Strange Days, Strange Dreams

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Had a bizarre dream the night after last.

I was face to face with an aged — and frighteningly lifelike — Charles Manson, who was seemingly representing himself as a jailhouse lawyer preparing a plea for release at age 80 (he died at 83).

It was mostly gibberish, his logic, but I humored him long enough to get a brotherly handshake and advice to “take it slow.”

“I’ll take it anyway I can get it, man,” I said, turning to walk away.

And as soon as I turned my back, he came up from behind and put the pen — the same pen he was repeatedly using to light his Chesterfield cigarette (It’s a dream, what can I say?) — and told me I should have not made the mistake of turning my back on a madman.

Prison guards quickly intervened, saving me from death, but they prison doctor told me my jugular vein was almost slit and broke the news that I had a permanent scar.

Just as I went to look at it in the mirror, I woke up.

To take my mind off the crazy dream, I flipped on the TV — “Morning Joe” on MSNBC is the morning show in our house — and this post-election craziness made me realize that my dream made more sense than it seemed,

Just swap out the current entity that calls itself your president — a diabolical nut not man enough to concede an election clearly lost — with Charles Manson.

Both are lunatics, plain and simple.

If Manson never had any followers, he just would have been an ex-con bum on a San Francisco street corner collecting spare change for below-average original songs that he thought were better than they were.

If the entity that wants to still calls himself your president didn’t have a base of largely uneducated voters feeding his massive sociopathic ego, he’d just be a below-average businessman who keeps himself afloat by screwing people over and declaring bankruptcies.

By not conceding the election, and insisting on recounts and voter fraud in only the states that went blue, “it” (one has to act like a man to be called “he”) is pretty much holding us within an inch of our jugular vein out of nothing more than selfish vanity.

I’m being overly dramatic? No, not really.

-Consider the permanent scars that will be left by holding off on COVID-19 vaccine until the administration of the president-elect, Joe Biden, tries to roll it out on a playing field that gets more tilted every day that information is withheld from the task force the next administration has assembled.

-Consider the haphazard and sudden withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which will leave the Biden administration in an international crisis that the Orange Beast can then readily criticize.

-Consider the Civil War the entity who will call himself your ex-president will urge from his followers with Twitter nonsense, interviews and rallies reminiscent of Nazi Germany. And in this Civil War, you do realize that the entity who refuses to admit he lost the election will be playing the role of Jefferson Davis (and don’t give me this Abraham Lincoln was a Republican BS, as you only reveal your own ignorance on how the two parties changed over time).

Despite many strained and severed personal relationships over the past four years, I have maintained some with those out there with more conservative — or independent — viewpoints.

While I can respect their overall way of seeing the world, I want to know how they can — on any level — justify any of what is going on right now in their name as Republicans.

I mean, have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered something from the menu that sounded appealing, only to find it didn’t taste so good after all?

It probably happens all the time, and you freely admit you made the wrong choice, right? Why in the world is it so hard to do that here?

True, some flipped sides this time around, but the results show that too many simply doubled down on the nonsensical nonsense. The only difference was that voter turnout, particularly from people of color, was stronger.

If that is what galls you, maybe I’m giving some of you too much credit.

Because, if you can — or even try — to justify any of it, you are part of the problem at a time when we couldn’t be more desperate for solutions.

I have heard all the explanations, especially in private from people who think I somehow agree with them on some level.

None hold up.

“Not a politician.”

Uh, yeah, “it” is.

The second one declares itself a candidate for anything, even dog catcher, they are then a politician.

“Some of the Tweets are a problem, but …”

But what? You’re the POTUS. The supposed leader of the free world.

Words matter.

And I heard this one, verbatim, a few times: “Well, he doesn’t speak as well as Obama, but Obama was still an asshole.”

Doesn’t speak as well? Really?

Why not?

Both were educated in the Ivy League. The only difference is one was raised middle class and the other with a silver spoon up his ass, which translated to going to military school.

An asshole? Obama?

You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts, and I rarely — if ever — get any cogent ones to back this one up.

The best I get are a generic “well, his policies.”

Which ones?

“All of them.”

All of them?

Sorry, even a broken clock is right twice a day (an example: the entity who calls itself your president has been right in getting back to basics and backing Israel, first and foremost, in the Middle East and working from there).

When the entity who called himself your president was first “elected” into office — despite not receiving the popular vote for the first of two times — I was criticized for making such an extreme comparison between him and Hitler.

Over the last four years, and despite seeing kids in cages and white supremacists called “fine people,” I walked it back a bit.

After watching a lot of World War II documentaries on Netflix lately (yes, I’m officially an old man now), I realize I was being too lenient.

The way Hitler was pussyfooted around by his underlings (a crucial battle that turned the tide of the war on the eastern front was pretty much lost because everyone was afraid to wake him up) and blindly worshiped by his followers (leading to needless civilian deaths when the war was lost) in the public reminds me of the likes of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and all the angry white males we will be seeing soon enough in the streets with their machine guns.

Which begs the question, and the comparison to Manson and Hitler: If you blindly follow someone who leads you through the gates of hell, what does it say about you?

Think about it twice and call me in the morning (and may your dreams not be filled with Charles Manson trying to slit your throat).

Factoring In The ‘Clint’ Factor

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — In the movie “Dazed And Confused,” there was a character named Clint who pronounced, at a party in the woods, that he was only there to drink some beer and kick some ass.

“And I’m almost out of beer,” he added.

The screen version of Clint kind of reminded me of some people who bring that persona to life in the real world.

I’ve seen them chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville and fomenting more tension in some cities on the edge by countering Black Lives Matter protests.

And I’ve seen them at rallies for your president (not mine).

But that’s not all. It has long since hit closer to home for me.

It includes, as the years have gone by, the average Eagles’ fan at Lincoln Financial Field.

A brief history: The Glantz Family season tickets in my name predate my 1965 birth and date back to Franklin Field. That’s when my father split an account with a group of dentists.

I went to my first game in 1970, and I was in love at the first sight of whatever of the field I was able to see.

We then enjoyed some good, bad and ugly at Veterans Stadium. Those were the Glory Years for us.

There was talk of the antics of those in the 700 level (we were in the 300 level), but I generally recollect a cerebral fan base who understood the games that maybe they enjoyed with one beer (OK, maybe two).

Next came Lincoln Financial Field. Nicer stadium, but not nicer fans.

There were a lot more “Clints.”

As time passed, an increasingly high “Clint” quotient followed.

They were there to drink a lot of beer, and then when they were almost out of beer – especially when a policy was put in place to cut them off after the third quarter – it was time to either kick some ass or watch ass be kicked elsewhere in the stands or on the field.

I wasn’t there to get drunk, and my days of kicking ass – or getting it kicked – were long behind me.

The way the stadium was constructed, the rows of seats squeezed those of us not in luxury suites in like sardines. It became especially uncomfortable in the colder weather when wearing more layers.

And, adding insult to the injury of it all, I spent half the time at the games passing beer down and the money back to the beer guy from my aisle seat. For my toil, I often got treated to a view of the crack of the beer guy’s instead of the action on the field.

My father stopped going well before his 2008 passing. At first, I had a long waiting list of friends wanting to go with me to the new stadium. As guys got older, the novelty of a new stadium wore off for them.

And me.

A year ago, the 2019-20 season, I went to a grand total of zero Eagles’ home games.

I sold some, gave away some others to good causes, and I couldn’t have been happier.

There are a lot of reasons for this, including the time commitment. It’s like a full 10-6 work day to battle traffic and go to and from the stadium on a Sunday.

As the years passed – and for many of the reasons mentioned — it became increasingly more comfortable to sit on my butt in my recliner, going to and from the bathroom at will and not having to take out a second mortgage to wait in long lines for subpar snacks.

But the largest reason was to be away from the “Clints” – the guys who give the rest of us a bad name as “the worst fans in the league” from national pundits.

This year, one small plus of COVID-19, was the option to opt out and either get a full refund or roll it over to next year.

I took the refund. I didn’t even have to think twice about it.

The thing about the Clint character on screen and the real one is that hick/hillbilly/motorhead persona that supersedes actually being a hick or a hillbilly or motorhead from “real America.”

It’s a safe bet that the guys who are at the Eagles games to get drunk, act tough and then puke in the bathroom and miss the end are also among the same misguided “patriots” who are now saying they are going to boycott the NFL season – beginning now – this year.

The “thought” process is that the players are not allowed to peacefully and respectfully protest what they see as injustices in this country – maybe by kneeling during the national anthem and/or raising a black power fist – because they “make a lot of money to play.”

Even though most of these players come from abject poverty and have dared not to forget their roots, the fact that some are making six- or seven-figure salaries for what will be careers of 3-5 years on average – only to be often left with brain damage from concussions and bum hips, knees, shoulders, etc. – is not factored into the equation that is too complex for the Clint Patrol.

The “thinking,” if you can try to follow it is: They can protest the protest, because they believe freedom of speech only belongs to them.

They get mad at the term white privilege, all because they have to work for a living like everyone else, and don’t see the irony that only they have the privilege to protest the protest that they don’t think the “spoiled brats” should have.

It gets pretty convoluted, I know, but you have to spend time among these people to understand.

I have.

Trust me, they won’t be missed. At all.

My IQ has dropped – albeit temporarily – a good 10-20 points just being in their presence at games where they act like football experts (while unable to name more than a few key players on the field and understand some simple basics).

They’d rather see an opposing player catch a touchdown pass, and then be decapitated by a late hit, than maybe have him drop the ball instead.

A Clint, by any other name, would not want it any other way.

Right Meets Wrong

Idiots

By PHILIP HERON

This isn’t about policy, or even partisan politics. This is about right and wrong, and it’s personal. Consider what we have endured for the past six months, our lives turned upside down by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Businesses and schools have been shuttered; millions have lost their jobs. The rest of us are working remotely, or from home. We no longer move about freely. Shopping is now an ordeal. We don’t go out to a restaurant, no movie theaters, no sports, no concerts, no museums. We have nixed family gatherings, canceled summer vacations. Couples have put off weddings; funeral services have been held in private or canceled altogether.

Heron

Millions have been sickened; more than 180,000 have been killed. In our fight against COVID-19, the unwavering mantra has remained the same: avoid large gatherings; don a mask; practice social distance; wash your hands.

On the final night of the Republican Convention, President Trump threw a party for 1,500 people on the White House lawn, an act most saw as a blatant violation of the spirit, if not the actual letter, of the Hatch Act.

He used the People’s House as a political prop, replete with large banners bearing his name, as if it were just one more of his gaudy hotels. There was little in the way of social distancing, and even fewer masks. People sat packed in shoulder-to-shoulder for hours.

And why?

Because that is what Donald Trump wanted.

It’s clear Donald Trump’s life has not been affected one iota by the coronavirus. And he cares about as much for what the rest of us have endured.

Philip Heron is the recently retired editor in chief of the Delaware County (Pa.) Times in suburban Philadelphia

No Getting Around The Facts

Geri 3

By GERI A. SAWICKI

In America and around the world, we are more urban dwellers than rural, the highest percent ever: 85% of the world’s population lives in cities and megalopolises including suburbs today.

People in cities tend to be more tolerant because they live in a diverse society up close, every day.

We ARE the majority of Americans.

To hear the right take up Nixon’s claim of a “silent majority” is not anywhere near true.

Trump has emboldened the hate speech by his own words and actions, encouraged violence in his name, and started acting like the lowlife thug that he is. Unfortunately, there are a lot of poorly educated white people out there who think he is one of them, because he sounds like them, who think they’ve been cheated out of their share of riches by scapegoating anyone and everyone.

This is nonsense, because he’s making their lives worse, with his pandering to the oligarchs while whipping up his followers to fight a battle for him and his cronies in which they have no skin.

He may be stupid, but he is also desperate, and he is going all out as a crazy despot right now. The outright insane accusations he hurls at Biden are so far out that I’m pretty sure anyone with a brain is going to realize he has gone over the edge.

I hope it happens before he can drag out his civilian white-boy private army on the streets to start a civil war.

I think he is unraveling right now, in public, if you listened to his last interview with Fox where he said Biden has unknown people on the streets running his campaign!

We burst out laughing when we heard him double down on that one, along with Biden wasn’t really born where he was born, because his family moved when he was a kid. He’s recycling birther theories too wacky for reality.

Geri A. Sawicki is a professor of Sociology at Modesto (Cal.) Junior College

COVID-19: Red Meat in the Red Zone

Red Zone

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If I had a job writing fortune cookies, I may say something like this:

Confucius Says: When endeavoring to dig, dig deep.

If you’d like an example, I’d be glad to provide one: the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lot of raw data and numbers, but little peeling away of the layers for enhanced discovery.

An outlet called WalletHub – and you can roll your eyes all you want, but it is independent and nonpartisan – recently released ranking of the states with the highest and lowest health improvements.

In order to determine where Americans’ health is recovering or worsening the most from the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus where reopening efforts can accelerate, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics. Those include the COVID-19 death rate, hospitalization rate and the rate at which people test positive. This report focuses on the latest developments in each state rather than which states have been hit the hardest throughout the pandemic.

The results:

Highest ranked (in order): New York, Wyoming, Maine, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan and Vermont.

Lowest ranked (starting from the bottom): Mississippi, Florida, Idaho, Alabama, Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana.

Now go to your figurative garages, basements or sheds. Get out your shovels. Let’s dig deeper.

There is a consistent pattern here.

Of the higher-ranked states, only Wyoming and Michigan were in the win column for your president (not mine) in 2016, and it is highly unlikely the swing state of Michigan will land there again come November. On the other side, we have Nevada as a state that went blue in 2016. The rest? Not only were they red, blood they were deep red. They were blood red.

So what?

Well, the blue stats tended to listen to the doctors and the scientists, practicing social distancing and wearing masks. The density of New York City caused initial problems there, but forward thinking overcame them.

Misleading by example, and with an orange head in the sand, the entity that calls itself your president (not mine) disregarded the science and the doctors, often even chiding his own handpicked experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, carried more sway with his people.

There was less wearing of masks and social distancing, and the consequences are evident.

“One of the main factors that contributed to some states flattening the COVID-19 curve while others failed is the presence of mandatory social distancing and mask wearing restrictions. States that don’t require all residents to wear masks, such as Florida and Arizona, have had some of the highest death rates recently,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “States that waited longer before easing up on their COVID-19 restrictions, such as Connecticut, tend to be doing better than those that reopened quickly or never had large-scale closures in the first place.”

Back From The Front Lines

Trench Warfare

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Are we embroiled in a civil war? Not only is the answer to that question an affirmative, a full-throated “Hell, yeah,” but I have been on the front lines since the earliest days.

I’m talking about before we knew this war was even a war.

I’m talking about when Tea Party and militia memberships exploded before Barack Obama could even put two feet into the Oval Office.

Their thinly veiled battle cry: We want our country back.

Our response: What does that mean, exactly?

We knew darn well what it meant, but it was worth asking the rhetorical question to see them do to their little chicken dances around the topic — although I did get straight answers at enough backyard barbecues and backroom meetings that it was clear what it was all about.

Enough of us realized the power of the moment, not only when Obama was elected for his first term but reaffirmed a second.

Not bad when a third of the country thinks you are a Muslim born in Kenya.

And it was about race — about race when people on the other side of the fence talked about how their descendants would have been rolling over in their grades.

Hit fast-forward and they had their champ in a chump that calls himself the current president.

Too old and feeble to take it to the streets, I do what I do best and try to right wrongs by writing about it.

That’s in columns, songs, attempts at coherent give and take on social media and with blogs such as this.

The other day, I found myself sparring with followers of the so-called president, people who like to make their point by writing in ALL CAPS or ending a rambling (usually punctuated with hideous grammar) with an LOL or “ha ha.”

I have gone through stretches of just ignoring it, or laying low, like on my spy mission on a Facebook page that sent me an invite that I accept and now monitor for its hate speech.

Other times, though, it’s either enduring the pain of banging my head against the wall or engaging them.

So I engaged.

And I did so well that I decided to blogify it — i.e. turn it into a blog.

Here are some highlights, as I believe letting out my pent-up stress and frustration of a flooded basement and Sofia’s travel softball tryouts led to me landing some serious 1-2 combinations.

It all started with a post about how their president (not mine) could not and should be blamed for COVID-19.

To that I replied: “I know you people like to hang your hats on ‘he didn’t invent the virus,’ but that’s silly. And not the point. Leaders, good leaders, are proactive and not reactive. Politics should not enter into the equation when there is an existential threat to everyone.”

And he knew of the threat long before it affected those he was elected – with the help of Putin and the electoral college – to serve and protect.

I continued: “That’s why you have these people called scientists. The smartest person in the room is the one who is smart enough to realize they aren’t the smartest in the room on every topic. He is a barely functional idiot with esteem issues. He was warned of this virus way before it hit our shores, and no real measures were taken. He just thought he could take that thing that passes for a head and bury it in the sand.”

Why? To me, it is simple. Their president has a “brain” that is so wired toward the economy that he sees nothing else. He was too worried about the market, etc. What happens? By delaying a proactive response, and barely being reactive, the economy tanked even worse. The whole country should have shut down for two months in February, with everyone getting stimulus checks like they got anyway 6-8 weeks later anyway.

Facebookfight

COVID-19 would have been contained, less people would have died and the economy would have had a foundation to be built upon. That’s what a real leader would have done. He didn’t ask for the disease, but we ask for leadership in response to it.

“We got a misleader full of shit,” I wrote. “Any questions? LOL?”

But then, right on cue, another mental midget from his parents’ basement chimed in, saying the odds of dying from COVID-19 are the same as getting killed while crossing the street.

Sounded good, and probably does on stools in bars where the Jack Daniels flows into shot glasses and Confederate flags adorn the walls alongside Elk heads.

The problem is there are these things called facts. There are around 6,000 pedestrian deaths per year in the US. There have been 159,000 — and counting — COVID-19 deaths.

I got the predictable concession than Obama is more articulate but was still “an asshole.” When I asked what gave him “asshole” status, the critics turned to crickets.

But even as we drifted away from the topic, I threw a grenade that landed right into that foxhole, going right after the “articulate but” argument.

Obama is articulate because he is well-educated, I explained. Their president (not mine) was born with a silver spoon up his orange ass and went to all the best boarding/military schools (and if his niece is to be believed, it was because his mother rejected him and/or he was as incurably incorrigible as he is now).

He then went to the Wharton School at Penn (allegedly, since no one saw him there). There is zero reason — with that background — to talk like a buffoon, other than that he is mentally deranged and it’s the best he can do.

I think he is mentally deranged, and it’s the best he can do.

If you voted, and still support that, what does it say about you?

I added: “It must be nice to either use a fake news narrative or say he was ‘just kidding’ all the time. The reality, whether ‘yews’ want to admit it or not, is that he was elected because of — not in spite of — the mainstream media giving him free advertising.”

There was one guy in the fray who seemed semi-literate and tolerable, if only because he didn’t go to low blows right away. He went on a long and winding spiel about the Black Lives Matter movement and how the environment now is one filled with reverse racism.

I didn’t want to make that descent into the rabbit hole with him that there really is no such thing as reverse racism, since a majority does not face prejudice in a systemic way, but I didn’t go there.

Instead, since he seemed to have an IQ at least in the average range – 90 to 110 – I decided to engage, knowing I was at least dealing with a Border Collie.

Here is what I said, verbatim: “I’m not going to say you don’t make some valid points, because you do — at least in the abstract. It’s a complete mess right now. How did we descend into this state of madness — a pandemic that should have been contained better with better planning and a civil war, sparked by class warfare, at the same time? Look to the White House. You elect someone unfit for the job, who thrives of division for his own ends, this is bound to happen. I dread to think what’s next if he gets another four years. We should have known better during his campaign, with the hate being spewed to get votes (and openly inviting foreign interference). But don’t forget, by definition, he was never a popular president. He didn’t win the popular vote.”

Still, they remain incredulous as to why we on the left – people of color, in particular – don’t see the light when their version of the light is nothing but darkness.

Think about it. These nitwits still have to understand that black people loved the Clintons. Their president (not mine) was so outright disrespectful to Hillary during the campaign, with the “lock her up” chants, that it was a turnoff right there.

How is someone vowing to undo everything Obama did, good or bad, going to ease racial discord?  How is leading the birther movement going to just go away?

Haters Gonna Hate

And urban communities are torn apart by gun violence, and no one really gives a shit. Leaders from those communities, more than any, have been crying out for gun control legislation for years.

The so-called president is absolutely opposed to even the smallest of gun control measures.

The backdrop was right for #blacklivesmatter. George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back as much as the knee that broke his windpipe. When you think about Colin Kaepernick, he was taking a knee against police brutality years ago — way before the Floyd incident.

I added: “Look at how your president (not mine) spoke about that? If calling it reverse racism helps you sleep better at night, go for it. I just call it the chickens coming home to roost. He asked for it, he got it.”

The reality is that the so-called president’s moment to win over a lot of us — myself included — was early on, in the wake of Charlottesville, and he pussyfooted around it with the likes of hater Steve Bannon whispering in his ear. Then there was the clearly racist mishandling of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.  There was no walking it back from there.

And here we are.

Which is brings us back to the point of the pointless post, about us mean Snowflakes unfairly blaming COVID-19 on their hero. No, he didn’t create the disease, but he mishandled it when he had advance knowledge of it.

An analogy would be that it’s like a small town not taking cover when there is a tornado warning. The town officials didn’t create the tornado, but not bracing for it when it’s in the forecast makes the death and destruction worse.

If you are the mayor of the little town that thinks they can pray away a tornado, your ass should be grass.

Same rules apply with a pandemic.

I’d end this with a LOL, but it’s really not a laughing matter.

It never was, going way to back to when the seed to this civil war were planted, and never will be.

KaepReb

 

Remembering John Lewis

Ben and John
By BEN BLOCK
It’s hard to find the words to capture how this loss is processing in my mind, but here we go.
They say “you should never meet your heroes” — work for them?
Sheesh.
The above photo was taken back in 2014, the first time I met my political hero: John Lewis.
Just six months after graduating college with degrees in political science and communications, I was lucky enough to find myself in a meeting across from one of the most influential figures in American history (starstruck would be an understatement to express how I felt in that moment).
Hearing John Lewis tell his well-documented story that wintry afternoon on Capitol Hill is a memory I hope to one day share with my children. You could hear the conviction in his voice when he instructed our team to not give up hope, keep moving forward, and go get into some good trouble.
I’ve never seen anyone give a pump-up speech quite like John Lewis. He’d have you smiling at one moment, then crying the next. He’d toss in a goofy line to bring some levity to his otherwise serious remarks, and by the end he’d leave you feeling prepared to run through a wall for the causes you believe in.
His love of the human spirit was unmistakable, and his optimistic outlook for the future was non-negotiable.
As a wet-behind-the-ears postgrad and new to the political arena, I naturally leapt at the chance to shake hands with a titan of the civil rights movement, say thank you, and grab a pic together. Trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism since, I resisted asking for photos after that first introduction, but many fond encounters would ensue.
Without fail, I’d still pinch myself every time this celebrated public servant from the Peach State graced our team with his presence.
Over the past 5 years, Mothership Strategies and the DCCC each blessed me with the opportunity to spend time behind the scenes with someone who I never could have imagined getting closer to than perhaps while completing reading assignments back in high school.
But let me tell you, those textbooks did not do justice to the greatness that was this man — a living legend who seemingly walked the same earth and breathed the same air as the rest of us, yet created progress at a clip that we may never see of its kind again.
When he’d walk into the office, every face in the room would light up. When he’d speak, I swear you could hear a pin drop. He was humble as all get-out. His joy was contagious, his passion inspiring.
He was a deeply good man who was truly in his line of work for all the right reasons. Waking up poised to fight the good fight and help others to the best of his ability became a decades-long daily habit.
To know the congressman was to admire the congressman. He did not demand respect — he commanded it.
We may have lost a light last night, but John Lewis lit a fire in so many young people that his legacy will surely endure forever.
And I for one am feeling fired up and ready to go get into some good trouble in his honor.
Thank you, Congressman Lewis.
REST IN POWER!

In Search Of … The Truth

Ancient Israel

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – I’ve been thinking a lot about that old documentary-style television show, hosted by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy, called “In Search Of.”

Even at a young age, I was generally intrigued enough to watch most of these syndicated episodes on UHF channels from start to finish.

For those who don’t recall – and it’s OK if you don’t – the episodes would be on topics on if Bigfoot, ghosts, Jack the Ripper or if UFO’s were real, etc.

I have been trying lately, as the world literally crumbles around us, to go on my own “In Search Of” journey.

What am I seeking? Oh, not much. Just the truth.

In Search of One

I don’t know much, but I know enough to know that the truth is generally nothing more than one’s own perceptions formed by their own realities shaped by life experience.

While that works with a lot of interpersonal situations – you know women saying “all men are this” or men saying “all women are that” – we really need to start airing out our other dirty laundry and meeting in the town square to peaceably parse out proven fact from fiction.

We are seeing this in the way a pandemic is being politicized by a so-called president who chides doctors and scoffs at science.

We are seeing it in the way the right’s only argument that they are not inherently racist is that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican (the parties switched places, in terms of being progressive, a long time ago).

But I’m going to look hard to my left, something I’m not always accustomed to doing, and to do some critical thinking and uncomfortable housekeeping about a troubling trend: A new gash in Black-Jewish relations, with – news flash — Louis Farrakhan playing puppeteer.

Farrakan

Let’s take the the DeSean Jackson situation. As both an Eagles’ fan and a cultural Jew (I consider myself a secular humanist, but my DNA makes me a purebred), I was deeply hurt than a player I cheered for all these years would open his quotations book to “Hitler” and “Farrakhan.” It was especially troubling after Jackson was brought back to Philadelphia by a Jewish general manager (Howie Roseman) and drawing a paycheck signed by a Jewish owner (Jeffrey Lurie), even after Jackson likely put himself on the shelf by doing needless backflips after a touchdown early last season.

Jackson apologized for misquoting Hitler, via Farrakhan, about Jews running the world. He basically gave a convoluted explanation that equates to him not knowing any better. He says he was just trying to “uplift his own people,” I guess by saying that, “If Jews can control everything, why can’t we?”

There was also a lot of mumbo jumbo about blacks being the real Hebrews, which is a theory put forth on street corners in places like Newark and Harlem and is gaining traction with those in the black community that have say and sway.

Just like with white disaffected youth and Neo-Nazism, the same is true with this nonsense that belies all archeological digs done in the Middle East in favor of something concocted from a “vision” in the 19th century.

One of the founders of this belief system — Frank Cherry — also thought the earth was square and that Jesus would return in the year 2000,  but Cherry died in 1963 and was not a product of a formal education.

What’s the excuse today for extremists on all sides falling under the spell of beliefs that make wearing tin foil hats as popular as Kangol hats?

If anything, it is an indictment of a public education system that sends people into the world who are open to all kinds of theories – including white and black supremacy – and continue our downward spiral into fantasy-fueled suspicion and hate.

The irony is that, when it comes to quoting Hitler, the more accurate quote – outlined in Mein Kampf and put into action with dire results – was that of the “Big Lie.” It is, to paraphrase, that if you tell a lie – not matter how ridiculous – for a long enough period of time, people will start to believe it.

And people, particularly young black adults spurred to action after the horrific murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer who maintained a trance-like stare while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, seem to be taking their eye off the ball of seeking justice and blaming it on Jews who can’t handle the “truth” about who are the real Jews.

Jackson, who matriculated at one of the best schools in the country – Cal-Berkeley (below) – should not fall into the category of the easily duped. This is a harsh indictment of that whole system of big-time college sports, which is way more of a swamp loaded with snakes than pro sports can ever dream to be, as this is not the first time Jackson’s off-field choices has made us scratch our heads and it won’t be the last.

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After the Jackson controversy, I did what I like to do, and took it to my version of the town square – Facebook.

There was feverish debate over the First Amendment, where the “truth” won the day; free speech protects citizens from the government but not an employer, which the Eagles are to Jackson.

There was also a lot of compare and contrast about Riley Cooper, the former Eagles’ receiver who was caught on tape saying the “N” word seven years ago. I tried to point out the subtle differences between the two situations – namely that Cooper was on the team for three seasons without incident prior to that regrettable moment and was there for three more after – but I couldn’t shake the general vibe that he was a “scrub” who got the benefit of the doubt because he was white.

There was a narrative that made it sound like her was handed a contract extension immediately after the transgression, like they waited for him outside a Klan rally without a contract in hand, when the reality – the truth — was that it was two uncontroversial seasons later.

Again, the “truth,” is that he was an OK player, as “scrubs” don’t last five minutes – let alone five seasons – in the league. And they don’t get five-year extensions for $25M. Cooper had a career year right after making the remarks while drunk at a concert he attended with several black teammates, and was a core special teams player and one of the best blocking receivers in the league.

Back when journalism was journalism, a Philadelphia reporter went back into Cooper’s past, all the way to childhood, and basically found a typical jock (he was also a baseball star in high school and college) who hung out with other jocks of all races (and probably lorded over non-jocks of all races).

As a skill position player at the University of Florida and with the Eagles, he was closest with the other skill position players, meaning he had plenty of black friends. I can tell you, from my experiences in locker rooms, the “N” word flies around like spitballs when there is a substitute teacher in middle school. Just a guess, but maybe he – in a lathered-up state – felt it OK to do the same.

It wasn’t OK, but it wouldn’t have been OK to cut him from the team when he had a part to play as a role player and when he took all the right steps to apologize.

The forgotten reality is that his black teammates, led by Michael Vick (below, with Cooper), accepted the apology — saying that doing so was one of the proudest moments of his career — and moved on.

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To me, as a cultural Jew, it is not the same as thinking you are quoting Hitler – via Farrakhan – using Jewish tropes and stereotypes. Even with that, Jackson should not have been cut, either.

They agreed to make it a teachable moment and move on, just Cooper’s black teammates did in real time.

I was OK with the Jackson resolution, and so were many other Jewish Eagles fans.

In the town square, though, it was not so simple.

As such, as I battled with mostly black Eagles fans, my consternation worsened.

I encountered – repeatedly – a mindset even more troubling than what Jackson posted and then retracted.

If I didn’t see it once, I saw it 1,000 times: “What does he have to apologize for? He was speaking the truth!”

The truth?

Here we go again.

In search of … the truth.

Making it worse, there were open debates about whether the Holocaust was any more tragic than slavery or what happen to Native Americans.

Some, right of cue, questioned if the Holocaust even happened.

And they were backed by others saying it was the truth that it never happened.

The “truth” can easily become a hand grenade — even on what it is supposed to be page for Eagles’ fans to talk football, which is what most of the white non-Jewish fans were imploring us to do.

Amid a deafening silence, athletes were coming to Jackson’s defense, and none – until 73-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and now Charles Barkley — were admonishing him. It’s a sign of the times.

Some alleged C-list celebrity, Nick Cannon (below), added to the chorus of twisted history that blacks are the true Hebrews, etc.

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It’s out there, spreading through the black community like the way an unattended campfire becomes a forest fire.

Slowly, the righteousness of the Black Lives Matter movement is in danger being perverted and subverted into something else, setting it up to fizzle and fade into something that was “so 2020.”

At its core, “Black Live Matter,” means black lives matter the same, or also. If we get into an environment where it morphs into “Black Lives Matter More,” the ongoing cold Civil War will rage on.

Meanwhile, one of the black community’s most ardent historical supporters – the Jewish community (helped found the NAACP and fought and died in the South during the Civil Rights era) – is taking the hits.

And what I don’t get is why the truth as I know it is so frightening to confront. Black history is one of perseverance and overcoming adversity. It is one of redemption. There is no reason to make up anything when the real story – the true story – is 10,000 times more compelling.

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The Eternal Home Run

Schmidt

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Home … run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

From the voice of Harry Kalas, the late great Phillies announcer, that was the ultimate sound of summer for me.

More specifically, when it was from grandfather’s transistor radio while sitting on a windswept porch in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City.

My grandfather would watch any sporting even on television – he was able to get Mets and Yankees games on channels 9 and 11 down the shore – but the world revolved around the Phillies.

And when the Phillies were playing at home, at Veterans Stadium, the games were not on TV.

That sent us to the front porch, with bowls of ice cream, and the transistor radio that I can still close my eyes and see now.

Looking back now, it was better that way.

My grandfather was a bit hard of hearing — a trait I inherited (I’m hoping for the internal genes, too, as he made it to nearly 95) — and generally preferred an ear plug (I can still see that, too).

But that would have made it impossible for me to listen as well, so he gladly made that concession to have me at his side.

To this day, I still believe baseball is better followed on the radio. It comes across too slow on television, and has too many staged distractions in person.

True confession: The Phillies are a distant fourth on my priority list now, but that’s not the way it started out.

At least until the Broad Street Bullies made us feel like winners in the middle of the 1970s, the Phillies were No. 1 back when Gordonville was mostly farm land to be tilled.

The thing is, though, they pretty much sucked.

My form of a pennant race was checking the standings each day to make sure we at least had a lead on the last place team in the NL West, which I remember as being the San Diego Padres.

As a matter of fact, I asked my father to get tickets when the Padres came to town, and I was devastated when utility infielder Terry Harmon grounded out with runners on base in a 2-1 loss.

Yeah, sigh, it was that bad.

But it slowly got better, culminating with the 1980 World Series title that remains my baseball pinnacle. No other postseason push, or even the 2008 World Series win, could recapture that magic.

I was grateful to Pete Rose for helping us get over the top, but I was happiest for the players that had been here during the slow and steady ride to the top.

And none more than Mike Schmidt, who is generally regarded as the best third baseman of all time.

However, before 1980, he was pretty much regarded as a great player who chocked in the clutch and who did match his numbers when it mattered.

Even though he led the league in home runs several times in the 1970s, there was a running joke that they all came as solo shots in the the eighth inning when they were either winning or losing 9-1.

After that season, one in which he won both MVP for the season and the World Series, those labels were put to rest.

I had a lot of favorite Phillies growing up.

They tell me it started with Cookie Rojas when I was still in diapers, but I have no real recollection of that alleged fixation that probably had more to do with his first name anyway.

I do recollect a steady roll call of Tony Taylor, Joe Lis, Tim McCarver, Willie Montanez, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.

There was a deep connection with Richie Hebner, who batted fifth and played first base, just like I did in Little League, but he was gone – to make room for Rose – by the time it all fell together in 1980.

When I put in the tape and hit rewind now, it is easy to pick out not only my favorite Phillie of all time, but also one of my all-time favorite athletes, period.

It’s Mike Schmidt.

He puts me back on that porch, with my beloved grandfather and his transistor radio – eating ice cream (before I was lactose intolerant) – and waiting in anticipation for those words from Harry Kalas that would follow the crack of a bat coming through loud and clear amid any static.

Home run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

Memos From My Spy Mission

Spy

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Moe Berg was a mediocre backup catcher in the big leagues for 15 seasons.

Yeah, so what, you might ask? What makes him any different than any other bullpen receiver with a .243 career average who can’t even crack the roster of the all-time Jewish baseball team?

It was peculiar, in the years leading up to World War II,  that teams of major league all-stars – featuring the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig – would travel to Japan and a relative no-name like Berg would somehow be on the roster, only to wonder off on his own instead of hanging with the team.

There is, or was, a running joke about Berg. It went that he could speak X number of languages — five, seven or 12 — but couldn’t hit a curve ball in any of them.

Turns out, Berg – educated at Princeton and Columbia Law School — was doing some pre-war work as a spy, a role that he took on full-time during the war and served as fodder for several books and a 2018 movie titled “The Catcher Was a Spy” (the name of one of the better-known books).

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That’s quite a life, and has me longing for my own spy mission, which would be to be dropped behind enemy lines in the burgeoning Civil War for the soul of our nation.

Since we can almost script out the narcissistic speeches of your president (not mine), which are part Hitler Lite and part Rodney Dangerfield “I Can’t Get No Respect,” it’s not even interesting to me anymore.

And I’ve said all along, it’s not the entity that calls itself the president I have the real issue with anyway. It’s those who put him where he is, allowing this country to devolve into a riots in the streets and a pandemic that the administration was not out in front of from the jump.

My ongoing theory that the coalition that put your president (not mine) in position to stain the White House – beyond Russian hackers and staunch Republicans — were racists looking for payback after eight years of a biracial president, those who could not stomach the idea of a female president to the extent that that a womanizer and sexual abuser was the preferred option and people who are so ignorant that they are just so easily seduced by arrogance that they fall prey to the cult of personality?

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But, without proof, how would I know, right? I need to be a spy behind enemy lines. I need to be a fly on the wall while they talk amongst themselves.

The chance to get my Moe Berg on came recently when I finally accepted a repeated invite to join a Facebook group of backers of your president (not mine).

I’m not going to reveal the name of the group, as they have a strict “no trolling” policy (odd, since the person who kept inviting knows who I am and where I stand on this sad situation).

So, despite being tempted by the hour, I suppress my urges and stay quiet in the group.

But I take notes.

A lot of them.

In general, the posts are not overtly offensive. It’s a lot of the flag-waving bologna that they think makes them more patriotic because they dare not think outside the lines.

It is the responses in the comments below the posts that confirm how much venom these snakes have their bite.

I’m writing this on June 26, the first day of the Green Phase we are lucky enough to be in because of the work of a Democratic governor, around 1 p.m. There is a post about Joe Biden – who they call the “Biggest Idiot Democrats Ever Nominated” (the first letter of each word spells out Biden’s last name … rim shot) — coming to Pennsylvania and being greets by like three supporters of your president (not mine).

It prompted ingenious remarks like: “Time to send Sleepy Joe to a retirement home in Wilmington, he’s done enough damage to America for a lifetime.”

How so, I wonder? Didn’t say. You get a lot of that on there. More in the way of pronouncements than backing it up with factoids.

Another actually asked why Biden keeps coming to Pa (after they chide him for staying in the basement, even though their immortal beloved hid in a bunker), when it’s obvious that both candidates are going set up shop in all swing states.

The response from the page administrator was “because they are trying to tell the rest of the country that battleground PA loves Biden … And WE all know that just ain’t the facts!”

Actually, page administrator, a poll released 24 hours earlier showed Biden with a semi-healthy lead in Pennsylvania. But, well, I guess that is nullified – or reduced to “fake news” – by using ALL CAPS.

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Then there was a “Keep America Great” meme for the 2020 reelection bid. It had two American flags crossed, almost fascist style, and this quote from your president (not mine): “I don’t have time for political correctness and neither does this country.”

That prompted a high number of “likes” and “loves” and this gem of a comment: “One of my many reasons (why) I voted for him. You fix anything without seeing it and correcting it for what it is.”

Wait, what?

Next was a picture of Hillary Clinton with photo-shopped dreadlocks that said she was the new name and face of Quaker Pancakes and Syrups and it called her “Aunt JaPresident.”

Yeah, we’re in the rabbit hole now.

Break out the white sheets.

It gets worse.

The memes aimed at Carly Fiorina for saying she was going to vote Biden (“Mitt Romney in a dress”), Jerrold Nadler (“he justs want to hold subpenis”), Bubba Wallace (“a race CARD driver”)  and Colin Kapernick (“don’t mess with Betsy Ross”), in which his Afro was particularly wild.

There is a meme of two lesbians reading: “Let me guess … (He) is not your president.”

There is a meme with a quote from a recent tweet from your president (not mine) saying: “Republicans are the party of LIBERTY, EQUALITY and JUSTICE for ALL. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln and the party of LAW AND ORDER!”

Again, with the CAPITAL LETTERS – equating to someone thinking yelling makes them right – and again with the twisting and turning of the Abraham Lincoln nonsense when Lincoln would crawl out of his grave just to vomit at the way his name is being used.

Of course, the page administrator commented: “YES, we are!”

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There is an oddly cropped picture of Derek Chauvin that goes from the waist up, not showing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and a reminder than he was a Democrat in a city run by Democrats (like most cities).

There is another cropping out the crazy hair of your president (not mine) and photo-shopping up his face enough to make him look semi-human.

Lastly, there was a video clip of a black man decking a young white (or Asian woman) female. The accusation that it was for not kneeling at a protest, but the grainy video was inaudible and she was wearing what looked like a winter coat (suggesting it wasn’t from the recent spate of protests). You never ever hit a female. I get that, but they can’t say 99 percent of all cops are good and not acknowledge that the vast majority of black men wouldn’t act this way, either?

And these comments … wow!

I could report them, and have the page taken down, but that would blow my cover.

Here are a few lowlights (poor punctuation — and profanity — left in, destroying my editor’s instincts) in this give and take:

-Poster A: “That my friends is a nigger. Say what you want.”

-Poster B: “At last someone with the balls to say it!!!They need fuckin’ destroyed before they ruin the country.”

-Poster A: “These dumb fucks need a history lesson. Slavery didn’t start here it ended up here and there are more rights for blacks in this country than whites the problem is they want everything for free and to play the race card because that’s what the Democratic Party has been feeding them since the late 30’s”

-Poster B: AMEN!! And the more we allow them to play the race card and get shit for free the more the problem gets perpetual motion in the action of bringing this country to its knees.”

And there was more, proving that Facebook’s Faux battle with hate speech can only be effective without a colonoscopy with the pages supporting your president (not mine).

Examples:

“Give them their own state! In 5 years they will kill each other and then take the state back!”

“Start shooting their asses”

“put that stray dog down … he won’t be missed”

“I don’t wanna say what I’d do to that POS!!!!!!”

“It coming people. Wake up fast! Notice most of them pick on women and old people.”

“That’s what they do folks. Wake up out there.”

“Again I’m asking that someone PLEASE send me a video of a bunch of white kids beating on a black kid!!! I don’t know if they just don’t video it or it doesn’t happen?? I know I have seen a dozen of these videos. I think I’m questioning who the real racists are!!!”

“String him up!”

Yep, here I am, behind enemy lines. It’s a dirty business. I can see why Berg turned down a Medal of Freedom after the war. He probably just wanted to take a shower and forget it ever happened.

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