Chris Freind’s Best (and Worst) of Philly

Chris Freind’s Best (and Worst) of Philly

By Chris Freind

Who makes the best Bloody Mary in the city?
Where is the best brunch? Freindly Fire has no idea. Thankfully, though,
there are much smarter folks who know the best things in and around the
nation’s fourth-largest market. For those gems, see the Best of Philly
awards in this month’s Philadelphia magazine. There are,
however, some Best and Worst awards that I’d like to bestow on some very
deserving winners … and losers. Here’s my list.

***Best of Philly***
Best Snowfall Removal:

Anywhere but Philadelphia. The
streets were absolutely deplorable last winter, with significant snow
and ice on major city roads days after the storms, not to mention that
many side streets were simply impassable. How did city residents react?
Almost 80 percent voted for Mayor Nutter in the May primary. In
comparison, Chicagoans kicked out their Mayor for similar incompetence in 1979. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow … just don’t complain when you can’t get to work. He’s your Mayor.

Best Political Comeback: IBEW 98 boss John Dougherty.
After losing a bid for the state senate and coming up short in clashes
with Democratic party powerbroker Bob Brady, Doc came roaring back. He
garnered huge headlines by trying to reform the DRPA, but most
significantly, orchestrated big wins in City Council races. More than
anyone, Johnny Doc has positioned himself to be kingmaker in deciding
who the next Mayor of Philadelphia will be.

Best “It’s All About Me” Moment: City Council’s
refusal to abolish the DROP retirement program for city employees—you
know, the one that makes elected officials rich when they “retire” for a
day after being re-elected. So while the folks who actually foot the
bill are struggling just to survive, city lawmakers keep cashing in at
the public trough. Often forgotten in the criticism, though, is
Council’s stellar stewardship of Philadelphia. Its leadership has
produced the highest rates of taxes, murder, violence and poverty in the
nation, an education system that, by all accounts, is a colossal
failure, and a city that is perpetually ranked as one of the dirtiest.
But give ‘em a break. We’re not Detroit. Yet.

Best “I Don’t Recall” Moment: No, it wasn’t a political corruption trial, but the just-revealed grand jury testimony of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua
as he weaved his way around prosecutors’ pointed questioning regarding
the ever-widening Church sex-scandal. The Cardinal’s memory lapse was an
oh-so-convenient backdoor for covering his own derriere and evading
discussion about his role in the cover-up, leading the grand jury to
label him as “untruthful” and “not forthright.” Church officials need to
be reminded that sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of
commission, and that ignoring the 8th Commandment is not a prudent way
to go through life. So much for always standing behind the kids.

Best Sports Move: Bringing Cliff Lee
back. The Phils have been transformed from an organization that made
the playoffs only three times in 26 years (and that’s with the wild
card), to being perennial contenders. But being “very good” wasn’t good
enough, so they brought back Lee. With him rounding out one of the best
rotations in baseball history, the Fightin’s are fully expected to win
the World Series, and that has them hanging out in hallowed Yankees
territory, at least for the present. Like the Bronx Bombers, the
Phillies are now in the elite world where a season that culminates in
anything less than total victory will be viewed as a failure. Tough as
it will be to swallow if the Phils aren’t World Champions again, that
expectation of perfection is rarely seen in any sport, and was
nonexistent in Philly. Tip of the hat to the best—and only—sports
braintrust in the city that has shown the resolve to do whatever it
takes to win.

Best Thing About Philadelphia: Its people.
It’s a blue-collar town, through and through, and that makes it as real
as it gets. People wear their emotions on their sleeves, and it’s rare
to not know where someone stands. Politics? Rough and tumble—sometimes
literally. Sports fans? The most dedicated, if not always educated, in
the country. Run out every play, and you’ll be a Philly Hall of Famer,
but cop a ‘tude, pout, dog it (no Vick pun intended) or just plain suck,
and you’ll be run out of town on a rail. Everyday people? Not nearly as
rude as we like to think we are. That salt-of-the-Earth,
you-know-what-you’re-getting character is innately Philly, and, while
maddening at times, is beyond refreshing in an increasingly shallow
world. Yo Philly, don’t ever change.

***Worst Of Philly***
Worst Way to Earn a Living:

Dealing with the dead. Not
funeral directors, coroners, and grave diggers (although all have been
quite busy with skyrocketing murders). They all earn an honest living.
We’re talking about Michael Meehan, the city GOP boss
and lawyer extraordinaire who gives the famous movie line “I see dead
people” some real-life meaning. Seems that a dearly-departed soul—a year
after dying—retained Meehan as legal counsel to challenge the petitions
of people running for Committee posts—in his own party. Meehan didn’t
fare much better with the living, as many of his other “clients” signed
affadavits stating that they never met or heard of Meehan, and
that the signatures in Meehan’s possession were not theirs. The Philly
GOP led by Meehan may be dead, but the criminal investigation into the
matter by the District Attorney isn’t. And who said lawyers couldn’t get
any lower?

Worst Sports Move: Yes, it was last year’s move, but it’s been so devastating that it bears repeating. Getting rid of Donovan McNabb.
Life is now so boring without Number 5 around. Just look at all there
is to miss: throwing up in the huddle during the Super Bowl, laughing
jovially when his team was losing, not knowing the rules of overtime,
making racially charged comments where they had no place, and always
connecting with his favorite receiver—the turf—when the game was on the
line. Sports in Philly just aren’t the same anymore, especially with
Michael Vick being so dog-gone … normal. Without McNabb’s drama queen
theatrics over which to obsess, Philadelphia is on the verge of
becoming, dare we say it, a civilized sports city. Bring him back!

Worst Empty Promise: Philly’s pension will be OK.
Anytime a politician admits that something is bad, it’s always worse.
So when the Mayor says the city’s pension fund is 45 percent funded
(less than 50 percent is considered somewhat catastrophic), you know
there just won’t be a happy ending. With no more state or federal money
to bail out the virtually insolvent pension, and no possible way Nutter
can keep his promise to write an $800 million check to the pension (to
make up for several years of deferred payments), look for retirees to
start getting pennies on the dollar in just a few short years. Think it
can’t happen in America? Given the fact that the nation came within hours of default—despite its magical power to print money out of thin air—can anyone seriously believe that?

Worst Thing About Philly: Its people.
Or more accurately, the people’s complacency. What can you say about
residents who, despite the knowledge that things are going the wrong
way, time and again reelect the very same people who created the mess?
Philadelphia has the potential to be a world-class city, with not one
but two major rivers (neither developed). It is ideally situated within a
day’s drive of more than half the country. As a major gateway for
overseas travelers, it should unquestionably be a destination rather
than a layover stop. And with major ports, railroads, airports and
interstates, it should be a no-brainer for companies to locate their
operations in Philadelphia. Philly’s stagnant position stems from a lack
of leadership. It’s time for Philadelphians to wake up and demand that
their city take its rightful place as one of very best. But that mantle
simply can’t be claimed until the people show the will to make a change.
Given Mayor Nutter’s virtually guaranteed reelection, though, that may
have to wait another four years. How ’bout them Phils?

Defense Didn’t Get De Notes In Perzel Case

Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis rejected an argument, July 29,  to dismiss charges against Former State House Speaker John Perzel and his co-defendants because prosecutors led by then Attorney General Tom Corbett had destroyed notes taken during witness interviews.

Perzel’s lawyer William Fetterhoff said the notes showed that prosecutors were abusive and intimidating to witnesses during interview sessions.

Perzel et al are accused of illegally using state computers for electioneering.

Perzel, a Republican, had represented the 172nd District which is in Philadelphia,

One has mixed feelings about this. Perzel was a hack and is probably guilty of something if not in letter but in spirit.

On the other hand, why destroy the notes?

Fetterhoff is also
attempting to show that Corbett did the same things in his elections
for which he is trying to put  Perzel  away.

Corbett got convictions in March 2010 against former state House Minority Whip Mike Veon,
a Democrat who represented the 14th District in Beaver County, and  two
aides for illegally using state money in the form of salary bonuses to
pay for electioneering.

Veon is serving a 6 to 14 year sentence. It should be noted that Vince Fumo got less time for a far
more serious and a far more blatant reign of destruction on the
Pennsylvania taxpayer.

Corbett strikes one as being a very ambitious fellow which is a trait to be feared in those who seek political office.

Sam Rohrer, if only you had won.

P.O. To Close On Brookside Road Friday

The United States Post Service will end Friday its half-century-plus tenure on Brookside Road, Springfied, Pa. 19064, according to an employee of the branch.

The new occupant of the building long for sale will reportedly be a credit union.

The new address for the Springfield Post Office, which has long been a non-delivery facility,  is in Olde Sproul Village on Baltimore Pike in what had been the Baja Fresh Mexican restaurant.

Debt Ceiling Delay Threatens 0’s Lavish 50th B-Day Bash

A  lavish, rub-it-in-the-face-of-the-unemployed-or-overworked birthday bash scheduled for Aug. 3 to celebrate President Obama’s big 5-0 will be cancelled unless Congress actually passes the deal agreed to by party leaders to raise the debt ceiling.

The deal announced late Sunday, July 31, at first look, simply seems to grow what we owe to a little less than otherwise. A lot of legislators on both sides don’t seem to like it.

So the President may not get his party which is scheduled to be held at the $40,000-per-night Aragon Ballroom with entertainment to be provided by jazz musician Herbie Hancock and Dreamgirls’ star Jennifer Hudson.

The Debt Clock And Dangerous Delusions

The debt clock found at this site  at that time this sentence was written showed our national debt to be $14.553 trillion which equaled $46,659 per citizen and $130,108 per taxpayer.

It’s a perfect illustration as to the seriousness of the  ongoing debate in Washington and should explain why some strongly question the wisdom of taking on more debt — i.e. “raise the debt ceiling” — without a plan to quickly bring our budget in balance.

President Obama along with Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democrats are under the dangerous delusion that one can take on debt forever without an inevitable disastrous end.

Hopefully, they can be freed from it.

And with regard to dangerous delusions, hopefully Americans can be freed from the one that lets them believe that placing community activists and casino lawyers in positions of leadership can somehow not result in an inevitable disastrous end.

Lazy Media Gets “F” For Heat Wave Coverage

Lazy Media Gets “F” For Heat Wave Coverage

Gary Kirkpatrick runs Ned’s Bar in
Tahlequah, Ok. If you stopped in for a cold one recently, Gary
would have gladly given you the rundown of all things happening in that
part of the Sooner State. As home to the Cherokee nation, and sitting on
the boundary of the wild and scenic Ozark Mountains, Tahlequah is never
dull. With so much going on around him, Gary had lots to say.

there was one thing he didn’t mention: the weather. Which, come to
think of it, was amazing. Not just because he was one of the few who
didn’t get sucked into the nauseating, 24/7 news coverage of the
“nation’s heat wave,” but because, if anyone is entitled to blabber on
about the summer temperatures, it’s folks like Gary Kirkpatrick.

see, in Gary’s neck of the woods, it wasn’t 95 degrees for just a few
days like on the East Coast, spiking past 100 for several hours (with
the media hyping a “heat index” of 105, whatever the hell a heat index
is). It was a tad hotter.

As in, over 100 (real) degrees – for
over 30 straight days. That’s a solid month of topping the century mark.
And was there complaining? Few and far between.

Maybe that’s
because many mid-westerners still exhibit the salt-of-the-earth,
tough-as-nails pioneering spirit that built the nation. And maybe it’s
because East Coasters are getting increasingly soft.

But one
thing is certain: the media vastly over-sensationalized the story, to
the point where the heatwave was the only topic of conversation for
millions of Americans. Their scare tactics petrified seniors, made
parents of young children frantic, and otherwise consumed a nation,
forsaking many other far more important stories.

The media’s
abdication of all things related to doing its job has it fast
approaching the esteem level held for lawyers, politicians and the
cockroach –  with the cockroach being held in higher regard, of course.

could take any TV segment from a decade ago about summer heat and air
it today – and no one would know the difference. It is, quite literally,
the exact same storyline with the exact same verbage. The only thing
different is that the hype factor has increased exponentially.

it’s not just that the stories are mundane, but they’re produced in a
way that would offend a third-grader’s intelligence. That’s not to
suggest that they should appeal only to Ph.D’s, but come on… the
American people are not that stupid. They don’t require the media’s
condescending, dumbed-down approach, but in fact deserve solid and
relevant reporting.

“Place the metal fittings of the seatbelt
into the other, and tighten by pulling on the loose end of the strap.”
“Pour shampoo into wet hair. Lather. Rinse.” “When it’s hot, drink
plenty of liquids, don’t exert yourself outside, and seek air


The airlines and shampoo companies
have those ridiculous instructions for liability reasons, since trial
lawyers (see “cockroach” category above) sue for every reason, even
inconceivable ones.

So what’s the media’s excuse? Let’s be
honest. If folks don’t know that they should avoid excessive heat, drink
water, and not resurrect a jogging regimen after 20 years (and 80
pounds ago) when the mercury hits 95, then nothing the media tells them
will make a bit of difference. Idiots will be idiots. But the vast
majority of people have common sense, so the ridiculous stories airing
nonstop serve no purpose.

And really, what do we expect? It’s
July in America. It gets hot. Philadelphia, Washington, and New York
routinely see temps in the mid to upper 90’s during this time. How is
that news? The fact it breaks a one-day record from a whopping five
years ago is newsworthy? And when it breaks 100, you’d think it was the
end of the world. Is there any real discernable difference between 96
and 100 anyway? Or 93 with high humidity versus 100 without it?

extensive was the media’s coverage that it took significant channel
surfing to find any details on the horrific massacre in Norway. In fact,
just a day after the shooting which left scores of children dead and a
government building in shambles, a national network dedicated less than
one minute to the story. And that was only after at least 12 minutes of
coverage dedicated solely to the heat.

Is it any wonder why so
many around the world view America disdainfully? Here we have a major
terror attack against a close ally (Norway has a military contingent in
Afghanistan, and has been threatened by al-Queda in the past), and the
identity of the perpetrator(s) and possible connections to other
terrorists had not been fully determined.

Yet we give those
tragic events nary any coverage, instead incessantly rolling the same
tape on something that happens every year — a hot spell during a
typical American summer.

Compare that to the outpouring of
support from overseas and their in-depth coverage of hurricanes hitting
America, the Alabama tornadoes, our flooding rivers— and terror
attacks, including the Oklahoma City bombing, to which many experts
likened the Norway attack.

The media has reinforced what so many
overseas already think: Americans are arrogant and self-absorbed, caring
not about the troubles of others. And that’s the biggest tragedy,
because the reality is so very different.

The American people, as
individuals, and their government (to a fault) comprise the most
generous nation the world has ever known. Money, logistics, care
packages, and yes, their prayers, are immediately sent around the globe
whenever a crisis erupts, with no expectation of payback. We do this not
for calculated future gain, but, trite as it sounds, because it’s
simply the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, the media
overshadows the true American spirit by ignoring the gripping stories of
the day in favor of recycled garbage that focuses on 1) things we
already know, and 2) things we cannot change.

In the same way
that we were treated to the Year of the Shark several summers ago (when
shark attacks were actually down), this has become the Summer of Record
Heat. Both are codespeak for media laziness.

The biggest irony is
that the media hasn’t changed its ways, content to sensationalize the
mundane while ignoring the real stories (READ: the ones which require an
honest day’s work), yet its ratings continue to plummet. Call me crazy,
but there might be a correlation there.

Sounds like a great story. Just don’t expect to see it on TV — or this column in many papers.

More Kudos For Pat Meehan

Freshman Congressman Pat Meehan  (R-Pa7) used the skills he honed as the Delaware County District Attorney who convicted John duPont and the U.S. Attorney who took down State Senator Vince Fumo to get a  hapless ATF bureaucrat to fess up that a whole lot of federal agencies were involved in a convoluted scheme to smuggle guns to Mexican drug cartels in the name of law enforcement.

The bureaucrat was William Newell who was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives’ special agent in charge of  Operation Fast and Furious which began in  October 2009 on the watch of Attorney General Eric Holder.

He told Meehan during a congressional hearing, Tuesday, July 26, that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency,  the Internal Revenue Service, and the FBI all knew about it.

At least the Washington bureaucrats who run those agencies.

Fast and Furious was allegedly a ‘sting’ operation in which the feds twisted the arms of gun dealers in Arizona to sell 1,800 firearms — most of which were AK-47 style semi-automatic rifles — to straw buyers for the drug cartels and which were allowed over the border to Mexico without the knowledge of the Mexican government or even U.S. agents in that country.

Newell could not explain how the United States would prosecute those drug cartel bosses in whose hands the weapons wound up.

It would be fodder for a sitcom except that a lot of innocent people were killed by those guns including U.S. law enforcement officers.

The Mexican government is not happy.

Some are saying that the real motivation behind Operation Fast and Furious was to make gun dealers and Second Amendment defenders look bad which would plough the ground for stricter gun control.

You are not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Quick question: have you read about Meehan’s performance in any of his hometown media?


More Kudos For Pat Meehan

Pray For Obama: Psalm 109.8

Pray For Obama: Psalm 109.8 Courtesy of Mickey Rair

My wife and I were in slow-moving traffic the other day and we were stopped behind a car that had an unusual Obama bumper sticker on it.  It read: “Pray for Obama.  Psalm 109:8”.

When we got home my wife got out the Bible and opened it up to the scripture.  She started laughing & laughing.  Then she read it to me.  I couldn’t believe what it said.  I had a good laugh, too.

Psalm 109:8 ~ “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward  to replace him.”

At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look  it up — it is word for word!  Let us all bow our heads and pray.

Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN?

I’m A Hobbit

I’m A Hobbit — John McCain, yesterday, July 27,  quoted a dig at Tea Party members made in the Wall Street Journal saying:

The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would
somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to
pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.”

I’m not one of the conservatives who hate John McCain. He showed sagacity in his push for “the surge” in Iraq and political courage in  his outspoken yet ignored warnings about the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac meltdowns.

But even leaving aside the obnoxious and pointless digs at a couple of decent women who were motivated by love of nation to enter the political arena at much personal cost to themselves, he and the Wall Street Journal are dead wrong.

It is not the “Republican House” that has failed to raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans who control America’s House of Representatives are more than willing to raise the debt ceiling. They have passed a plan that raises the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion to $16.7 trillion.

It was McCain’s fellow senators that voted to kill it.

And not raise the debt ceiling.

McCain’s fellow senators are unwilling to cut the gravy train to the government-connected, which it should be noted includes greedy rich things Goldman Sachs and General Motors. This is what motivates the Sharron Angles and Christine O’Donnells and the rest of us Hobbits to get politically involved.

You are a decent guy Senator and I do wish you were the president but you have your guns turned in the wrong direction.

And something else Senator, a Hobbit like Miss O’Donnell would never have caved into threats from Wall Street fat cats and vote for TARP a month before a presidential election.


I’m A Hobbit

In Praise Of Front Loading Washing Machines

Nina Yablok has a interesting article on PajamasMedia.Com in praise of front-loading washing machines particularly a Kenmore Model 4044 from Sears.

She notes that it uses much less water, heat and energy than a traditional top-loader and says that it will get out just about any stain.