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Award For Delaware's Most Influental P/P/or T of The Year
The Golden Flush Award
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Usually this is an after thought…” Oh, wow, year’s over, let’s get a person of the year”…  And then once we elect one,  we go… “holy crap… we totally forgot so and so….”

So to try to stir up some old simmering coals of memory, both mine and others, and perhaps even to (heaven forbid) get some debate going in the blog sphere, I thought I’d make an initial run on Thanksgiving Week, and then add people into the nominating category as others mention various ones I should kick myself for forgetting.

It will also force me to review the year which is something I rarely do… because face it, as a human being, I am slave of the moment….  If I did this last year, come December 14th the entire world would have been turned upside down and all the old priorities of 2012,  would in one day become trivial….

And so starting early gives me the chance to make the argument for each of those I decide to enroll with your kind recommendations included….

Julius Cephus:  Particularly this one man organized and stopped an end run around the Port of Wilmington.  The Kinder Morgan deal did not go through, and the Wilmington Port is bustling like never before…   Kinder Morgan was to strip the union of power, and drop the rates of pay, further dampening the economy of Wilmington proper.  It was also the first defeat of a Lavine-Markell development project, .. Fisker and Bloom had gone forward without a hitch.  Julius and other’s push back resulted in a General Assembly motion that stated they, not the governor, had final approval. It was the first time we were exposed to the current Governor’s manipulations.  They were to play a significant part across this year’s tapestry.

Steve Newton:  A blogger who has written infrequently, but effectively. His piece on SB 51  is what alerted us to the end run being performed by Dave Sokola on lowering the current standards being used for educating teachers.  It is brilliant.  It took an evening of reading the legislation line by line and cross referencing  it with Steve’s analysis, to understand the huge negative impact this bill would cause.  By the time this was done, the Bill had already passed the Senate unanimously without comment, and with an friendly amendment added that was voted upon without even being read.  Some public outcry was mustered within the House, both in committee and on the floor, but under the Governor’s direction, the Speaker of the House, pushed the bill to the floor before significant outcry could be mustered.  Only 4 House members were not on record for it’s passing.  Our educational schools now have to water down their teaching standards to meet the new law.  Steve also has brought the Highmark story to Delaware.  His research in the increase of medical costs in Western PA as a result of knocking out competition by unfair practices, leads one with a cold chill of what to expect in Delaware’s future.  We are already there.  As an insurer, Highmark is only paying medical claims in its own affiliated clinics.  As the new Blue Cross/Blue Shield owner, that is a huge percentage of Delaware’s residents.  None can go to any other hospital.  He has properly fingered Karen Weldham Stuart for not catching this prior to implementation.  Without Steve, this would have passed unnoticed.  The News Journal still has not once mentioned the takeover of Delaware’s health field under one owner.

Ernest Lopez.  If Kennedy were still writing Profiles of Courage, he should include this man.  Ernest Lopez is a conservative, and voted with Libertarian values to pass the gun legislation recommended by Markell and Biden.  Reflecting the views of his district, instead of taking the threatening message sent to him down from the NRA, he voted for his district.  A very vocal minority, who is always vocal, and always in the minority, swore they would unseat him.  He disregarded their idle threat, and voted both his and his constituents conscious.  A major billboard was put up to call him out.   His vote caused the passage of us now requiring background checks at public gun sales.  Now a certifiably insane person cannot slap cash and get a gun.  It is a no-brainer, and Ernie was the only Republican with brain enough to even know what a no-brainer is….

Cathy Cloutier:  her vote allowed gays to marry.  Again, she is a Republican who said enough is enough… Tired of voting against her conscious just so Sussex County would not flip over to the Democrats, she finally did not toe the line and voted along the lines of her own constituents, all overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage.  In doing so, she went against the entire grain of her party, who firmly feel that gays are second class citizens, even though most Republicans in office are closeted gays.

Bethany Hall Long:  on the same vote, made a viable personal decision, and also voted for the legalization of gay marriage. Unlike Cathy’s vote, this was accomplished at great personal sacrifice, for all of those in her personal life, were solidly against this policy from taking effect.  In voting for what was morally right, she had to contend against those whose influence she could not escape.  She went with the correct vote, over the easy one.   As a result, Gay marriage is now legal in Delaware.

Paul Baumbach:  gave great ammunition against the fight for SB51, and later against HB 165. Both bills which will damage Delaware’s education for years to come.  He was one of the four who put up a fight on the House floor.  Paul also arranged for the meetings in Newark to discuss the new Power plant that figured in this past week’s election.

John Kowalko:  also was against SB51, HB 165, as well, being against the power plant.  In fact, John was the first person to sound the alarm over how big the power plant would be.  Without his big voice, it may have slid through unnoticed.  The power plant has defined northern Delaware politics since September.

Kim Williams;  responsible for HB 40 which investigates Charter School’s meddling into our educational systems.  She was as an acting state representative, allegedly refused entrance into a committee hearing on education, for fear she might say something damaging to the bill being rushed through….  She brought to the public’s knowledge, that the Charter School bill was drafted illegally without public input, and the charter group constructing it, was also under FOIA, to which the private group denied.  The Attorney General backed up her assertion, that the bill was formulated illegally but their decision was moot, because the bill was passed both houses anyways.  Kim Williams also in the HB 40 task force, led the group to realize that charter schools unlike public schools, do indeed filter those entering charters to weed out those who might lower their test scores….

Mark Murphy, Rodel, Sweeney, Hefferman, and the Fake Educational Reform Establishment:  I almost purposefully did not post this.  Although the first person’s name is usually followed by explicatives whenever mentioned, it is unlike Voldermort’s, still getting mentioned.  Mark Murphy was not put in his position based on his ability. He was placed there for his loyalty to the cause of  corporatizing public education.  Markell pulls the strings, Murphy figures how to get it done…  It is hard to make a puppet the most influential person of the year… So I was going to skip him… But at the last minute, remembered that every time  he or anyone of these make an op-ed, it resonates as gigantic news. The entire community rises up to counteract each op-ed, usually with the word “lies” thrown liberally about…. So, they do exert an influence.  I looped all of them together, as the group of liars in a Greek play, who stand on the stair steps and taunt the protagonists.  Well,… they are part of the play…….

Dan Short:  Sometimes villains get noticed too.  Primarily a single issue candidate, who personally supports the NRA, he actively campaigned and organized to create enough backlash so Markell’s gun laws could not get enough votes…  Without him, there is a possibility that all four of Markell’s gun control pieces of legislation would have passed both houses of Delaware’s legislature. Dan Short should be given the credit for stopping them.

John Sigler: Single handedly by his very brief tenure as the re-elected head of the Republican Party, he pointed out through his pigeon shooting, just how inept the Republican Party was at everything else.  With his leaving, all fissures cracking the Republican bedrock, were impossible to ignore.  Blogs split. The IPOD’s split. Former candidates of the same party just months earlier, now not talking to each other. The Delaware Republican Party is dead; no it is past dead.  More dead than a pigeon shot inside a box by John Sigler, former head of the Delaware Republican Party.

Nancy Willing: Her blog, the Delaware Way, is the go-to site for local information. Whether about Dover, about New Castle County, about any of New Castle County’s associations, Nancy combs all sources and puts them down in aggregate form. Heavily involved in the Power Plant controversy, The Delaware City Rail Yard controversy, Barley Mill controversy, the Woodlawan controversy, the Kinder Morgan controversy, the Charter School Controversy, the Common Core Controversy, Nancy has who is saying “what”, and links to “why”. One can expend less energy by using her blog to follow all the stuff the News Journal neglects, in a few quick empty steps.

Amy Roe:  a head of the Sierra Club, who emerged from nowhere to lead the fight against the power plant, and give quite a run against the establishment candidate.  Becoming the face the anti- power movement could coalase behind, she gave the anti power plant movement both dignity and grace.  Coming up short only 115 votes, she has awakened Newark now politically as never before…  The power plant if it goes forward, now has a strong group of Newarkeans against it.  Hopefully they will be monitoring it regularly and helping authorities keep in in compliance with all local law.

Tom Gorden; although much quieter than his first term in office, Tom Gorden is rapidly rolling back the privileges the previous Clark administration handed over to our state’s top developers. The Barley Mill plaza which had a green light, is now parked at a red. In a big sea change, though handled quietly, community groups are now no longer persona non grata in county government. It is no longer accepted as a matter of course that the Woodlawn Trust will be gobbled up by developers. If enough fight can be mustered, it can be stopped. Furthermore, with Tom there is closer coordination with the City of Wilmington, than we have experienced anytime in our lifetimes. In the county, local policing has been stepped up, particularly in neighborhoods prone to crime…

Dennis Williams: Came in with grand expectations, which looked deliverable for a while. The tide is turning and his relevance on this list, is because every day, the headline reality in Wilmington’s streets, brings his electioneering boasts back to haunt him, like a sizzling hot branding iron.  Time, Dennis, to say “Damn the torpedoes… Their punk asses are going in jail no matter which blowhard on City Council spouts off,before mine gets tossed in jail for impersonating a mayor..”

Alan Levin:  Jack Markell’s second in command, he was instrumental in defending Markell’s position on Kinder Morgan and the port, as well as the new power plant for the data center. He also had a hand in keeping Dole in Delaware, and worked to slip the power plant past a slew of unsuspecting Newark City officials.

Jack Markell: had his hand in everything.  He was behind Kinder Morgan’s takeover.  He was behind SB 51 and HB 165.  He was behind the illegal charter group, requiring HB 40. He also was the driving force for the four rational steps to gun legislation, 2 of which were passed. He was also the driving force behind the passage of gay marriage, signing the bill in the chambers just moments after its passage. He also supported the transgender bill in its travels through the labyrinth of Legislative Hall. He as behind keeping Dole in Delaware. He was behind changing an icon in Millsboro away from pickles, over to poultry. He pushed the bill to curtail Flowers. Despite your opinion over whether these were good or bad, they still showed a ubiquitous and wide reach across the state of Delaware. Seems like nothing got done that didn’t have his fingerprints all over it.

John Young: As head of Christina board, John Young led the board in standing up to Mark Murphy and Jack Markell, by refusing the RTTT funds slated for his district. Although some hired fools, (Jea Street) tried to paint Young into a corner, it served the opposite purpose and gave Young a platform. For the fist time, Common Core was getting publicly bashed. For the first time, many were finding that aligning themselves blindly to this sham of improving standards, was probably going to hurt them politically in the next couple of years. It was the fist salvo back, so the damage estimates were not high, but it did open eyes of many who had been on the sidelines of all educational issues, making them also become vocal in fighting Common Core. His blog Transparent Christina has channelled a lot of detailed information into the Delaware market, and had made Common Core an apprehension, instead of the savior it was supposed to be….

Kilroy: Kilroy has always been haranguing over education. In fact he was doing such a good job I left that issue alone for years, because other issues for me, like the economy and elimination of guns from the hands of the mentally ill, were more important. But as the issue has shifted back into the limelight, Kilroy’s hard hitting is making its mark… Kilroy is blunt, and right now, that is the language that needs to happen. Blunt descriptions of what takes place in the stratosphere of he academic field…. Kilroy often breaks stories before the News Journal, especially ones embarrassing to the Murphy/Markell cartel of education. If you have read Kilroy over the past couple of years, you would already know that Common Core is not the panacea we have been promised. It is a power grab for taxpayer dollars, financed by Wall Street itself…. If you think otherwise, you haven’t been reading a balanced reading list….
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That is what I have so far. In retrospect I am surprised that education has played so much, as even I have only come to that topic lately… But if one looks over the News Journal op eds, education really did dominate the discussion in the 2nd smallest state this year….

I may have forgotten some big ones. To reiterate, that is why I am posting this early, to catch those big mistakes as they get brought to my attention….

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I heard part of this on Allan Loudell’s noonday news, … the radio was on and I caught just a snippet.  I hope someone will clue me in on who it was who said it….

In discussing spying through evesdropping, he said probably the quote of the year.  

“There was a reason we spied on the Soviet Union.  There was a reason they spied on us.  We didn’t trust each other…….”

He may have gone on, or maybe it was myself carrying the conversation forward in my head…. “but that would explain why the Soviets spied on their own people; why the East Germans spied on their own people, why the North Koreans and the Chinese are currently still spying on their own people…”

They don’t trust their people….

So, the question must be asked. Why does the NSA, or Obama administration, or the Illuminati, or the Galactic Battlestar Cruiser,… whoever it is who makes the big decisions these days, not trust the American people?

For this would not occur otherwise, would it.

Now it stands upon all reason, that if there is nothing wrong with you…. I’ll take your word for it, and there is nothing wrong with me, ..take my word for it… and we are being spied upon…. then there has to be something wrong with the NSA….

Now if we open all our minds, and look at all possibilities, possibility number one could be that they are sinister. They are gathering information to be used against us at a later date, when it suits them.

However there are more logical possibilities. My favorite is that if you give someone unlimited power, and no oversight, they will exercise all capacities open to them. After all, to them, there are no consequences. With unlimited funding, and no oversight, it becomes very easy to say: lets do one better than what we have.

In the real world, when we get ideas like that, someone steps up to challenge us, and if we can’t defend ourselves adequately, .. it simply doesn’t get done. But the NSA doesn’t live in the real world, now do they? In their bubble, once you realise you can suck up all the information out of a state, you build to suck it all up out of all the states… When done, you realize your territories are wide open, so you suck them up too. Basically it is an ongoing process that like cancer, once started will grow unless some outside influence kills it.

Third, these people could just innocently mean well. Having every transaction or conversation on record, even if one does not use any of it, can be very useful if a bomb goes off to backtrack and find who is connected to it…. It would be a shame to launch a missile strike at Russia, when Somalia was the culprit. These phone records would prevent such a mistake from occurring.

So in synopsis, the motivation behind collecting everything could be a) sinister; b) a natural progression because of no oversight; or c) innocently benign and even well meaning.

Those are some of the causes. What are some of the consequences?

Mistrust. As mentioned in my initial thought process, knowing that someone does NOT trust you, makes you immediately question why and therefore not trust them. Everyone who picks up a phone these days, volunteers as a joke mostly, but still volunteers: “Oh, I have to be careful; the NSA is listening.”

That has a chilling effect; just knowing that a stranger is listening. Those elders who are familiar with state-run societies, are familiar with how the Soviets behaved, the huge difference between the West Germans and the East Germans, how much different North Koreans were and still are from South Koreans…. One does not live their lives as fully, when they can be whisked off for something someone thought they heard them say….

Creativity is ruined; productivity dries up; patriotism turns into hatred of one’s country; and thoughts of revolution swill in the air. Consequently, life becomes black and white, devoid of color. Soviet bloc cities were all gray.

Trust is vital. Spying dissolves it.

Currently Europe is serious debating the future of doing business with the US. Knowing the US negotiators have been briefed in advance what the Europeans are going to offer. Safer to make those deals with China; one can still argue in good faith.

And remember all those encrypted banks broken into and money siphoned out of accounts? Everyone suspected Russian criminals. We now know the NSA has had the access codes for years. Of course we’d trust that no one in the NSA would steal money out of Bank of America or Citibank, especially to pay for cost overruns in their data mining efforts. But oops… for some reason… that trust is not there anymore.

So, how can we get that trust back?

A) All those who lied to Congress = fired, goodbye.

B) Remove legal protection for Version, Comcast, ATT, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and all other telecommunications companies that enabled the NSA. If someone gets hurt by information taken and given to a third party, those companies with deep pockets may again be sued. The point is not to hurt the companies, but to make sure they keep a tighter control over what reach they give the NSA. If they can be sued, it will be much tighter.

C) Scale back funding. With less income, less chance to do harm. Even if one eliminated the NSA completely and let the CIA take over the monitoring, we would have more accountability than we do now.

D) Create and ensure that jail time is used for any Federal employee who uses information for reasons other than national security. Really, why ARE we listening to Merkle’s cell phone?

E) Have hearings on the NSA. open its culture to the sun. Let people know the workings that go on. We do for the FBI. We do for the CIA.

The big one is B). If we can just get the telecommications companies to say… “no, unh-unh, too riskey” a huge chunk of spying is removed at once.

The problem is not the government spying on you. The problem is individual members of the government spying on you, then trying to figure how to rip you off…. Americans have the right not to be ripped off….

If the NSA were a company, say like a division of DuPont, and were asked the questions of what did you do, how did you spend your money, what results can you show for our investment, they would have been sold off long time ago….

When I was young, and I haven’t been able to find it, we were forced to read a short story about Death Valley. It was supposedly taken from a diary found next to stripped skelatons, that told of a party lost in the desert, which found an oasis, drank the clear cool water, then got poisoned because it was toxic with arsenic…..

That is what the Tea Party has done for the Republican Party.

Had the Tea Party never been formed, there is a good likelihood that Romney would now be the President-elect. Think about that for a minute. Everything Romney was pummeled for, came from the Tea Party contingent. If a nice man had simply stood up, with Obama’s economic record, that nice man might have won by default. But, every Tea Party issue the Republicans took on, generated more voters against that plank, than it did for.

No taxes; More voters think taxes should be raised on the wealthy.
No Abortions: more voters think the government should continue to make contraception free.
No Government: Hurricane Sandy showed what a disaster that would be.
No Evolution: More people believe science over politicians. Evolution and Global Warming are real.
Put Religious Fanatics in Control: More Americans feel that is too risky.

As a result, Obama won by the 6th largest landslide in American history. People really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, and unequivocally, hate the Tea Party.

I’ve always said the Tea Party was on the right track. Only difference between the two of us, is that they blame government for being in bed with corporate henchmen, and I blame the corporate henchmen for seducing the politicians and infiltrating government. On that and views on science, we differ.

But, they blew up. Glenn Beck, blew up. Rush Limbaugh, blew up, Christine O’Donnell, blew up. Rupert Mourdock, blew up. Todd Akins, blew up. Ann Coulter, blew up. Michelle Malkin, blew up. Especially karl Rove on Fox News… blew up..

There is a reason some people are the last to get picked on a pickup team. They are creepy. And that is todays Tea Party…

The Tea Party is the significant reason Congress today is divided. It is impossible for Republicans to get any majority in the Senate, because the Tea Party sets every one against them.

This metaphor explains why. Imagine if instead of winning Germany in 1932, the Nazi Party was just a minor party in the Reichstag. Assume they had one plank in their platform: Banish all Jews. Assume they were aligned with the Republican Party of Germany because it was small, and Jews were a big bloc of the German Democratic Party… Because the Republicans needed the Nazi’s to have a majority, they entertained their notion of banishing all Jews. The Republicans griped it was a necessary evil that had to be tolerated, and longed for the day, it would die on its own… But because of that one embarrassing group, the whole Republican Party kept getting bashed in every election, getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and smaller…

Finally they eject the Nazi’s who quickly die from lack of oxygen. Upon the next election, Republicans make great gains. You see, people weren’t real happy with the Democrats either, but as long as Nazi’s were in the Republican Party, the Democrats were the lesser of the two evils….

The Tea Party Congress, the soon to be historical name for the 112th Congress, will have the notoriety of being the worst Congress held in public esteem, ever since public esteem was invented back in the 1940’s. An approval rating of 9%. 9%. That is what the Tea Party did to government.

The fiscal cliff today drags on. Because as Obama put it so well today, the Tea Party won’t compromise. No surrender is their motto, which may sound great if it is the same philosophy as the rest of the country’s, but it isn’t. We are witnessing the childish two year old tantrum of a immature group that can’t get everything it wants. Like a two year old child, it sits down on the Capitol floor, and screams, screams, screams, screams, screams, screams….. Like that two year old child, because no one comes up and kicks him in the head and instead everyone tries to plead with him to stop, he thinks he is doing the right thing!

As I said, it was the Tea Party that destroyed Republican chances at the White House, and kept them from taking the Senate. How much longer will the Republicans try to bargain with this two year old?

Perhaps they could find some Arsenic to put in its baby bottle?