A (First) Name I’d Rather Forget

By GORDON GLANTZ

What, exactly, do I do these days?

Well, in addition to being Sofia’s chauffeur, I handle a wide array of freelance articles about subjects ranging from hearing loss to anesthesiology to business and sports features.

And, yet somehow, I find myself with so much time on my hands that I’m on Facebook and invariably picking fights with either wrong-wingers who can twist their so-called minds so much that they can justify insurrection or Eagles’ fans who somehow think a position coach from a 4-11-1 team should have been promoted from within to head coach.

What I often find myself doing, in both frustrating realms, is serving as a combination of English teacher and Journalism professor.

Before I can even argue posts with little to no punctuation or capitalization, I find myself correcting what it took me two times to read only to find it wasn’t worth one read because of the stupidity.

One of the major pet peeves, particularly with Eagles fans, is the usage of first names – Carson, Doug, Alshon, Howie, etc. – on first reference.

It’s not just the so-called fans, as I find this occurring with radio hosts on sports talk stations and with the vast array fledgling sites where the “experts” throw their stuff against the wall in hopes that sticks.

Here’s my thing: If you know the individual on a personal level, fine. I know, as a former second-tier sports writer myself, that is rarely – if ever – the case with pro athletes.

Maybe I’m from the old school, and maybe the old school has been burned to the ground in the name of “progress,” but nobody gave me the memo.

It was pretty simple back in Journalism school. First reference, full name (i.e. Zach Ertz). Second reference, last name (Ertz). Only time he can be called “Zach” is if he is referred to as such by a teammate or coach, or even an opposing player or coach, in a quote.

Other than that, it’s unacceptable.

Unless you know the person. Unless you are on a first-name basis.

In my previous lifetime in the newspaper business, I earned that status with some local semi-luminaries.

One of them, I’m now sorry to say, is Bruce Castor.

He was no Bruce Springsteen, but he was an OK “Bruce” that I actually knew fairly well – first professionally and then more casually as members of the Mangioni Society (basically a bunch of guys getting together to eat, drink and be merry.).

I first came into Castor’s orbit as a police beat reporter with The Times Herald when he was the District Attorney.

I have to say, he was awesome to deal with. He was followed in that post by Risa Ferman, who could have been standing astride over a dead body and still wouldn’t say that a murder had been committed.

Bruce? Heck, he could fill up your notebook without really saying anything.

And he could call a mean press conference, laying all the drugs and firearms from a recent bust.

He was a reporter’s dream, but there was a catch. He loved the limelight. His favorite topic was himself, or an extension (i.e classic Corvette).

But I played the game.

It was a quid pro quo.

As I moved up and on to managing editor, Bruce – if I can call him Bruce – eventually became a county commissioner.

Even though he played on the wrong team as a Republican, a fact that squeezed him into the minority of the three-person board, he was among the Republicans for whom I’d vote.

And why not?

I knew him and, while bemused by some of his phony bologna act that comes with the territory, he was a decent person who appeared regularly on my cable access talk show “Behind The Headlines.”

When I lost my gig at The Herald, he was one of the first – if not the first – person to reach out with the claim to let him know if I needed anything.

Now, he is back in the limelight, big-time, as he is representing the entity who recently dared to call himself your president (not mine) the last four years.

To be specific, Castor is defending “it” on impeachment for inciting a riot of Neanderthals who support him if shot someone in Times Square.

In short, he has signed on to defend the indefensible.

In terms of selling off your soul, this is like doing so at a flea market.

I used to say I know many local Republicans, and that I voted for some, like Castor.

There were times when my ticket was split, or even went into the red, and he’d be the reason.

I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we were friendly enough to be on a first-name basis.

And, man, I couldn’t be more ashamed.

Remembering a Brother Lost

By ANDY CLIBANOFF

So many people were posting yesterday about the passing of Ross S. Malkiel. I was in too much shock to post. I had just had an hour-long phone conversation with him a few days ago (well, if you know Ross, that translates to about 50 minutes of him speaking to my 10 minutes of speaking).

Growing up four doors down the street, he was one year older than me and one year younger than my brother, so the three of us truly considered ourselves to all be brothers. He could walk into my house unannounced as I could into his. If anything was cooking I was always welcome to join his family for a meal and vice versa.

As we got older, Ross made some bad choices and chose to go down some roads that I refused to take. He never ever pressured me to travel those roads with him. He actually grew to respect my decision to stay away from those roads when it was clearly the less popular choice among most of our friends at the time.

The problem is Ross was never truly able to find his way off those roads. Maybe there was something more I could have done to help him. I don’t know.

But I do know this: Ross loved me like you wish every friend that you ever had loved you. Ross would have my back whenever I needed him, and plenty of times when I really didn’t need him.

He truly had a heart of gold and always believed that the future ahead of him was a brighter one. I will truly miss him.

Rest in peace, my brother.

And As The Rats Scurry

By GORDON GLANTZ

From factory workers to steelworkers to those who worked in big city high rises, the shocking sight of a place where you spent the large part of your work life go from vacant to a state of disrepair to being reduced to rubble is far from unique.

It is an American as Hollywood insulting out intelligence with reboots of old movies and television shows.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own rather bittersweet feelings about the old Times Herald building at Main and Markley streets in Norristown suffering the same fate for the alleged sake of gentrification.

The last time I was there, in mid-April of 2013, I was being escorted to my car. Nearly eighteen years of service, and that was that.

The truth was this: I didn’t need an escort. If I believed more strongly in running instead of walking, I would have ran to my car. It was a mercy firing.

It was a Thursday, and my blood pressure had been so dangerously high all that week — from work-related stress — that my doctor had me checking it three times a day and set me up with a counselor to work it out (if it was good enough for Tony Soprano …).

When I woke up Friday, my BP was perfectly normal 117/94. I still went to the counselor, but we talked about my “mother” issues after she pretty much surmised my work scenario was toxic and I needed the change,

Since then, as I’ve gone from seeing my daughter, Sofia, 15 minutes a day to 15 hours a day, I’ve had the happiest years — Kindergarten though 8th grade for her — of my life.

But that is not to downgrade my time at The Times Herald. I made some lifelong friends — Valerie Newitt, Judy Baca, Kelly Devine, Katie O’Conor-Kelly, Jack Kerwin, Bill Schneider and many others (including people in the community I met through being there so long) — and have stories that no one sober would dare believe.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Even while surrounded by co-workers who felt eternally trapped and miserable, there was a point in my tenure there when I would have been wholly satisfied to retire in that place. There were no daggers in my desk drawers to plunge into anyone’s back with the desire to move up some imaginary corporate ladder. In the newsroom, the same newsroom where I had vicious seizure in 2005 and where Sofia took her first steps in 2009, is where I wanted to be.

They say that ignorance is bliss. And I was probably too blissful — and too comfortable — for my own good.

The only thing that changed was the work environment, where it went from feeling like a family akin to the Waltons (I craved that after my unique childhood) to one where a rabid pack of Millennials, some of whom I had brought in as interns and then hired, operated under the misguided belief that they could make their own candle shine brighter by blowing out mine.

I always wanted to be loved. Since that is not an easy juggling act for one in middle management, I would have settled for being liked. Being despised tore at my insides.

Maybe it was just the circumstances of becoming too understaffed to operate seven days a week, and maybe I had just overstayed my welcome in 18 years.

Even though it all left me with a touch of PTSD, I still would not have changed a thing in the big rose-colored picture.

Under the wrecking ball’s wrath, there are no victims except the generation of suddenly homeless rats that have long-since inhabited the place. If they could tell tales, that of Gordon Glantz would be a quite a chapter in and of itself.

It is not an exaggeration that my blood, sweat and tears were left there when I was escorted out.

Maybe only the rats in the dank bowels realized it, but that’s OK. They are more intelligent animals than people know.

Am I making too much out of my impact there? Maybe.

I mean, I was no Red McCarthy, the sports editor for eons, but I likely won more journalism awards than anyone in the history of the joint (I also probably entered more contests, too, but you got to be in it to win it, right?).

I also hosted my own cable access current events show and had 14.5 minutes of fame on the mainstream media circuit after a gruesome homicide in Upper Merion.

Just during my 18-year tenure, there were those who came and went at the speed of a staff of a fast food restaurant and likely barely remember ever even working there on their road to somewhere else.

That wasn’t me, though.

Heck, at places like Eve’s Lunch or the annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet, people will come up to me and complain about not getting their paper delivered.

I have to politely tell them I don’t work there anymore, and haven’t since that fateful day in 2013.

When we toured Mount St. Joseph Academy (Sofia got a scholarship, not that I’m bragging), a teacher from the Jeffersonville area said: “Wait, you’re Gordon Glantz? Really? We love Gordon Glantz!”

She, too, didn’t realize I wasn’t there anymore. And this was like a month ago (she politely declined my offer for an autograph).

I remember being at the bank, and also serving a sentence waiting for the wife to shop at the Dollar Store in East Norriton, and having someone ask this question: “Didn’t you used to be Gordon Glantz?”

As I am prone to do, I wrote a dour woe-is-me song about the experiences called “Used To Be Me.”

Actually, as songwriting has morphed into my main thing, one theme has been the wrestling match within American souls between defining themselves by who they are (as parents, citizens and civil human beings) and what they are (based on what war they might have fought in, and for which branch of the military, or what they did for a living and where).

Having served both of those masters in my lifetime, my bittersweet feelings about the building coming down now make sense in context.

It has been a long, strange trip.

When I got there in May of 1995, Scotty had beamed me down to the surface of the planet Utopia. I had spent 7 years at a chain of low-paying weeklies – Montgomery Newspapers – and was already worn to a nub from my sports stories running up to a week after an event.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the opportunity given to me at that first real journalism job, as it gave me a chance to iron out some seriously rough edges to my writing.

Because I was often writing game stories that were running way after the fact, and after they had already been reported in other papers (there used to be healthy amount back then), I developed a way to turn a game story into more of a feature that would be still be an interesting read.

I had put in the work, too, on other levels. Example: I would cover football games on Friday nights and drive all the back to a dark Fort Washington office (also long-since vacant) and put myself on the same deadline that I knew writers at daily papers were on.

When I first got to the Herald, there was a lot of consternation – and turnover – because of a change in ownership about a year before. I was always kind of caught in the middle of all that. It was like being born too late to be a baby boomer but too soon for Generation X.

At the time, all the desks in the newsroom were still filled with reporters and editors. People weren’t happy with their salaries, but we were at full staff. There were multiple reporters at the courthouse, too. In sports, there were seven of us for six desks. As the “rookie,” I sometimes had to get up and move two or three times per shift.

In many ways, the Herald was more antiquated than my previous employer. It didn’t have voice mail – something I had to put atop the bargaining wish list as unit chair when it was clear we weren’t getting more than a pittance of a raise – and I had taken my life in my hands multiple times by trying to enter through the arcane revolving door at the front entrance (it became safer ascending and descending from the steep and rickety side fire escape).

But I covered all the premium scholastic beats – football, boys’ basketball (including PW winning the state title in Hershey), baseball and American Legion baseball in the summer.

I eventually had the chance to cover the 76ers and then college hoops, both of which included going on the road.

Professionally, after seven years of feeling like a second class citizen, I was like Albert in Wonderland.

I got married while I was there, and many of the attendees at my bachelor party – and wedding — were co-workers.

The thing was, turnover was growing at a more rapid rate, too. At one point, the news reporters had already left or had turned in their two-weeks notice. At the same time, my union activities pretty much had me blacklisted from attaining management status, even after serving as interim sports editor – with no raise – for a period of close to a year.

It was time for a change, but we already bought a house in Blue Bell and I couldn’t just up and move (even after being advised that it would be in the best interests of my career).

I had an epiphany, and went into the office of then-editor Mike Morsch (still a good friend to this day). I offered to come over to the dark side – i.e. newsroom – but only as the crime reporter. I wanted no parts of any township/borough meetings, etc.

He was cool with the proposal and, just like that, I had made a sudden gear shift.

A lot was different, obviously. It was real life, with real life consequences, but I had connected with most of the cops the same way I did with coaches.

Once you are on a first-name basis, and can be trusted, you can be a more cerebral cop reporter (you don’t need to be an ambulance-chasing covering accidents and fires catching stories from the scanner). I worked closely with detectives on larger cases and had my share of scoops.

The managing editor, a vastly overqualified dude named Justin Williams, was leaving. I was talking in the newsroom with fellow reporter – and partner in crime – Michelle Mowad about who would replace Justin.

“Whoever it is, I hope they aren’t an asshole,” one of us said, as we watched candidates come and go for interviews.

Hearing us from across the room, Cheryl Rodgers – then the city editor and now still “it” as the paper functions virtually – chimed in.

“Whoever it is better not think they are my boss,” she said.

As soon as we got done laughing, I saw Justin at my desk. He said Stan Huskey, Mike Morsch’s replacement as executive editor, wanted to see me.

I figured someone was in trouble (not naming names, but it was usually the same person) and he wanted to tell me about it, since I was the “union guy.”

Lo and behold, Stan asked if I was interested in the managing editor’s job.

I’m sure he thought I would jump at it, but I needed some time.

We were in the middle of contract talks, and I didn’t want to seem like Benedict Arnold.

However, everyone involved with the Newspaper Guild could not have been more encouraging, if not flat-out happy for me, as it seemed I was suddenly off the blacklist.

I was cleared for takeoff on the home front as well, so I told Stan I was willing to proceed.

What came next was the best run of my work life.

Followed by the worst.

It was like a thrilling roller-coaster ride that, unfortunately, leaves you nauseated at the tail end.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Ask the rats — as they scurry — if you don’t believe me.

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!