Category Archives: Politics

Another Open Wound

Sanders

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There is one thing about a bitter loser, which I freely admit I am: We dwell on our setbacks, keeping us up nights for decades after a defeat, more than our victories.

The writing is on the wall with my man, Bernie Sanders, and I am one heck of a sourpuss right now.

Don’t expect me to “just get over it” anytime soon.

The mainstream media took for what seemed like fiendish joy in its 24/7 hatchet jobs on the man who I consider the only candidate who tried to give a voice to the voiceless.

There was no other end game for Sanders beyond seeing people put roofs over their heads, food on their tables, send their kids to college, breathe cleaner air and have the same kind of health care as the rest of the civilized world.

Oddly, exit polls around the country show that most voters support this progressive (not socialist) agenda.

And yet, mostly out of concocted fear – and younger voters not putting down their iPhones long enough to vote – Sanders is slip sliding away.

The party establishment has dutifully lined itself up behind Joe Biden, a nice enough chap who has been running for president, unsuccessfully, since I was in college (that’s a long time ago, as I turn 55 March 23).

To put it in perspective, “The Simpsons” was not yet a series (having only appeared on an episode of “The Tracey Ullman Show”) when he first ran in 1987-88.

I have nothing against Biden, really, but I’d like to know what he stands for – on anything – in terms of the issues.

And, it seems, no one really cares.

Me, I care. If you seek substantive change, so should you.

I fear he’s like the knife you bring to a gunfight, the spray can you use on a raging forest fire or the whiffle ball bat you bring to a game of hardball.

What really galls me the most is that Pennsylvania is identified as a battleground state (along with Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Florida).

By the time this horrendously flawed primary/caucus season gets to us (not to mention New York state) in late April, we will have zero say in choosing the nominee.

It is particularly irksome when you consider that the Philadelphia suburbs are circled as a major hot spot in the presidential general election.

And yet, red states that will never go blue in the general election got to sign and seal the deal for Biden (with the help of his on-air campaign workers in supposedly neutral media).

For a sore loser such as I, this will never sit right.

After Sanders rolled in Nevada, a winnable state in November with a diverse population, he was dubiously dubbed as the frontrunner.

In what appeared to be telegraphed through their teleprompters, the talking heads on the all-news networks were playing “Taps” for Biden when, in fact, they all knew he was going to win South Carolina, after which they could call him the “comeback kid” and drone on and on and on about how he cornered the market on the black vote.

The problem with the whole flawed process, the one that leaves Pennsylvanians (and others) with zero say, is the difference between how white and black voters are viewed by alleged experts.

White voters are sliced and diced up a million different ways – by age, by income, by education level, by geography, etc. – while black voters are unscientifically culled together and tossed into one voting bloc for analysis.

But who says that a rural black voter in South Carolina or Alabama has the same wants and needs as, say, a black voter with whom he or she has nothing in common (other than skin color) in Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh or Cleveland?

This mindset has a real chance to cost the Democrats – those of us with noble ideals but new and improved ways to lose – the ultimate prize.

Plain and simple, Biden – like Hillary Clinton before him – will be christened as the nominee on a false positive.

Consider that no Democratic presidential candidate has won a state in what is considered the heart of the Deep South (Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana) in the New Millennium.

States along its rim/outer core (Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky) have similar outcomes (Oklahoma, like Mississippi, not gone for a Democrat in the general election since before the signing of the Civil Rights Act).

The only exceptions, in terms of rim states with different demographics (transplanted residents), are Florida (won by Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012) and North Carolina (won by Obama in 2008, but not 2012).

And, in both of those states, Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.

What does this tell you? All these states have significant black populations, but their collective vote gets magnified in the primary season only to be trapped in the presidential election, making one wonder two things:

1) Is the electoral college flat-out racist?

2) Is the way the Democrats anoint their champion a wise one, strategically?

Biden got around 60 percent of the black vote in the Deep South, and that is put in a context as being the ultimate difference between himself and Sanders, and yet it will likely add up to zero – in terms of electoral votes – when it matters most.

The onus will be on swing states such as our own, and yet we didn’t even get to choose in the primary because of the horrendous scheduling.

Yeah, I’m bitter that Sanders is all but done, but not just because he was my candidate.

It’s the how and why he was systematically marginalized that will be keeping me up nights.

This column rain in The Times Herald on March 15.

Will It Go ‘Round In Circles?

Circles

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Despite being the anti-gun party, the Democratic donkey is locking and loading and eyeing up a close-range target: Its own foot.

Yes, the party that can’t get out of its own way is back at it again, turning the primary and caucuses (eye roll) into what will be a prolonged and destructive civil war.

And, on one leg, it will be forced to hobble to the finish line in November of this year.

The real losers? The American people.

And the only winner will be the other side, the one with a vocal minority that will gladly give you four more years of their president (not ours), even though he has set the bar so low for civility and behaving presidential that any of the remaining Democratic hopefuls would have to join a satanic cult to match it.

Last time around, the Democrats made the mistake of trying to have an uninspiring candidate, Hillary Clinton, run unopposed.

Russian interference aside, she still should and could have won the general election – and for reasons I have enumerated before (a better running mate, campaigning in swing counties of swing states, standing up for herself in debates, etc.).

This time around, we have the opposite. There were so many candidates that the field looked like the ensemble of a Broadway musical.

Even now, with a few (Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, etc.) dropping off, the battle for the lead role is up for grabs.

As it should be.

Nothing better – and more American, let alone Democratic – than a little healthy competition.

The problem is that the fighting has gotten dirty, with below-the-belt blows that were on full display during the debates ahead of the Nevada Caucuses and South Carolina primary.

The sand thrown around the sandbox, considering what is at stake, was laughable.

Upstart Michael Bloomberg is spending is own money to get elected? OK, and? What did your president (not mine) do to get elected? At least Bloomberg is diametrically opposed to your president (not mine) on all the issues that matter.

Bloomberg is not my candidate of choice, but I have to say he is growing on me. It’s interesting that he is now fielding issues about stop-and-frisk (a policy initiated by Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor and supported by the current “person” who calls himself president). We all knew about it before. It’s not a revelation.

It’s important to bring it up, sure, but let us not forget the intent – despite its clumsy and insensitive execution – which was to try and curtail black-on-black crime (the same kind that Louis Farrakhan decries to applause) in largely black neighborhoods.

Also, Bloomberg was allegedly caught saying not nice things to and about women.

But, uh, hello?

Remember that low bar we talked about? Should we get into the Access Hollywood tapes? I didn’t think so.

Let’s move on to my candidate Bernie Sanders, who is the frontrunner du jour. As such, he had to enter the debate with body armor to fend off his also-ran competitors.

They talked about his backers – the so-called Bernie Bros. – being not so nice on Twitter.

You mean the same Twitter format that your president (not mine) uses as his 3 a.m. bully pulpit?

Take it from someone who has gone the full 15 rounds with too many of his supporters to count, often having to block them when responses turned into challenges to have a duel in the Town Square, that no one goes as low as they go (especially once beaten down on the facts).

If your president (not mine) can’t be blamed for his brigade, why should Sanders take the heat for what a few supporters did in his name?

Heading into the debate, Sanders had close to a third of the vote in national polls, and had opened up a double-digit lead. That’s quite an accomplishment in a field made even more populated by Bloomberg’s surge.

And yet, television pundits twist and turn it around to say Sanders hasn’t grown his base from when it was just him and Clinton, who only built her delegate (and super delegate) lead by winning a lot of southern red states before he was a known entity to the black voters that make up a large part of the Democratic electorate in those states.

It’s a general theme, picking on Sanders’ electability (one guy with a book to sell on MSNBC said he’d lose 44 states and another disagreed, although slightly, saying 40).

Why is there never discussion about why Sanders is surging into Super Tuesday? They don’t want to address his popularity, and the crowds he brings out as compared to the others, because it doesn’t fit the script.

It is clearly evident that will come down to Sanders and Bloomberg, arguing like two old Jewish men at a deli over whether to get the lox or the whitefish on their bagels (I can say that, since I’m of the tribe). It’s pretty clear that only Joe Biden, who still clings to some tepid black support in those same states that gave Clinton that cushion she clumsily dragged to the finish line ahead of Sanders.

Biden will do well enough, I predict, that the pundits will declare the guy who needs a wake-up call and snooze alarm the “comeback kid.”

That means a temporary three-horse race, but one wonders if the others – Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg – will read the writing on the wall and do the right thing and drop out.

This will put all eyes back on the ultimate prize.

If the Democrats want to take aim on the White House, they need to stop targeting each other.

So far, with a foot wound in danger or getting infected, it does not look good.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Feb. 24, 2020.

Turn and Face the Strange

Change

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE  — It was the fall of 2000. I had become engaged to my now-wife (and Sofia’s “mama”) over the summer, and I could feel the winds of change in the air.

I had been a sports writer since 1988 and, other than not getting to be next Johnny Bravo (Greg Brady still should have gone for it, and then done college), I was content.

I liked to write, and I liked sports, so it fit (at least better than the glove on O.J.’s hand).

The problem was that sports are played on nights and weekends, a time when most of the spectating world is doing the opposite.

But if you’re a sports writer, it means you are working nights and weekends.

It was fine for 13 years, but I looked into the future and saw an abyss.

If I wanted to be a family man, I needed to make a change.

Some would call it a “Come to Jesus” moment. Lapsed Jew/atheist that I am, we will just call it a moment of truth.

While others in my situation had to either leave the business or go elsewhere, a chance to turn the beat around – quite literally — was right there at The Times Herald.

Newsroom turnover always had a mind of its own. We would have a set staff for long stretches and then, for whatever reason, everyone would seem to leave at once.

At this particular time, while we were full in sports, the newsroom had turned into a ghost town.

Skirting the tumbleweeds, I walked into the office of then-editor Mike Morsch – a straight shooter from the Midwest with whom I had a good rapport and still call friend – and, in the words of Tony Montana from Scarface, “proposed a proposition.”

I offered to fill one of the many empty chairs in the newsroom, but only under the condition that I would be the police reporter and nothing else. I wanted no parts of covering municipal or school board meetings.

Ever.

To my surprise, he was good with it.

For a while, I did both – helping out sports on busy nights, like when there were Friday night football games to be covered – while also learning the ropes of the police beat.

Within a few months, though, I really wasn’t even homesick for sports anymore.

News was growing on me.

But that’s easy for me to say.

I wasn’t going to meetings, like other reporters, and coming back to the office to write about complex issues – ones that truly affected people’s lives — while on the deadline crunch.

When I became managing editor in 2003, a large part of the job was scheduling reporters based on their meetings. If they had a conflict – there were more municipalities and school districts than reporters – we had to prioritize.

It was an odd thing, not having any personal experience with what was or was not important.

Until now.

The times they are a changin’ (nod to Sir Bob of Dylan).

As a concerned citizen, I have been to a handful of Whitpain Township meetings – and have gotten up to voice my opinion with more passion than I thought possible – about an ongoing issue in my neighborhood.

I won’t bore you with the gory details. Let’s just say that someone is looking to rewrite the zoning code to maximize his profit margin. Some of my concerned neighbors are primarily focused on the environment — water flow, trees being chopped down, the view from their back windows and water basins.

I’m with them on all that (even though my eyes glaze over with the water basin stuff), but my main thing – and that of a few others in our core group – is what even more cars will do to an already tenuous morning traffic logjam.

The other night, while we were waiting for our issue on the docket, the room was packed beyond capacity about the issue of what will become of the Mermaid Lake property.

As concerned citizens from that end of the township grilled the developers about many of the same concerns we have – only on a larger scale (school overcrowding chief among them) – it hit me just how much these meetings matter.

If citizens don’t turn out and speak up, a lot of these permanent changes – changes for the worse – will be made in their name.

During all of this heated debate, I noticed a few young ladies who appeared to be reporters furiously taking down notes (one had a small laptop and the other big yellow legal pad).

I don’t know where they were from, but I’m glad they were there.

It was another moment of truth.

While I remain eternally grateful that I never had to be in their shoes and cover a meeting, I am eternally grateful they exist.

Because these meetings matter.

Always did, and always will.

This column appeared on February 16, 2020

 

Bad To The Bone

Fatso

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The official definition of the “witching hour” is when witches — or magicians, ghouls, Republican senators and other demons — are said be at their most powerful.

That’s the myth, the folklore.

The reality is that the witching hour is when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are clear enough to be haunted by our own bitter realities.

Unanswerable questions, many about futures we can’t control, ravage the brain.

I was hit with one so immediate this past week that not even my home remedy – sneaking downstairs for some old “Sopranos” episodes – could make it right.

The question was this: Am I a bad person?

Here are three examples, hot off the presses, that had me wondering:

Andy Reid – Much of Eagles Nation has forgiven and forgotten the specifics of the Reid Era here. They instead focus on the general success between 1999 and 2012.

But not me. I remember high hopes repeatedly dashed, and the seasons that ended in despair.

I invested too much – in time, emotion and money (season ticket holder) — to be stranded at the altar again and again and again.

Maybe some forget the feeling of having their hearts eaten out that were then met with the subsequent kick in our collective gut when Reid would act smug and indifferent during postgame press conferences.

Even when mishaps (dropped passes, missed tackles) weren’t directly his fault, Reid’s standard line was “it begins with me.”

Fine, Andy, you wanted the blame, you got it. I would have told you so if they let me to drive you to the airport when you left town.

Why, then, would I – or anyone else who bleeds green – root for Reid to have success elsewhere?

There was no worse scenario than his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl when he didn’t do it in Philly after all those years of knocking on the door without finding a way to kick it in.

When we finally got it done two years ago, some of the edge was taken off. Still, when the Chiefs reached the big dance this year, I became a temporary fan of the opposing San Francisco 49ers.

Truth be told, I am more than a little bit angry with the end result (particularly the touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown) and irked by all the glad tidings for Reid around the Delaware Valley.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Yeah, sigh, I am. It’s not like he tried to lose big games here (it just seemed like it).

Iowa Caucuses – I have been a detractor of the overall primary system for a long time, and my criticism begins with the disproportionate role little Iowa plays in the process.

I wrote all about it in my Sunday column a month or two ago, but I never could have imagined the Monday meltdown that will leave the final tally with an asterisk.

The root cause of the chaos was the already silly caucus process being further complicated with some second-round scenario that was clearly over the heads of those Iowa straw-chewers to comprehend.

While the good news is that this is probably the last we will see of the Iowa Caucuses, and maybe even Iowa getting to bat leadoff and set the pace – as it has been doing, despite clearly not being a gauge of America’s diversity (it’s well over 90 percent lilywhite, for example) – the embarrassment for the Democratic party could prove to be colossal.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Nope, not at all. A little bit of vindication is good for the soul.

Rush Limbaugh – The right-wing AM Talk Radio host revealed that he is terminally ill.

If you are waiting for tears, keeping waiting.

I understand the man may have had a job to do, sort of in the Howard Stern shock jock sense, and that he may or may not have even meant half the hateful things he was saying.

But listeners – many with pea brains – accepted his postulating as fact.

And he knew it.

And he kept on spewing his garbage — ironically losing his own hearing, so he couldn’t even hear himself anymore.

 

If we are truly mired in a modern day Civil War, one in which lives (i.e. Heather Heyer) have been lost, Limbaugh is a general in the militia that fired the first shots (albeit away from the fray while on his bully pulpit).

It could be said that there would have been no coming of your president (not mine), without Limbaugh – among others – laying the groundwork.

No wonder Limbaugh got the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other night.

Limbaugh

Hard to believe, though, considering this is the same person who called Iraq War veterans subsequently opposed to the war “phony soldiers.”

Then again, this prize was given to him by the phoniest of soldiers, one who got out of Vietnam with phantom bone spurs.

Like your president (not mine), Limbaugh built his empire on lies and half-truths.

Consider that Polifact rated Limbaugh’s on-air statements as either “mostly false” or “pants on fire” at a rapid-fire rate of 84 percent, with only a mere 5 percent registering as “true.”

While a lot of his false statements are about climate change, we are also talking about someone who continually degraded President Barack Obama with racially charged innuendoes – calling him (and Oprah Winfrey) “uppity,” etc. – and who compared NFL games to showdowns between black gangs.

He also said actor Michael J. Fox was exaggerating his Parkinson’s disease in an ad for stem cell research.

I wonder if he’d like some of that stem cell research for himself now? Maybe he is just exaggerating his symptoms.

Take the high road? Not this so-called snowflake. It’s all low road here in Gordonville.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Abstain.

This column first ran in The Times Herald on Feb. 9, 2020.

A System Without Much Justice

16Muhammad-Cover-articleLarge

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — So now we find ourselves in the cold and cruel month of February, a month where a victory is a day we see the temperature safely enough above freezing that any precipitation will not cause hazardous slippage on the roadways.

Otherwise, what’s it good for?

Here’s something: It’s Black History Month.

While its origins go back to a one-week attempt in 1926, and another in 1929, it was first proposed and celebrated as a full month at Kent State University in February of 1970.

Yes, that Kent State in that same year.

Three months later, on May 4, four white Kent State students were shot and killed by members of the Ohio State National Guard during anti-war protests.

For those who decry that it is inherently unfair to have a month dedicated to studying the history of one race, the Kent State shootings are an exact example of why we are not there yet.

Widely remembered, and promptly immortalized in Neil Young’s song “Ohio,” it served to render the slaying of two black students at Jackson State University in Mississippi as a footnote.

By the mid-1970s, Black History Month was gaining enough momentum that President Gerald Ford made it official, at least symbolically, in 1976.

But, in schools, teaching black history was sporadic. The choice was seemingly up to the original teacher.

I happened to be in sixth grade in the 1976-77 school year, and my teacher, a black American, had already been making it part of his curriculum for several years.

I have to admit that it was mind-expanding to learn about the likes of Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King.

I had several black classmates that year, as my grade school was among the first to be part of a busing program (schools in Philadelphia had been integrated for years, but that was in name only, as most neighborhoods were not only isolated by race but also ethnicity).

For these new schoolmates, some of which I’m still friends with to this day, I’m sure it was a welcome break from learning about Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus and all the rest.

Learning about slavery and important dates and figures in black history was important — and certainly age-appropriate – for grade school.

The next step – for older students — would be for dealing, straight on, with difficult issues hard to ignore.

At the top of the list is the disparity between the races when it comes to crime and justice.

The United Nations studied the topic, and it filed a report in 2018. Among the troubling results were that black Americans were nearly 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.

This was most evident in the so-called War On Drugs, which created a 100-1 sentencing disparity. Of the people sentenced to jail for drug-related offenses, 74 percent are black. That translates to being 13 times more likely to go to jail, as opposed to receiving some other sort of disposition that relates to a slap on the wrist – a second chance – by comparison.

It would also seem that justice is not colorblind when it comes to the part about being innocent until proven guilty.

According a report released by The Innocence Project last summer, blacks are seven-times more likely than whites to be wrongfully convicted of murder and three times more likely than white people to be wrongfully convicted of sexual assault.

The point is also being driven home by the film industry.

Late in 2019, “Just Mercy” hit the theaters and is still playing at some.

“Just Mercy” tells the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who was wrongly convicted of murder in Alabama and is assisted in his defense. by a young Harvard-educated attorney named Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan).

It was well-received by critics, and Foxx was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for supporting actor, and it did moderately well at the box office.

There have been others on the topic in recent years, including “When They See Us” (2019), about the Central Park Five and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018).

But the most famous movie about innocent people being wrongfully convicted remains “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), where the central figure is a white man (with a black sidekick).

Yes, there is “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1962, and set in the same Alabama town as “Just Mercy”), but it features a white lawyer as the protagonist battling to exonerate a black man.

Streaming services, and Netflix in particular, is loaded with documentaries focusing on the wrongfully accused.

Meanwhile, the television news will occasionally show someone being released from prison, based on new and/or suppressed evidence, after decades.

Not only can the redemption fail to replace the lost years, but those cases are few and far between (or else they wouldn’t be news items when they do happen).

And the reality is that it only seems to apply on a one-way street.

It’s a fact that is cold and cruel, just like the month of February.

This column ran in The Times Herald on February 2, 2020.

Walking On Water

Rock 2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There was a lot to adore about Hank Cisco, who left us Tuesday in body but never in spirit.

What I will carry with me is his love of life, his natural instinct to be a friend without having to ask what he could do to help and, of course, his encyclopedia of sayings.

Odd thing about our friendship was that Hank and I didn’t really agree on much.

He was conservative, and an ardent supporter of the current president. I’m a Bernie Bro.

He liked Doris Day, I liked Stevie Nicks.

He thought Christopher Columbus got a raw deal, I thought he got too much credit and not enough blame for treatment of the natives.

He hung out with Frank Rizzo (and served as a pallbearer at his funeral). I hung out with Abbie Hoffman (but was not a pallbearer at his funeral, assuming he even had one).

And on it went.

“If two people agree all the time, one of them is unnecessary,” he would say.

Another gem, in the same spirit: “All sunshine makes deserts.”

And he was right.

Hank may not have agreed, but he never judged. I can respect that more than someone who has no opinion about anything at all, or who tells you what you want to hear just to shut you up.

We were both necessary in a balancing act that would shame The Flying Wallendas.

In these divisive times, when agreeing to disagree is off the table before two people even sit down, I try to keep his words – all of them — in mind.

Some of Hank’s sayings – like “don’t slug it out with a bum” or “I never lost a fight in the dressing room” — were self-explanatory.

And too true.

There is one – something about a mule going blind and holding the line – that I never quite got (and that’s fine).

Another that I wrestled with was: “If you want to walk on water, you better know where the rocks are.”

Not coming from a Catholic upbringing – something Hank reminded me of from time to time – any New Testament reference may as well be in Norwegian (whisper: I’m not much better with Old Testament references, either, as I adhere to the gospels of Dylan and Springsteen).

But, now, as I look ahead at life with Hank Cisco’s memory as an angel on my shoulder and not a friend in the flesh that I can share some Italian food and laughs with, it makes sense.

Complete and total sense.

Going on without Hank Cisco will be like walking on water.

But keeping his memory alive, just by asking myself what Hank would have done or by applying one of his pearls of wisdom, will help me find the rocks.

Hank was 96 when he passed away, well beyond when the doctors said he would.

I’m going to be 55 in March.

That’s a four-decade difference.

When you have a friendship with someone that much older, there is much to be gained, particularly for the younger friend.

But the odds are that you will have to see them buried.

It’s a leap a lot of people in my generation don’t want to take. They can’t help it with their parents and other older relatives, but they put on a coat of protective armor by not wanting to go there with their emotions otherwise.

It’s a choice that is both foolish and selfish.

We were friends for the last quarter century, from the time he brought boxer Michael Grant into the sports department to be interviewed and I drew the short end of the stick by not making myself scarce.

Hank thanked me for the article in his own Hank way – by sending enough food over to feed a platoon.

When I had a health scare back in 2005, Hank came to see me in old Montgomery Hospital. It was a quick visit (he did everything quick back then), but I never forgot it.

I made sure to return the favor when Hank was hospitalized, even toward the end. At one point, my mother was in Einstein at the same time. I left her room before visiting hours ended to stop into his, only to find such a mob scene – including sisters from Mother Teresa’s order (Missionaries of Charity) saying a prayer – that I practically had to take a ticket, like at a deli, to get in the door.

I was fearful that the end was imminent, but it was not the case. Hank was his normal jovial self, and insisted we take a picture with a big boxing glove that I was asked to sign for the second or third time.

After the room had cleared out, his daughter, Mary, came in and tossed him a bag of fast food that he promptly inhaled in about 12 seconds.

The next time, another picture.

Hank was turning hospital visits into events, but he was also aware of the end, and was at peace with it.

“I’m in the 15th round, Rock,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, before getting emotional while talking about John Doyle’s crew that had come to the hospital to film “The Hank Cisco Show” (I was a guest, and a guest host, many times).

Once Hank was placed on home hospice care, I stopped by a few more times, only to find him sleeping – and peacefully (a rare, but unique, sight).

When he awoke, and found out I had been there, he made sure to call and was still full of ideas of what I should or shouldn’t do about this or that.

Each time I hung up the phone, I knew it might be the last time we will speak.

And the last time was the last time.

Sad, yes, but also moments to treasure.

I learned a great deal from being around Hank Cisco.

He lived life to the fullest, dawn to dusk and beyond. He saw each day as a gift, and treated it as such.

Even when he had health setbacks, he set goals to come back and get himself back into circulation (and on NASDtv).

He had enough reasons to quit, but he was always looking forward.

When he was made a widower a few years back, I stopped by his house on Powel Street to see how he was doing and to take him out to lunch.

Before I knew it, he was make me pasta for the lunch.

He showed me a lot of memorabilia during that visit, revealing a side I hadn’t seen before.

But nothing can top actual memories.

With those, with Hank Cisco, I have many.

There is sunshine in the desert.

And if one of us was unnecessary, it was me.

The column appeared in The Times Herald on Jan. 17, 2020

A Right Turn Down A Wrong Road

Rally Heads

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s that time of the year again.

Time for New Year’s resolutions.

With five-plus decades on the planet, I have been through them all – losing weight, gaining muscle, not losing my mind (as much) during Eagles games, gaining perspective, etc.

This year, I’m shooting for something a little bit different.

Instead, I’m going to see how the other half lives. I’m going to give it a go as a conservative.

No worries, fellow liberals, I’ll be back in time to vote against their president (not ours) in November.

New Year’s resolutions only last as long as the first whiff of a real Philly cheese steak (not what is passed off as such out here in the suburbs).

But, in the intervening months – or weeks, days or minutes – let’s see how it goes.

It is certainly a simpler lifestyle having this view, one where I can just line up all the talking points in a row and dutifully march in line behind them.

Example: Anything nasty their president (not ours) has done up until this point, before becoming president and since, can easily be explained away.

He was chosen by God.

Who can argue with that, right?

It implies he is not only absolved of all sins – past, present and future – but that all decisions are blessed by the almighty.

Sure, there is no tangible evidence to back this up. Usually, people who claim to be messengers from God are tossed into asylums, not the Oval Office.

And if any lefty wants to get into details about what he has done wrong, the new me can just say it’s all fake news and/or a witch hunt that’s all orchestrated by the same mainstream media that helped invent his campaign in the first place.

What about all the mounting evidence of incompetence, and incoherence, let alone evidence for impeachment?

No worries.

Deflect and distract.

Fight any forms of nuanced thinking.

That’s their job, not mine.

Don’t tread on me? Hell yeah, I’ll even buy that flag and plant it in my turf.

I’m the true patriot here.

Show empathy toward others, I’ll promptly call you a snowflake (while crawling toward my own safe space for being called a “deplorable” or if you recently wished me “happy holidays” instead of a “Merry Christmas”).

If they persist with their elitist check mates, I’ll lob a “What about Obama?” hand grenade.

When they ask for specifics, I’ll just double down and say “all of them.”

And then, when all else fails, there is the old standby: Benghazi, with a side dish of Benghazi and a desert of even more Benghazi.

Top it off with a “lock her up.”

See how easy this is?

See how much fun?

The next mass shooting? I’ll just shrug it off, callously, and say it could not have been stopped – even if there is evidence that it easily could have been with a routine background check, or waiting period, on the assailant.

Greta Thunberg? Ha. Too small to make a difference. Plus, isn’t she autistic or something like that there?

Plus, she’s Swedish, not American.

Plus, there is the old standby of waiting on a deep freeze and cracking wise about Al Gore (even though a cold snap in our little corner of the world is not reflective of all that is happening elsewhere).

Knowing that everybody plays the fool – sometimes – I can just say all the science isn’t in, or go to the slight moderation that there is no proof that the scourge is man-made. After all, there is always a crackpot contrarian at some third-rate unaccredited college still saying that the earth is flat or that there is not proof that tobacco causes lung cancer, right?

If those dogs won’t hunt, I’ll channel the mind of the average conservative who knows, full-well, that climate change is real.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” I’ll say. “By the time the planet is unlivable, I won’t know the difference because I’ll be dead.”

And that’s it, right there, in a nutshell.

I could go into being pro-life while being fine putting babies in cages.

I can just say they are “illegal” (when they are the children of parents seeking asylum in a country where the path to citizenship for brown people is vastly different than it was for white people during the industrial revolution).

Beginning in 2020, for as long as I can take it, I am going to be the synonym of being conservative, despite Bible quotes to the contrary.

I’m going to be selfish.

If all is good for me in my stock portfolio, all is good in the ivory tower.

Can I pull it off?

No, sigh, I can’t.

Upon further review, forget it.

As easy as life would be to trade being kind and sensitive for being blissful and blind, I don’t want to live that way for even a millisecond.

I’m good the way I am.

Happy 2020.

This column ran in The Time Herald on Jan. 1, 2020

Hillary, Please, Go Away

Hillary-Clinton-Just-Crept-Back-Into-Politics-And-Scored-A-Big-Win

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Some people, I’ll tell ya, they just don’t know when to go away.

Kanye West. The cast of the rebooted “Ghostbusters.” Anyone with the last name of Kardashian or Jenner.

But, today, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

The future of the nation depends on a more graceful exit, as opposed to her ongoing stumble that sets off the fire alarm.

She might think her two cents – sounding more to the masses like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons – remains vital to the national discourse, but nothing is further from the truth.

It just adds to the noise.

Clinton, who pretty much handed your president (not mine) the presidency by running one of the worst campaigns possible while presuming victory (kind of like the Eagles two Sundays hence in Miami against the lowly Dolphins with a 92-year-old quarterback).

She recently put some more cheese with her whine in an interview with Howard Stern, blaming her costly and embarrassing loss on the usual suspects – James Comey, the Russians – and, of course, Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders? You mean the same Bernie Sanders who is very much alive and well – without the SuperPAC donations that were the lifeblood of Clinton’s otherwise comatose campaign – in the 2020 bid to unseat the albatross that Clinton, and Clinton alone, left us to deal with while she fires spitballs at the free-thinking Vermont senator from her detached Manhattan perch.

Clinton’s stated resentment of Sanders has less to do with him not vociferously backing her after being literally jobbed out of the nomination by the DNC establishment and more to do with that he dared to enter the race at all.

The sad thing is that what I’m going to write now is nothing I haven’t already written before in past columns and blog posts, but – like a bad rash – Clinton makes me keep on itching at it.

The original plan, as sickening as it sounds, was for Clinton to run unopposed by anyone after a few marginal candidates – Sanders, included – dropped out after the first four primaries/caucuses.

But Sanders had a groundswell of support, mostly from the younger voters that Clinton couldn’t connect with, and he used donations averaging $27 (I made several) to chase her almost to the finish line.

Once she “won,” after only some rather strange vote counts in the Western primaries/caucuses where Sanders was polling even or ahead, plenty of Sanders supporters – myself included – moved into her camp.

Truth be told, her resume made her beyond qualified to be president. I had no issue whatsoever with voting for her when the time came.

But then it went.

And she lost.

She lost by not going to places where Sanders either beat her (Wisconsin, Michigan) and or made a surprisingly strong showing. She lost by picking a saccharine running made that added zero, and actually hindered, her chances.

She was qualified but uninspiring, a trait that shouldn’t disqualify someone from being elected but, sadly, does in this day and age.

Your president (not mine) can do and say – and tweet — anything about anyone and get away with it. She can accurately call some – not all, but some – of his supporters “deplorable” and have it held against for time in memoriam.

Clinton should have stood up for herself on the debate stage better. When your president (not mine) kept interrupting her at the pace of every other word – saying “wrong,” like the pestilent ADHD child he is – she should have stopped cold and told him that she was going to interrupt him and he needs to stop interrupting her.

If he continued, she should have asked the moderators to do their jobs.

At another point, in another debate, he literally stalked her, physically, to make her look smaller in stature. She should have, and could have, told him to go stand where he is supposed and not invade her space.

Some said she couldn’t do that because women are judged differently, and there may be some truth to it. However, I think it could be more nuanced. I can’t see Elizabeth Warren putting up with those antics.

Personally, I think she figured he was making so much of a jackass out of himself that she didn’t need to intervene. That is, unfortunately, the way of the wimpy Democrat.

And it can’t be anymore.

Full disclosure, of course, is that I join fellow celebrities (wink) and intellectuals (wink again) – documentarian/activist Michael Moore, rapper/activist Killer Mike, philosopher/activist Dr. Cornel West and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile – as a noted Sanders supporter.

But I’m also realistic enough to read the writing on the walls the White House – particularly in the environment of hate that your president (not mine) created – that reads both “No Jews Allowed” and “No Socialists Allowed.”

Sanders – like myself – is barely a practicing Jew and is a Democratic Socialist (go check the economy, and quality of life index, in Finland), not a Socialist.

So, when Clinton stuck in a dig during her interview, saying that she hopes Sanders is quicker to support the nominee this time around, she is unfortunately accurate that he probably won’t get the nod.

However, in the process, she admitted that he still carries a lot of sway with a lot of voters – particularly the younger voters – the ones that she so miserably failed to captivate on her own accord.

That’s why she is pleading her case with Howard Stern, still lamenting not being president, instead of sitting in the Oval Office.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 15, 2019.

Common Enemies to Bond Us

Robocall

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — So I’m sitting here thinking – a scary thought, pardon the pun – about ways we can become more unified in these times that are so divisive that we all may as well meet at Gettsyburg and get it over with already.

Before we go there, though, let’s go here.

Let’s think of the late Rodney King, who implored us all to get along in the midst of the Los Angeles riots of 1991.

We have some common enemies, true leeches on our collective hide.

Not matter our heritage or religion, let alone political leaning, they don’t play favorites.

I talk, of course, of scam artists.

I could let my mind wander over to the ultimate such being in the White House, but I won’t go there (even though I just did).

I’ll keep to those who are even worse, as they can ruin your life in a more direct and insidious way, hacking their way into your personal information.

These are some of the most inventive beings out there, lurking in the shadows, and it makes one wonder what would happen if they focused on helping society.

This time of year, especially in an era of Internet shopping, cyber-scamming is ratcheted up several scary notches.

It is not uncommon for “spoofing” sites to be set up set up to capture innocent shoppers looking for a bargain.

Also prevalent this time of year are charity scams, where the money you donate – along with your personal information – goes to the scammer.

While organizations like AARP warn seniors, no one is immune.

All day, and I mean all day, my phone rings with numbers I don’t recognize.

There is no way, and I mean none, that anyone at the other end is out to do you and your family any favors.

At best, it might be someone conducting a political survey.

Yeah, it’s harmless enough to vent to them for a few minutes, but they have your number in their database for life.

If I tell you I’m a Bernie Sanders guy until further notice, no reason to call again – until further notice.

Got it? Get it. Apparently not.

They will call again – multiple times – and it will never ever be at a good time.

Eagles in the middle of eating my heart out? They’ll call.

Re-watching Paulie and Christopher get lost in the Pine Barrens for the 194th time? They’ll call.

Dinner? You can bet tomorrow’s lunch on it.

Get Caller ID, they said.

It helps, but it doesn’t stop the calls.

And if the ID says “No Name” or “Anonymous,” you won’t be talking to me (until I’m in a mood to fight with someone).

Buy a magical thingamajig to stop them?

A) Why should we buy something extra to stop what the phone company should police better?

B) We all know it’s a matter of time before these PITAs find a workaround. It’s like an electronic fence. If Fido is determined, you are going to find him in your neighbor’s yard (if you’re lucky).

C) How do I know the sellers of the thingamajig are not scammers?

Do away with my home phone? I get just many unwanted calls on my cell phone as I do the land line, which I have admittedly unplugged (not a good idea with a kid at school) just to catch an afternoon nap with Rex.

Yeah, there is a mechanism to block that number. A day later, I just get another call from a number with one digit changed – and at the same time of day.

What do these people want? They rarely, if ever, talk anyway.

Before they got busted in 2016, after four years of playing their trade, there were these creeps who would call and say they were from the IRS.

I once decided to answer and play along.

The callers had very thick accents – from India or Sri Lanka – but were using names like John Smith and Tim Jones.

One time, I told the guy I was going to give him some advice on how to be a better scammer and not use those anglicized aliases, as no one will believe them.

But, sadly, people – particularly seniors on fixed incomes – panicked at the prospect of being in trouble with the IRS and turned over personal information.

The rules here are simple.

If anyone – in a phone call or e-mail – asks you to update credit card information, give them your social security numbers or anything else (bank account information for an alleged forthcoming deposit from an African prince), don’t do it.

It happened to me just this week, with an e-mail from Netflix, saying there was trouble with my account and to update my credit card information.

They even coopted the Netflix logo, so it looked semi-legit.

Plus, it was the third or fourth such e-mail in the last few weeks. From past experience of writing up zillions of scams in police reports, I called the Netflix customer service number.

Things are so bad these days, that I was a bit worried that the woman in the other end was not legit. However, it became crystal clear I was the target of a scam in the e-mails that she was the one helping me keep my account secure (while on the phone, I received several e-mails from Netlfix about re-setting my account, etc.).

This is an example of what it has come to, as we are even wary of people doing their jobs because others have nothing better to do with their ingenuity than to use it for malevolent purposes.

If we can all agree on that, maybe Rodney King’s question – “Can we all get along?” – is still a beckon of hope.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 8, 2019.