↓ Archives ↓

Archive → October, 2011

Happy 11-11-11! My beloved city is about to declare bankruptcy and get taken over by the State

By Josh First

It’s an unusual alignment of numbers today, 11-11-11, and one wonders if it’s an ill omen or good.

After all, Harrisburg City Council voted tonight to declare bankruptcy, a move that Pennsylvania law says is illegal without prior good faith negotiations. Next week, Pennsylvania legislators will vote on a bill allowing the governor to take over the city and run it until it becomes solvent.

The only good faith efforts displayed yet by local officials have been by our mayor, Linda Thompson, who has been constantly stymied by her political foes for the flimsiest of causes. Thompson has been criticized from all sides for years, and of course she has her flaws. But among elected officials here she is also the only apparent cheerleader for Harrisburg City, so dissing her is dissing the city.

Not one opposing member of city council has yet articulated a good reason for his or her opposition. Councilman Brad Koplinski, the Great White Hope of Harrisburg’s moderate Democrats, has never articulated what he is thinking, or why. Many other members are simply inarticulate. Common-sense members like Patty Kim are steamrolled by the majority.

My family has lived here in Harrisburg continuously since the early 1700s, and I am the last Mohican of our clan to remain in the city itself. Is this the kind of place that any American would want to live, regardless of their family history? Our homes’ values are low as a result of the political infighting and lack of problem solving.

As today’s date numbers have aligned in an unusual formation, so we can only hope for an alignment of the political actors here, as well.

Racing fast to the next red light: where not to buy used cars

New York City would be the last place on earth I’d want to buy a used car, because drivers there universally rip from one red light to the next. Stragglers like me drift up behind them or up next to them in the adjoining lane about fifteen seconds later. Same red light, but they got there first.  What they got out of arriving at a red light first, before anyone else, it’s closely held knowledge.  I don’t understand it.

Call me Grandma, whatever; the need to accelerate my vehicle in that environment seems unnecessary.  It’s not like I am going to get somewhere faster by going faster and arriving at one red light after another before most other drivers.  The lights are timed to turn red in a row.  Unless a driver can do 0-60 in half a second, by the time he arrives at the next light, he’s pretty much guaranteed it’ll be red.

Ultimately, aggressively accelerating just burns more gas and stresses the engine more than driving slowly and deliberately.
Perhaps it’s a mindset thing.  Beating everyone to the next light gives the impression of being ahead, even if you’re all even.  Well, that’s weird.

New Yorkers apparently have it in for their vehicles, because they beat the heck out of them with this intense driving business.  A New York car may look shiny on the outside, but under the hood, look out. It’s gonna be an ugly mess.

I’d rather buy a vehicle from Amish country.

Ode to Apple’s Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs influenced my life greatly, even though we did not meet or communicate directly. He will be missed in my own mind, where he long occupied a far-off, small, funky niche in my brain.

His innovative, intuitive, “user-friendly” products appealed to me as a kid and as an adult, and they vastly improved my high school, college, and graduate school experiences. Obviously now, a “professional” isn’t a professional unless he or she has an iPhone or clone firmly grasped in hand.

Learning to program in Basic on an Apple II in high school introduced me to the usefulness of math, a boring as hell subject that I otherwise could not ever grasp from the droning mouth of a boring as hell teacher. Why are math teachers so universally so uninspiring, anyhow?

Apple’s computers were simple, useable, and increasingly intuitive. In grad school, I had a Mac, you know, the big clunky 25-pound thing in its own carry case. Really. Shoulder strap and all. By the day’s standards, it was indeed portable. I refuse to throw it away. There’s Steve Jobs again, in my attic.

In 2005, Jobs gave an unbelievable commencement speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc) that is so overwhelmingly inspiring that you can watch it and gain much whether you are 18, 28, or 48. Probably a lot of retirees would benefit from it, too, as they look at their second life, you know, life after “work.”

Jobs is a true American in every sense. Self-made, despite being a college drop-out. He didn’t stand on form in person, but his fusions of form and function are now iconic and trend-setting around our planet. It says much about what America offers to those who want it, and his story also is testimony to the importance of family in rearing us, instilling values in us, and supporting us as we grow and take risks. Jobs was adopted at birth, and loved the family that gave him love, not just the family that gave him life.

Steve, I didn’t know you in person, and I never watched one of your famous presentations. But you have been in my mind and my life in different ways and times throughout my adult life, from age 14 to now, at 46. Thank you, Steve, for all you gave me.

Many other people feel the same way.

And as a social entrepreneur myself, I love what I do, and I refuse to settle for doing less than what I love. Although I do not aspire to have a large company or make hundreds of millions of dollars, because those require trade-offs in my personal life that I am unwilling to make, I remain inspired by your work.

Thank you, Steve. Good-bye, old friend.


The Amanda Knox Case: Italy’s Great, Really Great, Flaws on Parade

by Josh First
October 5, 2011

This week, Amanda Knox took the witness stand in her own defense, a highly unusual move for the truly guilty.

Her desperate, earnest, tearful plea for justice moved the Italian jury to vacate the bizarre judgment against her. Italian prosecutors had accused Knox of wild sexual behavior that, in most people’s minds, exists only among Italy’s most liberated citizens.

Italy is famous for its beautiful country, high-minded art, and also infamous for corruption and a perennially weak military whose inadequacies reflect the deepest failings of Italian society.

Italy’s pervasive culture of corruption, at least by Western standards, has been on vivid parade this past year with constant reporting about prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sexcapades on the public dime, and financial misdeeds. As a man, I gotta recognize impressive performance when I see it, and Silvio, old buddy, you are both a total stud and a terrible public servant. At least by my American values.

Earlier this year, PBS ran a three-part series called “Zen,” a cool-sounding Bhuddist name, but which according to the show’s producers is actually an old Venetian (Venice) name. Venice…the romantic, mysterious city of love. Intriguing, right?

In this TV show, Zen is an Italian police detective known for being honest and an unlikely survivor of Italy’s rampant official corruption. Viewers enjoy a voluptuous tour of Italy’s women, architecture, wine, cars, rural countryside, and, yes, the beautiful Machiavellian art of public corruption.

PBS is not in the business of damaging relationships with liberals, so if there is any truth to “Zen,” Italy is one screwed up country. Everyone is obsessed with sex, money, power, and using power to get women and money. The women are depicted as seductive, manipulative, and obsessed with money and capturing men. Especially married men. So, I admit to watching “Zen” to great entertainment. Especially with my wife. It’s pretty hot. At least by my American standards.

Is “Zen” a fair description of Italy? Are press reports about Berlusconi representative of Italy-at-large?

A popular Italian joke I have lifted from my old friend Trish at mozzarellamamma.com answers this question, and goes like this:

A husband and a wife are at an expensive restaurant. While seated at the table, a beautiful, leggy, buxom blond in a low-cut dress comes up and kisses the husband. “Ciao, Amore,” she says, before waltzing off.

“Who was that?” demands the wife.

“My lover,” answers the husband nonchalantly.

“WHAT?” the wife nearly screams. “How dare you take a lover!”

The husband leans across the table and says, “I will give you five minutes to think about it, and if you do not like it, you can get up and leave.”

The wife is silent. She looks around at the elegant restaurant, her jewel-laden fingers, and her mink coat, all a product of her marriage, and she thinks.

While she is thinking over his proposition, Giovanni, a colleague of her husband, comes up to their table to greet them. At his side is a young, buxom brunette, pretty but not quite as tall and leggy as the blond lover. They chat for a minute and the couple leaves.

“Who was that woman?” the wife asks.

“She is Giovanni’s lover,” the husband responds.

“Well, our lover is prettier than their lover,” the wife answers, making her final choice and her loyalty evident.

This uniquely Italian joke illuminates how cheating on your spouse is acceptable in Italy. Although legal since 1970, divorce is far less acceptable. According to mozzarellamamma.com, this arrangement “is part of the Catholic culture that men and women may be forgiven for taking lovers, but not for divorcing and breaking up a family. The family is sacred. For many reasons, it has therefore become acceptable to take lovers.”

Back to Amanda Knox, alone in a fantastic society whose values are upside down from the ones she grew up with in America. She is in a beautiful, screwed up society that she does not understand. And her misunderstanding nearly lands her in jail for life.

Italian prosecutors are used to dealing with perversion, wild and kinky sex, and the passionate violence that seems to ever accompany those practices. It was easy for the Italian prosecutors to fabricate a fantastic case, and to accuse delicate Amanda of being something other than she appears. After all, it’s totally Italian to be what they claimed she was, and anyone as sweet as Amanda must actually be the opposite of what she appears. That is the Italian way, apparently. Their claim was believable enough to Italian judges and the first jury, who wrongly convicted Amanda on those titillating, exciting, mental images alone.

But Amanda is not Italian; she is a product of American culture, which remains Puritanical at its core, Thank God.

During her appeal, when the light of day was focused on the prosecution’s insane house of cards that summed up the totality of the evidence against Amanda, good-hearted Italian jurors could not help but shake their heads in disbelief and let Amanda go home to her boring country. Amanda was clearly out of her league, but she was not a murderer or sex-crazed dominatrix, either. Italians know their business and recognized a fake when they saw one. Amanda, you are not one of us and you do not deserve to be punished, the jury must have concluded.

And Amanda came home to Wonderful Perfect Amazing America.

Welcome back to old fuddy-duddy America, Amanda, back to the land of Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead.  Back to the land of The Rule of Law.  Yes, we are boring. Yes, we are not extravagant. Yes, we are simple. Yes, we are not pseudo-sophisticated. And aren’t you glad of those facts?

America, love it or leave it! And if you leave it, be ready for the ride of your life.

NPR Goes for Broke on “Palestine”

National Public Radio Goes for Broke on “Palestine”

October 3rd, 2011

by Josh First

American tax dollars continue to fund National Public Radio’s left-wing agenda, one aspect of which is NPR’s aggressively anti-Israel, pro-Arab imperialism messaging.

April 22nd, 2011, saw NPR’s reporters across the board go for broke on the upcoming application for the creation of a second “Palestinian” state, this one planned for Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The original and primary state that is 78% of the original Palestine Mandate is the current Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, ruled by the carpetbagging family of King Abdullah. In the 1920s, his family was chased out of the Arabian Peninsula by the al-Saud clan, now known as the Saudis. Approximately 80% of the Arabs living in Jordan identify as “Palestinians.”

NPR is no stranger to controversy over the issue of Arab imperialism and colonialism in the Holy Land. Last year Harrisburg’s local NPR affiliate, WITF, interviewed NPR’s ombudsman, who disclaimed any anti-Israel agenda.

“Critics call NPR ‘National Palestine Radio’, and we reject that, it’s ridiculous,” the ombudsman said in that 2010 interview.

Just months later, NPR’s president Mr. Ron Schiller was filmed making a pitch to supposed Arab donors, during which he bragged that NPR is known for its Leftist bias and known as “National Palestine Radio.” His fundraising ploy was that Arabs should naturally donate to NPR because it is a mouthpiece for their views. He was believable because his assertions about NPR’s Leftist activism have been widely observed and documented for decades.

Schiller promptly resigned from NPR after that film went public, and NPR promptly dropped heavy Israel reporting. Israel had been enormously disproportionately featured in NPR’s reporting for decades, and none of it was positive. After Schiller’s resignation, and the subsequent firing of the NPR vice president (Vivian Schiller, said to be no relation to Ron Schiller) who had been behind much of NPR’s political strong-arming of its reporters, NPR laid low and hid from scrutiny, knowing that it had finally been outed, all on the heels of NPR’s Ellen Weiss being dismissed for firing reporter Juan Williams in 2009. NPR is no stranger to political correctness, well, actually NPR is in the vanguard of it, but with so many firings and scandalous resignations associated with PC, the opinion service quieted down for a while.

Now, months later, NPR sees a unique opportunity to create pressure for the advancement of Islamic imperialism and Arab colonialism through the creation of another “Palestinian” state outside of Jordan, both of which NPR has long, long supported in the Holy Land.

In a September 22nd interview with Susan Rice, the Obama Administration’s United Nations representative, NPR’s interviewer asked question after question that revealed her support for Islamic imperialism and her anti-Israel bias. Even NPR’s late report on finance and the economy that same day featured a story on the supposed “Palestinian” economy.

That fawning report highlighted Arab business people supposedly working in quiet but successful obscurity, and failed to mention any of the enormous challenges facing Arabs in Judea and Samaria who wish to create a new Arab state there. In other words, it was just one more NPR propaganda piece, the kind that NPR executives used for fundraising among anti-Israel donors.

On October 3rd, 2011, incoming NPR CEO Gary Knell called for NPR to be fully funded by U.S. taxpayers and for elected officials to “depoliticize” NPR.

So, according to Knell, NPR is supposed to continue with business as usual, where every single molecule of the daily news is heavily politicized to the Left by NPR staff, but the American taxpayers who subsidize it are supposed to now ignore that and let NPR off the hook. Politicization-as-usual by NPR, but Heaven forefend that Americans raise that lack of balance to a political level where their tax money can be accounted for.

Like his predecessors, Knell either does not understand the problem, or, more likely, he wants to pretend the issues facing NPR are some sort of hoax. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks, is the message.

If there was ever a time to apply the Fairness Doctrine, this would be it. It’s a deeply flawed policy that undermines free speech, but when it comes to public money used to spread messages and promote policies that are directly opposed to American interests and policies, NPR is the poster child for its implementation.

Or better yet, disband NPR and return the savings to the taxpayers. There’s no compelling need or reason for NPR to exist any longer. Its inability to maintain journalistic balance is the constant proof of that.