Will you still love Bruce Springsteen, will you still need him, when he's 65? Because he is, as of today -- happy birthday to the Boss of all bosses. Indeed, that sound you probably heard today was a giant pit forming in the stomach of several million similarly aging non-cop Baby Boomers at this news, but to paraphrase Maurice Chevalier, turning 65 isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. At least he'll be collecting Social Security if the music thing doesn't work out for him.
For the rest of this week, you'll have to consider the alternative to the far-left agitprop that's usually occupying this space. I'm off to Chicago, where I'm making one last attempt to figure out this online journalism thing. I'll be back to bug you again on Sunday. Until then, use the space below to comment on the Great Issues of our time. Will President Obama come up with another terrorist group that we've never heard of during the next five days to drop bombs on? (Probably). Does Pennsylvania need to extend its hate-crimes law to include the LGBT community? (Based on what we've seen these last two weeks, you'd have to say yes.) Will you miss the Phillies?...did you even know they were still playing? (Yes, sort of, I guess.)
Have a great week.
My former Daily News colleague Marisol Bello, now with USA Today, bravely tells the powerful story of what happened when her biological father beat her with a switch, when she was just 3. I could not agree with the headline more. There is no place in modern society for using violence as a tool for disciplining children...period. And I believe our failure to live up to that is a reason -- not the only reason, but a reason -- whu we continue to live in such a violent world.
I've been reading -- in super slow-motion, a few subway stops every night -- Rick Perlstein's long and majestic The Invisible Bridge, explaining how we went so quickly from the fall of Nixon to the rise of Reagan in the mid-1970s. Perlstein is a master at showing how seemingly isolated events reveal a broader social consciousness -- for example, how the unrelenting double-whammy of Vietnam and Watergate caused Americans to turn to nostalgia (American Graffiti, "Grease," even the ragtime-y Shakey's Pizza) and the supernatural (Uri Geller, UFO fascination) to find any kind of liberation from the fierce awfulness of then.
Forty years later, and where are we? Right back where we started from. The center is not holding. Again.
Yesterday I mentioned the whiz-bang job that David Sirota has been doing -- first for Pando and more recently for International Business Times -- reporting on the shockingly loose ethics when it comes to handling pension monies under the Christie administration. Hours later, he published his latest and it's a doozy:
In the context of a New Jersey pension system stocked with $81 billion in assets, here was a transaction that seemed unremarkable. It was 2011, the year after Gov. Chris Christie had installed his longtime friend Robert Grady to oversee the state pension fund’s investments. A former executive from the heights of finance and a national Republican Party power broker, Grady was pursuing a new strategy, shifting money into hedge funds and private equity holdings in the name of diversification and higher returns. He was now pushing to entrust up to $1.8 billion of New Jersey pension money to the Blackstone Group, one of the largest players in private equity.
But one special feature of that Blackstone bet underscores the interlocking relationships at play as states increasingly rely on the counsel and management of Wall Street institutions to invest their pension dollars: One of the private equity funds New Jersey was investing in – a pool of money called Blackstone Capital Partners VI – claimed among its investors a Wyoming-based company named Cheyenne Capital. That company's list of partners included one Robert Grady.
That giant, inflatable Chris-Christie-for-president trial balloon is up in the skies again. It didn't take much -- just a news report from an NBC affiliate stating that prosecutors involved in the myriad, criss-crossing probes of Christie's affairs of state are now convinced that he didn't order or have advance knowledge of the 2013 lane-closing-as-political-revenge plot on the George Washington Bridge.
For Christie and his boosters -- by which I mainly mean the type of Beltway "journalists" and pundits you might find on "Morning Joe" at roughly 6:05 a.m. -- the burst of energy from that announcement practically carried the New Jersey governor to Iowa on the winds. Christie '16 is back with a vengeance. The governor wants the probes of his conduct wrapped up, saying last week: “These are people who are addicted to MSNBC and the front page of your papers.”
There's a few things you might want to ponder, though, before you take a ride in Christie's beautiful balloon. I'll list them in what I think are ascending order of importance:
People to world: Do something about climate change, NOW!
The killing of [British aid worker Richard] Haines was not an act of revenge. It was an act of provocation. Like the two murders of the American journalists, it was designed to frighten and to inflame. It seems nothing would please Isis more than for these killings to provoke an intemperate and thoughtless violent reaction from those at whom they are aimed. Such a reaction might, in Isis’s crude and perverse logic, give them public legitimacy as victims rather than as killers. Such things have happened all too often in history. This in itself is a good enough reason for western leaders to have cool reactions.
On Wednesday, ISIS released a slickly produced "scary" video. This week, Congress voted overwhelmingly to arm supposedly moderate rebels in Syria as a counterweight to ISIS, something it had no interest in doing before ISIS savagely beheaded three Westerners on camera and thenapparently bought some Apple video-editing programs. President Obama said this: