I’ve looked all over the place and I can’t find a hard, fast answer (I saw 175,000 somewhere on a message board, I think, attributed to the event organizers, and I’d love to believe that that’s accurate, but I’m just a tad suspicious).
I say this because Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote a column about the rally here, but, as is typical for right-wing propagandists, he doesn’t even bother to do actual reporting on the event as opposed to partisan editorializing, only saying that it didn’t match the attendance of the Glenn Beck-Sarah Palin fraud show without substantiating his argument.
And as noted here, CBS News “commissioned a crowd estimate” at the Beck/Palin-fest and came up with 87,000. For the “Working Together” event, though, the only information I found related to attendance was the line that the National Park Service stopped providing crowd estimates for events at locations under its purview in 1990, or words to that effect.
I’ll tell you what, though; for the sake of argument, I’ll just assume that Beck-Palin drew more, OK? Which should not be one bit surprising, considering that, as noted here…
When making this comparison, however, it is important to remember that Beck benefited from relentless promotion, not only from the #1 cable news network, but also from MSNBC and CNN. A TV Eyes search for each rally shows that, up until the day before each event, “Restoring Honor” was mentioned 2,877 times, versus 520 mentions of “One Nation Rally.”Of course, leave it to The Daily Tucker to lament that the “Working Together” participants supposedly trashed the mall more than the Beck-Palin participants here, a claim which recalls some similarly odious wingnut propaganda here.
(By the way, it occurs to me that I once politely criticized Jed Lewison for posting about the size of the Beck-Palin Bund rally in the middle of a campaign season, but I think this is a different circumstance because progressives are getting slighted here. If anybody thinks I’m wrong on that, I’m OK with it.)
Carter's energy program was right on the money. The message was fine; the messenger was awful. This is exactly the case with Obama, who is far more likable than Carter, yet is being cuffed around in a similar manner. Being right is nice. Convincing others you are is essential. Yet even George W. Bush, who left a grateful nation with two wars and a recession -- somehow he forgot the mumps -- hypothetically runs neck and neck with Obama. This is because Obama's insistence on realism comes across as pessimism. This is our national character flaw, and it is what did in Carter: Ask us for sacrifice, and we'll show you the door.Spoken like a typically jaded corporate media pundit.
And I think such a sentiment is particularly wretched when you consider that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the very first mention of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy, in a debate with Vice President Richard Nixon. As noted here, some well-known alums of the Corps include retiring Dem U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, as well as Dem U.S. House Rep Mike Honda and former Repug U.S. House Rep Chris Shays.
Also, I give you the following from an April 2009 speech in the Rose Garden (here)…
I’ve told this story before. When I moved to Chicago more than two decades ago to become a community organizer, I wasn’t sure what was waiting for me there, but I had always been inspired by the stories of the civil rights movement, and President Kennedy’s call to service, and I knew I wanted to do my part to advance the cause of justice and equality.“Ask us for sacrifice and we’ll show you the door” indeed.
And it wasn’t easy, but eventually, over time, working with leaders from all across these communities, we began to make a difference -- in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plants that had closed down and jobs that had dried up. We began to see a real impact in people’s lives. And I came to realize I wasn’t just helping people, I was receiving something in return, because through service I found a community that embraced me, citizenship that was meaningful, the direction that I had been seeking. I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America.
It’s the same spirit of service I’ve seen across this country. I’ve met countless people of all ages and walks of life who want nothing more than to do their part. I’ve seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They’re a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an economic crisis without precedent. And yet, despite all this -- or more likely because of it -- they’ve become a generation of activists possessed with that most American of ideas, that people who love their country can change it.
They’re why the Peace Corps had three applications for every position available last year; why 35,000 young people applied for only 4,000 slots in Teach for America; why AmeriCorps has seen a 400-percent increase in applications in just the past four months. And yet, even as so many want to serve, even as so many are struggling, our economic crisis has forced our charities and non-for-profits to cut back.
What this legislation does, then, is to help harness this patriotism and connect deeds to needs. It creates opportunities to serve for students, seniors, and everyone in between. It supports innovation and strengthens the nonprofit sector. And it is just the beginning of a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to involve our greatest resource -- our citizens -- in the work of remaking this nation.
We’re doing this because I’ve always believed that the answers to our challenges cannot come from government alone. Our government can help to rebuild our economy and lift up our schools and reform health care systems and make sure our soldiers and veterans have everything they need -- but we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families.
That’s why this bill will expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000 in less than a decade. (Applause.) And it’s not just for freshly minted college grads. As I said, my wife Michelle left her job at a law firm to be the founding director of an AmeriCorps program in Chicago that trains young people for careers in public service. And Michelle can tell you the transformation that occurred in her life as a consequence of being able to follow her passions, follow her dreams.
Programs like these are a force multiplier; they leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers. And we will focus their service toward solving today’s most pressing challenges: clean energy, energy efficiency, health care, education, economic opportunity, veterans and military families.
Also, I give you the following from today’s Bucks County Courier Times (here)…
Fitzpatrick’s Pay-to-Play Record
Mike Fitzpatrick’s record as County Commissioner marred by long history of rewarding political insiders with taxpayer-funded contracts(Doylestown, PA) – As County Commissioner, Mike Fitzpatrick raised property taxes seven times in ten years while taking nine pay raises totaling $20,000. But lost in that record of bigger government and higher taxes is the more troubling record of votes that rewarded political insiders with sweetheart deals at the public’s expense.
In the current election campaign, Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has attempted to reinvent his record, but area newspapers have long documented his habit of rewarding contributors to the Republican Party and Party officials with public contracts during his tenure as County Commissioner.
In fact, Fitzpatrick was so shameless in using taxpayer dollars to support his Republican cronies that he actually awarded contracts to companies located at the County GOP headquarters.
And in an article in the Bucks County Courier Times, then-Commissioner Fitzpatrick was quoted as saying, ‘I’m not going to sit here and say there is not pressure put upon us. There is.”
“Budget hawk, my a&%*. Mike Fitzpatrick is a tax and spend, pay-to-play, serial politician who lined his own pockets and now tries to pretend the past never happened – his campaign is a total whitewash of a political career built on patronage,” said Neil Samuels, Executive Director of the Bucks County Democratic Committee.
Fortunately, Samuels added, the press reported on his sweetheart deals at the time and the record is still available in black and white for anyone to read. Samuels explained that Mike Fitzpatrick has always put his Republican Party loyalty ahead of Bucks County’s families because he owes his lengthy political career to GOP party leaders and GOP Chairman Harry Fawkes. Fitzpatrick was their handpicked appointee for County Commissioner and then handpicked to run unopposed for Congress when Jim Greenwood resigned.
“Over two decades of being a political insider can’t be erased by a lot of election year BS and Tea Party talking points,” said Samuels.
During a political career that began in the 1990s, Fitzpatrick has a long record of rewarding political contributors with no-bid contracts using taxpayer dollars as the following newspaper stories document:
"(Former Bucks Commissioner Sandra) Miller, who says she supports the land purchase, questioned the award of a contract to KM Abstract Co. of Doylestown, a title insurance firm owned by Republican Party vice chairwoman Keren McIlhinney. Miller said KM Abstract received most of the county's title insurance business and questioned why other firms aren't being used. "I'm comfortable with the idea of purchasing the property," Miller said. "I do have a problem with one firm always getting the title work." Miller also protested in July 1993 when KM Abstract received a $11,200 to do title searches for the tax sale that year. Former Commissioner Andrew Warren was upset because the firm listed its address as the county Republican Party headquarters in Doylestown." (Morning Call, May 4, 1995)
"Two years ago, the Bucks County commissioners pledged to play fair. They would no longer, they said, funnel all of the county's title business to a company owned by the vice president of the Bucks County Republican Party. The commissioners, two Republicans and one Democrat, promised they would tap the services of three other local title companies, none of them owned by GOP bigwig Keren McIlhinney. While the county no longer deals with KM Abstract, McIlhinney's company on the second floor of the county's Republican headquarters in Doylestown, it still funnels most of its land-title/settlement work to one company with close McIlhinney ties." (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1997)
“Fitzpatrick, himself a Republican Party contributor, said he does not see anything wrong with Republican commissioners awarding no-bid contracts to qualified professionals who make campaign donations to the GOP.”(Courier Times 1/24/95)
“Many of the largest contributors are professionals who hold no-bid county contracts. ‘I’m not going to sit here and say there is not pressure put upon us. There is,’ Fitzpatrick said.”(Courier Times, 11/1/95)
“The Bucks County commissioners are looking into how one title company with ties to a Republican Party official received work in the county's farmland preservation program in apparent violation of county policy. The commissioners directed employees two years ago to alternate title insurance work among three companies: American Land Transfer Inc. of Buckingham, Robert Chalphin Associates of Southampton and Surety Abstract Inc. of Doylestown. But American Land Transfer, which has business ties to Keren McIlhinney, vice chairwoman of the county GOP, was the only company used in the county's farmland preservation program. American has handled 14 settlements since 1994. (Allentown Morning Call, March 27, 1997)
"[A] 87,500 no-bid contract to Pennoni Associates for work at the Oxford Valley Swimming Pool. Pennoni, which has an office in Quakertown, is an engineering firm with close ties to the county Republican Party. (Allentown Morning Call, April 22, 1995)
"[A] Republican committeeman and the treasurer of Fitzpatrick's campaign for commissioner, was hired as the county's public works director. The county did not advertise the opening, instead relying on word of mouth to fill the post." (Allentown Morning Call, February 19, 1998)
"Four of the six underwriters of Bucks County's open space bonds -- and the adviser who recommended the county hire them last week -- have contributed $14,950 to the county Republican Party during the past two years. The county -- governed by a three-person board of commissioners with a Republican majority --is preparing to float $36 million in bonds later this year through the companies, which stand to collect $222,000 from the deal. Of those involved, Wheat First Butcher Singer gave $5,100 to the county GOP; CoreStates gave $2,750, Janney Montgomery Scott gave $1,000, First American gave $5,000 and Walker gave $1,100. Walker said party members asked him to donate to the Republicans. "It's not because I want to but because I'm asked to," Walker said of the donations. "Generally you give because people are asking you to give."(Morning Call, September 23, 1997)
You don't have to be a police officer to understand the devastation that assault weapons, like semiautomatic rifles and AK-47s, can cause when they fall into the wrong hands. Far too often the nightly news carries a painful reminder that the men and women who are sworn to protect the public risk - and sacrifice - their lives to keep us safe.(By the way, kudos to writer Paul Hampel for revisiting the topic of gun control. I haven’t said anything about it for a long time partly because I got tired of being one of the few voices anywhere saying anything about it, while those on the front lines, including police and emergency medical personnel, remain largely silent. And except for Michael Bloomberg, Governor Rendell, Frank Lautenberg and Carolyn McCarthy, don’t get me started on the politicians.)
And so I was deeply angered when our former congressman and now candidate Mike Fitzpatrick flipped his position on the assault weapons ban, which helps keep dangerous semiautomatic weapons off our streets. Fitzpatrick supported the ban when he was first running for Congress back in 2004. A county commissioner at the time, Fitzpatrick said that because of his support for law enforcement, he believed the assault weapons ban should remain on the books. In fact, in a Sept. 12, 2004 report in the Courier Times, Fitzpatrick said anyone who was reasonable would agree.
A mere six weeks later, Fitzpatrick disagreed.
Perhaps in an attempt to win the support of the NRA, Fitzpatrick said in an Oct. 21, 2004 Courier Times story that he saw no reason to keep the assault weapons ban. He claimed he'd seen no evidence that the ban had reduced violence. Maybe he wasn't looking very hard. Or maybe he was just doing what was politically convenient at the time. According to the website opensecrets.org Fitzpatrick has received three separate contributions totaling $12,450 from the NRA.
Whichever reason it was, I'd be willing to bet that Philadelphia police Officer Kevin Livewell would be happy to explain to the former congressman, who has never been a police officer or served in the military, the problem with having assault weapons widely available to anyone without a criminal background check.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer after the recent shooting of Officer Livewell this summer, the police were entirely outgunned as they chased down a vehicle heavily armed with military-style weapons, including AK-47s and Glock handguns. The bullets fired from weapons like that, according to the article, travel so fast that they can penetrate a standard police vest and even the flak jackets worn by SWAT teams. The lieutenant surveying the cache of weapons recovered from the scene couldn't believe the officer had escaped with only a leg wound.
Americans have the right to bear arms. That's one of the fundamental principles of our nation. But the right to carry an assault weapon should not be.
Equally concerning as his opposition to the ban is the former congressman's apparent willingness to blow with the political winds on vitally important issues. Police risk their lives day in and day out. They shouldn't have to worry about whether or not lawmakers are looking out for them.
I want to be clear: I'm not looking for politicians to stubbornly refuse to change positions or adapt if there is good reason for doing so. But that's not what this was.
Fitzpatrick's change of heart was not based on evidence or changing facts. His statements, after all, were made barely six weeks apart. This was political pandering at its worst, coming from a weak-kneed candidate who changes his mind depending on who he's talking to and what he wants.
I don't need to agree with the person I vote for on every issue and I definitely don't agree with Fitzpatrick's opponent, Patrick Murphy, on everything. But I do believe that Murphy, the son of a Philly cop and a veteran himself, stands by his word. He stakes out his positions based on what he believes is the right thing to do and in the best interest of Bucks County, regardless of how politically popular they may be.
I don't believe people should base their decision on who to vote for on a single issue, but I do think that whether you can take a candidate at his word is important. Mike Fitzpatrick already had his chance to prove that to Bucks County voters that he was that guy, and he failed.
There’s ample reason provided here to re-elect Congressman Patrick Murphy, and to help in that effort, click here.