Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Another Bright Star On The Horizon . . .

Time To Show This Congressman The Door


Presenting The New Prime Minister Of Italy!

Sadly, Not Much Of An Exaggeration Here



 So, now THIS just happened:

This Sneaky Gimmick Will Cost You BIG TIME!

Have you received your Cherry Hill property tax bill? Payment was due at the end of last month. And, if you’ve checked it out, you’ve noticed that more than half of your property taxes go to the local schools. More than half!

The Cherry Hill School District has an operating budget exceeding $272 million per year. That comes to more than $26,000 per student. Yet the national average for private school tuition is less than half that — about $12,000 per student. 

So, the school district has plenty of money. They’re already collecting more of your property tax dollars than the county, the township, the fire district, the library and the open space fund combined! 

But that’s still not enough. Now, the schools are asking you to  cough up hundreds of millions more. 

Yes, they want you to approve a bond issue (basically a borrowing plan) of $363 million that they say they need for the schools. That will increase your property taxes by an average of $400 every year  for the next 20 years. And that’s without any other increases the school district will enact each and every year as history has shown the school budget grows annually. Check your annual tax bill. You’ll see that the budget and the taxes go up — not down — every year!

A few years ago Cherry Hill voters wisely turned down a similar school bond. But now the district is back for another try at an even higher price.

The special school bond election is scheduled for Thursday, October 6 — not Tuesday and not in November when elections are usually held. Remember: Thursday, October 6. The school district is hoping you won’t even notice there’s an election. In fact, they're only making their budget approval pitch to parents of school age children. And they're conveniently leaving you our of the loop. Yes, this approach is sneaky and snarky. But this way they figure they’ll get their voters out to approve the budget while you focus on other things. Don’t let this happen!

Right now, runaway inflation is costing you an extra $340 a month — and that’s a conservative figure! What’s more, New Jersey already has the nation’s highest property taxes and is one of the most heavily taxed states. This is no time to raise your taxes!

Vote NO! on the school bond splurge! It’s your money. Tell the Cherry Hill schools to do a better job of managing it! After all, you’re working hard to do more with less. Why shouldn’t they?

Image by Eric Perlin for Pixabay. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Revealed: My Real Life Frank Rizzo Story


They've removed former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo's statue from center city and have dismantled the giant Rizzo mural in his native South Philadelphia. Those who think they know better did this.
But they'll never erase the memory of Rizzo or his legendary bigger-than-life status on Philadelphian's horizon.
And I have to think Rizzo would enjoy the never-ending controversy surrounding his legacy as he was never, ever a stranger to controversy. In fact, he seemed to welcome it.
But on the day this photo was taken there was no controversy. Philadelphia Mayor Frank L. Rizzo was in hie element -- in South Philly, among friends. It was what they called "Tag Day" on Two Street  and the Mummers were out in force. People bought and wore tags showing they contributed to Mummers-related charities. The string bands marched with the Mayor at the helm.
He was so proud and he was treated like a hero. He could not get down the street for all the people who wanted to touch him. I was one of the lucky ones who got to take a snapshot with him.
I met Rizzo again years later when he was attempting a comeback, running one last time (this time as a Republican) to try to regain the mayor's office.
It was 1991 and I was working at the Philadelphia Bar Association as Associate Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs. We invited Rizzo to come and speak before the association's Board of Governors. Rizzo was never a big fan of lawyers but, to our surprise, he accepted. His audience was skeptical, to say the least. The bar association was and remains a liberal bastion.
I'll never forget Rizzo's visit to our offices. He was literally and figuratively, bigger than life. He strode into the building like a titan. He had no handlers with him, he didn't need them. The leaders of the association (more than 30 of them) were assembled in the board room around a huge table while others sat in chairs around three of the four walls. The room was packed.
The captains of the legal community thought Rizzo would proceed directly to their command center. But Rizzo surprised them. Rizzo saw that members of the bar association staff (receptionists, secretaries, assistants, etc.) were gathered either near the board room or at their stations and he went to them first. This was pure Rizzo. He kept the lawyers waiting while he mingled with the working people -- the people who toiled away on a daily basis; the ones who made everything happen. These were Rizzo's people and they greeted him warmly, hugging him and taking photos with him.
Then, Rizzo went into the board room -- a long rectangular inner-sanctum lined with the photos of former chancellors (presidents) of the association. He greeted various people and then turned to me. The conversation went something like this:
Welcome, Mr. Mayor. 
And who are you? 
My name is Dan Cirucci, Mayor and I just want you to know my father was a great fan of yours.
Your father? Your father? What about you? 
Well, yes. I'm a fan. 
Your are? What did you say your name was? 
Dan Cirucci. 
Cirucci? Cirucci! (he looks around the room, puts his arm around me, leans in) How the hell did they let a guy like you into a place like this?
The message from Francis (Frank) Lazarro Rizzo could not have been more clear. 
We were paisons. 
Each of us stood on the shoulders of giants who had broken through barriers to put us we were. We were in a place where, at one time, we were never supposed to be. But now, they had to let guys like us into a place like this. The barriers were down!
That was the essence of Frank Rizzo; quick, proud, indomitable.
There will never, be another one like him. And while they may remove and hide his statue they will never be hide him from us nor will they destroy our legacy!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Journeying Northern Italy: Pure Enchantment!

The curtain-raising Cole Porter song from Kiss Me, Kate melodically proclaims: “We open in Venice”. But, on this grand tour of northern Italy, we are closing in Venice. This is our last stop and we’ll be ensconced at the famed Gritti Palace Hotel. 

So far, we’ve been in Milan, Lake Como, Stresa, Verona, Modena and Bologna. Here’s a rundown of our impressions of each place:

Milan - A sleek, up-to-the-minute cosmopolitan city with every amenity imaginable. A city of gracious boulevards, intimate side streets and the grand Victor Emanuel Galleria full of the most luxurious shops and popular restaurants. The city exhibits an upscale charm without be boastful or elitist and its ever-present trolley cars or tidy taxis will take you everywhere you need to be.

Lake Como - Famed as the waterfront attraction for the rich and famous, the lake is much, much larger than you might imagine and the water is very deep and very cold as this is a glacial lake amidst the mountains. It’s all decidedly posh and residential with only a couple of pockets that are more welcoming to tourists. And while Lake Como is the “name” attraction, you may want to spend more time in  . . . 

Stresa - Sitting on Lake Majorie, Stresa is a cozy resort town with grand hotels along a waterfront boulevard and boutique inns and hostelries elsewhere. Three arteries off the boulevard lead you into delightful squares, inviting shops and some of the best eateries you will find. Don’t miss the Borromeo Palace a short boat ride to the nearest island. It’s well worth your time.

Verona - This has been our favorite place so far on this trip. The home of Romeo and Juliet and the Two Gentlemen, it’s a must for students of Shakespeare, even though the guy never stepped foot in Verona. This town combines the sophistication of a big city with the charm and intimacy of a small town. It’s full of winding lanes and seductive discoveries at every turn and it’s one of the most scenic places you’ll ever visit as you wander through the loop created by the Adige River and take in the waterfront views. No question about it, Verona is lushly romantic!

Modena - The home of Luciano Pavarotti and Enzo Ferrari, Modena is worth a visit if only for the Ferrari museum which  features a spectacular visual tribute to Enzo himself, all of those super sexy race cars (look but don’t touch) and Enzo’s restored home. Nearby, you’ll be able to visit cheese manufacturers, wineries and purveyors of the famed balsamic vinegar. This region is delicious, in more ways than one.

Bologna - A big, noisy, bustling university town with more that 100,000 students it conveys a youthful energy amidst enclosed porticos that lead you from one street corner to another. It’s alternately grand and gritty and sometimes both at the same time as it seems unkept and preserved rather than restored in the same manner as New Orleans. Bologna is most decidedly an acquired taste.

Venice - Though it’s been vastly depicted and arguably trivialized, Venice demands your attention. Since there are no automobiles, an eerie silence is its natural mode. You don’t need a destination in Venice, simply wander aimlessly and you will have a lovely time. Don’t be afraid to get lost as you can almost always find your way back to St. Mark’s Square which is one of the most beautiful public spaces you will ever experience. If you have enough time be sure to visit The Lido, the island of Burano and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. 

From Venice northward, this area of Italy is a traveler’s delight! 

Decoding Liberal Buzz Words . . .

Just so you can keep up with all this liberal obfuscation, we offer you a partial translation guide to invented liberal terms, words and phrases and what they really mean:

reproductive rights - abortion

investing in our future - raising taxes

community - liberal allies

food insecurity - hungry

income inequality - some people make more money than others

disparity - any difference that liberals find unacceptable

gun reform - gun control

at risk - any person or group ripe for liberal exploitation, potential "victims"

community organizer - disrupter, troublemaker

inclusive, inclusiveness - excluding whites; particularly white heterosexual males, Christians

empowering people - making them dependent on government and/or liberal programs

troubled youth - likely gang members, juvenile delinquents

undocumented - illegal

underserved communities - candidates for liberal handouts

dialogue - liberals talk, you listen

common effort - makers pay more taxes so takers can take more

privilege - economic success

dark money - contributions to conservative causes

gender reassignment - sex change

affirmative action - preferential treatment

teachable moment - exoneration for liberals who get caught

fetus - yet-to-be-born baby, real human being in mother's womb

xenophobe - Americans who believe we should put our country's interest first

progressive - bigger government, less personal freedom, higher taxes, more regulation

LGBTQ - non-heterosexual, anything other than straight

binary - male or female, yes or no, Democrat or Republican, straight or gay, black or white

non-binary - something else 

equity - majority cedes rights to designated minorities

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Justice Alito's Warning: More Relevant Than Ever!


A couple of years ago, United States Supreme Curt Justice Samuel Alito gave a very important speech (virtually, since it was during COVID)  in front of  The Federalist Society during its annual convention.

Big liberal media are already characterizing and pretty much telling you what to think about it. We are linking to the full text here. But we're also happy to present  excerpts from the speech which addressed the loss of individual liberties, particularly First Amendment rights and religious freedom. From Justice Alito:

Unfortunately, tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply in many law schools, and in the broader academic community. When I speak with recent law school graduates, what I hear over and over is that they face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy. . . . 

The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty. . . .  I'm a judge, not a policymaker. All that I'm saying is this. And I think it is an indisputable statement of fact, we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced, for most of 2020. . . . 

Who could have imagined that the COVID crisis has served as a sort of constitutional stress test. And in doing so it has highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck. . . . 

The vision of early 20th century progressives and the new dealers of the 1930s was the policymaking would shift from narrow minded elected legislators, to an elite group of appointed experts in a word, the policymaking would become more scientific. That dream has been realized to a large extent. Every year administrative agencies acting under broad delegations of authority churn out huge volumes of regulations that dwarfs the statutes enacted by the people's elected representatives. And what have we seen in the pandemic sweeping restrictions imposed for the most part, under statutes that confer enormous executive discretion. . . . 

. . . whatever one may think about the COVID restrictions, we surely don't want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed. All sorts of things can be called an emergency or disaster of major proportions. Simply slapping on that label cannot provide the ground for abrogating our most fundamental rights. And whenever fundamental rights are restricted, the Supreme Court and other courts cannot close their eyes. . . . 

Just as the COVID restrictions have highlighted the movement toward rule by experts, litigation about those restrictions, has pointed up emerging trends in the assessment of individual rights. This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty. It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right. And that marks a surprising turn of events. Consider where things stood in the 1990s. And to me, at least that does not seem like the Jurassic age. When a Supreme Court decision called Employment Division versus Smith, cut back sharply on the protection provided by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Congress was quick to respond. It passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). To ensure broad protection for religious liberty. The law had almost universal support. In the house, the vote was unanimous. In the Senate, it was merely 97 to three, and the bill was enthusiastically signed by President Clinton today that widespread support has vanished. When states have considered or gone ahead and adopted their own versions of reference. They have been threatened with punishing economic boycotts. . . . 

The question we face is whether our society will be inclusive enough to tolerate people with unpopular religious views. . . . 

The right of the free exercise of religion is not the only cherished freedom that is falling in the estimation of some segments of the population. Support for freedom of speech is also in danger. And COVID rules have restricted speech in unprecedented ways. . . . 

Even before the pandemic, there was growing hostility to the expression of unfashionable views. . . . 

You can't say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that's what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it's considered bigotry.

That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise. Yes, the opinion of the court included words meant to calm the fears of those who cling to traditional views on marriage. But I could say, and so did the other justices in dissent, where that decision would lead . . .  I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes. But if they repeat those of us in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots, and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools. That is just what is coming to pass. One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech. Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second tier constitutional right. . . . 

Let's go back to some basics. The Supreme Court was created by the Constitution, not by Congress. Under the Constitution, we exercise the judicial power of the United States. Congress has no right to interfere with that work any more than we have the right to legislate. Our obligation is to decide cases based on the law period. And it is therefore wrong for anybody, including members of Congress to try to influence our decisions by anything other than legal argumentation. . . . 

. . . the covid crisis has highlighted constitutional fault lines. And I've criticized some of what the Supreme Court has done, but I don't want to leave you with a distorted picture. During my 15 years on the court, a lot of good work has been done to protect freedom of speech, religious liberty, and the structure of government created by the Constitution.

All of this is important. But in the end, there is only so much that the judiciary can do to preserve our Constitution, and the Liberty it was adopted to protect. As Learned Hand famously wrote, Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women when it dies there. No constitution, no law, no court can do much to help it. For all Americans, standing up for our constitution and our freedom is work that lies ahead. It will not be easy work. But when we meet next year, I hope we will be able to say that progress was made. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

This Is Truly Chilling - And Fightening!

Hurry! It Will All Be Coming To An End!


Friday, September 23, 2022

'Ole Joe Kennedy's Gripe With The Church

Some surprising revelations, indeed . . . 

Not too long ago we read David Nasaw's big, sweeping, definitive biography entitled The Patriarch; The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.

It's an absolutely extraordinary book -- a real eye-opener. Even if you think you know the story of Joseph P. Kennedy, you will be surprised by what you discover in this book. Here's what we discovered:

In the political realm, Kennedy's views were actually quite conservative. Though he could not always be easily categorized, he was at various times so right-of-center that he once considered becoming a Republican. But in the early days of his career when he toyed with the idea, he couldn't square being a Republican with his Irish Catholic upbringing and the traditionally Democrat family that he emerged from. Still, he often found liberal utopians hopelessly unrealistic and ultimately frustrating. At heart, he was always a clear-thinking businessman who was more interested in pragmatic achievement.

Throughout his career, Kennedy maintained good relations with Republicans and conservatives. Even after President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Kennedy as ambassador to Great Britain, Kennedy remained friends with former President Herbert Hoover. Kennedy had supported Hoover over Al Smith for president in 1928. He felt that Al Smith (also Irish Catholic) was unpolished and simply too uncouth. Often, he saw this type of personality as insulting to and degrading of Irish Catholics. Kennedy remained friends with Herbert Hoover as long as he lived.

Kennedy was also a big fan of J. Edgar Hoover and generally supported the controversial Senator Joe McCarthy. In 1955 Kennedy wrote J. Edgar Hoover: "The only two men I know in public life today just happen to be named Hoover -- one John Edgar and one Herbert --  and I am proud to think that both of them hold me in some esteem."

Kennedy had a difficult relationship with FDR and felt betrayed by Roosevelt more than once. He was suspicious of Roosevelt's charm offensives, disliked many of Roosevelt's most trusted advisors and was turned off by FDR's political machinations. He had a hard time forging a solid, ongoing relationship with FDR.

A wise investor (and, generally a prudent one) Kennedy protected all the money he had earned prior to the stock market crash and the resulting Great Depression by placing it in trust funds that guaranteed that his family would never want for anything. He then wisely began to acquire real estate.

Kennedy intensely disliked Harry Truman and felt he was ill-equipped to be president. He also felt that Truman was reckless in his decision making. At the same time, he had a generally high regard for Dwight Eisenhower and rightly predicted (long before many others) that Ike would run for president as a Republican. He knew that Ike would be a popular candidate and may have been disappointed that the Democrats did not try harder to recruit him.

But here's one of the biggest shockers: Kennedy often felt wronged by the Catholic Church -- an institution that he vigorously supported publicly and to which he donated huge amounts of money. Kennedy was not only chagrined that the Church did not do more to support his son, Jack when he ran for president (indeed. he felt that high officials in the Church actually worked against Jack) but long before that Kennedy was disturbed that the Church was not more assertive in defending itself and advancing its cause in the public arena. On this later score, Kennedy was right then and remains right now. Particularly in America, The Catholic Church is a toothless giant -- a spineless wonder. It refuses to organize, to influence, to put any real publicaction muscle behind its convictions.

Nasaw writes that Joseph P. Kennedy believed that "if the Catholic minority [in the US] was to get the respect . . . it deserved and required, it would have to follow the example of American Jews and organize itself better." In 1950, Kennedy expressed these sentiments to a close friend, Italy's Count Enrico Galeazzi, who had close ties to the Vatican. Here's what he said:
"I still believe, as I told the Pope, and as I told you, that until the day comes when the hierarchy [of the Catholic Church] of the United States make up their minds that they should have political influence, we are not going to fare well in this country, and unless we do it right away, the opportunity will be lost. A Jewish minority group, well-organized gets whatever it wants and we get nothing."
Finally, it's worth noting that Joseph P. Kennedy was a great believer in public relations throughout his life. He knew the power of public image and the value of leaving a favorable impression on the public. When Jack Kennedy ran for office, Joseph P. Kennedy commandeered the best PR people and image-crafters in the business (several from Hollywood and New York) to help his son. He once wrote to Robert F. Kennedy: "Things don't just happen. They are made to happen in the public relations field."

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lincoln's Legacy Endures Through The Ages!

Excerpts from Professor Walter Berns in a wonderful article that originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
Our extraordinary interest in him [Lincoln] and esteem for him, has to do with what he said and how he said it. And much of this had to do with the Union -- what it was and why it was worth the saving. . . .
It is not by chance that his best and most celebrated speech was delivered on a battlefield, on the occasion of dedicating a cemetery filled with the graves of patriots. I speak, of course, of the Gettysburg Address.
It is brief, a mere 272 words, and could not have taken much more than five minutes to deliver. In its central passage, Lincoln says, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." Well, what little do we remember?
We remember he said that this nation was founded in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence and its principles. We remember this because of the unusual way he said it. Not 87 years ago, but "four score and seven." His Bible-reading audience assembled there (and afterwards) would surely have remembered what he said because in what he said they would have heard echoes of the 90th Psalm, where the psalmist says, "three score and ten," our years on this earth. They might also have thought -- as they probably were expected to think -- that our founding, if not sacred, was surely not profane.
This, too, we remember: Lincoln goes on to say that the brave men, living and dead, who struggled on this ground, this battlefield, had "consecrated" it better than he or anyone else could. Consecrated? Had made it sacred, a battlefield? As if they -- presumably the Union soldiers -- were fighting for the Lord? No, but their cause was great and noble.
We also remember Lincoln saying that their work was "unfinished," and that we, the living, should highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain and that this nation, "under God, shall have a new birth of freedom," and that government of, by and for the people shall not perish from the earth.
What little do we remember? In a word, and despite what he said, we remember everything he said. And we remember it because he took great pains to say it beautifully. . . .
We say that a man can be known by the company he keeps. So I say that a nation, a people, can be known and be judged by its heroes, by whom it honors above all others. We pay ourselves the greatest compliment when we say that Abraham Lincoln is that man for us.

And Now, A Truly Magical Moment!

Decoding The Italian Way Of Life . . .

Everybody sort of has some sense of the Italian Way of Life. We say this in the middle of our journey through Italy as we arrive in Verona (shown above).

People have picked up on the Italian Way from movies, literature, history and the popular culture. They see Italians as fun-loving, demonstrative, gregarious, passionate, even tempestuous. And people who may feel themselves a bit inhibited are drawn to this. Can you blame them?

They are drawn to the Italian idea of La Dolce Vita — the sweet life — and they want to know what is about about Italians that seem to make then so in tune with life itself, with the notion of La Vita E Bella — that life is beautiful, no matter the moment or the circumstances.

Well of course the truth is that Italians are not always sunny and fun-loving even though sunny Italy can seemingly bath you in its omnipresent charm. Italians have been through wars, floods, dictatorial governments, earthquakes, plagues, economic crises, pandemics and a myriad of other horrors. 

But Italians do appear to have a way of getting through even the most adverse circumstances and a way of surmounting challenges that might discourage others. And much of this comes from their admirable ability to live in the moment and savor every moment of life, especially the simplest and what might otherwise be the most fleeting moments. By preciously soaking up life’s delicious moments Italians armor themselves against the sour, disappointing arduous and even tragic moments that they know will invariably come their way.

And, of course it helps that they consciously and irrepressibly surround themselves with beauty. They adore fine design, pulchritudinous creations, finely made goods, great music, art, literature and so forth. For Italians, one exquisitely tailored outfit is worth much more than 10 cheaply made disposable versions. And every moment that you step out in public is a performance (and opportunity to see and be seen) so why not look your best? Because, if you look good — if you take care of yourself and exhibit pride in yourself and your own persona — then, you will feel good as well and perhaps the feeling will be contagious.

Which is to say that there is no magic to the Italian Way of Life — no secret. It comes from a culture and an upbringing with a distinct way of looking at the world, encountering the moment and acting on it. And this is a lifelong quest. It has to be, otherwise it would not be authentic; it would not take; it would not weld.

So, we’ll conclude with the words to a song from the Broadway musical Nine, based on Fellini’s 8 1/2:

Be a singer be a lover

Pick the flower now before the chance is past

Be Italian

Be Italian

Live today as if it may become your last!

If You Fell For This, Shame On 'Ya!


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Tables Turned? Woke Crowd Cries Foul!

Some people have been complaining about the way Biden has been treated since he took office and about the continuing questioning of the results of the 2020 election. But those same people seem to have conveniently forgotten the way President Trump was treated even before he officially took office and how they did all they could to delegitimatize his presidency.

As a reminder, here's something that we wrote back in January 2020:

Many people are acting as if the presidential campaign never ended -- as if the election never happened.

That's too bad. And it's not the way things are supposed to work in the good 'ole USA.

What we're experiencing from far too many of our liberal friends is a daily drumbeat of rancor, bitterness, resentment and invective. And, among the most surly and consistent offenders are current and former members of the news media -- the very people who would be expected to keep an open mind on such matters or at least set a minimal standard for balance and objectivity. But in many cases, that's not happening. Instead, they're tossing insults about during the critical period after the election but before the inauguration, a time that cries out for unity and cohesion.

What insults? Well, here are some examples gleaned from Facebook and similar social media outlets:
  • A group of daily newspapers ran a political cartoon showing a cutaway of Trump's head featuring a pompadour, a scowl. a quadruple chin and a huge brain that happened to be completely empty - cavernous. The caption? "Central Intelligence Agency."
  • A reporter listed the things that Trump thinks are overrated as follows: "the First Amendment, ethics, paying taxes, civil rights, climate change, equality, intelligence briefings and laughing." The same reporter posted items suggesting that Trump's cabinet nominations were being rushed through to avoid ethics probes; alleging that the GOP was "smearing" Obama's legacy to bring down Obamacare; terming Mitch McConnell a hypocrite and charging that Donald Trump is a "jerk store version" of a president. And then he called Trump "Putin's useful idiot.'
  • A well-known local columnist featured a sign at the top of his Facebook page declaring "Not My President" and tagged the beginning of the Trump era as "nothing less than the slow creep of fascism." 
  • Another journalist dismissed Donald Trump's victory as a matter of "petulance over politics" and sloughed off a Trump supporter as among those "who never take responsibility for their bullshit." Reacting to a post from someone defending Trump, he replied "you should Google this bullshit you swallow before you upchuck it."  
  • Still another scribe referred to Trump as "our egomaniac-elect," called incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer "a cartoon character" and concluded of Trump: "He can't put together a coherent sentence because he doesn't have any coherent thoughts -- except about himself." And President Obama? Well, he "was gracious, eloquent, and inspiring. In other words, everything his successor promises not to be." 
  • A former journalist whose byline is still quite well known summed up his view of Trump as follows: "Petty ... Childish ... Boorish ... Ignorant ... Narcissistic ... SORE WINNER!" But that wasn't enough. He then added this: "Hey Trumpty Dumpty ... When the people get tired of your constant lies and self obsessed publicity stunts ... your hair is definitely going to get mussed!"
  • Still another former journalist put it this way: "It's not politics, it's personal. It's about a self-aggrandizing, narcissistic clown." But that wasn't enough, because he felt the need to express his view that "anyone can see this man is unqualified and brazenly disinterested in properly preparing to lead our country." And, if you want to challenge this, he has a simple answer: "I'm tired of arguing with Trump people so I will not bother.
  • And yet another correspondent has circulated the federal statute which he apparently feels will serve as grounds for the future president's impeachment. You got that right; he's actually gathering what appear to be impeachment material now -- something about a conflict of interest. This is a member of the media who seems to be savoring the take down of a president before he even takes the oath of office. 
Empty-headed. Clown. Self-aggrandizing. Unqualified. Incoherent. Childish. Boorish. Ignorant. Narcissistic. Jerk store version. Trumpty Dumpty. Cartoon character. Fascism. Petulant. Bullshit. Impeachable.

Well, maybe Trump should have considered the consequences before he deigned to criticize people who buy ink by the barrel. But maybe he was simply giving voice to millions who were fed up with media bias anyway. As Dan Rather used to say at the end of his broadcasts: "Courage!"

Still, it's probably the name-calling that's the most destructive -- the continuing use of all these recklessly hurled insults, tossed about with such juvenile abandon. No one is looking for worshipfulness here but don't you think we have a right to expect more than this?

Don't you think we have a right to expect more than daily, conscious, calculated attempts to delegitimize the next leader of the free world?

I understand that members of the media and their cohorts may attempt to defend themselves by saying they are, for the most part, freely expressing their own individual views and feelings on their own social media accounts. But by publishing such strident views in this manner (and this is a form of publishing) they are broadcasting a definitive and intense bias. So, how can they maintain any semblance of objectivity or fairness? How?

And this now seems to be the norm rather than the exception. It seems almost epidemic.

Yes, today's media often appear to inhabit a vast echo chamber -- one that is self-perpetuating, crude, dismissive, but most of all cynical. And, according to Peggy Noonan, it's the rampant cynicism that should trouble us most of all. Here's how she puts it:
Anything that increases public cynicism in America is, at this point, a very particular and damaging sin. It spreads an air of social defeatism. It saps the civic will. It makes earnest and trusting people feel like dopes and dupes. It makes trusting parents look clueless to their children. . . .
"Cynicism doesn’t just make everything worse; it creates a new kind of bad. It kills, for instance, the idea of merit. You don’t rise through talent and effort; you rise through lies, connections, silence, the rules of the gang. That gives the young an unearned bitterness. That is a terrible thing for adults to do, to deprive the young of the idealism that helps them rise cleanly and with point."
The rules of the gang. 

Is this what we've come to -- gangland journalism?

I hope not.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

89 Seconds That Are Well Worth Your Time

When Common Sense Emerges In A Flash!


Monday, September 19, 2022

Some Words We Wish Would Disappear . . .

Pop culture provides a real workout for tons of words and phrases  which we are forced to hear over and over again.

How we wish they would go away.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are some of the most over-used words and phrases of  late:

1) Narrative
As in "that's not the narrative" or "he has to change the narrative." Hey, narrative was pretty much always associated with fiction as in a film narrative or the narrative of a play or book. But now it's entered the ream of real-life as if to suggest we can change the "narrative" of our life or of other's lives just as a politician can (presumably) change the "narrative" of his/her campaign. To which we say: B-a-l-o-n-e-y!

2) Existential or existential threat
It means (we suppose) something in the here and now or a real and present danger. But for those of us who remember Jean Paul Sartre it's a philosophical take on the meaning of life, or lack thereof, as in existentialism. So why don't we just say "current" or "present" or "now"?

3) Franchise.
Franchise used to mean McDonald's or Burger King or Taco Bell. But now, every NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB team is a franchise. Downton Abbey is a franchise. Star Wars is a ubiquitous franchise. The Clintons are a franchise. As the name has [wrongly] become synonymous with brands and branding we're being franchised to death. Indeed, funeral homes now offering "life celebrations" are officially franchised. We're franchised from womb to tomb it seems.

4) Legacy.
Everybody seems to be worried about his/her legacy. Even ordinary people (who are now celebritized via Facebook) have to consider their legacy. It's something that all too many of us are obsessed with to the point of calibrating it daily. In fact, one would imagine that Biden has been consumed by thoughts of his legacy almost since the day he entered politics hundreds of years ago. Good luck with that, Joe!

5) Iconic and Ironic.
No, everyone's not iconic and everything's not ironic. In fact, many edifices thought to be iconic are not. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is iconic and so is the Empire State Building and Big Ben and the pyramids and the shape of a Coke bottle. Sinatra remains iconic as well. But Justin Bieber isn't an icon and neither is the London Eye. As for ironic, that only applies to things that happen in the opposite way than what was expected, causing wry amusement. Look it up and find examples that will guide you in the proper use of the word because it's not ironic that you woke up on one side of the bed while your mate woke up on the other -- unless of course each of you woke up on the opposite side from where you retired.

6) Bespoke
If something is bespoke it's made especially for you. It's specifically crafted, OK? Now, let's face it, not everything that is termed "bespoke" these days is all that special. It's not like anyone's selling very much of anything that is hand made or hand crafted anymore. So, let's get over it.

7) Microaggression.
The term has now come to include everyday slights, snubs, or insults (however subtle or unintended)  communicating hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based upon their marginalized group membership. But, how can the insulted people be "targeted" if the snubs or insults are "unintended"? And who determines what is a "marginalized" group and who is a member of such a group? There's a word for all this: Stupid!

8) Dystopian.
Suddenly, everything is dystopian. Dystopia is an imagined place where there is great suffering or injustice. It's a very dark place. And the woke crowd believes that this imagined world of darkness is alive -- that it's the state we live in right now. And they want you to believe this as well because if they can get you to buy into it then they can impose the drastic changes they want to bring about. Ditch the dreary myth of dystopia. It's bullsh-t!

9) Safe Place and Safe Space.
This sort of goes along with those who are fleeing microaggression and all those other feigned indignities. Hey, in a world where a little baby is no longer safe in its own mother's womb (where that same baby may have his/her body parts carved out and sold) there is no safe place or space anywhere, anymore. Grow up!

10) Transgender, Trans, Tran and Transgendered.
We've known about it since Christine Jorgenson, which was more than 60 years ago. There's nothing new here. And though there's not quite nothing to see here, there's nothing that we're longing to see, either. Our message: If you want us to consider this "normal" then go on with your life in as ordinary a fashion as humanly possible and please, don't make a spectacle of yourself.

11) Artisanal.
Another totally phony concoction. Have you heard of something that was homemade? Yeah, like something you or I might be able to do at home. Like those cookies you made for Christmas. You're an arTEEST! Oh my, that's soooo artisanal. Voila!

12) Here's just one more: Engagement.
The word was pretty much always associated with betrothals -- the path to marriage. But, who the hell knows what marriage even is anymore, so now it's all about our collective engagement as in "civic engagement." Do you want to have a conversation or hold a meeting or hear from others? Then, you will have to "engage" them. We will all become engaged! It's all so damned engaging, isn't it?

Sunday, September 18, 2022

What Politicos Can Learn From Sondheim . . .

Sondheim? Most people in politics, we suppose, would look at you somewhat quizzically at the mention of his name.  But political junkies and politicians could learn a lot from legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who recently passed away.

Sondheim left vivid lessons for politicos in the way he lived his life -- through his values and the things he found important. Here are some Sondheim credos that every pol and every campaign can benefit from:

1) Less is more.

If you've gotten your point across, don't oversell the message. Keep is short and direct. In so doing, your message is more likely to be remembered and maybe even taken to heart. Put another way: Stand to be recognized; speak to be heard; sit down to be remembered.

2) Content dictates form.

What you're saying should determine how you say it. The way you say it, the context in which you say it, the audience you chose to deliver it to, the setting and the emphasis you choose to place on the message are all determined by the content of the message itself.

3) The devil's in the details.

If you don't do details well (or don't have the time for them) delegate the details but pay attention to them nonetheless. Botched details can upend your whole campaign and cost you the election. Plus, getting the details right will free you to succeed at the Big Things.

4) Be prepared to kill your darlings.

You may have favorite themes, favorite ways of saying things even favorite people you like to have  as part of your team. That's fine. But you must be prepared to jettison any of these if things aren't work out. Adapting also means shedding what isn't working. 

5) Work very, very hard.

Over a span of nearly 70 years Sondheim worked relentlessly and produced a staggering catalogue of work. If you want to reach the top and be at the top of your game, you've gotta work hard every day. There's no magic to it. Succeeding is grueling and also involves sacrifice!

Finally, though Sondheim doubtless held liberal political views (Broadway is Broadway) he apparently never felt a need to preach those views either through his art or in his public pronouncements. To the extent that political leanings are expressed in his works they are expressed through the characters and within the context of the stories for which he composed the music and lyrics. He was not a librettist so he didn't write the stories. In many ways he seemed to take a libertarian view. He wasn't one top inflict his politics on the public a la Springsteen or De Niro. He simply seemed to take a "live and let live" approach to things. His comprehensive two-volume set of lyrics and memories of his shows contains no references to his private affairs or his politics that we're aware of. That's refreshing!