Friday, June 6, 2008

A few quick hits for a Friday

Here comes summer, at least in the Northeast, where the thermometer is supposed to climb into the 90s. Yes, yes, I know summer doesn't come for a couple of more weeks, but leave me a little poetic license.

I got a letter from Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, along with a survey. The survey is headlined with a special notice for me, saying I have been selected to represent New Haven CT in the 2008 Presidential Campaign Survey. Yeah, right. It says I should send in the survey, along with a contribution (of course) within 72 hours if I want a Democrat in the White House.

Dear Howard: Not a nickel until two things happen. The first is that you stop sending your brother, Jimmy Dean (not the singer or sausage maker, although he did manage to chop up Connecticut Democrats a couple of years ago) on drives to find the most unelectable candidates for Senate in the state.

Let's face it: Ned Lamont wasn't going to beat Joe Lieberman in a real election and the only reason there isn't a real Republican (instead of an Independent who supports a Republican for president) in the Senate from Connecticut is that the state GOP either didn't take the race seriously or couldn't find anyone more electable than Alan Schlessinger.

Second is you stop having important campaign events on Saturday when Orthodox Jews, a group that can be important to Barack Obama's campaign, cannot attend. I wrote to you, Howard, a few times, but didn't receive any reply.

Look, I an really frightened of John McCain, especially after he endorsed the no-warrant searches and wiretaps that President Bush has put into effect. I cannot take another four years of Bush's laissez-faire economic policies. So thanks a lot, Howard. Now that Obama is the Democratic candidate, I have to do some real soul-searching about voting or not voting or pushing for a convention revolution.

Page 2

The more I read about the state of newspapers in this nation, the sadder I get. Thank heaven for small, hungry papers and Web sites that practice real journalism. We have enough bloggers who practice no standards of responsibility for fact-checking or leaving out rumor or innuendo.

Case in point: there is a story in the New York Times about the cutbacks at former Tribune papers like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune and others (including the Hartford Courant, and Stamford Advocate-Greenwich Time), where staff will be cut and news hole slashed. News hole is the space in the paper reserved for news. The Post Office says you have to have 35 percent news in a paper to qualify for the second-class postage rate. Most good papers have been more than 50 percent, sometimes a lot more. Now, it will be 50 percent, and don't think this will be the end of it.

Speaking of the Times, the Fishbowl NY blog (which does care about accuracy) has published a list of Times staffers who are taking buyouts. It's pretty devastating.

See it here:

I had read about Linda Greenhouse, the Pulitzer-prize winning, longtime Supreme Court reporter, who probably knows more about the court than any of the sitting justices. But some of the names -- John Noble Wilford, who has been writing about science since forever; Murray Chass, whom I have chastened about his glee at Boston Red Sox woes, but who is a crackerjack sports writer and columnist; Lawrence Van Gelder, whose writing I don't know that well but who has a perfect name for a culture writer; Claudia Deutch, a good business writer; and many more. The craft will not be the same, no matter if the medium of delivery is a physical newspaper or words on some kind of screen.

The only thing to say is: Boy, I thought things were bad before I got out.

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I told myself I would stay out of the prayer-in-school mess in New Haven. Some alderman proposed a prayer to be said at the beginning of the school day to help fight the problems in the public schools.

Without responding to this guy's proposal, let me make two points: The first is that the Constitution, interpreted by the Supreme Court (hardly a liberal bastion) says you can't do that.

Second: When you do prayer, pretty soon you have to ask yourself, whose prayer. Yes, the prayer that some young woman who works at the Walter Reed Hospital doesn't mention any religion or even God, but it's a prayer. Atheists have rights, too.

I remember when I was in elementary school, there was a prayer each day, and you had to say it, even though it was the "Our Father", a Christian prayer. This was the same group that forced me to go to "Manners and Morals" class because I didn't attend Catechism on Thursday. The fact that I went to Hebrew School on Wednesday and Sunday and attended synagogue on Saturday didn't mean anything. They wanted to make sure I wouldn't turn out to be some ax murderer. They were partially right -- I did bash myself in the head with an ax while splitting wood a few decades ago, but that's beside the point.

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This blog is off for a few days. After the weekend, the Shavuos holiday is upon us Monday and Tuesday, so look for these rants and raves to continue next Wednesday.

Have a great weekend and for those in the Tribe, Good Shabbos.

Until next time...

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