So, which stories / topics / issues grab your attention at week's end?
Some positive Delaware economic news: JP Morgan Chase takes over a portion of what was once the AstraZeneca complex along Concord Pike. The $44-million deal means hefty transfer taxes paid to the county and the state, and gradual increases in the number of Chase employees in Delaware.
Shootings have not ended in Wilmington, to be sure, but it seems we've seen an uptick of shootings in suburban New Castle County, as in the Bear area.
Surprise! Democratic Governor Jack Markell nominates Republican Ferris Wharton, who faced Beau Biden in Beau's first race for Delaware Attorney General, to be a Superior Court judge. Few could dispute Wharton's integrity or legal knowledge. But, politically - for the future - Markell gets to say he recruited the best possible people, regardless of party affiliation, although, Markell, in this case, was replacing a Republican judge, and the rules call for a politically balanced judiciary. (Job-recruiting DEDO Director Alan Levin is another supreme example, with the additional irony that upstate Republicans were originally pushing Levin to run for governor.) And, in the unlikely event that Matt Denn were to stumble in his race for Attorney General, Wharton would pretty much be out of circulation as a Republican candidate for A.G.
I almost hesitate to get into uproar over the two Sussex County members who turned down the Lower Sussex Branch NAACP Youth Council's request for a small grant. In case your head's been in the sand, Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson provoked this controversy by asking rhetorically, "What's the NAACP stand for?" (as though he didn't know).
Strangely, NAACP is rather like KFC, the old Kentucky Fried Chicken, or SAT, the old Scholastic Aptitude Test. All three embrace the acronym, more or less divorced from the words which gave birth to the acronym.
But of course, Council member Wilson probably didn't intend such an academic conversation. Consciously or unconsciously, he was resurrecting a decades-old controversy as to why African-Americans have an organization dedicated to their advancement (although non-blacks have been involved with the NAACP from its inception), when an NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People) would be deemed racist and unacceptable. The same sort of argument a "modern" Klansman like David Duke made to me when I interviewed him twice in Memphis in the late 1970's -- in the same decade I was also covering Rev. Jesse Jackson. The answer, of course, comes from history: Caucasian Americans had no need for such an organization because they were ALREADY running things. But organizations dedicated to the advancement of sub-groups (all-white or mostly white) in U.S. society -- German-Americans, Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Catholics, Orthodox or Jews -- would have carried no similar stigma.
However, one suspects Council members Wilson and Vance Phillips were not wrestling with this history when they blurted out what they blurted out. One assumes they were merely attempting to solidify their "base" voters. They could have simply voted to deny funding without saying anything. Or they might have merely made the ideological argument that the modern NAACP supports liberal, "progressive" Democrats, so they'd be uncomfortable voting for such funding.
Ironic timing: Gallup ranked the states on the basis of being perceived as good places for racial and ethnic minorities to live. Delaware tied with Nevada for 7th place: 87% of Delawareans saw Delaware as a good place for minorities. Of the top performing states, Delaware had the biggest African-American population. At the top: Hawaii, Texas, Alaska, New Mexico, Washington state, New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. West Virginia placed at the bottom.
Speaking of race in America, disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling refuses to pay the $2.5 Million fine levied against him for his racist rant, and makes clear he will sue the NBA.
From ROLL CALL:
BIDEN REFINANCES MORTGAGE, SAVES a BUNDLE
"Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. refinanced his home and two home equity lines of credit in 2013, securing super-low mortgage rates that will save him thousands of dollars a year.
Biden has generally been among the poorer senators, but his family finances appear to have improved of late, judging by a review of his financial disclosure forms.
In 2013, he paid off a mortgage on his Delaware home with a 4.625 percent interest rate with a new, 30-year mortgage with a super-low 3.375 percent rate from TD Bank, which has a Canadian parent company..."
The article further notes Joe Biden would be more than one hundred years old when the 30-year mortgage is paid off, if it isn't paid off early.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the Bush Administration's response, defined the Presidency of George W. Bush. But the 43rd President did not attend Thursday's commemorative ceremony for the 9/11 memorial museum in Lower Manhattan. Some victim's families expressed their dismay. A Bush spokesman said the former President had a "scheduling conflict". Really? More likely, "W" seeks to stay out of the limelight; he also turned down a 2011 event marking the death of Osama bin Laden.
If you wonder why major party Presidential nominees end up being so hawkish / military interventionist, consider two things: Democratic memories of George McGovern's catastrophic loss to Richard Nixon in 1972 and also what happened to some Dems who opposed the first Iraq War, AND big money in U.S. politics (only exacerbated by U.S. Supreme Court decisions). Then, take a look at what's happening with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
RAND PAUL STRUGGLES with HAWKISH G.O.P. DONORS
"Rand Paul is doing everything he can to marshal the support of a diverse range of political factions ahead of a potential presidential run, from courting Republican National Committee members to meeting with traditionally Democratic African-American pastors and Berkeley college kids.
But at least one segment of the G.O.P. still harbors deep reservations about the libertarian-leaning Kentucky senator -- a group that includes prominent donors with plenty of critical cash.
The foreign policy hawks within the establishment G.O.P -- among them pro-Israel donors, national security types, and neoconservatives -- are impressed by Paul's attempts to broaden the Republican base and find him willing to listen to their concerns. But ultimately, according to people plugged into the Republican donor class, they worry that a President Paul would dangerously scale back America's activities abroad -- a deepening concern in some corners as his star has risen within the broader party.
Members of the establishment wing 'think he's a good leader, an attractive candidate and they agree with a lot of what he says on economic policy,' said Charlie Black, a veteran Republican strategist. 'But they don't agree with him on America withdrawing to its own shores'..."
Some of us in these United States tend to get pessimistic about our country's prospects in contrast to those of China. Reality check: We already know about the terrible pollution and the gender imbalance on the Chinese mainland. Here's another looming problem. According to two researchers at the Carnegie Endowment: "This year alone, Chinese universities are expected to produce a record 7-million (university) degree holders, more than seven times the number 15 years ago. This rapid expansion has vastly outstripped demand: Unemployment among recent graduates has rocketed to 16 percent, four times the norm, while the wage penalty they receive has plummeted by 19 percentage points. In some cities, semi-skilled factory workers now make more than university graduates in office jobs..."
That should give China's leadership nightmares. Unemployed, educated young people in the cities are like exceedingly dry leaves and foilage in a forest waiting for a lightning strike.
A Catholic priest & columnist - Jesuit Father Thomas Reese - senior analyst for NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, writes about the recently unveiled correspondence from the late First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, to a priest in Ireland with whom she had become close, Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard. We get some fascinating insights into young Jacqueline's expectations about JFK, and her thoughts after the assassination. Basically, she KNEW what she was getting into, the expectation that the incredibly ambitious, young JFK would likely cheat on her, just as her father had cheated on her mother. And after the assassination, something of an alienation from God.
Father Reese writes in NCR on-line: "As a journalist and student of history, I find these letters fascinating. But as a priest, I am appalled. These letters should have been burnt.
Although nothing in these letters is protected by the seal of confession, there is a presumption of confidentiality when a person writes to a priest about her spiritual life. Simply because a person is famous is no reason to break that confidentiality.
All Hallows College should have never sold these letters. At a minimum, they should have been buried in the archives for 100 years. By making them public, it puts everyone on notice that what you write a priest could become public..."
The college argues Father Leonard was not acting in his capacity as a priest, Jacqueline's confessor, but as a friend.
From The LOCAL of Paris:
SCHOOLBOYS DEFY CRITICS & WEAR SKIRTS to CLASS
"Schoolboys in the western French city of Nates took a stand against sexism on Friday by ditching their trousers and donning skirts for the day. The day of action provoked outrage from conservative groups who plan to protest..."
An editorial in The JOURNAL of the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION proposes banning handshakes in health-care settings. Alternatively, the editorial recommends "infection-conscious alternatives", such as a hand-wave, bow, or hands-together Namaste. Sure, liquid-sanitizer bottles are all over the place - especially in health-care settings - but doctors, nurses, and volunteers don't always use them. (The rate of use is calculated at about 40%; I find that stat incredible!) Signs might go up proclaiming "handshake free zones". The counterargument: Health-care in this country has gotten so methodical, detached, sterile, and impersonal already. Do we risk making it more so by banishing handshakes? Or does this ignore the fundamental point... that doctors and other health providers should be washing their hands at frequent intervals anyway?
re: JP Morgan: I would be very surprised if JPMorgan is paying any transfer taxes to anyone. The county and city government lures these employers in by not charging them transfer taxes, or allowing the companies to keep the wage taxes they collect from employees.
Another example is the (mostly) vacant towers along Route 13 in the Christina Riverfront in downtown Wilmington. The developers are NOT paying real estate taxes on the unsold units; they made a deal with the city before doing the development.
Mike from Delaware
Sat, May 17, 2014 9:00am
WDEL reports that Ferris Wharton has been nominated to be a Superior Court Judge:
"Ferris Wharton, a veteran of the state and federal Departments of Justice and currently an Assistant Public Defender, could soon become a Superior Court judge.
Governor Markell nominated Wharton to fill the vacancy left by Judge Charles Toliver, who announced last month that he would not seek a third 12-year term."
Interesting timing. Wharton certainly deserves that position, but could this nomination be politically motivated? This would take Republican Ferris Wharton out of the running to replace Democrat Beau Biden as State AG, thus making the odds of a DEM winning that post far more likely. Governor Markell, after all, is a DEM.
Thankfullym Matt Denn is a good man, but so is Wharton, who probably is even more qualified for the AG post than Denn.
This will be the second time Markell found a way to eliminate a strong Republican potential rival: Republican Alan Levine [of Happy Harry's fame] had talked about running for Governor. Was asked to be part of Markell's administration, which he accepted.
This is a clever way to keep the best Delaware Republicans from running for the big offices and accepting a lower position, thus keeping Delaware's top leadership Democrat. Nothing illegal about it. In fact it's darn clever.
Sat, May 17, 2014 1:33pm
Mike from Delaware,
Wharton had already taken himself out of the running for Attorney General.
Plus, Markell technically had to pick a Republican for this particular judicial seat because Judge Toliver was a Republican.
Incidentally, Levin bowed out of the governor's race that year long before Markell won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
By the way, in the "small world" department, Wharton used to listen to me on-the-air at WPGU, the student-run, commercial station at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as he was a law student at the U of I in the mid-70s at the time I was an undergrad.
Mike from Delaware
Sat, May 17, 2014 3:38pm
Allan: Thanks for the rest of the story.
Mike from Delaware
Sun, May 18, 2014 12:51pm
Here is a cartoon from 1948 about ISM. Well done. Interesting how important unions were a part of the Capitalism equation in the world of 1948. Maybe that's the part of the equation that needs to be revived so the workers and robber barons have a more level playing field.
The cartoon is 9 minutes long. Would be interested in hearing your thought after viewing the cartoon.
MFD: Following is a link to a passage of Scripture you need to read. Now if you want to "agree to disagree", that's fine, but your disagreement is with God, not me (by the way, this whole passage was spoken by Jesus himself):
Mrpizza: Each of us toil in The Lord's vineyard. Some for longer than others; apparently we'll be rewarded with the same amount of blessings someday in eternity (which I interpre as spiritual blessings, not a check in the mail) be we new to the kingdom, or someone who's labored his/her entire life. That's how I interpret that Scripture. Nothing about a check in the mail or having it easy on earth, etc.
Nothing to argue; our understanding is different. Neither of us sees clearly, maybe someday The Lord will show what you believe he's shown you. Maybe someday The Lord will show you what I believe he's shown me. We both are following Christ; we just have different understandings of some Scriptures, thus why there are many different denominations. Bottom line is Christ Risen as Savior; he is what & who he says he is. Let's rejoice in that.
Sun, May 18, 2014 10:18pm
Yeah but Mike, even though we don't agree on this $15 per hour at McDonald's and Walmart thing, don't you think the culture has become too much about "what can I get" rather than "what do I have to offer"? There just seems to be an expectation of entitlement that didn't exist in our generation. Everybody I knew, including myself, did whatever we had to do, even if it meant working two jobs, in order to make ends meet until we could work up to something better. We didn't expect to start at the top of the corporate ladder. The only people who did that were the Kennedys and DuPonts who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. I don't see the present culture wanting to pay the price necessary to show themselves worthy of promotion - they just think they have to right to walk into someplace and "get paid".
I think our generation, both Christians and non-Christians, understood Luke 16:10, which says ""Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Even if you don't believe in the prosperity teaching ala Copeland, Hagin, etc., you gotta at least believe in the work ethic outlined in that Scripture.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, May 19, 2014 8:16am
Mrpizza: Sadly, there are many younger workers who do have that, "well-I-showed-up, don't-expect-me-to-do-anything" attitude. That probably works to our benefit, as many employers are seeing the benefit of having older workers. We show up everyday, on time, and give an honest day's work; we simply want an honest day's wage.
My guess is had the minimum wage kept up with inflation over the years since the 1980's, it probably would be around $15/hr. However, it is not reasonable to simply raise it that high tomorrow, as those fast-food protesters are demanding. So it needs to be done in stages over a period of time, so as to not totally disrupt the businesses and cause large lay-offs. On this issue, the Republicans are wrong. They have no problem with the upper 2% getting ALL the breaks, over-inflated salaries that now make them BILLIONAIRES - not just millionaires - as they pay little or no taxes, while the working-class Joe/Jane continues to lose ground, be they a fast-food worker or those of us in other fields of work. The Republicans, who love to quote Scripture, sadly forget this Scripture verse: The worker is worthy of his wages. See the scriptures below for the reference.
New King James Version (NKJV)
7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
1 Timothy 5:18
New King James Version (NKJV)
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Mike from Delaware
Mon, May 19, 2014 8:28am
The other thing you overlooked with my 1948 cartoon post, is how important to the U.S. unions were. Your benefits come from your U.S.P.S. union. Even though I don't have a union at my place of employment, and am glad not to be unionized, but my benefits too came from my employer giving me good benefits to keep out a union.
So strong unions do help the worker. Sadly, unions got greedy, and today are very weak, compared to 1948 when that cartoon was made. This is another issue the Republicans are wrong about; it's really the same issue, as the worker deserves his wages and that means a living wage, not slave wages.
Balance, which is what the U.S. had in 1948, as our nation was perking along with the New Deal programs of Democrat FDR. Not until the 1980's did our nation change, and start to dismantle what FDR and his Democratic Congress gave America. Now, poor wages, fewer and fewer benefits for the workers, no more pensions, homeless folks, etc., etc. The Republicans gave us an ISM, Fat Catism, Only for the upper 2% ism, and of course Trickledownism.
The mess we see today is the result. You see with the New Deal plan when things went well, ALL benefitted, now when things go well ONLY the upper 2% benefit.
Yep, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
Mon, May 19, 2014 8:02pm
MFD: I think the two scriptures you posted above are reasonable to the discussion. I'm certainly not for abuse of workers.
Yes, I belong to a postal union, but it was God who provided the job. It's just that the job happens to be a union job, but that's secondary. He could have provided me a non-union job which also would have been fine because in both cases he would be provided "all my need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus".
I also know from talking to some of my local union officials that not everybody in the union, officials included, are for a bunch of communist nonsense.
So, I guess I can split the difference with you. God bless.
Mon, May 19, 2014 8:10pm
Oh by the way, I did read one analysis, I think it was by a liberal workers advocate group in Maryland, where they said the $10.10 figure that Obama was touting is about the correct inflation-adjusted figure based on trends of the last 40 years. So may $9 an hour would be a good compromise to start out with.
Mon, May 19, 2014 8:23pm
I hate to say "I told you so", but I've been warning everybody on this blog for the last two years of the similarities between Obama and "Dr. Utopia".
Perhaps that should be his new nickname.
Mike from Delaware
Tue, May 20, 2014 8:12am
Saw this music news story this morning and thought you all would be interested.
Led Zeppelin is being sued by the survivor of Spirit over “Stairway to Heaven”. At the bottom of the news story, they have both Zeppelins’ “Stairway” and Spirits’ “Taurus” via YouTube so you can listen and compare.
They are very similar, but the chords are not exactly the same, so my guess is there’s enough difference so no copyright violation, but it will be interesting to see what the court decides.
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