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Joe Clark RIP

January 2, 2021

Retired high school principal Joe Clark died Tuesday at 82 at his home in Florida after a long battle with an unspecified illness.

During the ‘80s, Clark became nationally famous for his tough love approach to education. He turned around one of the worst schools in New Jersey, expelling 300 students in one day to get crime and drugs under control. He painted over graffiti, chained the doors shut against criminals and required students to know and sing the school song on demand. He was also famous for patrolling the halls with a bullhorn and a baseball bat. In a statement, his family said, “Steadfast in his approach, Clark explained that the bat was not a weapon but a symbol of choice: a student could either strike out or hit a home run."

Liberals assailed him for instilling discipline in public school, but President Reagan offered him a White House policy adviser position. The public gave its verdict when “Lean On Me,” a movie of his story starring Morgan Freeman as Clark, became a major hit and audiences gave it a rare Cinemascore rating of A+.

Here are some remembrances of Clark from Morgan Freeman, who called him a father figure to the kids and “the best of the best in terms of education.”

I am beyond sad to have to report that Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”) has died at 82 of causes related to COVID-19.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dawn-wells-dead-mary-ann-gilligans-island-was-82-1149549

The first crush of a generation of ‘60s-era boys and one half of the eternal “Mary Ann or Ginger” conundrum, Dawn Wells’ TV image as a sweetly sexy, sunny, optimistic, fresh-faced girl next door was no act. She said she built the character, and the core of Mary Ann was her and her values. Although her parents divorced when she was four, she insisted she did not grow up in a broken home, writing in her book, “What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide For Life,” “I was raised by a very good mother and a great dad.”

She recalled that in middle school, she was chubby with severe acne, braces and bad knees from ballet lessons, but she was popular, proving that "the bell of the ball doesn't have to be a belle." Still, she blossomed into quite a belle, becoming Miss Nevada 1959 and competing for Miss America. Aside from “Gilligan,” she appeared in many TV shows, movies and plays. Later in life, she was active in a number of charities, including education for film students, helping the disabled, saving elephants and making clothes for the elderly.

Even though she tried to de-wholesome her image a little by doing “The Owl and the Pussycat” on stage after “Gilligan” ended, she never escaped that island, nor did she want to, returning for reunions, staying friends with her castmates and expressing gratitude to fans who never lost their love for her. When she fell in 2018 and word got out that she couldn’t pay her hospital bill, she was flabbergasted when a GoFundMe page raised $190,000 for her in one month.

Her late co-star Russell “The Professor” Johnson once noted that “Gilligan’s Island” was savaged by critics during the hip and turbulent ‘60s, but decades later, it’s still running everywhere in the world, and new families are watching it together and laughing at its clean humor. Even some of the critics later admitted to him that they’d watched it again and decided it really wasn’t that bad after all.

But how could any show be bad when it had Mary Ann and Ginger? (I’m glad to report that Tina Louise is still with us, although she is now the last surviving “Gilligan” cast member.) In fact, maybe what TV needs is more characters like Mary Ann Summers (yes, she had a last name.) Dawn Wells agreed.

In 2008, she told the Television Academy Foundation, "There hasn't been a Mary Ann on the air for I don't know how long. There hasn't been a good girl over 14, and Mary Ann was very much that…The Mary Ann-Ginger issue is always there. You had to be a real man to understand Ginger, and Mary Ann would've gone to the prom with you and been your best friend. A lot of guys would come up to me and say, 'I married a Mary Ann.' She had the values."

A good lesson for today’s TV sitcom producers. We are all sad to lose Dawn Wells, but Mary Ann will live on in reruns forever as the first crush of generations of boys still to come.

By "Huckabee" pop culture guru Pat Reeder (http://www.facebook.com/hollywoodhifibook)

Our report on Jovan Pulitzer’s testimony about hacking into voting machines and being able to recognize ballot fraud brought in a ton of reader responses, most expressing some combination of outrage, frustration and dismay. Here are just a few that made specific points:

From Michael:

If there's nothing to hide, then why so much resistance? If I thought I won legitimately, I would be the first to say: check under the hood boys, kick the tires, take her for a test run, you'll find nothing wrong with her!

From Kelley:

Our family really enjoys your articles and TV programs! Thank you!

I hadn't heard of Jovan Pulitzer until in your article on 31 Dec. Why hasn't he been involved from the beginning, when the frauds of this election first were testified? Where has this guy been?!!

From Jan:

Good article. Thank you. And not at all surprising this could be done, if one stops to think about it and be honest with themselves. I truly don't know why so many choose to be deceived. After everything we have seen, it is willing blindness. I am sick of trying to convince people. It isn't simply the man the left loves to hate that is being deprived of due process. It is 75 million Americans. I am one, and I am taking it personally.

From Akujobi:

Quite revealing; I never had the election report in quite a simple and interesting way like this.

From Lincoln:

President Trump won and we need transparency. My brother fought 20 years for my freedom. My uncles gave their lives for my freedom. America deserves the Truth!!!

From Irene (who says 2020 wasn’t the first time):

Like it or not, believe it or not, there was fraud in the 2016 election. I have photos of my ballot, and after I hit straight Republican ticket and then reviewed, it came up with Hillary checked in the President space and Eugene De Pasqualle in auditor general and he was also a Democrat. My machine had to be reset 3 times before it showed straight Republican. I do have photos to prove what happened. I believe that was their first attempt.

From Kathy:

Pulitzer’s testimony was fascinating, and I applaud him for coming forward. Why didn’t they just give him the ballots then? They are hiding something, obviously. I would encourage all to watch the testimony in Georgia. All the witnesses are worth hearing.

From David:

I'm an IT professional. I fabricated bar code labels once for backup tape cartridges. I read all the specs on the bar coding, as well as the size of the barcode. I also noted that the paper was a factor, too. The issue is related to the reflection of the laser off the white paper. If the shade of paper is off, or it's got a shiny finish instead of a matte finish, that messes it up. Dominion would know this. To mess with ballots, producing out-of-spec paper ballots to send to Republican-dominated districts, is a sophisticated level of dirty trickery, indeed.

From Daniel:

...Blocking thorough investigation, whether or not elections were rigged, tell us the Republic is already lost in [a] media conglomerate-controlled state of disunion. I'm ready for a Constitutional Convention.

From David:

I am quite a bit on the mistrusting side of things these days as a result of all the shenanigans that have gone on. I am gonna bet that this guy will prove his point and it will be buried or claimed to be in error. That is, of course, if they actually let him look at a good cross section of ballots.

From Pamela:

This man’s credibility is astounding if you just look at his background! He’s able to detect a problem within seconds. I am a former Democrat; voter fraud without a doubt occurred!

From Nola:

I listened to the hearings last Wed. and if anyone can sit there and deny the FRAUD, they are ANTI-America! My concern is that they are getting rid of the fraudulent ballots or hand picking what they want examined!

From Paul:

They're not going to give you the ballots that they cheated with; they’ve been hiding the rigged ballots since November 3rd..

From Rhonda:

Only problem is that the very next night, they were caught moving pallets of ballots out and taken to a shredding company...someone caught them, so hopefully it's all documented and justice is served.

NOTE to Rhonda and others who wrote about the shredding of fake ballots: Yes, Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com, reports that thanks to a tip, he was able to document the transport and shredding of fraudulent ballots in Georgia. He even has a map showing where the trucks allegedly went. He says this was done the very night of Wednesday’s meeting of the Georgia senate subcommittee on election fraud, which had recommended unanimously that Jovan Pulitzer be given ballots to examine. Here is that story in a commentary at THE SPECTATOR.

Byrne says he got samples of the ballots before the shredding, which he describes as military-grade shredding that turns paper not into strips but into tiny “spitballs.” On New Year's Day, he tweeted pictures of piles of boxes that he says are fake ballots, the labels on the boxes, and tall stacks of the ballots themselves. (Of course, the helpful folks at Twitter took it upon themselves to add the disclaimer [in red], “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”)

We are checking this out thoroughly and will have a detailed report for you no later than Monday.

Refreshing to hear

January 2, 2021

A lot of people who had nothing to do with the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine – and who mocked President Trump for saying it would happen – are now brimming with suggestions for who should get it first: other nations, non-whites, “essential workers,” and of course, themselves (we all know how essential Democrat politicians are.) That’s why it was so refreshing to hear what Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in explaining why he would not cut the line to get the vaccine before Florida’s elderly population does:

"I’m willing to take it, but I am not the priority, they’re the priority. I’m under 45. People under 45 are not going to be first in line for this, so when it’s my turn, I will take it. I want my parents, our grandparents to be able to get it. I’m an elected official, but whoop-dee-doo. At the end of the day, let’s focus where the risk is."

"I'm an elected official, but whoop-dee-doo" is not merely the quote of the day, in a year in which too many elected officials acted as if they were kings, gods or dictators, it might be the quote of the year.

Teach Your Children Well

January 2, 2021

Can you guess who wrote this tweet? “Who are Mitch McConnell’s neighbors? I’m just saying Rand Paul’s neighbor did what a true Kentucky hero should do. It’s your turn to step up.”

That’s right: it was the 2019 “National Teacher of the Year.

To refresh your memory, Sen. Paul was physically assaulted by a neighbor while working in his yard. He suffered six broken ribs and had part of his lung removed. The neighbor was sentenced to a total of nine months in jail, a $10,000 fine, community service and $580,000 in punitive damages. You know, like a hero.

When his tweet sparked the predictable outraged response, the “teacher of the year” deleted it, said he was only joking and the complaints were just “conservative bots,” and claimed that “no one said a thing until I promoted black medical awareness.” Right, promoting black medical awareness is what upset people. They're obviously just racists.

I know I’m not “the National Teacher of the Year,” but maybe I can impart a valuable lesson to him about telling jokes in public. I’ve had my share of gags that bombed, but usually, it was because the pun was too much of a groaner or something like that. So I’d say the #1 lesson of comedy is to recognize the difference between an actual, funny joke and advocating the violent assault of a public official.

Hope that helps.

Happy New Year

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year! Yes, 2021 is FINALLY here, and let’s all hope and pray that it’s better than 2020 (although things aren’t looking up so far.) I hope you had a safe and fun New Year’s Eve, in whatever way you were able to celebrate.

2020 was a very difficult year for many of us, made all the worse in some states by politicians who specifically targeted places of worship for shutdowns. This despite the fact that studies showed regular churchgoers were the only group whose mental health improved over the span of the pandemic. It shows once again the importance of spiritual support, community and fellowship in surviving hard times.

Too many political leaders forgot this in 2020, and concentrated on meeting physical needs while isolating people and ignoring their spiritual and emotional needs, even waging war on those who tried to meet them. We weren't allowed to visit sick or elderly family members, and when we lost them, as too many of us did, were barred from holding funeral services to comfort the bereaved.

As we enter a new year with hope that the irrational disregard or even hostility to our spiritual needs will soon be behind us, I’d like to share this excerpt on that subject from my book, “Rare, Medium or Done Well: Make the Most of your Life.” It seems even more timely now than it did when I wrote it. And let's all pray that 2021 will be the start of our "happily ever after..." era.

When I was growing up, my bedtime ritual always included a fairy tale that started with “Once upon a time...” and ended with the comforting words we all remember: “And they lived happily ever after.” As a child of the optimistic 1950s, I dreamed that life might be like that: whatever obstacles, dangers or perils might come my way, in the end, I would live happily ever after.

There were certainly plenty of struggles along the way, but I have to say that things did eventually work out even more happily than I could have imagined, from a career that I love to a wonderful family, including the world’s greatest grandkids. But sadly, for many people, “living happily ever after” does seem like an unobtainable fairy tale. Why is that happy ending seemingly out of reach for so many people?

Of course, there are always factors beyond our control, like health problems and accidents. None of us can ever know if our birthday or Christmas celebration was the last we’ll ever enjoy. We have no way of knowing when it will all end, only that someday, it will (that’s why it’s said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes.)

Well, I can’t help you with your taxes, but I do have a bit of advice that I think will make death less frightening and greatly increase your chances of living “happily ever after.”

For decades, our nation has been focused on personal pleasure. The message drummed into everyone by pop culture is “If it feels good, do it.” It’s fostered a culture of self-centeredness that led to Baby Boomers being nicknamed “The Me Generation.” Today’s young people have been dubbed “iGen” because many are so fixated on self and selfies that even their gadgets’ names all start with “I.” Advertising bombards us with the message that life is all about me and all about now. Such messages of immediate self-gratification may sell products and services, but they cause us to sell our souls if we follow this philosophy to its logical conclusion.

At some point in life, we all experience events that shake up our routine, much like the agitator in a washing machine shakes loose the grime in our clothes. We may not want or enjoy such experiences, but they’re necessary to force us to focus on the frailty of life and the certainty of death. They also force us to begin asking what really matters and why.

If we react to setbacks based solely on what feels good right now, we greatly lower our chances of enjoying a happy future. But if we believe there is even a remote possibility that our actions have lasting implications beyond the immediate, both within and beyond our lifetimes, it should cause us to think differently, live differently, and leave a different kind of legacy.

Without apology, I believe that the spiritual side of our lives really does matter. To believe otherwise is to define humans as little more than animated protoplasm, going through the motions of life for no particular purpose. I prefer to believe there’s more to us than flesh and blood. If we possess a soul capable of living beyond our lifetimes, then the seeds we plant in this life will yield fruit forever. If you believe those things, the ultimate becomes more important than the immediate.

When we decide to live beyond our lifetimes, our responsibilities to the next generation will outweigh our roles in our current jobs. More important than the money we’re paid for our work is what we will become as a result of our work. Our character will become more important than the careers we follow.

For all of us, life began “once upon a time.” Unlike the fairy tales, however, it’s up to us to make the choices that determine whether the last line of our life stories will read, “And they lived happily ever after.”

BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY