Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From a Prison Cell to City Hall

So Milton Street wants to run for Mayor of Philadelphia.  Of course, this isn't the first time some asshole has decided to run for a major political office.  But come on. 

According to The Ultimate Source of Information, this Street went from a hot dog vendor to being elected to the PA House of Representatives and State Senate in 1980 as a Democrat.  He then switched parties to give the Republicans the majority in the State Senate.  In exchange, he was made a chairman of some committee and got a nice office.  So far, he certainly sounds as capable as any other politician.  I don't care about parties.  Regardless of affiliation, they're only concerned about themselves.  So if switching parties gets you an office with a view, go for it.  It can't make you any worse in my book.

It's not even the well-publicized corruption probe that resulted in his being jailed for 30 months on charges of tax evasion.  This guy expects the people of Philadelphia to put him in charge of a city crippled by debt after using his previous political positions (and the fact that he was the brother of then-mayor John Street) to basically steal tens of thousands of dollars and also made millions of dollars he never declared to the IRS.  Again, this isn't why I don't think he should be mayor.  Screw the IRS.  And I'm sure the corporations he defrauded barely noticed the money he took.  In fact, if he can manage to do the same for the city, more power to him.  We're broke.  Go ahead and skim a little off the top; you deserve it if you can help decrease the deficit.

I will give the devil his due; the man is ballsy.  He announced his intention to run for Mayor in 2007 while awaiting trial.  It takes some cojones to tell the people of Philly you want to be mayor in the midst of a political corruption investigation.  In March of '07, he planned a rally at City Hall and said he would renounce his candidacy if less than 5,000 people showed up.  Did the fact that only 200 people, most simply passing through, stop him.  Hell no.  After all, he didn't want this whole thing to look like a "publicity stunt".  He's in this race to make some money, not get on TV.

So despite all of these qualifications that every politician should envy, what is it that has convinced me he isn't fit for the highest office in the great City of Philadelphia?  That son of bitch tried to start up one of those fucking duck tours.  You know, those stupid-ass buses that can drive right into water?  As if one company driving annoying tourists around with those horrible noisemakers isn't bad enough, he tried to start a second to compete with the first.  I can't stand for that.  I would rather see the British recolonize America than have even one more of those godforsaken vehicles further assault the dignity of this city.

On a related note, Donald Trump apparently intends to run for President.  At first, I thought this would be the last straw.  Lewis Black, on the Daily Show, has shown me the error of my ways.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Don't Remember Hearing About This in History Class

I'm no Abe Lincoln scholar, but I'm fairly certain this fact never came up in any course I've ever taken: Lincoln felt that, after emancipation, blacks ought to leave the US and settle in Central America.  In recently uncovered documents, Honest Abe says that it was "selfish" of blacks to want to stay in the US; he suggested Central America "especially because of the similarity of climate with [their] native land."

I'm not foolish enough to believe that any public figure takes even the slightest action without some ulterior motive.  I know Abe wasn't exactly a saint, but this still came as a surprise when I read the article on Yahoo!.  And that's the problem.  Apparently, historians have long been familiar with Lincoln's idea of colonization.  So why doesn't that little factoid appear in any schoolbooks?  The Civil War is one of the most significant time periods in American history.  I don't know who is to blame for this particular instance of whitewashing history, but this is ridiculous.  Students should be made aware of the entire process that led to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Yes, it's important to contextualize Lincoln's ideas.  The idea of universal emancipation was a radical change in American society (since Americans chose to ignore that whole "all men are created equal" thing), and colonization was one solution that some people ascribed to.  There was about to be an entire nation's worth of people going from property to citizens and no one was sure how best to go about it.  Kids today should know this stuff.  Without seeing the whole picture, there can be no real understanding.

This may seem trivial, but history should be presented as it happened.  I'm not trying to demonize Lincoln, but we can't allow history to be taught selectively.