What Lots of Americans Don’t Get About Islam

Veterans during a rally Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I., held to demonstrate against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris.

Veterans during a rally Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I., held to demonstrate against allowing Syrian refugees to enter Rhode Island following the terror attacks in Paris.

I am a Christian. So is Pope Francis. So was the Rev. Fred Phelps.

I don’t think anyone reading this would confuse any one of the three of us for the other.

Yet too many of us here in America do exactly that when it comes to dealing with Islam and Muslims, and in our current paranoid state in the wake of the ISIS attacks on Paris, our inability or refusal to recognize diversity within Islam may mean that we will fail in meeting a humanitarian imperative. Read more »

I See “The World” Differently Than Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates | Nina Subin, Penguin Random House

Coates | Nina Subin, Penguin Random House

I missed out on the hottest ticket in town when Ta-Nehisi Coates was in Philly in October for a talk at the Free Library based on his bestselling, National Book Award-nominated tome, Between the World and Me. (There is a streaming finalists reading tonight at 7; the awards will be announced tomorrow.)

Chances are, though, that if you are an avid consumer of ideas, you’re talking about him anyway, even if you missed the talk, haven’t read the book or one of its many excerpts, or missed his chat with Terry Gross on WHYY’s Fresh Air.

That’s because Coates has undeniably struck a national nerve at just the right moment. As the drumbeat of stories in which cops kill black men (and they are mostly men) with questionable use of force continues, along comes Coates to tell us this sort of thing is encoded in our nation’s DNA.

Like James Baldwin before him, Coates has cast himself as our racial Cassandra, reminding us that the debt for slavery remains unpaid and condemning society for failing to recognize this. And like Baldwin before him, Coates has decided that it’s best to reflect on his native land’s transgressions from afar — Paris, to which numerous African-Americans fed up with the United States have retreated.  Read more »

What Trump and Carson Don’t Get About Minimum Wage and Self Reliance

trump carson

Last Tuesday, fast food workers in Philadelphia and other U.S. cities participated in the largest rally yet behind the Fight for 15 — a national movement to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. (On Thursday, a $15 minimum wage was one of the goals of The Million Student March.) President Obama has already called for a raise to $10.10, and both Democratic presidential frontrunners support a raise to at least $12. The movement is having a moment. We should all care about the outcome. But what may be just as interesting are the reasons some very influential people trot out when opposing it it.

Here’s the short case for raising the minimum wage: In every state, the $7.25 limit (which Pennsylvania usesfalls short of a living wage. A living wage is enough to cover basics like housing, food, clothing, education and transportation. That means the minimum wage employees supporting 60 million Americans couldn’t earn enough on the federal limit to meet basic needs.

Read more »

Philly Rep. Brendan Boyle: Joe Biden Is Running for President

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Many political observers think it might be too late for Vice President Joe Biden to jump into the presidential race. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been able to raise a ton of money already, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has gained momentum. If Clinton has the Democratic establishment and Sanders has the cranky old white man vote, where does Biden fit in?

Then again, many Obama bundlers have not gone for Clinton. And Biden has reportedly told allies to be ready. And now, comes this tweet, from Philadelphia Rep. Brendan Boyle.

Oh snap! Just when things got #Chillary, we started to #FeeltheBern. Now here comes #Joementum! Read more »

ICYMI: Here’s Everything Worth Knowing About the First Democratic Presidential Debate

AP_hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-940x540

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate in Las Vegas on October 13th. (Rex Features via AP Images)

The last time Democrats debated one another, George W. Bush was still the president, Lehman Brothers was still solvent, and most people probably thought Bear Stearns was a character in a children’s book. Since then, we’ve been subjected to a seemingly endless parade of incoherent climate-deniers, squirrel-eaters, nativists, assault-rifle-maximalists, uterus-controllers and Rick Santorums in nationally televised Republican debates, where the purpose appeared to be to see who could most quickly reduce American government to a series of Walmart distribution centers with an army.

So in a sense it was nice just to be able to watch a debate without cringing at literally everything that comes out of the candidates’ mouths, to be thrown some beautiful, marbled red meat, to be pandered to. I believe it was Jefferson who said that from time to time the tree of liberty needs to be watered with unrealistic campaign promises. Most importantly, the country was reminded that it is possible to gather more than two people on a stage together in public and have them praise, rather then trash, President Obama. Read more »

American Government? What a Waste.

I understand that Republican leaders in Congress are working to repeal Obamacare. What a splendid idea that is: to try to rid the country of a law that, while it has its flaws (mostly, it doesn’t go far enough), by all credible accounts is working remarkably well. This is their 61st attempt to jettison the health-care legislation. Way back in July of 2012, Nancy Pelosi tweeted that House Republicans had thus far devoted 88 hours and 53 minutes to trying to kill Obamacare. Can you imagine what that total is now, three and a quarter years later? Read more »

What Everyone Is Avoiding Saying About Hillary Clinton’s Email Scandal

Like everybody else, I’ve been reading way too much about Hillary Clinton’s emails. I’ve read that her use of a private in-house server violated federal law. I’ve read that her use of the server didn’t violate federal law. I’ve read that her using that server is a big-ass scandal. I’ve read that it wasn’t a big-ass scandal. I’ve read that she had information in those emails that was classified, and that she didn’t have information in those emails that was classified — at the time. Frankly, the whole mess makes my head spin.

Why does it make my head spin? Because I’m a Technically Challenged Person (TCP), and technology perplexes me.

I’m the person you don’t want to ask to take a picture of your family with your iPhone, because I’m the person who keeps seeing pictures of my own face on the screen of my iPhone when I’m trying to take pictures of my son’s football game. And I’m not alone. There’s a substantial subset of Americans who get very, very flustered when they can’t get the remote control to make the TV set come on. It’s been my experience that the children and spouses of people with this condition will rush to their aid and perform the necessary technical operations themselves, rather than patiently walking the TCP through it, because a) it stops the screaming so much sooner; and b) trying to walk a TCP through it is a waste of time. Read more »

Joe Biden Gets Emotional in Gripping Stephen Colbert Interview

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. During the event, Biden, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and actress Mariska Hargitay announced almost $80 million in grants to help eliminate a vast nationwide backlog of rape kits.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. During the event, Biden, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and actress Mariska Hargitay announced almost $80 million in grants to help eliminate a vast nationwide backlog of rape kits.

Veep, former Delaware Senator and son of Scranton Joe Biden got deep on the third episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. In an interview that was light on jokes and heavy on substance (watch below), Colbert and the vice president got candid and personal when discussing family loss (which both host and guest have experienced) and Biden’s will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation with a presidential run.

“Go, Joe! Go, Joe!” chanted some in the audience, to which Biden smiled, “Be careful what you wish for.”

“I’d like to address the elephant in the room — which in this case is a donkey,” quipped Colbert after discussion of the “one job” being the president’s confidant and policy advisor prepares one for. “Do you have anything to tell us?” Read more »

What Can Joe Biden Learn From Five Pennsylvania Presidential Losers?

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

Pennsylvania has long been regarded as a kingmaker when it comes to presidential politics — we still get awarded “swing state” status by pundits even though it’s been a generation since the state swung to Republicans in a presidential election. But we do a lousy job of electing our own.

The only native of the Keystone State to actually win the presidency? James Buchanan. You might remember him from his stint as The Worst President in American History. (That tends to happen when you stand by and let the nation devolve into ugly, bloody Civil War.) As Joe Biden — Scranton native, longtime U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware (aka “Pennsylvania’s third senator“)  — contemplates his own run for the presidency, he might want to consider the woes that have befallen his predecessors.

Here are five notable Pennsylvanians who failed to win the White House: Read more »

Police: Girl, 5, Abducted From Home Was Sexually Assaulted

Philadelphia police now say the 5-year-old girl abducted from a North Philadelphia home by an intruder was also sexually assaulted.

The incident happened Tuesday morning in the Hartranft section of the city. Cops say a man entered a home on N. Hutchinson Street through a window and took the girl. The victim told police the man took her by the hand, led her outside and began kicking and punching her in the home’s backyard. Read more »

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »