Faces That Launch Ten Thousand Mummers

With the holidays over, people with jobs are back at work and the kids are back in school.  But, the thrill of performing and the mega-thrill of winning in the 2012 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade still warms the soul. Congratulations to the winners.

There are many reasons to love the Mummers Parade, but take a look at these photos and experience the best reasons.

Children. Kids in the parade. Kids with families. Sons and daughters and their parents being together and in turn, making a lot of kids, of all ages, happy.

String Band Order of March

The next big piece of the 2012 puzzle has been laid.  We now know the Order of March for the String Bands for the January 1, 2012 parade.  Here it is, courtesy of String Band Association President John Pignotti.  If Irish American String Band, which did not march in 2011, comes back into the parade, it will be first, followed by Duffy, then Fralinger, which has drawn another early start.  But notice there are some other “power bands” not far behind that and there’s a healthy assortment throughout.  Hegeman and Woodland draw the final appearances, coveted by most bands.

Based on this, the chess game of themes and execution now gets more intense.  Fun.


I wouldn’t call it greed. I would say self-preservation is the number one motivation in Harrisburg and it is why I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we do need some type of legislative term limits.  I know there are problems with term limits, but I think you have got to eliminate a concept that this is a lifetime job and I’ve got to protect my lifetime job.”  So says Governor Ed Rendell in a conversation with me about the legislature.  The Governor had a few things to say to me about the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the tobacco industry and the Phillies.

Should the Phillies pay for a parade if they win the World Series?  Ed Rendell says, “I think the Phils could share those costs like they did last year, but I also think the city should kick in a little bit because remember the city’s gained a significant increase in their amusement tax for every single game that is played.”  He points to the 2 games with the Colorado Rockies, 3 with the Dodgers and potentially 3 with the Yankees.
Pennsylvania has one of only 4 full-time legislatures in the U.S. I said to him, “We’re not getting our money’s worth.”  The Governor responded, “No, there’s no question.”…”Though a lot of the legislators do good constituent work.”  So why does all the self-preservation and corruption go on?  “The reason this stuff goes on is because people don’t generally pay attention.” 
Rendell again called the 101 day budget delay “reprehensible” and again apologized for it, but he clearly the blames the legislative mindset of today for most of the trouble.  “This incredible polarization that’s occurred in politics today, where it’s all about getting over the other side.”  And part of it on the absence, no longer alive or in office, of consensus building veteran legislators.  “We don’t have people like Matt Ryan, Joe Loeper or Leroy Irvis leading the legislature anymore.”  The Governor continues, “It’s far too partisan. That’s number 1. Number 2, too many legislators when they’re running for office take a no tax pledge…that’s crazy.  There’s good government spending and there’s bad government spending.”   He counts his increases in education  infrastructure and health care spending as examples of the good.
Rendell warns wile there will likely be no budget crisis in the remainder of his term, he is concerned about 2012 and that the legislature rejected his budget proposal this year that would have prevented a crisis or softened the blow that could come that year when the stimulus money is gone and pension obligations explode.
I asked Ed Rendell, “It says something doesn’t it, that Pennsylvania is the only state not to tax smokeless tobacco?”  Says the Governor, “It does say something.”  “No excuse.”  And,  “You look at the sales tax exemptions and virutally every one of them is there because some special interest group hired a powerful lobbyist who convinced the legislature to do that.”
I asked him if intends to kick some derrier in the remainder of his time in office?  “Oh, yeah,” says the Governor, who pointed to ongoing major issues of climate change, alternative energy, the economy, education and, he hopes, helping the federal government implement health care reform.
More on my conversation with the Governor later.

Santorum on Specter, Obama & 2012

He could run.  Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum did not say today that he would, or even that he could, but he would not rule out running for President in 2012.  In advance of upcoming speeches in Iowa, Arizona, California and North Carolina, Rick Santorum spoke with me and other reporters on a conference call this morning.

He clearly gave Democrat Joe Sestak some lines to repeat.  Rick Santorum, speaking about Sen. Arlen Specter, said, “”Arlen Specter voted with us more often than he voted against us.”  And, “I do not believe Justice Alito would be on the Supreme Court today, if it wasn’t for Arlen Specter.”

I asked the conservative Santorum about talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s remark that President Obama “has surrendered” America.  Santorum says he would not use the term surrendered, but “I think the President has tried to back America out of its preeminent role in world affairs.”  Santorum went on to criticize the President for apologizing about America’s mistakes and said, “America leading the world is not something that he (Obama) has any intention” of doing, which Santorum says is a remarkable transition.

The former U.S. Senator says he told people Barack Obama would be the most liberal President the nation has ever elected, but “he surprised me in the boldness of his attempts to…jerk this country.”

Santorum says at times some Obama opponents, including talk radio, “have been pretty shrill,” but that talk radio hosts are not policy makers.  He says, now it’s time for Republican leaders to stand up and be more pointed as to criticism and antidotes.  Santorum says that Republicans by and large have not been particularly effective in articulating a health care system that entrusts health care decisions to individuals.

On Sarah Palin, “I think the media enjoys covering her.  She’s colorful…When you make good copy, you get a lot of ink.”

As for the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum says, “The two best things the Republican Party has going for it are Ed Rendell and Barack Obama.”