By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — It’s a common refrain among supporters of your president (not mine).
Repeating as much as the line in the song “Talk Talk” (by the band Talk Talk), it goes something like this: “He has done so much for this country. I wish people would just give him a chance.”
And then I’m usually issued a personal challenge to do so.
Fine, I’ll take off my alleged blinders and play along.
Let’s go in search of evidence of any presidential achievement that rises above the level of the baseline perfunctory stuff.
What has your president (not mine) achieved with the core policy of simply undoing anything and everything that Barack Obama did?
Does governing by overnight insult via Twitter count as an achievement?
By demonizing the media, whose rights are guaranteed under the First Amendment?
It is clear your president (not mine) has certainly tried, albeit with all the political grace of the proverbial bull in a china shop, to fulfill his clumsy populist campaign visions.
Even though the lives of Wisconsin farmers or Michigan factory workers or West Virginia coal miners have not been altered for the better, and sometimes for the worse, your president (not mine) still makes sure to feed them that steady diet of red meat with a side dish of overcooked venom.
But the cost of not governing the full nation has been so steep that we are in Civil War mode.
Your president (not mine) said he was going to build a wall at the border with Mexico and, get ready for the rim shot, make Mexico pay for it.
Because the big baby didn’t get his bottle, he willingly created chaos — a 35-day government shutdown – and he is still threatening the nuclear option of declaring a national emergency.
Other applause-line promises included repealing Obamacare, defunding sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood, starting to say “Merry Christmas Again” (not sure if and when that ever stopped, but whatever), etc.
His main legislative victory was passing a tax reform bill, one that backfired enough on average Americans – likely the same swing voters that got him into office — that the Republican party was hit hard in the mid-terms of last November.
It would seem that, for every attempted step forward, we have waltzed backward toward an abyss.
The real answer to the accomplishment question may lie in the biggest overarching promise of all, the one to which some clung and his detractors scoffed, which was to “Make America Great Again.”
The feeling here is that we were never great, and I challenge you to show me a time in our blood-stained history when we were. Remember, people, “great” is a perfect 10, not a 9 or a 9.5.
Before you tell me to love it or leave it, I do believe that what makes America great is that our potential for greatness has a high ceiling.
As far as giving him a chance, I’m willing to give anyone a chance.
Sure, I was left pretty much bewildered that the national electorate could be so misinformed, but there was a thought – a Hail Mary pass, really – that this wheeler-dealer could bring both sides to the table and end gridlock.
Instead, it has gotten so bad that Obama-era gridlock would be an improvement.
As far that chance you want me to give him, your president (not mine) pretty much lost me at hello. It was a 1-2 punch. His lack of leadership in the wake of Charlottesville, and then with his aloof pomposity – and pledges of the allegiance to the NRA — after horrific mass shootings were turnoffs beyond repair.
And let us not forget his arrogant ignorance toward Puerto Rico, treating this American territory like a foreign country, after Hurricane Maria.
The arrests of those in his administration, and the whole Stormy Daniels thing, almost seemed like side freak shows outside the big tent (even though they would have brought down other presidents not wearing coats of Teflon armor).
The net results of these missteps show up in the lowest approval ratings in modern history (source: Gallup) and the highest senior staff turnover rate (source: Brookings Institute).
But there is good news.
So good, in fact, that the promise of a modicum of greatness is within reach.
I saw it in the generations of women marching in D.C., not to mention around the nation.
I saw it in the young people, the voters of tomorrow, doing the same after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
I saw it in the results of the 2018 midterms that created the most diverse representation of the changing culture that the backers of your president (not mine) were galvanized to resist via coded language.
And I see it in the resilience of barely five-foot Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who – in the words of the late great Tom Petty – won’t back down to the 6-foot-3 orange giant.
Now, we just need to see it from Robert Mueller.
Oddly, this reachable American greatness is one your president (not mine) may achieve at his own peril.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Sunday, Feb. 10.
By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — So here we are.
The national holiday known as Super Bowl Sunday.
But there is not much to celebrate here in the mythical town of Gordonville, where Main Street has been gentrified with used record stores and all-night diners.
Last year? Yes. This year? No.
When the game ends, and the Lombardi Trophy is handed to the winning team (my prediction is the Patriots in a walk), it will officially end the reign as champions for our Eagles.
A year ago, and unlike Super Bowl 39 (I don’t believe in Roman numerals, as we are not in Rome, although the fall of that empire and our own is eerily similar), I didn’t attend in person.
I was at the best place in the world. A house of a friend with a roomful of diehards totally fixated on the game (with the local broadcast on the radio and the volume of the TV, with the irksome network crew, turned down).
I get chills now – I am, right now – thinking about how the room erupted when Brandon Graham stripped Tom Brady and Derek Barnett fell on the ball.
When Brady’s Hail Mary pass fell to the ground, I made my way out of the room and sat by myself and cried like a baby for a good five minutes.
What can top that?
Not much, not even another Eagles’ title – although they are more than welcome to win it all again whenever they’d like before I am in my rocking chair with two or three marbles rattling around upstairs.
So here we are.
The following year.
There will still be plenty of those Super Bowl parties, which I abhor almost as much people who make snide global warming remarks whenever it’s below freezing where they happen to be drawing air that particular day.
These are really the polar opposite of what I experienced last year, as barely anyone in those rooms will give two hoots about the game while dipping their chips in guacamole dip.
There will be men – I’ll let women slide on this – who barely know who is playing, and couldn’t name you more than 5-10 players on either team.
Everyone will drink their foreign lagers and play their block pools and only shut up to watch the commercials.
And they will see commercials for all kinds of nonsense, like people buying each other $50K vehicles for Valentine’s Day. There will be ads for beer and online sports gambling, while some sort of nonsense scrolls under the screen about drinking – and gambling — responsibly.
It seems like anything and everything is fair game.
But it’s not.
CBS, the network broadcasting the game this year, rejected a 60-second ad for medical marijuana.
Read that again, and let that sink in.
There will be ads for ailments such as adult acne and leg pain, with side effects so severe that that they may led to any of the 21 conditions approved for the use of medical marijuana in our state (and 29 others, including the District of Columbia).
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th), who teamed with State Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48th) in a successful bipartisan effort to legalize the use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania, couldn’t help but note the irony.
“Preventing people from hearing about the benefits of medical marijuana, while at the same time happily advertising booze, dangerous drugs and fast food is a strange and disturbing choice,” said Leach. “Apparently the network doesn’t think their viewers are smart enough to handle a simple message responsibly, which is truly sad.”
Again, to make it clear, this has nothing to do with recreational use – although an entertaining one with Grateful Dead fans would be a hoot – but for medical marijuana.
The ad reportedly featured three patients whose suffering has been eased by medical marijuana.
The 60-second PSA-style ad (CBS is charging $3.2 million for 30 seconds) reportedly shows some uncomfortable stuff:
-A Colorado boy who suffers from Dravet syndrome (his mother says her son would have dozens to hundreds of seizures a day and medical marijuana saved his life).
-A Buffalo man says he was on opioids for 15 years after three back surgeries and that medical marijuana gave him his life back (even though he lives in Buffalo, where shoveling snow is not ideal for back health).
-An Oakland man who lost part of his leg in military service says his pain was unbearable until medical marijuana.
Funny how the NFL, which is surely the neck that turns the head that is the network in these final decisions, hoists the pomp and circumstance of the military but backs off from the other side of the story.
This is the same circuit that is on the precipice from allowing the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, which is in the only state where prostitution is somehow legal.
So here we are.
The Eagles are no longer World Champions and a major network – with a league where officials are borderline incompetent — can’t get over itself.
I’ll watch again, because that’s what I do.
It’s wired in my DNA.
But there are no tears of joy this year.
There is no joy in Gordonville.
This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on Feb. 3, 2014.
By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — MLK DAY, the 2019 version, means a lot of feel-good service projects in the suburbs – making PB&J sandwiches for the hungry and scrubbing away misunderstood graffiti — while U2’s “Pride (In The Name of Love)” plays on a loop.
It beats the alternative – reducing the minister turned activist into a faded footnote in American history – but each passing year seems to do less justice to the real man and what he actually stood for when the times they were a-changing.
While his wax figure has since found a safe space in the mainstream memory banks, he had enough of an edge to him that he was a far cry from the antithesis of, say, Malcolm X.
Just like the founding fathers were more radical than now portrayed, so too was MLK.
King – the person, as opposed to the icon — needs to be put in a real context all over again to truly understand the significance of his impact.
Consider that he was just 26 years young in 1955, the year he rose to national prominence as a leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began with the likes of Rosa Parks refusing to surrender her seat, and ended 381 days later (with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 bus fares lost).
Deeply moved by the deaths of young people, like 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 and the 1963 bombing of the Birmingham church that killed four young girls, King was radicalized.
When King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, not long after giving a speech where he practically predicted his own fate, it was presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy who famously addressed – and quelled — a largely black crowd on the streets of Indianapolis.
In the era before instant news, many were not yet aware of what happened in Memphis, and the gasp as he makes the announcement remains as haunting as his words afterward where moving.
Ironically, it was earlier in the decade, when RFK was attorney general under his brother, that he gave the nod to tap King’s phones.
Jailed 29 times, King was considered that much of a radical.
The Kennedys – and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover – suspected him of having communist leanings. Keep in mind that this was in the height of the Cold War era, so it’s a pretty heavy suspicion – if not all-out accusation.
MLK was more than just a rebel. He was a rebel of the most frightening kind to the powers that be – a rebel with a cause.
And a rebel with followers with everything to gain and not much to lose.
What gets virtually dropped from the history books was King’s staunch opposition to the Vietnam War. While he decried all casualties of the war he called “madness,” King couldn’t help but note that the soldiers on the frontlines were disproportionately black.
King began speaking out in 1967, with his “Beyond Vietnam” speech. At the time, and in stark contrast to generalized remembrances time period, being outspoken against the war was still a few years away from being commonplace.
Consider that he said the following: “I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”
That was not exactly what those in mainstream America, who could call in favors to have their sons diagnosed with bone spurs to get out of serving, wanted put out into the universe.
This is supported by a 1965 Gallup poll showing that 64 percent of Americans supported the war.
This, and the Civil Rights activism, did not make MLK beloved on Main Street. His approval rating in 1965 was 45 percent, and it slumped to 32 percent in 1966.
Recent polling consistently has MLK approved at a rate of over 90 percent.
What accounts for this about-face? Not his radical side as much as the whitewashing of it.
A good number of those polled likely don’t even know much more than the snippets of the “I have a dream” speech and the day off on the calendars.
From the mid-1950s until his death, fighting for the equality of blacks in a white-dominated society made him a pariah.
But once you are a martyr in death, all bets are off.
Some of us always heard a bit of an angry edge to the “I have a dream speech” and his doubts that his vision would or could come to pass.
It is important to note that, at the time of his assassination — under suspicious circumstances — MLK was only 39 and was not really talking about breaking down barriers of Jim Crow laws.
He was planning what was called the “Poor People’s Campaign,” which was going to be highlighted by a march on Washington, D.C. demanded better access to housing, employment, and health care through legislation.
While an approximate 50,000 still people attended the march, the revolutionary idea faded and was never addressed in a way that MLK envisioned.
Kind of like the one of racial harmony.
And it makes me wonder if creating his holiday, with days of service and what not, is not just a way to the dull the edge of what was in his heart and soul.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Jan. 20, 2019.
By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Philosophers, writers, poets and lyricists have used lies they have been told as creative fuel.
The reason is simple. Falsehoods create a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul.
If that sounds familiar – the crisis of the heart and soul part – it is because your president (not mine) went there, with the sincerity of some saccharine Air Supply love ballad, during his Tuesday prime-time address to the nation.
As a cliché, it was just little more than filler in a speech he was reportedly prodded into giving about the national shutdown over the border wall he longs to build as, ostensibly, a monument to himself.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has his own opinion, one that polling shows most Americans are agreeing with, by calling this proposal of a wall – whether built of steel, concrete, brick or cardboard — “a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.”
Durbin is probably letting your president (not mine) off the hook by a few centuries, but his point his well-taken.
Your president (not mine) wants this wall, as impractical as it is, to stand as some sort of nationalist phallic symbol.
Perhaps it would be more prudent to erect a red, white and blue billboard saying: “We will not press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish anymore!”
The net result? A legitimate crisis of the heart and soul of America.
There is now a humanitarian crisis at the border — particularly in West Texas — that was handmade in the USA.
There are families left struggling to pay bills and put food on the table because of the completely avoidable shutdown.
The First Amendment guarantees your president (not mine) a right to an opinion, but he is asleep at the wheel if he governs by opinion.
Which brings us back to the heart and soul of the crisis.
While a fact-checking scroll running under the screen during Tuesday’s speech would have been ideal, it didn’t take long for scorecards to emerge.
And the grades read like one of his Wharton School report cards.
Here are some of the results (source: NPR):
-“There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border”
Fact check: Illegal border crossings in the most recent fiscal year (ending in September 2018) were lower than 2016 or 2014, and significantly lower than their peak in 2000. NPR adds that the recent change is the increase in children and families seeking asylum from countries other than Mexico, presenting different challenges.
-“All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”
Fact check: Though studied extensively, the conclusion remains inconclusive. The push and pull of the debate is between immigrant workers (on the decline) taking low-wage/low-skilled jobs from native born workers weighed against reducing production costs for specific industries.
-“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country.”
Fact check: Though technically correct about the total number of ICE arrests of immigrants with criminal records the past two years, NPR described the number as “misleading,” as the lion’s share of those arrests are immigration-related offenses.
The view here, not of NPR, is that this is a most egregious lie. Why? Because your president (not mine) has spoon fed the base a steady red meat diet of a dangerous false narrative about illegal immigrants going on raping and pillaging sprees when, in actuality, they commit crimes at lower rates than those of us born here.
And if your president (not mine) is as concerned about violent crime as he claims, here is an idea to break the stalemate: How about he consider budging an inch on common sense gun control legislation?
-“Our Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs.”
Fact check: Well, your president (not mine) tends to believe the KGB (or whatever Putin calls it these days) over the FBI or CIA, so it only stands to reason he would go against the DEA, which has been clear that most illegal drugs imported to the U.S. from Mexico are smuggled in through legal ports of entry.
OK, with kudos to the fact checkers, it’s just not cool to be lied to, especially when it grinds the country to a halt.
So let us not talk falsely now.
There is the overriding lie that gnaws away at what truly is a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.
What I mainly heard, while rubber-necking Tuesday’s prime-time crash on the highway, was the ongoing trope that Democrats “don’t want border security.”
Your president (not mine) doubled-down on it the next day, dubbing them “criminals” for not ceding to his tantrum.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made it clear in a televised rebuttal — that actually had higher ratings than the speech they were rebutting (probably a record in television history) — that they, in essence, want the same thing.
They just won’t sign off on an impractical wall (there already is one covering 700 miles).
Your president (not mine) will not meet them halfway, or even a quarter of the way, making one wonder if it’s more about what Colin Powell recently decried as a dire situation wherein “Me the President” is more important than “We The People.”
Sounds like crisis of the heart and crisis of the soul worthy of a Bob Dylan protest song.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Sunday, Jan. 13.
By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — I have this song called “Better Than Today.” I rank it high among the hundreds of thousands I have written since the early 1980s – those painful mid-teen years when girls alternated between breaking my heart or not even knowing I existed.
This one, like most since that era, has nothing to with relationships.
In terms of the lyrics, the narrator is a married man who goes wherever the low-wage work takes him, but the drill is wearing thin.
He cashes paychecks and clears as many bills as he can, only to start the process over again. He is willing to eat once a day to ration. He buys a few Christmas gifts but takes no credit, letting them still believe in Santa as he tries to shield them from life’s harsh realities.
The song ends with a “reason to celebrate.” The narrator gets a second job and he’ll be now be working 16 hours a day. Though it’s not necessarily safe, the scenario is still “better than today.”
It wreaks of Bruce Springsteen, maybe as much as any and all previous attempts to reach that Promised Land.
But it was written, sometime in 2015-2016, while cast under the spell of another influence.
That would be Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Yeah, that Bernie Sanders.
That angry old grandpa type spewing the virtues of Democratic Socialism – with “free this” and “free that” – who also talked about American families like those in “Better Than Today” during his campaign.
Sanders’ proposed policies – framed as unrealistic – are already battle-tested in other countries (namely in Northern Europe) that do a lot things better than we do here.
It’s not unpatriotic to say so, either.
It’s blind patriotism, the worst kind there is, to believe it’s better to go into debt because a family member gets seriously ill or because our sons and daughters seek higher education than to admit defeat to Norway or Sweden.
All that doesn’t go away with a bunch flags on Flag Day.
It’s interesting how the first question about Sanders’ proposed policies were about the realistic ways they could be paid for, and yet many of the same people – some turned off by Hillary Clinton, but not necessarily by Sanders – ultimately voted for a candidate who proclaimed that he was going to build a fantastical border wall and have the country on the other side pay for it.
Staunch Democrats tell me to get over it, refusing to let me enumerate the many ways Clinton lost the election and accuse Sanders — an independent who almost always caucuses and votes with the Democrats — of being an interloper who crashed their invitation-only party.
To my eye, Sanders held up a mirror and showed the Democratic party just how un-democratic their flawed process was – with one candidate hand-picked, with super delegates lined up like penguins, to slide through the of 57-primaries/caucuses unchallenged.
Sanders didn’t take a dime of SuperPAC money, instead pushing on with average donations of $27 (I contributed my share, and have the coffee mug and water bottle to show for it). Despite legitimately packed houses, mostly on college campuses, he got almost no coverage of his rallies from the same mainstream media that the current president labels “the enemy of the people.”
The reality is that Clinton, though clearly done dirty by the other side, was not done in by Sanders.
What is easier to believe, and what historians will hopefully acknowledge, is that his challenge should have done anything but make her the weaker candidate she proved to be in the eyes of too many.
Maybe he didn’t campaign for her as vigorously as he could have, but he still left her a GPS route to success.
Example: She should have virtually lived in some the crucial swing states won by Sanders.
Instead, she blew them off.
Polls show Sanders very well might have won the general election, and could be best equipped to do it again in 2020.
While he is not the new “kid” in town anymore, there are other higher hurdles to clear.
While Democratic Socialism really just means capitalism with a few less backs being stabbed and throats getting slit, the word “socialism” is too much of a non-starter in the swayable heartland and bible belt.
I also find it odd that some are lightning quick to point to Sanders’ age (he would be 78 if/when elected) when some of the same people doing the questioning trumpet white-haired Joe Biden, only slightly younger than Sanders but with stale ideas that Generations X, Y and Z are rejecting.
While Sanders is a secular guy, his Jewish heritage probably won’t help much, either (even though it won’t show up in polls, as few will admit it as a primary reason).
Despite the polls, I still see Sanders as a longshot and I am prepared to back the last candidate standing, just like I still backed Hillary Clinton when she limped across the finish line in front of Sanders in 2016.
We still have a lot in common on the left. We couldn’t believe our eyes watching the horror of Charlottesville unfold, and couldn’t believe our ears the way our president responded. We can’t believe we are being governed by Twitter. We can’t believe news time is taken up about payoffs to porn stars.
We can’t believe what tomorrow will bring, other than it will make us more numbed up and dumbed down than the day before, leaving the nation ripe for more of the same.
That just can’t happen.
And the first step is to declare a truce in this Sanders-Clinton spillover effect – the bad blood between moderates and progressives — and see the big picture.
Clinton was the first woman seen as a serious candidate from a major party running for president. She was neck-and-neck with Barack Obama, the first president of color, in the 2007-2008 primaries and lost in 2016 general election (despite taking the popular vote).
Sanders was the first Jewish-American to make a serious bid.
The first female vice presidential candidate was Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. The first Jewish vice presidential candidate was Joe Lieberman in 2000.
Sense a pattern, fellow liberals? All Democrats.
The party of diversity now sees an array of potential candidates from coast to coast and north to south, from fresh-faced to experienced, and from male to female.
The truth is that I’d vote for a gold fish or an amoeba – anything but a Lyme-carrying tick – to bring back sanity.
But nothing has really changed for me in the last few years.
Bernie Sanders still sits at the top my list.
Until further notice.
Until it’s better than today.
This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Jan. 6.
Lyrics to Better Than Today:
|Better Than Today
Finally got my paycheck
Coins for the laundromat
And if we can’t make it stretch
Winter just around the bend
And we’re not gonna uproot
Sometimes I hear Anna crying
Finally got my paycheck
Let’s call for my sister
Yeah, I just got that second job
And I’ll be working 16 hours
By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — There are a lot of people I like.
You know who you are.
All eight of you.
Eh, not so much.
I have followed a collision course from my younger self and, right on time, became a grumpy middle-aged man.
A combination of Archie Bunker, Frank Costanza, Fred Flintstone and Andy Sipowicz.
Perhaps, on a good day, a little bit of the great curmudgeon philosophers — Bob Dylan and George Carlin — sprinkled in.
And I guess we can’t forget Sonny Corleone, had he not met his premature fate as a younger hothead.
While you’re getting off my lawn and turning down the Justin Bieber noise, keep the following grievances in mind as I dance around my Festivus pole:
1) This “Merry Christmas” Thing: I do know a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds. Life has been good to me that way. And guess what? I know no one — at all — who ever said you can’t say “Merry Christmas.” As matter of fact, even though the holiday is now past us, say it twice and call me in the morning. There are real societal outrages right outside your window. Why create one that doesn’t exist?
2) Road Work At Rush Hour: A necessary evil. I get it. What I don’t get is creating a backup on a major thoroughfare between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. Unless it’s an emergency, go have breakfast at your local diner. Speaking of which …
3) Male Waiters At Diners: I expect to be waited on by an old-school waitress — not waiter — with a bouffant hairdo who calls me “baby” and “honey” and has a natural instinct to fill up my coffee (and remembers I’m a decaf guy) and pre-butters my toast. I have nothing against male waiters in other dining scenarios — like, say, certain authentic ethnic restaurants (even if they are faking the accent for effect) — but we really don’t need the world spinning off its axis any more than what it already is, do we?
4) Casual Cyclists: I’m all for exercise (especially if I’m not the only doing it), but can’t they stick to the bike path? It’s not like we haven’t made them a few hundred to use. As far as I know, if a cyclist is on the road — even if it’s merely to get to one bike path to another on the other side — they are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist already stuck behind rush-hour roadwork. The next cyclist I see actually yield the right of way — or actually stop at a stop sign — will be the first. And don’t even get me started on the way they hog the roadway, oblivious to the world, once they are on it.
5) Royal Families: They can do what they want in the UK, but we won the Revolutionary War (in all the history books, if you’d like to check). If there any leaves floating about from the John Adams family tree, no thanks. Same for Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Suggestions of Michelle Obama running are just as bad as those of Chelsea Clinton. And don’t get me started on Ivanka (my eyes just rolled so hard that I got a detached retina). We are better than thinking certain bloodlines are better than others.
6) Guys Who Aren’t Sports Fans But Pretend They Are: You know the type? They show up at a Super Bowl party asking who is playing and then they ask the line (a real sports fan could care less who does or doesn’t cover the spread). Listen, buddy, if you don’t follow sports, that’s fine. Just be upfront about it. I don’t play the stock market. I don’t hunt or fish. I don’t even know how to play poker. I don’t have a woodshop in my house. If you’re into those things, I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to fake my way through a train-to-nowhere conversation. I’m into sports, so don’t insult mine. This is especially if the game in question is a life-or-death scenario involving a Philadelphia pro team or Temple. Speaking of which …
7) Ersatz Dallas Cowboys And/Or Penn State Fans: If you’re from the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area, or if you attended Penn State (or one of its 32,492 satellite campuses), fine. I’ll even be nice about it. I’ll let you slide on Penn State if you are Pennsyltuckian, and maybe even on the Cowboys if you are from a place in the country cursed with no pro team and have a weird fetish about blue stars on silver helmets. Otherwise, for your own safety, keep moving. You are morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt. Side Note: Villanova is a national basketball program that happens to based on the Main Line. Unless you went there, which probably means you are from North Jersey or Connecticut anyway, zip it.
8) Lincoln Was A Republican: Easy there, cowboy. Not quite. We’ll get into this more down the line, but let’s leave this here for now: Lincoln was a progressive, which is what the Republican party was then but the polar opposite of what it is now. If you have to go back nearly 16 decades — doing a selective hop, skip and jump over a clear role reversal in between — you don’t have much to go on, do you?
9) Self Checkout: When people in our moral conscience to the north — Canada — are refusing this concept of eliminating minimal wage jobs, it’s mirror time for us in the US. So wrong on so many levels, it’s yet another sign of apocalypse.
10) Unwanted Calls: Don’t tell me about a Do Not Call List. Been there, done that. No such thing. We still live with daily calls from weird numbers (i.e. 111-111-1111). Because I’m me, a stubborn curmudgeon, I sometimes call back and turn the tables. The best joys are when I get someone clearly from a foreign country trying to tell me his name is Tom or Joe — or Archie, Frank, Fred or Andy.
This column originally appeared in The Times Herald (www.timesherald.com) on Dec. 30, 2018.