Monday, October 15, 2012

I Despised Arlen Specter His Whole Political Life

But now that he’s dead, I’m supposed to say nice things about him.

I can’t.

I heard about Specter a long time ago while I was living in New York City. Two friends of mine were in city government in Philadelphia. Dick Buford was head of the Licenses and Inspections Department and Jason Nathan was head of Philadelphia’s Urban Renewal Administration. Both men moved to New York during John Lindsay’s term as Mayor of New York. Dick became head of the City Planning Commission and Lower Manhattan Development and Jay became head of New York’s Housing and Redevelopment Administration. I learned of the antics of Frank Rizzo and Arlen Specter way before I moved to Philadelphia in 1971.

Arlen Specter is the perfect example of one who stays too long at the fair.

No one in public office should ever be allowed to hold that office for 30 years. No one in public office should ever allow himself to hold office for 30 years. And yet, here was Arlen Specter, US Senator from Pennsylvania for thirty years.

Thirty years…my god! Five times longer than he should have allowed himself to be US Senator from PA. That was bad enough. But his ridiculous determination on the so-called Warren Commission in 1964 was totally insane until his ridiculous accusation of Anita Hill in 1992 topped it.

And then there was the fact that in 1965 he switched from being a Democrat for 14 years to being a Republican, and in 2009 he switched from being a Republican for 34 years to being a Democrat again for two years until finally he was kicked the fuck out. The only reason for his switches was that he calculated he could get re-elected by switching parties.

But back to the so-called Warren Commission. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Lyndon Baines Johnson established a commission on November 29, 1963 to investigate the assassination. The commission gave LBJ its final 889-page report on September 24, 1964. In this report, Arlen Specter concocted his “magic bullet” theory that a single bullet killed JFK and wounded Texas Governor John Connelly by somehow doing gymnastics and gyrations and entering both men. Specter defended his bizarre fantasy until, I assume, this past Sunday morning, and probably has done beyond that.

And then there was the confirmation hearings for the worst Supreme Court Justice ever proposed, during which Specter accused Anita Hill of perjury to facilitate getting Thomas confirmed. It worked and we are stuck with Justice Thomas for the foreseeable future.

He did a great deal of good, you say?

Balderdash...the man was only interested in keeping his job come what may and no matter whose ass he had to kiss to do it.

I’m supposed to say something nice about Arlen Specter because he had the good grace to die? Well, okay.

Arlen Specter had the good grace to die on October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Better Said Than Done

The good that men do is oft interred with their bones.

That’s a mighty and highflown statement of Shakespeare’s…but I must say, it reminds me of my late and unlamented second husband, John Tomme.

Not that he did good. I can’t think of a single thing that I would laud him for doing. And, let me make clear, he did not…surely not intentionally…do bad. It’s just that even though he started out as a fairly pleasant though unremarkable person, he turned into a miserable human being.

Still, he did turn a phrase upon occasion. Two expressions entered my lexicon: 1) That’s the kind of hairpin I am; and 2) It’s nice out, I think I’ll leave it out.

And another phrase became a saying one night in 1950 among a bunch of us sitting around the apartment where John lived with his two roommates at the University of Illinois.

John, Ron, and Bob had rented an attic apartment on East Oregon Street in Urbana. It had three small bedrooms. I shared Ron’s bedroom more often than not. Ron became my first husband and John and I got together ten years later after I’d had two children and Ron and I went our separate ways.

Something had broken in the apartment, which happened frequently. Of the three guys, John was the handy one. Ron was inept and Bob was a little too refined to engage in dirty-hands work. That particular night, another friend, Dickie, joined us. We were all having a few beers while John tried to fix whatever it was that was on the fritz…a lamp, I think. It got to be midnight and now Dickie was having a go at the repair. Dickie finally opined that what was needed was not at hand and might need to be purchased. At which point John said, “There’s an all-night hardware store in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.”

Just the other night, sixty years later, I said the very same thing to my cat Fiona when I needed a 9-volt battery and none was to be had in the apartment. And Fiona and I did what John, Ron, Bob, Dickie and I did all those years ago. We settled back in our chairs and had another beer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is It Too Much To Ask?

Grammar, people, grammar!

For God’s sake, can’t we at least use good grammar when writing copy that will be broadcast far and wide?
The 1949 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” by Anita Loos with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin has a funny song titled “A Girl Like I”. In 1949, the audiences were expected to laugh at the grammar faux pas and they always did. It was such an expected laugh-getter that when Loos wrote her autobiography in 1966, she called it “A Girl Like I”.
This past weekend, I heard a McCafferty Ford (Langhorne, PA) ad on KYW Radio, and it starts out with someone saying, “Maybe you, like I” blah-blah-blah. Doesn’t anyone check out grammar when these guys write their ads?
Newsanchors on TV continually use subject pronouns in error just because they sound classier.
The other evening, Philadelphia’s Jim Gardner on Channel 6 said something like, “”It went to she.” Subject pronouns cannot be used after prepositions just because it sounds refined. It’s true that most of us say “It’s me” when talking and someone in our lives no doubt has repeatedly told us, “Don’t say that…say, ‘It is I’”. And that may be why we think subject pronouns are always the correct choice. But subject pronouns are never correct after “to” or after “like”. That’s the rule.

And another thing…why can’t newspersons pronounce simple words like vulnerable and deteriorate and use all the letters in the word? There is an “l” in “vulnerable”…it is not “vun-er-able”. Same thing with “deteriorate”. It is not “de-ter-i-ate”.

When we are engaging in normal person-to-person conversation, we all break grammar rules and that’s not a bad thing. I am not complaining about that. But writers of ads for radio and TV and those who write copy for teleprompters used on news shows get to monitor what is broadcast before it is spoken. Cannot these people at least be grammatically correct? Cannot they at least inform the speakers of their words how to pronounce words correctly? Cannot newsanchors who write their own copy be monitored?

Is this too much to ask?