Friday is always a busy day around here, so I often don't get a chance to write until late, if at all.
The news of Tim Russert's death, which came late Friday, was a shock, to say the least. He was as energetic as they come, a real pit bull who didn't easily let go when he had somebody in his grip. When he knew he had a subject, he would get this sly grin.
Any good reporter has smiled that smile, almost a smirk. "I can hear the sound of suitcases slamming shut" at the offices or home of the subject of your investigative story or series, was the cry at the New Haven Register back in the day. That look was all over Russert nearly every Sunday.
It was also there when he talked about Hillary Rodham Clinton, especially during his appearances on MSNBC's election night shows. Russert loved Barack Obama. His face seemed to shine when he talked about the Democratic presumptive nominee. When, after the last primaries, Obama had garnered the "magic number" of delegates, his face shone like Moses at Mount Sinai. He called the moment historic, as it was.
He will be missed. In an era of blondes and banality in television news, he was a giant. He wasn't Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley or David Brinkley, but he was the best of his generation. Tom Brokaw, whose name was whispered reverently around NBC a generation ago, said Russert would "be missed as he was loved -- greatly."
Russert was the first television newsman to be inducted into the Gridiron Club, which had previously been reserved for print journalists.
He was 58 years old. The cause of death was first reported to be a heart attack, but an NBC spokeswoman later said the cause was still being determined.
Now for something completely different.
Daughter Esther was invested with the Master's of Science degree in mental health counseling Thursday at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
She is a product, mostly, of New Haven and Connecticut public education. She graduated from the Sound School and from Southern Connecticut State University, with a degree in psychology. She has interned at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York and at a private practice in Rockland County.
Of course, her mother, Sue, and I are very proud. Congratulations, Estie.
And yes, dear friends at Claire's Corner Copia, it's that Esther.
It's late, and I don't have a lot of time before the Sabbath, but I just wanted to get in a few words about the advocate story on pregnant, homeless teens.
It seems that, after a number of years in decline, the number of pregnant teens may be leveling off or even rising. The story, and the attached comments, look to the schools, birth-control injections, more money for education, for shelters. The schools should...the city should, the state should. I'm waiting for that alderman to say that prayer in schools will solve the problem.
You, friends, are all wrong.
The problem will not be solved in the schools, the shelters or anywhere else except the home.
I know, I know, many of these teens have no home. But they did once. They had a mother, at least, and perhaps a father who stayed around for a while.
I needs parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, next-door neighbors to instill into the boys, yes the boys, a couple of maxims.
First, grown-ups must convince teenage boys that their manhood is not, repeat not, dependent on the number of children they father. A real man stands up for his responsibilities. Why, even the idiots who appear on the Maury Povitch show say they will live up to their responsibilities if the ubiquitous paternity test shows them to be the father.
Second, grown-ups must convince teenage girls that they needn't give in to these boys. The boy walks away with his chest out, to tell one and all how cool he is, and the girl gets to walk around the hot city streets for months with a big belly or carrying a baby for whom she has no clue how to care. Or, if she is smart enough not to listen to bible-belters or others, she then faces the physical and emotional toll of abortion.
It's called a Hobson's choice -- no good alternatives. The best alternative is to say no to that boy who is only trying to enhance his reputation as a stud, no matter what he tells you. If he really cared for you, he would think enough of you not to push the burden of parenthood on to you while you are still a child.
Third, the leaders of the community have to change to thought process by which teens think they become adults when they reproduce when still in their teens. The state also needs to find ways within public assistance to encourage families. Make welfare payments for families realistic. You can't feed a kid on a few dollars a month.
In a couple of generations, the payoff will be amazing.
Just the opinion of one guy who's been around a while.
It's Friday, so have a great weekend. Happy Father's Day to all you fellow dads. And for you in the tribe, have a great Shabbos.
Until next time...