Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grand Juries with Guns to Their Heads

You know when Al Sharpton is invited by the president of the United States to offer his ideas on how police should conduct themselves on how to do their jobs in high crime areas,  we are in trouble. For a president so concerned with optics, after frequent, insensitive mishaps, this is disturbing.

Sharpton, the polarizing race baiter and  tax evader has no place in the White House. The outhouse would be more appropriate. He has done nothing to bring harmony to the great racial divide that now exists in our country. In fact, he has helped create it. From planting the seeds of hate in the nascent stage of his then medallion wearing career in the Tawana Brawley case to the present situation in Ferguson, MO. Closer to his New York City home he is fanning the flames in the tense situation awaiting the grand jury decision whether or not to indict a police officer  in the strangle hold death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was arrested for selling illegal cigarettes.

Of course, Mr. Brown and Mr. Garner would both be alive today, if they had heeded police requests to cease and desist. Both were caught in the commissions of a crime. Should the police have just let them go as some liberal pundits have posited? Should we allow certain citizens because of the color of their skin get away with crimes to avoid the rage and destruction we witnessed in  the aftermath of the grand jury decision in Ferguson?

While the president is trying to assuage the marauding gangs of rioters but little has been done to help the business owners who lost their livelihood in the looting and rampaging. Most of these businesses were minority-owned. These are the citizens who should be held up as role models for African-American youth to emulate; not the “scumbags,” former basketball star Charles Barkley’s words. Perhaps the most egregious offense in the rioting was the burning down of the African-American church attended by Michael Brown’s father. What possible reason  could there be for this? And if you can believe it the pastor of the church blamed white supremacists for the torching! This demonstrates the level of delusion and anarchy in the African-American community.

In an ironic twist, Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, NJ, has  requested additional police officers to respond to the  Thanksgiving weekend of violence where there were 11 shootings and 3 fatalities and multiple injuries. Mayor Baraka should be lauded for this action. While the police aren’t  perfect by and large they are our only hope to keep us safe – all of us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To The Victors Belong the Vanguished Excuses


Now that the dust has cleared from last Tuesday’s Republican victory at the polls we are sure of only one thing: more dust is on the way. The spin coming out of the Liberal media that the blowout doesn’t necessarily mean the last two years of the Obama administration cannot still be productive is akin to what our youth soccer and little leagues have evolved to. Nobody loses and we are better for the experience of being in the game.

When one political side loses these days, it’s not a repudiation of their philosophy, it’s a communication problem. Their message wasn’t  enunciated properly. In fact, in this past election it was overly enunciated by the deafening silence on the administration’s six-year record .  Almost every Democrat candidate running would rather have been seen with Jack the Ripper than President Obama.

An editorial in the Chinese newspaper, Global Times, put it in stark terms: “He (Obama) has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters. U.S. society has grown tired of his banality.” Ouch.

Mr. Obama used to be fond of saying that elections have consequences. But that only applies to Democrat victories. The arrogance and threats that he will act unilaterally on issues he feels important harkens back to the Nixonian era.  But this virulent strain is more monarchical, even tyrannical.

Perhaps the president’s  most troubling statement  is that he is also thinking about the two-thirds of the electorate that sat out last Tuesday. He seems more beholden to this apathetic  constituency than the folks who exercised their voices so their government could hear them.

When the next stalemate materializes, look for the president to blame his ubiquitous foil, the obstructionist Republicans. This was already evident at the White House luncheon the president hosted for the leaders of both parties, who looked like they’d rather be in a dentist’s chair getting a root canal. Unless consensus can be found in the next two years to get the country moving again we might all opt for the root canal.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nectar of My Grandfather and the Gods


When October comes around with its welcomed chill and variegated pallet, I delve into my most cherished  family tradition – making wine. If you are of Italian extraction as I am you don’t have to delve too deeply into the past  to find a forebear who made wine. For me it was my grandfather.

This is my 37th year of wine making and each and every year has brought a  unique satisfaction. My friend and I whom I started making wine with  all those years ago now make it separately but still exchange notes and bottles throughout the year. And yes, lament the fact  of the ever increasing price of  California grapes. When we started, the price for a 42-lb case was $12; today for a 36-lb. case  the price is $40. Together, there were times  we made 100 gallons; now, we each make separately about 25.

Throughout the years we have accumulated  a wealth of  experience and  a more discerning palate. We have tinkered  and tweaked our recipes to produce  a most enjoyable wine every year. And it’s absolutely all pure, fermented grape juice, no additives. As a result it has a short life span: from December to May. It peaks in March but by that time more than half of the stash of bottles has  been dispensed as welcomed  Christmas  or birthday gifts to friends and family.

When I see  someone take that first sip of the new wine and exclaim how wonderful it is, it makes the painstaking  job of making it all worthwhile. But it also reminds me of my grandfather in his wine cellar. Myself and my  two older cousins would look on while pilfering small bunches of grapes to eat.  We’d watch him turn the crank of his grape crusher until he was finished  with the first step in the process. He’d clean his equipment and we’d help; then he would pour us kids a small glass from the vintage of the year before. It sure didn’t taste like the wine I make now. It had a much rougher edge to it. It wasn’t as smooth  or had  hints of cherry or blackberry notes like the Cabernet Sauvignon  I’ve made in the past and am making this year. No his  was a heartier fare to enjoy after a hard day’s work, contributing to the building of  this great country.

I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to clink glasses of my wine with my grandfather, he would have been very proud  that I had kept up the tradition as I am of him for handing it down to me. Salud, grandpa.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A.C., R.I.P.


In 1974 a referendum on legalized gambling failed to pass in New Jersey. Two years later it did. And the power brokers who were pushing for it then  would  have made sure it was on the ballot until it did pass. It was important, it was said, to add to the state’s coffers and  support new state initiatives and  education. Ah, education – the black hole of American politics. Thirty–eight years later, politicians  are still carping about the need for more funds for education.

The salty air was full of  promise of revitalizing Atlantic City. All those mom and pop businesses: shops, cafes and restaurants  that had been relegated to the dust heap of urban decay  would once again enjoy  a booming patronage. Never happened. Once  a casino was built it became an all-encompassing entity. All your needs could be obtained therein with a plethora of dining  options in the hotels themselves. Why would you want  your clientele  leaving  your premises for any reason while they still had two rubles left  in their pockets to lose. If anything,  gambling in Atlantic City spawned pawn shops and prostitution. And catered to the addictions of thrill seekers. And its fabled  Steel Pier, a family attraction for generations, was  dismembered. Why would you want kids distracting  from their parents' time on  the casino floor. Better to let the whippersnappers stay at home while mom and dad  thinned out their college funds.

Big players were offered comped rooms. How many times did I hear friends and acquaintances  boast of “being comped,” as if it was some endearing invitation from their friends at Caesars or Trump’s or Harrah’s or Resorts the first casino to open in 1978. “Being comped ,” to these slubs, carried James Bondian status but even Moneypenny would have seen through the subterfuge.

Then there were the senior bus rides from all over New Jersey, enticing senior citizens to enjoy  an exciting day away  from the doldrums of old age. With an added bonus of getting $25 in quarters  for the slots  and, in some cases,  a complementary free lunch. Coming up with activities where our seniors could blow their Social Security checks – now that’s community-minded altruism.

The final straw in the demise of paradise by the sea was a host  of casinos going down for the third time, drowning in an ocean of red ink,  especially the  two-year-old Revel, a  casino built  costing $2.4 billion. It  was  just sold  to  Florida's Polo North Country Club for $90 million and will be reborn, so a spokesman says, as a “mega casino,” pending court approval. The new owners  must still believe the adage that a fool and his money go separate ways. Or, as P.T. Barnum  once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Substitution, Please


Another American journalist has reportedly been beheaded by another blood thirsty, ISIS jihadi. Early reports indicate it may be the same man who beheaded James Foley. I am curious as to how the Obama administration will spin and vacillate over this latest horror. We know how the president handled the last execution – a tepid speech followed by a round of golf. With nary a wince for  Mr.Foley’s parents.

These last few months have seemed to unravel any notion that we are safe and secure in America. The  southern border continues to spurt strangers with little or no documentation. Then there’s the thousands of Central American children who trekked north, many all alone. Some with diseases and other problems saddling border towns with  economic  hardship. In such a scenario are we being alarmist thinking that the very people who are murdering in the name of religion have found their way here as easily as unaccompanied children.

The international picture continues to be bleak. China and Russia continue their expansionist policies. Remember when both the Soviet Union and China accused the United States of being an imperial power? And there were plenty of voices  in this country who agreed with that assessment. That liberal argument  has collapsed under the weight of its own incredulity.

At least in those days, though, we had a cohesive foreign policy, presided over  by an engaged chief executive. Now our foreign policy seems to be formulated  on the fly by a host of incompetent advisors . Sometimes not. The president announced last week he has no strategy as of yet to deal with ISIS. Pronouncements like these should scare the hell out of all Americans. Just as the horrific images being splashed across social media of Steven Sotloff being murdered.

Mr.President  do something to assuage the grief of Mr. Sotloff’s  family. Do something to help the innocent people being herded into dead marches and  mass graves. If you’re not up to it; or have checked out like so many of your critics have said, then step down. Our constitution allows for the transfer of power when a president is incapacitated. For whatever reason we seem to have breached this territory. You’d have so much more free time for fund raising and socializing with your elitist friends. And, for golf of course.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Farewell to Arms, Not Likely

The conflict in Gaza seems to be following the usual paradigm. Charges and counter–charges by the principals. Civilians being murdered, armaments stored in hospitals and schools. Who can say with certainty what is true and what is not. As the ancient Greek Aeschylus said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

 Another fragile cease fire seems to be holding for the time being. How long will it last? A few days; a few weeks; a few months? All that  can  be said with  certainty is -- it will not last.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a quandary for the ages. Indeed, the whole of the Middle East is a  Rubik’s cube of misery ever since the British and French divided the spoils of the Ottoman Empire into colonial fiefdoms they figured to exploit to enrich the home front with the mother’s milk of industrialization: oil. It was to their advantage to have friendly, and, in some cases, ruthless  autocracies in place to maintain the status quo. But with the Arab spring and its aftermath we are seeing an unraveling of  the region.   The one constant has been the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the latest chapter, the pendulum of support seems to be favoring the Palestinian side. Because of the disproportionate amount of fatalities , world opinion is shifting toward Israel’s enemies for the first time. In Europe and the US, demonstrations against Israel are becoming  more frequent and vociferous. There is palpable  support for the Palestinians and it continues to grow.  

Unfortunately, only more misery lies ahead for them. Their country is non-contiguous, governed(and I use that term loosely) by two ruling factions which  cannot unite in any meaningful way.  Hamas in Gaza has remained strident  in its goal to destroy Israel. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, more moderate than Hamas but just as intransigent, can only lament the proliferation of more Jewish settlements on their land.

What’s next. Another tenuous truce. More non-productive peace talks; then, if Israel decides  not to re-occupy Gaza, more Hamas rockets will rain down on the Israelis. And they will respond more forcefully again.

General MacArthur had it right when he said,  “War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.” In this war the  object is  more indecision, not victory.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is Romney Running?

As we approach the upcoming mid-term elections in November, the most interesting development is the sight of Mitch Romney stumping for  Republican candidates. After his defeat in 2012, he affirmed his attention not to run for president again. But the thought that he might give it another try  is intriguing.

 Perhaps this notion is fueled by my reading of Patrick Buchanan’s, “The Greatest Comeback.” It’s the story of Richard Nixon’s improbable election in 1968, after being humiliated in the 1962 California gubernatorial race, and after being narrowly defeated by John Kennedy, just two years earlier. Incidentally, Nixon's biggest challenger for the GOP nomination in 1968 was Mitt's father, Gov. George Romney of Michigan.

Romney must see the weak field in both the Democratic and Republican camps. The two early front runners: Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie are attenuating as each day goes by. Secretary Clinton is practicing self-immolation. Her tepid memoir, “Hard Choices,” is a complete flop. No substance whatsoever and her record  at the State department hardly stellar. And her penurious pronouncements while she rakes in $250,000 per speech beyond ridiculous. Christie on the other hand, is trying to distance himself from former best bud, Barack Obama, criticizing the president for his handling of the influx of immigrants pouring over our southern border. But Texas governor, Rick Perry, also a possible candidate in 2016,  has this issue in his backyard and back pocket.

In addition, Christie has alienated many Republicans by his lack of support for Rob
Astorino, the Westchester County Executive who is challenging New  York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November. He has termed Astorino’s quest  a “lost cause.” This pronouncement might very well be the biggest Christie blunder to date. The whole Bridgegate affair notwithstanding.

Cuomo is now under fire for  his lack of support for the Moreland Commission. A commission he set up to root out corruption in his state’s political system after a host of elected officials were implicated in unsavory practices. This could very well damage Cuomo in the coming months. Enough to catapult Astorino?  Who knows? But it certainly changes the game. It will be interesting to see if Romney offers his support to Cuomo’s challenger.

There has been much said about the mistakes Romney made in the last presidential election. His message may be resonating with the nation now and he has certainly proven his ability to adapt to changing scenarios.  But make no mistake it would be an uphill battle of Nixonian proportions.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Era of Shallowness

For the last few years my friends have been lamenting the fall of America. “It’s over,” they say resignedly as if we should all lay down our pin numbers for the masses invading our southern border and plead  for mercy from the new progressive elitists who seem firmly entrenched in the new power structure.

Our mesmerizing president, well still mesmerizing now to only a handful of stalwarts, has lulled our country into a quiescent unconsciousness. The Middle East is in chaos yet  President Obama found time last weekend to play golf and attend a few fundraisers; our  economy , the nuts and bolts of it anyway, is disintegrating before our eyes. Food and fuel prices continue  to rise unabated. Yet, because the moneychangers on Wall Street are propping up the stock market with help from the Federal Reserve  we are being sold a bill of goods about a faux recovery.

Everything  it seems has a shiny veneer . But when you look closer you can see the peeling paint. The same façade exists in the world of show business. Instead of any type of entertainment with intrinsic value like the mini-series, “Roots,” or “Shogun, “ or “Lonesome Dove,” of yesteryear, we are being fed the pablum of reality television or being tortured with the constant bombardment  of hype about J Lo or Kim Kardashian. This fits in well in the Obama era.

An older friend, long gone, used to say we always had the right president for the times. Prescient thinking. Our president , like the aforementioned divas of de-evolution, has a pretty face and little else. He is the right president for this time. This being the Era of Shallowness. He is  a man who constantly stumbles and mumbles and bungles; whose initiatives always miss the mark; he always never knows what’s happening around him or just out and out lies. He should  be censured by  Republicans and  clear-conscious Democrats alike. They should be talking about impeachment for abuse of power. And lack of leadership.

Yes, old friend we do have the right president  for the times. As an added bonus we also have the right Congress to match.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Hard Choices Indeed

The liberal media is awash  praising Hillary Clinton for her service  as secretary of state  To anyone who has outgrown crayolas and coloring books one might be a bit put off  by such approbation. From the moment her staff sought to “reset” with the Russians early in 2009, and bungled  the translation it set  in motion one of the most lackluster forays in world diplomacy.

But according to an editorial that appeared in the Sunday New York Times  by Nicholas Kristof, a frequent Hillary cheerleader, she was a “trailblazing diplomat.” According to Kristof, some politicians have trouble articulating all the wonderful things they’ve  accomplished. This was basically a defense of her tepid response when asked this past April about her legacy at the State Department. It reminded me of the same inarticulate,  sputtering Ted Kennedy when he was asked in 1980 why he wanted to president. Red-faced and flustered, he hemmed and hawed at this softball  question but couldn’t come up with a valid reason.

Thankfully for Hillary her sycophants will fill in the blanks for her. That is if she decides to run. So far she is following the paradigm of a presidential candidate two years in advance of an election. Her book, “Hard Choices,” due out soon, will reveal little, keeping any controversies at bay. One, though, bound to be scrutinized is her choice for the title of her memoirs “Hard Choices.” This was the title of Cyrus Vance’s  book; Vance served as President Carter’s secretary of state. One can’t help but draw parallels to the challenges they both faced in the Middle East . Vance had to deal with the Iranian hostage crisis. Hillary was the architect of the Arab spring and was taking kudos for it until this wonderful, regional, democratic revolution took a turn southward in a massive blood bath.

But back to Kristof.  Unlike  James Baker, “she didn’t craft a coalition of allies”; “didn’t seal a landmark peace agreement.” “No her legacy is different.” Indeed it is steeped in  esoterica like addressing poverty, the enviroment, education and family planning. Important,? Sure hardly earth shattering concepts. And, oh yeah, and she also noted, like millions of others, the importance of using social media.

“But give her credit,” according to Kristof.“She expanded the diplomatic agenda and adopted new tools to promote it – a truly important legacy.”  Or is it?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Strange Case of Bowe Bergdahl

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” so said a Pogo cartoon of some years ago. It couldn’t be more true today than it was for the Roman empire a millennium and a half ago. Are we really celebrating the heroism of this man.  The puzzling aspect of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release is disturbing when one takes into account the revelations emerging from this incident and what, if anything, it has to do with obfuscating the VA scandal of last week.

First there’s  questions of how he was captured. Some of the members of his platoon have said he deserted his post. Six GI’s were killed trying to rescue him. Five Taliban savages were released from Guantanamo to secure his release. They’ll soon be back in the jijad looking to separate infidels from their heads.

Bergdahl’s father inexplicably spoke to him in Arabic welcoming him back to freedom. Outgoing press secretary, Jay Carney, spoke in the platitudes he has become infamous for, about the  release. He was quoted, as was President Obama saying Americans never leave anyone behind. It’s a great ideal to adhere to but hardly etched in stone; and is usually reserved for the most elite military personnel who take on the most dangerous missions. Never thought it would be applied to a soldier with questionable character who may have deserted. Right now there’s a marine being held in a Mexican jail by our friends south of the border. Why hasn’t his release been secured.

It was reported that Bergdahl was a private when he disappeared but he returns as a sergeant? How was he promoted leaving his post, endangering his American brothers and sisters. There’s more twists and turns in this story than there is in a Rubik’s cube. But can we depend on the feckless media to dig into this story? Or the VA scandal for that matter?

Every Obama bungle ( and they’re getting too numerous to count) gets swept under the rug with the rapidity of a hobo on a ham sandwich. Any media person who questions any administration proclamations is figuratively tarred and feathered as a right wing extremist.

If the president thought this prisoner exchange would make the VA scandal disappear he is wrong like so many other times. Every effort he makes to mitigate the coming fallout in the upcoming fall elections results in more separation with mainstream America.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Enough Lip Service, Mr. President


There was a sportscaster who used to say, “the wheels are coming off now,” to denote a sports team in the throes of a thorough thrashing. One could borrow the phrase to describe the  floundering Obama administration especially now with the  latest  revelation regarding military veterans not getting the adequate and timely care they deserve from the Veterans' Administration.

When the president found out about inconsistencies in record keeping, long waits and fatalities, according to CNN  as many as 40 veterans died waiting for medical treatment, he was appalled and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. Indeed , anytime an inconvenient truth rears its ugly head the president resorts to his default position, feigning ignorance, then promising to resolve said situation.

Don’t expect to see the president with those affected by the tragedies that occurred at the VA. He only appears in the public spotlight when those victimized support one of his initiatives. In this case, he’ll send some junior-level officers to try and assuage the family members affected. And, of course, they’ll have no information about what happened or why it happened. These are common threads in this administration.

He seems to have not known about  “Fast and Furious,” the IRS harassment of conservative  fund-raising groups, the glitches inherent in the Obamacare website roll out. He was incommunicado during the Benghazi tragedy. This pattern lends credence to the criticism many of his distractors adhere to:  that he is not engaged in his position or is incompetent. Or my feeling, that his incompetence is matched only by his high-handed tendencies. And his sheer distaste for accepting responsibility for anything other than a terrible golf game.

 Perhaps in between the accolades bestowed upon him by the Hollywood elites at fund-raising events; his frequent vacations, putting on the verdant greens of some of the best courses in the country, he can convene an occasional cabinet meeting to find out what’s going on under his watch, if only to make Jay Carney’s spin doctoring look less tendentious and more informative.

Instead,  expect the Oblivicrats to circle the wagons and point at the president’s  predecessor as being responsible for the current situation in the Veterans Administration. After all, President Bush got us into these wars.

 With an overly sympathetic media, the president may straddle yet another maelstrom. But I think to the American electorate, looking forward to the upcoming mid-term elections,  the wheels on this administration may very well be in need of replacing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rutgers Wrong on Rice

Once again Rutgers University  has diminished itself  and shown it doesn’t belong in the upper echelon of second tier universities. And I’m not talking only about their lackluster football and basketball programs. I’m talking about the  controversy regarding Condoleezza Rice as the university’s choice to be this year’s commencement speaker.

The opposition’s major problem with Condoleezza Rice was her involvement in the Iraqi War and the use of water boarding by the Bush administration. While most of the Democrats did indeed object to water boarding , they did vote strongly in support of the Iraqi War. Mind you not on principle but because the overwhelming majority of Americans were behind President Bush’s military operation. In addition, intelligent sources both domestic and foreign claimed the Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, they had already used them on the Iranians and Kurds.

We know how that story ended. But to place blame on Secretary Rice would be like blaming Secretary Clinton for the failure of the Arab spring.

An accomplished, multi-talented woman, Secretary Rice deserved better. But the voice of the minority (reportedly about 300 students out of 10,000)has once again scored an unlikely  victory. How many times will the feeble-minded, 97-lb. weakling  score victory after victory over a more accomplished  adversary.

Egging on the dissident students were  a few non-descript academicians who could not even entertain the possibility of teaching in a prestigious university like Stanford where Rice teaches and has served as provost.

Preening around these days  as a card-carrying member of the intelligentsia seems pretty simple. All you have to do is take the ultra-liberal contrarian view on common sense issues. It might even land you a spot on the Al Sharpton Show. Some of the Rev. Sharpton’s best friends are African-American but I doubt Secretary Rice would be in that number. Any accomplished, free thinkers in the African-American community seem anathema to Sharpton  and his associates.

Rice took the high road. An elevation the undistinguished, faculty members who  condemned her appearance will never reach. But what perturbs me is why take the high road? Why be at the mercy of the minority. Why always acquiesce? Why compromise? Why give the opponents of free speech and  the open exchange of ideas  even the slimmest of victories? If we don’t stand up for our beliefs as free Americans that right may be taken from us.

So now  former NJ Gov. Kean will be the commencement speaker. It should be a safe choice. Perhaps the president of the Left-Handed Plumbers Union had prior commitments.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Less Than Sterling

Of course the statements by Donald  Sterling were abhorrent to men and women of good will. And NBA Commissioner Silver rightfully declared him persona non grata in his league. But this whole episode “stinks on ice” to use a phrase from my grandfather.

This has all the earmarks of a set up. Was this visor-wearing vixen put up to this mischief; or was she just trying  muddy the waters  to impede the Sterling family from  recovering her ill-gotten gains? Or was this a gambit to force Sterling to sell his team. Some names of potential buyers  being bandied about: Oprah, P Diddy, Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather. Hmnn.

Also, why was the NAACP set  to award Mr. Sterling with a second lifetime humanitarian achievement award even though they were  aware of his past indiscretions.

In at least two instances, Mr. Sterling was implicated in biased behavior. First involving Clippers’ general manager, Elgin Baylor and then again for discriminatory practices regarding  property rentals to minority tenants in his vast real estate empire. Was the NCAAP as easily bought off as hucksters like Reverends Jackson and Sharpton that they would give this bigot an award to ameliorate his image?

This kind of hypocrisy does more to perpetuate racism as does the off putting remarks from African- Americans who adhere to the same vitriol as Sterling. Rev. Jackson and his “Hymietown” remark. Rev. Sharpton and his involvement in the Tawana Brawley case and the incineration of Freddie’s, a Harlem haberdashery, run by, Sharpton’s term, “ a white interloper.” In the case of Freddie’s, seven fatalities resulted from the fire. And what about that firebrand, Rev. Jeremiah Wright preaching sermon after sermon of divisiveness.  In terms of sheer hatred Rev. Wright, though, comes in a distant second to Louis Farrakhan whose machinations rival Herr Eichmann.

Where are the men and women of color to speak against these bigots? Too often they are silent. Until they can find it in themselves  to condemn racist remarks by other than white racists there will be no real progress in the fight against bigotry. And are we to believe   no racist remarks were ever uttered by African-Americans or Asian-Americans?

Racism is not a one way street but is only portrayed that way.

Monday, April 28, 2014

We Don't Need No Stinkin Tequila

Wasn’t it amusing to hear about the rift between casino magnate Steve Wynn  and actor/ Tequila salesman George Clooney in regard to his so-called “friend” President Barack Obama. Typically, like the high strung, naïve  child actors are, George stormed off.

Sure the president is his good friend because of all the money he raises for the Obama agenda. And he, like other Hollywood stars,  make unusually large sums of money manufacturing, for the most part, mediocre material. They like talking the talk( especially when someone else is writing the words for them, making them sound far more intelligent than they are). But how about walking the walk?

 They seem to be at one with every liberal cause. They happily sit at fund-raising dinners sometimes for as much as $100,000 a ticket. Why not take a portion of these exorbitant dinner prices and help the poor and downtrodden at the local level and eliminate the middle men and women who spend most of the booty disseminating propaganda and consolidating  power.

Prior to the heated exchange. Wynn,  Clooney and  partner Rande Gerber, was discussing future business opportunities  supplying Wynn hotels and casinos with Casamigos Tequila,  a company Clooney and Gerber are affiliated with.

Gerber  intimates that the argument was not about politics, “it was about George standing up for a friend.” Everything about Obama is politics. If Mr. Wynn wished to express his displeasure  with the Obama administration he has the right. I’m surprised Mr. Clooney didn’t go to DEFCON 1 and assert Mr. Wynn was a racist the default comment when anyone criticizes this woeful administration.

All politicians have two things in common they want power and they want legacy. In Obama’s case the subterfuge has reached critical mass.  With his poll numbers dropping precipitously and his cache abroad diminishing, George has his work cut out for him if he wants to stand up for his friend.

In the meantime, Mr. Wynn should re-think serving Casamigos in his establishments. And taking a page out of the Rev. Sharpton  playbook , we should all boycott George’s tequila.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Your Mother Should Know

When your own mother doesn’t want you to run for president you should heed her advice. Jeb Bush is as likely to be elected president as Harry Reid is to go through a day without lying.

I cringe every time the idea of another Bush  running for president is uttered. Nothing against the man personally.  I happen to like soft, pudgy men who remind me of the Pillsbury Doughboy. But in 2016 we’re going to need  more than someone who reminds us of flaky pastry to right the ship of state and I don’t think Jeb Bush is the candidate to do it. Can you see him facing off against Iron Man Vladimir Putin. Granted he couldn’t do any worse than our present-day, straw man president – Mr. Red Line. But the international community will need a dynamic, American leader who will go toe-to-toe with the likes of:  Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping and Bashar Assad and the aforementioned Mr. Putin.

 Moreover, a Bush candidacy  reeks of the dynasty issue that seems to be of little consequence to American voters in this day and age. Couple another  Bush run with another  likely Clinton run and the underlying   message is that the great unwashed  need not apply.

We’ve been seeing with more and more frequency  the sons and daughters, nephews and nieces of former office holders and hacks  running for any office that avails itself. Members of the Carter, Kennedy, Cheney, Graham and Nunn families  have announced their intentions to  follow the family  tradition and seek office. Add to that the names Begich, Graham,  Pryor, Cuomo, Landrieu, Brown, political scions all --   who have  already been elected and you get a general idea that our democracy is taking on an  oligarchic flavor.

We know name recognition is important in a political campaign. That’s the reason a lot of “name”  candidates get the nod to run in the first place. And it’s distressing  that  this paradigm  trumps dedication and a burning desire to solve problems and help people.

The political class is an emerging entity in the United States. And why not? It seems politics is the easiest way to riches these days. Dirt poor candidates like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who had never held any job other than a political or public one come in with nothing but leave with much. In  local political offices this is even more palpable. Politics like the old neighborhood butcher shop has become a hand me down career. But when thinking about a political run your mother’s advice is worth listening to.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If the Shoe Fits or Flies

It’s comedic all the controversy surrounding the  shoe throwing incident involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pundits have come out of the woodwork speculating that the whole incident was staged. For exactly what purpose – who knows. What difference at this point does it make. To borrow  a phrase.

When it comes to the Clintons everything they do seems calculated for ulterior motives. In this latest episode in Las Vegas a woman, identified as Alison Ernst, threw a shoe at Madam Hillary who was speaking to a group about solid waste management. Initially  she thought the projectile was a bat. A thrown shoe actually behaves differently in flight than a bat. Former Senator Clinton seems to know a lot more about solid waste  than airborne rodents.

But was the whole incident staged? The Clintons have a history of being accused of staging events. There was the time when President Clinton was seen on Omaha Beach in Normandy during the 50th anniversary of D-Day when he, extemporaneously bent down and formed a cross near a pile of stones in commemorating  all those who lost their lives in that bloody invasion. We found out later  those stones were put there by the president’ staff.

Then there was the time, post-Lewinsky, when the Clintons, in an effort to save their marriage were seen dancing affectionately close on a beach in the Virgin Islands, signaling to the world that indeed they had weathered the marital maelstrom. Was there any doubt that this most political of marriages wouldn’t survive?

Then, there was the Congressional  hearing about the attack on Benghazi where our ambassador and three others were murdered.  Secretary Clinton stalled her appearance because of a blood clot many thought was contrived to fashion a plausible account of events that wouldn’t damage any future political aspirations.

 The  fact that  her tenure as Secretary of State yielded meager results was inconsequential. Yet it was applauded by most media outlets for the sheer amount of miles she logged globe hopping. Abraham Lincoln might have said of her accomplishments, “they were about as thin as the broth made from the shadow of a starving crow.”

So, whether the incident in Vegas was staged or real – it makes no difference. The media will always spin it positively . Of course when the Iraqi journalist tossed a shoe at George W. Bush it was deemed a great disrespect. For Madam Hillary it was just another day on a lucrative promotional speech tour.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Czarina Michelle and Mom

When reports surfaced about the shabby treatment of hotel workers at the Beijing Westin Hotel by members of Barack Obama’s family  and their omnipresent hangers-on entourage I wasn’t surprised.

Those of the left-leaning persuasion always seem to be above the rhetoric they spew for the benefit  of the rest of us. The $8350 a night suite the first lady and her mother luxuriated in was paid by the Obamas we are told. The concomitant security -- probably ten times the cost of the opulent digs -- was borne by U.S. taxpayers. Of course this is a hallmark of the profligate Obamas. They love a free ride.

They talk incessantly about everyone doing their fair share and  leveling the playing field. Then they vacation, it seems ad infinitum, at the tonier places in the world. Where they expect to be treated like royalty.

It was no surprise to hear that the staff at their hotel  in China complained of being mistreated by the czarina’s mother as was reported in the foreign press, which has become the go-to  source for any objective reporting (dare I say Fox News)  about the reign of the Obamas. I have often thought the adage that a person’s character is revealed by the way they treat people who cannot  offer them anything in return  is a true barometer of integrity. And integrity is a gift a person gives to his/her self.

The Obamas mirror the same “white trash” veneer, with the obvious difference, that marked the early Clinton era. While they are polar opposites to the Bush,Reagan and Carter eras where class and probity were palpable to the unbiased eye.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

They're Always Fighting for the Middle Class


The next time you hear a politician say he or she needs to be elected so they can help the middle class, I’d recommend voting for their opponent. But most likely the opponent will be spewing the same schpiel. Because the only thing a politician can do, especially liberal Democrat politicians, is to deliver the middle class to the lower classes. In 2008 , presidential candidate Barack Obama chose Sen. Joe Biden for his running mate. Sen. Biden would be entrusted, we were told, with helping and sustaining the middle class. Six years later I have yet to hear of one initiative as the middle class continues to contract. I tend to agree with Clint Eastwood, who, when addressing the Republican Convention in 2012 described Vice President Biden as a “grin with a body behind it.”

Pithy platitudes aside, we have not seen any real economic progress. There is no recovery. Remember shovel-ready jobs? There are just talking head politicians and wannabe politicians skulking around promising a piece of the American Dream. Unfortunately, the American Dream is on life support.

It was predicated on the premise that if you worked hard you could succeed. All you had to do was take advantage of the cornucopia of opportunities available. A lot of those opportunities have packed up and left and they ain’t coming back.

One of the most often used lines by candidates is that they want to give everyone an opportunity to succeed – just as their immigrant families have.  They wheel out their time-honored family history. The patriarch or matriarch entered the country; penniless, of course. And worked their way out of the old neighborhood; saved some money, bought a house; sent their kids to college. Garnered for themselves a piece of the American Dream. And that’s what they want for everyone. And this time they’re going to fast track you to the American Dream. With short cuts so it won’t be so hard this time.

It won’t be a generational wait. It begins to happen as soon as you cast your vote. They’re promising away the very essence, the core value of the  middle class. That working hard is your ticket to the next rung on the ladder.

Every time I hear  about all these new, non-existent opportunities to help every one get to the  middle class, it has a strange similarity to the housing give-a-way disaster a few years back. We know where that left us. Unless people work for what they get they never appreciate it. And if you give them something for nothing, they’ll always abuse it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Doctor Was Always In


We’ve all heard the story of the selfless, peripatetic, country doctor trudging through the chilly night to tend to one of his patients in need. Well, during a now bygone era, there were also many urban doctors who were equally dedicated  to their profession  who  put their patients and Hippocratic oath before all monetary emoluments.

One such doctor was Dr. Herbert E. Poch, a local legend, who passed last week at the age of 86. Dr. Poch was a caring, loving,  pediatrician. He was also a great teacher of young parents of which I was one when I made his acquaintance shortly after  the birth of our first child. He came highly recommended from everyone we asked. And my wife and  I will forever be in his debt.

 When my oldest daughter collapsed into a seizure one early spring morning, we panicked. I grabbed the  five-year-old, strapped her  into her car seat and rushed her  to the emergency room at our local hospital.

My anxiety level continued to spike upon my arrival. The emergency room doctors were unknown to me. And facing a serious situation of which I knew nothing, I began raising my voice for assistance. After a seemingly inordinate amount of time  had passed, they took my daughter into an examining room and suggested a spinal tap. At that point I really knew it was serious. As I paced the waiting room with my wife who met me there, both of us had no idea of the extent of the danger. As we stared at the door waiting for someone to come out and  tell us what was going on, we both were imagining worst case scenarios. Until the door opened and out came Dr. Poch. No one had summoned him. He was just making his normal rounds when he heard about the little girl who was brought in by a frantic father. The girl just happened to be his patient.

He was wearing a surgical gown and had been present for the procedure. The first thing out of his mouth, “she’s out of danger; she’s going to be alright.” A quarter century has gone by but I still vividly remember his reassuring image. And indeed, everything was alright – thanks to him.

We were sad when he retired. No other pediatrician could follow that act. But he went on to do so much more after he retired from practice. He began teaching full-time, disseminating his wisdom to post-graduate medical residents. He remained active in charitable work, being honored with several awards. He was even honored  with a proclamation on the floor of the U.S. Congress for his extraordinary service to children and his community.

Every once in a while you meet a real life saint. Dr. Poch was such a man. Early mornings on my way to work, passing his office, I’d see him enjoying a walk with his dog. Such a soothing sight. After his walk, he would sit at his desk for an hour or so to field questions over the phone  from parents, dispensing  advice and setting worried minds at ease. If I hadn’t known him in the flesh, Norman Rockwell would surely have created him.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Melo and the Messiah


Phil Jackson was recently hired by the New York Knicks to head up a floundering franchise which last won a championship in 1973. Everyone has trumpeted his arrival as some cataclysmic event -- indeed there were  standing ovations at the Garden when he was first introduced as the new president of the Knicks. I don’t think the desired results -- another championship --  will be attained in the new Jacksonian era despite blanket approval for the hire.

Unless I’m missing something this guy looks way too laid back to navigate the alleyways  of Manhattan. He’d be much more comfortable in sandals and cutoffs in Santa Monica or Venice Beach.

Yeah, he’s been part of 11 championships. And yes he did play for the  Knicks under Red Holzman  his esteemed mentor. And has dealt with mercurial characters: Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Shaq and Dennis Rodman. And he has produced results, monumental results. But that was as a coach, not an executive who will have to make personnel  and financial decisions. Of course, he and GM Steve Mills will be able to hire other executives to handle the  mundane chores of running a franchise. While  he pockets a cool $12 plus million a year.

To Phil Jackson, this is a win-win. He gets the money, snubs his nose at the Lakers for passing him over for a similar role, most notably by the brother of his fiancée, Jeanie Buss. (By the way how long has she been his fiancée, anyway?) 

This whole affair looks like one big ego stroking for a guy who hasn’t been in the spotlight for a while but loves it. And going against the grain here, I don’t see any championships down the road in the term of Jackson’s contract. The Knicks were much better off with Donnie Walsh running the franchise. He was astute enough to know that trading for Carmelo Anthony was a stupid move, when he could have been gotten him as a free agent in the off season without sacrificing young talent. But Knicks’ owner James Dolan insisted on getting Carmelo which hastened the departure of Walsh, whose Pacers, by the way, are vying for a championship THIS year. And to his credit Walsh had the sense to know that Anthony  is toxic to a championship team.

Can Carmelo sacrifice his game for the good of a team concept? The Knicks are not missing role players they’re missing weight-supporting columns. Players like those don’t like prima donnas who think the game revolves around them. Who, as soon as they get their hands on the ball crossing half court monopolize it. How many last second shots has Carmelo missed this season with the game on the line? When the chips are down in the fourth quarter, great players find a way to win.

Well here’s hoping good luck to the long suffering Knick fans. Hope it works out but I doubt it will.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We Need A Re-Re-Set Button

Guess we need a re-re-set button now that apparently our president has exhausted all his promised flexibility with his good friend Vladimir Putin. From the very beginning this administration had all the trappings of the high school kids who take over the city council for a day and go through the motions of running the town until the grown ups  re-assume their rightful places. Unfortunately there aren’t any grown-ups  in the Obama administration who can step in and make things right.

Indeed they’ve been taken to school by Vlad and his merry regime. In the 2012 presidential debates President Obama ridiculed Mr. Romney for pointing out the grave dangers Russia and her expansionist oligarchs posed in the world. He was oblivious to  Romney's superior insight and said the former Massachusetts governor was  locked in a 1980’s time warp. The president’s naiveté  knows no bounds.

Obviously the administration wasn't prepared for the conflagration going on in the Ukraine. Just as they never seemed to be prepared for any unforeseen situation. They give new meaning to “ad hoc.” The administration’s cigar store Indian, dressed up as secretary of state seems equally inept  when he invokes phrases that the Russians are using anachronistic methods in the 21st century. Doesn’t seem to bother the Russians. They have  long coveted a warm weather port and now are on the verge of getting one in the Crimea and the Russian-speaking population there is siding with the aggressors.

The Oblivicrats: Reid, Pelosi, Wasserman Schulz will continue to see wisdom when the majority of Americans see ineptitude. Even many media outlets are distancing themselves from the president  because there’s still too much time left in his term and there is nothing positive in sight: the continued displeasure with Obamacare, the lethargic economy;  high unemployment, gas and food prices; no immigration reform. Indeed the administration seems more concerned about the sovereignty of the Ukraine than ours.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed as we eliminate one day at a time when the mid-term elections arrive next November and hope we can re-set our own course.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Kennedy Defense


“I’m very, very happy justice was served,” so said a jubilant Kerry Kennedy after a six-member jury handed down a not guilty verdict in her driving under the influence court case. Not much of a shocker. We have been conditioned to think there is no Kennedy on planet earth who can ever be held responsible for their own behavior. There seems to be extenuating circumstances that lurk everywhere like amateurish detectives when the Kennedy clan is involved.

A couple of years ago her brother was acquitted for an altercation with two nurses because they would not let him take his newborn son out of the hospital  for some fresh air. Her cousin William Smith was cleared of rape charges in 1992; her cousin Michael Skakel is awaiting a new trial for his conviction in the murder of Martha Moxley; her Uncle Ted had a little accident in Chappaquiddick in 1969. In 2006, her cousin Patrick, a Rhode Island congressman at the time was also found dazed and confused, though no charges were brought, when his car was involved in an accident at 2:45 A.M. in the Capitol. Again, like Kerry, a medical mix-up was the cause. You would think  educations  at prestigious universities  would enable them to discern  the differences between pill bottles and pills since pill popping seems to have replaced touch football as a Kennedy family  sport.

No one will believe Kerry was targeted because of her  family name, as her attorney claimed after the  acquittal.  If she was just an average single mom would she have been able to summon expert testimony to support her claim from a pharmacologist who had worked on the clinical trials for Ambien one of the drugs  allegedly taken in error. Would your average single mom engage the services of a top tier attorney. Would the average single mom have access to a propaganda machine extolling her virtues   as a globe-trotting activist superwoman?

To say she was targeted because of who she is, is absurd. The next time we hear  a similar case of a person slumped over the steering wheel of a car asleep after careening another vehicle, and leaving the scene, do you believe  the Kennedy defense  will stand up in that case?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Liberal Elitist Hypocrisy

There may not be a better example of liberal  elitist hypocrisy than the recent episode of Mayor de Blasio in New York. It’s the apotheosis of the adage “do as I say not as I do.” One of the first initiatives of the new administration was to promote a 62-point safety program to reduce traffic accidents in the city. One of the main components of the plan is to reduce the speed limit to 25 m.p.h.  “We want the public to know,” the mayor said, “that we are holding ourselves to this standard.” Well not for long.

When the mayor’s entourage was clocked speeding, running red lights and stop signs two days after announcing his plan, he was justifiably lampooned in the media.  Because of all the bad press in the aftermath, he decided to address the issue then, inexplicably, directed reporters to the comments made by the police commissioner  who defended the actions of the mayor’s detail  as being proper protocol. So far Bratton has been used twice in the span of a few weeks to  add some cover  to the mayor’s indiscretions.

A short while prior to this incident, the mayor interceded for a bishop who, when stopped for a traffic violation , was found to have some  outstanding warrants and  would have been incarcerated had the mayor  not made a call to the police. Just as he would do for you if you found yourself in a similar circumstance, I’m sure.

When Commissioner Bratton was asked by reporters if he had a problem with the mayor calling the precinct commander for the bishop’s release, in the vaguest of terms said no.  He seems to be acting as de Blasio’s mentor. I know it’s early but I wonder if Bratton is positioning himself for a run for mayor. Especially when de Blasio’s act is already starting to get stale two months into his administration. And he hardly looks like a chief executive especially when juxtaposed against his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg.

When de Blasio beats his drum about inequality and injustice as if he has a monopoly on righteousness, he’d be smart to look within because the hypocrisy of the far left to act  so concerned with the downtrodden seems to have a double standard. They are in the 1 percent. They and their disciples  are immune from the constraints  the 99 percent of the rest of us must deal with day in and day out. Unless, of course, someone is willing to pick up the phone on our behalf.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Empty Suit Presidency

President Obama his rattling his tongue again much like the Soviets use to rattle sabers in the days of the Cold War. He has decided to voice his opinion in the latest international skirmish. This one in the Ukraine. And why not? with all the successes he has had lately in Syria, Iran, Libya and Egypt.

If one were to look in a dictionary for the definition of the term  empty suit,   you’d see a picture of our beleaguered president. You look at him and wonder how a man with no ability to lead or solve problems could ever have been elected president. Blunder after blunder after blunder and still  the fourth estate, well ,what passes for the fourth estate these days, makes his every move sound intelligent and inspired. 

JFK was inspirational, Steve Jobs was inspirational the Beatles were inspirational. If the Obama administration been in charge of procuring talent for  the Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago, they more than likely would  have chosen Freddie and the Dreamers over the Fab Four, given their keen eye for talent.

In California to speak about the drought emergency, the president was playing golf on a course using thousands of gallons of water to maintain its greens. Is he so inept he doesn’t  see the disconnect there. Myopia, apparently, is the hallmark of this administration.

So now he’s again talking about  consequences should the crackdown on the Ukrainians  abridge their democratic freedoms as our  own government continues to spy on our people, send drones to kill U.S. citizens without the benefit of due process and ignore the unsavory  IRS tactics against opposition parties right here in America.

Should we expect President Putin to impose sanctions against the U.S. soon?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Last Caesar

When Sid Caesar’s death was announced last week, I was sorry to hear of the passing of a real TV pioneer – a term I reserve for a precious few. Sid Caesar and his “Your Show of Shows” was a little bit before my time. But in countless clips and  testimonials over the years I’ve become familiar with  the great contribution he made to not only the fledgling medium of television  but also to television as hardware. He was one of the few who made owning a television set as important as Steve Jobs made owning a personal computer decades later.

According to an article in the New York Times when Caesar’s show hit the airwaves in 1950 only 10 percent of the population owned a set. A decade later  that figure had swelled to 90 percent , largely to people like Caesar and the transmogrified vaudevillians who became the first TV personalities.

He was one of the first performers to introduce sketch comedy and recurring characters to the new format. He contorted his face in grotesque ways  and used other physical devices to garner huge laughs  from  live audiences, not sound tracks.  And not only that.  His eye for creative writing talent gave young writers like Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Mel  Brooks an opportunity to hone their comedic genius.

Sid Caesar was the inspiration for generations of comedians that would follow. Billy Crystal spoke reverently about Caesar and the profound effect he had  not only on him  but many of his contemporaries.  Caesar also germinated the ideas that would later  launch the  future programming formats of Carl Reiner (the Dick Van Dyke Show) and Larry Gelbart (Mash).

For me, though, my favorite remembrance of Sid Caesar is the character he played in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In the film’s  star-studded cast Caesar plays the even tempered husband of Edie Adams, who tries to find an equitable solution   for a host of treasure seekers all intent on reaching the booty first, until he too, succumbs to the avarice.

It’s too bad that his career flickered instead of flamed. For there are several generations who have grown  up not appreciating  Caesar’s significant contribution  to popular culture and TV set sales.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

Before Sgt. Pepper , the Maharishi, Yoko Ono, the internecine in-band haggling , there was an event so mesmerizing it was witnessed by 40% of the population on a mid-winter night in 1964. An event that in the expanse of three months had eclipsed the assassination of JFK in historic significance. The Beatles single-handedly expunged the malaise of a presidential assassination.

Timing is everything.  Many   have said that The Beatles filled a void at a particular moment  in  American history, transformed the American psyche –  it did. The naysayers at the time said it was a fad, a flash in the pan – another P.T. Barnum-like gimmick that would soon fade like hoola hoops  and coon skin hats. But 50 years later we are marking the event  with a myriad of celebrations worldwide.  But for most, The Beatles have been cosmic companions who we have  weaved  into the more intimate fabric of our lives.

The group guided myself and my pubescent friends  along the periphery of romance, much to the chagrin of Sr. Cecilia,  my  sixth grade teacher, who confiscated my pictures of the band, culled from the pages of Sixteen Magazine and meticulously pasted into the hard covers of a denuded writing tablet, I passed around to all the girls in class to demonstrate my coolness. Beatle boots would further attest this premise soon after.

 The Beatles provided   the soundtrack to our early lives. Local bands played their songs to the first dances we attended; their music provided the soundtrack  while we maneuvered our  first stolen kisses and touches;  they encouraged  our first thoughts of  rebellion and  independence from our parents.

Of course my friends and I   were part of the 20 million new bands that were formed on February 10, 1964. The fact that we didn’t have any guitars or instruments of any kind did little to dissuade us from our mission. That we too could be chased around by swarms of girls dying to get at us.

Eventually we did get those guitars; and more importantly learned to play them. And 50 years later we still get together from time to time, doing gigs or grabbing the acoustics and playing something from the Beatles’ catalogue.

So much has happened to us all since Ed Sullivan brought The Beatles to America. John and George are gone as so many of our own  family members .  I remember my mother hearing a DJ attributing something to the Beatles circa 1969. She looked at me and asked. “They’re not the same Beatles from a few years ago, are they?”  I simply nodded in the affirmative. And their music is still with us and I trust it will be for a long, long time.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Blow - Phillip Seymour Hoffman

As I was watching Super Bowl  XLVIII , and things looked brutally desperate for the Denver Broncos, my mind wandered back to those first couple of Super Bowls when one team looked woefully overmatched by the other. That was the case this past Sunday. I was thinking seriously about possibly breaking out my paint brush and doing a wall  just so I could watch  the paint dry. Even that would be more exciting than the one-sided game.

Interest in the game had already waned  by the third quarter when I was informed about the tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an actor whom I considered one of the most gifted of his generation. Sensitive and intense, his presence in any film lent immediate gravitas to it.

From the first time  I had seen him in the movie, Scent of a Woman, he displayed an onscreen presence that matched the  film’s leading man, Al Pacino. And that, even then, I thought, was quite an accomplishment for a young actor. Subsequent films and stage productions he appeared in gained him world wide acclaim and award nominations even an Oscar. But his flamed flickered out in prologue. And avid film buffs like myself were hoping for so much more to come.

By all accounts, he was a workaholic as his resume would attest. And he could be crumpy and curt as has often been said. Once in the Washington Square Hotel just off the park in the West Village, I was sitting in the hotel bar chatting with a young, aspiring actor working there in between auditions. He was  telling me about various  celebrities who lived in the area: Sam Shepard, Ron Perlman and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The young man  related a story to me about the very private Mr. Hoffman.

He walked  into a coffee shop to  find his cell phone on the fritz and Mr. Hoffman waiting for his coffee. The young man started shaking his phone, waving it around trying to get it to return it to functionality. Hoffman saw him and immediately thought he was trying to snap a picture of him.

The famous actor became quite surly, according to the young man, saying to him. “Hey, we all live in this neighborhood and we all should be afforded a certain degree of privacy. No pictures, please.”

The young man responded he had no intention of taking pictures, he was only trying to get his   service back, his phone  was broke. To which Mr. Hoffman responded with his trademark  sigh and raised eyebrow, “yeah sure you’re phone’s broke.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Next Up for Demonization

With “Bridgegate” looming over NJ Gov.Chris Christie’s head, donors are abandoning him in large numbers; his favorable poll numbers are dropping faster than the knickers of the Kardashian of the month. There have been calls for him to step down as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. You have to hand it to the Democrats when it comes to character assassination. If they were in the restaurant business,  a  Three Star Michelin rating would be most appropriate. They have managed to sully the reputations of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and the collective reputation of Tea Party  members while upholding the reputations of inveterate liars like Bill and Hill, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

While Democrats  squeal  ad nauseum  about the need for bi-partisanship, the president has used executive action to foist upon us, his model of America, albeit one that functions sans the checks and balances our founding fathers prescribed. Mr. President, your poll numbers are as low as President Bush’s at his lowest ebb. Why would you think the nation has any more confidence in you than we had with your predecessor when we are still mired in malaise. Six years into your administration! Most of us don’t see the happy face picture painted  by your gallery of sycophants.

Now that Christie is on the ropes , the Democrats will turn their attention to any other viable Republican presidential candidate for 2016. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who will face a tough re-election challenge later this year becomes a new target .

 He has enjoyed a little respite since he withstood a recall vote in 2012.  This was instigated for the most part for his steadfastness limiting the leverage of the municipal unions . He reined in excessive spending so much so that in his recent state of the  state address, he announced a budget surplus in excess of $900 million.

Gov. Walker has come up with a novel idea – return some of it back to the taxpayers! In this day and age of bloated government bureaucracy how refreshing for someone to actually provide some help for the middle class instead  of talking the intention to death without doing a thing.

Had this been a Democratic governor, the surplus would already be earmarked for administration to a bunch of political cronies for another non-productive program; or be  used to prop up an  existing one.

Gov. Walker has done a great service for the taxpayers of his state. But he will certainly draw the wrath of the DNC which needs new fodder for its wood chipping, character assassination machine.