Saturday, January 04, 2020

Time to embrace cursive again By Tom Purcell


Feb 6, 2019

While organizing my home office a few weeks ago, I came across a letter my grandfather wrote back in 1924.

He wrote that eloquent letter to his best friend's wife, consoling her on the loss of her mother. His cursive handwriting was artful -- perfect penmanship.

He wrote the letter when he was 21. Since he died at 34, when my father was only 3, it is among the most cherished items I have from a grandfather I never got to meet.

Such is the power of the handwritten letter, an art that has died along with the art of cursive handwriting.

You see, many American schools have phased out lessons in cursive. There is a waning need for it in the modern era, some argue, and the classes take too much time.

Cursive originated centuries ago. It's the result of technological innovations such as inkwells and quill pens made from goose feathers.

Because ink dripped when the quill was lifted from the paper, it made sense to connect letters in words together in one flowing line -- and the art of cursive writing began.

Cursive became less necessary with the invention of the ballpoint pen, which does not leak and, technically, does not require cursive writing.

Changing technology, which led to electronic documents completed on computers, has also contributed to less need for handwritten signatures.

As a result, millions of younger Americans have not been taught cursive penmanship. But that's being rethought by no small number of educators.

Fourteen states have passed laws mandating that students become proficient in cursive writing.

Proponents of cursive argue that it must be taught for several practical reasons.

How can someone who can't read cursive read and appreciate a handwritten note from Grandma -- or original, historic documents such as the U.S. Constitution?

Proponents also argue that students who take notes using longhand, rather than a keyboard, are more likely to master subjects.

In Psychology Today, William Klemm, a senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, argues that cursive writing "helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterit. ... To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. You have to pay attention and think about what and how you are doing it. You have to practice. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding."

There are other important reasons to carry on the art of cursive handwriting -- and the art of the handwritten letter.

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? The last time you wrote one?

Is there anything more wonderful than opening your mailbox to find an envelope with your name and address, and a friend or family member's name and return address, handwritten on it?

I hate to admit it, but the last time I received such a letter was years ago, when my sisters and I sent our newly retired parents on a trip to Florida. Each day that week, our mother wrote a letter and mailed it to one of us.

She and my father both have impeccable penmanship. Her letters look more like art than a form of communication. My sisters and I spent hours sharing those letters and laughing out loud.

We still have those letters, and they still make us laugh out loud.

That's the power of a letter handwritten in cursive.


Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist, syndicated by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at

N.J. bill would require students to learn cursive in schools


December 4, 2019

TRENTON, New Jersey -- A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill requiring elementary schools in the state to teach students how to read and write in cursive by the end of third grade.

Cursive was dropped as a requirement under Common Core standards in 2010.

Many schools across the region opt not to include cursive in their curriculum.

"In some cases, children are entering middle school without knowing how to sign their own name in cursive," Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. "We are doing our children a disservice by not teaching them a vital skill they will need for the rest of their lives."

The legislation would apply to the first full school year following the date of enactment. It now heads to the Assembly Education Committee for review.

McKnight cites nearly two dozen states that have made efforts to reintroduce cursive in schools.

In 2017, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation mandating cursive.

Starting earlier this year, Ohio required the Department of Education to include supplemental instructional materials in cursive handwriting.

Next school year, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, for language arts will have students start learning cursive letters in second grade.

"Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive?" said McKnight. "This bill will ensure every young student in New Jersey will have this valuable skill to carry with them into adulthood."

A Defense of Cursive, From a 10-Year-Old National Champion: Edbert Aquino is a national handwriting champion from New Jersey, where a lawmaker wants all public schools to teach the skill again. By Tracey Tully


Dec. 17, 2019

Edbert Aquino, 10, won a national competition for his cursive writing. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

A fifth grader in New Jersey is a master of curlicues and connecting loops. His technique is so good he was named a state and national champion of a dying art: cursive writing, a skill that once seemed destined to go the way of the typewriter.

The boy, Edbert Aquino, who is 10, took home last year’s national trophy, $500 and bragging rights for his Roman Catholic elementary school in Bergen County.

But competition for the prize might just get stiffer in New Jersey.

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a Democrat from Jersey City, has introduced legislation that would require public schools to again teach a skill that had been phased out across the country, but is now enjoying something of a revival.

Like many students in New Jersey, Ms. McKnight’s son had never been taught cursive writing. Tasks she considers fundamental were beyond him: autographing a yearbook; endorsing a check; signing an application.

So she bought a workbook and taught him at home. “I wanted him to be able to sign his name,” she said. “It’s a life skill.”

The proliferation of computers and screens, coupled with the advent of rigorous Common Core standards and new demands on teachers, had led to a gradual disappearance of cursive instruction across the nation. In New Jersey, public schools have not been required to teach handwriting since 2010.

To many people who recall being berated for their illegible writing, the disappearance of cursive is nothing to lament.

The Academy of Our Lady of Grace is among the small number of schools in New Jersey that still teach cursive writing. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

“As an exercise, writing things by hand is up there with cobbling shoes and shoeing horses,” a columnist, Alexandra Petri, wrote in 2012 in The Washington Post.

“Why is the world so cruel?” Christopher Borrelli, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote last year.

“My thoughts turned to the children, the poor darlings, who must be scared and confused now, wondering what they did to tick off the gods of education,” he wrote. “They can’t have cupcakes in class, but they can have cursive.”

In spite of the ample fodder it has provided humor writers, teachers may end up getting the last laugh.

Kathleen Wright, who worked for Zaner-Bloser, a company that publishes cursive workbooks and sponsored the national competition, said 24 states now required some form of cursive instruction, including seven that had adopted policies since 2013.

“After they got rid of handwriting, now they’re all rediscovering it,” Virginia Berninger, a retired University of Washington professor who has conducted research on the ways children learn when using print or script. “People mistakenly assumed because we had computers, we didn’t need handwriting. We need both.”

Putting a pencil or pen to paper helps form an impression in a child’s brain and is beneficial for early literacy, regardless of whether the letters are printed or written in script, Professor Berninger said. But her studies have shown a connection between the linked letters in cursive writing and improved spelling proficiency.

“We think those connecting strokes help children link the letters into word units, which helps their spelling,” she said. Handwriting, she said, also allows children to write fluidly and quickly, which can lead to longer stories and essays.

Edbert, who was declared a national winner as a third grader, said that when he does use cursive, he is forced to slow down, which allows his ideas to flow more freely and helps with creativity. “If I’m, like, handwriting it, I just tend to write better,” he said.

Still, even Edbert said he would prefer to use a computer (and spell-check) for long assignments. “I can type faster than I can write,” he said.

Despite his handwriting skills, Edbert says “I can type faster than I can write.” Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

New Jersey school districts still have the option of teaching cursive, according to the state School Boards Association, which has not taken a position on Ms. McKnight’s bill. And an informal survey done in 2012 by the association found that many schools still did.

To enter the nationwide competition among third graders, Edbert and his classmates wrote a sentence that contained every letter in the alphabet, known as a pangram: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Filomena D’Amico, the principal of Edbert’s school, the Academy of Our Lady of Grace in Fairview, said students practiced printing or handwriting immediately after lunch. “It calms the students down,” Ms. D’Amico said. “They unwind.”

Tamara Plakins Thornton, a professor of history at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said this was not the first time in the country’s history when schools had turned with renewed interest to cursive writing, which she considered obsolete.

Professor Plakins Thornton, who wrote the book “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History,” said the pendulum tended to swing back toward cursive instruction during times of cultural upheaval. She pointed to the early 1900s, with its influx of immigrants, and the 1960s, when America was roiled by the antiwar movement and the sexual revolution, as two of the biggest heydays for cursive instruction.

“Cursive — it’s all about following rules,” she said. “Whenever the present looks scary and the future looks worse, we tend to want to go running back to the past.”

She added, “It’s a countercultural rebellion. I think it’s a conservative backlash against cultural change.”

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee have all passed legislation since 2013 requiring the instruction of handwriting, Ms. Wright said.

The proposed legislation faces an uncertain future in New Jersey, where teachers are already asked to help children reach greater levels of proficiency in core subjects like English.

“Teachers are inundated with so much to get through,” said Shannon Keogh, who has taught third and fourth grade in public schools in Orange, N.J., and now teaches math in the district. “To add another thing — that kids are really never going to use — is kind of silly.”

“The signature,” Ms. Keogh, a mother of four, added, “is probably going to be a thing of the past by the time our kids will ever sign a mortgage.”

But Ms. Knight believes cursive instruction could still be interwoven into the English or history classes, and would not take away significant time from academic instruction.

At Our Lady of Grace, Ms. D’Amico said assignments are sometimes done on computers, and turned in electronically, while others must be written in cursive and turned in on paper, forcing students to unplug.

“We can disconnect them for a bit from the technology,” she said. “I think it’s a healthy combination.”

Edbert is hoping to become a doctor — in spite of his perfect penmanship.

“They have to write out their observations, and they have to do it in a time crunch. So it can get a little messy,” he said. “I’ll try to write neatly so my patients can understand.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The 10 best things Trump has done in 2019 By Marc Thiessen


December 29, 2019

WASHINGTON — In his third year in office, President Trump continued to deliver an extraordinary list of accomplishments. Today, I offer my list of the 10 best things Trump did this year:

10. He continued to deliver for the forgotten Americans. Unemployment is at record lows; this year the number of job openings outnumbered the unemployed workers to fill them by the widest gap ever; wages are rising, and low-wage workers are experiencing the fastest pay increases. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they are better off financially since Trump took office.

9. He implemented tighter work requirement for food stamps. With unemployment at historic lows, there is no reason more people should not be earning their success through productive work. The rules apply only to able-bodied, childless adults. When we require people to work for public assistance, we not only help meet their material needs but also help them achieve the dignity and pride that come with being a contributing member of our community. Work is a blessing, not a punishment.

8. He has got NATO allies to cough up more money for our collective security. Allies have increased defense spending by $130 billion since 2016. And the White House reports almost twice as many allies are meeting their commitment to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defense today than before Trump arrived.

7. He stood with the people of Hong Kong. He warned China not to use violence to suppress pro-democracy protests and signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Hong Kong people marched with American flags and sang our national anthem in gratitude.

6. His withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is delivering China and North Korea a strategic setback. The United States is now testing new, previously banned intermediate-range missiles. These weapons will allow us to compete with China’s massive investment in these capabilities, and also provide a fallback in the likely case negotiations with North Korea fail — obviating the need for temporary deployments of U.S. carrier battle groups and allowing us to put North Korea permanently in our crosshairs.

5. His “maximum pressure” campaign is crippling Iran. Iran’s economy is contracting, inflation is spiraling and the regime has been forced to cut funding for its terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah and Hamas, the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). And now the Iranian people are engaged in the largest popular uprising since the 1979 revolution.

4. His tariff threats forced Mexico to crack down on illegal immigration. Mexico is for the first time in recent history enforcing its own immigration laws — sending thousands of National Guard forces to its southern border to stop caravans of Central American migrants. Plus, Congress is poised to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement, which would not have been possible without the threat of tariffs.

3. He delivered the biggest blow to Planned Parenthood in three decades. Thanks to Trump’s Protect Life Rule that prohibits Title X family planning funds from going to any clinic that performs on-site abortions — Planned Parenthood announced this year that it is leaving the Title X program barring a court victory.

2. He ordered the operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It was a high-risk mission that required U.S. forces to fly hundreds of miles into terrorist-controlled territory.

1. He has continued to appoint conservative judges at a record pace. The Senate recently confirmed Trump’s 50th pick for the federal circuit courts of appeal, which have final say over about 60,000 cases a year. In three years, Trump has appointed just five fewer circuit court judges than Obama appointed in eight years. And he has flipped three of these courts from liberal to conservative majorities, giving conservatives the majority in seven out of 13.

There are many other significant achievements that did not make the top 10.

Despite an inexcusable 55-day delay, he gave Ukraine the lethal aid that the Obama-Biden administration refused to deliver. He secured the release of additional American citizens held abroad. He launched cyberattacks on Iran, approved a major arms sale to Taiwan, imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Beijing’s oppression of the Uighurs, and refused to make major concessions to North Korea.

Marc Thiessen writes a twice-weekly column for The Washington Post on foreign and domestic policy.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Phillips Philes Cites Commercials Of 2019

GEICO Hump Day Camel - Best Of Geico Commercials

IHOP | Pancake Air (with Neil Diamond??)

Google — Here to help

MassMutual | Moments You Plan For | The Family Record Store

PC Matic - SC Proud

NJM Insurance Group - Only the Best Can Cover Carli Lloyd

Domino's - Paving for pizza

PC Matic - The Global Cyberwar

Most Controversial/Amusing Commercial of the Year
Thinx - MENstruation

Donald J. Trump - Facts

A Holiday Reunion – Xfinity 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mike Huckabee: Chick-fil-A 'surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups' and 'betrayed loyal customers' By Caleb Parke


November 19, 2019
Fox News

Despite being closed on Sunday, Chick-fil-A is still the third largest fast food chain in the country. But there's growing liberal backlash against its conservative Christian values, and its philanthropic support. Shouldn't a business be able to donate to the cause of their choice? Christopher Hale and Shane Idleman are here to debate this growing religious freedom conflict.

Mike Huckabee has long championed Chick-fil-A in the face of attacks from the left but after the company's announcement Monday to stop donating to two Christian organizations, he has changed his tune.

The company announced it was donating to initiatives that further its “mission of nourishing the potential in every child.” It said that in 2020 it would stop donating to two Christian organizations, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Salvation Army, that have been accused by gay rights activists of having anti-LGBTQ views.

"In Aug. 2012, I coordinated a national Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups," the former Arkansas governor tweeted Monday. "Today, Chick-fil-A betrayed local customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathy. Sad."

The prominent conservative Christian leader added that the popular chicken chain's move was seen as "surrendering to critics and betraying loyal customers to appease those who despise them."

Huckabee wasn't alone, though, as many expressed their disappointment and anger online, questioning if the company will stay true to the faith and family values.

Billy Hallowell, the author of "Pure Flix," a Christian production company, said "the fact that the mainstream media has reduced the Salvation Army -- one of the most important humanitarian groups around -- to an 'anti-LGBTQ organization,' tells us everything we need to know about our current culture."

He added that the decision was a bad one because it made no one happy.

"The most insane part of Chick-fil-A's decision," Hallowell said, "it does little to appease those who have long loathed the company. Meanwhile, it does everything to alienate those who have backed the company endlessly against attacks."

The national gay rights group, GLAAD, said the company's statement should be greeted with "cautious optimism" but more work needs to be done.

"Chick-fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, told CNN.

Fox Business Network host Charles Payne called Chick-fil-A's decision "bewildering."

"Christians fought for the company against wave after wave of criticism. The Salvation Army helps everyone. I never thought it was political," Payne said. "Then again, I never thought a chicken sandwich could be political."

Chick-fil-A has received a barrage of negative comments on its latest social media posts, with many saying they are no longer going to go out of their way to go there.

President Trump Letter to Speaker Pelosi: “You are declaring open war on American democracy”… By The Last Refuge

December 17, 2019

President Donald Trump sends a seven-page letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi outlining the executive concerns with the bastardization of a legislative impeachment process that will forever change the landscape of our constitutional republic.

…”You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches into an impeachable offense – it is no more legitimate than the executive branch charging members of congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power”…

[pdf link is HERE and full letter embed below]

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Inspector General Finds ’17 Significant Errors’ in Applications for Spying on Trump Campaign Associate By Ivan Pentchoukov


December 9, 2019 Updated: December 10, 2019

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the four warrant applications to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page contained 17 significant errors, according to a report released on Dec. 9.

“We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures,” the report states, referring to the procedures guiding the verification of claims in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications.

“These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to OI and failing to flag important issues for discussion,” the report continues, referring to the Office of Intelligence and the National Security Division at the FBI.

Horowitz concluded that the errors and other failures constitute “serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents.”

FISA report
The cover page of the report issued by the Department of Justice inspector general is photographed in Washington, on Dec. 9, 2019. (Jon Elswick/AP Photo)

In late October 2016, the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump-campaign associate Carter Page. The bureau renewed the warrant three times, surveilling Page for a total of twelve months.

The FISA warrant application featured claims from an unverified dossier of opposition research on Trump. Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier by using second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.

“Steele himself was not the originating source of any of the factual information in his reporting. Steele instead relied on a Primary Sub-source for information, who used his/her network of sub-sources to gather information that was then passed to Steele,” the report said.

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee ultimately paid for Steele’s work, a fact the FBI did not disclose in the warrant application.

While the extent of the surveillance granted in Page’s case remains classified, FISA warrants allow for some of the most intrusive spying under the law. Under the so-called “two-hop” rule, investigators could collect the communications of every person Page interacted with as well every person who communicated with Page’s contacts. As a result, it is possible that the FBI obtained the communications of the entire Trump campaign, both retroactively and in real-time.

A number of FBI officials directly involved in preparing and signing the FISA warrants have all either left or been fired from the bureau, including Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

The scandal surrounding the surveillance warrants was amplified by the discovery of biased text messages between Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair. Strzok and Page vented their hatred of Trump, spoke of his slim chances of winning the election, committed to stopping him from being elected, discussed an “insurance policy” in the unlikely event of a Trump victory and mulled “impeachment” once around the time they joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Strzok led the investigation of the Trump campaign and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private email server for government work. In a report on the review of the Clinton-email probe, Horowitz concluded that Strzok and Page’s biased messages “cast a cloud” over the investigation, but was unable to find evidence to support the claim that the bias had an effect on any investigative decisions.

Horowitz formally announced the investigation into the Carter Page FISA in March 2018. He submitted a draft report to the DOJ in September. Horowitz said at the time that his team reviewed more than 1 million documents and interviewed more than 100 witnesses.

FISA REPORT Compressed by Victor I Nava on Scribd

Obituary - Lundy

Charles S. Lundy, November 15, 2019. Husband of Toby Lundy. Father of Suzanne (Robert) Zlotnick and Sheryl (Avishai) Tetro. Grandfather of David (Baxter Townsend) Zlotnick, Joshua Zlotnick, Arielle Tetro, and Rachel Tetro. Contributions may be made to Congregation Beth Solomon, Congregation Shaare Shamayim, or Hadassah.





By Robert Leiter - April 1, 2010

Toby (nee Adelman) and Charles "Kash" Lundy marked the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary on March 26 at a luncheon with family and friends. Joining in the celebration were their children, Suzanne and Robert Zlotnick, and Sheryl and Avishay Tetro, along with two grandsons and two granddaughters.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Poll: 44% of NJ residents planning to move away By David Levinsky

November 25, 2019

A recent Fairleigh Dickinson University and Garden State Initiative survey also found that property taxes and the overall cost of living were residents' biggest concerns about the quality of life in the Garden State, followed by government corruption, crime and drugs, bridges and roads and the state's environment.

The poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Garden State Initiative found that 44% of New Jersey residents are planning to leave the state, including 28% within the next five years.

New Jersey has great beaches, top schools and a fantastic location smack between New York and Philadelphia, yet a new poll has found that close to half the state’s residents are mulling moving away, with the state’s notoriously high property taxes and expensive cost of living chiefly to blame.

The poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Garden State Initiative found that 44% of New Jersey residents are planning to leave the state, including 28% within the next five years.

The survey also found that property taxes and the overall cost of living were residents’ biggest concerns about the quality of life in the Garden State, followed by government corruption, crime and drugs, bridges and roads, and the state’s environment.

"These results should alarm every elected official and policymaker in New Jersey," said Regina Egea, Garden State Initiative’s president. "We have a crisis of confidence in the ability of our leaders to address property taxes and the cost of living whether at the start of their career, in prime earning years or repositioning for retirement, New Jersey residents see greener pastures in other states."

The poll is based on a telephone survey of 801 New Jersey adults who were reached between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9%.

Other notable poll findings were:

• Thirty-eight percent of residents between 18 and 29 plan to leave the state within five years, along with 33% of those between 50 and 64 who are likely nearing retirement. Twenty percent of residents 65 and older were planning to move within 5 years and 23% of residents between 30 and 49.

• Thirty-two percent of residents living in the southern part of the state planned to move away within five years, compared to 26% of residents from the central and northern parts.

• The top response to a poll question for things about New Jersey that contribute to quality of life was "nothing" followed by "close to beaches." Other top responses included "employment opportunities," "good schools/education," "close to NYC" and "diversity."

The FDU/Garden State Initiative poll comes shortly after the release of a similar poll by Monmouth University this month that found about six of 10 New Jersey residents consider the quality of life in the state excellent (15%) or good (46%) compared to 38% who consider it fair (26%) or poor (12%).

Gov. Phil Murphy also sparked controversy last month when he dismissed suggestions that New Jersey’s high property taxes hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and families and said other benefits outweigh high taxes, including the state’s location, schools, workforce, environment and quality of life.

"If you’re a one issue voter and tax rate is your issue, either a family or a business, if that’s the only basis for which you’re going to make a decision, we’re probably not your state," Murphy said during an appearance at Rowan University. "If that’s literally all you care about, we’re going to lose."

He went on to argue that New Jersey is competitive because of all factors, not just taxes and costs.

"We will compete with any state, any nation in the entire world," he said.

Editorial: ‘All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go ...’


November 27, 2019

Are your bags packed? Because apparently New Jersey is a horrible place to live.

Tell that to the folks who live in North Korea and Syria.

According to a recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Garden State Initiative, 44% of New Jersey residents say they intend to leave the state, including 28% within the next five years.

Since so many New Jerseyans are that disenchanted, we will have to assume that no one in their right mind would dare move to New Jersey. That just means more room for those of us who choose to stay.

And what do we get for our determination to ride it out here in the Garden (of No Eden) State?

Exactly what our story on Tuesday led with: "great beaches, top schools, and a fantastic location smack between New York and Philadelphia."

For the discontented, you are more than welcome to go spend the rest of your days with the bison, bobcats, bears and bighorn sheep of Wyoming, but good luck finding a Wawa when you need one. Good luck finding Wi-Fi reception, too.

Year-round beautiful weather in Florida sounds like nirvana. But we’ll take it from someone we know who lives there and likened summers in the Sunshine State to "the surface of the sun."

Don’t you think there are residents in Iowa, Kansas and Arkansas who would love to see the majestic ocean, even once — something we can do any day?

Our country is full of places that are expensive to live. New Jersey’s property taxes and the cost of living were the biggest gripes from those polled. But government corruption, crime and drugs, bridges and roads were also cited as negatives. Sorry, there is no escaping those issues, no matter how far from Jersey you drive.

The top response to the poll question for things about New Jersey that contribute to quality of life was “nothing.” Nothing?

Our internal poll says those people won’t be happy no matter where they are. But we know what state they are in — denial.

Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledged New Jersey's high taxes, but said other benefits outweigh them, including location, schools, workforce, environment and quality of life.

All arguably true. But one factor that seems to get ignored with polls of this kind is support system — that is, friends and family. Aren’t the people we love and who love and support us reason enough to live where we do? If anything, that's what plants most of us where we are.

Not that living in another state should be dismissed. Those of us who have traveled can vouch for the virtues and beauty of the rest of the country.

Sure, Wyoming’s phone reception stinks, but it also has the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park and more bison, bobcats, bears and bighorn sheep than people. Nothing unappealing about that.

Florida has Disney, lakes and the gulf and the ocean, resort towns, and professional sports teams. If you're a die-hard Phillies fan, Clearwater just might be nirvana.

Relocating should weigh why you want to live somewhere else, not why you want to leave New Jersey.

In defending Jersey, Murphy went on to say, “We will compete with any state, any nation in the entire world.”

It’s not a competition. Of course, nobody likes our high taxes, but we do like the shore, and the rivers, and the mountains, and the schools, and the bustling metropolitan areas and, most of the time, the Eagles. Strong, valid reasons can be argued for living in any of the 50 states. But just remember, as the old saying goes, “No matter where you go, there you are.”

Guest Opinion: If you leave New Jersey, it’s your loss By Scott Warnock


December 3, 2019

OK, so you want to leave New Jersey …

Whenever I see a New Jersey beatdown like the recent poll that found 44% of residents plan to leave, I wonder: Jersey escapees must move somewhere. Where is this utopia?

Yes, New Jersey’s taxes are high. Our government should run the state more efficiently. And it is frustrating when officials dismiss complaints, such as those voiced in that poll by Garden State Initiative and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

But I know people from other states, including Arkansas, West Virginia and Indiana. Yep, they have low property taxes. But near as I can figure, like us, they have roads, police departments and schools. They pay for them somehow.

These people are clearly taxed in other ways (i.e., state and sales taxes). In ongoing conversations about taxation and cost, I have seen few in-depth, comparative studies with other states and what “cost of living” truly means in the context of services returned.

The poll’s least-satisfied respondents were ages 18 to 29. That’s when life’s journey is just starting. Remember, if you live in Jersey, with its tight connectivity to Philadelphia and New York, your life is quite different than in most places. You have obvious access to those great cities. (Note: Philly was named a “Best Trips 2020” by National Geographic, one of only 25 places globally.) Washington, D.C., and Boston are nearby.

The outdoors? Beaches are our well-known asset, yet we still forget people pay thousands for something Jersey folks enjoy as a day trip. And how many states allow you to day-trip for beaches, skiing and activities like whitewater rafting?

Culture and arts? Do a quick study comparing cultural listings in our newspapers with those nationally. In many places, you’ll wait years for a particular concert or show, and you’ll visit excellent museums only while on vacation.

Sports? Whether Philly south or New York north, we have big-time sports. What about youth sports? In many states, three-hour car rides are routine for league events. Jersey kids can play entire seasons without traveling more than 30 minutes.

Transportation? Our transit systems are imperfect, but in many places it's all driving. We also have multiple international airports close by, a much underappreciated asset.

Let’s get more serious: Education? We have top-tier public schools. Higher education? Many places have slim pickings in regional higher-ed choices. In our small state alone, we have nearly 50 colleges and universities. Expand that to schools across our borders, and you have hundreds of choices. Our community colleges are also widely considered among the best nationally.

Let’s get even more serious: Health care? A simple story: My dear, upbeat neighbor, when she became sick on vacation and was diagnosed with cancer, told me she was lucky to return to South Jersey, where she had ready access to the world’s best medical systems.

New Jersey isn’t for everyone. But some of this “I’m outta Jersey!” stuff is thoughtless. Poll respondents want to escape drugs and corruption. I wish you could.

By the way, this was a poll. As the old saying goes, ask someone a question and they may well answer. The top response to the question about what contributed to New Jersey’s quality of life was “nothing.” Nothing?! Other states: You’re welcome to have that person as a neighbor.

A poll was taken, and some took time to answer. I suspect many others were too busy — either out taking advantage of what New Jersey has to offer or working to make a great place better.

Scott Warnock is a resident of Riverton.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Transcript of Call Between President Trump and President Zelenskyy


September 25, 2019

Good grief, talk about a nothingburger – this phone call is fine. Here’s the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy.

[White House] President Donald J. Trump has released a declassified, unredacted transcript of his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from July 25th, 2019. The transcript can be read HERE.

Full Transcript of Call Between President Trump and President Zelenskyy By The Last Refuge


November 12, 2019

As the public impeachment hearings begin tomorrow, here’s the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy.

[White House September 25th] President Donald J. Trump released a declassified, unredacted transcript of his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from July 25th, 2019. The transcript can be read HERE.


You can see when you read the transcript, despite the media narrative to the contrary, President Trump did not ask President Zelenskyy to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Trump mocks CNN's Chris Cuomo as 'Fredo,' slams network after UN bilateral meeting By Joseph Wulfsohn

September 23, 2019

President Trump mocked CNN anchor Chris Cuomo by repeatedly referring to him as "Fredo" -- just weeks after a video of the host taking offense at being called that name went viral.

During a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the United Nations on Monday, Trump took several questions about the whistleblower controversy involving his communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His phone call with the Ukraine leader is alleged to have involved a potential investigation into Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President and 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden.

When specifically asked if he approved lawyer Rudy Giuliani's handling of the controversy in various interviews, the president singled out a clash the former New York City mayor had with Cuomo on CNN last week.

"I think he was excellent," Trump responded. "I watched it the other night... I haven't watched that show in a long time. I don't watch CNN because it's fake news, but I watched Rudy take apart Fredo."

Trump's "Fredo" insult was in reference to an August confrontation that went down between Cuomo and a heckler, who taunted the CNN anchor with a nickname drawn from "The Godfather" movies. Fredo referred to the weak-minded and suggestible brother of Michael Corleone.

"The press doesn't give [Giuliani] credit because they take little tiny snippets where Rudy was a little bit -- if he mispronounces a word, they'll show that and they won't show the whole," Trump continued. "Rudy Giuliani took Fredo to the cleaners. The first time I've watched CNN in a very long time. So I hate to watch it because it's so fake."

Last month, a video posted online showed a man telling Cuomo, in regard to the Fredo tag, "I thought that was who you were."

"No, punk-ass b----es from the right call me 'Fredo.' My name is Chris Cuomo. I'm an anchor on CNN," a heated Cuomo responded. "'Fredo' was from 'The Godfather.' He was a weak brother and they use that as an Italian slur -- are any of you Italian? It's a f---ing insult to your people. It's an insult to your f--kin' people. It's like the N-word for us. Is that a cool f---ing thing?"


After the man sarcastically told him, "You’re a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem to be on television," Cuomo reacted, "If you want to play, we'll f---ing play."

"If you've got something to say about what I do on television, then say it, but you don't have to call me a f---in' insult," he continued.

"Hey man, listen, I don't want any problems," the man, who appears to be holding the camera from below, told Cuomo.

"Well, you're gonna have a big f---in' problem," Cuomo shot back.

The man, who has been described on social media as a "Trump supporter," repeatedly claimed he thought Cuomo's name was "Fredo." The anchor responded by calling him a "liar" and told him to "own what you said" and "stand up like a man."

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News.

Obituary - Davis


September 15, 2019 of Maple Shade, NJ. Father of Arielle (Ben Landsburg) Davis and Sean Davis. Grandfather of Jack. Son of Debbie & Steve Davis. Brother of Barry (Diane) Davis, Stuart (Sarina) Davis and Danny (Lisa) Davis. Nephew of James H. Klein; also survived by many nieces and nephews. Relatives and friends are invited Tuesday beginning 10:15 A.M. to PLATT MEMORIAL CHAPELS, INC. 2001 Berlin Road, Cherry Hill, NJ where Funeral Services will begin promptly at 11:00 A.M. Int. Crescent Memorial Park.

Published on on Sept. 16, 2019


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

The Dayton Murderer Is Proof We Need To Take Left-Wing Violence Seriously By Cathy Young


August 6, 2019

Amidst the disturbing trend of political conflict in the United States escalating into violence, it has been a staple of conventional wisdom that the real danger comes almost entirely from the far right. Thus, after journalist Andy Ngo was beaten up by activists from the militant left-wing “Antifascist” movement at a protest in late June, commentators such as Vox’s Zack Beauchamp cautioned against attempts to portray Antifa’s record of violent behavior as even remotely comparable to that of far-right extremists. Beauchamp quoted an Anti-Defamation League primer on Antifa which said, “To date, there have not been any known Antifa-related murders.”

But is that still true today? We don’t know if Connor Betts, the 24-year-old Ohio man who killed nine people (including his own sister) and wounded 27 more when he opened fire on a crowded street in Dayton on Sunday, had any involvement with Antifa. But Betts’s Twitter trail makes it clear that he was a hardcore leftist who embraced some fairly extreme ideas—and, in some cases, advocated violence toward political enemies in Antifa-style language.

The profile for the now-suspended Twitter account @iamthespookster, confirmed as belonging to Betts, identifies him as a “leftist” (and specifies his personal pronouns, a common left-wing calling card). The posts on the account show that Betts—a registered Democrat—was an Elizabeth Warren supporter and a fan of the progressive “Squad,” but also had far more radical political interests.

“I want socialism, and I’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come around to understanding,” said one of his tweets. His retweets included a graphic in which Smokey the Bear, sporting a red face mask with a hammer and sickle, holds up a sign that seems to encourage terrorism against the “capitalists” said to be responsible for killing the planet.

Betts RT

“Kill every fascist,” Betts tweeted a year ago, commenting on the anniversary of the Charlottesville far-right rally. He also retweeted “Punch a Nazi”-type tweets that celebrated street violence against white supremacists. And this past May, Betts shared a tweet by a prominent Antifa account, “Antifash Gordon,” identifying people “confirmed or likely to be at the KKK rally in Dayton,” with the comment, “Know your enemies.”


While conservative websites and social media users have eagerly spread the news that the Dayton shooter was a leftist Antifa supporter, mainstream coverage has been far more reticent. In a particularly glaring omission, a BuzzFeed piece discussed right-wing hoaxes trying to link the El Paso shooting to Antifa but made only a passing reference to Betts’s politics, mentioning his status as a registered Democrat but not his far-left views. (The site gave far more attention to the revelation that Betts sang in a “death metal” band whose material often used extreme sexual violence toward women as dark satire.)

Given the fact that Betts was apparently preoccupied with twisted thoughts of violence for years—as a teenager, he was suspended from school after the discovery that he kept “rape” and “kill” lists of classmates—it’s very likely that his horrific act of evil was influenced by complicated factors that had nothing to do with politics. Yet whether left-wing extremism could have been part of his motive seems a very relevant question.

In 2019—after Charlottesville, after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last fall, and now the El Paso massacre—one would have to be either deluded or dishonest to deny the danger of violent far-right extremism in America. One may quibble about the exact body count (for instance, the ADL’s tally of at least 50 murders by right-wing extremists in 2018 includes non-political killings motivated by family/personal conflicts, financial gain, or mental illness in which the perpetrator had some connection to far-right extremism). But it’s clear that the threat is real and serious. It should be equally obvious that some far-right obsessions, notably the “replacement” of white people in the West by black and brown “invaders,” have spread into mainstream conservative discourse to an alarming degree, particularly with the Trumpification of the Republican Party. Trump’s own rhetoric has repeatedly appealed to those fears, as well.

But it is also naïve, and in many cases self-serving, to ignore the potential for political violence on the left.

The most dramatic such incident was the 2017 congressional baseball practice shooting Republicans and was out to kill GOP lawmakers.

But there is also an extensive record of lower-level violence linked to the left and specifically to Antifa, long before the attack on Ngo. Protests have turned to riots and physical assaults on Trump supporters. Innocent bystanders, too, have become victims. Last year, two Marines visiting Philadelphia for a Marine Corps ball were punched and kicked by an Antifa mob that mistook them for participants in a far-right rally. (In a grimly ironic twist, the Marines were Hispanic and were reportedly pelted with racist slurs by the alleged assailants, who include prominent Washington, D.C. Antifa activist Joseph Alcoff.)

Antifa violence has also targeted conservative college speakers such as Charles Murray, a scholar some consider a promoter of “scientific racism”; in 2017, a protest against Murray’s appearance at Middlebury College in Vermont spilled over into a melee in which a female professor escorting Murray out of the building was knocked down and injured.

There have been other, lesser-known troubling incidents with violent overtones. Last November, an Antifa-affiliated news site celebrated the apparent suicide of Richard Morrisett, a University of Texas-Austin professor subjected to a harassment campaign (including threatening graffiti) by a “revolutionary” student group after the exposure of a past domestic violence conviction.

Of course, even if the Dayton shooting is eventually confirmed as an act of far-left terrorism, the far right still has the far higher body count—for now. But that could easily change. As we know from 20th Century history, including the history of terrorism in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, there is nothing about the far left that makes it inherently more peaceful. The biggest loss of American civilian life to political violence before September 11, 2001 was the 1978 murder-suicide spree in the “People’s Temple” of the Rev. Jim Jones, a communist cult leader who enjoyed the support of quite a few notables on the left, from California Governor Jerry Brown to academic and activist Angela Davis. (The “socialist paradise” left a total of 918 people dead, a third of them children.)

While left-wing violence is dangerous in itself, it also contributes (as the ADL notes in its Antifa primer) to a vicious cycle of right vs. left warfare. The Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group, thrives on brawling with Antifa. Another far-right group, the West-coast based Patriot Prayer—which also frequently engages in such brawls—was formed in response to Antifa and sees its mission as conservative self-defense.

The cycle seems to be escalating. A little over a month ago, after the Portland street clashes in which Ngo was hurt, Vox published an article by freelance journalist Kim Kelly, a self-identified Antifa activist and anarchist, as “another tool in our struggle for collective liberation.”

Did Betts see himself as a gun-wielding warrior and avenger for the left? We may never know. But it should be clear that we ignore the violent left at our own peril.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine and is the author of “Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality.” Follow her on Twitter, @CathyYoung63.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Sitting On The Sidelines

I hope that you have had a great day to this point, whether or not you are celebrating Independence Day. I have not done much today, besides doing walks in the neighborhood both early this morning and earlier this afternoon. The town I currently live in is doing their fireworks this coming Saturday. If you have seen one fireworks display, have you not pretty much witnessed them all?

At the moment,I am waiting for the Phillies-Braves game to start in less than an hour. The one negative to a holiday is that many places or things are either closed or running with a skeleton crew. In many instances, key people are off this week while some companies tried to accomplish as much as they could in a three-day work week. It may be a moot point next year, as July 4th falls on a Saturday in 2020. (Thank you, leap year!) In that instance, I can see corporate America giving their employees off for July 3rd, maybe an early leave the day before. Tomorrow will likely be an off day for many as they try to extend their holiday weekend. I wish safe travels to those that will be on the road throughout the July 4th holiday weekend, whether it be work, vacation, or joyriding.

The good thing about tomorrow is that I will get a chance to spend time with a friend while we are making a donation. I may be old school by saying this, but I still enjoy personal interaction. Granted, texting, Facebook, and other informal means of communication seems to be the new normal today. It is funny, to a degree, that I did hear the song, "I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", earlier today. I am sure that the Post Office would appreciate the business. I have time to kill, and I get to spend time with her. I have been sitting on the sidelines since June. Fingers crossed, I am hoping to hear from somebody next week. Being that I have prior management experience, many key decision makers probably took this entire week off. It has been an adjustment for me, as I had been working continuously for over twenty years. While the time off has been beneficial to both body and mind, it will be relieving to re-enter the workforce.

Take care, and enjoy your weekend. Blessings on your day!