America’s Uncivil Phone Manners

Wednesday, I called the newsrooms of Pennsylvania’s two largest newspapers. All I got were disembodied voices telling me no one was available and to leave a message. It was 11 a.m., and I thought someone—anyone!—should have answered their phones. But, with publishers doing their best to “maximize profits” by cutting news coverage and reporters, I figured they either didn’t have anyone capable of answering a phone or figured no one would be calling with any news that day. So I left a message. It was a routine question, specific for each newspaper and related to verifying information from their papers for a book I was completing. I left another message the next day. I would have called individual assignment reporters, … Continue reading

Dissolving a Stain Painted by Henry Ford

Mark Fields is the new chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Co., second only to the CEO of the 164,000 person multinational corporation. Normally, this would not be of much concern except to avid readers of the Wall Street Journal. There were several COOs and presidents before Fields. There will be several after him. But this time it’s different. Mark Fields is a Jew. Henry Ford, who founded the company in 1903 that bears his family name, was an anti-Semite. When asked in 1920 what the problem with major league baseball was, Ford summed it up in three words—“too much Jew.” At the time, fewer than two dozen Jews had ever played professional baseball during the previous four decades. … Continue reading

Labor Pains: A Fable for Our Times

Once, many years ago, in a land far away between two oceans, with fruited plains, amber waves of grain, and potholes on its highways, there lived a young man named Sam. Now, Sam was a bright young man who wanted to work and save money so he could go to school and become an electrician. But the only job open in his small community was at the gas station. So, for two years, Sam pumped gas, washed windshields, checked dipsticks and tire pressure, smiled and chatted with all the customers, gave them free drinking glasses when they ordered a fill-up, and was soon known as the best service station attendant in town. But then the Grand Caliphs of Oil said … Continue reading

One Jew’s Christmas

by WALTER BRASCH  I am a Jew.  I don’t mind receiving Christmas cards or being wished a “Merry Christmas” from friends, clerks, or even in junk mail trying to sell me something no sane person should ever buy. My wife and I even send Christmas cards, with messages of peace and joy, to our friends who are Christians or who we don’t know their religion.  I like Christmas music and Christmas carolers, even if some have voices that crack now and then, perhaps from the cold.  At home, from as early as I could remember, my family bought and decorated a Christmas tree, and gave gifts to each other and our friends. Usually we put a Star of David on the … Continue reading