Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An apology

Every so often I do something where, in retrospect, I know I behaved badly.  Two days ago I noted that I would not be attending the Redneck Festival in Weissport in future years and said that I was uncomfortable with the confederate flags and the assault rifle raffle by the 9/12 group.

Duane Dellecker, a main organizer of the Redneck Festival and a good friend of mine, sent me an email saying that I should have spoken to him first before going public with my complaints.  He noted that there was an empty space next to the Republican booth, and we could have set up our booth there.

He’s right, and I know better.  When you have a complaint about an event, you speak quietly to the organizers.  If you get no satisfaction, then you go public.

I also know that the Redneck Festival funds go to the Weissport Recreation Fund, and Weissport, a low income borough, does need assistance.  

I should explain that our booth at the Festival was not an official Democratic Party booth.  Linda and I paid the fee and ran the booth from the first year of the festival.

Here’s what I will do.  In future years I will pay the vendor fee, knowing that it benefits the young people of Weissport, but we won't have a booth.

Bottom line:  I should have talked to Mr. Dellecker before I took down our tent.  Nonetheless, I'm no longer confident that this festival is in keeping with my values as a liberal who supports racial equality, gay rights, reasonable restrictions on assault weapons, and environmental protection.

I would also note that the back of my neck is red from working in the truck patch.  You want to see a real redneck, drop by.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Race Relations

According to Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a 2011 study by Harvard and Tufts scholars found that whites on the average believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.  Wow.

Kristof presented some statistics:

The black-white income gap is roughly 40% greater today than it was in 1967.  

The net worth of the average black household in 2011 was $6,314.  The average worth of a white household was $110,500.  That gap was greater than in South Africa during apartheid.

A black male child born today in the U.S. has a life expectancy five years shorter than a white male child.

And while we are on this subject, let me tell you about the son of the Allentown police chief, who was charged with threatening the lives of two policemen.  He was being followed by two men in an unmarked car.  They followed very closely, so he tapped the brakes a few times.  He finally stopped, and they stopped.  They were not wearing uniforms.  He then pulled a gun and pointed it at the two men.  They then identified themselves as police officers and arrested him.

What would you have done if followed by two guys in an unmarked car?  Did I mention that the son of the Allentown police officer is black?  Those cops owe that young man an apology, not an arrest.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pit Bulls

A few weeks ago, when I was canvassing in Lansford, I saw a sign on the gate saying “Beware of Dog.”  The dog in question came running out; it was about six inches tall and its bark sounded more like a squeak.  I decided to chance it.  The dog actually bit my blue jeans, but its teeth didn’t penetrate to the skin.  The owner was every nice and apologized for her dog’s bad behavior.

Today “The Watchdog,” [an interesting title] in the Morning Call featured an article about a pit bull owner who was angry that her insurance was cancelled because of her dog.  I am not sympathetic.  When is the last time you heard about a spaniel disfiguring a child?  When is the last time you heard about a corgi ripping another small dog apart?

I am fully aware that not all pit bulls are vicious.  I am also aware that different breeds of dogs can be lethal both to other animals and to humans.  If you are one of those people who need to own a pit bull, or a Rottweiler, or a Doberman, you should pay more insurance.  Your pet can kill other dogs and people.  If you don’t like it, buy a basset hound.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Goodbye to the Redneck Festival

Linda and I participated in every Weissport Redneck Festival since the first one in 2008.  In that year we set up a booth entitled “Rednecks for Obama,” and we received lots of favorable publicity.  Many people wanted their pictures taken next to our sign.  Families were in evidence.  The Republicans did not participate.

In subsequent years the Festival changed.  Bikers were more and more in evidence; the Festival began to advertise at biker bars.  Families were scarce.  Confederate flags were ubiquitous.  (If you were flying one of those flags, “ubiquitous” means everywhere.)  

The Carbon 9/12ers have set up a booth for the second year in a row featuring a lottery for assault rifles.  The Republican Party has been given space near the beer tent and close to the entertainment, while the “Yellar Dog Democrats,” which is what we were calling our booth, is relegated to the far end of the park just in front of the toilets.  The only people who passed by seemed to be in a hurry.

Today I maintained our booth from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  I displayed a bulletin board with pictures on interesting T-Shirts from previous festivals, which got some attention, but I would have registered more voters sitting in front of Dollar General or Giant.  Basically, I wasted both the vendor fee and my time.

So tomorrow, although the Redneck Festival will go on until the evening, I’m going over after church and closing down our booth. 

Friday, August 29, 2014


So ISIS is waterboarding American prisoners.

Didn’t see that one coming.

"Go to hell" money

Suppose your boss tells you to do something illegal or immoral.  Most jobs come with opportunities to do something wrong.  You can probably think of some examples from your own job.

This is why you should have at least six months of paychecks in the bank.  That will give you both power and independence.  Then, if your supervisor orders you to lie or cheat or steal or dodge a governmental regulation, you can refuse.  If he or she then threatens that you will be fired if you don’t obey, you look him or her in the eye and calmly say, “Go to hell.”

I am fully aware that for some lower paid workers, it is very difficult to save up a reasonable amount of “go to hell” money.  Nevertheless, once you have it, you’ll feel a real sense of power.

Or you could join a union.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vices high and low

Here’s a common complaint I get when canvassing.  “Why should we pay for welfare for these bums when they can afford tattoos and cigarettes and walk down the street gabbing on their cell phones?”  

It annoys me also.  I am well aware that much poverty in this country is cultural.  The idea of delayed gratification is foreign to many of our citizens, and middle class values of thrift and hard work are not shared by a large portion of the population.

How does a liberal Democrat answer the complaint?  By pointing out that people at the top are also getting all kinds of “welfare,” are cheating the government out of needed revenues, and are costing us far more than those “bums” we see on the street, many of whom really can’t work, or are children, or are developmentally disabled, or are simply unable to find a job.

The problem is that we see the bum with his tattoos and his cigarettes and his cell phone, but we don’t see the fat cat at the top donating to Corbett and getting his tax cuts.

Now I will do something totally pompous and quote a relevant passage from “King Lear.”
Through totter’d rags small vices do appear;
Robes and furr’d gowns hide all.  Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;

Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.”