Archive for June, 2014

Tuxedo Casino Bad Bet for Nature

Friday, June 27th, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

As local government officials throughout our region slobber, beg, and otherwise outdo themselves groveling in hope of landing a casino in their midst, area residents have few objective sources for information. Competition among the various bidders has been an advertising bonanza for local media outlets, which have tended to extol the benefits (even the “indirect benefits” to neighboring communities such as, say, Greenwood Lake and Warwick) and pay little, if any, attention to the potential negative effects. Too bad the developers are not required to include in their advertisements the same sort of warnings required of pharmaceutical companies when advertising their wares. At least a fellow with “low-T” or a flaccid penis, for example, can weigh the pros and cons of seeking a prescription if he listens closely to the staccato recitation of potential side effects at the end of the commercial or reads the fine print below the newspaper ad.

Negative publicity about any of the casino proposals thus far seems mainly to have been generated by the competitors themselves. Witness Orange County’s current legal counsel Langdon Chapman’s hatchet job on his former employer, Ulster County. (Chapman was at his sleazy best again this week as he joined Orange County Executive Steve “Pinocchio” Neuhaus in an ill-advised attempt to smear Judge Elaine Slobod because of her ruling about Valley View. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)  

Earlier this week Town of Tuxedo officials gave their approval to one of the most odious of the casino proposals—Genting’s plan to erect a Las Vegas style luxury resort casino hotel in Sterling Forest. Genting has outspent the competition in advertising as well as in goodwill gestures designed to generate local popular support. It’s “no strings attached” donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Tuxedo public schools was a public relations coup.  

Brushed aside were objections such as those made by James Hall, Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission (PIPC), whose letter to Tuxedo Town Supervisor Mike Rost was posted online by the Tuxedo Park FYI website June 16. Hall said he has “significant concerns regarding this proposal and potential impacts on our park land and critical natural resources we are charged to protect.

“Of most critical concern are the potential impacts on the water resources which were among the primary purposes that Sterling Forest was preserved under the unique partnership of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the National Park Service, the State of New York, the State of New Jersey and many not for profit organizations. I am specifically concerned about how such a development will obtain its water supply and depose of wastewater and how such actions may impact park property, its water and other significant ecological resources.”

Although the plans include a promise to develop a new exit (15b) off the New York State Thruway, Hall noted that “such a plan would require the acquisition of park property. No one has approached the Commission regarding this issue and the Commission does not support such an acquisition and such a conveyance is not authorized under our Federal Congressional Compact.” (Genting has since responded, saying it is willing to work with all interested parties and will pay for everything so there is no need to worry.)           

“Given the extremely limited information and preliminary nature of the proposal,” Hall continued, “I do not support the proposed plan and likewise feel it is inappropriate and premature for the Town to endorse such a massive project without a better understanding of the associated impacts and whether critical components such as exit 15b are even legally practical considerations underpinning the proposal, not to mention completely unknown impacts of the critical water resources of the area….

“The Commission’s properties are a significant asset of the Town,” concluded Hall, “providing significant tax payment in exchange for few services. I hope that the Town will take these concerns seriously as you make this critical decision regarding community support of the project.”

But last week, consultants hired by the town (with money generously donated by Genting) presented a rosy report citing the many positive impacts they predict will be forthcoming. The “significant tax payment” by the PIPC seems a mere pittance compared to all the goodies promised by Genting, along with some fine print that has yet to be revealed.

For more on the subject, including the full text of Hall’s letter, visit the Tuxedo Park FYI website.

Michael can be reached at




Saving Sterling Forest One More Time

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Patrick Gallagher

Twenty years ago, local heroes “saved Sterling Forest” from imminent death by development. A coalition of local individuals, multi- state agencies and a community of environmentalists at large fought off development of one of the last bits of wilderness this far south in the state of New York.

Among the convincing facts that turned heads and made sense were studies showing that not just the site of the commercial, residential, or industrial development would be affected, but that the access roads and fringes of developed parts of forests created impacts deep into the woods from the edges of the development.

The larger the development, the deeper the impact on species, flora, fauna, etc., because air, water and noise and light pollution levels are all pushed beyond their new surfaces and platforms as you introduce asphalt, diesel fuel, auto emissions, lights, sewage and other previously absent effluents to an eco system.

This is all pretty straightforward and commonly accepted.

Environmental impact statements were introduced years ago in an effort to model and measure what happens when you bring these man made elements and dubious efficiencies where they have not been before.

Certainly an E.I.S. can be helpful to one degree or another and they are absolutely essential given the reality that development will occur sometimes in some places, but there are places where it should not occur. And one is in our local forest.

Short term with enough public relations and subtle interpretation of scientific nuance, you may be able to present a somewhat favorable case that 5 million visitors a year to a former forest would be OK, but just a few miles away we have lots of sites and cities that say otherwise. Right down the road in the same town there are vents sticking out of a former dump that was poorly managed.

Right up the road is the old Nepera site.

Penaluna Road may ring a bell for Superfund watchers. The Orange County Landfill comes to mind. Chances are you could see them all on a clear day from the hills above the hideous ozone sink at exit 16 onthe Thruway..

Granted, these were allowed to grow and fester in days gone by with less regulation than we have now (or maybe not), but does anyone really think that we have come so far in our conservation and waste management techniques that the impact of 5 million visitors can be effectively managed in the midst of a rush to short-term and questionable community benefits?

Do we really want to invite Gentinstein to fund and build a new exit off the Thruway right into the heart of the area’s biggest self-sustaining clean air and water factory?

Do they need to be lurching around in Sterling Forest howling about building parks and easing local tax burdens supported by a giant pack of barking PR hacks tossing cash out of sacks of money?

This may be one of those rare moments when noisy geese and slippery droppings would be more desirable neighbors.

There is no waste in nature. Everything gets recycled in natural systems. The house (read Earth) always wins in this regard. Everything returns to the earth and is reused.

Since we are considering a casino in a forest, let us just briefly consider containing it as if could be a very clean capsule with minimal impact — which is what most people would want anyhow — and since it would sound great for public relations put the whole thing into a biosphere. Make it out of glass so we can count on transparency. and people outside the operation can see and quantify conditions inside.

Allow for a certain amount of water, a certain amount of air, the opportunity to grow the necessary food and whatever they think they need to manufacture and survive as fully functioning competitor for Foxwoods or Atlantic City. Every system has limits, but give them what they need to do the job if they are careful.

Let in the good elements, let in the less desirable, let in some drug, alcohol and gambling counselors, get the stockholders and short-term beneficiaries in there and close the door for a few years. They can have as many visitors as they want, but it has to function as a biosphere and an ecosystem to stay in business and the promoters and stakeholders gotta stay inside. It’ll be just like the real environment or the real spaceship earth but smaller, and when you run out of clean air and water and society breaks down there would be actual witnesses to the deterioration of the endangered species in the rapidly degrading environment.

Reality show possibilities abound.

Like the Irish might say. UP THE ANTE!

Patrick Gallagher lives in Warwick




Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

My grandniece Olivia graduated from high school in Fair Lawn this week. I bore witness, except for the several moments when I realized I’d tuned out the speeches and was thinking back to the day I graduated from Forest Hills High School in Queens.

The beaming Olivia, a terrific young scholar, seemed happy and excited by the business of the day. She looked great. Most important she has a positive view of her future, which is an important way to experience life after high school.

My experience was different.

There were so many seniors in the Forest Hills commencement in Forest Park, and the line was so long (alphabetical order) that some of us P’s, R’s, S’s, and T’s snuck out to the street and smoked. We were very cool.

I accepted my diploma, shook someone’s hand and asked my mother if we could leave now. I surrendered my rented gown and mortarboard and realized that my sense of dread centered on three questions I couldn’t answer.

With mandatory school now over forever, what would I do tomorrow? What would I do next Tuesday? And with no appreciable skills what would I do with the rest of my life now that I’d sort of ensured that no college would have me and that without more education, I was doomed to a hand-to-mouth existence. That’s how it sounded in those days: No sheepskin? You’re dead.

Any college admissions officer quickly would see how awful a student I’d been. Let me rephrase that; I was a dolt. I had amassed a catalogue of lousy grades, an embarrassing grade on my math SAT (though a fairly decent one on the language part), and no community work to speak of. I even had a teacher who wanted to bet me 50 cents I’d fail a Spanish Regents exam. I’m not blaming her for anything except being a needless irritant on whatever degree of self-confidence I possessed.

Essentially, I had spent four years at Forest Hills doing very little aside from reading novels and newspapers, and now I was being cut loose. I was happy to know the alarm clock would not be set that night and that I wouldn’t have to start thinking up excuses for not having done various homework assignments. But I was scared. All my questions boiled down to one: What happens next? And I had no idea

I took some menial jobs and learned how boring the work life could be. I registered for a few night courses at Queens College. I read Hemingway and Joyce, Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare and others, and realized these people were my education.

Sometimes things have a way of working out.

I applied for a job as a copyboy at The New York Post and learned how to sharpen pencils and take coffee and sandwich orders from the editors and reporters. I also wrote some small headlines. That was pretty boring, too but it was the start of a happy newspaper life. I reported crime stories in Jersey City for the Jersey Journal. I covered Sullivan County for The Times Herald-Record. And I covered transportation for The Record of Hackensack.

What a way to make a living: Find interesting people and extraordinary situations and write those stories in a way that encouraged readers to go all the way to the end of the tale.

One more thing. That Spanish Regents test?

I got a 75.


Thursday, June 26th, 2014



al-Maliki (2)




Bill Hogan


A Bad Week in Chelm and Other Stories

Friday, June 20th, 2014

 By Michael Kaufman

To the surprise of no one other than the Elders of Chelm (aka County Executive Steve Neuhaus and his cronies) in Goshen, state Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod has invalidated the Orange County Legislature’s 12-9 vote to sell the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation to a private, for-profit company. Apparently they thought Judge Slobod would go along with their decree that in Orange County if you need 14 votes to authorize a transaction and you get only 12, it’s haukay! And they may not be done embarrassing themselves yet:  “We respectfully but strongly disagree with today’s ruling,” said county spokesman Dain (Shmendrik Numskull) Pascocello, who said the county plans to appeal.

It wasn’t a good week all around for the Elders, who learned that another of their foolhardy schemes—the multimillion dollar plan to renovate the Government Center in Goshen—was also in the toilet. The plan had been a compromise of sorts that pleased neither those who wish to preserve the 44-year-old  complex designed by visionary architect Paul Rudolph and those who hate it because they think it looks funny and want to tear it down altogether and put an entirely new building in its place. (The latter would cost a great deal more money so it is ironic that it has been the preferred choice of the same people who have been pushing so hard to sell Valley View supposedly to save taxpayers money.)

So a committee headed by legislator Leigh (Treitel Fool) Benton adopted a plan that involved demolishing part of the structure and replacing the outside walls while leaving the rest of things intact. The Elders went ahead with the plan even after it was revealed that Benton had agreed to take a job with Clark Patterson Lee, the firm that was awarded the contract designs. The investigation that followed determined that Benton had committed no crime and that there was nothing in the legislature’s code of ethics to prohibit this sort of sleazy behavior—but that there should be. Benton took this to mean that he should stay in office and merely recuse himself from voting on future matters pertaining to the project.  This leads to two questions: Why didn’t the other legislators ask him to resign? And why wasn’t the renovation plan he pushed through as committee chair revisited and subjected to closer scrutiny?

Had they done so they might have been spared the embarrassing spectacle that took place last week: Phil Clark, CEO of Clark Patterson Lee, reported that the federal Historic Preservation Office and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have both objected to the renovation plan, especially FEMA. Millions of dollars of federal money that would have been forthcoming to restore the storm-damaged building to its original state may not be coming at all. This leads to two questions for Phil Clark: How could you not know that the structure had landmark preservation status? And did you think Michael (“Heck of a job, Brownie”) was still running the show at FEMA?

Meanwhile, an architect named Gene Kaufman (the “other” Gene Kaufman, not my brother Gene) has offered to buy the government building, restore it to Rudolph’s specifications, and rent out space for artists’ studios. (You can’t make these things up.)

And if you thought things couldn’t get any zanier in our neck of the woods, think again. On Tuesday voters in Kiryas Joel may determine who will be representing the 18th Congressional District after Election Day in November. The district, which encompasses all of Orange and Putnam counties and parts of Westchester and Dutchess, is currently represented by Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney and his predecessor, Republican Nan Hayworth, have both filed petitions to run on the Independence Party line in November. This has forced a primary (the sole Independence Party primary in the state) that will take place Tuesday. That leaves little time for such things as publicity, campaigning, voter registration, and such. But those are of little consequence to these two short-on-principle opportunists. (Question for Hayworth: Will you support the Independence Party candidates for statewide office:  Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman?)

Chris McKenna, who covers the Kiryas Joel beat for the Times Herald-Record reported in a blog posted Thursday, June 19, that the Independence Party now has some 1,000 registrants in KJ. “High turnout in bloc-voting Kiryas Joel could almost certainly swing a close primary,” notes McKenna. “The question is which candidate the village’s two blocs will support, which may not be known until voting instructions are distributed next week. The larger bloc representing Kiryas Joel’s majority faction backed Hayworth in 2012, while the smaller one supported Maloney.” (As I said, you can’t make these things up.)

Last but not least, the ongoing casino juggernaut continued this week with more bad news for Sullivan County: Foxwoods has withdrawn its bid to build on the old Grossinger’s property (citing the likelihood that a casino will be awarded to one of the Orange County contenders). That leaves only two bids in Sullivan, located on different parts of the old Concord property. Local officials all over Orange County are acting as if a casino in their midst will be the goose that lays golden eggs. They would do well to do a couple of Google searches that include the words “layoffs,” “Foxwoods,” “Mohegan Sun,” and “Connecticut.”

Concerned Citizens Against the Tuxedo Casino report that of the 262 letters received by Rost after he requested public opinion, 174 were opposed and 88 were in favor, a 2:1 ratio. The group has been active in Tuxedo and invites residents of Warwick, Greenwood Lake, and other neighboring communities to join with them. A website is in the works but in the meantime you can reach them at

Next week: Excerpts from a letter sent by James Hall, director of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission, to Town of Tuxedo Supervisor Mike Rost, detailing his concerns over Malaysian-based casino behemoth Genting’s plans for a casino in Sterling Forest.

Michael can be reached at      


Hillary and a Bunch of GOP Wanna-bes

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In recent months, thanks mainly to the Republican Party’s simple-minded policy of anything President Obama does or says we don’t like, I have been lulled into a state of who-gives-a-rat’s-patootie about politics. Really. What’s the point? He says shoot; they say war-monger. He says don’t shoot; they say coward. Hot? Cold. Higher minimum wage? Lower taxes on the rich.

Leave it to the Associated Press, apparently committed to the mission of tracking the stuff no one else cares about, to remind me that Americans have another presidential election coming up soon. Well, not really soon. It’s actually nearly two-and-a-half years from now, but, the AP tells me, there’s no time like the present to catch up on the “movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates.”

More than a dozen? I was flabbergasted. I could think of two Democrats:

  • Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, former senator from New York and former first lady is the odds-on favorite this far in advance of the vote to become the nation’s first woman president. She has the money, the machine, the name, etc. Although some people do hate her.
  • Vice President Joe Biden, who may make a token run against Clinton, but is more likely to step aside as, say, president of the University of Delaware or assume an advisory role in a new Clinton administration.

But the AP tells me there are two other Democratic possibilities:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. No way. First of all, there is a Cuomo family tradition of not running for president. Second of all, Cuomo served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Bill Clinton’s presidency and so is unlikely to challenge the Clintons. Plus, he’s got time on his side and is a shoo-in for re-election as governor.
  • Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. O’Malley? Who? Maryland? Get real.

Why not Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who at least have national name recognition and ardent supporters? Next!

It’s on the Republican side, though, that I had real trouble grappling with what the AP tells me is reality. My political sensibilities were shocked into a state of numbness as I read the list of possible GOP presidential candidates. Could this possibly be the best the party of Lincoln had to offer? Would any of these men be competent to carry Ike’s golf clubs? I went through the list:

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The supposed “moderate” Republican. His staff shut down the George Washington Bridge to get even with a Democratic politician who wouldn’t support Christie. Everywhere he goes, he has to defend himself against charges of being a bully. Tries to act like a reasonable politician, until you disagree with him. Two-faced. “I Am Not a Bully” does not resonate the same way as “I Like Ike.”
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s between him and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (see below) for dumbest on the list. Renounced his Canadian citizenship to make sure he could run for president, even though he didn’t have to. Canadian citizenship may have been the best thing about him. Led the campaign to shut down the federal government. He doesn’t believe in science or education or government, etc. Thus, a tea party darling. Some Republicans hate him.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Again? Didn’t he demonstrate his intellectual shortcomings in the last campaign? Not big on science, education, health care. He likes to create lots of low-paying (minimum wage or less) jobs to brag about his state’s employment rate and visits other states to poach businesses. What is wrong with Texas?
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Another flameout from last time around. A president named “Bobby?” I don’t think so. Louisianans are among poorest, least educated, unhealthy people in country. He loves the oil industry (hello, Gulf of Mexico residents).
  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Actually supported immigration reform until tea party robots attacked him. Now he doesn’t talk about it. Gutsy. Like Jindal, he messed up a big opportunity to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union. Coming up small in big moments is not a desirable trait in a president.
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Again? Another loser from the GOP’s 2012 primary circus. He’s making Christmas movies. He criticized his own party. He’s a religious super-conservative. Why is he even on this list?
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Okay, daddy was a Libertarian and son says he’s not. But he is. Which means there is no consistency. You will love him on some issues, hate him on others. Thinks employers have right to do pretty much anything with employees; opposes use of drones by government. He’s a favorite among tea partiers, for now. Wait until they ask him about penalizing people for smoking marijuana. Plagiarized other people’s words for his newspaper column. Unbending views are not a useful philosophy for governing, especially for the less-fortunate.
  • Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney’s losing running mate for the GOP in 2012. Authored draconian budget cuts in House of Representatives that hurt, yes, the poorest and least fortunate, but did negotiate compromise deal. A favorite of the Wall Street crowd that wrecked the economy. Sometimes irritates tea partiers, but that doesn’t take much. Presidential timber? Plywood.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Hates unions. Is in midst of a scandal about government staff doing campaign work for him. In the Mitt Romney mode of good-looking and seemingly articulate, but had to survive a recall vote.
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s a Bush. Two is enough. He believes in a sensible immigration policy, which means most Republicans will hate him. He’s on the list because he’s a Bush. We made that mistake already.

So that’s my take on the list of possible presidents, for now. You’ll notice no women on the Republican side. Some of the GOP names will, one hopes drop by the wayside between now and 2015. My even more fervent hope is that some more credible GOP candidates of substance will appear to challenge Clinton.

Maybe the AP can compile a list of those possibilities instead of following all these losers for two years.



Thanks for the Memories

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Denholm Elliott

Denholm Elliott

A bunch of us got together to watch the terrific film farce “Noises Off!” which gave me a chance to see Denholm Elliott, my third favorite character actor.

The late Denholm Elliott was terrific playing an aging actor with the wonderful name Selsdon Mobray. Yet even during the movie, I started thinking about my second favorite character actor, someone else whose career I had followed.

But I couldn’t figure out who he was.

In my mind’s eye I could see this other actor perfectly. I would say he was older than Elliott, and seemed taller, grayer and with a deeper voice. Like Elliott, British maybe. But his name escaped me, and the harder I tried to come up with it the more elusive he became. I couldn’t even think of some films in which he played.

Several times, I had a wisp of a sense of understanding and had a physical sensation of something about to gallop out of my mouth. But it passed and this third favorite remained a mystery.

Incidentally, my first favorite was the late Charles Durning. I had absolutely no problem at all in conjuring his face and voice. But No. 2 remained a problem.

The slipperiness of memory as we get older has been the subject of studies and jokes. Such as:

Guy complains to his doctor that he’s getting more and more forgetful.

“Like what?”

“Did I pay the phone bill? W here did I park the car? Am I 60? Or am I 61? Doctor, what should I do?”

“First thing,” the doctor says, “pay me in advance.”

Clearly, this is a joke composed by someone in his 20s or 30s.

Finally, a full 24 hours after we watched “Noises Off!” I turned to my wife.

“Philip!” I declared rather loudly.

From there it was a breeze. Not Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not Phil Hartman and certainly not Phil Rizzuto.

A moment later I had it. Philip Bosco and I went on to say how good he was in the movie version of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

One problem. It turns out there’s never been a movie version of “Lend Me a Tenor.” But if there had been, Bosco would have been perfect for the lead.


Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Church & GunsBill Hogan

Give Me a ‘D’ for Dumb, Pat

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Pat Sajak ... scientist?

Pat Sajak … scientist?

It’s Pat Sajak’s fault.

For the past few years, I’ve been writing one opinion piece a week for a blog. It’s a way to keep doing in retirement what I did for more than 40 years for newspapers.

But I have been unable to form an opinion for three weeks — ever since I read about Sajak tweeting about “global warming alarmists being unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”

This made no sense to me, starting with why the ever-smiling host of “Wheel of Fortune” had any reason to think his thoughts on global warming were worth sharing on Twitter in the first place.

But as I tried to set aside the Sajak incident, I found myself unable to find anything else that made sense to me. What the heck is wrong with this country? I wondered. What could I write about when what is supposedly the most technologically advanced society in history seems to be paralyzed by a combination of willful ignorance and abject laziness. Sajak Syndrome, if you will.

When did dumb become fashionable?

Pick a topic. Global warming? Pictures of the Arctic ice pack melting? Nearly 100 percent agreement among scientists that humans are destroying the planet’s atmosphere through extravagant, ignorant use of fossil fuels and cutting down of rain forests? That’s nonsense, the pundits on Fox News say. Wasn’t it cold this winter? Didn’t it snow? What the heck do scientists know?

If it were true, the Fox News folks would tell us, the Fox flock say. Really? When they’re being paid to lie? This is abject laziness on the part of the viewers and willful ignorance on the part of the bosses and staff and big money backers at Fox News. And sadly today, most of the Republican Party.

How do you reach people who don’t want to be reached, I wondered, people who are too lazy to question, who are so set in their own prejudices that they eagerly accept the drumbeat message that the man living in the White House is to blame for all that scientific foolishness and everything else that is wrong with this country?

Please, tell me again how racism is dead in America since we elected Barack Obama, a black man, to be president. Tell that to people whose voting rights are being stripped (by Republicans). Tell that to people of color in “Stand Your Ground” states. Check the arrest and imprisonment statistics on drug crimes.

Forgive me for jumping around here, but, as I said, I can’t figure out what to write about because there is so much insanity going on in this country. The bankers drove this country into a recession through shady deals and didn’t go to jail. Today, people who still can’t find jobs because of the recession are called lazy and Congress — again, led by Republicans — cuts money for food stamps for the poor and refuses to extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed or raise the minimum wage or expand benefits to veterans.

It also refuses to cut college students — the future of this country — a break on the interest rates on their back-breaking loans. The corporations, of course, still get their tax breaks and CEOs who drive companies into the red still get rewarded with lavish golden parachutes. And the boss of McDonald’s tells his employees to get another job to make ends meet because he can’t afford to pay them a living wage. To Fox News, this makes sense.

Did I mention guns? There is a shooting at a school or mall or other public place virtually every day now, but it’s not because guns are too easy to get, the willfully ignorant insist. No, the leaders of the NRA tell us that if we armed teachers and let everyone carry weapons openly there would be fewer shootings. Bring your guns to Chili’s and Target. More guns mean fewer shootings. Oh, and if you don’t feel like paying your share of income tax, hole up on your ranch with an arsenal and defy the federal government. Because you’re a patriot. Fox News will defend your “right.’’ This is insane.

Look at the food we eat. Well, actually, most of us apparently would rather not. Monsanto, a chemical company that controls the food supply, changes the genetic structure of basic foods. This allows companies to sell food cheaper because more crops grow in less space and the “food” lasts longer on shelves. That food is usually full of salt and sugar and chemicals, in addition to having its genetic structure changed.

No one knows the possible effects of genetically modified food, but Congress (Republicans, again) allows it — won’t even require labeling of foods with GMOs — because Monsanto is a very generous donor to political campaigns. Europe has banned GMOs. China, too, and other countries. But Fox closes its eyes and ears and shuts off its brain to the obvious questions — willful ignorance — and its sheep munch away on cheap, addictive food, raising health insurance costs as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight-related illnesses increase. All the while, of course — again at the instigation of Fox — they are criticizing the president for trying to make health insurance more affordable for everyone.

There’s plenty more. We are a nation of immigrants that can’t come up with a reasonable immigration policy. We espouse freedom of religion, but in some areas of America it’s probably not wise to admit being Muslim. There is still some question among some conservatives as to who is responsible when a woman is raped. Evolution is considered by the willfully ignorant and abjectly lazy as a theory to be debated. But Noah and the Flood — an undeniable fact.

The Internet gets blamed for a lot of the misinformation that is spread today. But the Internet is just a tool. People spread ignorance, out of fear, greed, selfishness, prejudice, envy, laziness. I think many of the commentators at Fox News are laughing all the way to the bank. They are getting rich by criticizing the poor. Others are simply willing to say whatever they are told to say to get a paycheck. Some are just nasty and don’t like people who are different from them. I think at times they all say stuff that they have to know can’t be true, but they do it anyway because that’s their job. There is really no excuse for people like this — the willfully ignorant.

Why the Republican Party has allowed itself to be dragged down to this level, kowtowing to the frenzied anti-government, anti-Obama cries of the tea partiers, I don’t know. I suspect it has to do with race (the president’s) and with money — who is providing how much of it to whom. Integrity is clearly not held in high regard in the GOP these days, at least not since it offered Sarah Palin as a person to be trusted a heartbeat away from the presidency.

That leaves the climate-change deniers (who also doubted the president’s birth certificate) who think anything they read on the Internet is true, except if it’s on an actual mainstream news site or one run by liberals. These are the abjectly lazy who wouldn’t check a fact put forth by Fox News even if their life depended on it. And sometimes it does.

So there’s my dilemma. I know what I have described here doesn’t apply to everyone in this country. My belief — indeed, my fervent hope — is that it doesn’t apply to a majority or even large minority of us. But Sajak Syndrome exists. So I will continue to write with that in mind and encourage others of like mind to do so as well. Far too many Americans have bought into the idea that dumb is good, up is down, black is white and what some politician said yesterday doesn’t have to make sense with what he or she says today.

Far too many, in other words, would rather think of renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of “Cosmos” (on Fox TV no less) as a charlatan and liar when he describes the “Big Bang” theory and tells us that global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed seriously and immediately. On this issue, they’d rather trust the judgment of game show host Pat Sajak.

That’s where I came in.

Bob Gaydos can be reached at





Speak Up Now to Save Mother Earth

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Patrick Gallagher

Downtown Beijing, not on a good day.

Downtown Beijing, not on a good day.

Today on the radio, some coal industry hack stated that the proposed new regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions “would make electricity much more expensive …  if we can even get it.”

I’d be embarrassed if I ever said something that absurd. If we can even get it? Nature and modern electronics allow us to get all the electricity we want, clean, just for the cost of building the collector.

Investing in a smart grid would revolutionize efficiency and create demand for large pools of skilled workers. Fewer people are employed in mining and fracking every year. Those that do keep jobs are treated as badly as our veterans and once they’re used up they get tossed aside as liabilities.

Even Thomas Edison, who was no paragon of green capitalism, and who was deeply invested in mining and other extractive polluting industries, knew that the wisest and cheapest way to get inexpensive energy was going to be from the sun. Okay, so ignore the science that even Edison knew was out there over a hundred years ago. He understood natural capitalism. He was a hero of science and industry to many because he innovated until he succeeded. But the fossil fuel industry is as stagnant as the air over Beijing.

Let’s forget that there is a foolish discussion over whether climate change is real. Even if we are not changing the climate, we are fouling the nest. Can’t deny that! And yet we can get all the clean energy we want. Do we want it or not? is the only real question. For most people, it’s not difficult to answer.

Whoever you are making these statements on the radio, have a little respect for yourself and withdraw that comment from the public record. Stop publicly humiliating your family and future descendants. Do you breathe air and drink water? Do you have a TV? You must if you’re considered worthy of radio air time. Can you see pictures of China’s smog-choked cities? We sell them a lot of that coal. Can you see any of the photos of thermal inversions made from noxious clouds of toxic emissions whose contents and effects are often unpronounceable and unconscionable?

You can’t even see the cities through the smog. That’s not any holy smoke there! That’s not good for jobs or health care costs or kids or anything but Peabody coal and their lobbyists in our government. It’s real good for those revolving-door guys who write our laws that allow this to keep going on. Everybody knows it’s good for them.

Well, that air comes here. Just like the radiation from the Fukashima nuclear plant in Japan and the smokestack emissions from the states in the Midwest that make acid rain in the East. It’s not just the foreign polluters, because we make much more than our share; so let’s not lay it off on some foreign source. That stuff all goes around and around and it ends right up in your kids, but it’s not like musical chairs.

The coal/tar sands/oil/gas/pipeline industry never seems to stop singing to our political system and everybody working for them is always getting a seat. You may have to sit down because you have emphysema or too much mercury in your kidneys. You may not be able to stand up because you live too close to a Frack pad and your ground water’s polluted or you have a nosebleed or a migraine, but you can have a seat as long as you don’t complain and get in the way of corporate profits.

Don’t get sidetracked; it’s not just coal. It’s filthy fuels we have been trained to depend on battling for dominance in a fight to our death. I’m still using my lungs every day; so is my family. And I want to breathe with my lungs and with my family and with my neighbors and with the people I love.

One thing I’ve noticed is that these sorts of unconscious, uninformed statements like the one by the guy on the radio are rarely made by women. Across the country, mothers seem to be coming to the forefront of the environmental movement because the kids are clearly impacted more and more as population grows and increases in worldwide emissions continue. Why do we let a guy like that speak for anyone? Listen, but use your lungs while you can and say something civil and sensible back to these folks. He and his friends just can’t go unanswered anymore.All cultures have always understood that it’s called Mother Earth. What would she say?

Patrick Gallagher lives in Warwick.