Friday, June 24, 2011

F. Gilman Spencer III, R.I.P.

My father passed away this morning in New York City after a brief illness. He died peacefully and painlessly, surrounded by his family.

Because at one time he was a rather famous newspaper editor here in New York, I just got a call from Bill Grimes of the New York Times.

He said he had talked to a good number of people worked with my dad at various newspapers over his 50-year career in the business.

"Boy," Grimes said. "He sure was beloved."

He sure was.

We are sad beyond words.

UPDATE: More here here and here.

UPDATE II: Here is the NY Times story.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cool Over Competent, the New Normal?

[Posted By Jake]

Meghan McCain, daughter of 2008 Republican candidate John McCain, and alleged professional writer and pundit, has regularly demonstrated that she is first and foremost a "blonde". Meghan's latest adventure into deep thought, courtesy of the liberal Daily Beast, has her advising Republican candidates to "stop trying to be cool". She thinks they are doomed to be "not cooler than President Obama."

Let's burst her Tiger Beat/MSNBC bubble:
Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter? Definitely not cool.
Nixon, Ford, Bush I, and Bush II? Probably the antithesis of cool.
Clinton could be cool to some and Reagan cool to others, but you would have to think a cool consensus on both would be hard to achieve.
Most, except Jimmy Carter, were fairly competent at their job, whether you agree with their governing philosophies or not.

Obviously, cool is a marginal qualification for President, which is about right for the current White House occupant. If Obama is cool, he has also shown that he was only marginally qualified to be President. His on-the-job training has proven costly. American voters now understand better why we should elect someone authentically competent, with hard-earned executive experience.

Playing along for the moment with the blonde's premise, is there any Republican who seems as cool as Obama? Clearly, Sarah Palin is the most compelling figure on the political scene today. Michelle Bachmann is moving up fast. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and John Huntsman all look like Presidential figures right out of central casting. Herman Cain has a dynamic resume. As governors, businesspeople and seasoned legislators, they all are better prepared to lead than Obama ever was.

But really, who is cooler and more competent than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? He balances budgets, tells off reporters and stands up to the whiners in the public sector unions, doing it all with integrity and panache. And just today, the epitome of cool, he ordered the state flags flown at half mast in remembrance of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.

When it comes to being cool enough to be President, you can only hope that Governor Christie heeds the call "Born to Run".

Well, It's Not "ALL" About the Money...

It's not "all" about the money at the SPCA, as the headline writer on today's print column writes, but it is partly, because it has to be. You can't feed and care of thousands of animals a year without it.

Anyway, it looks like the SPCA and the county will be able to work out a deal to extend the SPCA's July 1 deadline for accepting strays from local municipalities.

For years the SPCA accepted less money from local governments than it cost to take and care for strays. When a new SPCA management group announced it was raising its prices to reflect the true costs of care, the munis howled like scalded dogs. This is a private org. that did business with government. When it decided to adopt a "no-kill" policy, its days of being in the animal control business had to be numbered.

Now that the county is building its own facility, there will be more space to house and keep strays. That means more dogs should be saved from the streets and either found by their owners, adopted out or humanely put down. All this will come at a cost.

For people who care deeply about animals and their welfare the increased space and money spent is a good thing. For people who don't, it's just another reason for local governments to raise taxes.

Run right, the new kennel could be a place where, like the SPCA, hundreds of animals are adopted every year. Adoption fees should help defray the costs of running the place. And so should fines to owners who allow their animals to become lost in the first place.

In all the deal is a good one for animal welfare, a little less so for taxpayers.

Goodbye to the Middie Skirt

Mike Barone sez the Midcentury Moment that allowed Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor to rule America is long gone.
Victory in World War II conferred enormous prestige on the leaders of the big units—big government, big business, big labor—who had led the war effort at home. No wonder that levels of confidence in the big units and their leaders remained high for a generation—higher, I suspect, than they had ever been before the Midcentury Moment and higher, certainly, than they have been since.

No wonder, also, that Americans in the Midcentury Moment were unusually conformist, content to be very small cogs in very large machines: They married and bore children at record rates for an advanced society; they worked as organization men and flocked to mass-produced suburbs; they worshipped in seemingly interchangeable churches. This was an America that celebrated the average, the normal, the regular.

The liberals who long to return to the Midcentury Moment seem to forget that it was a time of enormous cultural uniformity that stigmatized being unmarried or unchurched or gay. The huge menu of lifestyle choices from which we can choose today was a very short menu with very few choices then.
Sounds about right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Has Anybody Seen My Old Friend Geno, Can You Tell Me Where He's Gone...?

PHILADELPHIA — Victims applauded as a Pennsylvania man was sentence to over 13 years in prison for tricking homeowners into turning their houses over to him then evicting them.

A federal judge in Philadelphia ordered 47-year-old Gennaro Rauso taken into custody immediately after his sentencing Monday. KYW-AM reports victims who attended the hearing began clapped as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Prosecutors say Rauso offered to rescue more than 200 struggling homeowners by offering them a deal that was too good to be true.

Officials say Rauso got his victims to sign over their properties in return for a promise to pay off the mortgage and rent the property back to the owners. But victims say Rauso took their money and homes then dumped them on the street.
It only took six years and dozens if not hundreds of victims but the feds finally got their man.

More here and here.

Protest Bake-Sale Products Pricey

William Penn School Board Prez Charlotte Hummel led a group to Harrisburg to protest proposed cuts in school funding.
While they were in Harrisburg, Hummel said the group set up a bake sale to demonstrate the amount of money needed for programs. For example, they attempted to sell 24 doughnuts at $23,417 apiece for tutoring programs. They attempted to sell one $150,000 cake, which represented the cost to have lunchroom and recess moderators. The sale also included one $140,000 pie, which represented the cost to save instructional technology.
The bake sale idea has been used before but by conservative activists pointing out the double standard in college admission policies when it comes to race. In those "affirmative action bake-sales" the protestors charged customers less or more for cupcakes based on their race. Whites and Asians were asked to pay more than blacks and Hispanics. This was supposed to show the inherent unfairness and perniciousness of having lower academic and admission standards for blacks and Hispanics.

At least, that sort of bake sale makes the point the protesters want to make about racial double standards. It's hard to figure the point Hummel and her people are trying to make other than that they want hundreds of thousands of dollars for stuff that is actually worth pennies.

I understand one hungry state legislator (believed to be a Democrat) offered the group $75,000 for the aforementioned cake. Fortunately for Pa. taxpayers, he was turned down flat by the activists who held firmly to their protest prices.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

We've seen happier. My print column is up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Disturbing Comparison

Walter Russell Mead sees similarities between Barack Obama and - not FDR or Lincoln but - Herbert Hoover.
The problem was not that Hoover didn’t try. He had long been known as a leading progressive, and in the face of the Depression he was ready to countenance a significant expansion of the government’s role. His Reconstruction Finance Corporation would be taken over by FDR; it lent money to distressed companies in an effort to jump start the economy. He proposed the creation of a federal Department of Education; he was willing to countenance significant budget deficits and supported important public works projects (like Boulder Dam) as a way of stimulating employment and rebuilding confidence in the economy.

None of it worked.
Ugh! Does that mean we'll need WWIII to get us out of the coming depression? Read it all.

Dear Thaddeus...

State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland has a controversial idea. I have a controversialer (and better) one. My print column is up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Hiring a hitman is a lot easier than it used to be thanks the Internet.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police in Philadelphia say a 20-year-old woman posted an open offer of $1,000 to kill the father of her child and a Darby man responded that he'd do the killing.

Investigators say London Eley posted a Facebook message last month saying, "I will pay somebody a stack to kill my baby father."
Of course, there are certain drawbacks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mavs Win NBA Title

Lebron James predicted multiple NBA Championships. Starting when?

Wallingford Taxmore

Taxes are going up on Spencerhouse. Woe is us.

Freshman Orientation...

for Congressmen and How To Handle a Scandal Part II.

More on that Weiner thing here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Steve Molin gets 25 Years

Steve Molin, the Darby Borough man, convicted of killing his 85-year-old mother last August on a remote Maryland Road, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison today. He will serve the sentence at a Maryland state facility designed to house both the physically and mentally handicapped.

According to his friend, Harry Collinson, Molin gave a rambling 25-minute statement to the court. A psychiatric evaluation ordered by the judge found that Molin most likely suffers from Asperger's syndrome a form of autism.

He maintained that his mother fell out of his truck as he was driving on a remote country road and that he accidentally backed over her.

Police and prosecutors however argued that the injuries to Emily Molin couldn't have happened the way Molin described and a jury agreed.


Due to an electronic sending snafu, an early version of my print column ran in today's paper. The more excellent, final version can now be read online here.

Anthony Weiner would say "I've been hacked!" But just like in his case, I hacked myself. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Polygraph, Anyone?

In Upper Darby, what happened to the $8,000 that went missing from the police evidence room remains a mystery. Did it go up in smoke in an evidence burn or did someone put it to better use.

My print column is up.

This Shepard Shall Not Want

Chester City Councilman Shepard Garner has proposed cutting the salaries of the mayor and council 10 and 12.5 percent respectively. He says that if council is going to ask the city's unions take a pay cut to save the city money, they ought to be willing to do the same thing.

He's right. The gesture may only save the city $24,000 this year but it puts council in a much better position to bargain with other city workers to hold the line on wages and benefits.

A couple of council members are grousing about the idea being nothing more than a political stunt. But in politics, symbols matter. Gardner's idea to start cutting at the top and then working their way down, makes perfect business and political sense.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wee Willy Weiner

Anthony "Check Out My" Weiner admits lying about tweeting shots of his nether regions to young chicks. What a numbskull!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Part II of The Ranieri Chronicles

My print column is up.

But the headline on the Web site version - "Convict Knows Where the Bodies are Buried," gives the quite wrong impression. When it comes to the Castle et al, Danny Ranieri doesn't know where the bodies are buried. A more accurate headline would be: "Convict Knows Where the Bodies are Buried - Not!"

Just sayin'

Friday, June 3, 2011


If you haven't heard of Weinergate yet, read this. Then read this.

Newtown Township Reorganized

George Wood is out as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Jim Sheldrake is out as township manager. Bruce Irvine is out as township solicitor.

Supervisor Joe Catania is in as the board's chairman. Ed Partridge is in as a new supervisor. And more...

Still No Word on that Missing $8,000

The investigation continues into how $8,000 disappeared from the Upper Darby Police station evidence lock box. Police Super Mike Chitwood says his guys are putting new procedures in place for handling such large sums of cash.

In the meantime, the DAs office continues it's probe.

Chitwood says that as far as he knows no one's taken a polygraph test about the missing money. I don't know if that means nobody's volunteered or have been asked if they are willing to take the test as a matter of routine.

Friday Funnies

The Castle

Dan Ranieri has spent much of his adult life behind bars. He's run with a very rough crowd, including the Pagans motorcycle gang. Back in the late 70s he spent a good bit of time inside the infamous Castle, the Wallingford mansion owned by his now deceased cousin Bob Marconi.

Drugs was made and consumed there. Girls were raped and killed there. Ranieri says he'd like to reveal some of the secrets that have been kept for decades. My print column is up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet the EIT Deniers

Michael Hayden compares those who deny a link between harsh interrogation tactics and the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden to "birthers" and "truthers."
The latest lunacy to get a popular hearing is the idea that harsh CIA interrogations yielded no useful intelligence. I guess we should toss out the 9/11 Commission Report.
Read it all.

Genderless in Toronto

A Canadian couple is raising their son/daughter not to be a boy... or a girl, but to be a beautiful genderless being that isn't imposed on by society or nature and gets to decide who and what he/she wants to be.
Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, are raising their third child, Storm, to be free of societal norms regarding gender. Is Storm male or female? The parents won't say, so no one knows except Storm's older brothers, Jazz and Kio, as well as a close family friend and two midwives who helped deliver the baby, according to the Toronto Star.
Such progressive and sensitve parenting, it almost brings a tear to your eye doesn't it?