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A snow-covered lawn, with a line of trees.

Nellie's Lawn. Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

Ten years ago.



Me: Frank Lynch. These are my daily rants, mostly political. For something less spontaneous, I maintain The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page (over 1,800 Johnson quotes), perhaps your best online resource for insight into his thinking.

DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. We do polling, public policy research, surveys, etc. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

first: frankplynch at gmail dot com; now delete the 'a' in my name

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Bio: Born 1957, raised in Florida, moved to New York area in 1982; now live in Brooklyn. Married, with one daughter. I work in marketing research for Abt SRBI. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life in the War Zones.

We don't normally talk about what we went through, but I guess it's time we did. It was pretty cutthroat around us, and we actually didn't know how it was going to end up. Not on any given day. I'm guessing it was around 1990, I'd rather not tell you the specifics of the location. But in those days the Cola War was pretty damned intense, and while it was difficult for me with the concept-product tests we set up in secret research facilities in shopping malls, that wasn't nearly as intense as what my wife -- what fortitude she showed -- doing the data processing on a continuous tracking study for one of the blocs (I won't say which one). But it was, let me tell you, pretty damned rough and tumble. A seemingly small decision such as figuring out how many columns to assign for the ID number of a data record, for instance; a single misstep would have crucial implications. And what if someone left a brand off the brand list? Is this jargon? Well, OK, just pointing out how little you know about what it was like. Just saying.

Take my word about how stressful it was. Those evenings after a firefight, when we retreated to a Nearby Libation Facility and took roll, just to see who'd made it out alive. It wasn't always pleasurable, and sometimes it was suspenseful and we had to hope that the unaccounted ones would show up at HQ the next morning for that day's battle plans. But while there, we let out the stress with har-har impersonations of each other, how one would walk from tent to tent, munching snack foods as he went. (How did he get so many snack foods, there?)

Huh. But we don't really like to talk about it. The Cola War was an incredibly bloody period. I hope to never go through it again, but if that's what's required? Oh, Huck said it well: "Very well, then I'll go to Hell."


Bill O'Reilly jokes are like shooting fish in a barrel right now, but there actually was a time when the competition between Pepsi and Coke was referred to as The Cola Wars. I worked at a marketing research company at the time, and one of the Blocs was our client. And I understood the marketing value of us speaking to our clients with the same intensity that they must have felt with their goals and everything, but I was always pretty disgusted by the concept, whoever created it, that this was War. What an empty inflation of capitalism, that economic competition deserved the noun "War." It's not like anyone in my family died in war, or was wounded in war; it just seemed to me that if you'd even read The Red Badge Of Courage or Walt Whitman you'd know enough about war to know that "war" is not a metaphor you throw around idly. I didn't get it, and I still don't get it now. Do NOT pretend that what you do in your life is "war," unless it really is. And if it really is, it's not pretend.

Link | Comments | 10:28 PM

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Boyhood! Birdman! Boyhood! Birdman! (Lego?)

The concept behind Boyhood is so impressive, and it deserves immense accolades. What an ambitious project, and Linklater and the investors have my highest respect. But IMHO Birdman is a better movie, and deserves Best Picture on its quality, even if the Academy votes for it because it can relate more to acting careers than it can to individual development. I am still miffed that Kramer vs Kramer beat Breaking Away, the CW at the time being that voters could relate more to divorce than to a romantic townie. But here I think it's pretty obvious that Birdman is better than Boyhood. I think we have to choose awards over the results, not the intentions.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that there is important stuff happening.

Link | Comments | 8:43 PM

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Scott Walker robs 7-11's in his spare time.

Actually I don't know about that. But no one has ever told me otherwise. And so who's to say, really? I mean, if you don't have the opportunity to put your fingers in the wounds of the risen Christ, why would you believe anything on the basis of secondhand knowledge?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott K. Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

Please click through and read the whole thing, they did the work.

Link | Comments | 7:42 PM

Thursday, February 19, 2015

America can have "America's Mayor," I don't think NYC wants him.

Somehow, somewhere, some consultant must have approached Rudy Giuliani and said something along the lines of "You know, if Sarah Palin keeps on the way she's been doing, she's just going to suck up all the oxygen at the red meat speaking gigs, and then, what will you be left? You're going to be back at the whole 'noun, verb, nine eleven' trough which Joe Biden has been characterizing you at."

I think that must have happened. Or something very close to it, because even if you start off with the context of everything you already know about Rudy Giuliani, you have to leap off the paper into n-dimensional space to find the dots, to connect the dots, to lead you to his saying this last night:

"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America," Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. "He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."

Rudy's definition of love hearkens to a blind, unquestioning devotion; Obama has recognized our faults, and that disqualifies him from loving his country. Perhaps he is still in the land of Disney fairy tales, where blemishes never challenged love; but the real world isn't like that, and I kinda feel as if Rudy wants something so superficial as that. I really want to know where he was coming from.

But on top of that, there was this additional layer of "he doesn't love me, he doesn't love you." What behaviors cue an indication of a loving embrace to Giuliani? Is he looking for a campfire moment sharing smores? A tailgate party or something? What, specifically, is he asking for? Did any President ever do that for America as a whole? And if you don't get a moment of commiseration on the couch, eating private tubs of Ben & Jerry's while comparing reactions about some sit com... assuming its absence was a sign that you weren't loved, does that mean he's a lesser President?

I'm not sure all of what Mr. Ex-Mayor does for a living, but he wasn't able to do much of it today, as it seems as if he spent the bulk of today trying to rephrase, reposition, walk back, and take back what he said last night. I just don't understand the bubble worlds people get into where they think that what they're about to do is a good idea. Mock politics by focus groups all you want; mock politics by concept testing all you want; but sometimes you need to test your ideas before you walk into a room with dog crap all over you shoes.

(Tangential Rudy rant: a good friend pointed out, over ten years ago, that any mayor could go to first responder funerals. Anyone could look solemn. It didn't and doesn't take a great man to do so. And doing so doesn't elevate one to greatness. Just sayin'.)

Link | Comments | 10:23 PM

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hundreds of Graves Vandalized in a French Jewish Cemetery.

Sarre-Union, in eastern France. Images.

Of course, anti-Seimitism existed in France long before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and I'm inclined to think the cemetery vandalism is unconnected to Saturday's violence in Copenhagen. But whatever it's from, France's PM is asking Jews to stay and not leave.

Link | Comments | 9:41 AM

Sunday, February 15, 2015

No, Senator, it's an unforced error, a self-inflected wound.

Senator Marco Rubio seems to be intent on buffing his foreign policy cred, assumably with an eye to a 2016 presidential campaign. In addition to trying to ban visitors from west Africa to fight Ebola, and trying to block the easing of relations between the US and Cuba (likely fruitless), he's now in high dudgeon over Democrats' announcements that they'll skip Netanyahu's speech to Congress. In his view, it hurts Israel":

"What do you think the headlines will be read as in Iran, by the terrorists in Gaza, by the terrorists in Judea and Samaria, by the terrorists in all parts of the world, such as in Lebanon, who want to destroy Israel?"

Rubio seems to forget the boneheaded actions which started all this: the Israelis efforts to give Netanyahu a special platform without going through the normal channels (the White House) and instead going through Boehner. Did I write "boneheaded"? Perhaps that was wrong, and I should have written "blockheaded" instead. Rubio seems to want to put us in a position of forever enabling a foreign government to do whatever it wants.

And in this way, he's joined the boneheaded or the blockheaded, and you can take your pick.

Link | Comments | 11:17 AM

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thou shalt not ignore me.

So Vermont wants a primary as early as New Hampshire's. And Rand Paul wants Kentucky to have an early caucus so it's peeps can have more say in the Republican nomination. You may or may not need reminding that Florida wanted a primary so early that TPTB feared it would so upset the apple cart that they were warned that they'd only get half its delegation seated at the convention.

Everyone wants to be one of the weeders, and fewer want to choose from a limited set of candidates. I totally get the desire to be heard, because as a New Yorker we never get first crack either. When Gore ran, he'd already flamed out; and in 2008 my first choice (Dodd) was already gone, and I think his analog (Biden) also was. My choices were basically limited to Clinton, Edwards, and Obama (in alphabetical order).

But there's going to have to be a point where states have to recognize the law of the commons; if everyone moves their primariies into the first Tuesday of January, it means candidates will be more reliant on television ads (money from donors and more susceptible to deep pockets). I think Vermont has a reasonable idea, though: Vermont and New Hampshire are basically in the same ad market, and it shouldn't be horrendously taxing for candidates to straddle the Connecticut River and fan out into the two states like a herring bone.

Aside from that it seems like a pretty bad move for the country to crowd the beginning.

Link | Comments | 8:21 PM

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