Report Your Neighbors If They Dissent on Obama’s HealthCare Package

By Jack Engelhard

 

The White House is asking us to inform on people who disrespect the current bill on health care, a bill which nobody has read in full – but never mind. According to reports in the news media, Americans are to be on alert for anything that sounds “fishy” in connection to this proposed legislation. In other words, if you, a walking-talking citizen, voice any sort of objection, you are to be reported.

 

As the official word has it, if you, an upstanding liberal loyalist find any email message that is deemed as “disinformation,” you are to notify the White House immediately. Some might refer to this sort of tattling as “White Terror” – a system once employed by the KGB to have neighbor spy against neighbor, in which case nobody can be trusted, hence the term “White Terror.”

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Yo, Glenn Beck, Cool It On New Jersey!

By Jack Engelhard

 

I caught your show on Fox the other day, the one where you removed New Jersey from the map and I guess I was supposed to laugh but I didn’t. This is where I live and it’s as fine a place as any other in the Unites States of America – and maybe even better. Yes, I scan the headlines, too, so I know about all the arrests. I know there’s corruption.

 

Hello? From state to state, where isn’t there corruption? I could pick any state – the rest of the 49 – and name names but I won’t so as not to insult the good people who live there and who have nothing to do with pay-to-play. Where to begin? Pennsylvania, which just got through sentencing that man Fumo? New York? Does the name Eliot Spitzer ring a bell? North Dakota? How about Rob Blagojevich?

 

Let’s not even talk about Louisiana and Illinois.   

 

Sorry to be mentioning some names but I just couldn’t help myself – though, if pressed, I could mention even more.

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Who Will Be Our First Trillionaire?

By Jack Engelhard

 

Those who have read the book or seen the movie “Indecent Proposal” know what it’s about – what would you do for a million dollars? At the time that I wrote and published the novel back in the mid-1980s, a million dollars was real money. That’s how we defined RICH, by the millions.

 

Larry King (when I appeared on his radio show) asked me why I chose the figure a million dollars for a night of infidelity and before I could answer he agreed. He said, “That’s right. A million dollars is the magic word.” That was then and this is now, and how times have changed!

 

Suddenly, you are nothing if you are not a billionaire with a b. (I’m not changing a thing. A million dollars is still plenty in my book.)

 

Donald Trump is actually suing a man, a writer, who claims, in a book, that Trump is a mere millionaire. Trump says it’s ruining his image and his business.

 

Imagine that – we’ve arrived at a moment when being called a millionaire is an insult. (The rest of us should be so insulted.)

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Cronkite’s 15 Minutes of Fame for our Infamies

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Walter Cronkite’s TV presence was so powerful that when he made some off-hand remark critical of our war in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson knew that losing the support of Cronkite was the same as losing the support of the American people. LBJ had met his match; journalism that provokes.

 

Back then (going here strictly from memory) we were still reading newspapers and TV News was nothing more than a daily 15 minute roundup and recap – but such was the authority of these men, Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley, Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, that we began to trust broadcasting nearly as much as print. (“Murrow’s Boys” dominated CBS for some time.)

 

Today’s obits on Cronkite show him momentarily forgetting his journalistic stoicism in favor of a touch of emotion at the announcement of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. This may be a proper highlight but we should remember that 15 minutes at a time, TV News grew into the monster that it is today.

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Ogling The News (Blondes Invade TV)

By Jack Engelhard

[News Flash! A few days after I wrote this commentary and was still polishing it, the UK Telegraph, coincidentally, reported that “Blondes Dull Men’s Brains.” (I’m not making this up.) The article goes on to say, “Researchers concluded that men performed worse after they were shown pictures of fair-haired women.” So, it’s scientifically proven that blondes are coming to take over the world and turn the rest of us into mutants. Terrifying! We, men, may have to hide in caves to hide from the glare. I’ve already begun wearing sunglasses.]

How did the news get to be so blonde? This is not a complaint. In fact, this is a tribute, I think.

Back in the old days, when we thought only men can handle the truth, TV news was delivered by Serious White Males, like Walter Cronkite, which is not to say that the blondes who’ve taken over are not serious. I’m sure they’ve got the requisite gravitas, but they make the going so much sweeter. Wars, earthquakes, forest fires come and go. The blondes endure.

If you’re thinking Katie Couric, fine, but I’m not. I’m thinking mostly cable, CNN, MSNBC and Fox – mostly Fox. That’s where blondes have more fun. By this I mean nearly everyone, from the anchors to the guests, are blonde! The political commentators, the psychologists, the historians who arrive for sound bites- they’re all babes, but babes with brains.

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Sotomayor, Fox News and GOP Malaise

By Jack Engelhard

 

Those of us who tuned in for a slugfest were disappointed and went back to cutting the lawn. This was no Ali versus Frazier. There were no thrills. Even Fox News abruptly turned off, literally, and returned to regular programming so that Shepard Smith could get himself excited about the Murder of the Day. Only one person gave it some spice, on Fox, and it wasn’t a senator; it was anchorwoman Megyn Kelly. I’m nuts about this lady.

 

Yes, I know the howls at the mention of Fox News, but come on, Roger Ailes knows how to pick the right people (except for Geraldo) and how to keep stories moving.

 

Obviously, ratings were taking a dive. CNN took the hint from Fox and began easing off those hearings as well. News – especially on television – needs a plot, needs a narrative, needs good guys and bad guys, needs to entertain, needs drama and this simply wasn’t good television, never mind good theater.

 

There’s nothing to say about Democrat questioning since those guys are already sold on Sonia Sotomayor. (Amazingly, Al Franken was best of the rest.)

 

But just for the fun of it, we wanted some action from the Republicans.

 

When a hockey game gets dull, there is always someone from the stands who yells – “Hit somebody!”

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Inventing J. D. Salinger

By Jack Engelhard

 

The upstairs literary crowd, Eustace Tilley types, are already sharpening their pencils for Dan Brown’s next book, “The Lost Symbol,” even though it won’t be birthed until September. I’m not here to defend Dan Brown except to say that he delivered as promised. His big book, “The Da Vinci Code” was exactly about that, the Da Vinci code.

 

Dan Brown is not adored by the literati and the sniping has already begun as meanwhile Haruki Murakami, one of their favorites, keeps getting embraced.

 

Murakami’s latest gem is titled “Kafka on the Shore” and I happen to be a huge fan of Kafka and nearly went ahead to buy the book until, doing the usual online searches, I found that this book about Kafka is not about Kafka. It’s about a character Murakami has named Kafka with no connection to the great writer Franz Kafka.

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Won’t Have Palin To Kick Around Anymore

By Jack Engelhard

 

Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska pretty much taking the cue from Richard Nixon that we won’t have her to kick around anymore. So she’s out, though we don’t know where she’s going. My guess? This moment starts her run for the presidency – and this is the one and only candidate that has a real chance of upsetting the incumbent. If so many people hate her, it must be because they fear her.

 

What has she done wrong – really, what has this woman done wrong except run for the number two spot as a Republican, if you’ll pardon the expression. Other than that, how many commandments did she trespass? Did she rob, steal, kill? You’d think she’d done all that from all the nasty coverage that has dogged her from the moment her name was announced.

 

Her farewell speech was a mixed bag of political oratory together with restrained anger at all those who’ve mocked her and she sure did attract the worst of what this country has to offer. Think Letterman. Think Vanity Fair. Think of McCain insiders who blamed her for his defeat, never mind that Republicans picked a heroic soldier but the lamest of all candidates. McCain never had a shot, with or without Palin. He had no ideas. He was dull. He ran against his own Party. No shot at all.

 

Palin livened it up. She connected with ordinary Americans and for that reason alone she was disdained. Politicians, comedians, commentators, all ganged up on her and wouldn’t let up even when she left the spotlight. During the Letterman fiasco, readers at the New York Times blamed HER for imposing herself on the public when she did no such thing. It was Letterman who brought her out of hiding.

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Helen Thomas, of All People, on Media Love-Ins

By Jack Engelhard

 

I’ve never been a fan of Helen Thomas (her rants against Israel, for starters) but this time she’s got me on her side. Good for her! While the rest of her colleagues in the press keep fawning over the Administration, Thomas literally stood up against all the media manipulation going on when, in a heated exchange with press secretary Robert Gibbs, she said that she’d never seen anything like this – this sort of “management” of the news.

 

Thomas, who’s been a White House correspondent since the days of JFK, came straight out with it in follow-up interviews, saying, “What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” Well, yes, judging from all the giggling that usually occurs at what are supposed to be press briefings but which sound more like press Love-Ins.

 

“It’s blatant,” said Thomas, speaking also about those town-hall set-ups that appear to be so rigged.

 

Speaking of blatant, as well as corruption, here comes the Washington Post. Yes, the Washington Post that we used to admire since the days of Woodward and Bernstein. Well forget that. The word is out that elements within that newspaper were selling access to White House power brokers at a price ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. Buy a cabinet member, a congressman?

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Kremlin America

By Jack Engelhard

 

The news is never good, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and I’m losing track of what’s going on so far as health care and a thousand other items that are spinning out of the control. Don’t know much about the economy either, except that this too is in the tank – reaching 10 percent unemployment.

 

So please don’t come asking me for details. That’s why we have experts who, by the way, are the ones who got us into this fine mess – but never mind.

 

What I do know is that we – Mr. and Mrs. America – well, we all got together and installed a government that speaks in one voice, along with a news media that whistles the same tune. What have we done? We have installed a system of government that has no checks and balances. Repeat, no checks and balances.

 

One party runs the whole shebang – the White House and the Congress, with, as I said, the news media tagging along.

 

Our Founding Fathers were hot on the Separation of Powers, which is why we have three branches of power, the Legislative, the Executive, the Judicial, and then a Fourth Power, the news media, sometimes known as the Fourth Estate. Dissent is expected and even encouraged to keep us safe from tyranny.

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