Tuesday, July 25

Five Very Different Topics to Reflect Upon for This Round

Tony Bennett

We don’t do much on show business or entertainment in this blog. If you ever saw me dance or heard me sing, you would be grateful that the scant treatment of such things in this blog minimizes your risk of ever seeing a video of me doing such things. You are welcome.

But an exception for Tony Bennett. He was, quite simply, the best of his generation at what he did – maybe the best ever. Frank Sinatra once said Bennett was the best singer he ever heard. He had a point. Bennett was the master of it all – his voice, his presence, his ability to generate a song like it was some sort of magic butter flowing over reality.

He had three other traits worthy of admiration. One, while he respected the past, he embraced the future. His great string of duets introduced him to whole new generations. Many decades apart in age, he and Lady Gaga were the perfect pair. I loved their work together. And other duets were also great, and groundbreaking.

Two, he was eager to mentor, encourage, and praise up and coming talent. So many important talents were either encouraged directly by him or followed him as a role model. He left us generations of better talent because they drew from him. Three, he knew when it was time to quit. He never wanted to quit, but he felt Alzheimer’s coming and knew it was time to let it go Better that than doing it poorly. Other entertainers hit that same point and quit just a bit too late. Tony made the call.

Been humming his songs in my head all week. How lucky we all were to have him among us.

Good Riddance to Legacy Admissions

OK, that is a bit of a premature celebration, but let’s hope a trend has begun. In the wake of the utterly wrong Supreme Court decision saying race could not be even one of many factors in deciding who is accepted to what university, a really strong backlash came out, focused in part on the old formula of “My dad bought a building, so I am in.”  That is how Donald Trump got in, and how son-in-law Kushner got in as well. Make no mistake- this unfairness is certainly not just a Republican thing. It’s a privileged class thing.

Wesleyan is only the most recent school to ban these legacy admissions. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Amherst College, Pomona College, Johns Hopkins, and Carnegie Mellon have done the same. Whether or not they really stick to it or not remains to be seen, but hope springs eternal that they do, and that they are joined by others. This is not a small thing to do; hats off to these institutions for taking real financial risk and great pressure. They are doing the right thing.

Alabama Redistricts – Again

It surely is political decisions at work, but maybe this is all a reflection on the state of Alabama’s education system as well. Apparently, political leaders are unable to count to 2, as in two majority Black voting districts. Thought thing, high math.

The Supreme Court decision that led (too late for the last elections) to the redistricting left a tiny sliver of space for a solution other than two districts. It will be interesting to see what the Federal courts do now, especially since this case has implications for redistricting cases in several other states. A normal court would slap them down without delay for failing to follow the law, and therefore give up the right to redistrict. An independent authority appointed by the court would redraw the districts. These days? Who knows? Stand by.

Israel – This Is Beyond Painful to Watch

The citizens of Israel have made it abundantly clear that they do not want, in the strongest possible terms, the executive branch messing with the legal system and judicial oversight. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have marched repeatedly. Israel’s allies have made it clear this crosses an undemocratic line.

Even military personnel, including officers, in the reserves, said they would not answer a mobilization call from an undemocratic government. Think of that – military personnel in Israel refusing to answer the call. That was unimaginable in the history of this country. But Netanyahu does not care.

This is a government unlike any in Israel’s history. Many of its prominent members are the sort you would not want your daughter to date. They are, at heart, violent extremists who foster apartheid that is unworthy of Israel. It will be increasingly hard to justify aid given to Israel and the partnership we have shared.

This is a dark day for us all. This blog has often noted that what Trump has done here and seeks to do brings untold damage to our country and the world. Netanyahu joins him on that stage. Shame on him.

Like to End on a More Positive Note Today?

 Can do. There are a number of indicators coming online that bode well for 2024.

  • The economy. Amazingly, many Americans think Biden is not doing well on the economy. In fact, he is knocking it out of the park on every count; we are doing far better than the rest of the world. The infrastructure projects he launched are staring to take hold. I think it highly likely that, barring something unforeseen, he will get due credit by election time.
  • Recent national polls show Biden with a small but not insignificant lead over Trump – that will grow.
  • Trump may yet get the republican nomination as the too large a field of candidates split the internal opposition and make it unlikely anyone could gather focused support, but the odds are high that he will be convicted of one or more crimes before election day. He will not get reelected. He likely will go to prison.
  • The Republicans are hugely on the wrong side of public opinion on more issues than I can count now. There are a lot of people who don’t like any party, but it will not be that difficult to articulate what each party stands for, very specifically. As that is done, the Republicans go down, hard.
  • In 2024, there is a shift of over 40 million voters. 20 million brand new Gen X voters are in, 20 million Baby Boomer voters are no longer with us. The new bunch does not care about parties, but on the issues, they align with Democrats overwhelmingly.
  • Barring a third party spoiler (and some are already out there lingering about), the Democrats could sweep the field in 2024 nationally (not so much within the states. More on that later). Perhaps a bone crushing, across the board defeat could finally kill off the MAGA extremism once and for all. Not likely but possible.
  • Our local precinct has just finished recruiting poll workers and judges. The Democrats had more volunteers than in the past, more than can be utilized. Many of these are younger voters, but old-timers, too. People get what is at stake and they are turning out in droves. I hear it is the same all over the country.

See you next week. Stay cool.

Bill Clontz

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