Dec 2, 2016

Recounting America's Preference

Earlier in the week, I was critical of the Green Party and their recount effort.  I thought that they were compromising their principles, to possibly only benefit Clinton and the Democrats.  Indeed, the disheartened Democrats thought much more of Jill Stein after she filed for the recount.  The Clinton campaign is now openly recruiting people to help with the recount in Michigan and Wisconsin. The other day, after my post, I received a call from a local Green Party member. This woman was an avid supporter, who actually was with Stein several times during the campaign.  According to this source, the party itself did not support the recount, and it was more of a renegade action by the good doctor herself.  This was not my impression, or the premise of my previous post.  I also believe that it was not conveyed by the press, or is the perception by the general public.

As an advocate for independents and third parties, I find this revelation disappointing.  I knew that Gary Johnson was using the Libertarian Party as a vehicle for his campaign.  I assumed that Jill Stein was more married to her choice of parties.   However, I certainly understand the difficulty of running completely independently, with no party affiliation.

In photographs of the local Lehigh Valley recount, I recognized vocal Clinton supporters present.  The entire local recount only discovered a few absentee ballots which were not counted.   It in fact reaffirmed the integrity of the existing voting system.

Dec 1, 2016

Looking For A Cop In Allentown

If you were looking for a policeman Tuesday morning, you better have been on the second floor of Sacred Heart Hospital, because all the brass and most of the shift were there. It was another one of their Coffee with a Cop sessions.  Besides hospital personnel,  there were only a few community members present.  I confronted Chief Morris about what appeared to me to be a wasted use of manpower.   To his credit, Morris didn't take offense at my blunt assessment, and actually even explained the reasoning.  Police take many of the injured and distressed to that hospital, and this session allowed the hospital workers and police to meet personally, under much less stressful circumstances.

The next Cop and Coffee will take place at the Sunrise Diner on S. 4th Street.  Even I concur that spot will be a good location for community outreach.

Nov 30, 2016

Looking For A Motive In Ohio

Main stream media tells us that the authorities are looking for a motive as to why the young angry Muslim immigrant attacked people at Ohio State.  Needless to say, I find the inquiry mind boggling.  With open hearts and closed eyes we have become easy targets.  We worry more about xenophobia and political correctness, than security. Our college professors want to label our self preservation instincts as racist.  We hide from the reality of our enemy's blind hatred, and instead concentrate on weapons, like gun control. The weapons used in Ohio were a car and kitchen knife.

While our social scientists look for complex answers, hopefully our government will resort to simple procedures, like increased vetting.

During WW2, the navy didn't have time to psychoanalyze each kamikaze pilot.

Nov 29, 2016

Unfriending The Election Results

Before and since the election, I have been amused by reactions to Donald Trump. One facebook friend started to unfriend people yesterday that support Trump. Others are even less tolerant, and will unfriend those who don't loudly condemn Trump. They just cannot be associated with any possible connection to racism or xenophobia, even if contrived. I suspect that the next four years will be tough on them. Although, I do not believe that their characterizations are fair, this post isn't intended to defend Trump, but rather note the mindset of those so upset. Meanwhile, they feel free to viciously demonize, ridicule and mock anyone they suspect remotely connected to the evil one.

Counselors were actually recommending that family members didn't discuss the election at their Thanksgiving dinner. Nonsense like that makes bastards like me grin, and I don't smile that often.

Nov 28, 2016

The Marginalization of Dr. Stein

When Jill Stein campaigned for President she defended herself against taking votes away from Hillary.  She claimed that Hillary was just the status quo, and not really progressive.  The Green Party is now saying that they're not doing the recount for the benefit of any one candidate, but for democracy. Well, we know that they're not doing it for Jill, because she only got about 1% of the vote.  She is now getting more contributions for the recount than her campaign generated.  She has become a willing tool for those despondent over Hillary's loss.  Clinton's campaign staff will be on the ground monitoring the recount.

Trump's victory was pure democracy.  He had no get out the vote organization,  no ground game.  If history will show any shenanigans in the 2016 election, it will be in this recount,  not on November 8th.  As someone who ran himself for office twice as an independent,  I find this action disappointing.  It depreciates the Green Party to the children's Junior Achievement section of the Democratic Party. In essence, Stein is a front for Hillary to recant her concession.  Jill Stein's legacy will be the confirmation of Trump's victory, instead of the principles on which she had run.

Nov 25, 2016

Observations From An Old Allentown Meat Market

Card carrying members of this blog know that in addition to being a son of a bitch, i'm also the son of a butcher. Because my father had a meat market, I was impressed when Wegmans opened about 15 years ago. They raised the bar for local supermarket chains. Getting on their parking lot the day before Thanksgiving was a fool's errand, until this year. On Wednesday there were plenty of spaces, I couldn't even describe the store as very crowded. What happen? The simple answer would be more competition, with Hamilton Crossings and their new offerings. I actually think that  something else was also in play.

For the last several years, Wegmans had indulged in one remodeling project after another. Although new, changing and different might appeal to their clientele in upstate New York, I don't think that they understood local Pennsylvania Dutch thinking. Make it do, wear it out, use it up, do without has been the mentality here for generations. I found the continuous remodeling annoying, and with each improvement there seemed to be less customers.

This blog has received some complaints, mostly from my distressed Democratic readers, about straying too far from the valley with my recent election posts. I wouldn't expect to hear that beef about this entry.

Nov 24, 2016

Allentown As The Little Apple

Before we start, if you're looking for some nice holiday sentiment, click away now, it's not here. I've called Allentown the Little Apple, but that's unfair to New York City. The comparison gives Allentown too much credit, even with the Revitalization. Understand, that the entire revitalized area is primarily owned by just one person, and that's just too freakish for anywhere, even here. Understand, that we have a newspaper that not only doesn't question that, it promotes it. Understand, that we have a mayor who is the center of a FBI investigation, who goes around like nothing's wrong. Talk about an elephant, or hippo in the room.

 reprinted from November 2015

Nov 23, 2016

Obama Rewards Trump Bashers

Yesterday, President Obama bestowed the Metal of Freedom upon those celebrities who bashed Trump on Hillary's behalf during the recent presidential campaign. Among those being rewarded was Robert DeNiro, who wanted to punch Trump in the face. Others who met the criterion included Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen.

By now, some of you may realize that I'm using this post title as a teaser and introduction to a few other issues. The hot media topic, besides the election, is fake news. With declining hard copy newspaper sales, many readers are reducing themselves to just the titles of articles that appear on their mobile devices. Although the liberal left had declared Trump voters as low information people, that description crosses party lines.

Last, but not least, allow me to mention blogging and this site. Yesterday, I noticed that a few local readers believed that an associate broke an important story. Although, that particular blogger has indeed broken many stories, yesterday's post wasn't one of them, nor did he claim that it was. That false assumption was made by some of his readers, who apparently rely on a blog for local news. Although, I imply on my sidebar to have extra-terrestrial sources, it may not be totally true. Any insight I have about this valley is gleaned from every local news source that I can find, plus conversations with those few officials who still talk to me. Lastly, several readers have reprimanded me for posting on topics beyond the Lehigh Valley. As Steve Martin would say, EXCUSE ME.

Nov 22, 2016

The Alt-Left In America

Since Trump's election and Bannon's appointment, we hear of the Alt-right. Although this element is supposed to be the radical right, they were so quiet that nobody even expected Trump to win the election. They were so undemonstrative that nobody saw his victory coming. However, since Tuesday November 8th, what do we call those now acting out? The media has politely designated them protestors.

Vice President Pence went to a popular broadway show last week. The actors apparently couldn't resist the temptation to reprimand him from the stage after the show. Never mind that the new administration is still about 7 weeks away from assuming office, and at least months more from any policy change in this country. College presidents, including local ones from the Lehigh Valley, have signed a letter to Trump asking him to repudiate hatred against minorities. I didn't know that Trump invented bigotry or prejudice, but is apparently now responsible when it appears. I do know that nobody ever expected President Obama to address anti-Semitism on American campuses.

According to the left, everybody Trump considers for appointment is a racist. They have been using that derogatory term very loosely. Allow me to annoy my liberal readers a bit more. It wouldn't surprise me to find that some of the intolerant incidents being attributed to Trump supporters are in fact dirty tricks.    I suspect that most Trump supporters are content enough by the election results to relax. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the other side.

Nov 21, 2016

Obama Saves Planet Earth

You may recall that President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize before beginning his first term. It was bestowed upon him in hope of the change he promised to bring. Now, in an equally inspiring gesture, he has instructed his contemporaries in Europe to continue cooperating with the United States, even with Donald Trump. He has in essence given the world permission to keep turning, even with his departure. Now, if Germany and the other European nations do continue cooperating with the most powerful nation on earth remains to be seen, but they surely would not have without Obama's recommendation. They had been looking forward to weaning themselves against America's money in supporting NATO, United Nations and every other institution mostly bankrolled by United States. Some conservatives thought Obama was just an easy smile, with virtually no foreign policy chops, but this last trip sure set the record straight.

A draft of this post was inadvertently published for several minutes this past weekend.

Nov 18, 2016

John Bolton, A Man For The Times

Recently, a king maker in New Hampshire looked over Rick Santorum, and said that he had the right look to run for President. Nobody is saying that about John Bolton, but he has the right stuff. Bolton, in addition to being a former United Nations Ambassador, was involved in national security positions with both Bush Administrations. He may well be the most informed candidate, on national security issues, the Republicans could hope to find. He believes that Obama's foreign policy emboldens our enemies, and the recent North Korean aggression seems to bear that out. Domestically, he favors repealing old laws, not passing new ones. Although Bolton feels that Obama has put world interests ahead of that of United States, he realizes that after three and half years in office, Obama will be very articulate about world affairs. Nobody would have more international expertise, to go toe to toe with the smooth talking Obama, than John Bolton.

ADDENDUM: The above post is reprinted from December of 2010. At the time, I was hoping that Bolton would be a candidate against Obama in 2012.  Likewise, I was hoping that he would be a candidate in 2016. He is by far the most qualified of those now being considered by Trump for Secretary of State. Consideration for Bolton is being opposed by Rand Paul.  It's interesting how those in Washington who were outright opposed to Donald Trump, would now like to be his trusted advisers.

Nov 17, 2016

A Zionist For Steve Bannon

A local antagonist has on occasion tried to smear me by referring to me as a Zionist. Although, he has used other slurs, I never took offense at Zionist. Steve Bannon is currently being smeared by being labeled as an anti-Semite and a white supremacist, he is neither. These smears are the residual resentment about Trump winning the election. In this internet era, facebook is now examining what is becoming called fake news. It's all too easy to create a fake title, and now thousands, if not millions of people, believe it. In regard to another Trump associate, Kellyanne Conway, I have seen opposite titles for the same youtube. One title says watch her destroy Whoopie Goldberg. Another title says watch Whoopie destroy Conway. Both segments contained the same youtube. Often people don't even bother to watch the youtube, or read the article. They accept the title as gospel.  Not only are newspaper articles becoming passé, but now people only have time to scroll titles on their mobile devices.

Some readers prefer when this blogger sticks to local issues, like the parks and the NIZ.  I generally do see that as the niche that I best fill.  However, as an informed citizen blogger,  it is occasionally necessary to step outside that box.  As a Jew who sees no shortage of anti-semitism,  and Israel bashing,  I will defend those falsely accused.

I inadvertently published a draft of this post yesterday morning, for a minute or so.

Nov 16, 2016

Allentown School District Color Lesson

Shown above is one of the three finalists for Allentown School Superintendent.  All three are minorities, two blacks and a hispanic.  Part of the selection process requires meeting the parents and community,  and answering their questions.  The gentleman shown,  if selected, indicated that he would spend three months interviewing parents, before he designed a program for Allentown.  For these public interviews, the cast of Russ Mayo critics were present.  Mayo was the previous white superintendent,  apparently a mistake of color, which will not be made again.  Although, the school board is making the final choice,  they designed this politically correct dog and pony show.  Because the majority minority of the district is Hispanic,  if he can present himself as well as the two blacks,  he should be the odds on favorite.  If you detect disdain in my description of the criterion being used,  please do not protest outside the headquarters of  molovinsky on allentown.

photocredit:The Morning Call

Nov 15, 2016

Allentown's New Park Plan

A tradition almost 100 years old ended yesterday, as Allentown started to pave the bridal paths in Lehigh Parkway.   Although, they were equestrian friendly by design,  Pawlowski is now in high gear to extend bike paths, and defend the land he purchased from Abe Atiyeh two years ago.  The city received an $85,000 grant from Harrisburg to plan a new park near Basin Street,  incorporating that purchased land. Pawlowski has proclaimed that it will be called Central Park,  and attract more millennials, and eventually adjacent housing for them. Considering the neglected conditions in our existing park system,  the grant and plan symbolizes the illness of the Pawlowski administration. While the city applied for that grant, they ignored the neglect in all the existing parks.  Although, the collapsed portion of the Lehigh Parkway wall was rebuilt so that they could reopen the park entrance road,  the remainder of the wall received no attention.  The centerpiece, which is the double staircase, is literally falling apart.   The current park director, Lindsay Taylor, is as pliable as her predecessors.  She doesn't stand up to defend or repair the existing parks, and is instead apparently more concerned with her paycheck and resumé.

Pawlowski claims that this new park plan heralds back to previous plans under former director Greg Weitzel.  I attended his bike path meetings back then,  and there was no bike path proposed east of where  Martin Luther King Drive divides off of Union Street.  Paving the Parkway bridal path now is more part of a legal defense, than a park improvement.  The paving changes the nature of the Parkway from pastural to urban, instantaneously. 

Allentown hasn't had the funds to maintain the existing parks properly for over a decade.  There are less park employees now than ever.  So far,  both Allentown City Council and the Trexler Trust have also failed to insist on proper priorities for the existing park system.

Nov 14, 2016

ADDENDUM: Lamentations Of The Democrats

A reader suggested that I change the name of this blog to Molovinsky On Trump. He believes that I have abandoned my claim on being non-partisan. In reality, I never promoted Trump, but I did push back against the vitriol against him in the media and on facebook. Not suprisingly, my critic was one of the facebook intolerants. The Clinton campaign supposedly is blaming FBI Director James Comey for her lost. I believe that this campaign was decided before his notice to Congress. Some commentators believe that the Democrats should have gone with Sanders.   In truth, both parties went with their best candidate,  the one who won their primary.

Obama should speak out against the protests.  He seems to be practicing selective criticism in regard to properly respecting democracy. I never thought much of liberals thinking that Jon Steward,  Bill Maher, or SNL was a source of political insight.  Needless to say, none of the Hollywood elite have moved abroad.  However,  I believe that some of the smugness have been washed off their pretty faces.

ADDENDUM:  I took the unusual step of printing a blog post this weekend, because of the extraordinary contention against  Trump.  I will now take another unusual step, and incorporate that entry, with this addendum, into today's  edition.

If possible, I believe that the post election acrimony by the Clinton supporters towards Trump is worse than before the election.  I suppose that Trump's detractors never seriously considered him becoming president.  Now, that it actually happen,  even liberal lawyers are questioning the Constitutionally of the Electoral College.  While they previously condemned an obstructionist congress during Obama's term,  they are now plodding impeachment against Trump, less than one week after the election.  They are planning a one million women march in Washington, for the inauguration.  With all the plodding,  I have yet to read of one positive idea for their cause or the country. I have yet to hear either Obama or Clinton try to curtail this current negativity. The Clinton's blame their loss on James Comey, rather than her calling half the country deplorable.

I have maintained that protest against a lawful election in a democracy is inappropriate.  Others disagree,  believing such protest is completely legitimate.  I also find accusations of racism against Trump  unsubstantiated, and offensive.  I heard a Sunday talking head say that Trump should issue a statement to calm the public, worried about his racism.  I too believe that this segment must be calmed, but by those elements which made them hysterical in the first place.  That would be Obama, but then that might suggest that he indeed did perform as an alarmist,  prior to the election.

Nov 11, 2016

The Morning Call Almost Mentioned On CNN

The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll was almost mentioned by name on CNN last night.  Kellyanne Conway referred to a poll in eastern Pennsylvania,  where Ivanka had campaigned, which had gotten it very wrong.  The college poll had Hillary up by 6 points.  Of course, this is the same paper that wrote a story on the Wehr's Dam Referendum passing,  quoting someone who hasn't been recently active on the issue, but never mentioned yours truly.

Getting back to Muhlenberg, lets discuss these college fueled protests occurring across the country. You protest decisions by government, such as a particular war or policy. To protest the results of a fair, democratically held election is inappropriate.  I heard that at least one institution of higher learning was offering grief counseling.  I'm beginning to think that the problem in America is too much education. Maybe they should charge more interest on those student loans.

ADDENDUM: An article in Saturday's Morning Call tries to explain their poll errors.  Their pollster and Muhlenberg political science professor, Chris Borick,  now revises that he had Hillary ahead by 4, instead of 6.  At least the pollster at Franklin & Marshall conceded mistakes in his method.

Nov 10, 2016

Looking For That Rural Uneducated Male

In field under primitive conditions, searching for creature called Trump voter.  Please check back later this morning for post, after I return to civilization.

7:30AM.  On Wednesday, after hearing about all these uneducated males, I decided to take a field trip to the rural areas outside of Allentown.  One person after another insisted that he if fact had gone to college.  It's all very confusing. We know that many minorities drop out of high school,  but they're never referred to as uneducated.  We also learned that Hillary wanted to help everyone with their college loans.  So, if the minorities weren't Trump voters in the first place,  and so many people need help with their college loans,  who was that half of America so uneducated?

The media pundits are now saying that they must figure out what went wrong with their analysis, which led to so much egg on their collective faces. I suggest that they start with their elitist assumptions.  They assumed that only the uneducated could vote for Trump. I further suggest that their endless Trump bashing didn't erode his support, it only reenforced the public's perception of their arrogance.

I note that some segments of the media, such as Huffington Post, are still in last week's mode, insulting  Trump and his supporters.  They will only make themselves less relevant than before.  I note the protests in the large urban areas and colleges.  I note that the foamers on Facebook are still frothing at the mouth.

I apologize to my uneducated readers for having no picture with this post.  I have yet to return to molovinsky on allentown headquarters, which houses the photographic archives.

Nov 9, 2016

Classism and Elitism Defeated The Democratic Establishment

All you heard over the course of the campaign, was that Trump's base was only the white, uneducated males.  In the real world, millions of college educated males voted for Trump yesterday.  Even many of those college educated women, that Hillary took for granted, voted for Trump.

On Sunday night in Philadelphia, Obama ended his career by claiming that United States is more respected now than before, and that its workers are better off. Of course, as eloquently as Obama made those claims, and he is eloquent, Americans knew that those statements were simply not true. They knew that the economy and their prospects were stagnant. Their vote yesterday was for a shot at a better future.

Nov 8, 2016

Obama Preaches To The Choir In Philadelphia

On  Sunday morning, a black power broker from Philadelphia stated that Pat Toomey has done nothing for the black community in Philadelphia. A journalist present, explained that Toomey has been the leading conservative Republican for gun control, while shootings have taken the lives of almost three hundred  blacks a year in the City of Brotherly Love. The black broker replied,  but Toomey hasn't come to their churches, and spoken directly to them.

President Obama came Monday night, and not only spoke, but preached to the choir.  His sermon even had a well rehearsed amen in the background. His supporters claim that he is a legal scholar, but all I heard was a  politician, promoting another one. Obama started out at the Democrat convention twelve years ago, as an eloquent speaker promising hope and change.  Last night, he ended his career by wrongly claiming that United States is more respected now than before,  and that its workers are better off.  Although, he certainly remains as eloquent of a speaker as ever, and he may still even inspire hope,  he certainly brought no change.  In addition to Hillary, his sermon gifted McGinty, who besides being one of ten children, appears to have no qualifications.

There will be free rides in Philly today, just call Uber, and say that you're a cog in the vote machine. Additionally, a settlement was forced upon the SEPTA board, to maximize the turnout.  Last night, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen weren't the only showmen in Philadelphia.

Nov 7, 2016

Hillary Workers In Allentown

A facebook friend relayed the story that Clinton campaign workers, while canvasing the neighborhood, stopped in the church at 6th and Tilghman on Friday.  The workers, some Jewish and from as far away as California, found the former synagogue, turned church, architecturally interesting. I find it interesting that suburban liberals, from all over United States, end up at 6th and Tilghman, trying to squeeze out votes for Hillary. On Sunday, I bumped into a few of them myself.  They were from NYC, and one issue centric; Supreme Court appointments in regard to abortion.

The Clinton campaign had also hired professional firms nationwide to register the unmotivated to vote. Not exactly grass roots.  Hillary is hoping that Obama helps encourage the blacks to vote, and that Katy Perry and Beyoncé help encourage the millennials.  Meanwhile, while the celebrities are filling the arena for Clinton, Trump is attracting his crowds on his own. CNN,  trying to temper the weekend surge for Trump in the polls, has even speculated that there is hidden Hillary support, that will appear on election day.  I think that the early voting, essentially bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign, was their surge.

Getting back to 6th Street in Allentown, this time 6th and Linden.  The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll has Clinton ahead by 6 points in Pennsylvania. While that figure is pure liberal wishful thinking,  which has become the wheelhouse of newspapers and colleges, it may prove to be embarrassingly inaccurate.

photocredit: The Morning Call, August 2016

Nov 4, 2016

For My Gun Rights, But Against The NRA

As a gun owner, I'm a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Although, that is a right which I defend, as an engaged citizen I appreciate living in a society of laws. There are rights and laws, and we can all live within them. I do not blindly consider every regulation as a curtailment of my rights, or as a slippery slope which will erode them. I can exercise my rights in a responsible manner, without purposefully provoking those who feel differently about this issue.

Each November the NRA sends it's current and former members a card telling them whom they should vote for in their district, to protect their 2nd Amendment rights. Although, their member magazine often features hunting rifles, the organization must also think of their members as sheep, who should only care about one issue. As Americans we should guard our right to own firearms,  but never tolerate being told how to vote.

reprinted from December of 2014. Shown above is a 38 special, gifted upon Frank Sinatra by the Miami Beach Police & Firemen's Association.

Nov 3, 2016

New Graveside Tears

In August of 08, after about a year of blogging on conditions at Fairview, The Morning Call ran the story shown above. I did manage to organize a small meeting between the cemetery operators and the public later that fall. Yesterday I received the following comment, submitted to a posting from that period.

Patti from California has left a new comment on your post "New Graveside Tears":

My family is buried at Fairview and 2 weeks ago I visited and was appalled at the horrible conditions and total lack of maintenance throughout the cemetery. I have been trying to reach Loretta or David most of the summer and was told they had taken an extended trip out of the country. (business must be good) They seem to be back now - but still no way to actually talk to them.

My mother is 97 - plans to be buried there with her parents and my Dad. I could cry at the thought ....

I googled Fairview and was led to your blog. Loretta told me in May I could get our plot maintained if I invested in their endowment for $1000. After seeing the total lack of care there, I feel like I would be throwing the money away. What do other people think or do about this appalling condition?

I feel sorry for this family, Fairview may have been a well maintained place when the father was buried there many years ago. I believe the cemetery is in better condition than it was two years ago, but that's not saying very much. I will occasionally revisit this topic, to at least continue a small noise on behalf of these families.

reprinted from September of 2009

ADDENDUM: Over the years I have published numerous posts about Fairview Cemetery. Today and yesterday, I revisited the cemetery to cast light on a problem; Allentown's orphan cemeteries. Although Fairview isn't really an orphan, it shares the same issues as the West End Cemetery, in center city. Our esteemed mayor took it upon himself to purchase two unnecessary parcels, ostensibly to add to the park system. In addition to their cost, $1.5 million dollars, there will be upkeep expenses by an already underfunded park system. City hall should instead concentrate on these cemeteries, which have been problematic for decades.

Nov 2, 2016

A Blog and A Cemetery

About ten years ago, I began searching for the grave of a young Jewish woman, who died around 1900. Among several Jewish cemeteries no longer in use, I searched Mt. Sinai, a small section of the sprawling Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street, just west of the 8th Street Bridge. The cemetery is the history of Allentown past, including the graves of Harry Trexler, John Leh, and Jack Mack. As one proceeded deeper into the cemetery, away from sight on Lehigh Street, conditions worsened. As is the case with many old cemeteries, fees paid for perpetual care, 100 years ago, were long gone. Complicating the situation, the current private operator wasn't particularly assessable. In addition to extended family members upset about conditions, the situation was compounded by his refusal, with few exceptions, to allow private upkeep. My early posts on the situation drew response and phone calls from people with no interest in local political blogs; They were just exasperated relatives, with a family member buried long ago at Fairview. After beginning a series of posts, and letters to the editor, I prevailed upon The Morning Call to write a story one year later. The Call's story appeared on August 11, 2008. Within two weeks, the cemetery operator agreed to a public meeting I had organized at a local church. Arrangements were made between the operator and several parties. As with several of Allentown's older cemeteries, the issue of maintenance will be ongoing. This would be a worthwhile project for City Hall.

I have reprinted this post because of some inquiries about the conditions at Fairview.   

Nov 1, 2016

The Photography of K Mary Hess

K Mary Hess is an extraordinarily gifted landscape photographer, whose soft, sensitive use of color gives her images a painterly quality. Her page on Facebook, Photos Of Lehigh Valley, receives thousands of views each week.

Photos of Lehigh Valley Open House! 

This coming Thursday, November 3rd, the Bake Oven Inn in Germansville will be hosting a limited exhibit of Ms. Hess's work from 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Hosted at Curious Goods at the Bake Oven Inn
7705 Bake Oven Rd Germansville 18053
Come for fun ~complimentary hors d'oeuvres~beverages


Photography Page of K Mary Hess

Oct 31, 2016

Wehr's Dam Referendum

Readers of Bill White's Sept. 29 column learned that he felt that having two referendums on one ballot was in itself a problem for both of those questions.

South Whitehall residents will be asked to approve a new library and alsorenovations to Wehr's Dam. White wrote that bringing the dam into state compliance will cost close to $600,000. That's not true, but in fairness to White, that's how the township is presenting the issue.

The state inspection cited only a few minor issues and concluded that overall the dam is in "good condition." Throughout the decades, the township itself would make any required repairs to the dam. Under such an in-house procedure, the current repairs might cost $6,000. Allowing for a professional contractor, the dam repair could cost $60,000 to meet the state requirements.

However, the engineer hired by the township presented three options. Option No. 1 repaired the dam to meet state guidelines. Option No. 2 replaced one-third of the dam for $600,000. Option No. 3 would replace the entire dam at close to $2 million. While the three options allowed the township commissioners to present option No. 2 as a reasonable compromise, it is actually a deception that could do away with the dam. There is nothing in the state report even remotely suggesting that any portion of the dam itself needs to be replaced. It was the township's intention to come up with a price high enough to justify a referendum. Already, four years ago, the township's Park Master Plan, mostly formulated with input from the Wildlands Conservancy, recommended that the dam be demolished, but not for any structural problem. The cost to meet the state requirement should not be confused with some contrived replacement recommendation.

White went on to write that the dam rehabilitation would stretch over five years, and that it would add $76 to the average homeowner's bill. Once again, he was led astray by ambiguous information put out by the township. With over 8,000 properties in the township, that amount would generate $3 million over five years.

However, over a five-year period, it would cost homeowners only $17 a year to generate the $600,000 — something the township later acknowledged in a long note — a series of 13 questions and answers — to property owners inserted in their trash bills. With that note, I believe the township attempted to intimidate the voters against preserving the dam. The note does not state that it would cost $17 a year for five years until the 11th question.

South Whitehall chose an unnecessarily expensive option to repair the dam. It did this so residents would vote the dam away. The dam, considered low-hazard by the state, is a massive concrete structure, 6 feet wide at the bottom and sitting on an even more massive concrete platform. Unattended, it will last for another century. While no longer providing water energy for a grain mill, it is now a historical structure of charm, providing a beautiful sight as water flows over the dam and under the covered bridge.

South Whitehall's park policy is being driven by the Wildlands Conservancy and its general objection to dams, regardless of their significance. Wehr's Dam has been a destination for generations of residents and is the heart of the township's Covered Bridge Park. Although the recently released township magazine has a picture of the covered bridge on the cover, there is not one word about the dam or referendum. The township hopes that residents will reject the contrived, inflated price and tax assigned to preserving the dam and relieve the commissioners of any political consequence for that decision.

Ironically, White's column explains that the new library would contain a local history room. I can tell readers after attending all the township meetings for almost a year that the commissioners could care less about history. History starts with saving local structures, not misleading the public about preservation costs to justify unnecessary demolition. I urge South Whitehall residents to vote to keep the beauty and history of the dam, and then challenge the commissioners about the real cost of any necessary repairs.

Above is my op-ed piece, as it appeared in the Morning Call on Saturday.

ADDENDUM: An article in today's Morning Call on the referendum serves the Wildlands Conservancy well, as do the South Whitehall Commissioners. It doesn't mention that there was an economical third option,  to just repair the dam.

Oct 28, 2016

Welcome To The Vendig

In 1933, with the end of Prohibition, my grandparents(maternal) started operating the Vendig Hotel. They were the working partners, another immigrant family, here longer, were the silent backers. The hotel was directly across from the current Main Street Depot Restaurant in Bethlehem, which was the old New Jersey Line Terminal. With my grandmother cooking, they became well known for crab cakes and other shelled seafood. What wasn't known, was that she was strictly kosher, and never even tasted anything she prepared. As some may recall, my grandparents came from Hungarian Transylvania (now Romania) in the early 20's. Family lore* says Bela Lugosi visited the hotel. Lugosi was born in the same area of then Hungary, and started his acting career playing Jesus in Passion Plays. In 1931, after immigrating to America years earlier, he got his big break playing Dracula. Typecast as a villain, Lugosi was reduced in later years to drug addiction and playing in low budget monster films. He died in the mid 50's and was buried in his Dracula cape.

* My surviving uncle, who as a boy lived above the hotel, has no recollection of Lugosi. The partner families would later merge through marriage and 40 years later come to own the old vaudeville theater in South Bethlehem known as The Globe. It too is gone.                                                      reprinted from June of 2008

South Whitehall's Backscratchers

South Whitehall, as a consequence of uncontested elections for commissioner seats, now has a government of exchanged favors.  While Wehr's Dam demolition is being put to a disingenuous referendum to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy,  they are wasting money repaving streets that were in good shape. They paved in front of Temple Beth El on Yom Kippur, and even came into the synagogue to tell the worshippers to move their cars.  Because a truck parked in front of a commissioner's building,  they banned on street truck parking.  They then created a truck parking zone, by permit only, in front of the new state enforcement building behind K Mart.  When it was revealed that the State Police will not allow parking there for security reasons, the commissioners went ahead and passed the new truck parking ordinance anyway;  Talk about Catch 22!

If you're a South Whitehall resident and would like to complain about any one of these absurdities, be prepared to wait several hours at the meetings. South Whitehall is the only municipality in the valley which puts courtesy of the floor at the end of the meeting.


Oct 27, 2016

Election 2016, Foaming At The Mouth

A reader stated at a recent post that he thought things would be dull here, if I didn't allow commenters to banter back and forth.  What I think is dull is seeing a long comment section of two people having their own conservation, especially when they're anonymous.  But, on the topic of dull, I present my 17th post on the incivility of this election.

I have a facebook friend who can't stop complaining about Trump.  She couldn't be more offended if he had grabbed her crotch.  What she will do with that outrage come November 9th, who knows?  She might have to become a blogger.  What started me off for this new post was Morgan Freeman and Colin Powell's endorsement of Clinton.  Morgan narrates Hillary's latest campaign ad, with his iconic voice.  Colin, describing himself as a Republican, came out for Clinton.  Of course, he also came out for Obama in 08 and 12.  He seems to be a Republican in registration only.

Pictured above,  college educated soccer mom thinking about Donald Trump.

Oct 26, 2016

LCA's Drinkable Blend

Long time readers of this blog know that I have been raging against the valley's sacred cows for decades. I complained when Donny Cunningham  pimped our water. We now have multiple bottlers, which steal our water, but provide few jobs. I complained when he invited Ocean Spray and their highly acidic discharge here. They couldn't even meet New Jersey's pollution standards. I raged against the sewage overflowing into Lehigh Parkway, and documented races and marathons, held in feces and toilet paper infested areas next to the creek. I criticized the hypocrites called the Wildlands Conservancy, for tearing down scenic dams, but remaining silent about the sewage.

It turns out now that the silent yuppies are finally stirred up. Joyce Marin, who has made a career out of farmland preservation and other popular environmental fads, is upset because the LCA wants to blend a little sewage into the Little Lehigh. The LCA has been on a program to save a drop of waste water, here and there. The thinking is that if you save enough drops, perhaps they can avoid a real fix, like properly sizing their pipes and treatment facilities. For that reason, South Whitehall just made all their homeowners close off their floor drains, which were a required safeguard when the houses were built. LCA's scientist, shown above, has determined that you can drink a few parts of sewage per million, and not drop dead. A drop here and a drop there, will save an expensive pipe replacement.

Oct 25, 2016

A Day In Pennsyltucky

Only in Pennsyltucky is the former Attorney General lead away in handcuffs, while the Vice President calls himself one of us. Although, I keep wanting to turn my attention to some local annoyances, the absurdity of this election cycle keeps grabbing my attention.  Today, a new ad for Kate McGinty featured Joe Biden telling his fellow Pennsylvanians how he is one of us. Joe lived here until he was 10 years old.

More troubling is the Obamas' campaigning against Trump.  I wish some of Michelle's outrage concerned the Christian children of Mosul, who are being brutally murdered.  She, like her husband, has the speech thing perfected, but they're both  misguided with their empathy.

Coming to the big screen soon will be the story of Kathleen Kane. In a story which reads like a movie script, she was finally sentenced yesterday, but not before she and her identical twin sister forced two State Supreme Court Justices to resign,  for emailing pornography within the court system.

Oct 24, 2016

Mud Wrestling And Politics

Seasoned readers of this blog know that I'm not shy about criticizing officials or policy, when I feel that things are not in the public's best interest. Aggressive as that may be, I am offended by smear tactics and negative campaigning. Certainly, the Trump/Clinton campaigns have been self-described as nasty, and I expect and accept that blood letting. Trump was known as a brawler, and behind those  easy smiles, the Clintons have a long time reputation for viciousness. Locally, I've never seen so much continuous television advertising, nor the low smears being used by McGinty against Pat Toomey.

The national polling released on Friday shows that Trump may have weathered the mud storm. Although, many voters feel that when it came to women in his past that he was no gentleman, they are more concerned about their own future, and change in Washington.

Pundits believe that Toomey's fate lies in Clinton's margin of victory in Pennsylvania. They assume that Clinton will carry the state, and McGinty with her, if she wins by five or six points.

If voters have indeed become immune to mud and sexual escapades, Trump's chances will probably only improve between now and November 8th.  With the news from Iraq, and a lackluster economy, security and prospersity are messages that resonate.

Oct 21, 2016

When Allentown Worked

Regular readers of this blog know that I often visit Allentown's better days of the past. I even belong to a nostalgia group, where someone recently asked where everyone's parents worked. Many group members are in their 50's and 60's. Here was the question; When we grew up the best jobs for our dad's was the Bethlehem steel and mack trucks unless they were lawyers or doctors or had another profession occupation I know my my mom worked in a factory all her life and I think most of them have closed. Where did you mom and dad work and are the companies are open? Over 90 people responded, actually constituting a survey. In current Allentown, this would be a study, which taxpayers would have to pay for; Here, it's on the house, no charge. Fourteen of the fathers worked at Bethlehem Steel, while five worked at Mack Trucks, and five worked retail on Hamilton Street. The others worked at Allentown's many other industries, one or two here and there. Only two respondents said that their fathers weren't much for working. Twenty mothers were stay at home, while eight worked in various sewing factories. The remainder worked as teachers, nurses, factory workers and various other jobs. One person wrote, "My parents sound like the scene you described. My dad worked at Beth Steel and my mom at Penn State Mills on a sewing machine. They owned their own home and sent me to college where I graduated without the burden of a loan. Thanks, Mom and Dad." Shown above was the General Electric plant on S. 12th Street, just beyond the old Mack 5C.
reprinted from November of 2013.

ADDENDUM: There is a current proposal to convert the enormous Adelaide Mill into apartments. Although, we hear catch words like loft and middle class, that won't happen; The size and location of the building, along with the developer's MO, dictate more young, single mothers and children, living in a former factory now broken up into a cheap urban motel. There is something ironic about a former place of production now being a warehouse for people. There is something sad about a city looking upon these conversions as progress.

Oct 20, 2016

Rumble In Sin City

Trump's fight in Las Vegas with Hillary Clinton didn't end at 10:30pm.  After the debate, he was bashed endlessly by both MSNBC and CNN.  None of their combined commentators could get over the fact that he said that he would have to evaluate the results election night, before accepting them.  I suppose that if he didn't make that statement,  they would have found something else with which to beat him up.

Overall, putting aside that media bias, I think that Trump actually did pretty well.  Although Hillary's free college sounds wonderful to the entitlement crowd,  who would pay for it was never addressed.  Although, Trump lacks the debate skills to emphasize the shortcomings of Hillary's plans,  he did manage to suggest that her policies on immigration and refugees could create problems.   He also did fairly well with his premise that there is a gap between her rhetoric and her results. Hillary did well, with some help from Trump himself,  questioning his temperament. 

I believe that the mythical, undecided voter no longer exists.  After the debate, not one word by the pundits  centered on Trump's treatment of women.  By that shift alone,  Trump won.

Oct 19, 2016

Pawlowski's Defiance

According to Emily Opilo of The Morning Call, Ed Pawlowski has gone ahead and hired Michael Walker for de-facto head of Community Development,  even though his appointment was rejected by city council.  Pawlowski implemented this end run by designating Walker as Operations Manager. The operation manager position was created when the previous director was also working officially with the NIZ.

There is actually two factors involved in this defiance. The first is that a historically passive city council allowed city hall to get top heavy.  While there are less indians than ever, there are still as many or more chiefs.  The second factor also involves council's passivity. Opilo also writes, Most council members were initially hesitant to make any public moves against Pawlowski. Two months after the investigation was revealed, council signed off on Pawlowski's pick for finance director and also approved his 2016 budget with minimal pushback.   I have always been amazed at council's refusal to use various funding approvals as a negotiating tool to assert themselves as a check and balance on policy. Consequently, over the years,  I and others have described council as a rubber stamp.

Unfortunately, even under the current environment, Pawlowski  holds sway over the majority of council. While several council members are still known essentially as supporters,  Pawlowski still has strong influence over the majority of members.  Besides his known supporters, at least two more members benefit from either city employment or property. It takes only four votes to get your way in Allentown.

ADDENDUM: Pawlowski may be proving that you don't even need four votes to get your way in Allentown.

Oct 18, 2016

Sex and The White House Campaign

The years have bestowed journalist status upon Wolf Blitzer.  Last week, when he interviewed Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, he asked her about the now infamous 2005 tape leak. Although, she stated that she had seen it, he proceeded to have the tape run for the viewing audience. He then had the tape rerun, between each question he asked her.

Last night, Melania Trump suggested to Anderson Cooper that the media is driving the salacious nature of this election, rather than the actions of her husband. To a large extent that is true. The media has fixated on these revelations, and have made them the issue. Years ago, in the era of Walter Cronkite, such accusations would have been considered off limits.

Certainly, Walter would not have run the tape over and over again.

Oct 17, 2016

A Magician's Choice In South Whitehall

One of the South Whitehall Commissioners is an amateur magician.  He is amusing himself giving the residents of South Whitehall a magician's choice, times two, about Wehr's Dam.  A magician's choice is when the audience thinks that they are choosing the card, when in reality, they are steered to that pick.  He got one price to repair the dam, and another to replace it.  He reported that the dam replacement would cost $1.9 million,  so they choose a middle proposal, to only replace 1/3 of the dam, for $600,000.  Although, to the uninformed, it sounds like a reasonable compromise,  it's based on a false comparison.  No portion of the dam needs to be replaced,  all that is needed is a minor repair.  The second portion of the two part trick is putting the issue to referendum.  He knows that the residents never vote themselves a tax increase.  The magician thinks that he can accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy with another dam demolition, and suffer no political consequence.   To me,  they're stealing the history of the township. They are also robbing the citizens,  current and future, of a place of great beauty, which has been enjoyed for over 100 years.  That theft will be their legacy.

Oct 14, 2016

Mutiny At Allentown City Council

The mutiny at city council has been well reported by Emily Opilo, ace reporter for The Morning Call. Emily provided blow by blow tweets to her fan base during the meeting. Some of the barbs were much more interesting than the votes themselves. Even though Pawlowski questioned Julio Guridy's salary at his no-show state commission job, Julio still voted Ed's way. He once again proved to be a loyal soldier of the party, which has rewarded him well for over a decade. Candida Affa also fits that loyal soldier definition very well, although her incentive is less clear. Surprisingly, Cynthia Mota, Julio's protégé, voted with the majority against Pawlowski's pick for Community Development Director, Michael Walker.  Pawlowski even tried to use the race card, touting Walker's African-American background for needed diversity.

In an interesting plot twist,  Craig Messinger, nominee for Public Works Director, withdrew his name, over council's refusal to grant new salaries ahead of the budget proposal. In the Allentown of years ago, we would say that he got his Dutch up. Of course, the big story of the night was that city council finally asserted itself. It only took eleven years.

This is an analysis of the meeting from news sources,  I was not in attendance.

The Noodleboy and Wehr's Dam

Billy Mack and some other young people had been talking about the mural on a building soon to be demolished. They called "him" Noodle Boy, and expressed empathy toward his coming fate. It's a cute story, and the Morning Call decided to cover it.  
 Meanwhile, the paper hadn't printed or even acknowledged my recent letter on Wehr's Dam, about to be unnecessary demolished by a disingenuous referendum. I wrote the editorial because Bill White on September 29th had a column, which contained misinformation about the dam. This misinformation was put out by South Whitehall Township, whose Commissioners are trying to have the residents vote the dam away, relieving them of any political consequences. In the summer of 2014, almost 7,000 residents signed a petition asking that the dam remain. Furthermore, they signed the petition while visiting the dam. Mr. White declined to write a correction, but suggested that I submit an editorial on the topic. That editorial had been sitting somewhere between the editor's desk and his waste can for over a week.  Yesterday, I caught him by telephone.  He must have been too busy to look at the caller ID.  I was told that they haven't had time yet to review my submission.  I'm glad that they sent a reporter out to meet Billy Mack at Noodle Boy.  I wish that they would send a reporter to meet me at the dam.  I would like to tell him or her about how South Whitehall is deceiving the voters, and how we are going to lose a destination that has been cherished for generations.  Noodle Boy can be repainted anywhere. Once the historic dam is demolished, it's gone forever.

Wehr's Dam photo by Yevette Hendler

You're welcome to return today at 2:00PM, when I will have a bonus post on last night's city council meeting.

Oct 13, 2016

Prince William's Great Grandmother

Long before Prince William walked down the aisle in Westminister Abbey, his great grandmother, Princess Alice (Princess Andrew of Greece), walked there during the wedding of her son Phillip, to Princess Elizabeth. Princess(Alice) Andrew, later at the Coronation of Elizabeth, wore the habit of a nun. An extraordinary woman, she had founded a nurses order composed of nuns in Greece. She modeled the order after one started by her aunt and mentor in Russia, whom she had visited many years earlier. Born Princess Alice of Battenberg, she married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903, assuming her new title.
During the Second World War, she hid a Jewish widow and her children in Athens, saving their lives. In accordance to her wish, she is buried in Jerusalem, next to her cherished aunt Duchess Fyodorovna, in the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene.

reprinted from December 2014

ADDENDUM: When Prince Charles attended Simon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem last month, he visited the church and his grandmother's tomb.

Oct 11, 2016

Second Debate Aftermath

Guest Post from a liberal for Clinton 

Elections are won by addition, not subtraction from your base.

It is true that about 35% - 40% of the Republican base is for Trump and nothing he does will cause them to waver.....he could have dropped his trousers and mooned the moderators and they would cheer him on. BUT, that is not enough voters to reach 50% and one. Simply put, even if ALL of Trump's supporters show up to vote, he falls short. So, to win, he has to, horrors of horrors, reach beyond the deplorables , irredeemables, and alt-right pure reprehensibles. Yes, he followed some coaching advice and bagged the funny pouting faces and seemed sedated, but, his creeping around the stage looked weird & lurking, especially when it is a short woman on stage in front of him. It just looked like he was trying to get into every frame shot of her like a photo bomber. Though a cliche, he really has to appeal to and bring in those white, suburban soccer moms.

Hillary was too clever by half in not responding/defending all the charges leveled at her.....telling folks to go to her web site "Fact Checkers" is lame, and quoting Michele Obama to ignore garbage and "go high" doesn't appeal to non partisan Democrats. Suspect you will see her change that tactic by the next debate, unless he is down in the polls by double digits in the swing states, in which case she will just let him foam in the mouth.

I think he committed three tactical errors that will doom him:

1. Libertarians & BernieManaics are potential swing voters this time. Gary Johnson has lost all creditability. They don't like Trump or Clinton, but, they hate Big Government even more. When Trump went off on his Banana Republic tirade about prosecuting Hillary after he wins the election he strikes the worst fears in their hearts of government run amok.

2. By stating that he "admires" that Hillary is a fighter who never quits, he undermines his theme that she is an old, tired, lazy campaigner that lacks the energy to be President. The reasoning doesn't compute for anyone not suffering from Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

3. Trump broke the Gary Hart Rule of NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER DARE the press to uncover evidence of your indiscretions. When he categorically denied ever actually groping anyone (after Cooper set him up by defining same as a sexual assault) he assured that someone will go for the money and sell an audio or video of a woman alleging otherwise. It will be a Bill Crosby - Roger Ailes cavalcade of women coming forward. They won't be 60+ year old women like he trotted out pre-debate....Bill Clinton women from DogPatch, Arkansas, who looked like Taliban hostages on stage......rather, they will be "10's" in Trump parlance, lookers in their 30's who were beauty pageant contestants or TV show assistants from the last decade, when they were in their late teens or early 20's......who he hit on while married to Melania. You can book that Gloria Alford's phone is ringing off the hook now with prospective clients.

You can stick a fork in him; he's done. The battle now is for Congress....."You need me there so that there is a check on Hillary, not a rubber stamp" will be every Republican's theme now. If she wins by 3 or 4 points they probably get by....if she carries a state by anything above 6 they are in big trouble. Four pickups in the Senate gives them control there (VP casts the tie breaker). They pick up 13 seats in the House and Ryan can't pass anything without Democratic votes, because even with a 30 seat majority now they frustrate him. He loses half of that and he has no where to go but to the Democrats in order to pass even Mother's Day resolutions.
                                                     Guest Post by Trent Hall

molovinsky on allentown will not be published Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Calle Siete

When Julio Guridy proposed adding Calle Siete signs to 7th Street, he was somewhat surprised by the reaction. Although, he might have expected opposition from what Bill White calls the Emma Tropiano people, he didn't expect it from the Hispanic merchants of 7th Street. More unexpectedly, the opposition was lead by Pete Lewnes, quasi government official and manager of 7th Street. The merchants expressed the opinion that it was a diversion from more real problems, such as litter. Lewnes stated that it discriminates against other minorities. Bill White felt that the proposal was divisive. Julio himself got defensive, and stated that Hispanics are now a majority, and deserve a piece of the recognition pie.

Leave it to this blogger, a plain talker, to articulate the real issue. One must understand that the recent attempted gentrification of Hamilton Street intentionally relocated the Hispanics to 7th Street, including the merchants that cater to them. In that sense, it's already a Hispanic ghetto. Peter Lewnes and the merchants want as large of a customer base as they can attract. For that reason, substantial funds have gone into the 7th Street facade program. This isn't some large cosmopolitan, sophisticated area where an ethnic sign will attract suburban curiosity. Unfortunately, the cultural divide and prejudice are real obstacles that Lewnes and the merchants are trying to overcome. The last thing they want to do is brand 7th Street as Hispanic.

Oct 10, 2016

Hurricane Trump

Our political traditions become more cut-throat each election cycle. We now have what has become known as the October Surprise. In this election, Clinton has been aided by a press hostile to her opponent, and the Washington Post did Hillary's dirty work for her. By Saturday morning Donald Trump had replaced Hurricane Matthew as the headline. The tape released on Friday certainly didn't disappoint any Trump haters. It provided all the proof they needed that the candidate has arrested development in his attitude toward women. However, as vulgar as the tape was, our political system now has its own vulgarity. Besides hearing it in Trump's own words, was anything unknown revealed? Trump's video apology was done well enough. Although, rather stiff and scripted, he did indeed apologize, and promise to be a better person. He also shared the blame with the Clinton's, accusing Bill of numerous sexual improprieties, and Hillary of complicity in covering them up.  We are no longer in the era of the Brady Bunch.  While it seemed somewhat like a juvenile excuse to mention the Clintons,  in truth. they had desensitized America to hanky panky by politicians, even in the White House.

From a ethical point of view, Trump's apology was inadequate, but this is politics. He managed to take the best shot against him, and essentially set the bar lower for himself with his upcoming debate with Hillary.  He once again seemed to be best about making lemonade,  if nothing else.

Trump, under incredibly adverse circumstances, spoke fairly well during the debate.  Despite the infamous tape released just two days prior, despite a format aligned with Hillary's experience, Trump managed to hold his own, and even put Hillary on the defensive.  However, Trump's new problem may well be the spectacle he conducted before the debate.  Bringing out Bill Clinton's former accusers was anything but the contriteness recommended by those knowledgeable in damage control. His body language during the debate, although improved since the first encounter, also lacked discipline 

Another consequence of the 2005 tape was that Trump, in addition to debating Hillary, has to contend with numerous Republicans disavowing support.  As an independent, who is critical of partisanship, that jumping of ship amuses me. The first to jump were previously the last to support him.  Some pundits are declaring the Trump ship dead in the water,  and those on the undercard better jump to survive.  I believe that they are confusing this election with a regular campaign.  Trump's base will stand by, and those who have disavowed him may actually suffer.  Trump has always been an independent,  he was just running on the Republican ticket.   The Democrats and the media just assumed that the tape would make Trump unacceptable to all but the most deplorable.  I see no such movement by the public away from him.  Americans appreciate a sense of fair play,  and Trump may have actually gained some sympathy votes for the ploy against him.  All in all, like a hurricane, it made for a messy aftermath.

To commemorate the Trump tape release, I have placed a poster on How To Train Your Wife on this blog's sidebar, visible on the web version.  I should clarify that I too found the 2005 tape reprehensible. However,  if I had supported Trump before its release,  I would not change my vote because of it.  Trump supporters had seen the nude pictures of his current wife and accepted the fact that he's a political Hugh Hefner.  America has become jaded enough to know that Sunday school teachers don't win primary elections.  The web site Politico was portraying the Trump supporters outside Trump Tower on Saturday as only the diehard wacko's.   Many substantial supporters, wacko by no measure, are standing by Trump.  Their opposition to politics as usual in Washington continues, and they still see Trump as a possible vehicle of change.  Welcome to democracy in 2016.

Oct 7, 2016

Partisan Politics of Lehigh County

Glenn Eckhart is one of the partisan smiley faces in Lehigh County. Eckhart  had backed Marc Grammes for state rep in the primary race,  to replace retiring Julie Harhart. Another candidate, Cindy Miller, successfully challenged Grammes' nomination petition. The Republican victor ended up being Zach Mako, a young man backed by Harhart. Like dutiful partisans, Grammes and Eckhart are now baking cakes for Mako. The fly on the cake icing is that both of them are totally aware of how unprepared Mako is for such a position.  I suspect that they expect Democrat Phillips Armstrong to prevail, allowing Grammes his fourth try in 2018.  But, never mind that,  Mako is the party's candidate this election, and they're baking him a cake.

As a disclaimer, I should reveal that I tested the water to run as an outsider Republican, but received no feedback from the party machine. As an independent on the ballot in 2014, even the Morning Call conceded that I stood out in the debate with Harhart and the Democrat.

Oct 6, 2016

Allentown's NIZ, When Free Isn't Cheap Enough

Another business, paying minimum rent, bit the dust in Allentown's NIZ. Others, like Moravian Bookstore, are probably being paid to stay there. Pawlowski, The Morning Call, and a few apologists hoping for a crumb or two, keep saying that the sky looks bright, when in truth it has already fallen. The city, acting like a cannibal, would rather sacrifice Symphony Hall than say no to J.B. Reilly's subsidized real estate scheme. They keep hoping that perhaps he's right, in that a few more millennials will turn the tide. They don't understand that with the subsidizes there is not a normal relationship between demand and his new construction.  This boutique legislation, essentially crafted for him, allows him to attach ever expanding state taxes to his debt service, and nobody is counting those chickens. If and when the chicken count gets low, Pat Browne simply adds another amendment, finding yet another revenue source.

Oct 5, 2016

The Synagogues of Jerusalem

Except when barred by one conqueror or another, Jews had lived in Jerusalem since King David. Prior to Jordanian rule in 1948, there was a Jewish majority for 150 years. In 1864, eight thousand of the fifteen thousand population was Jewish. By 1914, two thirds of the sixty five thousand residents were Jewish. In 1948 the United Nations Partition Plan divided the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem was to be initially an international city, with access guaranteed for all. This plan was rejected by the surrounding Arab nations, which attacked Israel in concert immediately upon the UN vote. When the truce was declared, Israel had survived, but East Jerusalem(walled Old City) was in procession of TransJordan. The Jordanians subsequently destroyed over 50 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, which dated back to the 1400's. For hundreds of years both Christians and Jews were prohibited from building higher than Muslim structures. The few synagogues which survived were the ones built mostly below street level. The oldest surviving synagogue, The Jerusalem Synagogue, was built by the Karaite Jews in around 900. Shown above is the Ben Kakai, a Sephardic Synagogue built in the 16th Century.

Perhaps the most famous synagogue destroyed by the Jordanians was the Ashkenazi Hurva Synagogue built in 1720, it's dome visible in the top center of this photograph from the 1920's. It's replacement was completed in 2010.

reprinted from September of 2015

Oct 4, 2016

Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

The Church and Theology School in Alexandria was  established by
the Apostle Mark in 60AD.  Most of the early converts were common Egyptians who spoke Coptic.  Although, Christians became the majority before the Arab invasion in 636, by the 12th century they were the minority.  The concept of monasteries in Christianity was started by the Coptics in the deserts of Egypt.  Currently,  many Christians are threatened by transitions in the Arab world, let us pray for their safety.

photograph of St. Marks Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

reprinted from December 2014

Oct 3, 2016

The Entitlement People vs. The Silent Majority

The title for this post is derived from a comment submitted to a prior post.  The commenter was hoping that the silent majority comes out  from the shadows and votes for Trump, to begin to change the status quo.  As an advocate for decades on local issues,  I think that, unfortunately, the key word is silent,  and if so,  it doesn't matter if they are a majority or not.  Now, I will say this;  I believe that Trump has motivated a previous uninvolved citizen,  and I believe that such people will come out and vote for him.  The question is how big is that constituency?  The Democrats do have an organized ground game.  I think it's fair to say that the Trump camp is completely unorganized at getting out the vote.  He is depending on individual volition,  which doesn't have a strong track record when it comes to voting.

We are in an era where political fortune is determined by the entertainment industry.  The liberals are willing to have their opinions shaped by the writers for  Jon Stewart and SNL.  Likewise, the conservatives look for guidance from Rush Limbaugh and other talk show disc jockeys.

I'm blessed by not being politically invested in this presidential election.  When I go to breakfast the morning after, on November 9th,  I will be equally entertained by both the happy camp winners, and the despondent losers.

Sep 30, 2016

2016, The Voting Against Election

In 2016, so many voters are going to the poll to vote against one candidate or another. Rather than who is more popular, it may come down to who is more disliked. Below are two local comments expressing that sentiment.

Flawed vehicle we are forced to own
That is for your average conservative an apt description of this year’s presidential race. Trump is not a conservative; he is not even a real Republican. He has no ideology as far as anyone can tell; he is, however, the candidate who became the nominee of the Republican Party. He is the only option conservatives have. We have to support him in order to arrest the country’s dramatic move to the left of the newly radicalized Democratic Party. Hillary has taken up the hammer and sickle from the term limited Obama and has vowed to preserve and extend the power of central authority. The pipe dream of a caretaker government, with open borders, free college education, single payer health care, a government controlled economy, and extensions of every sort of government assistance are being sold as a can do to a deluded nation that has apparently forgotten or was never taught that, historically, socialism provides us no record of long term success. To stop this march towards madness, bankruptcy, calamity, and destruction conservatives are forced to root for an inarticulate boob in the debates and pray this enigma of a man manages somehow to pull out a victory in November. To make matters worse, he is not only running against the Democratic Party but many of the nation’s moneyed interests (corporations, Wall Street, big labor) and last but not least, the media. Even with this massive assembly of power arrayed against him, he has managed to catch up to the power elite’s candidate/Hillary in the polls. It is nothing short of a miracle. None of this makes it any easier for those such as me who wonder who and what he is. His inability to articulate any cogent message is painful. His demeanor is an insult to comportment. He is unfortunately the champion that has been forced upon us. All we know is he is not Hillary, the candidate of absolute corruption that we detest and fear. We must support him because the alternative is just too terrible.
                                                  Scott Armstrong, Allentown

Considering the recent reports on her many and varied health issues, I thought she'd have to be carried off the stage, but she held up pretty well. It was I who nearly fell off my chair when I heard her strongly imply that there were "moral" differences between her and Mr. Trump that make her clearly the better candidate. Since when is morality a strong point in the Clinton household? A lawyer fired for being a sneak, a first lady who muscled her way into the health insurance issues with a plan developed by nitwits, a Secretary of State who failed even to understand her responsibility to maintain confidentiality and security,and then quit the job, and a husband who's been off the track for their entire marriage but apparently still has political capitol she can spend on herself. This is a perennial candidate, who's strongest trait is hubris, not morality. As potentially the first woman president, she's a well-poisoner at best and a toxic dump at least. With Trump, there is immaturity and arrogance and vindictiveness, but I do believe he will listen to the people and have hope that he will make a few needed changes to immigration, national security and trade and debt, and maybe even keep us out of war. Like Obama, Hillary is neither listening nor talking to me.
                                                Christine Sforza, Whitehall


Michael, just read the comments of your viewers urging voters for Trump. I think September was Trump's high water mark. His obvious incompetence for the White House is now penetrating subliminally to rational Republicans. Enough of them are going to either not vote for President, or will even vote for Hillary, making up for the drop off in the black vote, that Hillary couldn't mobilize. You think Ford & Bush 41 & Bush 43 have been wiped out of the collective Republican memory? So that the only Republican President in modern history was St. Ronnie? Guess again. Trump will be like those "forgotten" Egyptian Pharaohs that successors kept defacing by chiseling their names off of the monuments. Never.To. Be. Mentioned. Again. He & Ailes will start Trump TV; and, of course, in perfect irony, it will not take audience share away from NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, or MSNBC, but, will fragment a chunk away from Fox! There, folks will hear how Trump actually won the 2016 election, but, was was rigged. And how climate change is a hoax, black families were more stable under slavery, the earth is flat, the moon landing was a hoax, evolution is just a theory, creationism real, Jesus is coming back soon, the Holocaust never happened, and smoking does not cause cancer. The commercials will be never ending and continue to fleece the viewers like Fox and talk radio does now ........selling gold, reverse mortgages, meteorite insurance, "male enhancement" potions/devices, survival seeds and Depends....... targeting white non college & senior citizens to purchase Life Alert systems, stool softeners, and cheap flooring. And now, they will get pitched Trump shirts/ties/dresses etc., all made in China & Mexico. Gotta move product, you know.
                                               Hillary Supporter, South Florida