Friday, March 25, 2016

BeneGram's 2016 Final Fourcasts

Let's see how we're doing here...

WOMEN: South Carolina [sigh], Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Connecticut. Connecticut over South Carolina in the final.
MEN: Villanova, Baylor, Virginia, Xavier. Virginia over Baylor in the final. Yeah, I know.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Freedom of Speech Doesn't Mean Stifling Someone Else's

I'm not what you would call a fan of Donald Trump. I think his mouth outpaces his brain by about four lengths, and he speaks in sound bites and pep-rally jargon rather than gives specifics. Marco Rubio [sigh] would have made a much better candidate, and a much more formidable opponent than Trump would be, if polls are to be believed.

That said, I don't believe the lunacy at Trump rallies is all his fault. DJT's events are being disrupted by activists with the same sort of tactics seen at college campuses, where students and their aging mentors simultaneously cry out for free speech and chant to drown out any speaker they don't like. Consider what Milo Yiannopolous and Ben Shapiro have had to contend with in the last few weeks.

"Free speech for me, but not for me," as Nat Hentoff put it.

It's one thing to stand outside a Trump rally with a sign in silent protest; it's another to cause a disruption at an event. This is not to comment on how such disruptions are handled, except to point out that any protestor who displays violence should expect the right of self-defense to be availed.

I'd rather have any other Republican as president than Donald Trump, but I don't want harm to come to him.

Monday, February 29, 2016

This Leap Year's Fun Fact, Same as the One Before

The adjustment known as leap year isn't as simple as "every four years." If that's all we did, our calendar would still be quite screwed up. To be even more precise and keep the earth from gaining or losing too much time, every year that is a multiple of 100 but not a multiple of 400 will not be a leap year. You may remember that 2000 was a leap year, though 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not be leap years, and then 2400 will be one.

Want to experience them with me? Eat your vegetables.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Clinton Wants to Have It Both Ways on the Supreme Court

Letter of mine ran here in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER on February 19. My original appears below. (And, yes, those cases were about specific appointees. My point is about the selective outrage, which any regular reader here would know is a common theme at BeneGram.)

I see that Sec. Hillary Clinton is now lambasting Republicans for the suggestion that the process to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed suddenly on February 13, should be delayed. Let us recall that Clinton was one member of the United States Senate to engage in filibuster against Samuel Alito when President Bush nominated him during his second term. (Then-Senators Barack Obama and John Kerry did the same.) Clinton, in fact, also used the filibuster against many Bush nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As for the years before Clinton was even First Lady, one need only enter the name "Robert Bork" into a search engine to see how Democrats have behaved when faced with a nominee they didn't like. 

So, apparently, Democrats, such as Clinton, are opposed to obstructing the process of replacing a Supreme Court justice -- except when they aren't.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Justice Scalia

As news spreads about the surprising passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I don't suppose that left-wingers commenting on message boards can refrain from being buttholes for at least the first 24 hours.

Oh, wait. Too late.

BOTH Sides Care About Gun Violence

I believe that President Obama's tears shed over gun violence were genuine, but I wish for a cessation of the rhetoric. I've never owned a gun or been a member of the National Rifle Association, but I'm tired of the NRA being vilified as an amorphous force that needs to be "stood up to." It is an organization comprising more than five million Americans, who are just as horrified by gun violence as everyone else. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of instances occur each year in which a gun prevents or prematurely ends a crime -- most of the time without even being fired.
Those who disagree with the president's proposals and attitude do not love their guns more than they love their children; they want the right of protection because they love their children.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Of Sad Snowglobes and Crestfallen Advent Calendars

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. (I've covered that silly tempest in a teapot many times before.)

Among the many commercials that have blasted us over the past month, two similar ad campaigns have been for cars I can't afford. One of them explains that there is a snow globe for every family, and we see a few examples of happy families or of children experiencing the joy of Christmas. Another shows tabs of an advent calendar being lifted, and similar happy holiday scenes on the other side.

Those scenes might not be as happy for some other people, though. People can feel sadness or disappointment at any time of the year, but Christmas somehow has this amplifier effect. When I see the snow globes, I'm picturing someone alone at her kitchen table on Christmas Eve, looking at pictures of her siblings and their families and children, and wondering if she'll ever get to experience that herself. Behind the tab on the advent calendar we find someone spending his first Christmas without the spouse who has just divorced him, or without a parent he's recently lost.

Have a season filled with cheer, but leave some place in your hearts for these people who aren't as fortunate. Or as jolly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Judging Many for the Actions of a Few

When terrorists from ISIS killed 130 people in Paris last month, we were told -- rightfully -- that most of those who practice Islam are horrified by the killings, and that they should not be lumped in with the savages who committed the atrocity.
When two NYC police officers were assassinated last December amid several months of anti-police rhetoric, we were scolded not to lump all critics of police behavior in with the killer. That's fine.
So why is it, after a mentally disturbed individual shot multiple people near a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, that some of those same people seem perfectly content to associate all pro-life critics of Planned Parenthood with Robert Lewis Dear?
Apparently, when it comes to smearing entire groups based on the actions of a few, some people need to have their judgment recalibrated and made a little more consistent.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Yeah, We'll Manage, Hank. You're So Right, Camille.

How can you replace a man such as Stewart? I guess you just need to find someone with zero integrity, with the ability to hoodwink a couple million gullible twenty-somethings. Playing heavily edited clips of people you don't like, and stopping them abruptly before they say what they really mean, followed by pressing your palms down on the desk, staring incredulously into the camera, and pointing your magic marker backwards towards the inset are all plusses. An obsession for tilting at Fox News windmills and throwing in an F-bomb or sixty in lieu of actual substance should seal the deal for you.

Fans of The Daily Show aren't as big a group as they'd like to think, but they're not aware of that because of the hive mentality they're so fond of. Interestingly, they're so busy laughing at those they consider ideologically different from them (e.g. their parents, or FNC-watching, Republican-leaning farmers in Nebraska) that they fail to realize that their foils are laughing at them, too.

And it's because of headlines like this:

Can we go on without Jon Stewart? Of course we can. He’s shown us how.

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever is simply adorable here. One can imagine him emerging from the group hug to whimper, "Hey, guys...[sniff]'ll be okay! After all, there's a little bit of Jon in all of us now! We just have to remember to be smug, sarcastic, dismissive, and condescending to anyone we disagree with...we can do it...I mean...we have to try!"

Camille Paglia -- not exactly Ronald Reagan, I'll point out -- has a refreshingly different view:

My favorite excerpts:

"I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy...He’s certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse.  I find nothing incisive in his work.  As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States."

"I don’t demonize Fox News. At what point will liberals wake up to realize the stranglehold that they had on the media for so long? They controlled the major newspapers and weekly newsmagazines and T.V. networks. It’s no coincidence that all of the great liberal forums have been slowly fading. They once had such incredible power.  Since the rise of the Web, the nightly network newscasts have become peripheral, and the New York Times and the Washington Post have been slowly fading and are struggling to survive."

"Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!  Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers.  It’s so simplistic!"

But read the whole thing!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

BeneGram's 2015 Final Fourcasts

...already shot, but here they were:

Women: Connecticut, Tennessee, Baylor, South Carolina. Connecticut over South Carolina in the final.
Men: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova, Gonzaga. Villanova over Kentucky in the final. So much for that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HBO Jumps the Neck-Biting Shark

We all know that Home Box Office hasn't been conservative, family-friendly territory for a while now, since its most popular series have been about mob relations, sordid taxicab confessions, women in their thirties looking for sexual conquests, women in their twenties looking for sexual conquests, or Bill Maher.

There comes a time, however, when pure desperation takes over, and the mask completely falls off. When the hard-core (take that word to mean whatever you wish it to) creators of True Blood see the writing on the wall, that Republicans are primed to expand on their lead in the U.S. House of Representatives and (the likelihood grows stronger each day) take over the U.S. Senate, more serious measures are needed. What other explanation can there be for Sunday night's controversial episode, in which its vampire protagonists infiltrate a Ted Cruz fundraiser at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and end up -- spoiler alert -- acutally, IDGAF -- causing the death many of the Republican benefactors there?

Sen. Cruz has responded with appropriate wit to the show, actually showing more creativity than True Blood's writers did.

Nonetheless, you can get f---ed, HBO. It's the only thing you're good at, really.