Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at Flickr at Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court:

28 November 2008

This Sporting Life

Yes, Audubon product (and fellow Blue Hen) Joe Flacco may have whooped up on the Eagles last week. But that's a long time ago now. And, while the NFL may be considered, by some, to be the premier football league in the land, to say so, you'd have to overlook the mighty Colonial Conference. And mad props to the mighty Haddon Township Hawks for their 26-13 win over Audubon yesterday. Holla.

Not that I was there, of course. Because I had dinner and the Birds' game to fill my Turkey Day time. But for those of you who turned the game off after McNabb and B West rebounded like vintage Wilt, allow me to share a paraphrased quote from Deion Sanders from when McNabb joined the NFL Network crew for a post-game interview:

"Hey Philly fans, you're all front runners. I don't like you and I never have."

Seriously, he said something like that. I had to clean it up a little, though, because Deion, who defended Michael Vick and dogfighting, really has little command of the English language. Because he's a dirtbag who I don't like, and never have.

Looking forward to your next visit, Deion. Here's hoping it snows the night before.
Also, nice clip with the hair-replacement folks, Baldie McBald. It ain't coming back, just like your speed and career.

[Update: heard it too]

"A Very Normal DD"

So, we were driving back from the bride's family's house after a great dinner last night and, lo and behold, as we're cruising along Route 1, we see a line already forming outside a Circuit City. This was about 7 p.m. This was also very sad. I felt bad for them, one and all, convinced that tis the season to show your love and appreciation for others through purchased products. And that many people value a night of their lives at less than the 100-200 buck savings they get by staying out overnight. Oh well. Go capitalism.
But that's not what has me the saddest today; the fact that The Insider's latest reality-show series has come to an end. I'll let the show that hasn't been the same since P.O.B. got jammed into rehab, leaving Lara Spencer to take over and, quite frankly, ruin all the good that P.O.B. represented. Except in this case, because the story of the Triple-MMM Housewife, well, that's something we can all rally behind.

Ever since you got here, there's been a woman on the TV with her breastuses hanging out and you didn't even notice. You've just been clockin' me.

Here's what The Insider had to say during the "dramatic finale":

"She has to sacrifice her implants to save her unborn child."

Said Sheyla Hershey: "I'm going to miss my breasts. It's going to disappoint all my fans. I just like them [the breasts] so much!"

"She's not very happy, but she has to do what's best for the baby. She went from small Bs to triple Fs and finally, 38 triple Ms."

Said Sheyla Hershey: "They [the fans] all follow me around. They want to see. They want to touch."

(As they show her getting her hair dyed black): "She decided to change her hair to match her new [breast-reduced] look. They removed more than a gallon of liquid. She's now a very-normal DD. One procedure takes her from celebrity to obscurity."

Ah yes, the obscurity of DDs. If you have it in your heart, send some holiday glad-tidings Sheyla's way. She deserves it, for everything she's done for our nation.

But, on a serious note, was nice to see old friend Adam Bruckner get some Inquirer respec' on Wednesday; after all, the guy's totally given his life to making life a little better for Philly's homeless.
Want to track his progress? Compare this excerpt from a piece I wrote about him in April '06:

Turns out the city, for all the pomp and circumstance of Mayor Street's 10-year plan to end homelessness, doesn't realize that without $10, they can't get a PennDOT non-driver's ID. And without ID, they can't get a job. And without a job, they can't get off the streets.
But Bruckner does. He's set up shop as a one-man charity. Opens his savings account wide, $10 at a time. (On a meager salary, he says he's "literally spent tens of thousands of dollars on plastic and paper ID.") He listens to people, hears what they need and reacts; this, even though some degenerates put their Verizon bills and DIRECTV accounts on his tab. (No time to check everybody out, even after that.)
Today, he hits check number 5612 around 4 p.m.

To this one from the Inky piece:

Adam began handing out personal checks, too - but with a stipulation. Made out to state agencies, they could be used only to pay for identification papers.
Turns out, Adam had listened to the Parkway men. Many had told him they had nothing in their pockets to prove who they were.
Adam's checks range from $10 (the price of a new birth certificate) to $66 (a replacement commercial driver's license), and he writes dozens of them every Monday. The total this year will be about $40,000. ...
On a cold, gray Monday this month, Warren stopped by the Free Library to say hello to Adam. More than a hundred people formed an orderly line that spiraled around volunteers serving dinner.
In another line, about 100 waited for the attention of Adam, who was writing out check No. 19,241.

26 November 2008

The Football Picks...

... are up here. Have a great Turkey Day.

23 November 2008

I blame the Mormons

McNabb benched!

I never imagined it would end this way, half-time in the Syphilis Capital of the Universe and all.

But it did.

So, good luck in Chicago, Donovan. You're better off there anyway. I mean, you and Philly never did fully understand one another, y'know?
Time for us to move along. (Looking for a nice farewell gift? You could always take coach witcha.)

(Photos of my television, tuned to Fox29. Holla.)


Before Demps just ran that kickoff back, I was feeling like going Jimmy Connors all over town. (Alas, the Santa Barbara News-Press site requires membership, and I don't feel like signing up, so here's the TMZ brief).

Former tennis star, Jimmy Connors was arrested Friday night at the UC Santa Barbara Thunderdome.
A UCSB campus police rep tells us that Connors was arrested and taken into custody after refusing to leave the area after he was asked by police following a confrontation. The incident occurred at the front entrance during the beginning of a basketball game. Connors was later booked and released.
Connors was well known for his temper tantrums on the court during the 70s. A rep for Connors could not be reached for comment.

Weekend Reading Roundup

Once Notre Dame officially rendered itself dead to me, I got to watching some boxing last night. Wanted to see how friend-of-Oasis Ricky Hatton would bounce back from his whupping at the hands of Floyd Mayweather last time we'd seen him. And he bounced back solid, knocking the hell out of some kid from NYC named Paulie Malignaggi. (He showed a bunch of heart, but his cornermen threw in the towel in the 11th.) The best part of the non-pay-per-view event? The undercard. Because there was a dude named James "Mandingo Warrior" Kirland on it. And Mandingo Warrior is just a bad-ass nickname, innit?

But what isn't disturbing is that, despite my greatest fears, seems that, according to an Inky story today, the Catholics did in fact turn out for Obama; apparently abortion isn't all that of an important issue when your 401K is roughly and 80.25K.
And, despite my other greatest fears, it seems as if the Secret Service is all up on the security tip for January's inauguration with a little help from John Q. Philly Law.
On the polar opposite of fear comes the story of an 18-year-old in Nepal who may or may not have spent the past three years meditating in the woods without food or water and who may or may not be Buddha Reincarnate.

And here I thought Buddha was roomy, like Mrs. Lippman.

Congrats to Caroline Tiger and new hubby Jonathan Dunsay for landing the Times' wedding Vows feature. (Also in the Times, a headline that makes me wonder whether we may soon have our first execution.)
And to the New Yorker (which has a feature on the best BBQ in Texas) for scoring some face-time with Prince, a brief story in which I believe the dude who likely copulated with just about everything under the sun at some point during his Purple Reign takes a swipe at gay marriage.

When asked about his perspective on social issues — gay marriage, abortion — Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’”

As for GQ (which has a piece about bindle-packing that I can't find online), I cannot tell a lie: Every time I see another picture of Megan Fox with that "Brian" tattoo near where her unmentionables tan-line should be, I smile a little broader. (Because my name's Brian and she's, well, as vixen-y as it gets these days.)
But this was their Men of the Year issue and they earn props for shouting out Rafael Nadal, Danny McBride, (ancillarily) my college pal Jeff Pearlman, David Simon and The Wire's writing crew and Brandon Flowers from The Killers (new album drops Tuesday, yo). The whole roster can be seen here.
Don't miss Teddy Kennedy's heartfelt thinkpiece on Obama, or DiCaprio holding court on OCD.
Is it true you had a recurrence of OCD after shooting The Aviator?
I never actually had OCD. I know I did say that at some point, but I didn’t. I studied this. OCD is us reverting to a reptilian part of our brain where we have to organize everything. It’s about cleanliness and protecting the home nest. That’s why you see rodents running around and picking things up and constantly organizing.

Finally, from the guilty-pleasures file, the new subscription to Entertainment Weekly taught me that:
-- Anthony Kiedis will soon have an HBO show based on his wildass childhood in Cali,
-- Daughter, but thankfully not a look-alike, of Cabin Boy is joining the SNL ensemble, and
-- the conductor of the Soul Train is back in a jam for spousal battery. For shame, Mr. Cornelius.

22 November 2008

The future's so bright, I'm talking to myself

One of the wiser voices in my head recently reiterated something he's been saying for a while now: "You know, the mid-sized and community-based papers are the ones that will always thrive so long as they make a modest online investment and train a couple people how to go out and do video and web-type stuff. But the big boys? Oh boy, big trouble."
This is hardly rocket science.
If it was, I'd call that voice "Ronnie the Rocket Scientist." He'd be brilliant, but not too condescending. A benevolent brainiac, one might say. And handsome, too. Straight butter to the ladies. Translation: He'd be nothing like Danny's friend Tony. Nothing at all.

Anyway, that "conversation" came to mind today as I was leafing through one of the local weeklies, The Roxborough Review, while watching GW High take hoity-toity LaSalle down to win the Philly H.S. Championship. (Bravo, public schools.) Alas, Ronnie's theory kind of holds true because, as I cruise though their website to find three bits of interest I'd hoped to share with you, I can't find them.
And that sucks, because:
-- one was a photo of women toiling in what seemed to be a Honduran sweatshop under the headline, "Fun and frivolity in the Honduran sun,"
-- another was our budget-slashing, star-loving Mayor Mike Nutter done all up like Dog the Bounty Hunter laying down the "Tax cheats in this city will not be tolerated" by this guy,

-- and the other was a police brief that I'll transcribe: "A lighted pumpkin was taken from the 200 block of Green La on Oct. 24."
Solid stuff, all. And since people will always be interested in what neighbor actually called the cops after their lighted pumpkin was stolen, it's papes (pronounced like pope, except an A where the O would be) like these that shall thrive eternally.

I'd like to think the Inquirer has a similar future, but it's hard to imagine the model of the big-city daily that's poisted to tear shit up bid'ness wise going forward. This is sad, because today, they told me how some 20 percent of the weed shops in Amsterdam (including some that I probably visited back in the mid-90s, as pictured below; I'm far right, on a canal boat tour designed to pass some time between coffee-shop stops).

They also convinced me to invest in Campbell's Soup. Big time.

Also, be sure to check tomorrow's New York Times for the piece ripping Chinese Democracy -- a cardinal sin -- while breaking down Axl's whole path between using illusions in '91 and today, where he's a quote-unquote Best Buy whore. (Via Facebook, fellow Haddon Twp. product Rob Smentek also keenly pointed out this exceptional Axl-timeline yesterday.)

And, in the Times Magazine's "screens issue," a deep look is taken at the future of all media -- from big physical papers and movie screens to itty-bitty Blackberries like mine, which stand poised to destroy our children's minds. And our adult's minds. Just like Ronnie said they would.
The spottest-on quote from their roundtable on online advertisers:

Trevor Edwards, Nike’s main marketing guy, had a great quote. He said, “Nike’s not in the business of keeping media companies alive, we’re in the business of connecting with consumers.” That sums up digital pretty nicely.

Seems rather logical. So does the fact that "Napoleon Dynamite" has become Focus-of-Mystifyment No. 1 when it comes to people vying for Netflix's $1 million bounty to improve its guess-what-other-movies-you'll-like feature. Because Napoleon Dynamite was horrendous, yet some people pretend otherwise. Shame on them all.

President Hines?

Almost as good as the classic "Cipel scared of Gov's Well-Oiled Machine" headline -- in which the Gov. in question is Jim McGreevey, and the well-oiled machine, well, I'm not gonna get into all that since the subject was inappropriate homosexual advances -- comes today's Inquirer instant classic:

"Obama set to tap Clinton"

Now, I knew they were getting along much better since the Democratic voters vanquished the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua, but is Bill comfortable with this? What about Michelle?
And how, exactly, does Obama plan on "tapping" Clinton? And where?
So many questions! So many disturbing questions. Maybe Cube knows what's up.

Oh, sweet Lord, tell me it isn't definition No. 3. (Warning, not for the weak of constitution.)

21 November 2008

Would Pat O'Brien Have Stood For This? Vol. 1.2

I'm watching The Insider again. I wish I could help it. But even I didn't see these coming:

These are the words as they would have appeared on a script:

Another twist for the pregnant Triple-M housewife!
The Insider Reality Show.
(Another line or two, one of which is the housewife wondering aloud how something could have gone wrong)
Did her 10th breast augmentation cost Shayla her unborn baby?!

Verdict: Pat wouldn't have stood for this. Betsy would have been understanding at first. Then, she would have hidden behind Pat.

And, regardless of what Alec Baldwin may think, My Name is Earl still has merit:

If by merit, you mean visible ribs.

White Thanksgiving?

At a diner somewhere in Philadelphia right now, some schmuck is saying to another schmuck: "There's no such thing as global warming. Look! It's snowing on Nov. 21." And the schmuck's friend will agree, thus adding to the ranks of the moron brigade that doesn't think the climate is so totally screwed. I mention this because it's snowing this morning and if the globe was really warming, well, wouldn't it be 80 degrees out today? Take that, stupid science.

In any event, I'm A.C. bound today (the two-year anniversary of the discovery of four dead prostitutes off the White Horse Pike), so I'll leave you with a quick thought from this week's Sports Illustrated and be on my merry way. It's about how we, as a people, have gotten all moral about hunting and, as a result, we're pretty much becoming the hunted.

The news of hunting's decline will no doubt cheer those who see it as a cruel pastime. But what the critics do not realize is that as the hunters have stepped back, the animals (especially predators) have come forward—with potentially disastrous consequences for all.
Valerius Geist, a professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Calgary and an expert on the behavior of large mammals, calls what is happening "the recolonization by wildlife." The first sign, he says, "was when the herbivores returned," a reference to the overabundance of deer, moose and elk in North America. After the herbivores, Geist says, the carnivores are never far behind. "We are just now beginning to experience that phase," he says. As recently as 1994 there were about 50 wolves left in the Yellowstone region (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming), but the population there now stands at more than 1,500; in Minnesota wolves climbed from about 500 in the 1950s to more than 3,000 today.
The third phase of animal recolonization, Geist says, is "the parasites and diseases returning in full force."

Chew on that one while you gnaw on Tom Turkey next week, sapsuckers.

19 November 2008

Grab Them Cakes

So, when I was updating my Facebook status line last night, Junkyard Dog was in my mind. Hence, it turned into a discussion of the greatest rasslers of all time. The answer, of course, is Junkyard Dog. May He rest in peace.
But some other oldies but goodies came up as well. Like, Rick Flair, the Missing Link, Sir Haystacks Calhoun and ... the Farmer's Daughter!

Got a thought and are on Facebook? Look me up and your choice. I'm Brian Hickey. From Philadelphia. Obviously.

The Football Picks...

... are up here. Did you know there was such a thing as a tie in the NFL? Yeah, I thought so.

Thanks for chiming in, Ayman al-Zawahri

Lending further credence to the theory that Obama haters are the moral equivalent of murderous terrorists comes this lil nugget of news from NBC News:

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has criticized President-elect Barack Obama, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that Obama is a black American who does the bidding of whites.
In an audio message which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, al-Zawahri said that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X. He called Obama a "house negro."

I don't even know where to start with this one. So, I won't, because I'll probably just veer off into an hour-long tirade about the contrasts between MLK and Malcolm, touching on how I think Malcolm's approach certainly had its merits, but even he was sold out from within when all was said and done.
Besides Charlie Dawg, seen here without Krazy Glow-in-the-Dark-Eyes ...

... told me she thinks the sad, makes-me-question-democracy news of Ted Stevens' loss in Alaska needs to go noted for without him, she says, she never would have known that the Internet isn't just a truck that you dump all sorts of things on. That, in fact, it's a series of tubes. Yet, she can't figure out why her staff sent her an Internet last week, and she just got it today.

Finally, today's a tough day for me; three years since my mom died. They're right when they say it never goes away. So, if you're the praying type, by all means, prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

18 November 2008 gets it right

From the credit where it's due files:
Looks to me as if the Inky has tapped into a very prudent idea here, with its (I think) new breaking-news blog, "From the Source."

Would you like to play a game of Theaterwide Biotoxic and Chemical Warfare, Prof. Falken ... or see what's going to be in tomorrow's paper, today?

Telling readers what you're working on used to be taboo onaccounta the fact that the competition would get a hold of it and steal your scoop. But these be different days. And this seems like a damn-smart response to it.
(Full disclosure: I work a couple part-time days a week in the video-editing/producing realm there, but this ain't an ass-kissin' post. A good idea deserves an attaguy or attagal or attasite or attablog, no?)

Plank Walkin', just isn't a crime

While nothing short of Tori Amos' dying-cat-shriek of a "voice" annoys me more than the whole "Talk like a pirate" trend -- sorry, mateys, you sound like doucheys -- I love me some real-life pirate stories. So thank you Gulf of Aden pirates for keepin' in real.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Pirates are believed to have anchored a hijacked supertanker carrying up to $100 million worth of crude oil off Somalia Tuesday, its operator has said.

See, people, Johnny's not a real pirate. And neither are you. So, knock if off until you're ready to motorboat down the Delaware and take over a tanker before it gets too far up river. (Psst, when you arrgh, call me. I'm always up for some swash-bucklin. Word.)

America's Sickness

So, the magazines to which I subscribe are coming out with their gift guides lately. Because it's almost Christmas, the season of spending beyond one's means! (Praise Jebus.) In any event, as has been happening every year or so, I get captivated by a single gadget and, well, beg Ms. Claus-Hickey to spend beyond the logical means for a toy. This year, it's the Kindle, Amazon's $350+ digital reader.

Though the article's not yet online, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos knocks down crit that they're leading the way toward illiteracy and book-death by saying, "I think people will read more, not less," in the December issue of SmartMoney. (The issue also rates Toll Brothers stock as a "Buy" because, "with $1.5 billion in cash and no debt due until 2011, Toll Brothers is well positioned to get ahead of competitors by buying up land at fire-sale prices..." I wonder if that means Senor Toll will be investing more in the newspapers in which he invested, bolstering his dedication to what amounts to a public trust. I mean, $1.5 billion on hand is a lil bit of cash, no?)
Oh, the Kindle. Well, yeah, I think it'd be cool to load that thing up with my magazines, and perhaps "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (since I can't finish the damn thing, as much as I want to, in an attempt to determine how it tolls for thee), before my next flight to Vegas. But I also think I still kind of like the feeling of book in hand.
Yes, I'm conflicted, but it's a cool toy and I like it, even if it's another step toward the death of print, which I love, trees be damned since my street's tree-lined.
A long walk to get to my point, yes, but here it finally is: Even though they've killed off their print version (coming soon to a paper near you), the Christian Science Monitor has a hell of a story today that I noticed onaccounta of (hat-tip for) activist Mary Shaw's link on Facebook (my favorite pre-Kindle toy). The headline: "After Obama's win, white backlash festers in US." (It says the same thing as a link from the weekend reading roundup, but bears repeating.)

The election of America's first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters' comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama's election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.
Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there's even talk of secession.
"Most of this movement is not violent, but there is a substantive underbelly that is violent and does try to make a bridge to people who feel disenfranchised," says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. "The question is: Will this swirl become a tornado or just an ill wind? We're not there yet, but there's dust on the horizon, a swirling of wind, and the atmospherics are getting put together for [conflict]."

I think I speak for all of us evolved folk when I say, "If you want to go all secession on us, please do. Your services are no longer needed in New America."

Apparently, we still can't, Rodney.

The Fixes, In?

The picks, in which I claw closer toward amusement-only medicrioty, can be found here. (Complete with an updated team-by-team breakdown.) But I'll tell you who isn't amused this morning: Everybody who collectively gambled $66 million on the Stealers this weekend only to have a muffed (and inexplicably backed-up) end-of-game call go against them -- and The Coverin' of the Line.

With five seconds remaining, trailing 11-10, the Chargers, on their own 21, tried one of those wacky, multiple-lateral plays to keep the ball alive. LaDainian Tomlinson caught a pass, flipped it to Chris Chambers, who then tried to pitch it to a teammate. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu broke it up, scooped up the football and ran in for an apparent TD. After a review, Green announced the play was upheld and the TD counted. But the officials huddled again before the Steelers extra-point attempt and changed the call, declaring Tomlinson's lateral to be an illegal forward pass which should have ended the play.
The problem is the Steelers were very heavy betting favorites in this game. One Vegas bookie said last night that $100 million was bet on this game alone, with $66 million of that bet on the Steelers. The Steelers were four-point favorites. Instead of winning 17-10 or 18-10, the Steelers won 11-10. Thus they didn't cover, much to the angst of gamblers around the United States. The call led to the conspiracy theory that somebody must have been in on the action to influence such a gigantic swing in the betting line.

17 November 2008

Weekend Reading Roundup

First, I'd like to start off with a nugget of knowledge I learned while watching a Nature special about primate intelligence the other day. (Monkeys!) Check this dude out!

According to the show, as they showed this freaky looking dude, "Childhood in monkeys is not primarily about a growing body, but a growing mind." Just thought I'd share. I also thought I'd share a photo of the breakfast I cooked yesterday because, well, I thought it was a damn good looking meal.

Mmm, sausage. By now, I hope, two goofy photographs have sufficiently distracted you from the fact that:
The. Eagles. Season. Is. Over.
Also, to the fact that:
The. Reid/McNabb. Era. Is. Over.
And what a sad way for it to symbolically end, with a whimpering 13-13 (bad luck) tie with a 1-8 (well, now 1-8-1) team that had ZERO to play for. ZERO. NOTHING. NADA. YET DONOVAN COMES OUT AND THROWS THREE INTS ON LIKELY SCORING DRIVES AND PUKES UP YET-ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF IN THE EYES OF PHILADELPHIA.

God, I'm sorry. This one's particularly hard to take because when the Daily News a few years ago asked notable Philadelphians (I know, I'm not notable, but they asked anyway) which team would win the next championship, I went with the Birds over the Phils. Why? Because, and I paraquote, "Can you really imagine Donovan leaving town or retiring without a ring on his finger?"
Well -- mark the time, 10:46 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 -- I was wrong. Way wrong. And I'm done ranting, now. I'm sorry. Didn't realize how riled up I was till I sat down, started typing and decided the CapLock key was a necessary touch.

Oh yeah, stories I read while not watching a wasted football decade crumble before my eyes.
Vanity Fair takes a long look at why Bloomberg L.P. is thriving while other media outlets cut, slash and pillage their staff to the point where a good story is a surprise and the easy-out is the norm. (Big play given to Philly-bred Norman Perlstine in this one.)

This upcoming month's Maxim -- with Bondgirl Olga Kurylenko on the cover (sounds like she's got a wild side), and interview with Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers and the fact that 33 percent of West Virginia adults are missing a minimum of six teeth (helps explain the Democratic Primary results, no?) -- also has a grand piece on the history of the late Marlon Brando's island of Tetiaroa, located boat-distance from Tahiti. It's not online as best I can tell, but here's a summary: They're going to build a resort there now, because nothing's sacred.
The New York Times Magazine has a going-away interview with Condoleeza Rice in which the soon-to-be-former Secretary of State says things like:

"I have regrets about Darfur, real regrets. I don’t know that there were other answers. The president considered trying to do something unilaterally — very difficult to do. ...
"We worked day in and day out. Almost not a day passes in this office that we’re not trying to find some way to get more forces into Darfur. To make the Sudanese government live up to the multiple agreements that it has made and then walked away from. We go to the Security Council, and nobody wants there to be consequences, well, not nobody, sorry, some don’t wish there to be consequences. And so we end up sanctioning again, unilaterally. The Europeans do some things but other interests seem to then trump the responsibility to protect."

The mag also takes us a wee-bit deeper into the Obama inner sanctum in a piece that also reveals how the outgoing President's childhood home is in Midland, Texas where, fellow Friday Night Lights viewers will remember, is where Jason Street was treated for his spinal injuries.

But the Obama details help fill out the painting:

It was in Iowa, just a year ago. Obama was way behind Hillary Clinton. The heavyweights were called in, 200 members of Obama’s national finance committee. The money people. Many had given mightily. And now, it seemed, nothing was working. Obama said that before they all gathered to pass judgment, he wanted them — all 200 — to meet his grass-roots field team in Iowa.
They did, then gathered in a room at an Iowa arts center. The room was tense.
Obama explained that day that they were running a different kind of campaign, a real grass-roots campaign, one that grew from the bottom up, from the dirt, and that it takes time for those roots to take hold. And the heavy hitters nodded; yes, they understood that idea, but it wasn’t working. The polls were the proof. They showed Clinton with a double-digit lead.
And Jarrett can remember how Obama looked at them, hard-eyed, everything on the line. “ ‘Did you think I was kidding when I said this was the unlikely journey?’ ” Jarrett recalls him saying. “‘You thought this would be simple? No, change is never simple. Change is hard.
“ ‘Listen, I know you’re nervous,’ he went on. ‘But if you’re nervous, I’ll hold your hand. We’re going to get through this together. And if we win Iowa, we’ll win this country.’ ”
Jarrett said: “He turned their emotion around. He made sense of it. He told them why we were there and what was within our grasp. And people became jubilant. You never heard cheering like that. That was the turn, where it happened.”

As for the weekend papers, the Times' had pieces on:
-- Asbury Park's on-again-off-again revitalization,
-- President Obama's looming departure from Crackberry culture (really, we haven't figured out a way for the leader of the free world to even email?!),
-- MLB's shameful blackballing of Mark Cuban's bid for my beloved Cubbies gives way to a wise suggestion that he be given the keys to an under-the-radar franchise, say, the Kansas City Royals,
-- the horrific story of a black Staten Island man beaten on Election Night by white assailants chanting Obama-related taunts,
-- and an in-depth look at why Exxon just really doesn't care about leading your stinkin' green revolution....

Gingerly, over the last three years, Exxon has moved away from its extreme position. It stopped financing climate skeptics this year, and has sought to soften its image with a $100 million advertising campaign featuring real company executives, scientists and managers. One of the ads said the company aimed to provide energy “with dramatically lower CO2 emissions.”

As for the Inky,
-- I learned that Gamblin' Rick Tocchet is now the interim coach down in Tampa "Second Place" Bay,
-- Maricopa County, Az. is the most pro-McCain county in the land (H.I. McDunnough could've saw that comin' a country mile away). But please start running the excellent map graphics online, paper. Please.

-- and that things are bad, and getting worse, when it comes to ignorant white folk who want to lash out because somebody who doesn't look like them will be leader of their free world. Specifically, a wave of racist activity on college campuses. If it's happening here, in the bluest city of a blue state, I can only imagine what's shaking elsewhere, and it sure ain't good.

14 November 2008

Forgive, but never forget

So, I think I'm finally cool with Sports Illustrated, just a week after they snubbed the World Champion Phillies for a generic NFL Midseason Report cover across the country. Like the post title says, forgive but not forget. Sure, some of it may have to do with the fact that they've named my Heels the #1 team in the land (hey, when you go to Delaware, you need a big program to pull for come tourney time.)

But, this week's college-football preview issue is littered with Philly references that go beyond Chester's Tyreke Evans leading Memphis to the No. 11 spot as a frosh, Nova closing out the Top 20, and Temple grabbing a tourney spot (31). (They have Cornell, not Penn, taking the Ivy.)
No, it goes beyond that.
Like the throwback SI Vault story on Earl "The Pearl" Monroe playing at 12th and Columbia back in the day.

Of the multitude of players who have come out of Philadelphia in recent years—Chamberlain included—it is doubtful that any has been held in such esteem at home as Monroe. He is sovereign in the all-pro Baker League, the toughest summer wheel in the country. The Baker floats to various locations, but no matter where it goes Monroe's fans follow it.
The hub of the action is at 12th and Columbia, in the gym that stands behind the Hope Baptist Church on the corner. The gym is fairly new, but it is windowless and dimly lit, and on an oppressive summer night the cement block walls stifle the humanity pressed against them. Still, nobody is unhappy. Everyone is there to watch Earl Monroe go into his magic act.
The faithful arrive early. Monroe, as has become his custom, arrives fashionably late, usually around the end of the first quarter. His presence is signaled by a knowing murmur that swells to a tremorous rattle. The fans cannot see Monroe, but they can feel him, and as he nears the court the buzz increases.
"Magic's here, Magic's here," it goes, sweeping the gym. Monroe has been called more nicknames than any other athlete—and not one of them is a phony alliterative or geographical title invented by a P.R. man. He is called Pearl as much as he is Earl. And Magic, too, a lot. Also he is Doctor, Slick and Batman, and underground he is Black Jesus or The Savior.

A bunch of whiners complaining that they've had it worse than pre-parade Philadelphia. (Psst, yo, Cleveland and San Diego, talk to us when you have four sports that make you a, you know, real city.)
A piece about Philly writer Buzz Bissinger kinda making peace with a blogger he tore into before. (I'm still with Buzz, for the most part.)
And, of course, yet-another mention of Eagles' WR Hank Baskett marrying Hefgal Kendra Wilkinson. Am I the only one that finds it odd that Hef will be hosting said union?

12 November 2008

Pat O'Brien Would Not Have Stood For This

This is what his beloved Insider has become in his wake? The finest moment ever captured on television?

(Click the link in this link to reaquaint yourself with POB's voicemails. Alas, Betsy took her blog down. Guess she wasn't that into it.)

Latest Freelance

Got a column in today's Metro about, well, something that nobody wants to talk about but that I think people should be talking about.

Even though I spent months lobbying on [Obama's] behalf, I couldn’t fully enjoy the historic moment. Because I was expecting the worst to happen, and I don’t think that feeling is going to subside.

Give it a read and let me know what you think. (Need I point to any more stories besides this to show where I'm coming from?)
Off to Jersey. Go Cubs '09.
The football picks, up a day early onaccounta the Thursday night game.
And now, with no further ado, disturbing photos of our pets!

11 November 2008

The End of Criminal Justice?

I've always been fascinated with stories about what makes psychopaths click. I guess that's why I ended up writing in-depth stories about Gary Heidnik survivor Josefina Rivera, the evisceration death of Pete Kent and another on the hooker serial-murders in Atlantic City that happened two years ago this month. (Not to mention the piece I'm currently working on which, if I might toot my own horn here, promises to be the best thing I've ever written. More on that in a month or two.)
All of which is to explain why I was fascinated by a piece in last week's New Yorker by John Seabrook, which delves into not only the history of the field of study (from Iago to Bundy), but a new move to bring mobile brain-scanners into prisons to see whether our nation's psychopaths are driven by rage or mental defect.

(New Yorker illustration by John Ritter)

Truth be told, it's one of the best articles I've read of late. But then, right near the end of the story, I read a passage that got my haunches all up in a tizzy. Allow me to share:

Like many in the field of psychopathy research, Kiehl is aware of the enormous social implications of accepting psychopathy as a form of mental illness. What, for example, would you do with the young psychopaths who don’t respond to treatment? The stigma would be profound.
It’s not hard to imagine a day when everyone’s personal psychopathy risk will be assigned early in life—a kind of criminal-potential index. Kiehl was recently appointed as a scientific member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project, which will study some of the legal implications of neuroimaging.
Psychopathy also raises fundamental issues about justice. At the core of our judicial system is the assumption that someone who appears sane is culpable for his actions. (In the U.S., there is no insanity defense for psychopaths.) As Decety, of the University of Chicago, put it to me, “We still basically work out of a Biblical system of punishment—we don’t consider, in most cases, to what extent the offender’s actions were intentional or unintentional. But what neuroscience is showing us is that a great many crimes are committed out of compulsion—the offenders couldn’t help it. Once that is clear, and science proves it, what will the justice system do?”
Joseph Newman told me, “I go around and give speeches to the staff in prisons, saying the inmates are not just assholes, and afterwards the guards come up and say, ‘Enjoyed your talk, Doc, but are you saying these guys aren’t responsible for their crimes?’ ”

Now, here's my worry: While it's utterly fascinating to think that, finally, after generations of people effected by such a curse, we may be thisclose to understanding many of the root causes of violent crime, it looks like there's a hefty price tag attached.
Namely, that relentless gaggle of think-they're do-gooders who posit that they understand the horrific ramifications of crime victimization (which they don't) will start holding up brain scans to say, "See, your honor, it's not their fault. We need to let him/her out of prison since they're sick. It's a disease. They can't help themselves!"
Already, we live in a land where too many people don't understand that some people deserve to die for their crimes, regardless of any deterrent effect. Now, we could be veering toward a climate where no psychopath deserves to be imprisoned, let alone executed.
As someone who's spent years working closely with those left behind in horrific-crime's wake, I'm worried that their needs will be ignored, as they so often seem to be. We need to pay close attention to this one, folks.

So you're the guy that's gonna succeed me? Hehehehe.

And you can quote me on that, Mr. President. I said, "like a mule" and I meant it.
(Hey, it's only fair.)

But what isn't only fair is how my former Catholic fold is already starting to agitate for a battle they've already lost. From the AP:

BALTIMORE - The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, opening a national church meeting yesterday, said that continued support for abortion rights would undermine any advances in social justice that came from a new president and Congress. ...
[Chicago Cardinal Francis] George said the nation had not overcome objections to the candidacy of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, and still held a low opinion of Catholic moral teaching.
"We are, perhaps, at a moment when, with the grace of God, all races are safely within the American consensus," he said. "We are not at the point, however, when Catholics, especially in public life, can be considered full partners in the American experience unless they are willing to put aside some fundamental Catholic teachings on a just moral and political order."
Today, the bishops are expected to once again take up the issue of Catholics in public life. George urged Catholic officials to consider church teaching when setting policy.
"We respect and love you, and we pray that the Catholic faith will shape your decisions so that our communion may be full," George said.
But he also warned that it would "betray the Lord Jesus Christ" if those in public life tried to "impose their own agenda on the church."

4:20 still the most dangerous time of the day for your children

I wish NBC10's Timmy Furlong would do an update on the dangers of marijuana. The kids need to hear it.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. This is:
The first rule of Grow-House Club is never call the cops on yourself.
The second rule of Grow-House Club is to neither prance around the house in Nazi garb nor let the po-po's public-affairs office tell the world that you prance around the Grow House in Nazi garb.
Upper Darby's Edward Hatton and his lovely bride Debra apparently never heard the rules. From today's Daily News:

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood urges citizens to be proactive in fighting crime, but even he questioned the judgment of a burglary call to police on Friday by a resident whose basement was "landscaped with marijuana."

The resident, Edward Hatton, 43, of Maplewood Avenue near Magnolia Terrace, used a time-honored excuse.

"He said, 'I didn't call the police; my wife did,' " Chitwood said.

The $10,000 hydroponic growing operation, allegedly run by Hatton, a Havertown public-works truck driver, and his wife, Debra, 52, a professional horticulturist, wasn't even the most shocking thing police found.

There were the Nazi uniforms and medals, which Edward Hatton wore around the house from time to time; the wardrobe of authentic local and federal law-enforcement clothing and badges, for which police are trying to track the sources, and a cache of weapons including a loaded AK-47 that Hatton said he had bought "on the street," cops said.


Hick's Picks

The respectable Week 10 football results are up here.

10 November 2008

If a picture is worth 1,000 words...

this one is worth "Wow" repeated 1,000 times.

Weekend Reading Roundup

So, do you finally agree that it's time for Andy Reid to hit the road? I hope so. But I'm gonna keep on being happy, despite the loss to the Giants. Instead, I'm going to share a few links to stories I read over the weekend, you know, to get my mind off the last-place Birds.

From Obama's victory-night flickr album

Obviously, much ink is still being spilt upon President-Elect Obama. And it's some pretty interesting ink, as well.
From the Times, comes a piece about "Generation O," which succinctly captures the essense of what Obama's victory means in a couple paragraphs. These paragraphs:

Only a Fugees-loving, pick-up-basketball-playing, biracial president-elect would send supporters an e-mail message on election night that said: “I’m about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.”
He signed it simply “Barack.” After all, they were close. He and his biggest fans, the generation of young adults who voted for him in record numbers, together had slogged through 21 months of campaigning. And in his moment of victory, Barack Obama shared the glow of success.
“All of this happened because of you,” the e-mail message said. “We just made history.”
With that simple “we” in millions of in-boxes, the post-baby-boomer era seems to have begun. The endless “us versus them” battles of the ’60s, over Vietnam, abortion, race and gender, at least for a moment last week, seemed as out-of-touch as a rotary phone. Of course, that was Mr. Obama’s goal. In his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he was explicit in his desire to move beyond “the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago.”

That "we" line does signal a cultural seachange, fo sho. Just check out the by-demographic-group graphic breakdown in the Times, or the excellent shifting-Delaware-Valley graphic in the Inquirer which, as best I can tell, isn't online, but should be.
Also worth noting:
-- What Obama's advisors are telling the Times when it comes to immediacy of priorities, with a breakdown of what the president elect promised, and what seems likely in the new fiscal atmosphere.
-- How Comcast plans on sidling up to new pres to get what they want because they gave a lot of money. Can you say labor/management war?
-- Saudi Arabia tries couch therapy for jihadists. That oughta work.

-- From Rolling Stone, the Jerry-less Dead in State College, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops dies, AC/DC rehearsing in Bensalem (?!) and the brutality (and stupidity) of the Mexican drug war.
-- And, a lady in Illinois lived with her dead relatives. Since the early 80s.

08 November 2008


Um, Sarah Palin is right

And you can quote me on that. I said, "like a mule," and I meant it. (Photo from Anchorage Daily News.)

By "right," I don't mean in the political sense in the word (well, yeah I do, because she is, but we're already getting off point here). Rather, the synonym for correct. Check this comment from a story about how the Finest VP Candidate This Side of Adm. James Stockdale is pissed that the McCain camp is sliming her with anonymous quotes (one of my pet peeves as well). My money's on that dirtbag Steve Schmidt, for what it's worth:

"This is Barack Obama's time right now, and this is an historic moment in our nation and this can be a shining moment for America and our history, and look what we're talking about. Again, we're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts. It's ridiculous."

Keep on keepin' on, you crazy lil evolution hater; Brian's got your back.

Latest Freelance

Whoops, forgot to point out a couple stories I've recently written. One's about beer. The other, wine. Imagine that.

07 November 2008


I've never claimed to be an expert when it comes to matters of money. This is because I'm not a money-matters expert. But I know this much: Things have to be pretty bad for Mayor Nutter to do what he did yesterday. By that, I mean basically take a (presidential-campaign reference in coming in one word) scalpel to the city's budget. For specifics, the Inky's coverage breaks it all down.
Layoffs. Tithe-sized salary cuts to his own paycheck. Limits on how many trashcans we're allowed to put out at night. And, illogically, cuts to fire departments that mean ladder trucks will arrive without the engine trucks needed to, y'know, actually pump water toward a fire.

I know what'll soften the blow, Mr. Mayor: Plastic trees and shrubbery. Shrubbery? Yes, shrubbery. Rubbery shrubbery.

But if you'd afford a non-expert a bit of rope, I'd like to make a humble suggestion here. There's all this talk about closing pools, right? Now, I'm sure there are insurance issues, biiiig insurance issues, that might render this a bit difficult, but why not privatize some of the pools and after-school/summer programs that keep the kids cool when the heat of summer could drive them crime-crazy? Even the libraries. I'd hate to see it, but a Comcast Branch would be better than a Closed Branch for a young kid who's interested in, you know, educating him- or herself.

Graphic from the Inky

Is that out of the question? I mean, that's a lot of land to be sold (or leased) off, right? And, if they're charging a nominal neighborhood-considerate fee, it could pump some money back into the coffers, right? Maybe I'm off base here. But maybe I'm not.
Sure, privitizing is one of those words that make the union community break out in hives, but if it's a matter of saving jobs and tamping taxes down, isn't it worth a shot?
P.S. Great move taking $350K from the Mummers. Those dudes still creep me out.
P.P.S. John Street must still be laughing about the fact that his hated sucessor won't be able to plow all the streets come snow time.
P.P.P.S. It's about time something's done to stave off the total collapse that the DROP program will bring about.

06 November 2008

And just like that, the alt-weeklies of Philadelphia are saved

There may be a little pot-calling-kettle-black vibe to this post, but I don't care. For, I'm not working full-time at an alt-weekly anymore.
So, pot, you're black.
XOXO, kettle:

HARTFORD, Conn. - Forty states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, have reached an agreement with the Web site Craigslist to crack down on ads for prostitution, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said today.
Under the deal, anyone who posts an "erotic services" ad on Craigslist will be required to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card.
The Web site will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed to do so.

You'd have to think that this'll drive some dirty cash toward the back pages of the alts, no? I mean, where else is TS Chocolate Playstation going to trade shis' wares now?
Could we see a return to the days of 80+ pages? Time, and a couple of vice sweeps, will tell!

Why Obama's victory was so important

Old-friend and all-around-great-guy Solomon Jones sent out a link to a video from a poignant moment for his family on Election Day: He and his son casting a ballot for Barack Obama. It speaks for itself, making the point that, with one election, so many more dreams feel within reach. I can understand (but not fully feel) why he, and so many of our fellow Americans, are just overwhelmed by the results. It truly was the dawn of a new era, a long-overdue era.

Also, you should buy his books. They're good.

UPDATED: Philadelphia, it's just like, it's just like, a mini mall

So much for SuperProgressiveTM Mayor Michael Nutter riding that happy wave from the Phils, through Obama and all the way into shore, huh? And not just because of the open-meeting issue that the dailies are fiddling on and on about while City Hall burns around them.
(Psst: You already lost this one; get on with the stories about how Philadelphia is basically being gutted and how I'm going to have to rake and bag my leaves from now on. It's a travesty, I tell you. A travesty. I hate raking my leaves, almost as much as manufactured controversy. People are suffering out there; they can wait an extra day to hear what's going to be cut from the budget. Or, how about asking why the Mayor was out on a parade float for a few hours hoisting a trophy when he could've held the meeting without anybody noticing. But, the armed guard? Nice, nice touch. Was this almost Nutter's Kent State? Gotta get down to it, rent-a-cops are cutting us down.)

Mayor Nutter will announce drastic new steps today to close a $1 billion gap in the city's five-year budget, including the closure of 11 of 54 branch libraries and dozens of city pools, a freeze on tax reductions, reduced hours or programs at more than a dozen recreation centers, and fewer engines at some firehouses, according to sources familiar with his plans. ...
To address the even bigger figure, scheduled city-funded cuts in the business and wage taxes will be frozen until fiscal 2015, although wage-tax relief from state casino revenue will be unaffected, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because Nutter "embargoed" the information until today. Layoffs are anticipated. ...
All city departments will be hit, and some, including the Free Library, the Department of Recreation, and the Fairmount Park Commission, are in line for 20 percent budget reductions, the sources said. Mechanical pickup of leaves will end, forcing homeowners to bag leaves, but that change is not expected immediately. Free bulk-trash pickup, including refrigerators and other appliances, will end.

And somewhere, because of this next line, John Street is absolutely laughing his ass off.

Many side streets will go unplowed unless at least 12 inches of snow is on the ground.

My humble suggestion? How 'bout a garage sale? Mike seems to like sidling up to the famous; perhaps he can get this dude to help:

UPDATE: Man oh man, is this a bad day for Philly. Check out Philly Clout's report on what exactly is being cut here. Times are so bad, they've cut the one program proven to cut down on youth crime. While they're cutting police OT. Oh man.

05 November 2008

Weak call, Sports Illustrated. Totally weak call

Charlie Dawg just, as she always does, alerted me to the mailman's arrival. He came bearing gifts today, too: The Sports Illustrated "Phillies Win! (But it was cold, wet and late. They deserved better.)" cover. Here's the picture I just took of it.

Bad quality, right? Right. Well, what do you want me to do? Because, when I went on, the cover that they're shilling to the rest of the country is actually a photo of friggin' Albert Haynesworth, lineman for the Tennessee Titans.

This time they've gone too far. I get the whole different covers by way of geography theory. It's pretty smart. But this is the World Friggin' Series we're talking about. Granted, we didn't care that it was cold, wet and late. But show some respect, y'all. Even if people across the country weren't wrapped up in the Series, you can do an NFL Midseason Report every year. America, it seems, can only see a Phillies Win! cover every four scores. (If a score is seven years, like I think it is but am too lazy to open another window to google it to fruition.)

On account of the Thursday night Broncos/Browns game, the football picks are up here a day early. May they bring you much amusement-only, well, amusement.

Why I'm Personally Responsible for Barack's Victory

(Photo from NYT)

Now, I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you that I was probably the first print journalist in America to endorse President-Elect Barack H. Obama's 2008 candidacy for the White House.
Rather, I am going to sit here and tell you that I probably was the first journalist to endorse Barack Obama for President. Seriously. Well, sort of.
Exhibit A, doubter, is this Nov. 4, 2004 story from the Philadelphia City Paper, where I worked at the time. In the aftermath of the Kerry loss, at around 5:40 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2004, I wrote:

... remember: In 1,459 days, vote Obama.

I didn't realize 63,507,799 people were listening, but thank the Sweet Lord Jebus that they were.
As for the other 56,151,858 of you, what gives? Might have to put all y'all on a sled to Wasilla. And speaking of Wasilla, I gotta say Sarah was looking mighty, mighty fine in them jeans she wore to vote. You betcha God blesses her crazy lil evolution-hatin' heart.

(Photos from Anchorage Daily News, one of the publications my staff regularly puts in front of me to read)

Oh, my point. Mr. President, if you're reading -- and let's face it, you are -- might I nominate myself for some sort of Secretary of Pimpitude cabinet position? The ball's in your court now. Do the right thing.

Happy Second Independence Day, America

Credit where it's due: Throughout the campaign, I looked forward to the arrival of each Rolling Stone because nobody out there covered the whole damn thing as well as Matt Taibbi. Granted, he had the raw materials to work with. But nobody else had the balls to call the process and the people out with such visceral honesty. And that's to be commended in a day-and-age of journalistic layoffs and receding quality (as a result of said layoffs). Hell, Rolling Stone just went to a smaller, conventional magazine layout (and size) with last week's cover interview of PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK H. OBAMA (sorry, couldn't help myself).
Truth be told, the new format was a bit distracting at first, and unsettling in that it marks the end of an era, and further evidence that the industry is shit out of luck going forward. Especially if Obama lives up to his promise of restoring faith in government by rallying Americans behind the common cause of digging out of the Mariana Trench that Bush dug. Take my word for it: Inspriational stories are not the mee-dyah's bread and butter. Not even the butter part of the bread and butter. We all got some adjusting to do, folks. We're evolving, as a nation and a people and a world. But the hard work will be worth it. We'll be a better world day after day after day.
(By the way: Loved the dancing kids outside the White House last night. We the People reclaimed that building and will hand it to Barack with lofty expectations attached.)
Just you wait and see, haters.

As a quick side note, back on Rolling Stone, I wonder if anybody else finds it (at a minimum) peculiar that a writer embedded with the Taliban. At first, I was all like, this is no better than John McCain saying he knew how he could catch bin Laden but didn't catch bin Laden. But as I read on, and it's a great piece, I grew more comfortable, considering the fact that it's the only way to truly understand one's enemy.

Also, how come I've never heard of Rachael Yamagata before? R.S. says she's Philly-based and a quick ITunes run says she's pretty damn good on the piano and vocal chords. Maybe I'm just the antithesis of hip. Or maybe the "breaking" tag on the page is actually truth in advertising.

In closing, Happy Second Independence Day America and thank you, John McCain for bowing out graciously. Despite all the nasty things that have flown from my fingertips on this here blog over the past few months, you're a true public servant and a credit to your people. There were just more of us this time around. (But Steve Schmidt is still a down-and-dirty scumbag. Nothing you could have told the crowd in Arizona last night can change that.)


For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said, "Enough," to the politics of the past. You understand that, in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same, old politics with the same, old players and expect a different result.

You have shown what history teaches us, that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.

Change happens -- change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that, as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming, because I've seen it, because I've lived it.

Because I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work.

I've seen it in Washington, where we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans, and keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

And I've seen it in this campaign, in the young people who voted for the first time and the young at heart, those who got involved again after a very long time; in the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did.

I've seen it -- I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day, even though they can't afford it, than see their friends lose their jobs; in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb; in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

You know, this country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back...

... not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.

America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.

At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

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