet hits because a sports game should not entail severe brain damage. One player, I believe it was Steelers WR Hines Ward, said in an interview that the league's crackdown on concussing head to head hits was not about protecting the players but about protecting the NFL's public image since, if the league owners truly cared about safety, they would not be currently calling for a 18 game season. Concerning this, I believe Ward is right. Moreover, we already have enough games with 16: as far as I know there are no fans clamoring for more games; and the players, who will have to risk incurring more injuries, don't want a longer season. To me, the marginal gains for the NFL of an 18-game season will be small since they'll sell beaucoup de memorabilia regardless of season length, and since any additional injuries would hurt the players and thereby the NFL.

The best three NFL Network hosts are:
1. Jamie Dukes--he's really good both in offering substantive analysis and in terms of being generally amiable.
2. Mike Mayock is a great draft analyst and also a good on the show Playbook.
3. Sterling Sharpe is a good announcer, voice-over doer, and analyst.

Warren Sapp is a good host because of his bubbly personality and game experience, but his thick ebonics make him ill-suited for voice-overs of highlight reels.

In terms of bad hosts, I find hosts Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders annoying.

Finally, I'm sick of the grungy rock music set to most of the highlight reels on NFL Network. The commentary is good, but must it be accompanied by that squizzy, nasty noise?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Non-Smoker Argues Against Proposed Smoking Ban

See this Article in the King's College Crown Newspaper

Let me begin by stating that inhaling smoke is obviously bad and against the laws of nature. But, although those who wish to abolish smoking on the King's College campus may mean well, I believe the proposed smoking ban set to go into effect next summer would bring inconvenience and little or no benefits.

For one, King’s College is located in the city--not on a sequestered campus where a smoking ban may be more enforceable. City streets intersect the King’s campus, and as far as I know, even if the college passes a smoking ban, students will still be free to smoke on Franklin, Main, Jackson, River, and Union Streets because smoking on Wilkes-Barre’s streets is legal. So for those of you who’ve complained about encountering smokers on campus, if the smoking ban goes in effect, you’ll merely encounter them on the city sidewalk instead of (say) outside the student center. I doubt those who wish to avoid cigarette smoke would gain much from a ban. Moreover, smokers would be temporarily exiled to the city sidewalks as they smoke.

I have asthma, and I’ve never been bothered much by smokers on the King’s College campus. (Maybe other asthma sufferers have a worse reaction than I do.) Most of the time, I can simply refrain from inhaling for the second it takes to pass by somebody smoking. The only time I’ve ever been bothered by smoke on campus was when somebody was smoking while walking in front of me, leaving a trail of smoke behind him. But as long as smokers stay stationary, they don’t bother me.

I also believe designated smoking areas are unnecessary because so few people smoke on campus. Those who say encountering a smoker ruins a nice spring day are probably being overly-dramatic and hyperbolic for the sake of argument.

Today, few people smoke on campus, and more often than not, there are no people smoking to be found. But back in the early 70’s, as alumnus Rick Mayock relates, one professor chain-smoked cigars throughout his lectures, and so many of his students smoked cigarettes that at the end of the lecture the ceiling was filled with smog. What influenced Mayock to quit smoking was information he learned of in a science class concerning the detrimental effects cigarette smoke has on the lungs.

An educational approach that would encourage smokers interested in quitting to do so would seem like a more effective, less inconveniencing way to persuade smokers to quit. Perhaps every semester or two some visiting expert could give a laid-back speech about the health risks of smoking. This would be a positive move that student government could take credit for, which would not place a burden on smokers.
For that matter, student government and the college need not take any action; non-smokers could merely encourage their smoker friends to quit on a more effective, personal level.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TL LETTER TO THE EDITOR -Forget smoking in parks; W-B has bigger problems

The following is re-posted from the Times Leader. I hope its writer Mr. McDougal doesn't mind:

Other than serving as rubber stamps for the mayor, members of the Wilkes-Barre City Council don’t seem to do very much.

So I guess that explains why they passed an ordinance banning smoking in all public parks. What a relief! That is, no doubt, the number-one problem we have in our fair city. It will provide something to show the people when they run for re-election.

It appears to me that the police have their hands full dealing with illegal drugs and other crimes; but I guess they can spend some time cruising the parks, passing out tickets to those old guys smoking on Public Square or in Kirby Park. Have to protect the children.

While council is worried about someone smoking in a park, it seems to have no problem with supporting the opening of every new bar in downtown. Now, who is likely to be more of a problem: the guy smoking in the park, or the guy drinking alcohol?

Once they get park smoking under control, no doubt they can move on to protecting us from salt, fat and toys in the Happy Meal. Won’t that be great?

As for our Baghdad-style roads, broken sidewalks, blocked storm drains, broken and missing street signs, littered streets, under-funded city retirement fund and deteriorating neighborhoods, expect no improvement.

-by Bob McDougal of Wilkes-Barre

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tim Mullen Top Vote Recipient Among Libertarian State Rep Candidates

Tim Mullen told the Times Tribune that he felt "a little disheartened" after receiving 15% of the vote in the 120th district race, second to (D) Mundy's 53% and (R) Goldsworthy's 32%. Some Mullen campaign workers expected him to come in second, especially since he had knocked on 12 thousand doors. Lou Jasikoff thought Mullen would at least receive 20% of the vote.

Despite having fallen short of his high goals, Mullen was the most successful libertarian State Rep Candidate in Pennsylvania. Vance Mays from out in Western PA won a greater percentage of votes in his district with 15.8%, but Mays only had to run against one other candidate, and Mays received 2,473 total votes to Mullen's total of 2,858.

[Update 2-8-11: Mullen Campaign Director Lou Jasikoff says Mullen received the most (or at least second most) votes of any Libertarian candidate running against two other candidates in the nation.]

Mullen made significant headway in the 120th. He received no less than 7% of the vote at any polling place, possibly aided by the fact that he had volunteers passing out cards at almost every one. With regard to the future, if people become used to, and comfortable with seeing a Libertarian on the ballot, they may one day just elect him.

Other NEPA Libertarian State Rep candidates were Brian Bergman, who got 4.5% of votes in the 119th district race, and Tom Anderson, who received 5.5% of votes in the 109th district contest.

Libertarian Betsy Summers got a considerable amount of the votes in the PA 14th Senate race with 5.6% of total votes or 3,737 total.

Edward Gately, Libertarian candidate for the 28th State Senatorial district in York County received 15.7% of the vote with 11,497. He only had one opponent, however, while Besty had two: Democrat John Yudichak and Republican Steve Urban*.

It seems elections will continue to be an uphill battle for Libertarian and third party candidates, especially when they run against more than one candidate. At this point, it would be a victory in and of itself if Libertarian candidates were present in every election over several years. Perhaps time is needed in order for the Party to build of steam.

*Urban has since then switched to the Democrat Party

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goldsworthy's Public Preschool Plan

In the debate October 13th between 120th district candidates, Bill Goldsworthy made an "out of left field" proposal. Unfortunately, Phyllis Mundy and her Royal Guard (the League of Women Voters members running the event) would not allow the debate to be filmed even though both the Tim Mullen and Bill Goldsworthy campaigns wanted it filmed. So, we had to rely on the account of a NuPo correspondent:
It was the most bizarre thing ever. Everything Mayor Goldsworthy had said up until that point had accorded with mainstream Republican belief. Then, out of left field, he advocated publicly funded preschools, and he seemed to say it with more energy than he used for all of his other postitions.
It is indeed bizarre that someone alleging to be a fiscal conservative would advocate for another entitlement in the midst of PA's precarious fiscal situation. Forget about any further incursions on taxpayer property rights and on religious liberties such public preschools might impose. Perhaps Goldsworthy's boredom with staying fiscally conservative is what prompted John Cordora, Walter Griffith, Michael Baloga, and other NEPA Republicans to endorse Tim Mullen.

In all fairness to Mr. Goldsworthy, he has run a clean campaign insofar as the NuPo knows. Moreover, he & his staff had taken time to meet and shake hands with Mullen campaign workers and other attendees,* and Goldsworthy's conduct was gentlemanly. The problem for Goldsworthy is that he is not as committed as Mullen is to liberty and fiscal conservatism.

It must also be stressed that Mullen is also pro-life, and that although Goldsworthy has advocated a pro-life stance more frequently than Mullen, Mullen's campaign workers are courting pro-life voters by publicizing Mullen's pro-life stance.

*Mundy did not.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Majority of Moderates and Independents Perceive Liberal Bias in Media

According to a Gallup Poll, Independents are three times more likely to believe the media is too liberal rather than too conservative. Moderates were 2.66 times more likely to believe the media to be too liberal rather than too conservative.

To see an overview of the poll, see link below:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Four Nations Ensemble Performs at King's College

On a stormy Thursday night, the Four Nations Ensemble played in the Burke Auditorium of King's College.

From the ensemble's website:
Founded in 1986, The Four Nations Ensemble brings together soloists who are leading exponents of period instrument and vocal performance to present great music from the Renaissance through the Viennese Classical masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
The four performers played works from Baroque & Renaissance composers Couperin, Telemann, Domenico Paradies, and François Devienne.

As an introduction, harpsichordist Andrew Appel gave an eloquent description of emotional elements of the pieces, the lives of their composers, and the courtly settings in which they were played. The grandest of these courts was Versailles, a Castle complex like a small city, having 20,000 inhabitants. In sum, his speech gave a helpful frame of reference to the casual listener.

Although older adults made up the majority of the audience, a sizable proportion were students, including seniors Corey Roccograndi and Matt Kotch. Kotch was impressed with the how violinist Krista Feeney produced rich sounds during Telemann's Quartet IV. Roccograndi and Kotch, both casual musicians, seemed mesmerized that the four people in the ensemble could produce so much music.

I must confess that I am relatively unfamiliar with Baroque music outside of having casually listened to a few of Bach and Vivaldi's most famous pieces. It seemed the music the ensemble played had little discernible melody, and when it did in the harpsichord solo, it seemed rather unprolific. Perhaps discernible melodies were unnecessary in 17th & 18th century French courts, where lineage, as Appel related in his introduction, largely determined the important parts of one's life. Perhaps in such a static, relaxed environment, a moving, determined melody would have seemed out of place. The most notable quality of the music seemed to be encapsulated in harmonious meetings of the instruments which, I imagine, mimicked the daily assemblies and activities of courtly figures in France. With these sonic movements Kotch and Roccograndi seemed impressed.

Although Appel mentioned his like for what he called delightful subtleties in the music, besides those in the beginning of Couprin's piece, these subtleties must have all escaped me. Perhaps I have listened to too much sensational music.

My callosities aside, the audience members expressed their pleasure with enthusiastic applause. The ensemble played with prowess and the live music made the event worth attending. And who's to say the intellectual quality if the music did not affect me in a good way? Special thanks to King's College music director Robert Yenkowski for organizing the event.

For more on The Four Nations Ensemble, visit

Praise with Context

A one Dan Skok took the liberty of writing a letter to the editor in the Times Leader praising Phyllis Mundy. Because the letter was wantonly lacking context, I thought I'd provide some. I hope Mr. Skok doesn't mind. My additions are in bold, and all else is his.

Most elected officials are not volunteers; they do get paid. Some earn it, while others do not. Some give above and beyond what is expected for their pay.

I have seen the works of state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston. I have seen her help any citizen in need. She does not ask how you are registered to vote; she does not ask if you’re registered at all. She will ask, “How can I help you?” [except when it came to her pay raise, when she asked the reverse]. She will stand shoulder to shoulder with a group of volunteers to complete a project for which she gained the funding [from other people's money].

I was there when my school district, Wyoming Area, received $30,000 in grants [which she taxed from other people] to help build the Tenth Street and Montgomery Avenue elementary schools’ playgrounds. I was there when she dedicated the new fence [which she paid for with other people's money] at the Wyoming/West Wyoming Sixth Street Little League field, built with another $10,000 grant. The new police vehicles that protect us were a result of her hard work [in allocating other people's money.].

I am disturbed to hear some election-year “politicians” try to portray Rep. Mundy as self-serving. I have seen the total opposite [except for when she buys votes using other people's money].

I believe that Rep. Mundy’s picture or an article about her good works could be in the newspaper every day. I believe her interest is serving the people she represents [when she can give them other people's money].

Thank you and good job, Rep. Mundy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fire Marino

Lift him up and carry him along
Fire Marino right away
And lay him down where he belongs
Fire Marino right away
[adapted from "Fire Maringo" shanty]

The latest Times Leader article about Tom Marino features his unwillingness to address the fact that a source in the US Justice Dept. claims no letter was issued granting Marino permission to serve as a character reference for Louis DeNaples. Indeed, it seems that along with Scranton Republican Ernie Preate, Marino has an unnatural affity for DeNaples--a casion mogul whom many NEPA residents hold with contempt.

As predicted, Chris Carney has begun to assert most tendentiously that Marino is horribly corrupt for allegedly having lied. If Carney chides Marino for a lack of transparency, however, Carney reveals himself to be a hypocrite, because he, along with Pelosi, "passed the healthcare bill in order to see it." Moreover, Carney never made any inquiry into President Obama's refusal to produce a copy of his original long-form birth certificate; I'm not equivocating Marino's lack of a document with Obama's; I'm merely illustrating that Carney is no better when it comes to transparency than Marino.

Steve Corbett claimed on air yesterday that he twice telephoned Tom Marino, with Marino answering and each time acting like he couldn't hear Corbett by saying "hello? hello? hello?" when Corbett identified himself as the caller.

Although Corbett doesn't like Obama (because Obama defeated Hillary), he has endorsed Paul Kanjorski and seems to be fond of Joe Sestak. Moreover, Corbett has a blind-eye for statist agression, and is a big-government liberal. So he may be a little biased in his thoughts about Tom Marino; but nonetheless, it does seem disturbing that Marino may have lied about the letter and then pretended not to hear Corbett in order to dodge answering questions about it.

Tom Marino has been a successful lawyer, and I believe the success has went to his head. He should have known his relations with DeNaples would cause him serious problems in the fall. (How smart it was for Carney to wait until Marino won the primary to begin hollering about his DeNaples relationship.) I believe Madeira or Derk would have been much better suited for reclaiming the 10th District for the GOP. Madeira, in particular, would have schooled Carney on the Healthcare issue. I believe it best for Marino to resign from his campaign and for the GOP to put in his place David Madeira, the primary runner-up. But this seems highly unlikely.

At the Issues & Eggs breakfast held by the Luzerne GOP last spring, Marino's short speech seemed rather hackneyed. He lauded his past as a factory worker and restaurant employee. But anyone who has worked in either industry knows that there are plenty jerks in both. Having a history of working in them would only appeal to a weak-minded populist. What I was looking for in Marino was a commitment to principles of liberty and conservatism, and in that regard he seemed to come up a little short of what I was looking for.

A certain dilema for conservatives in the Wyoming Valley is whether they'd rather put up with another two years of Carney and then possibly get a better candidate than Marino in 2012, or elect Marino now and be stuck with him until he either gets caught in corruption or becomes too old to serve. Because I don't know the extent of Marino's relationship with DeNaples & Co. and how sincerely liberty-minded he is, I cannot say which I prefer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quid Pro Quo for Kanjo?

News has surfaced of $1 million in grant money that Representative Kanjorski has secured for an energy institute that will focus on researching the Marcellus Shale. It will be administered by Wilkes University, Kings College and Earth Conservancy.

Despite Kanjorski's past schemes, such as the "Kanjorski Center", the $10 million dollar earmark for "Cornerstone Technologies", and plans for the thankfully never-built inflatable raft, Democrat residents of NEPA will likely be pleased that their proverbial Robin Hood has come home with more booty from taxpayers. To them, he may not be as flamboyantly satisfactory as Dan Flood, but he still gets the job done. The problem of grants such as these was covered in an earlier post, but I'd like to focus on the possible source of this million-dollar grant.

Remember when Paul Kanjorski voted for the health care overhaul last spring? His vote was necessary to ensure that a change in the funding of federal college loans became law. Kanjorski knew that the passing of the bill would mean that the handling of federal college loans would be tranferred from the former GSE Sallie Mae to the federal government.

Local Sallie Mae workers protested the linkage of the education funding change with the health care bill, and begged Kanjorski not to vote for the latter. This vote was signiicant for him because he had taken credit in the past for bringing jobs to the call center in Hanover Township.

Although Sallie Mae's stock price hasn't (yet?) exactly taken much of a hit, the Times Tribune reported in July that about 100 people lost jobs at the Hanover Twp. call center. Though it is not clear whether Kanjorski's vote and the student loan leglisation it enabled have directly led to the 100 layoffs, it cannot be doubted that his vote did seem to have a negative impact on the center.

So, I conjecture, maybe Rep Kanjorski was given a deal that went something like this:
Paul, we'll give you that environmental thing you wanted if you just bite the bullet and vote for the health-care bill.

NEPA Democrats who wanted Pelosi-care supported Kanjorski's healthcare vote, so I imagine they're happy with him. And now, NEPA Democrats concerned primarily with creating or saving local jobs using other people's money (via federal tax revenue and/or incurred debt), can say Kanjorski made up for any NEPA jobs lost via his healthcare vote with his newest "center" scheme.

On second thought, most NEPA Democrats will probably just loyally vote straight party ticket again, without needing any such justifications.

And it is certainly possibly that my conjecture is wrong, and that the energy institute is just a regular conveniently-timed, pre-election publicity bill.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

King's College Students Stop Thieves

King's College Senior Stuart Mulzac wrestled one thief to the ground while his classmate Dan Danoski chased the other thief until police could arrive at the scene.

For more, go to,0,579776.story
The main story is the heroism of the King's College students. But there are two sub-stories. First, Wal-Mart has in the past taken flak for not providing adequate security in their parking lots. Wal-Mart, it has been said, is too cheap to protect its customers once they leave the store.

Wal-Mart was cheap when it gave the heroes only $25 each, because the two probably did more security work in the 10 minute span during which they thwarted the theives' getaway than the female security guard did in her whole tenure at Wal-Mart. In other words, Stu and Dan should have gotten a lot more of a reward from the notoriously cheap Wal-Mart. Moreover, the inefficacy of unintimidating female security guards (an obvious phenomenon), may make Wal-Mart think twice before trying to appease feminists by hiring less-than adequate female security guards.

However, let not aforesaid things overshadow the heroic and noble acts of the King's College students Mulzac and Danoski.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Former Vandal Awarded Diploma

For those who have wondered what became of Nathan Strawn, a student caught by police lewdly defaming a nativity scene in Public Square last January, there is news.

According to the August 22nd print edition of the Times Leader, Strawn received his Bachelor's of Arts degree in Communications from King's College in the college's summer commencement held Saturday.

The NuPo is unable to enquire about the conditions of Strawn's graduation, but it is safe to assume that Strawn must have met the conditions for any penance(s) imposed on him by college officials. Because of the lack information, NuPo writers cannot opine informedly on whether the college acted justly; but suffice it to say that if Strawn had similarly vandalized a nativity 50 years ago, the penalty imposed on him likely would have been more demanding.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

NAACP's Accusations of Tea Party Racism are Political Posturing

A Nothington Post correspondent has come forward to criticize NAACP leaders for their assertion that Tea Partiers are racists:
The accusation is totally absurd, and honest members of the NAACP should agree with me.

This is why. During the 9-12 event in 2009, thousands of tea party protesters had to walk by a giant tent/cookout event staged by the NAACP called "The Black Family Reuinion" while en route to their buses from the capitol building. Now, if these predominantly-white protesters were merely out there because they didn't like the president's racial makeup, wouldn't they have taken the opportunity to show contempt for the black people at the "Black Family Reunion"? Why are there no recorded incidences of the slightest bit of conflict between the mostly white protesters and the thousand + black picnickers?

Maybe the real problem is that the leaders of the NAACP are so far left that they cannot even bring themselves to try to empathize ever so slightly with their political opponents on the right. Therefore, they cannot understand why anybody would oppose the Obama agenda of a limitless government. Thus, they precariously claim the essential force behind the tea parties is racism.

Furthermore, most protesters aren't protesting Obama, and if they are, it's only because he's a far-left politician, not because he's black. (Many tea partiers glow over black conservatives.)

But how megalomaniacal (and decidedly ignorant) it is for NAACP leaders to assume that all protesters are simply protesting Obama. Most are simply angry over government growth, and/or social liberalism. And, although such people were conspicuously not as demonstrative during the Bush years, it is likely only because spin doctors such as Rush Limbaugh and the FOX News pundits convinced them that Bush's spending wasn't a major problem. These spin doctors made the conservative masses put a false hope in socialistic Republicans like McCain and Bush. Another reason few people thought about protesting during Bush's term was that back then there was no stimulus, health care overhaul, etc. Finally, the fact that people began protesting at a time when Obama came to power is not the main issue. The main issue is that they began protesting when the hungry-for-socialism Democrat Party came to power.

Moreover, I believe the NAACP's leaders are using political posturing to make their organization seem relevant. As both the black picnickers and white protesters can attest, however different their political views may have been, they got along quite well on September 12th. And, beyond that day, the real world shows increasing signs that blacks and whites are finding more things that bring them together than this that drive them apart. In an increasingly racially harmonious world, what purpose does the NAACP have?--other than to make themselves relevant by making baseless calumnies of political, not racial enemies.

Finally, the leaders of the NAACP are left-wing politically and black racially, just like Obama. They probably feel they're doing Obama a favor by calling his most demonstrative critics racist. Perhaps they're hoping he'll reward them.

The correspondent added that the lower-level NAACP members whom he has met in his travels seem like honest people who "would wouldn't make such a baseless accusation."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tom Corbett Grandstanding in the Library?

In several public libraries in Luzerne County, and Lord knows how many others across Pennsylvania, there have appeared posters with a young(er) Tom Corbett's picture on them.

Now, I'm sure Brian Nutt, Corbett's campaign manager, would say that the posters have nothing to do with Corbett's current gubernatorial candidacy. But as the NuPo and other News outlets have shown, Nutt has denied other striking coincidences, including Corbett's subpoena of Twitter account users who alleged to expose his corrupt dealings in prosecuting the Bonusgate scandal, and his withdrawal from events at which then primary candidate Sam Rohrer was also scheduled to attend.

It is plain that the poster above is stealth propaganda, meant to show the on-the-fence voter, who may have heard Corbett criticized for challenging the supposedly beneficial Healthcare overhaul, that Corbett is "a man of the people," out to make sure we get fair health care.

For those of you who might say that the poster is not an all too convenient form of posturing, Answer me this: "When else have you seen a 'public service' poster with the attorney general's picture on it?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Destructive Distillation: An Unknown Solution

Given the onset of movies like "Gasland" and disasters such as the natural gas leak in Clearfield County and the current Gulf Oil Spill, many people have simply resorted to criticism while offering no real solutions. Below is a video concerning a novel idea which needs only investment and political support to get going:

Mansfield Endorses Effort to Write-In Sam Rohrer

On Friday at the York County Campaign for Liberty meeting former grassroots conservative gubernatorial candidate Robert Allen Mansfield endorsed the Write-in campaign for Sam Rohrer. The following was taken from his facebook fanpage:

12 July 2010

My friends there comes a time when Principles must be put before Politics and Party. We have witnessed some good candidates for Governor of Pa be ignored, Disrespected and just pushed out of the Primary. The State GOP has ignored the will of the Republican voters and turned the process of running for Governor into a Rap contest “ Who got next “. But with a structural deficit of 5 Billion dollars and 8 to 10 Billion-dollar Pension bomb on the horizon along with 3.2 Billion dollars in debt. Pennsylvania is quickly heading into receivership. This is not a Damn Rap contest.

The structural changes that I have advocated while I was running for Governor have not changed: shrinking our Public Balance sheet, shrinking the size of the Legislature from 11-1 down to 7-1, and shrinking the 90 Boards, agencies and Commissions down to 33 constitutionally mandated agencies. The reduction and elimination of onerous regulations, the elimination of both the Property tax and the Personal Income tax. And Instituting the Fair Tax. I will continue to advocate for these systemic and structural changes in Pennsylvania.

But today, there is a Gentleman who I agree with on all of the Issues. Our style is different, but we’re no less committed to Bringing The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania back from the State of Dependence to a State of Independence. My fellow Pennsylvanians would you Join me in the Biggest Write in Campaign in the History of Not Just Pennsylvania, but in the Nation, I am asking you write in Sam Rorher’s name in November. Join up, sign up, and don’t let up until Mr. Rorher has won this election. The time is now for you to stop being scared, have a heart, (They say that Oz never did give nothing to the Tin man that he didn’t already have.) It is time to take back the Commonwealth, it is time to put away childish things and put this man of God over the top. WRITE IN MR. SAM RORHER FOR GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Robert Allen Mansfield (I)
Former Candidate for Governor. Of Pennsylvania .

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mansfield Ends Bid for Governor

Independent conservative candidate for Pennsylvania governor, Robert Allen Mansfield, has unofficially ended his campaign bid for governor with the following message on his Facebook fanpage:

My friends, after a period of prayer and reflection, I have decided to end my bid for Governor of Pennsylvania. I will instead focus on my Health and Spending more time with my family. Since October of 2009, I have traveled the commonwealth extensively and have spoken with hundreds of People; and through it all, I and the commonwealth were much better for the experience. In the coming weeks I will go back to the Republican Party, but I will hold firm to my belief in the Individual, because without the Individual, you have no Country. I am honored to have your support and your prayers. If I have made a commitment to you, I will honor that commitment. As for the future, as I said earlier, I will focus on my Health and my family as well as help other candidates get elected. I will discuss 2012 after the 2010 elections.

Semper fidelis
Robert Allen Mansfield (I)

Mansfield's candidacy was certainly grassroots. A disabled Iraq war veteran, he decided to run for governor after being unable to get on the ballot for the lieutenant governor primary. He began his gubernatorial candidacy as a Republican but switched to Independent several months before the Republican primary. In a graceful move, he endorsed Sam Rohrer for the Republican primary election.

One of the hurdles for Mansfield was getting his name on the ballot for governor in the general election. According to the PA 2010 blog, he needed 20,000 signatures to do so; but probably many more than that since the Corbett machine likely would have challenged them. The Nothington Post has not contacted Mr. Mansfield, and thus cannot say whether he obtained enough signatures. If he didn't, it may not have influenced his decision to withdraw as he seemed the type willing to go forward with a write-in campaign.

Another problem for Mansfield, at least in terms of his potential mainstream appeal, was his lack of experience that would prepare him for the responsibilities of governor.

Despite his slim resume, Mansfield was a graceful, principled conservative candidate--unlike Tom Corbett.

Mansfield's gubernatorial candidacy may drift into obscurity along with other small-time Pennsylvania political bids; but comments from supporters on his Facebook fanpage reveal that those who identified with his platform based on the Fair Tax, social conservatism, and individual liberty will remember his candidacy as a worthwhile and enriching endeavor. Mansfield plans to stay politically active by speaking at tea parties and other events.

In the wake of Mansfield's withdrawal, there are still alternatives to the underhanded Tom Corbett and the Democrat Dan Onorato. For conservatives, there is a grassroots movement to write-in Sam Rohrer. Moreover, Marakay Rogers is running for governor again as a Libertarian.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hungry Hungry Hippos: Federal Funds Secured

Clockwise from top-right: Paul Kanjorski (D), Joe Sestak (D), Chris Carney (D), Charles Dent (R).

The representative hippo of the Pennsylvania 10th Congressional District, Chris Carney, has gobbled up some federal funds for his district and publicized his action in his June "District Dispatch" newsletter.

He got two grants totaling $5.4 million for improvement projects in Lycoming County--what a coincidence, that's Marino Country.

He was also instrumental in getting Geisinger hospital $16 million from a "Health Information Technology" grant in the recently-passed Healthcare bill. No wonder Geisinger's president Glenn Steele put out a radio ad half endorsing the health care bill.

The bigger issue at hand is the sort of Hungry Hungry Hippos game played by politicians like Carney when they gobble up as many federal funds as possible for their constituencies.

Now, it's true that with such a game there will be winners and losers. The districts and states that bring in the most federal funds will probably receive more in federal funds than they pay out in federal taxes, leaving residents of other states and districts to pick up the difference. In a way, a representative like Carney could be said to be loyal to his electorate when he gets its people as much federal funds as possible because if he doesn't, the money will just go to some other state or district. And, if government didn't need to take money in the first place in order to dole it out, maybe this would be a good thing. But remember, government alone cannot produce wealth; it can only redistribute it.

The real problem with bragging about the securing of federal monies is that it perpetuates more spending than would otherwise take place. This is because politicians have an incentive to raise taxes and to borrow more so there will be a bigger pot from which to draw federal funds. To return to our Hungry Hippos analogy, if there are more white balls in the middle of the arena, each hippo will naturally have the opportunity to gobble up more balls for his district. But to get more white balls in the center beforehand, there must be more taxes or borrowing. Thus, to pay for Carney's and others' hunger for federal funds (and thereby notoriety and votes), either taxes must go up, or the US must borrow money.

So, although the attainment of as much federal funds as possible may seem like a good thing for your district by itself; when examined nationally, it is quite costly: not only because the loans that service them require interest payments, or the taxes that service them produce economic dead-weight losses, but because government investment itself tends to be less efficient than private investment. It's also unfair because government officials pick winners and losers based on who's more cozyied-up with them. Furthermore, taxes make the economy (and you) worse-off in the present, and borrowing makes the US (and you) worse-off in the future.

Don't expect voters to know all this in November.

Besides bragging about pork, another fixture of Carney's campaign (a little bird told the Nothington Post) is going to be a series of vitriolic attacks on Tom Marino for his relationship with DeNaples: in other words, Carney-style politics as usual.

For voters, it will be a choice between DeNaples' pal Marino and Obama's drone, Carney. Decisions decisions.

If one considers that Obama has more power than DeNaples, then perhaps the lesser of two evils is Marino.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Former Candidate John Cordora Endorses Tim Mullen

In a June 15th letter to the editor in the Times Leader, former candidate in the 120th District John Cordora endorsed current candidate in that district Tim Mullen. Cordora ran as a Republican against Phylis Mundy in 2006.

Although John Cordora seems to insinuate in his letter that Mullen is running as an Independent, Mullen is in fact running as a Libertarian. However, the theme of Cordora's article is correct: Mullen is independent of the two-party establishment and all its political baggage.

In a recent confidence with the Nothington Post, Mullen expressed gratitude to all hi ssupporters, be they Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Democrat, etc.

Moreover, as Mullen tirelessly continues with his plan to knock on all the doors in the 120th District, he is happy to receive a little press from an endorsement.

Here is Cordora's letter from the Times Leader:
In the race for state representative in the 120th district, the right choice is “Independent.” For the past 20 years, liberal Democrat Phyllis Mundy has occupied that seat. She is a self-serving politician who voted to give herself a 16 percent pay raise at the taxpayers expense.

The Republican nominee is West Pittston Mayor William Goldsworthy, another self-serving career politician, who is a dictator-style mayor and only shows his face when election time rolls around. He’s probably, a worse choice than Mundy.

Finally, this time the taxpayers have a third choice, a newcomer to politics and regular guy, who is not linked to the corrupt political party power base.

He is a health care professional by the name of Tim Mullen, an Independent candidate for state representative who preaches the following: Financial responsibility to the taxpayers, accountability from elected officials and a common-sense approach to government.

Are you ready to be independent of the political cronies who offer the same old lines? If you are, you need to support Tim Mullen in November.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Challenges Facing the Pauls

Ron Paul is one of the few politicians championing liberty who backs up his words with actions. He consistently receives a perfect score from New American magazine on its Freedom Index, because he always votes with the US Constitution. According to the latest poll, Paul is more popular among Independents than Obama or any other GOP candidate. Yet, he will undoubtedly face opposition from both the Republican and Democratic establishments and their underlings.

Some far-sighted left-wing smear artists have already done what their demented apostolate wants them to do: find a hair-brain, knee-jerk reason to write-off the Pauls. The cockamamie reason they've chosen is (surprise) racism*. They've found a way to label Ron Paul and his son racist.

Maddow did so by revealing that Rand Paul wouldn't have voted for the Civil Rights act (without explaining the whole of Rand's libertarian rationale, of course).

A few months ago, CNN re-aired a piece it did 2008 about some obscure Ron Paul supporter(s) who ranted against blacks in a Ron Paul Newsletter from the '90s. The strange thing was that CNN re-aired it in 2010 as if the story had just broke, and it did so right after Ron Paul got majority vote at CPAC. Obviously, CNN wants you to think Paul is racist, and will probably re-air the clip whenever Paul gains ground. Intelligently debating the Pauls on their libertarianism appears to have been too difficult for the left-wing media. Smearing is just so much easier.

Thus far, Rand Paul seems to be an easy target for smear artists. Whether it be George Stephanopolus, NPR's Robert Siegel, or MSNBC's Maddow, Rand Paul seems unable to avoid their carefully crafted tricky questions meant to make him give answers that horrify outrage-prone, undereducated leftists. Rand will always have to contend with left-wing smear artists' prejudice that he is "guilty before innocent."

No doubt, the news networks will search far and wide to find, say, some skinheads who support Ron Paul and then will continually try associate him with them. Of course, Obama's evil supporters such as Bill Ayers, the New Black Panthers, and Irreverend Wright will be presented as if they are totally unrelated to Obama--with the defense of "guilt by association" given.

If the Pauls can withstand the carefully concerted propaganda of the corporate Left-Wing and Neocon media, then they, Ron in particular, will still have some hoops to jump through.

For one, Ron Paul is an isolationist, and many loyal Republicans are staunchly pro-Israel. Paul may be able to gain their acceptance if he names a pro-Israel vice presidential candidate or if he espouses some pro-Israel views, but in doing so, he may alienate some of his anti-war libertarian supporters, and, for that matter, some of his Independent supporters. Peter Schiff would be a good vice presidential candidate--who's probably at least a little pro-Israel.

Also, not all fiscal conservatives buy in to Austrian Economic theory (of which the Pauls are adherents). Many popular conservatives take a more monetarist view. This ideological difference manifests itself in some fiscal conservatives' reluctance to do things like audit the Fed. One such conservative, the popular Pat Toomey, has sidestepped questions about Ron Paul's bill to audit the Fed.

Additionally, Ron Paul may not be the best candidate for people who like vociferous "captivators" like Obama who mesmerize audiences with loud, proud rhetoric. Paul just doesn't come across as the type of guy to do that. Moreover, whenever Paul answers some ridiculous accusation vaulted at him by, say, FOX news or Wolf Blitzer of CNN, he always answers with a tone of voice that makes him seem, well, like someone trying to prove he's not crazy. At 1:50 through the video below is a good example:

In the video above, Paul's words are very well chosen, but the intonation of his voice isn't the type of commanding tone to which hero-worshipers gravitate. The sad fact is that some people vote for candidates by virtue of how confident they sound, not how well they argue. This bodes badly for Ron Paul.

Finally, Ron Paul hasn't the support of Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, FOX News, or of many other conservative media. Because these people and networks hold so much sway, Paul may need support from a good many of them to win over the Republican base in 2012. He may be able to get Michael Savage if he pledges to be pro-Israel. However, Beck, Levin, Hannity, and FOX News have tried to cast Paul as a fringe radical, and it seems pretty unlikely that they'll do otherwise in 2012. In the first half of the video below, Joel Skousen covers the media's treatment of Paul in the 2008 primary race.

The next video offers analysis of FOX News's and Michelle Malkin's attempt to associate Ron Paul with the 9/11 truther movement.

The challenges faced by Ron Paul are certainly daunting, but are not insurmountable. The strongholds held by Neocons and the goons of the corporate Left are built on sand. What Paul needs is not just massive education efforts concerning liberty philosophy and free-market economics conducted by groups like FEE, SFL, etc., but a more palatable cultural movement. A movement that is not behind him per se, but behind Liberty Herself.

For this, Paul and Liberty need something powerful. And I say, one powerful way to unite people is through music. (To be continued...)

*For many of our friends on the Left, anyone who opposes any government program that purports to help black people is racist a priori. The only thing left to do is illustrate how the person in question is racist--the actual effectiveness of the government program be damned. That is the tactic.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Silly Bandz: The Latest in a List of Mysterious Fads


Selling at $3 per a small pack, Silly Bandz are the newest rage among young collectors. These "recession proof" bands are so simple yet so coveted. It seems doubtless, however, that they're a pretty poor investment.

Anyway, this fad brings back memories of past ones.

Possibly the first fad of the '90s was pogs. Many people in their 20's probably remember owning a tube or two of them. But pogs were more of a mild, drawn-out fad...

I don't remember pogs as having the sort of obsession-giving power necessary to start up an acute buying hysteria. Such a distinction would have to go to Beanie Babies.

Some time in the mist of the late '90s, during the height of the Beanie Baby craze, Hershey Park had Beanie Babies in its gift shoppe; and amid the rides, arcades, zoo animals, etc., those Beanies were assuredly the highlight of many-a-visitor's day.

In the late '90s, every hobby shoppe had Beanie Babies. I suppose people bought them partly because they thought they'd go up in value. Moreover, the assumption was always that "you'd better buy them now before they're gone." Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of why they became so popular.

Ultimately what drove Beanie Babies, I believe, was raw consumer demand. The '90's had been kind to people's wallets, and many people wanted something on which to splurge. Beanie Babies became that something, and people began to go to great lengths to buy them. To satisfy excess consumer demand, one merchant told me that he used to scour flea markets to get them from Chinese factory workers who had smuggled them out of the factory in China and into the US. As trite as it may seem, what made Beanie Babies so enticing was their red ty tags. Many sellers tried to make knock-off brands of bean-bag stuffed animals, even placing a tag with the knockoff brand's logo on it; but their beanies never had that ty tag of legitimacy--the "real McCoy" ty insignia. Most hilariously, because some Beanie Babies were counterfeited, the rare, most expensive ones today need to be "authenticated." In all fairness though, Beanie Babies were thoughtfully designed, with lamb beanies having a woolly texture, and lions and horses having manes.

Beanie Babies were quite a fad, but not nearly as hard-hitting or as multifaceted as Pokémon.

"I've never seen anything like Pokémon" says one hobby shop owner.

Pokémon originated in Japan and then spread to America, becoming popular in 98/99.

The Cards. I remember that during the cards' high point, the much-coveted holographic Charizard sold for almost $100 bucks. Those silly cards kept many a fledgling hobby store alive through the end of the millennium. Moreover, stores that were once obscure to the adolescent mind, such as a floral shop, could instantly become important if its owner had Pokemon cards for sale.

"I had nightmares from opening all those packages", says one dealer. "I went up to a wholesale show, gave $5,000 to each of my associates, and told them to spend it all. Afterward we drove straight to the shop, non-stop across the highways; we had thousands of dollars of merchandise in the car during a huge buying craze" said he. That merchandise was precious back then.

If a collector had a bountiful collection of Pokémon cards, he could impress his friends, but more importantly, he could impress himself. Maybe the cards' main appeal was that somebody really could "catch 'em all" (if his parents were willing to fork over the cash).

Perhaps the young collector enjoyed the thrill of possibly drawing a good card from a pack, or perhaps he hoped that one day, after his collection was complete, he could dominate in a Pokémon tournament (if he could ever find a local one).

Today, a holographic Charizard card is worth beans--about $7 to be exact. However, as some slightly hideous youtube videos* reveal, Pokemon cards are alive and well among small pockets of individuals. There have been introduced countless new series of Pocket Monsters and their respective card decks since Pokémon's overall decline, and I believe there are still even some tournaments held in obscure locations in the US.

Before there were Pokémon cards, the Burger King kids' meals, various figurines, and multitudes of other merchandise, Pokémon was a Gameboy video game, and probably one of the most addictive ever made. Red version, Blue version, yellow, etc; like any game in which the player has both freedom of choice and a sense of progression through the game, Pokémon on Gameboy became an adolescent boy's crack cocaine, and his escape from a mundane reality of school, etc.

In the modern world of 98/99, which often entailed boring, difficult, and sometimes effeminate schoolwork, Pokémon was a simple and instantly gratifying way to achieve a sense of accomplishment. But Poké video games got old fast, and although new versions of them still straggle on today, the great flame of their popularity has died down to a small ember. As fast as Poké fever spread, it fizzled out. By the debut of the Pokémon movie in the end of '99, it had already become old.

So, how long will Silly Bands last? They've got an unspeakably wide appeal: everyone from little tykes to high school students crave them. As unlikely as it may seem, silly bands will one day go the way of their predecessor fads, and perhaps end up as a point of reminiscence on some obscure blog as well...

All the aforementioned products are different, yet all have that something which catapulted them to the uppermost recesses of consumers' desires. Although in retrospect one might explain rather simply how they got to be so popular by, for instance, describing their marketing techniques and specific qualities, these fads were mystically alluring in their day; and they created whole new worlds for people to live in.

What really makes them mysterious is this: What if you asked someone before pogs hit if he could ever imagine the cardboard things in bottle caps becoming a marketing sensation? What about stuffed animals each having a red heart-shaped tag and selling for up to $50 and over? Or imaginary creatures that could be stored in palmable red and white balls called pocket monsters? How about rubber bands that come in the shape of a dinosaurs and just about anything else that sell for $3 a small pack? If you brought up any of these things to someone before they hit, he'd say you were crazy.

That's what makes the fads mysterious.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PA Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

When Tom Corbett made motion to challenge the Obamacare overhaul, he annoyed many Pennsylvania leftists.

As Tom Corbett dodged debate with Sam Rohrer, got the unfair endorsement before-the-primary, subpoenaed his Twitter critics, sent out disingenuous attack flyers about Sam, looked the other way regarding Reed Smith's potential involvement in Bonusgate, and said the Constitution was a 'living document', he made very many Pennsylvania Republicans angry. Most of those angry Republicans support Sam Rohrer.

So, strangely enough, Corbett has enemies on the Left and the Right. And some people of each persuasion--mostly Rohrer supporters and Obamacare supporters-- have joined a Facebook group "Tom Corbett Must Resign."

Indeed, in this group, people on the Left and Right in Pennsylvania who would normally be growling at each other are uniting, pointing to Corbett, and saying "Let's get him"--and for completely different reasons.

Corbett's Nemeses

The ACLU has come to the defense of Twitter users CasablancaPA and bfbarbie. It's understandable that Corbett would want to go after CasablancaPA: afterall, CasablancaPA has had the drop on Corbett's Bonusgate dealings since September of 2008--so Corbie may have gotten frustrated with the Casablanca blogger such that he rashly decided to go after him. But only preponderant ineptitude could have motivated Corbett to go after bfbarbie.

Imagine, the arch-enemy of Tom Corbett is bfbarbie...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An End to Robo Calls in Sight?

Disclaimer: I had nothing to do with the crank robo calls; I merely find them amusing.

Everyone seems to think robo calls are annoying: you know, those recordings one hears on the eve of an election that tell one how to vote. One fellow I talked to said he received 6 in one day and so he gave up answering the phone.

Perhaps the recent news of individuals making prank robo calls may scare power hungry political wannabes away from robocalling.

From the Citizen's Voice
The calls apparently used a service or software that allows caller ID spoofing. The service or software allows phone calls to come up on a recipient's caller ID with any identity and number the buyer of the program chooses.
So, for example, some calls showed up on caller ID as Friends of Jim Wansacz and showed the phone number for Wansacz campaign headquarters. However, the recorded voice proceeded to trash Wansacz's candidacy.

If everyone's candidacy were subjected to prank calls, then no candidate would robo call anymore for fear of someone confusing a prank call for a real one. And, because in such a situation all the robo calls would be pranks, they'd likely be funnier and more entertaining than current robocalls put out by real candidates... and perhaps more truthful.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Commentary: The Day After

For election returns go to the PA state website here.

GOP Primary Results
Although Republican underdogs Sam Rohrer (for Governor) and Peg Luksik (for Senate) lost last night, they both got many votes. Peg, in particular, impressed as she got 151,734 votes (or 18.5% of the total). This is especially impressive because many of the people I spoke to at the Sweet Valley polling station hadn't even heard of her. Peg performed relatively well in Luzerne County, getting nearly 4 percentage points higher there--22.4%.

Rohrer did decent on the state-wide level, garnering 31.3% or 266,389 votes. Many thought that the miserable icy cold rain storm yesterday boded well for him because his supporters tend to be more die-hard and thus more willing to brave miserable elements. I had expected Rohrer to do better, considering the fact that he has 7,300 Facebook fans to Corbett's 5,700*.

However, F&M polls prior to the election revealed that Corbett had a heavy advantage. He also had all the money that he took from gambling interests, unions, etcetera, with which to propagate his misleading promises (scaling back 17,000 state vehicles) and and his mischaracterizations of Sam's salary. Furthermore, most Republican outfits like Luzerne GOP did all they could to promote the endorsed candidates while giving no publicity to either Peg or Sam. If Corbett hadn't received the state committee's endorsement, dodged debate with Rohrer, expressed all the right platitudes, and put out deceitful attack flyers (see below), then he may full well have lost. It is commonly known that Rohrer was much more popular with the tea party crowd--at least the one around me. But those with the money and power wanted Corbett, as did the GOP establishment and political pragmatists who thought Rorher was unable to win in the fall.

A disingenuous yet hilarious bit of GOPaganda

Sadly, former chiropractor David Madeira and Snyder county official Malcolm Derk lost to former DeNaples lawyer Tom Marino. 'Casino Marino' had the cash to send out campaign flyers. He also has a lot of contacts, having been a factory worker and a janitor before going to law school. Plus, he had notoriety from being a federal prosecutor. Doubtless, Marino's past association with DeNaples will be a burden on him in the fall. Madeira and Derk have endorsed Marino, so we'll see if their endorsements are enough to help Marino overcome the powerful Carney/DNC machine.

As expected, Jim Cawley won the Lieutenant Governor primary, but he received only 23% of the total vote. Naturally, all the Lt. Gov. candidates not endorsed by the PA GOP state committee (except Jean Pepper) were more conservative than Cawley. There should have been a mini-primary to get the best man (in this case) to oppose Mr. Cawley.

Also to be noted, "Butch" Moderno Rossi lost the Luzerne County state committee election despite the fact that he sent multiple people out in the elements to campaign for him at the polls. Linda Urban and Kathy Dobash were elected to the state committee. This is good for Rohrer supporters because Linda has vowed to oppose the premature endorsement and Kathy has attended events of Sam Rohrer. Comically, Stephen E. Urban may have been elected because many voters thought he was the popular Republican county commissioner Stephen A. Urban. This was just as well, though, since Stephen E. Urban was/is a decent candidate.


Despite Rohrer's loss, true economic and social conservatives need not give up hope yet. Rohrer may still be nominated if Corbett is revealed to be involved in a scandal or something--but then again, the state GOP may just roll out another human product to sell to the people, and the people may buy it again. Also, word around the campfire is that Rohrer may run as an independent conservative.**

But if Corbett sticks around and Rohrer drops out***, conservative voters disenfranchised with Corbett's weak stances and lack of substance can check out Robert Allen Mansfield--a principled conservative running on the Independent ticket. What Mansfield lacks in experience and knowledge he makes up in strong principles--qualities that Corbett could use.
*These were rounded numbers at the time this blog was written. Since then, Corbett's tightly controlled fan page has gone up to over 8,000 fans.
**Since the writing of this blog, many Rohrer supporters have vowed to write in his name in November.
*** Rohrer has since stated that he is no longer campaigning for governor but he never said he would mind if someone wants to write in his name in the 2010 general election.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rohrer Explains Plan to Eliminate School Property Taxes

Graphic from the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition

Sam Rohrer is famous for introducing Housebill 1275 in the PA House; the bill that would eliminate school property taxes. An end to school property taxes is a central issue for gubernatorial campaign. Critics of his bill say that it would direct control away from local school districts to the states (in this case, Pennsylvania state government). I asked Sam about this tonight at his townhall in Scranton, and he said that for all intents and purposes, the state already has so much control over school districts that the shift away from school property taxes to a state-run flat tax would be merely financial, not control-based.

For instance, he said that it's impossible for a school district to fire a crummy teacher or to approve a text book without approval from the state.

I think Mr. Rohrer may be slightly exaggerating, but I also believe that those who think eliminating school property taxes would be a huge power shift to the state-level government are exaggerating. Both arguments are tendentious.

However, I like Rohrer's overall plan for PA (at least he has an articulated one, unlike his opponent). Sam stressed the need to end scandalous PA state regulations which allow bureaucrats to give special deals to their friends and to give unconnected entrepreneurs a shake-down; indeed the need to end such practices is of extreme importance to PA's future.

Rohrer really seems like he'll be a good steward of his constituents' money. Sam's talk this night was really educational and enlightening. That's a good sign in a candidate; that he or she offer truth and light to the electorate rather than platitudinous speeches in which the only things said of real substance are attacks on opposing parties.

If Rendell's socialist utopia agenda (the harmful effects of which were shrouded by borrowing) had a chance, perhaps Sam's idea of school choice and elimination of property taxes ought to be given an equal chance. Regardless of how Rohrer's plans to cut back taxation pan out, in Rohrer, voters will have a candidate who is committed to individual liberty, family values, the integrity of the constitution (state and federal), and beholden to no interests other than preserving the individual's God-given rights.

Rendell: "I like Tom Corbett"

At 4:20 through the video, Ed Rendell says "I like Tom Corbett; we've had a pretty good working Relationship." He goes on to say that Corbett challenged the health care bill for political purposes and that Corbett has "always been a fairly moderate person in his approach to things."

Rendell does not necessarily mean that Corbett is politically "moderate." What he means is that Corbett is just plain wimpy and compliant with Democrats. In other words, Corbett may profess conservative principles, but when it comes to getting things done, he might as well be a moderate. Notice also in this video that Rendell reserves contempt for tea partiers, promotes big government, yet says he likes Tom Corbett...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PA Republican Royalty and Wind Chimes

In the days of yore, the King's word was not to be questioned. He didn't need to give reasons for his proclamations because he had absolute rule.

So also, the ruler of the Pennsylvania GOP, namely Rob Gleason, believes he needs no explanations for telling Republican voters by email to vote for Cawley and Corbett. Well, no explanation other than that he thinks they're the best candidates.

Lord Gleason, that is.

In other news, Corbett has a cockamamie radio ad running in which he says he'll save the state money by doing something with some cars or something. It's irrelevant. He is a fiscal moderate, and his site seems to indicate that he supports joint government-private ventures.

That aside, Corbett's campaign ad begins with the sound of wind chimes and a corny track plays throughout the ad. The music suggests the voter will reach a point of Nirvana if he votes for Corbett. But in reality, he'll just get an establishment moderate nominated. Governor Tom II. (An allusion to moderate Tom Ridge being succeded by Tom Corbett.)

A pictographic representation of Tom Corbett's campaign ad:

Joe Biden Lies in Campaign Radio Ad for Specter

Arlen Specter's desire to stay in office is so strong that if he could end world hunger by stepping down, he wouldn't.

And somehow Specter has marshaled the support of Joe Biden, and even Chairman Obambi.

Now, in a campaign ad I heard this morning on WILK, Biden says that Specter has been a fiscal conservative. But that statement must be a bold-faced lie. If one can support the draconian stimulus and TARP and still be fiscally conservative, WHAT does one have to do to be fiscally liberal???

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Cowardly Corbett

Cowardly Tom Corbett backs out of debate with Sam Rohrer. See link:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lawyers vs. Underdogs in PA Republican Primary

I just realized that for PA state Republican primaries, the conflict involves those with law degrees who are prematurely endorsed or monetarily advanced vs. those who have no law degrees.

Pat Toomey, Tom Corbett, and Jim Cawley have all been endorsed by the PA GOP state committee before the primary over non-lawyers Peg Luksik, Sam Rohrer, and Russ Diamond.

Also, PA 10th congressional district candidate Tom Marino, a former attorney for casino mogul Louis DeNaples, reported in April $110,000 in campaign funds, dwarfing the funds raised by his non-lawyer Republican competitors Malcolm Derk and David Madeira, who raised $18,216 and $17,681 respectively.

Some believe having only lawyers run for office is bad thing: an example of over representation of an occupation if there ever was one. Many suggest this as the reason why current US legal systems seem to be designed to extract as much money from clients as possible. Others posit this as the reason why tort reform was not seriously addressed during House and Senate healthcare debates.

Others would be quick to remind one that lawyers work very hard in law school. They may even go as far as to sate that lawyers have earned the right to a near political monopoly. More broadly, they would suggest that lawyers understand the law best, so they are best suited to be in legislative office.

But, history has shown that lawyers, unless they study economics independently, often have little to no understanding of it, but a great understanding of how to manipulate people and the law. This ignorance and cunning is not a good combination. Furthermore, their profession makes them susceptible to forming many suspect associations. Plus, those willing enough to engage in frivolous lawsuits (John Edwards) and to defend murderers and rapists cannot be said to be the most principled among us.

However, not all those having an Esq. after their names are bad. Many are good people. But the issue of lawyer over-representation in government should be publicized.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Those who Travel on Foot

[photo] LCCFL organizer Michael Harrison speaks at Challenger's Town Hall

Third party candidates often do not benefit from the type of boost that Elephantine or Donkey party machinery can provide, so they often have difficulty making their voices heard.

However, this was not the case on April 10 at the Challengers Town Hall, an event hosted by Luzerne County Campaign for Liberty at Luzerne County Community College. The event provided an opportunity for third party candidates to speak before potential constituents and PCN cameras.

Although two of the candidates who spoke, Republicans Peg Luksik (for Senate) and Sam Rohrer (for Governor), have been made de facto third party candidates by the PA state GOP, I have decided to present summaries of what local candidates said at the event as a public service to the voter. These candidates are Independent Jake Towne and Libertarian candidates Tim Mullen (PA House District 120), Betsy Summers (PA Senate District 14), and Brian Bergman (PA House District 119).

Jake Towne is running for the 15th congressional district, where many King’s College students will vote. In his speech he stated that the unsound dollar is the US’s most pressing issue, but he emphasized the need to balance the budget in Washington, and he called for the repeal of the recent healthcare overhaul and cap and trade legislation. Perhaps his most unique belief was that the US troops should be brought home because “terrorists will best be pursued by small groups seeking bounties under constitutional letters of marque and reprisal, not by conventional armies.”
To foster transparency, Towne plans to write open office letters in which he will explain the reasoning behind his votes. When I asked him why someone should vote for an Independent candidate, he said that one should consider the candidate’s principles, not just party allegiance. He added that electing an Independent such as himself is advantageous because such an individual is not beholden to party machinery but to the people.

Members of the Libertarian Party also could be said to have no party machinery to follow.

Tim Mullen is currently running on the Libertarian ticket for the PA house district 120—adequately summed up in local parlance as “the West Side.” Some stances he took in his speech were the repeal of school property taxes, strike-free public education, opposition to toll roads which will discourage commerce, and the need to address the pension time bomb set to go off in 2012 for Pennsylvania state employees.

Tim Mullen (center), Sam Rohrer (left), Betsy Summers (right)

In my talk with Mullen afterward, he revealed that he plans to go door to door to all of the houses in the 120th district to inform voters of his candidacy and platform, having already gone to a significant number of doorsteps. As to why someone should vote Libertarian, he said “we’re a party bound by the constitution and by the principles of the founding fathers. The platforms of the Republicans and Democrats seem to twist based on where the money is coming from.” He then showed me a pamphlet that compared several major policies of the Bush administration with similar policies of the Obama administration.

PA state Senate candidate Betsy Summers continued along the same vein, calling for the elimination of pensions for all elected officials state-wide. “It is a civic duty when you serve. Do you think the founding fathers said ‘I’m going to run for office so that the tax payers can support me for the rest of my life, once I leave government’”? She also criticized the “war on poverty,” stating that 20 cents of every dollar taxed for purposes of helping the poor actually reaches the poor, with the rest going to state employees. “I would rather much rather just take a dollar and give it to a poor person” said she.

Brian Bergman
A main issue for District 119 candidate Brian Bergman was the lack of protections home owners have against eminent domain. He cited the case of Kelo v. City of New London, and other unjust applications of eminent domain. He also stressed the need for adherence to a document that few people know exists—the Pennsylvania State Constitution.

Candidacies are well and good, but what would it take for the Libertarian party to gain ground politically? Luke Scheitrumph, 19, who is involved with the Mullen campaign, replied “one of them has to win, and momentum will take the party from there.”