If You Ask Me

Getting the news from all the wrong places

As we struggle through the final rounds of this vile presidential campaign, I was taken by the words of a writer who left journalism decades ago to write novels.

“All the better newspapers were struggling as if the news were no longer a priority or even a convenience. News was now a function of the mill called social media,” writes Ward Just in “The Eastern Shore,” the story of an elderly editor not unlike, said a reviewer, Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor who died in 2014.

Boos ring out at dinner where candidates are always nice

Looking for some relief from this ugliest of all presidential contests, I decided to write about how kind the candidates were at the always benign Al Smith dinner. Then I watched it. 

If newspaper endorsements still count, Trump’s toast

Newspaper endorsements for president of the United States were once extremely important but that was long ago when most people got their news from professional journalists.

But if they still matter at all—and I devoutly hope they do—we’ll be enjoying a serving of Trump toast on Election Night, unless he’s no longer running by then.

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Judge’s truth hurts in blistering education ruling

Shameful, isn’t it, that it took a ruling by a Superior Court judge to acknowledge what we have known for so long: that Connecticut deprives its poorest, mostly minority students of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a proper education.  

Governors and legislators of both parties have known that this shameful condition has existed for more than half a century; the educational establishment, teachers, their unions, local governments and the courts have tolerated it; even, at times, upheld it.

Chris Shays will keep his Bush Award

Having left its candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to fend for themselves and lose on their own, the Connecticut Republican Party had time to engage in a little dispute the other day over whether or not to dishonor the last man it elected to Congress.

Best case for Hillary: She’s not the worst option

As I write this, Hillary Clinton has not had a full-fledged news conference in this election year. That’s nearly nine months and counting—more than a year if you begin with the last one, as reported by NBC News, in the fall of 2015. One observer noted that event was held—appropriately—in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Revive the draft, without any of the loopholes

We can make America greater by reviving the draft, along with alternate forms of mandatory public service, for all of America’s  young men and women.   

A military draft would mean other people’s children would never again fight for the rest of us and therefore make hastily considered warfare less likely.  But even a draft with alternatives like the Peace Corps would be a giant step toward liberty and equality for all as well as a character builder for millions.

‘Ma, ma, where’s my pa?’ meets ‘the continental liar’

It’s been said there hasn’t been a presidential election as nasty and divisive as the current debacle since the 1884 contest between James G. Blaine and Grover Cleveland ­— and that one really was, in the language of the day, a doozy.

But on examination, the 1884 election was benign when compared with the present contest between the pair kindly referred to as “flawed.” If 1884 is indeed the second-worst, we have come a long way in the wrong direction to this one. 

With Trump, there’s everything to fear

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first president I can remember, raised the spirits of a nation with a quarter of its workers unemployed by telling it not to despair, that the only thing we had to fear was fear, itself. And now, the only thing we have to fear is a president who exploits our fears.  Our real fears and those he manufactures. 

Rascally Muslim disrupts a presidential convention

In the weeks leading up to the Republican convention — the 1904 convention we’re talking about, not this one — the brash New Yorker controlled a majority of the delegates, but he also knew that many of the party’s most influential leaders did not want to see him nominated. They never liked him very much; the party’s recently deceased money man, Mark Hanna, had often called him “that damned cowboy,” a reference to Theodore Roosevelt’s maverick ways.