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You vs. Machine

Since the days of the Luddites, Human versus Machine has been a persistent theme, with the human being the “good” side, and the machine wearing the black hat. It’s easy to see why.

This theme has been fully developed by Hollywood, with movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Terminator series, and plenty of other sci-fi fiction, with future dystopias where humans battle cruel robots and machines that are either under their own control or under some robotic impulse, either way sparing the humans no quarter.

Truth is often the father of fiction, and this week we have seen three real-life Human vs. Machine stories that are much more compelling than the fake thrillers on screen. One is local, one is regional, and one is national.

First up is the local story, where Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin argued his court appeal this Wednesday in front of a three-judge panel. A former Republican, the hyper-qualified Mindlin is now an Independent. He was removed from the ballot by a bizarre last-second technical objection by his opponent’s friends, after a hearing in a heavily politicized Dauphin County courtroom. See, Mindlin represents a threat to the combined and congruent interests of both the Democratic Party establishment machine and the Republican Party establishment machine, both of which fed in a bipartisan parasitic manner off of the body of Harrisburg City. Mindlin is completely independent of party bosses, and he will run the city (to the extent he can) in a way that is fairest for the Taxpayer. The establishments of both major parties have much to lose if Mindlin wins, because he will demand a criminal investigation into the debt shenanigans that destroyed the city, as opposed to Eric Papenfuse, who will simply look the other way and let the problems slip into the past, while the taxpayers are saddled with yet more unjustified losses. It is Man vs. machine, or really, vs. machines.

Regionally, the Mid-West has been a political toss-up, with one-time Republican Colorado becoming more liberal as Californians flee their home disaster and seek to bring the same bad ideas to an innocent, rural wonderland. This week we saw the recall of two defiantly arrogant state senators who had led the charge for insane gun laws. These laws do zero to effect crime and do everything to hamper lawful gun ownership, the kind Americans have enjoyed since the very beginning of the nation. The fact that both state senators were Democrats and the fact that their opponents did not include the Republican Party, but rather were an assembly of pissed-off citizens makes this a true-life Human vs. Machine contest. The local citizens who led the recall effort faced down and beat the Michael Bloomberg anti-gun machine, the Democratic Party machine, and several other political machines.

Naturally, the mainstream media has said very little if anything about this incredible feat. Naturally they haven’t, because to inform the voters out there that their future might really be in their hands, then their favored political party might lose power. So they hush it up. Recall that the failed effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor and several allied state senators was reported heavily every day for months and months, until it in fact failed. And then the mainstream media quickly slunk away and said “Never mind, folks.”

Finally, one Human vs. Machine story is still playing out in front of us on the national stage. That is the effort to define who is a journalist and what is journalism. No kidding.

With traditional and mainstream media sources dying left and right, this effort to exclude citizen journalists and artificially buoy up the legacy media is really just an effort to retain an old power that is quickly slipping through away, but which the Democrats need.

The advent of Internet media, blogs, and email have greatly leveled the playing field between citizen, voter, and political machine. At one time the only place where a voter could get news was from the news media, which is heavily invested in liberal and Leftist values (witness the 100th major media personality to leave the mainstream media and join the 0bama administration, this week, going from “satellite” duty to “in-house” role). Now, voters can get all kinds of reporting and information, without subjecting themselves to the heavy filtering and manipulation of the mainstream media, as best represented by CBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. This threat to one of the most important sources of power and control has one political party scrambling. And so is no surprise that US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is now leading the charge to make only the failing legacy media be defined as “real” journalism, and the new media, with citizen reporters like me, as somehow unfit and thus, not “real” journalists.

Never mind that any website is pretty much the same website as the New York Times, except that with many others (like here) you get no advertisements. Never mind that journalism school is really just an advocacy training system, teaching young liberals how to go out and spread their Gospel of Leftism and liberalism.

I mean, really, how much training does it really take to make calls, knock on doors, interview people, look up facts, and then write about them? Journalism school should be about one semester long.

So now we see the Human vs. Machine playing out with us citizens fighting to maintain our right to free speech, our right to be heard like anyone else, our right to have our desktop printing presses be just as valued as someone else’s larger printing press. And the machine we are battling is a national political party.

As usual, I sign off by asking you dear readers to do something practical about this problem. Do something to support the little guy, like help Nevin Mindlin by going door-to-door for him in Harrisburg City. Donate ten bucks to your favorite gun rights group. And write an op-ed or a comment on some website, as a symbol of your own independent thinking, free of the hatchet jobs of political parties or the mainstream media.

Finally, A Sign of Life in Harrisburg

Finally, there’s a sign of life in Harrisburg.

Tonight I attended the candidates debate between Democrat Rob Teplitz and Republican John McNally. It was held at the MidTown Bookstore, owned by leftist activist Eric Papenfuse. While his business can’t be hurt by hosting these debates (a bunch have been held there in the past), Eric still gets kudos for opening his doors to the community as a common gathering place. Thank you, Eric.

Kudos also go to Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, the founder of Harrisburg Hope, the convening organization. Alan puts a significant amount of his own time into these efforts, and the community benefits. Way to go, Alan, thank you.

As a former candidate, the format allowed me to ask a question of each candidate, and I did. Alvin Q. Taylor, also a former state senate candidate for the Democratic Party, was also allowed to ask a question, but he got in about ten questions each for McNally and Teplitz. Maybe they were more accusations than questions.

My question for Rob Teplitz: “Knowing that our individual Second Amendment civil rights are a big part of Central Pennsylvania’s culture, including both Democrats and Republicans, do you support more gun control efforts, or more crime control efforts?”

Teplitz disavowed knowing much about guns, because he has had little exposure to them, he said. He said the question posed a false set of choices, because the correct answer is both, not necessarily gun control versus crime control. Teplitz said that he supports hunting and the hunting culture, and that guns should not be in the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or children.

Liberals always mistakenly equate the Second Amendment with “hunting,” and they mistakenly equate gun control with crime control, but that last group he listed caught me by surprise. Like me and like a huge number of the children in Dauphin County, my own kids have been raised with a gun in their hands. Each of my three children has been shooting guns off the cabin porch since they were three or four years old. Nina asked for and received a rifle for her 12th birthday, and when she turned 14, she asked for a handgun. With an arsenal of knives already in his responsible possession, 9-year-old Isaac is almost ready to get his own gun. That kid can shoot.

To say that guns don’t belong in the hands of children is foolish. That is exactly where guns belong so that kids can learn how to use them properly. Like sex education before it, we need mandatory gun safety education in all schools.

To say that the beloved Second Amendment is about hunting is also silly. The Right to Bear Arms is enshrined in all of the state constitutions as well. It is about individual liberty, not duck hunting. Teplitz should take a page out of the Casey or Holden play books, answer his NRA questionnaire, and seek out an NRA A rating, but I doubt he will.

My question for John McNally was, ” As immediate past-chairman of the Dauphin County Republican Party and a quintessential Party insider, you received unprecedented financial and logistical support from the Republican Party and elected officials in your primary campaign against two other fellow Republican candidates this spring. Knowing that you owe your success to their intervention, just how much will you actually be able to maintain independence from party leaders, as you say you will in your ads?”

Thinking quickly on his feet while turning beet red, McNally said that it was me who had sent him an email right after the April 24th election “thanking” him for splitting the vote, as though I had somehow magically won the primary. McNally got it all wrong factually, but give that guy credit for both thinking on his feet and trying to turn back around the pointed question. He just might be a politician yet.

[My April 24, 2012 email to John McNally was sent at 10:33 PM and says “John, Congrats. You owe me for splitting the vote! Good luck against Taylor.”]

I gave him a raised fist pump, which he acknowledged, and he was then off to the races, accusing Teplitz of being a bigger insider and of taking more special interest money, etc etc etc. Give McNally credit for not answering the question, too. Most candidates who duck the question look foolish, but McNally attacked his opponent with such gusto that the audience was carried along with it. I like to think it was me he was really thinking about as he vented real frustration on poor bewildered Rob Teplitz. And while we are pitying people, pity the poor bewildered Republicans who voted for “the conservative outsider” John McNally (the consummate liberal Republican insider), whose campaign literature set new records for blatant horse hooey. Hand it to him, he sold himself as right, left, up down, green, red, blue and yellow all at the same time to the same people, and he got away with it. Talent like that, lying or not, requires earnest recognition. You got it goin’ on, John!

About 80% of the debate was about education, 5% about character flaws, and the remaining 15% was about other policy stuff, like abortion, racial politics, political funding, and who gets to own the fiery crash Harrisburg educational system and $350 million incinerator debt. It was a good debate.

Included in the follow-up policy wonk questions were angry denunciations, plaintive pleas, and weirdo whining for legalized pot from a yenta from Brooklyn wearing a tye-dyed tee-shirt and an explosive Jewfro. It was a really good debate.

Me? I enjoyed sitting with local coroner Graham Hetrick and sharing observations. I also really enjoyed asking McNally the one pointed question he will ever get in his career.

Because taking risks, making sacrifices, and facing adversity builds character, I really want to see the Republican Party stay the hell out of primary races, and let the candidates stand on their own two feet. I want to be able to vote for people who have strong character, chiseled out of hard work, taking bullets, and drinking buckets of crap. Sadly, this race does not include anyone meeting those criteria.

But Alvin Q. Taylor, running his uphill write-in campaign, he IS a character, and as with many other disenchanted Democrats and Republicans around here, he just might get my protest vote.