Monday, December 31, 2007

Jotting As Life

And finally, this from The Grand Surprise, The Journals of Leo Lerman:
Why do I seriously jot things down? . . . Because I collect. This is like wandering the margins of the sea and filling a sack with pebbles, shells, bits of glass and wood - the detritus. Why? A deep need for security? Acquisition - but that is a result, not a cause. The passion for living - perhaps that is the reason. Has it all been sort of breathing, a confirmation of living, a will to be permanent, to go on forever, one with not wanting to go to sleep, the longing for that one extra moment, one extra day, that one moment more pleaded for so poignantly and pitifully by Madame Du Barry. (I think it was she.) All I ever wanted was one extra moment, and then another, and then another, and another . . . to read to the end of the chapter before the lights went out.
As we face the new year may we all have countless extra moments and may the lights always shine brightly for us.

The Circumcision

Trial Girl has written to remind us that New Years Day does indeed have significance.
It marks the day of circumcision of a little Jewish boy named Jesus just eight days after his birth according to Jewish custom.
In fact, for years January 1 on the Catholic calendar was marked as the Feast of the Circumcision. As a guy I always wondered why such a day would be marked as a feast day.
Anyway, a few years back the Church changed January 1 from the Feast of the Circumcision to the Solemnity of Mary. I suspect this was done by Pope John Paul the Great who devoted his life to Mary, the Mother of God.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

No Resolve

This is the time of the year when we're being barraged with appeals for self-improvement: lose weight, exercise more, get your financial affairs in order, get organized, recharge your sex life, find a mate, look younger, get educated, be kinder, get a new job, develop a hobby, volunteer, donate, be healthy, be useful, be helpful, be more, be better, realize your full potential, be whatever you want to be . . . Baloney!
Lots of these appeals are tied to our own worries and some vague feeling that we ought to be making resolutions.
I don't make new year resolutions. Not now, not ever.
Here's my advice: Live a full life but do it all in moderation and use common sense.
Enjoy yourself and do as you please. If you ever feel that a job, person, passion or belief is preventing you from being yourself or being the master of your own fate pull back a bit, take stock and look at things anew.
Above all, know who you are and be who you are.
Then you won't have to make resolutions. You'll only have to occasionally fine tune the wonderful person that's you.

Dumb And Dumber

About all the silly hoopla over the new year: I just don't get it. Never have gotten it, in fact.
New Years Day is a dumb "holiday." It signifies nothing. It's merely the first day of the year - just a unit of measurement, that's all. It's just a way to keep time.
New Year's Eve is equally as dumb if not dumber. It's simply an excuse for clubs and restaurants to make a big deal of nothing and charge you big bucks for it. The rudest, loudest, most obnoxious people come crawling out of the woodwork on New Year's Eve. These are the people who don't get around very much (and don't go out very much) during the rest of the year. Trust me, you don't want to be around these people.
This is a sadly artificial holiday - a holiday that reeks of beer, tobacco and lost dreams; a holiday plagued by sticky champagne stains, stale leftovers, weary Christmas decorations and nothing to look forward to but cleaning up and getting ready for the two dreariest months of the year.
Happy New Year, everybody!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

One, Two, Three

Saturday night's game between the Patriots and the Giants was broadcast on three TV networks: CBS, NBC and the cable NFL network.
One game. Three networks.
So, let me get this straight: networks balk at covering almost any portion of the major political conventions but three networks show the same football game -- the entire game.
If you ever doubted that professional sports is absolutely out of control in this country, count to three and doubt now more.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eroding Joisey

New Joisey is not simply awash in red ink but its also losing residents and population at an alarming rate.
In fact according to the just-released U. S. Census figures Blue, Blue Joisey is now one of only four states with a negative population flow. In each of the past two years the number of people leaving Joisey has exceeded those arriving by 70,000. In the latest year on record Joisey's population increased by only two-tenths of one percent -- barely enough to register. And immigration (not residents arriving from other states) is the only reason why Joisey's population has increased at all.
This trend has been steady since 2002 and just happens to coincide with the rule of Democrat Governors in the state. So there is no way that Joisey's wacky Governor Jon Corzine can blame this on anyone but himself and his predecessor, Jim McGreevey.
Under iron-fisted Democrat rule New Joisey gets far lets back from the federal government than it contributes in taxes, falls further and further into debt, experiences the highest property taxes in the nation, watches countless public officials carted off to jail for corruption, remains the butt of jokes and looses more residents every year.
Congratulations, Blue Jersey! Keep moving along the current course and see where it get you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Deadly Game

A few days back I wrote about the New Year's Eve game where participants predict which famous people would die during the coming year.
But now one of the game's founding players says I made the game sound all too easy. You see, when I listed who I thought might die I deliberately selected well-known people in their 90s.
But the point of the game is to select people who are not obviously at death's door. For example, I listed former radio and TV host Art Linkletter as a likely candidate for the grim reaper in '08. Then, a couple of days later Linkletter's son Jack (also a former TV host) passed away at age 70, survived by his famous father.
So, if you choose to play this game on Monday evening, forget the famous octogenarians and nonagenarians and focus more realistically on celebrities who are not up in years but might expire during the coming year, anyway. In other words (I suppose) you should remember that death is often lurking where you least expect to find it.
Whew! Enough cheery thoughts, hmmm?

Getting Real

Today's assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto once again places foreign policy and national security front and center as we head into 2008.
We live in a dangerous world. When will we realize that we are living through historic and treacherous times? How often do we need to be reminded of this?
As we prepare to choose a new leader for the free world we must put aside passing and frivolous concerns. We need someone who is seasoned, experienced, sensible and well-versed in world affairs.
We need someone who has truly served -- someone who has been responsible for leading, for making tough decisions, for exercising sound judgment. This is no time to take a chance on anyone who has only served briefly in public office or who has led a small, insignificant state or jurisdiction.
A sunny smile or clever turn of the phrase or mindless declaration of "compassion" simply will not suffice.
We are facing a long, protracted struggle with forces that want to destroy us. This is a time for seasoned, trusted, tested leadership.

Seductive Savannah

Yesterday we took a quick drive into Savannah and once again marvelled at the transformation of this once sleepy old southern town.
We've been visiting Savannah on and off for about 20 years now and today we find it to be a model of urban redevelopment and restoration. The main shopping street downtown features whole buildings or facades that have been preserved with a lively mixture of stores including local merchants and national names. Fashion boutiques and home decorating stores alternate with new restaurants, hotels and other attractions. Though lofts and condos are being developed at every turn these new residences are largely created within existing boundaries or existing buildings. The result is that everything is very much according to scale and the street scape maintains a nice balance.
It's hard to say what triggered Savannah's renaissance.
Some say it was what locals call "The Book" -- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Still later credit must be given to celebrity chef Paula Deen who opened her restaurant, The Lady & Sons. Another important factor has been the rapid growth of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The College has given Savannah a hip, edgy quality that fits right in with the city's somewhat haunted past.
Whatever the reason, Savannah is unique and great fun almost any time of year. Don't miss it.

House That George Built

I've been reading Wilfred Sheed's The House That George Built which calls itself a history of the golden age of American popular music. The George of the title is of course George Gershwin. Sheed sees Gershwin as the man who fused jazz and popular song, making way for the pop tune. All of the major historical and cultural influences are here in Sheed's book: Broadway, the movies, radio, World War II.
It should come as no surprise that Sheed sees the advent of television and rock 'n roll as the beginning of the end of the golden age of popular music - a period which ran roughly from the 1920s into the 1950s.
Naturally, you can't write about popular song without mentioning Sinatra. Though Sheed's book is all about the men who wrote the music, he does give Sinatra credit not just for popularizing the songs but also for never failing to mention the names of the composers and lyricists of each and every song. At least in that respect, Sinatra was always a class act - always giving credit where it was due.
The story of Sinatra's friendship with Jimmy Van Heusen and the portions of the book about Cole Porter, Richard Rogers and Cy Coleman make this journey with Sheed more than worth it. The author's love of popular music envelops every page.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Speaking Of Doctors . . .

The difference in the way the public perceives doctors vs. lawyers has always amazed me.
A good lawyer can literally save your life, your reputation, your fortune. your home, your business. And yet the lawyer gets little or no credit for this.
But if a doctor spends four minutes with you, diagnoses your ailment, gives you some medicine and helps you to feel better in a few days -- whoa! The doctor is a healer! He or she has laid his or her hands on you and cured you.
And do you really think that people would wait endlessly in dreary sitting rooms with uncomfortable furniture reading dog-eared, outdated magazines just to see a lawyer? Yet, people do this all the time for doctors.
Hey, doctors are great. We can't live without them.
But let's give some credit to the unheralded (and often anonymous) lawyers, OK?


Advertising is everywhere these days.
Most recently I noticed an ad for Desperate Housewives and ABC-TV on the line designating my parking place as I got out of my car outside of a local restaurant. As I looked down to make sure that I parked within the lines, there was a pitch for me to tune into the latest episode.
Then just the other day I saw that magazines in the doctor's office are "sponsored" by area businesses. In other words, the cover of the magazine is partially obscured by a sponsorship band that announces that this magazine is placed in the office by "John's Car Wash" or somesuch. Jeez, can't the doctors afford to provide their own magazines?
Of course, ads are already ubiquitous in rest rooms - in stalls, over urinals and even on the urinal drain trap.
And people have even "sold" parts of their bodies for tattooed ads.
Ads at movies theaters are among the saddest additions. The whole point of paying for a movie is not having to endure ads or commercials.
Where does it end?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Palmetto Christmas

We're celebrating Christmas on Hilton Head Island this year.
Last night we enjoyed the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes at Michael Anthony's superb restaurant.
The feast was served family style and encompassed four courses including baccala, anchovies, mussels, shrimp, calamari, swordfish, scallops and salmon. The various varieties of fish were augmented by eggplant, cannellini beans, spinach, penne arrabiata, olives, capers and potatoes. Dessert featured cannoli, pannetone and profiteroles.
We were seated at a large table for twelve with two other families including Bob and Jane Baranner and their daughter and son-in-law Sammy and Art Hansen, all of Hilton Head.
Bob and Jane are from Altoona, Pennsylvania by way of West Virginia. In Pennsylvania Bob and Jane knew Congressman Jack Murtha when he wasn't quite So Important. In fact, Bob told me that they knew Murtha "when he pumped our gas for us at the neighborhood gas station." And Bob (who later became president of the local bank in West Virginia) suggested that Murtha was better suited to the filling station. Bob and Jane also told us that while in West Virginia they were none too thrilled to be represented by Senator Robert Byrd.
Sammy and Art met in West Virginia when Sammy did PR for the West Virginia symphony and Art carried out the same function for Snowshoe Mountain, a ski resort. Art is an accomplished artist. Check out his web site:
We had a great time chatting with these new found friends and hope to connect with them again when we return to this delightfully charmed island.

The Secret

The secret to enjoying Christmas can be expressed in two words: lower expectations.
If you don't expect too much, Christmas will not disappoint - and in fact it may delight you. But you mustn't get your hopes up.
And it seems to me this rule becomes even more important as you get older and you've seem more of life. Scale back and remain open to the simple pleasures of the season: old friends, good food, family time (in moderation, of course) and whatever else comes your way.
On this Christmas I wish everyone good health - body, soul, heart and mind. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Don't Care

I've been meaning to say this for awhile.
To hell with Iowa and New Hampshire. I don't give a damn about these two small, insignificant white bread states and their caucuses/primary.
If you can explain the Iowa caucuses to me then you're smarter than anybody who's running. Because the candidates themselves don't even understand the Iowa caucuses. From what I understand it will be a Big Deal if 125,000 people participate in the Democrat caucuses. That's not very many people -- in fact, not many more than all of the people who reside in the town that I call home. And as for New Hampshire, many of the people there who take great pride in their so-called "independent spirit" are just plain cranky old kooks. Neither Iowa nor New Hampshire is any any way representative of the rest of the country. So, the views of the people in these two states are skewed.
What's more, I find it nothing less than obscene that we are being subjected to a windy, endless political campaign during Christmas week. It's disgusting.
And I blame the media and the candidates themselves for all this. How sad that the gassy, windy punditocrity can't shut up for even a few days. And how pahhhhthetic that these egotistical, power-driven politicians are so insatiable that they can't give us a break.
On top of it all I nominate Bill and Hill as the poster boy and gal for this shameful spectacle.
Just look at them as the scurry around at yuletide looking for votes. When is enough, enough?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Anna Nicole And The Top Ten

I hate year-end lists.
But this is the season for them so get ready. We're about to be inundated.
The Associated Press has just released its list of the top ten news stories of 2007. I doubt that you'll be surprised as to which stories made the top ten or even which story was chosen as the biggest news story of the year.
But here's something to think about: Among pop-culture stories the Anna Nicole Smith saga topped the list. And, Anna Nicole came in at number 32 among all stories for the year.
Imagine: Among all of the many news stories of the year (national and international) Anna Nicole Smith's death not only made the top 100 but it was also in the top third!
Cogitate on that for awhile!

Those Soggy Soft Pretzels

All of the Wawa stores (especially the newer, bigger ones) are wonderful as far as I'm concerned. They're clean and bright. The coffee is decent and the hoagies are fine. Plus, the service is quick and friendly. I particularly like the touch-screen sandwich ordering stations. Very efficient.
And yet, here's where Wawa falls down: soft pretzels.
Those bready, soggy excuses for Philly soft pretzels that sit and sweat at the Wawa checkout counters are truly sad. Don't even think about eating them. It's bad enough just to have to look at them. It makes you want to divert your eyes.
If Wawa can create a passably convincing grab-n-go milkshake why can't Wawa stores sell real Philly soft pretzels? I'm sure the chain can contract with an authentic Philly soft pretzel maker. Wawa is such an integral part of life in the Philadelphia region that its bastardization of the soft pretzel is almost sacrilegious.
C'mon Wawa -- you can do better!

NOT One Of My Favorites

“My Favorite Things.” I'm sure you've heard it on the radio a million times by now. I don’t know who first decided that this Rodgers and Hammerstein ditty from the saccharine “Sound of Music” might be a Christmas song but whoever it was has now inflicted raindrops on roses and cream-colored ponies on us for the rest of our lives. As much as I try I cannot discern the connection between wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings and Christmas. In fact, this song is dumb and tiresome any time of the year. Be gone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dead Or Alive?

It's been awhile since we've been able to enjoy Bob Hope's Christmas Show. Hope has been dead since 2003. But did you know that he was survived by his wife, Dolores who is still alive at 98?
A friend told me of a tradition that he enjoys with neighbors each New Year's Eve. They sit around and guess which famous people will die in the coming year.
Morbid, don't you think?
But then again, what else is there to do on New Year's Eve? So, with all due respect to the people who originated this game, here (in addition to Dolores Hope) are some prime candidates for the 2008 list. I bet there are more than a few of these who you thought were already dead:
Dr, Michael DeBakey (98), Luise Ranier (98), George Beverly Shea (98), John Wooden (97), Mitch Miller (96), Karl Malden (95), Tony Martin (93), Lou Jacobi (93), Harry Morgan (92), Herman Wouk (92), Les Paul (92), David Rockefeller (92), Eli Wallach (92), Barbara Billingsley (91), Robert McNamara (91), Beverly Cleary (91), Olivia de Haviland (91), Van Johnson (91) and Zsa Zsa Gabor (90). I would have put Jack LaLanne on the list but LaLanne is such a vigorous and healthy 93 that I expect him to outlive all of us.
Of course, I'm not wishing for any of these people to expire.
But there is one person I do want to be careful to mention in his own special category and he is
Fidel Castro. Here's a guy who should be on the list every year until we never have to mention him again.

How To Get Through It

Tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year - the day with the least amount of daylight
Which means it will seem like the l-o-n-g-e-s-t day: dark, damp and dreary.
Here's how to get through the rest of December and the two dreadful months that lie ahead. Remember that after tomorrow, it's all downhill to summer. Each day that follows tomorrow will have more daylight. From that standpoint, each day will be a little bit nicer.
So, even though winter technically begins tomorrow, winter's demise is already underway.
In other words, the dead of winter is really the beginning of the death of winter.

One Man Trip

"Sounds like it's going to be a one-man trip."
That's what President Bush had to say at his news conference today about former President Clinton's suggestion that if his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton were elected, she would send him and former President George H.W. Bush on a goodwill trip around the world.
"Well 41 didn't think it's necessary," Bush said, referring to his father by the number of his presidency.
Not only did 41 deem it not necessary but George H. W. Bush also said he looks forward to supporting and campaigning for the Republican presidential nominee this year.
End of story. Now, move along Bubba. Find some other tale to spin.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lombard's Lustre

Next year will mark the centennial of the birth of Carole Lombard.
Born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Worth, Indiana she went on to become one of Hollywood's great stars. This legendary beauty and Academy Award nominated actress was also a first-rate comedienne and a passionate human being who was not in the habit of mincing words or hiding her feelings.
Carole Lombard was authentic. She had no pretenses and audiences knew it and loved her for it.
I've just finished watching Carole and Frederic March on Turner Classic Movies in 1937's "Nothing Sacred" directed by William Wellman. This clever comedy dared to poke fun at the mass media and the masses in a manner that was way ahead of its time.
Hollywood lost a great star and movie goers lost a beloved champion when the plane carrying Carole Lombard back from a war bond rally crashed near Las Vegas in January, 1942. Carole was only 33 at the time.
FDR, who greatly admired Carole's patriotism, declared her the first woman killed in the line of duty during World War II and posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Liberty ship SS Lombard was named for her and launched in 1944.

Buon Natale!

Last night I attended the huge Christmas party sponsored by The Justinian Society of Italian-American lawyers at the Benjamin Franklin Ballroom in Philadelphia.
This party is always the highlight of the holiday season for the legal community in Philadelphia and it attracts hundreds of participants who enjoy the bounty of an Italian Christmas: pasta, provolone, prosciutto, shrimp, crab, salmon, roast beef, turkey, and of course, cannoli. Holiday garland and lights festoon the festive ballroom and strolling musicians serenade party goers. Shown here at the event are incoming Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Michael Pratt, the vivacious Shelly Fedullo and the ever-affable Judge Denis Cohen of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. We saw so many old and dear friends: Don and Vinni Marino, Gabe Bevilacqua, Barbara Capozzi, Gina Furia Rubel, Rick Furia, Michael Viola, Bill Fedullo, Scott Sigman, Molly Peckman, Sayde Ladov, Vito Canuso, Alex Giacobetti, Bobbi Pichini, Judge Al DiBona, Judge Lou Presenza, Judge Annette Rizzo and more lawyers, judges and city officials than we could possibly mention here.
The is the one event where the warmth and good feeling of the evening lingers long after the night has ended. Buon Natale!

The (re)Emergence of Martha

Martha Stewart is everywhere this Christmas: At Macy's and K-Mart, on her own daytime TV show, on Sirius satellite radio and on The Today Show. The former Martha Helen Kostyra of Jersey City remains a stellar American success story.
Yes, Martha Stewart is a convicted felon. And yes, Martha Stewart paid her debt to society and learned valuable lessons. Anyone who thought Martha would disappear simply didn't understand the strength, determination and confidence of this savvy Polish-American daughter of New Joisey. (And by the way, Martha has always been very proud of her ethnic roots.)
So, Martha Stewart's story is inspiring. And, Martha herself remains hugely appealing: classy, insightful, and wonderfully calming. Martha Stewart has made the everyday, seemingly mundane aspects of life interesting and engaging once again.
Even if you never try any of the crafts or recipes or designer tips that Martha has to offer it makes you feel good just to gaze into her world and know that we truly can find beauty and comfort everywhere.
Merry Christmas, Martha!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Santa Goes To The Dogs . . .

. . . Or the dogs go to Santa. Either way, it's bad.
Who concocted the numbskull notion of taking your dog to see Santa Claus? Probably some mall marketing director.
Dogs don’t want to see Santa. Dogs don’t care about Christmas. And Santa doesn’t particularly want to see dogs, either. What’s more he doesn’t want to have his picture taken with your pet. He’s got enough problems lifting bratty little kids onto his lap without worrying about an Irish Setter.
Throw the dogs a bone and leave them home, please!

Give Them Your Gratitude

The Gratitude Campaign is asking us to express our gratitude to some very important men and women. Watch the video by clicking here.

"AJ" Fires Away

A friend and reader named "AJ" explains why academics lean left and give most of their money to the Democratic Party and/or Democratic candidates: "Dems are better educated and that is why they support liberal issues. Oh, did I misunderstand the conclusion to be drawn from the survey? Academics are liberals!"
And on the heels of my op-ed on candidate's names in the Courier-Post, AJ writes:
"I liked the article but I am duty bound to give you the missing info. Tagg was the original name of the watch that Tiger Woods wears. They were going to name the son Tigg, but that was taken by the Winnie the Pooh 'Tigger.' As for Mitt from Milton: And this will soon be revealed: He was Jewish but the Mormons believe Jesus Christ (Jewish) is the brother of Satan, so they named him after a baseball glove, erroneously, because his namesake was a football player. They were also considering Pigg for Pigskin,but someone in the family decided the Jewish vote might indeed sometimes matter in the big Electoral College States. And they think Barack started early in Kindergarten to run for president?
Hillary was actually named for the character Jill who if you recall, took Jack with her you know where to fetch you know what-that too will soon be revealed-so this race is far from over.
Wait til the public learns these critical details, then we will have a true sense of the winner. I will give you the lowdown on the others in my next e-mail."
You can always ount on AJ for a cogent (and chuckle-worthy) analysis.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Academia Funds Democrats

So far, for the 2008 election, 76 percent of all federal political contributions from people who work in academia have gone to Democrats. This is nothing new and in fact is on a par with contributions from academia for the last two election cycles.
Employees of academia have given more than $7 million so far this election cycle to federal candidates, parties and committees. Sixty percent of this has gone to presidential candidates with Barack Obama leading the pack in contributions followed by Hillary Clinton.
In the last two election cycles, college employees contributed more to politicians than the oil and gas industry, which ranked 16th in both cycles. All this is reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The top contributors to Democrats (by university) with the percentage going to the Democrats are: William & Mary, 99%; University of Chicago, 92%; University of Pennsylvania, 90%; University of Chicago, 90%; Apollo Group/University of Phoenix, 90%; Stanford University, 89%; Georgetown University; 85%; Northwestern University, 82%; Harvard University, 81%.

McCain Gain

John McCain won the endorsement of his colleague and longtime friend, Senator Joe Lieberman, this morning.
McCain, who was dismissed as "toast" not very long ago, now seems to be gaining once again. McCain has also won the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, the Boston Globe and the Manchester Union-Leader. It's quite possible that McCain will win the New Hampshire primary. McCain has been very popular with New Hampshire voters over the years. In New Jersey, popular former Governor Tom Kean has endorsed McCain. But Kean's son, State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. has endorsed Giuliani.
Of Giuliani, one of our readers notes: "When Rudy was mayor of NYC, he had no problem being pro choice. He was also pro gun control as a US Attorney and as mayor did an admirable job in reducing New York's rate of violent crime. What would be so terrible to have a 'Rockefeller' Republican candidate - socially liberal, economically conservative?"
It's an intriguing notion. But Rudy isn't positioning himself as a "Rockefeller Republican" because he knows he simply cannot win the nomination that way.
In truth, many people see McCain as Rudy without the baggage. And in the end that may make the difference.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The other day I saw an SUV with reindeer antlers.
Later, I saw a couple of other cars with antlers.
The antlers stick out of the top of your vehicle in the front, on either side.
The spirit of the season, I suppose. But why would you want to put antlers on your car? I don't get it. I think it looks stupid.
Nor do I understand wreaths attached to the fronts of cars and trucks. I don’t know whether this began as some kind of a redneck joke or what. But now I see cars, trucks and even buses with these artificial wreaths on them. There’s something downright goofy about it. What makes people think that they need to decorate their vehicles for Christmas? Isn’t there enough to do?

What About Mickey?

The Kennedy Center Honors recently bestowed its 30th annual annual awards. You can watch the awards ceremony on CBS on Wednesday, December 26th at 9 pm. This year the honorees are Steve Martin, Diana Ross, Leon Fleisher, Martin Scorsese and Brian Wilson. Many great luminaries of stage, screen, music and the movies have been honored by the Kennedy Center over the years.
But one of Hollywood's greats has been neglected year after year.
Crawling onto the stage during his father’s Vaudeville act at 18 months in 1922, Mickey Rooney began a truly legendary career - one that has spanned nine decades.
Now celebrating his 85th year in show business and with more than 200 films to his credit, Mickey Rooney is one of the last great stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Most recently he appeared in the hugely successful movie comedy "A Night At The Museum."
Mickey earned an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, a special Juvenile Oscar he shared with Deana Durbin in 1939, five Oscar nominations, one Emmy Award, five Emmy Nominations and two Golden Globes. Mickey's career has extended through many generations and in many different directions.
Mickey Rooney is also an American patriot who served in the Army during World War II. As a regular GI, during the war he entertained frontline troops with the "Jeep Shows". The "Jeep Shows" consisted of three men in a jeep who delivered much needed entertainment to the troops in foxholes at the front. For his services in the war, Mickey was awarded the Bronze Star with clusters. In 2004 he braved the cold weather to ride with fellow World War II vets in the Inaugural Parade honoring President Bush.
But Mickey Rooney has never been chosen for Kennedy Center Honors.
How long will the Kennedy Center wait to recognize this great American talent?

What's In A Name?

What's in a name?
That's the question that I pose in this morning's Courier-Post as I examine the names of the front-running presidential candidates and attempt to glean some insight from those names.
In the column I ask readers to "consider Barack, Hillary, Mitt and Rudy. We've never had a president with any of those names." You can read the entire column here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Don't Count Them Out

The first primary hasn't even been held yet and people are already declaring the first round of elections over and pronouncing Hillary "finished."
Don't believe it.
Don't ever count the Clintons out.
In the early stages on the 1992 campaign Bill's candidacy was on virtual life support and he still went on to serve two terms as your President.
The Clintons will replace their staff; they will fire people and hire new people; they will change their themes, their wardrobes, their speeches, their strategies, their positions. They will attack via surrogates or attack directly while insisting they are not attacking at all. They will deny what they said in the past and revamp what they say in the future.
They will do whatever they have to do to win. And they will not give up.
None of this is going to be pretty but they do intend to have their way. Count on it!

Dominick The Donkey

Lou Cirucci sent us the song "Dominick The Donkey" also known as "Dominick The Christmas Donkey" or "Dominick The Italian Donkey." You can listen to the song here.
This song, recorded in the 1960s by Lou Monte is one of those ethnic, holiday, novelty songs that people have long since forgotten about. The song was written by Raymond J. Albanese, known professionally as Ray Allen. Among his other hits was "Peppino The Italian Mouse."
Many of these types of songs were full of stereotypes but this was in an era that predated political correctness.
The lyrics include these lines: "When Santa visits his paisons, With Dominick he'll be. Because the reindeer cannot, Climb the hills of Italy. "
Thank goodness, Americans of Italian descent have moved well beyond Dominick The Donkey and similar creations. But today, even though we boast two members of the United States Supreme Court and a front-running presidential candidate, we sometimes seem to be stuck with far worse stereotypes, such as those in "The Sopranos."
So, looking back on it, Dominick was really rather innocent -- especially in today's world where the culture has been so coarsened.

Families United

Bev Perlson wanted to give her son, John, a special gift for his birthday - He is serving in Afghanistan. She decided to show him how much she supported his mission - defending and protecting America. Bev decided to take a stand in front of the Cannon Office Building in Washington that houses Rep. Nancy Pelosi's Office. In case you haven't heard Nancy ("I'm a mom and gandmom.") Pelosi is the Speaker of the House.
Bev Perlson chose to play patriotic music and carry signs that said "I'm proud of my son" and "Fund the Troops". Bev arranged for a permit for the corner and during the week of December 10- 14 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm she proudly showed her colors each day! On Tuesday and Wednesday members of a group called Families United (families of servicemen and women) stood beside Bev and sang Happy Birthday to her son, John.
According to Bev: "My son over in Afghanistan said "give 'em hell ma! They are gambling with our lives!!!" Bev's aim was to make Speaker Pelosi "as uncomfortable as she is making our soldiers for one whole week!"
Isn't it interesting that this story was never reported by the mainstream media?
You can read more about it at the Families United website.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Never Knew

I've heard the song "I Saw Mommy Kissin Santa Claus" since I was a little boy.
But in all the years that I heard this song it never dawned on me that Santa Claus was actually Daddy. I never realized this until a few years ago when I heard Brad Paisley's version of an entirely different song, "Santa Looks A Lot Like Daddy and Daddy Looks A Lot Like Him." I must have heard these two novelty Christmas songs back-to-back and that's when I realized that Santa was Daddy in both songs.
How stupid could I have been?
Well, I'll simply choose to believe that for all those many years I was a naive true believer: Santa is Santa and Daddy is Daddy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Christmas Engine

The Christmas fire engine came to our little corner of the world the other night -- complete with Santa Claus. This is a great tradition in many suburban towns and it's also a great treat for the children.
The engine is brightly decorated with lights and can be easily spotted (and its sirens heard) a block away or more. Families come out of their houses, children greet Santa and receive candy canes from him and each family contributes canned goods and other items to our local food bank. Santa takes the foodstuffs with him for delivery to the food bank.
Carole Cirucci came up with the idea of the food bank contribution years ago and the tradition has stuck. This colorful holiday custom has endured in our neighborhood for more than 40 years. May it long endure!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For Better Or Worse

Questions about Giuliani's three marriages have reminded me that in an ideal world we'd want a President and his or her spouse to have a long, loving, model relationship.
But things don't always work out that way.
Which may prompt us to ask: Was JFK less of a leader because of his philandering? Was FDR? Was Reagan a bad role model because he had been married and divorced?
Nixon was married to the same woman for a long, long time and there is no evidence that he ever had an affair. Did that make him better?
Politics is hard. It's tough. It takes a tremendous toll on people: on families, on children, on everyone involved. And not having the right partner makes it even tougher if not damned near impossible.
Still, when you're a public figure -- and you're running for President in 2008 -- everything is on the table. For better or worse (for rich and poor and in sickness or health) there are no secrets and everything is out there, even if it means too much information.
So, the public will simply have to sift through all of it and then decide.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Those 12 Days

Yes, I know the origin of the 12 days of Christmas. These generally refer to the 12 days from Christmas till the Epiphany. Fine. I respect that. And I can even tolerate the song that goes with the tradition. But what I can’t tolerate is the annual story detailing how much the 12 gifts of the 12 days would cost today if you went out and bought them now. In '06 we were told that the cost of the 12 gifts is “still a-leaping.” The price tag last year was up at $21,476. And if you wanted to buy the 364 items involved in all of the verses' repetitions you would have to pay a record $85,233 this, up from the previous Christmas's $82,381. Who cares? Have you seen anyone out shopping for a partridge in a pear tree lately?

Bagels With Brian

Legendary Philadelphia Public Relations Hall of Fame member (and actress) Sylvia Kauders arranged it all and billed it as "Bagels With Brian." For a few of us who are fellow Hall of Fame members it meant a morning well-spent with Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Publisher and CEO Brian Tierney.
Brian's the kind of guy who is passionate about what he does, and it shows. This morning, Brian not only laid out his continuing vision for the Inky, Daily News and but he also discussed the challenges he's faced since he and a group of business colleagues formed Philadelphia Media Holdings, LLC and acquired the newspapers in March, 2006. One of the big problems has been the loss of employment classified advertising -- a revenue loss faced by all newspapers. But the Philly newspapers are making up for this loss in other ways and are even showing revenue and circulation gains. So, what Brian and his team are doing here in Philly is being closely watched by other big-city dailies including the New York Times.
We also got a chance to meet Inquirer Editor and Executive Vice President William K. Marimow who then allowed us to sit in on the morning editors' meeting where the makeup of tomorrow's Inquirer was (tentatively) discussed.
It was a great visit and on the way out we got a chance to chat with many of our friends at the Daily News including Michael Schefer, Dan Gross, Jenice Armstrong, Stu Bykofsky, Sandra Shea and Elmer Smith.
Meeting all these hard-working reporters and editors gave us yet another opportunity to be thankful for our cherished First Amendment freedoms.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Black & White & Red All Over

I've just returned from a special advance screening of Tim Burton's new film of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. The movie will open on December 21.
Depp stars in the title role as a man unjustly sent to prison who vows revenge, not only for that cruel punishment, but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop, Sweeney Todd becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who "shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again."
Since the mid-19th century many versions of the legend of Sweeney Todd have appeared first in literature and then on stage, in recordings and on film and television. In 1979 producer/director Harold Prince and composer Stephen Sondheim brought Sweeney Todd to Broadway as a musical. I was in the audience then and had the great pleasure of seeing Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in the title roles. The show was an audacious and groundbreaking triumph on all counts and ran for more than a year.
No two versions of this great musical are ever quite the same. This Tim Burton version is very dark - and very bloody. Though it's filmed in color, whole parts of it are largely black and white and grey and brown. As you might expect, the performances are excellent and Tim Burton's distinctly imaginative (and Gothic) touch is evident throughout. But always, what makes Sweeney Todd so compelling is Stephen's Sondheim's music. Above all, this show is the music -- soaring, haunting, searing, beguiling, frightening, beautiful and ultimately unforgettable. Thankfully, all of the music is intact and the filmmakers deserve great credit and our sincere thanks.
By the way, special thanks to my friend (and former student) Jesse Cute of Terry Hines & Associates and the Philadelphia Film Office for arranging this special screening of Sweeney Todd.

Revel In Renoir!

If you are in the Philadelphia area and you haven't stopped at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the magnificent Renoir Landscapes exhibition you'd better hurry. This exhibition closes on January 8th
The lushness of Renoir is intoxicating. He pulls you into his ravishing artwork and with each painting you begin to feel almost as if you're watching a scene from a movie. This exhibition is the first to explore the inventiveness and importance of landscapes painted during the first decades of Renoir’s career. Approximately 60 paintings by Renoir, drawn from public and private collections in the United States and abroad, offer a fresh approach to the French Impressionist’s art
The audiotour (which is included with your ticket to the exhibition) is exceptionally well done.
I've already seen this exhibition twice and I find something new every time I visit. Remember: This is the exhibition's only stop in the US.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Remembering The Worthiest

People have been moving this idea around through e-mail and it's certainly worth passing along:
When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to
Recovering American Soldier
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get.
If you approve of the idea, please pass it on to your e-mail list.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Gift?

I've been watching the holiday gift commercials on TV (there are an awful lot of them) and I've noticed that many of these spots are pushing new cars. Since when did a new car become a Christmas gift? Even if the gift turns out to be a three-year lease of a new car, that's still a significant amount of money -- probably more than $15,000 to lease a decent car for three years. So, if the economy is really tanking, why are automakers running these commercials and who's buying or leasing a new car as a Christmas gift? Beats me.
By the way, my favorite holiday gift campaign so far is the one from Sears: "Don't just give a gift, Grant a wish." What a great slogan!

Picture Perfect

Picture perfect Princeton is all decked out in holiday finery. We visited today and enjoyed the many shops around Palmer Square and Nassau Street. Of course we stopped by PJ's Pancake House. All of the decorations in Princeton are fresh. You can smell the pine cones and evergreens with fresh wreaths and garland adorning entryways and arches -- all festooned with bright red velvet ribbon. Street carolers and brass trios entertain shoppers with Christmas melodies and Santa is there as well. And he doesn't hesitate to call out "Merry Christmas" to all. The shops are filled with wonderful goodies and now the Princeton University Shop and bookstore are right there on Nassau Street for everyone to enjoy. The town was bustling, though nonetheless intimate and welcoming. Be sure to put Princeton on your list!

More from Romney

Some passages from Mitt Romney's recent speech on faith that continue to stay with me:
"I'm not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired … so grand … so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too 'enlightened' to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe's churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away."
And this, too:
"Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. 'They were too divided in religious sentiments', what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.
"Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.
"And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God ... they founded this great nation."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

'Tis The Season

Tonight I attended the big White and Williams law firm holiday party in Philadelphia and, as always, this was one of the best parties of the season with plenty of cheer flowing and lots to eat. But everyone was very well behaved. We had a chance to chat with the retired Common Pleas Court Judge Marvin Halbert and his wife, Marcia. It's great to see Judge Halbert and Marcia Halbert remaining so active and involved in the life of the city. Our friends at White and Williams include Merrit Cole, Pennsylvania Bar Association President Andy Susko and the inimitable Joe Foster. W&W is a firm with huge talent and big personalities.
On the way out of the hotel we dropped in at the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association party where we saw the group's new executive director, Tony Green, Philly TLA executive director Pat Patterson, Pennsylvania State Senator Kathy Manderino, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille, former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellors Abe Reich and Alan Feldman and the guy who will seek the Chancellorship next year, the great Rudy Garcia. Much fun and laughter all around.
Then it was back out into the shivering (and Christmas-like) cold.

Romney Rises

I have just watched, read and listened to Mitt Romney's speech on faith and religious liberty at the George Bush Library in Houston.
By any measurement, this must be considered a very significant address. The speech is substantive, enlightening and thought-provoking. And, the delivery presented us with a Romney who seemed more three-dimensional: more human, more passionate, more real. It's been reported that Romney wrote the address himself. Here are some of the most memorable - and most effective - passages:
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."
"Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world."
"No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."
". . . in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong."
"I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"
And here's my personal favorite:
"Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Long, Lean and Luxe

I braved tonight's blustery weather and freezing rain to attend the preview opening of "g" -- Philadelphia's chic new club for "after work, after dinner, after midnight."
Located on 17th between Chestnut and Sansom, g is long, lean, luxe and linear.
Comfortable Barcelona chairs line one side of the club in intimate groupings with clear glass partitions and an endless floor-lit runway that seperates this side from the opposite side which is defined by white molded seating and stark black sofas and love seats.
The minimalist black and white environment plays against a huge light wall showcasing a grid of constantly changing backlit color. The entire effect seems to act as both a catalyst and a tranquilizer. Two large bars beckon at opposite ends and the drinks are great. A smaller vault room welcomes only invited guests.
g bills itself as a restaurant, bar and lounge. Though it's decidedly upscale, there's nothing elitist about it. The people are friendly and the environment is scintillating.

Edie's A Sweetie

Yesterday I sat next to legendary Philadelphia broadcaster Edie Huggins at the Philadelphia Bar Association's Annual Meeting luncheon. As always, it was a joy being with this consummate TV newscaster.
Edie is not only one of Philadelphia's most accomplished news journalists but she's also one of the nicest people I've ever known. Of course, she's been inducted into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. But did you know that the Urban League designated Edie Huggins as one of the Outstanding African-American Philadelphians of the 20th Century?
Edie is a trailblazer. She has opened the door for so many others. And she continues to live her life and pursue her profession with grace, care and a genuine concern for all.
In a business where personalities come and go and authenticity is often in short supply, Edie Huggins is the real deal.


The other day I used the word "Huckaboom" to characterize the seemingly sudden surge in support for Mike Huckabee. Now I notice that Drudge is using "Huckaboom" on his site today.
It could be that he may have used it before. It could be that we've both been using (or hearing or thinking about) the word all along.
And after all, Huckabee's name does lend itself to these types of adaptations. If he ever becomes the GOP candidate you can just imagine the headlines and the different ways in which the media will play with his name.
I'm not going to flatter myself into thinking that Matt Drudge has visited here and borrowed "Huckaboom" but hey . . . it's a tempting notion!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From Dan To Dan

Dan Gross' new Philly Gossip blog is a must-read.
When it comes to breaking the hot, juicy stories in town, Dan is the man! Dan's daily column in the Philadelphia Daily News "Yo" section is one of the first things I read every morning. And now you can get frequent gossip updates on Dan's blog. And since both of our blogs link you can move back and forth from Dan to Dan.
If you pay any attention at all to you will see that Dan's stories are often the most viewed or most e-mailed of the day or week. When you read him regularly you will begin to understand why.
Welcome to the blog world, Dan!

Fans Of The Game

Shawn Senior (everybody's favorite UBS Financial Consultant) and Nicholas Daniel Senior (aka "superkid") were chosen as Fans Of The Game at the Philadelphia '76s game last night. Daddy Shawn and Nick got to sit on the bench and participate in the warmup. And Nick even got to high five the players as they came out onto the court. By the way, Nick and his sister Alexandra will soon appear on the Sprout children's channel as part of a special holiday feature. But that's another story.


It doesn't sound like a President's name but then again we've had a few weird names in the White House. Millard Filmore, Calvin Coolidge and Dwight Eisenhower come to mind. And at least Mike Huckabee has a good, solid, likable first name. After all, he could have been Ulysses or Chester or Herbert or Rutherford. Or he could have been handed one of those dual southern names like Billy Ray or Bobby Joe.
So it's not so much the funny sounding name that worries me.
Instead what really concerns me is the fact that he's a former Governor of Arkansas. A little voice inside me keeps saying: "No more Governors from Arkansas and no more Governors from Massachusetts!"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let It Be

It's called a Christmas tree.
Please don't call it a holiday tree or a seasonal tree or a family tree or whatever.
And remember that the best Christmas trees reflect the caring attention of those who lovingly decorated them. So, every Christmas tree should be unique and should express something about its owner or owners -- their lives, experiences, hopes and dreams. Since none of us are perfect our tress needn't be perfect either.
In fact, a tree that is too perfect - too symmetrical, too new, too staged - somehow doesn't look quite right. A Christmas tree needs to exhibit some character; something that gives it its own special identity.
So, don't worry if the garland doesn't loop quite right or if a few of the ornaments seem scruffy or if the lights don't seem perfectly even.
It's OK. It's Christmas. Let it be.

The Heavy Toll Of Tolls

You can read my rant against highway, bridge and tunnel tolls in today's Philadelphia Daily News by clicking here:
The bridges, roads and tunnels belong to the people. Our money built them and we have the right to use them freely.
I'm fixin to start The Movement To End All Tolls (MEAT). Anyone care to join?

Spitting In A River

I recently received a copy of a letter from American Bar Association (ABA) Executive Director Henry F. White which proposes yet another (and a "new") campaign to combat the poor public image of lawyers. Apparently, this letter was sent to executive directors of bar associations throughout the nation.
Under Mr. White's proposal bar leaders would all agree on a particular topic each month and then bar associations all over the country would feed the media news and information on that topic or aspect of the law. As I understand it, the ABA would provide the raw copy which would be forwarded to individual bars for their own tailoring.
As some of us who are specialists in law-related PR know, real improvement in the public image of lawyers can only begin in individual law offices and law firms through the actions of lawyers themselves -- in how they treat their clients, how they do their work and what they give back to the community.
A former Director of the ABA Division of Bar Services, Alan Kurland, once said: "Public relations is doing good things and then telling people about them."
If lawyers are doing good things (and they are) then the challenge is to "tell people about them." That's what bar PR professionals do. That's their job.
But the profession seems to feel stalked by this nagging sense of a poor public image.
Personally, this problem is so vast and so ongoing that I have long felt that only a national, sustained, paid institutional advertising campaign (radio, TV, Internet, maybe print) can even begin to make a dent. Big national associations (but ones that are still smaller than the ABA) have launched such campaigns with a good deal of success.
Anything less than this seems inadequate.
Perhaps some of you have other ideas but I seriously doubt that "a topic of the month" approach will make much of a dent at all.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sassiest and Classiest

As you might imagine, I know and like lots of Philadelphia lawyers.
I ran into two of my favorites at the recent Chunukah Party sponsored by the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society. Sayde J. Ladov and Louis W. Fryman are two of the most talented people in town. Sayde is the Vice Chancellor (soon to be Chancellor-Elect) of the Philadelphia Bar Association and Lou (who has held every post imaginable) gives new meaning to the term "pillar of the community." At the event Lou received the Benjamin F. Levy Community Service Award.
One of these legal luminaries is the sassiest and the other is the classiest. Can you tell which is which?
What difference does it make? I love them both!


When is enough, enough?
That's the question that comes to mind as I consider the return of Dom Imus to radio (and RFD-TV) tomorrow, Monday December 5.
Imus made a complete fool of himself eight months ago and he provided those of us who teach and practice public relations with a vivid lesson in how not to make friends and influence people. The repeated Imus mea culpas that followed only seemed to make things worse. It was one of those situations where you wanted to cry out: "Go away, go away; go far, far away."
And thankfully Imus did go away, for awhile.
But I suppose the cranky old blabbermouth still thinks he has something to prove. And there are still people who are willing to pay him to try. The free market doesn't always please all of us. And free speech (such as it is) is sometimes not very pretty.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

They're Baaack!

They’re big. They’re everywhere. They’re full of hot air. And they're back.
No, I’m not talking about all those bloviating presidential candidates.
I’m talking about those garish Christmas inflatables that pop up everywhere this time of year. These bloated intrusions on our landscape include the ubiquitous Santa, his elves, reindeer, penguins, and polar bears. Ranging in size from about four feet to more than 20 feet tall they also depict cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, and Elmo. And now the newest inflatable rage seems to be snow globes and revolving carousels.
I hate these gassy excuses for Christmas cheer. I hate them during the day when they go flat like big ugly pancakes on lawns and porches all over the place. And I hate them even more at night when they blow, glow and gloat with a trashy confidence that’s positively scary. And that’s just one part of Christmas that I’ve come to hate. I'll list more here as the days grow closer to Christmas.

Deal Or No Deal?

The hottest rumor in Washington these days is that Barack Obama will soon pull off a hat trick, picking up a potent triple-endorsement. The way the story goes, Obama will be anointed by Teddy Kennedy, Al Gore and John Kerry all in one fell swoop. If it happens it is bound to make Big News. And let's face it, there is no love lost between Gore and the Clintons or Kerry and the Clintons. As for Teddy, at his age he may as well throw his hat in with the younger generation. But even if the endorsements do occur, would they really make any difference? All three of the presumed endorsers lost bids for the presidency. In the end, I still feel Clinton will be hard to stop. But it would be a lot more fun (and way more interesting) if events proved me wrong.

Bleeding Red

Just in time for Christmas New Jersey's wacky Governor Jon Corzine is planning to choke business further in the debt-ridden state by signing a 10-week family leave bill over the near-unanimous objections of the business community. As the Camden Courier-Post has rightly editorialized: " New Jersey's business climate, with its high taxes and plethora of regulations, stinks, and New Jersey business owners know it." In fact, businesses and residents are fleeing the state. The New Jersey Business and Industry Association's just-released annual business survey found that businesses are giving the state poor grades, with the leading worries being property taxes and health insurance. Most of the business people who responded expect state economic conditions to weaken further next year. In this climate you would think that Corzine would cozy up to business. Fuhgettaboutit!
The tax-happy Governor is ready to slap an additional $1.00 per week onto the disability insurance deduction that workers pay. If only one-third of the workers take advantage of the 10 weeks paid leave it will not take long to bankrupt the fund. All this for a state that is already drowning in a sea of red ink. And speaking of that red ink, Corzine says he’s prepared to stake his political future on a loony plan to tackle the state’s $32 billion dollar debt by forming a non-profit agency that would manage toll roads and issue bonds to generate cash for the state. The plan is called monetization but the fancy title simply means higher tolls. How much higher? At least 150 percent higher on state toll roads.
Reality bites. But somehow New Jersey's "I know better" Governor never feels the sting.
Dollar sign art print: Andy Warhol