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Sue The NFL For Concussions? Get Your Head Examined!

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the really big game begins. And it’s going to be a head-knocker .

On one side we have the raiders. No, not Oakland, but the Trial Lawyers, who delight in raiding everything good and decent in America. They are representing former NFL players in their fight against the evil empire, a.k.a. the National Football League. At stake? Upwards of ten billion dollars, and possibly, the existence of the NFL itself.

And what is the nerve center of this federal lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia, that have the plaintiffs so mad they’re seeing double? What went so wrong that these former players, given a life of royalty by the NFL, now want to ring the League’s bell?

They suffered concussions playing football.  No lie.  That’s actually the basis of the lawsuit.

The sheer stupidity of such a suit makes you wonder if they really did get hit too many times, because no one of sound mind could dream up something like this.

It would seem, therefore, that their motive is rooted in something else. In the preferred legalistic nomenclature, they’re looking for a handout.

Maybe they’re bitter because they didn’t play in the era of massive contracts. Maybe it’s because they can’t function as “regular” guys after being worshipped for so long, which, for many, started in grade school. Others may feel lost, with football the only thing they know. But their commonality is thinking they are entitled to something.

****

The outcome of this lawsuit should be a no-brainer. But given the insanity in America’s civil legal system, a jackpot jury award is definitely possible.  (NFL Properties and helmet maker Riddell are defendants, too.)

The players claim the NFL hid information linking football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease). In addition to monetary damages, they want the NFL to assume responsibility for the medical care involved for those players suffering from those health problems.

Let’s look at the case objectively:

1) This sense of entitlement is not just misguided but inappropriate. No one held a gun to players’ heads to sign lucrative contracts and become celebrities to play football.  They’re big boys, and chose their profession — with its risks — of their own free will.

2) And yes, there are risks. Plenty of them. Football is not a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. It is an intensely physical, violent profession. That’s why God made pads and helmets, but any third grader can tell you that those things only help to minimize injuries, and can never totally prevent them. The NFL is not a flag-football league, but one with punishing hits. That’s the game. Players can take it or leave it.  Not surprisingly, they take it.  Always.

3) The pass-the-buck, take-no-personal-responsibility attitude so prevalent in America is once again on full display. Players knew the risks, reaped immense rewards, and now, after the fact, want to blame the NFL for their issues. And are we really supposed to believe that the NFL willfully engaged in a grand conspiracy to keep players in the dark about the effects of hard tackling? To swallow that, we must assume that the League had every doctor in the country on the take, preventing them from speaking to any player who had questions about concussions. And that it somehow inhibited medical professionals from conducting research into concussions and brain injuries.

4) Did the NFL, the medical community and our society know as much about concussions several decades ago? No.  Is there a concerted effort now to better understand brain trauma, and to make all sports — including NFL football — safer? Absolutely.  That’s not malfeasance. It’s progress.

5) Is the NFL culture one that glorifies big hits, highlights them on NFL films, and encourages playing through injuries? Yes, but so what? Fans love when players get leveled, and players love delivering big-time jolts, which often help their team. Gutting it out has always been a source of pride for players, who do it not to secure the next big contract but because they love the game.  An admirable choice, but a choice nonetheless.

6) Where does it end? Should a firefighter who gets burned sue the fire department? Is a baker responsible because an obese donut-eater develops heart disease? And should office workers who develop carpal tunnel syndrome have legal standing to sue their company?

Some jobs have higher risks, and playing NFL football is one of them. But given the lavish rewards, it’s an acceptable risk to players — past and present.  And regarding former players who state that, if they had today’s knowledge back then, they would have opted out — give us a break.  Not a chance in the world.

7) The NFL (and the Players Association) has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

The NFL also operates numerous health programs for current and former players, and offers medical benefits to former players, such as joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program, according to the League. Equipment has improved, and safety has increased, including outlawing certain types of hits.

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Is it sad that some former players have trouble walking, concentrating and living a “normal” life? Sure.  Is it a tragedy when a few commit suicide? Absolutely.   But it’s time that these players stop blaming others for their situations and look in the mirror. They made their choices, and for most, lived a fairy tale.
If they now choose to feel sorry for themselves, or regret their choices, fine.  But it’s a personal foul to ruin the game not just for current and future players, but for the ones who allow the League — and its former players —to be so successful: the fans.

And you don’t need your head examined to see that.

Nationally in Newsmax:

http://www.newsmax.com/Freind/NFL-Concussions-Lawsuit-brain/2013/02/07/id/489347

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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February 12, 2013 at 10:03 am Comments (0)

Tip The Scales Against Obesity? Try Shame

                                                        Part 2 of 2 on obesity, bullying, and the lack of shame in America

Several years ago, one of the best-loved theme parks in the world shut down a classic ride so it could make some “large” adjustments.  Why the need? It was something very “deep-seated” — people had become so obese that the boats in which they rode were scraping the bottom.

 

How would obese patrons feel if, in front of hundreds, they were required to stand in a different queue — one simply marked “Obese Riders Here.” And that instead of meeting just the height requirement, they were also forced to meet a “width” criteria.

 

Or when boarding an airplane, fat people would be called separately so they could sit in extra-wide seats, for which they pay double?

 

And what if stadiums had a section of reinforced double-wide seats where obese folks were required to sit?

 

Unfortunately, our country doesn’t binge on such options, which is truly a shame.

 

Literally.

 

And that’s precisely the problem.  There is no shame.

 

In genuflecting to political correctness, America shuns shame. It has become a nation so afraid to offend that it turns a blind to its biggest problems, such as obesity.   And that problem is burgeoning. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and a staggering percentage of our children — our future — are growing up (and out) with little regard for how this epidemic will impact them. In this regard, some medical experts have predicted that our children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. For many, they are the product of their environment, where parents (many obese themselves) and society as a whole have sent the message that being fat is no “big” deal.  The stigma once rightly associated with obesity is disappearing as quickly as fat is accumulating.

 

So how do we get to the bottom of this problem?  For starters, shame.  Because no matter what else is attempted, if shame is not the cornerstone of the solution, the situation will never improve.

 

*****

 

Two fantastic and courageous examples of how shame is being effectively utilized are occurring in Georgia and Minnesota.  In Atlanta, an extensive advertising campaign “Stop Sugarcoating It,” sponsored by Children’s Healthcare, targets childhood obesity.  Taglines under obese children include “Warning…It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not”; “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid”; and “Big Bones Didn’t Make Me This Way…Big Meals Did.” There was also a YouTube ad with a sad girl saying, “I don’t like going to school, because all the other kids pick on me. It hurts my feelings.”

 

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota has launched a similar campaign, targeting overweight parents whose behavior is often mimicked by their children. One ad shows two chubby boys arguing about whose dad can eat more — a discussion overheard by a father as he approaches their table with a heaping tray of fast food.  Another shows an obese woman filling her shopping cart with junk food, only to notice that her obese daughter is doing the exact same thing with a smaller cart.

 

Both campaigns use shame correctly. Without being mean-spirited or over-the-top, they prod people to acknowledge, and change, their unhealthy behavior. Not surprisingly, though, both have something else in common: significant criticism from the waistline-challenged community.  Their biggest beef? It’s not education, but shaming, which, of course is “bullying.”

 

They simply don’t get it.

 

Shaming isn’t the total panacea, but it must be an integral part of the solution. And there is no better example than how it changed the perception of smoking, once considered cool but now viewed with utter disdain.  Sure, cigarettes are expensive, but that’s not why smoking is down.  It’s because society made a conscious effort to shame smokers.  Try lighting up in a bar with co-workers, and you receive dagger-like stares. Do it outside, and people immediately move away, because smoking is regarded as disgusting, and therefore, the smoker must be, too.

 

Smoking kills, and we have no problem pointing out that as a deterrent.  But so does obesity, yet we hesitate to mention it.  Just as non-smokers are picking up the tab for the massive medical costs related to smoking, non-overweight people are subsidizing the obese since it is “discriminatory” to charge differently for health care (though a section of the Affordable Care Act would change that).

 

But unlike the “good old days,” shaming is now taboo. No one is ever at fault or accountable for his actions. Consider:

 

-It used to be, when a student received a detention, they weren’t just shamed in front of their classmates.  They knew they had to tell their parents, which would invariably trigger another punishment.

 

Contrast that to the reaction this week of a New Jersey principal’s letter to parents about pictures of their underage children on Facebook holding alcohol bottles. Instead of thanking the principal for bringing that situation to their attention, a number of parents ripped him.

 

-Airlines have attempted to charge double for obese passengers whose girth extends beyond the armrests. While this is clearly commonsense, since not doing so penalizes paying passengers of normal weight, such policies are met with scorn and even lawsuits by those lobbying for obesity-without-consequence.

 

-And since it would be considered “discriminatory” to have an obese-only section in stadiums, seats are being made wider to accommodate overly plump posteriors.  And when seats are wider, there are fewer of them.  Who pays?  You do.  The same way that the non-obese eat the cost of new toilets that must be installed with ground supports, as the standard wall-mounted commodes can no longer bear the weight of America’s fat brigade.

 

We have coddled ourselves so much that we have shamed using shame.  As a result, people have become clueless to their appearance.  Sure, what’s under the skin matters, and no one should feel that obese people are bad, but what’s on the outside counts, too. Or at least it should.  But go to any beach, and count how many linebacker-sized women are showcasing themselves in bikinis.  Ditto for men whose guts reach the next block.  Since they all have mirrors, one can only assume that shame is simply not a part of their lives.

 

Should we have scarlet letters for the obese? Of course not, since there is no problem identifying them. But we should employ shame to shed light on an issue that affects us all, in the same way that some judges order drunk drivers to place “Convicted DUI” bumper stickers on their cars.

 

And speaking of cars, how shameful is it that overweight people are not just guzzling food, but fuel?  A recent report calculated that 1 billion gallons of gasoline are wasted every year (one percent of the nation’s total) just to haul Americans’ extra pounds. And given that the average American weighs 24 more pounds than in 1960, airlines are using roughly 175 million more gallons of jet fuel per year just to accommodate the overweight.  That’s downright shameful.

 

And if not shame, then what? Do we tax fast food? Soda? Candy?  Do we regulate portion size? No to all. Not only are such ideas preposterous and unenforceable, but they are tactics, not strategy.  It’s time to tip the scales against obesity and solve the problem.

 

Otherwise, we will soon find out that the “elephant in the room” isn’t a pachyderm at all.

 

It’s an average American.

 

                                                                                     *****

As published in Delaware County Daily Times:

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/16/opinion/doc507c724224c08947340181.txt

Part 1, as published in Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/10/10/america-open-honest-conversation-fat-people/

 

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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October 16, 2012 at 9:47 am Comments (0)

Obese News Anchor Sinks Over A Weighty Issue

Part 1 of 2 on obesity, bullying and the lack of shame in America

 

Think just because there’s a presidential election there aren’t other “big” issues? Believe that, and pigs can fly.

 

In fact, there is a large — huge, even — discussion eating at many Americans, the girth of which we are still trying to get our arms around.

 

What is this weighty issue that once again has been feasted upon by both sides?

 

The massive rate of obesity in America, and whether publicly calling attention to it, as well as obese individuals themselves, should be on the table.

 

The obesity issue got cooking again after overweight news anchor Jennifer Livingston of WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin, received a private email from a viewer.  Kenneth Krause called her weight into question, asking whether she considered herself “a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” and adding, “Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.” He ended by hoping that she would, “reconsider (her) responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

 

Since Livingston’s skin was surprisingly thin for someone in the public eye, she responded with a four-minute on-air editorial rebuking Krause.

 

But rather than giving viewers food for thought regarding her perspective on obesity, she left everyone wondering “Where’s the beef?” by barely weighing in on the issue at all. Instead she had a cow, ranting incessantly about bullying.  Yes— bullying. To the point where she even blubbered about how those struggling with sexual preference, skin color and even acne needed to stand up to bullying.

 

Bravo!  And since anchors often sink, that classic bait-and-switch tactic ensures Ms. Livingston a long political career should her day job not pan out.

 

However…

 

While many other media outlets are fawning over Livingston’s diatribe, Freindly Fire won’t serve up Grade A compliments so freely.  This is far too much at steak — stake, sorry — to allow her to duck the meat of the issue.

 

*****

 

First item on the menu are the facts:

 

1) Livingston received a private email, and chose to go public with it. Krause didn’t “bully” her, but offered his opinion to a public figure —which Livingston certainly is. She could have responded privately or simply ignored it. Getting nasty emails is part of the job.  Hell, Yours Truly gets pummeled so often — including occasional death threats — that a “bullying” email like Krause’s would be a dream. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the…kitchen.

 

And would someone please explain how a non-vulgar, non-threatening email can be even remotely considered bullying?

 

2) Every single aspect of the obesity epidemic needs to be discussed in an open, straightforward and respectful manner, regardless of whether feelings are hurt. That’s not bullying. It’s constructive dialogue, something quickly disappearing from the American scene.

 

3) The vast, vast majority of obesity cases — which includes nearly 40 percent of the

American adult population — are due to lifestyle choices, namely, immense overeating and a lack of physical activity. Only an extremely small percentage is related to medical conditions.

 

4) Let’s put a fork in the myth — perpetuated by so many obese people — that thyroid conditions are more prevalent than the common cold. Not only are they rare, but there are numerous medications which treat that condition, combating weight gain. Interestingly, Livingston never mentioned during her editorial that she had a thyroid condition. That morsel only came out after the story — and Livingston herself — became an international headline.

 

*****

 

 

In fairness to Livingston, it would seem that Krause formulated his opinion not knowing if she had a medical condition that contributed to her obesity.  While the odds were certainly in his favor that she did not, it would have been prudent to have addressed that question in his correspondence.

 

That said, as big as Livingston has become, given her appearances on national television shows, she is not the issue. Nor is Krause.

 

But before we get to the skinny on obesity, it is equally important to understand what this issue isn’t about — namely bullying.  Does it exist? Of course. Always has and always will. And reasonable efforts should be made to fight it. But “bullying” has become the catch-all phrase we use whenever someone feels jilted, offended, or bad about themselves.  The truly tragic part is that combating real bullying has taken a backseat to an all-appeasing political correctness running rampant throughout America.

 

From social media to the schoolyard, we’ve reached the point where children are no longer permitted to fight their own battles, instead seeing the authorities swoop in at the first sign of conflict.  Sounds nice, and sometimes intervention is necessary, but for the most part, that paternalism leaves children woefully unprepared for that pesky thing called The Real World.  And now we are seeing the results of crib-to-college coddling: our businesses are sanitized risk-averse petri-dish experiments for social engineering, wars are fought so as to not offend the enemy, and scoreboards are often turned off in youth sports so a team down by 5 goals doesn’t cry and quit.  But no worries! Everyone gets a trophy so all can feel good about themselves.

 

Maybe if America prioritized growing up and not out, we’d be a whole lot better off.

 

The real issue is how to gnaw away at the exploding obesity rate, an epidemic that is all-consuming.  Obesity-related medical costs are soaring (over twenty percent of all health care spending) as cases of diabetes, heart disease and stroke meteorically rise.  Health insurance premiums for everyone increase in order to subsidize the obese. Worker productivity is down. Even energy costs are up.

 

But perhaps most alarming, America’s young people are being de-sensitized to obesity and all its negative effects.  In what is fast becoming a “do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good” society, that makes for an extremely dangerous recipe.

 

And the best way — maybe the only way — to change that fatitude is shame, a value in thin supply.  Part Two will chew that fat on how shame, correctly utilized, can lighten the load on America’s youth.

 

As published in Delaware County Daily Times:

 

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/11/opinion/doc5076b94a3667d182779799.txt

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

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October 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm Comments (0)

Avalon’s Fiery Regulation Outlawing Gas Grills—And Its Selective Enforcement

What is the biggest threat to our security?

 

1)      Al-Qaida

2)      Illegal immigration

3)      Joe Biden’s mouth

4)      Gas grills on decks

 

Gas grills, naturally.

 

In an act that can only be described as prescient, Avalon, New Jersey burned its competition by being one of the first to protect its citizens from the menacing grill crisis.

 

It outlawed propane grills on decks.

 

No joke, as the Borough Council ordinance reads:

 

“Propane gas grills are not permitted on any deck, under any building overhang, or within five feet of exterior wall. (Natural gas, charcoal, and electric [grills] are allowed).”

 

Avalon beachgoers should feel privileged, as that regulation undoubtedly keeps them safe from the greatest pandemic we face as a nation: the destructive force of exploding gas grills.  How grave is the threat? The National Fire Protection Association claims that “more than 6,100 accidental fires and explosions occur [each year] due to the improper use of grills.”  A conservative estimate is that 60 percent of America’s 114 million households own gas grills (that’s 69 million gas-grillin’Yanks). So the accident rate is a whopping — wait, we need a bigger calculator — 8.84 x 10-5, or, in layman’s terms, .009 percent.

 

So let’s get this straight. We’re passing laws to protect the .009 percent of the idiot population who can’t use a gas grill properly?

 

Interestingly, it’s a law that only applies to renters — not homeowners. So therefore, is it safe to say that all renters are morons and homeowners grill-savvy? Or is it to prevent renters from lugging their 100 pound grills on vacation with them? (Doesn’t everybody do that?)  Or, as is likely the case, is it government intruding into where it does not belong?

 

If a homeowner wants to allow a renter to grill, that should be his prerogative.  If not, then lock up the grill.  And if, Lord forbid, there is an unfortunate event, that’s why God made homeowners’ insurance. But government should not be needlessly interfering in the private affairs of citizens.

 

What makes the situation so explosive is how such laws are selectively enforced. Should a house be subject to a noise complaint, the police, upon noticing a grill on the deck, can order its removal and levy a fine — with no action taken against every other house on the block sporting a deck grill. The end result of such blatant favoritism is disdain for the law and the agents who enforce it.

 

While it would be nice to think that such a law is an isolated intrusion on our freedoms, that’s not the case.  Ego-driven government officials seem to be the norm, deliberately placing laws on the books that can shut a business down or make one’s life pure hell for virtually any reason. Consider:

 

-Ordinance 7:2-5.10 prohibits the alteration or repair of any building on any Sunday in the summer. While vacationers surely desire peace and quiet, should government have the right to tell a homeowner that he cannot work on his home?  Many houses are rental properties that must be up to code in order to be put on the market.  Since most of their owners work during the week, the only time they can make necessary repairs are on the weekends.  But in Avalon’s view, if you can’t make it down the shore on Saturday, you’re out of luck.

 

A cynic might think that policy smacks of collusion between the local government and shore contractors.

 

And naturally, there is an exception for —you guessed it— Avalon itself, as the ordinance does “not apply to limited projects of the Borough of Avalon.”  Nothing like being above the law.

 

But it doesn’t stop there.

 

-An Avalon homeowner passed up an opportunity to have a new garage built for free.  His existing garage was adjoined to his neighbor’s, who was razing both his house and garage to build new structures. The builder calculated that it was more cost-efficient to level both garages rather than dismantle just one.

 

So why pass on such a lucrative offer?  Because his washer and dryer are in the garage, and if he were to demolish the building, he would not be permitted to reinstall them (they are grandfathered).  Why is Avalon telling a homeowner—and yes, a taxpayer— what he can and can’t do in his own garage?  It isn’t to prevent a “bungalow” situation, since that arrangement is already outlawed in the zoning laws. So what then, other than to simply maintain the ability to penalize an individual or business at will?

 

We may have won the Cold War, but too many government officials have since forgotten what we were fighting to protect: freedom from governmental tyranny.

 

*****

 

One of the greatest threats to America is the overabundance of regulations governing every aspect of our lives, and worse, the selective enforcement of those laws.  Too many have been conditioned to just accept the “inevitable,” because, after all, many of those laws “aren’t really enforced.”

 

But then why have them on the books at all?

 

While reasonable discretion can and should be applied to each individual case, selective enforcement opens the door to an oppressive government — a door that rarely closes.

 

And it has pitted citizens against each other.

 

Don’t like your neighbor? No problem. Just rat him out. With thousands of obscure laws on the books, he’ll always be guilty of something. The ultimate irony is that when a society pits people against each another, utilizing an endless web of laws, it becomes a lawless nation.

 

The way to maintain stability is to enforce laws uniformly and without prejudice.  If Avalon chooses to keep a law as stupid as prohibiting grills on decks, then it should enforce it across the board, no exceptions.  But no one should ever get cited just because a neighbor wants to “get him.”

 

Ronald Reagan once stated, “Whenever…

 

Read the rest at Delaware County Daily Times:

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/06/20/opinion/doc4fe1c18d44789066128527.txt

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 20, 2012 at 9:29 am Comments (0)

Saving Foie Gras Takes “Guts!”

 If it talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it must be….human?

Such is the quacky rationale of many activists as they hoot about animal-cruelty (including and especially all of us who callously continue our non-vegetarian ways), all the while grousing about “inhumane” treatment.

 

Perfect logic from Vegan Central.

 

Of course, they conveniently overlook that “inhumane,” by definition, can only apply to humans, and animals don’t have the same rights afforded people. Common sense tells us that outright animal cruelty, such as when Michael Vick ran a dog-fighting ring, is, and should be, against the law.  But doggone it, when we start listening to fanatics who want to outlaw everything related to consumption of animals, we become sheep being led to slaughter.

 

While these extremists may be irrational, they’re not dumb. They target areas with liberal populations, self-righteous legislatures, and city councils that think banning things is their paternalistic responsibility.   Nowhere have these folks been more effective than the People’s Republic of California, where for years restaurant patrons have been harassed for their love of certain delicacies.  The animal rights folks claim their mission is simply one of education, yet restaurant owners feel threatened and their customers intimidated.

 

And with good reason, because the fanatics have just scored a “whopper” of a victory as one of the all-time greats is set to be outlawed —statewide — on July 1.

 

So what was their “beef” this time? Liverwurst?  Tripe?  Nope.

 

Or was it Right Whale, whose extraordinarily tender meat tastes even better with the knowledge that there are only about 300 of these beasts left in the wild?

 

No, the big “flap” in the Golden State was regarding foie gras, which is French for “really, really good food”.  According to the non-carnivores, the methods employed in making the delicacy (which has been enjoyed since ancient times) are—yes, you guessed it— “inhumane.”  The duck (or goose, if you’re in France) is fed a constant diet so that it fattens up and its liver swells to several times its “normal” size.  The animals are then “put out to pasture,” being sent to finer culinary establishments so they can end up in our stomachs. (Kind of “winging” it here, but the fact that the duck’s liver lands so close to our livers really has a poetic, full-circle effect.)
So what’s the big deal?

 

If you look at the facts, not much.  If you buy into deliberate misinformation, a lot.

 

Like most everything, there is more than one way to skin a duck, so let’s look at the real picture.  Ducks have no gag reflex, so the “force-feeding” is not painful. Sure, it looks bad when you see the video of the feeding tube inserted into the throat, but I saw humans doing that all weekend at the Jersey Shore.  Interestingly, both were intaking grain-related products: cornmeal for the duckies, and grain spirits for the humans.  Neither seemed to mind.

 

Speaking of New Jersey, a fascinating point comes to mind.  Every spring, birds making one of the longest migrations on the planet stop on the shores of the Delaware Bay.  Why?  To gorge themselves on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Since their journey originates at the southern tip of South America and ends near the Arctic, they need a tremendous amount of energy.  Unfortunately for the birds, there aren’t too many service plazas along the flyway.  Armed with this intuitive knowledge, our aviary friends eat before they start their trip.  A lot.  Ditto for the stopovers. 

 

Interestingly, something happens to these birds as they gorge themselves for the expedition.

 

Their livers swell to several times their “normal” size.

 

Given the “inhumane” nature of such an event, I hereby call on all horseshoe crabs to stop laying eggs on the beach.  It should also be illegal for birds to engage in any such feeding activity, and offenders should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Enforcement of this policy guarantees that the problem will be solved, and these migratory birds will never have to deal with large livers again.

 

They will all be dead from starvation.

 

*****

 

Let’s try looking for consistency from the “vegetarian outreach” side of the debate. (As an aside…

Read the rest at Philadelphia Magazine:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/05/31/chefs-foie-gras-menu-cowardly-cowards/

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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June 1, 2012 at 9:53 am Comments (0)

Did Chris Christie Lower Jersey Flags for Whitney Houston to Suck Up to Black People?

 

Chris Christie And Whitney Houston: Not Perfect Together

As published in Philadelphia Magazine…

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/02/17/chris-christie-jersey-flags-whitney-houston-suck-black-people/

With the sparse media coverage of Whitney Houston’s death and funeral, it’s not surprising that her years of military service have gone largely unnoticed, as were her activities as an undercover cop in New Jersey (was she really killed after a sting went bad?).  After all, she must have done these dangerous things to warrant all Jersey state flags being flown at half-mast in her honor, as ordered by Governor Chris Christie.

 

Because the opposite simply defies common sense.

 

If Houston was not a police officer gunned down in the line of duty, nor a military hero killed in a war zone, that means that the hugely significant act of lowering the flags in deference to her was because she was…. a singer?

 

Really, Governor?  A singer?  That’s what it’s come down to in Jersey?  Sure, Whitney Houston was a Jersey native, proud of her Garden State roots.  And undeniably, she was one of the most dynamic pop stars of all time, changing the musical landscape forever and inspiring some of the brightest performers of today.

 

But she was just a singer.  That’s not to minimize her accomplishments, as they are many, but let’s cut through the emotion and talk brass tacks.  She was a popular singer, past her prime, with a not-exactly stellar personal history. 

 

Play word association with most people about Whitney Houston, and they will tell you two things: great singer and crack addict.

 

That’s reason enough not to elevate Houston to god-like status.  While Christie can’t control the media’s nauseating coverage of all things Whitney, he certainly could have sent a message by NOT lowering the flags for her.  By doing so, Houston is now perceived, more than she ever has been, as a special role model, one for whom the Government has issued its seal of approval. 

 

And despite Christie’s protests to the contrary, that’s exactly what has happened as a result of his bad decision. Trite as it sounds that honoring Houston in such a fashion condones her behavior — both good and bad — it also happens to be true.

 

And where does it end?  What is the litmus test for getting flags lowered on your behalf? Once the hallowed territory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countrymen, Christie has now changed the rules forever.  And is that really what we want from our governmental leaders — their interpretation of who merits the honor, and who doesn’t?

 

If Jon Bon Jovi — a Jersey Boy — happens to meet his Maker next week, will the Guv give him the same special treatment?  And what is the threshold? Record sales? Movie appearances? Rehab stints?

More ominous is to ponder Bon Jovi’s flag fate had he died before Whitney.  Would Christie have honored him the same way?  And if not, would that have been because Bon Jovi wouldn’t have provided the same perceived political benefit?

 

“Wow, what a callous, crass and out-of-line statement!” So will be the response of many Houston fans who will take such a possibility as a personal affront to Whitney and her family, but the point remains a valid one, and that bring us to two possibilities:

 

1) Is Christie’s move a political calculation, pandering to constituencies that are not in his camp? And if so, is the Governor’s attempt at making inroads with the black community and young hipsters done to seem more “moderate and compassionate,” both perceived necessities when running for President or Vice President?

 

If that is the case, it is a massive miscalculation on three counts.  First, he won’t win over those constituencies because he lowers flags.  He can only do so by sticking to his core convictions, explaining to them why his vision will benefit them more than failed Democratic policies.  Second, he has now alienated an influential part of his natural base — active and retired police and military personnel. In their eyes, his action has cheapened the sacrifices their fallen brethren have made, putting those fallen heroes on par with a drug-addicted millionaire Hollywood entertainer.  Last, such perceived political posturing doesn’t sit well with the vast majority of  regular, non-political citizens.  They may not see his motives as politically calculated, but many see his decision as a total lack of good judgment.

 

2) Of course, there may be absolutely no political calculation whatsoever, with Christie making his decision on a human level only.  This author, for one, would certainly like to think so, as no media commentator has defended Christie’s bulldog approach to tough issues more than Freindly Fire (and, to be fair, hammered him when he was wrong, such as “HelicopterGate”).

 

But that is exactly why politicians should not be lowering flags and honoring anyone they happen to like.  The nature of politicians is such that everything they do is perceived to be calculated, that their every move is an ulterior motive to curry favor with a particular constituency.

 

Why wasn’t the solemn act of lowering flags to honor real heroes left intact? Why is nothing sacred anymore? Why is common sense so incredibly uncommon these days, even by those from whom we expect more?

 

Perception is reality, and the growing perception — from both the media’s nonstop Whitney coverage and Chris Christie stamping his imprimatur on her entire life — is that she should be emulated and admired as one of the nation’s great role models.

 

To those entities, a suggestion.  If you want to honor her legacy, go buy her albums.  Otherwise, it’s time to exhale, come down from your drug-induced state, and realize that Whitney Houston is no…. Michael Jackson.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

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February 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm Comment (1)

School Closings Are Because Catholicism No Longer “Demands” Greatness

Part One 

Vatican II Destroyed Catholic Identity And The Essence Of Being Catholic

The message from Headquarters was sent to field agents worldwide:

“This is your mission — if you choose to accept it:  Take one of the most powerful institutions in the history of mankind and change it so radically — in all the wrong ways — that in the span of fifty years, it will be a shell of its former self, relegated to a backwater shaped only by the sad ghosts of the past.”

Was this a Mission Impossible communiqué sent at the height of the Cold War to implode the Soviet Union? Certainly could have been. And the goal would have been a worthy one, fighting an evil adversary hell-bent on human domination.

Interestingly — tragically, actually — that message could also apply perfectly to another mammoth entity — the Roman Catholic Church. 

There is one critical difference. The Soviets fell from outside forces, namely the influence of the United States.  But the Church, while admittedly having its fair share of outside “attackers,” is falling from within, and most of its decline is entirely of its own making.

The above message could well have come from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, 1965.  The “field agents?”   Cardinals, bishops and priests.  The objective: implement Vatican II.

And implement it they did.

The result? Disaster.

In the tumultuous 1960’s, the world was on fire as secularism and moral relativism were in vogue. Rather than standing its ground and fighting those undesirable concepts, the Church went in the opposite direction.  In effect, Vatican II allowed Catholics to be “Catholic” in pretty much any way they wanted, playing right into the hands of the Woodstock culture. Unwittingly, that carte-blanche decree served as a launching point for the now-dominant “do whatever you want to do and whatever makes you feel good without remorse” mentality.

In an instant, the things that made Roman Catholicism the world’s dominant force vanished.  To many, the “rock” upon which St. Peter built the Church no longer seemed solid, but more “flexible.” So rather than building upon the mighty history of the Church, expanding its reach while adapting to the times with a measure of common sense, the hierarchy went in the other direction.

Some Church officials, to be sure, disagreed with the Church’s new vision, but they were powerless to stop it, and for good reason.  Not only were they forced to follow orders, but in a much more practical sense, they were no longer able to hold their flock accountable when the Church itself abandoned many of the tenets which made it so attractive in the first place.

Give people an inch, and they take a yard.  And unequivocally, that isn’t limited to religion, but all organized entities.

When a political party strives to become a very large “tent,” trying to be all things to all people rather than affirming its platform — what it stands for — it eventually becomes impotent. It’s one thing for a position to evolve as circumstances change, so long as the basic belief structure isn’t irreparably compromised as to make the original tenet unrecognizable.  When that occurs — and both Parties are guilty of it — the result is the most unintended of consequences: no one is pleased, and people abandon the organization in ever-growing numbers, both officially and through apathy, indifference and inaction.

Has a football team ever won a Championship when the coach tells his players to practice in whatever way that makes them feel good about themselves — if they want to practice at all? Has a team ever been successful after making mandatory team meetings optional?  And how long will a team stay a cohesive unit if players simply ignore the coach’s play-calling and do their own thing?

Morale and pride mean everything in building a successful team or institution, but they can only exist when sacrifice and dedication is demanded of the individuals who make up that entity. The only part of JFK’s inaugural address that people remember was when he demanded greatness of Americans by asking “what you can do for your country.”

The Church lost those things when it stopped demanding greatness from its rank and file, instead letting folks off the hook by making things “easier.” It thought that by doing so, it would be the recipient of goodwill from the flock and see its membership increase.

It thought wrong.

Holy Day of Obligation falls on a Saturday or Monday?  You don’t have to go to Church that day, since we’ll just make Sunday mass count for both.

Too hard to fast from midnight to receive Communion? That’s way too long! Make it an hour.

You want to wear cut-off shorts, sports jerseys and flip-flops to Church? If it makes you feel good, then no problem.

Fasting from meat on Friday get in the way of ordering sausage on your pizza? The hell with it. Just do it. We’ll eliminate that rule too.

The list goes on and on, and the more the Church gave in to such expediency, the more people stopped going to Mass, and yes, the more parents stopped sending their children to Catholic schools.  Since the Church took away the essence of Catholic identity — the very point of being a proud Roman Catholic — then what was the point of doing either?

And now, several generations later, the carnage is everywhere.

The mosques are full, as are many evangelical churches, yet the churches are empty.

And in those evangelical churches, a significant percentage of the congregation is former Catholics who left the Church not because it was too “hard,” but because it stopped demanding.

Vocations are nonexistent, elderly out-of-touch priests have no replacements, schools are being shuttered at a staggering rate (which goes way beyond this latest round of closings), and scandal and corruption are rampant with no end in sight, as criminal trials and more billion dollar settlements loom.

And worst of all, the cover-ups continue, serving for many as the final nail in the coffin.  Why go to Church to listen to a long-winded uninsprational sermon about “morality” when Church leaders actively stonewall investigations and protect society’s absolute worst — child predators?

So what does the Church do?

Despite all that baggage, the Church has fast-tracked Pope John Paul II to sainthood faster than anyone else in history — a man who either was asleep at the switch during the height of the sandal, or chose to look the other way.  He could have aggressively rooted out the perpetrators with a take-no-prisoners attitude, sending an unmistakable message that the Church does not solicit nor will ever tolerate pedophiles to fill its ranks, regardless of the dearth of priests. But he didn’t.

And now, it has rolled out language changes in the liturgy which are ridiculous and inexplicable. Was it just another example of how out-of-touch the Church has become, or a deliberate distraction, as some theorize?

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Until the Church implements real reforms that will start the road to recovery, the numbers will continue to dwindle.

What are they?

-For starters, demand more of its followers. Don’t cower behind the “if I demand that people dress better for Church, they won’t come at all” mentality. Make them look presentable and act appropriately when entering the House of God — or tell them they aren’t welcome. The Church would be shocked to see how many MORE people will start attending Church again, and acting more reverently when they are there — just like public school children have more pride when required to wear uniforms.

-Motivate the flock by relating to them, not talking in platitudes with rhetoric that puts the congregation to sleep.

-Make it tougher to be a Catholic — to once again be the religious equivalent of the Marines. Sure, a kid taking the forbidden cookie wants it, but deep down, he is really looking for discipline. And sure, we complain when we have to sacrifice, but we feel good about it.

-Market the wonderful aspects of the Church, including it being the largest provider of social services in the entire world.

-Stop being a paper tiger politically. What’s the point of having so much muscle if you’re too scared to use it? If it had, most of the schools would not have closed (discussed in tomorrow’s Part Two).

And most important, eliminate the correct perception that the Church is close-minded and sexist. Allow priests to marry — and yes, allow women to become priests.  Not only would these common sense changes enable all priest to better relate to their flocks, but they would also attract non-pedophile priests to fill the ranks, allowing those who want to pursue a life of service to not be viewed suspiciously— by virtually everyone.

And neither would violate Church dogma, since priests married for at least four centuries, and quite possibly much longer. The practice was stopped not for religious reasons, but for disputes over property rights.  And since God was kind enough to bestow upon us annuities, life insurance and other neat financial tools in the last century, it’s time to drop the charade and bring the Church into modern times.

*****

The Second Vatican Council set in motion series of changes that, if they didn’t completely shatter much of what was beloved about the Church, certainly called into question Catholic identity. And nowhere are the tragic results more apparent than the dwindling number of Catholic schools. As schools go by the wayside, so does the Church’s future generations. 

In 1911, there were 68,000 Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. That number peaked in the 1960’s at 250,000. After Vatican II took hold, the number plummeted back to 68,000 in 2011 — despite the U.S. population exploding from 92,000,000 a century ago to 308,000,000.

And now, 49 more schools just went on the chopping block. The biggest irony is that the closings are not a solution, but the symptom of a much greater illness.  To save the remaining schools — and that’s by no means a sure thing — the Church needs to solve the problem…

Part II will discuss how to save Catholic education in America.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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January 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm Comments (0)

The Political Correctness Of “Merry Christmas” Has Dangerous Consequences

“This is the way the world ends …Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Does that famous quote aptly describe America’s future? Time will tell, but indications are that this nation, the most powerful, benevolent and fair in the world, is crumbling before our very eyes. Like Rome, it isn’t falling from outside invasion, but within. 

 And one of the biggest culprits is political correctness.

It’s all around us, but especially this time of year, as the assault on “Merry Christmas” accelerates.

It used to be a standard greeting, and people would reciprocate with a smile. Your religious denomination didn’t matter, or whether you even had one.  It was simply a friendly expression in a nation where the vast majority celebrated Christmas. And for those who didn’t, most returned the sentiment anyway because it was just a nice thing to do during the jovial season.

But all that changed as Americans’ sense of entitlement exploded. And yes, that included being entitled not to feel “offended” because something may not be to your exact liking.

“Merry Christmas? Well, I celebrate Hannukah or Kwanza or am an atheist, so how dare you presume to wish me your holiday? How offensive and rude!”

But it doesn’t stop there.  Hypocritical retail stores woo Christmas shoppers — you know, the 95 percent who do celebrate Christmas and spend a half-trillion dollars doing so  — but won’t put the word “Christmas” in their ads or on their displays.

It’s the Nativity scenes that are increasingly barred from public places. It’s residents who call the ACLU because a development hangs simple white lights on its trees. It’s office Christmas parties becoming a relic, replaced by generic “holiday” events. And yes, it’s Mayors like Michael Nutter who last year deliberately removed the word “Christmas” from the holiday retail complex near City Hall (but subsequently was forced to replace it).

All of it a brazen attempt to make America a more secular society through political correctness, and those who dare question it are labeled “bigots.” 

Several important points need to be addressed:

1) The push to make all things politically correct has been successful, as it is now entrenched in all aspects of society. Everyone gets a trophy in most youth sports leagues, we don’t keep accurate score when one team is winning over another, and all things must be racially, culturally and ethnically homogenous.

The problem is that’s not how the real world works. And it’s the basic principle that the Occupy movement doesn’t understand. You have to work hard and fight for things you want, but when they are bestowed upon us — without merit — from those who worship at the altar of political correctness, things go downhill fast.  Need proof? Just look at those who engage in PC the most —Europe and the United States. Enough said.

2) This is a not call for “Thought Police” to mandate that everyone say “Merry Christmas.”  Quite the opposite. It’s a call for the silent majority to wake up and shove it right back at the small but extremely loud minority who shout “I’m offended” at every single thing. Saying Merry Christmas behind closed doors doesn’t take guts.  Saying it because you truly believe it and not worrying that such an innocuous greeting will offend does — insane as that is.

3) Most important, Americans need to remember that actions have consequences. And until we connect the dots and see the error of being so PC, those consequences can, and will, have devastating results.

When good folks start looking over their shoulders before saying Merry Christmas for fear of “offending,” it all begins to unravel. 
 
Think the PC stops at that?  Well, think about the fact that the next time you step foot on an airplane, it may be your last day on Earth because your government — we the people — absolutely refuse to non-invasively profile the very folks who openly state their intentions to blow up said aircraft.  And it gets better, as the Transportation Security Administration just announced that children under 12 don’t have to take off their shoes for screening, and will not be subject to routine pat-downs like everyone else

Here’s the $64,000 question. What do we think al-Qaeda will do now? Here’s a wild guess. Start flying a lot more with children? What’s next? Not screening foreign children at all?
  
So when your wife gets incinerated two minutes after takeoff, and the wreckage of a jumbo jet falls on your child’s school because a terrorist put the bomb in his 11 year old’s shoe, courtesy of the red carpet we provided, perhaps we shouldn’t wonder why it happened. 

Or when your son gets his skull sliced in half by a bullet that emanates from a Mosque in Afghanistan which is “off limits” for retaliation for fear of offending the very people who don’t like us anyway, maybe we should think about where it all started coming apart.
Did it start from the reluctance to say Merry Christmas or the refusal to put a Christmas tree on a courthouse plaza? Did it originate from the refusal to acknowledge Christmas on a public school calendar while other religions’ holidays are clearly labeled as such?  It’s impossible to pinpoint, but it really doesn’t matter.  That mentality is here, and has in large part led to the Great Decline.
 
So when the inevitable tragedy happens again — one that could have been prevented — and dumbfounded Americans stand around asking “How and why did this happen?”, well, you’ll know why.  The 40’s and 50’s were certainly not perfect, but people spoke their minds, were respectful, and America was a powerhouse. That attitude put a man on the moon a mere 60 years after the Wright brothers took flight but is now a fleeting memory.  Which is what happens when you bow to the wrong principles.
 
When Rome was at its zenith, it adhered to the simple principle that the well-being of its citizens was paramount. All of them.  In fact, so fervent was that belief that the Romans would literally go to the ends of the Earth to hunt down any thug that violated the rights of just a single Roman. They didn’t let political correctness rule the day, and the Republic thrived.  But when it abandoned that principle, it all came crashing down.
 
They said Rome would never fall, but it did.  Many say the same about America.   Yet the whimper is at our door.

So if we are to ever return to our former glory, perhaps that path could begin by good folks jettisoning political correctness and saying two small but incredibly joyous words without reservation:

Merry Christmas!
 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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December 23, 2011 at 11:29 am Comments (2)

Pennsylvania Society In New York? Absolutely Yes!

When the second weekend in December rolls around, you can set your watch to two things:

1)  Politicians, business leaders and media executives from the Keystone State converge on the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan for three days of receptions and parties in an event known as The Pennsylvania Society Weekend.

2) The news media will, verbatim, recycle their tired old story, criticizing the event and asking why it isn’t held in Pennsylvania.

Good point, right?  Wrong.  It’s articles like that which make a newspaper’s biggest value being the backup when you run out of toilet paper.

Instead of actually reporting on some of the newsworthy stories that emerge from the weekend, or, God forbid, using the opportunity to generate leads for future stories, most reporters choose the easy — read: lazy — way out by publishing last year’s article after simply changing the date.

Water is wet, the sky is blue and the Pennsylvania Society gala will always be in New York — as it should be. So for all the misguided good-government types, self-described “reformers,” and the chip-on-their-shoulder folks who sport a nose-pressed-against-the- glass attitude, here’s a newsflash: your self-righteous criticism is not just wrong, but factually incorrect about the PA Society.  As a result, your comments are simply ignored as white noise.

Here is the truth rebutting many criticisms leveled at the year’s premier networking event and the “elite” who  attend:

1) Why isn’t it held in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?  Uhhh, this is a no-brainer.  Because, literally, no one would go.  Period. Not only is there always an excitement in getting away for a weekend — which just isn’t the same when the destination is in your backyard — but there is the ultimate incentive to attend:  it’s Manhattan at Christmas time. No city in the world comes close to matching the electricity flowing through New York in December. There is nothing better. End of story.

2) Why is the Pennsylvania Society event held in New York?  In addition to the above, there’s a little thing called history. In an age when traditions are routinely scoffed, it is refreshing to see that some are still sacred. The weekend started a century ago when some of Pennsylvania’s successful businessmen living in New York (you know, the evil industrialists who had the gall to actually employ hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians and transform the state into one of the most dominant economic engines in the world) wanted to keep in touch with fellow Pennsylvanians. 

Wow. Maintaining friendships, cementing business relationships and furthering the economic interests of Pennsylvania.  What a crime.  Maybe they shouldn’t have started the tradition and instead let the state fall into stagnation, decay, and malaise — kind of like it is now.

3) It’s all backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms: Not true.  New York has one of those ridiculous, all-encompassing smoking bans, which is a shame.  I saw a bunch of CEO’s and pols trying to finish their deal-making after getting thrown out of a mahogany-paneled restaurant for lighting up their Cubans, only to get ticketed for smoking in Times Square.  Yep.  That’s illegal too. The nerve of New York to interfere with Pennsylvania’s elite!

Of course, it hasn’t dawned on the critics that “schmoozing, networking, fund-raising, backslapping, wining, dining, and deal-making” (as the Inquirer described it) can and does take place outside of New York.  It happens in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and everywhere in between.  As a matter of fact, these folks don’t even need back rooms anymore, as they can “make their deals” on cell phones, and, for those who prefer face-to-face conspiracies, Skype.  

The truth is that the last time a candidate was “anointed” at the Pennsylvania Society was Bill Scranton for Governor.  In 1962.  And a check of the records will show there was in fact an election that year, so Mr. Scranton was not installed via dictate by the power elite.

4) The money would be better spent in Pennsylvania, and what kind of message does it send in this economy to have politicians attending lavish parties in New York?

It’s probably a bad image, but damn it’s a fun time!

Of course, both these points boil down to one of America’s biggest problems — and a major factor why we are in this mess.  We are all about style and symbolism over substance.

Does it “look good” to spend money in-state?  Sure.  Would it make one bit of difference?  None.  Zero.  Maybe if a fraction of the energy spent advocating for symbolism was actually spent on getting Pennsylvanians back to work through meaningful growth policies, we’d all be a lot better off.  Ironically, many of the detractors are the same ones standing in the way of real progress, but that’s another column. 

5) It’s so aristocratic…all the power elite playing in their privileged world. 

Well, since this author attends, that theory is shot to hell. But beyond that, it’s simply not true.  Here’s the biggest non-secret that will get me barred from the few events to which I’m actually invited: most “By Invitation Only” events are nothing of the kind. Put on a suit or nice dress, and you’re in.  And once that happens, the preconceived notions disappear right before your eyes.

It’s not about backroom deals and the coronation of candidates.  It’s about people enjoying the company of folks whom they see only this once the whole year.  It’s about renewing long-lost friendships. It’s about swapping war stories, exchanging ideas, going shopping, seeing a Broadway play and taking in a show at Radio City.

But perhaps most remarkable is that, just this one time of year in New York, you can walk into a room with no gatekeepers and have a relaxed, in-depth conversation with some fascinating people who are otherwise insulated. Current and former Governors, U.S. Senators, Attorneys General, Cabinet Secretaries, Congressmen, titans of industry, media publishers, authors… the list goes on and on.  The overarching point of the weekend isn’t to lobby and politic (though clearly that takes place), but to have fun.

State Representative Mike Vereb said it best, “You can actually talk to someone for more than five minutes.”  Too bad we can’t do that more often in Harrisburg, but it’s a start.

And here’s the best part.  It’s civil. Democrats and Republicans actually talk to one another without hurling insults and fists.  About the only folks hitting the floor are the ones who enjoyed the festivities a tad too much.

The media would do itself a huge favor by reporting on the true aspects of the Pennsylvania Society Weekend and not regurgitating the same trite garbage that only serves to further undermine people’s faith in their leaders.

So I raise my glass to keeping the Pennsylvania Society Weekend exactly where it belongs — New York City. 

Cuban cigar, anyone?

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm Comment (1)

Texas Rangers’ Statue For Stupidity? Carefree About Crash Victims?

Is bad judgment becoming commonplace — or is there still hope? An honest father in Minnesota may provide the answer

From war and civil unrest to global recession and record-setting natural disasters, it’s increasingly fashionable to predict that Judgment Day will soon be upon us.

Wrong tense. It’s here, and always has been.  It’s called decision-making in everyday life.

But for whatever reason, good judgment and common sense now seem to be the exception. The good news is that this provides endless fodder for columnists.

Here are just a few examples from this week that are representative of where we are going as a society (and no, there won’t be any mention of Congress, presidential candidates or government at any level, since their daily bad judgment could fill volumes, and is, unfortunately, an accepted — and expected — part of American life).

But hope is not lost, for as the Texas (Rangers’) star falls, the sun is shining in Minnesota.

Texas Rangers Strikeout

Last month, Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone attempted to catch a ball thrown into the stands. Tragically, he leaned too far over a railing, lost his balance, and plunged to his death. According to the Rangers, the railings exceeded the required height (the same level as Stone’s waist), and there appears to be no negligence that contributed to the man’s demise — except his own.

Stone, who by all accounts was an upstanding citizen, had a serious lapse of judgment.  Sure it’s exciting to catch a Major League ball, but it’s just a baseball.  So because of that mistake, innocent as it was, he leaves behind his wife and small son.

(And one other point here: most media reports repeatedly refer to the fan as “firefighter” Stone, which is totally irrelevant.  He fell as a fan, not a firefighter in the line of duty. Damn near all other professions would not “merit” being mentioned, nor should they. That misnomer only serves to obscure the real lesson).

But in an even worse display of judgment, the Rangers decided to memorialize Stone by placing a life-size bronze statue of him and his son at the home plate entrance to the ballpark.

Seriously?

Why would they do such an incredibly idiotic thing, one which only serves to sanction a wholly avoidable mistake and reward bad judgment?

Rangers President Nolan Ryan explained: “We feel that this statue will be a most fitting tribute… It will not only serve to honor Mr. Stone’s memory, but also to recognize Rangers fans and baseball fans everywhere.”

Ryan should stick to pitching, because that may just be the dumbest rationale possible.

So the best idea to honor fans is a statue of someone whose bad judgment caused his death? With that precedent, what’s next? A suicidal baseball fan who jumps off the upper deck in order to get an even bigger memorial?

With that kind of minor-league thinking, no wonder the franchise went bankrupt.

Too Busy To Help

As the motorcycle rider was traveling on Interstate 476, the car in front was exiting the highway.  But upon seeing the exit ramp clogged with traffic, the motorist crossed over a median to re-enter the highway — without looking.  The maneuver was both illegal and dangerous.  

Not seeing, or caring, that the motorcyclist was in the lane, the motorist cut him off, forcing a crash.  So powerful was the accident that the bike traveled at least 200 more feet — minus the driver, who lay in shock, bleeding profusely on the highway — before slamming into a concrete barrier.

The motorist never stopped.

Even worse, at least three drivers who witnessed the accident slowed down, almost to a stop, gawked at the motionless motorcyclist, and continued on their way.  Guess the barbeque or ball game was a lot more important than potentially saving a person’s life. 

And as far as “not wanting to get involved,” that’s rubbish because Pennsylvania has a Good Samaritan law that protects passers-by from liability lawsuits. Unequivocally, there was no excuse not to help, and simply calling 9-1-1 doesn’t cut it. We’re not talking about a fender-bender, but a life in jeopardy.

To the elderly couple that did stop, stabilizing the victim and placing themselves in harm’s way by entering the highway and directing traffic, a tip of the hat. 

You know the saying about those folks being the Greatest Generation? Nothing could be truer.  Thank you for your service— again.

Minnesota “Twins” — and the truth — win

But just when you think the world’s gone completely mad, with Truth, Justice and the American Way out the window, a story emerges that rekindles faith in humankind.

Seriously.  That’s not hyperbole. What just occurred in Minnesota is nothing short of remarkable, and as far as I’m concerned, America has a new hero.

Pat Smith is the father of twin 11 year old boys, Nate and Nick.  They bought three raffle tickets for the chance at $50,000 — but to win, the contestants had to shoot a hockey puck through a 1 ½ inch by 3 ½ slot from 89 feet away.  Never going to happen, right?

Except it did.

Here’s the catch. Nate’s arm had been in a cast, so he told his father to write Nick’s name on the ticket. But Nick, figuring he’d never win the raffle (let alone the contest), wasn’t at the hockey rink for the contest.

Nick’s name was called, though, and Nate, who had just gotten out of the cast, made the winning shot.  As identical twins, who would ever know that Nate was the actual shooter even though it was Nick’s name that was called?

No one. And the Smith family would be $50,000 richer, which, in this economy, goes a long, long way.

What transpired just didn’t sit well with Pat Smith, though, and he informed officials that Nick hadn’t taken the shot.  In other words, he told the truth, full-well knowing that the prize money would likely evaporate.

How many of us would do that? Undoubtedly, we’d like to think that we would. But when placed in that situation, with bird-in-hand ($50,000, to be precise), and a clean “getaway” virtually assured, reality is such that the number would be small.

Smith took the high road — and the correct one. He believed his good judgment would teach his family the meaning of right and wrong, and that honesty truly was the best policy.

“You’ve got to do what’s right,” he said, adding, “You don’t want to teach kids to lie no matter how much money is involved…we wanted to set a good example for the kids.”

The American dream, unique in the world, is founded upon honesty, trustworthiness and that which is under constant attack — morality.

Mr. Smith, not only did you succeed with your kids, but you set an example for the entire nation. And you can’t buy that — not with $50,000, nor with 50 million.

It is a priceless lesson, and one for the true record books.

And to think — all it took was good judgment.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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September 2, 2011 at 9:47 am Comment (1)

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