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

Vick In The Thick Of It (Again)

Michael Vick

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Love and hate.

Two powerful words that are as used and abused as much as any in the English language.

For example, you don’t’ really love the food at a certain restaurant, and you don’t really hate when people act rude in public.

Love and hate has to be more personal.

I hate Neo-Nazis, for example.

I love my family, my friends, and the music that has been the soundtrack of my life.

I love dogs (cats, too, but particularly dogs).

And I love the Philadelphia sports teams, but the Eagles top the list.

This brings me to the great quandary, and controversy, still swirling around one Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback.

While Vick made his name with his game with the Atlanta Falcons, the quarterback became a lightning rod when his role in a dog-fighting ring was exposed.

He went to jail for 21 months, and his name – as it should have been at the time — was mud.

Vick served his time, and was signed by the hometown Eagles.

That’s when things got pretty interesting.

Some fans turned in their green gear. Their love for dogs was so powerful that they could no longer root for a team that could employ such a person.

Others, figuring he wasn’t going to play much anyway, tried to shrug it off.

Myself, a lifelong Eagles fan? To say I wasn’t happy about it at the time would be an understatement.

For one, just from a football perspective, they needed a fourth quarterback on the roster like I needed a fourth hole in my head.

Plus, well, look what he did those poor dogs.

After one year here of saying the right things, while not really coming across as being overly convincing, Vick ended up not only being a standout on the field for the Birds in his second season, 2010, but a genuine good citizen off of it.

When he led an amazing comeback win in the Meadowlands, the one that ended on DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return, it kind of personified his comeback to being a productive and law-abiding citizen and family man.

Vick has since retired, gone on to be a better citizen than many others — including Donovan McNabb (two DUI arrests in Arizona, one of which caused an accident).

Vick has worked for the cause of animal rights while also establishing several charitable foundations for at-risk youth.

Vick has been a positive role model to those who have done wrong and now try to do right, showing that a life can be turned around.

For that, he was named an honorary captain for the upcoming – and relatively nonsensical – Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando.

Firestorm instantly ignited. It was 2009, the year the Eagles signed him, all over again.

In my inbox, I received e-mails from Change.org (they have me on file for being a crazy radical who has signed petitions in the past).

One asked for my support in removing Vick as a captain.

The other was to support keeping him.

Even though a pickup game in the park between middle-school kids is more interesting than the Pro Bowl, the question was fairly significant.

And it has some resonance this time of the year, where families put aside differences and New Year’s resolutions are made.

Which petition did I sign?

The choice was pretty easy.

Keep him as captain, I said, lest we ski down an endless slippery slope – putting us into a gray area of serious issues of black and white and selective forgiveness – that we don’t want to get into but probably should.

In a country where the system of crime and punishment is broken (recidivism rate of almost 77 percent within five years of being released), Vick should be heralded as a success story of how it should work.

But, because his victims were dogs – and I love dogs, too – Vick is judged more harshly than if he, say, committed a violent crime against even a woman or child.

We live in a country where someone who bragged about fondling women was elected president, and where charges of sexual child abuse against Catholic priests and those using the football brand of Penn State – get swept under the rug.

People get all weak in the knees over stories about the few white supremacists who changed their ways so much that they want to remove their swastika tattoos.

But a black man in a white man’s world? Not a chance.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to his credit, has refused to yield to the pressure to remove Vick as honorary captain.

Good for Goodell.

How about you?

It is a true question of love and hate, and it’s a chance to let love in and let it win.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 5, 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.