About

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Three Dogs



My wife, son and I were walking on the streets of New York City earlier today, when she ran into a high school classmate, someone she had likely not seen in many decades. As would be expected, he synopsized the last near half century in but a few minutes. Princeton, Stanford law school, big new York law firm with some special area of expertise I could barely comprehend on my best day. Long time resident of New York, married for three decades, with no children but now on his third dog. Internationally recognized, the author of several books, quoted or published in the most well respected newspapers and journals. Loves his work and, if he were to have a second home, it would be abroad, likely London. My wife said she knew of some of his exploits from reading about him through the years.

After my wife gave a much shorter overview of the important work related history of our family, we all said our farewells and headed onto the rest of our lives.

When we got into the car, I turned to my son and wife and said that I had absolutely none of the accomplishments that marked her classmate's existence.

My wife's reply corrected me in my errant assessment. "You both have had three dogs."

I now know how my headstone will read so that all the world will understand the mark I made during my stay here. "He had three dogs."


Now He Does A Stand-up Routine in DC

("A President Without Humor")

It is the lack of humor that defines Mr. Trump. That, and the lack of a dog.

It is what humanizes us, what makes us seem like there is joy in our being. Where is the joy in Donald Trump?

It cannot be in the accumulation of more toys. Maybe that brings him self satisfaction, but that is a far different animal than joy. It cannot be in having the ultimate power of the presidency, for we see his every day wrapped in self pity, in anger, in an unhappiness that permeates and radiates. Not exactly a 1000 points of light.

Donald Trump needs a stand up routine. A self deprecating punch in his own face. A few self directed barbs about his hair, the color of his face, the pear shaped body. About his bromance with autocrats and dictators. About the size of his nuclear arsenal.

And most of all he needs a puppy with him, at all times. One that he hands little treats, one that has an occasional mistake on the President's shoes.

Does Donald Trump want to insure a second term and a positive place in the history of this country. Become a human being. Find the joy in life.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Eight seconds

Eight seconds. I thought about that as I lay on the ground, my knee and leg not in the direction intended.

When I was a senior in high school, I was captain of my soccer team and reputed to be a fine player. Reputed, because I had missed all but 4 games of my junior season with impetigo. Don't ask.

Senior year began with me on the sideline with a sneezing fit. When it subsided, I entered the fray. A goal kick was made, headed my way, I leaped, an opponent leaped, we collided, I fell, ankle broken, season over. Eight seconds, one parabola, and then, poof.

Today was opening day of the ski season at Butternut. No sneezing fit, or actually a few, but none that were debilitating, as debilitating was defined in my unique universe. But a balky back threatened to keep me off the trails. Clearly, I am a fountain of weakness, never more than a moment from placing myself on the DL.

But, early this afternoon, I decided that my case of impetigo redux would not prohibit me from my appointed first day of glory.

I put on my boots, snapped into my skis, after one errant effort, and headed up the mountain.

At the top, I was smooth as silk getting off the chair, and headed into another season of mediocrity. Except I apparently had not snapped into one of the sticks on my feet. As I tried to make my very first turn, only one ski reacted, the other almost immediately detached emotionally and physically from me. I struggled mightily for a few seconds with this state of being and then found I was residing in a foreign state, akimbo, having fallen squarely and heavily on my ego. I heard the scream, almost as though it had not emanated from me.

How embarrassing and humiliating. Forty years into this undertaking, and within seconds, eight seconds, this senior's year  was, I feared, history.

I was with my son and after a minute or two of contemplating a sleigh ride down the hill, I arose, like a baby deer uncertain of remaining upright. Being incredibly stupid, three runs later I concluded skiing and headed to ski patrol.

There I was assessed by none other than my wife, who, after internally shaking her head at her sorry excuse for a husband, gave me some TLC, some ice and some ski patroller instructions.

I spent the balance of the afternoon at home with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). I hope that the sizable bump and swelling on the outside of my knee is more a figment of my imagination than a declaratory statement.

Tuesday I head to the orthopedist for some answers. But for now I am left to ponder that goal kick and the time it took for my soccer season to go from start to finish.
  •  I now fear I shall forever more be deservedly saddled with the moniker "the eight second man" (don't even go there. I know what you are thinking)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Will there be a Republican to Challenge Donald Trump for the Party's Nomination in 2020?

Is there not to be at least one Republican so disgusted and discouraged by the daily debacle to stand up, head to the window and go Howard Beale on the President? Will there be someone, anyone in the Republican party to challenge Donald Trump's reign and seek the nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of President in 2020? 

While the entire field of potential challengers, in fact the  party as a whole, has now seemingly abandoned all pretense of governing of the people and for the people, anyone who steps forward to make Mr. Trump's day even a little more distasteful, his path to continued power a little more difficult, would be doing a service to this nation.

Even should the effort ultimately prove futile, and even if the replacement choice would govern in infamy if handed the reins, it would be a good thing to make Mr. Trump squirm in his seat, attacks at the idiocy that marks his every day forthcoming not only from the left but also from one or several of the assemblage of the wrong on the right. 

Those Republicans in positions of power have long since appeared to give at the very least, tacit approval to the notion that Mr. Trump, no matter how ugly his methods, is doing their bidding and that any means to their intended ends is ultimately not so bad. And while my contemplation of who might well be considering stepping up is, in no shape or form, to be considered as an endorsement, I would be personally grateful to any person who proclaims that their party can no longer tolerate or provide silent sanction to the charlatan in chief.

On the other side of the aisle, they will be lining up around the block to take a shot at the mouth that annoys. What will be difficult is to locate a Democrat who doesn't decide to toss his or her fedora into the ring. If you are breathing and can take nourishment, you have to feel better suited for the rigors of the Oval Office than the current occupant. 

Who knows where Mr. Trump will be nearly two years from now. Maybe, thanks to Mr. Mueller, all of the President's closest allies will be getting three squares a day compliments of the Federal government and the President will decide his golf game needs his immediate attention. Maybe he will determine, given his advancing years, that he requires the warmth of Florida full time in the winter. Maybe Mr. Trump will move to Moscow and become co-dictator with Mr. Putin. Such is the beauty of the man that anything, no matter how impossible it seems on its face, is not really fake news when it comes to our considerations of him.

But should none of the preceding come to pass, and should Mr. Trump be envisioning eight years of relentless, water torture tweets, should he want to inflict as much pain upon this nation as he is capable for as long as humanly possible, is there not someone within his own party who will say enough is far too much?

It seems that the only ones on the right most seriously challenging the king are those who have either walked, or been pushed, from their office. The first to come to mind is that Flake from Arizona, Jeff, who took to the Senate floor earlier this year to admonish the President for his attacks on the media, speaking of Mr. Trump's reckless, outlandish behavior and it's damning effect on our democracy, who leveled continued intermittent cries of outrage against his own leader, who made impassioned pleas for sanity and morality, all of which earned Mr. Flake the President's enmity and continued snarky rebuke . The Senator is heading out the door next month, riding his white horse into suggested permanent obscurity, so what does he have to lose by now proclaiming that he, and his party, can do better than Donald Trump? To stick a fork (figuratively speaking) into the President and tell him he's done?

Or how about throwing in a particularly  long shotted Scott Walker, who for a nano second or two in the past, with his union busting bravado, was the Republican big boy, but now is just another never was after being shown the door in Wisconsin. There is no way to go but up from his current station, and there is a considerable smarmy underbelly on this particular snake that would love to seek yet another turn in the warm sunlight.

And if we cannot find a thorn in Mr. Trump's side from among those who hold no office and have nothing to fear but fear itself, then what about a few who are still seated but have demonstrated visceral discomfort with the autocrat in chief ?

Will Ben Sasse muster his ample charm and intellect and take a stab at Mr. Trump (figuratively speaking)? He has written a book entitled  "The Vanishing American Adult" which was not a very subtle slap in the puerile child's orange face. Mr. Sasse, but 3 months ago said that he " thinks about leaving the GOP every morning." He may be young enough and brash enough to believe he has what it takes to shut the mouth that roared.

Will John Kasich bring his moral compass and common sense to the big stage again? His reign as Governor of Ohio comes to a term limited conclusion in 2019, he has been a consistent vocal critic of Mr. Trump, refusing to endorse him for President even after he was named the party nominee, criticizing him on issues such as his threat to impose trade tariffs on our allies, his vicious verbal assaults on women, on immigrants, even on the nearly sainted John McCain. Mr. Kasich wrote his own book with the equally unsubtle title, "Two Paths: America Divided or United", challenging the vision of Mr. Trump and the trajectory of this nation under his guidance.

And who can leave out America's favorite villain, "Lyin" Ted Cruz, who may well owe his continued existence as Senator from Texas to playing kissy face with his former mortal enemy, the man who practically accused Mr. Cruz's father of pulling the trigger that November day in Dallas in 1963, the man who retweeted a picture is worth a thousand words insult about the looks of Mr. Cruz's wife. Mr. Cruz has, in earlier days, derided Mr. Trump as a pathological liar and a narcissist (never was Mr. Cruz more accurate on honest). And in the battle of hubris and ego, only Mr. Cruz compares favorably (or unfavorably) to the man he used to pointedly refer to as "Donald". And wouldn't Mr. Cruz revel in sticking a knife in the President's back (figuratively speaking)?

 Will someone, anyone, please take a stand and stand up against the most destructive force this nation has ever elected(?) to lead us forth into the wilderness?

I well understand that after the last demolition of 16 human beings who stood between Mr. Trump and the nomination, and given the rabid support of the President by the many millions who have seemingly lost their capacity to see what is directly in front of their faces, it might give one pause as to whether to take the inevitable abuse leading to a likely very unhappy end. But there has to be a courageous soul among this crowd, there has to one who has not lost all sense of what our democracy intended, of what their party stood for in better days, or maybe is just motivated by an unquenchable desire for ultimate power. Whatever the underlying predicate, there has to be a single person who will be suggest he or she can be everything, or at least some things that Donald Trump is not. Someone who can knock that self satisfied, contemptuous smirk off the President's face.

Figuratively speaking, of course.



Monday, December 3, 2018

Sweet Dreams

Of what do you dream little girl? 
As I sit in the darkened room just staring at you, watching your every breath as you settle into sleep, I wonder what occupies your thoughts.
   Are you busy cataloguing all that came before you today, contemplating and considering, absorbing and           analyzing, becoming what you will become? Are you piecing it all together, the jigsaw puzzle taking shape, the     questions now receding one by one? 
It is still here, the friends you have in this room in their repose. Ellie the elephant, the one you stare at so intently each time you lie on your changing table, in deep slumber. The toys, the books, the clothes, each in their own resting places, their work done for the day. They fall silent when you do. All is in harmony in this room. 

What did you learn today? Did you discover your own laugh, did you recognize your own smile? Was it the sound of daddy singing to you that brought you such joy? Was it looking directly into mommy's eyes that brought you great comfort?

I wait for the hour when you awake, eager to learn the secrets you will next reveal. Eager to watch as you discover the vastness of the universe, eager to see what next brings you happiness, eager to have a front row seat to the greatest show on earth.

But for now I am content merely to sit here and stare at you. And dream of your possibilities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

You're as Cold as I.C.E.

("We Need a High Wall with a Big Gate")

"You're as cold as ice."

Is it mere coincidence that these are lyrics by a band named Foreigner?

This past week's tear gassing was a statement of contempt and disdain, of cruel calculation from a government, from a President, who has chosen brutal mistreatment as this country's response to those seeking fulfillment of the promise our country once offered to those in desperate straits. 

And the release of the canisters brought forth tears of sadness and anger here as well as in Tijuana.

The world is a place of grave disorder with myriad factors creating instability in regions around the globe. And the mandate for us is to open our minds to the possibilities of what need be done, what we can do, to quiet the chaos and stop the bleeding. But we have made a decision to close our emotional borders, our vision ever more myopic, until we are near blind to the sights and sounds of the dismay and distress of others.

A  heart turned cold as I.C.E.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Crossing the Mendoza Line

It started innocently, casually, almost cavalierly. It could have ended in disaster.

Thanksgiving has been, for most Americans, a time of unbridled joy. Recently, it has also been a moment of trepidation, as families feared that an impolitic phrase could lead to tragic consequences.

But, at least for my family, the negative possibilities have been virtually non-existent. The political leanings have mostly been to one side of our vast continental divide, and for those tending closer to the fault line, well they have remained blessedly silent. The recurrent distresses over midterm elections, Supreme Court nominations, over caravans and environmental disasters, over Putin and posturing, over the very fate of our nation, would, for one most thankful day, be quieted. Nothing to cause raised eyebrows or voices.

No, our conversations have been superficial and saccharine. Our concerns are as those that I imagine have existed since the first turkey was plucked, prepared and put before the assembled masses. Food, food comas and catching up on family lore, the bread and butter of the day of feasting.

And maybe there was one more tradition, as old as the first smile and the first camera. The family photo. That image which captures, for all time, the happiness (real or manufactured) of each gathering.

Those who came together at the home of my cousin were no different from almost every household stretching from sea to shining sea. Only today, for some of us, was even of a little more significance.

This was the moment that two long time best friends, who married two first cousins and thus took on a dual relationship, were introducing their first born children to one another. It was, in all respects, simply perfect. The two month old and eleven month old were soon imagined best friends, like their dads.

As the afternoon wore on, both sets of parents and their respective babies decided to sit (and/or stand) to memorialize this occasion. And, without incident, several pictures resulted, each more glorious than the one before.

And so, this story should have a simple and easy conclusion. But, an outside factor rudely intruded. Instagram.

Many are addicted to the rush that ensues when an image we unleash upon the world has a dramatic and substantial response. We are liked, in fact well liked, appreciated for whomever we say we are in the pictures that travel through space and reach your home and your mind in less than a blink of an eye. As the numbers escalate, the closer we inch toward Instagram heaven.

Thus now, for most of the waking universe, what happens in Vegas rarely stays in Vegas. This capturing of a momentous, near legendary meeting needed broadcasting to those who were interested, and those who were not. And the timing of the posting became of immediate and significant concern.

One said it had to be broadcast now, now, now, for if it were not, it would merely fall in line with the myriad other photos of cute babies and family good cheer that were sure to quickly follow. The caption for the image was to be determined with haste, it being almost irrelevant to the pressing need to beat the contemplated onslaught.

The other said it could wait. Patience and the perfect wording were what should consume them. The dispute became heated. The time that was wasting, the window of opportunity to gain the most attention and the highest number of likes, was frittering away.

In an act bordering on desperation, they turned to a second cousin (maybe even once removed - I am not very good with this family tree calculus). She was in high school, a full generation more in tune with what was to drive this engine. A proper caption was paramount, she declared. And so it was.

It took almost an hour and a half from the smiles and shots to come up with a suitable catchphrase. One of the best friends was now distraught, almost apoplectic. Surely, they would fall on the scrapheap, gathering only minimal attention and but an inconsequential number of likes. All was irretrievably lost.

Once the photo appeared on Instagram, the responses came almost painfully slow. It seemed that the one who had argued so strenuously for his position, had been proven correct. Then, little by little, even in the face of thousands of faces, in the teeth of the storm of shots of happy babies and hugging families, the numbers began to climb. And the e-mails between the participants began to fly.

With more than a hint of angst it was suggested that less than 200 likes was but abject failure. This led to a review of the recent postings of the accuser, the many pictures of his wonderfully happy child being studied for the level of approval. 200, the Mendoza line (for you baseball fans, you know what I refer to) being the ultimate barometer. It was soon recognized that breaking past this  barrier placed one in rarefied air.

At last look, there were 160 likes and counting. And the best friends/cousins seemed to be past their earlier frantic back and forth and heading on to their next major area of disagreement: their fantasy football league records and how it related to their respective mental acuity.

It turns out, the photo was just an excuse to argue. Like they had been since childhood. Just to be included as another in the long line of our family holiday traditions.

I love Thanksgiving.  Even though it will forever more, like almost everything else it touches, be altered by the long arm and the peering eyes of the Internet.




Sunday, November 18, 2018

Throwing Her Pacifier in the Ring (alternative title "Baby, She Was Born to Run")



C.L. (so well known she is referred to only by her initials), two months old, of New York City, announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. She stated that she had long considered a run and, after consultation with her mom and dad, decided she could no longer sit idly by (since she can't actually sit yet, it would be more accurate to state she could no longer take this lying down).

C.L. said she was not concerned about breaking any glass ceilings. She was, she admitted, a bit apprehensive over whether she would be fully potty trained before she sat in the chair in the Oval Office. Although, she suggested, based on the tantrums and puerile behavior of the current occupant, she was not at all certain that he was not subject to the occasional accident.

While she admitted she might be slightly young for the responsibilities of the office and was still trying to figure out how to suck her thumb, she indicated she fervently believed she was more prepared for the challenges of the presidency than Mr. Trump. He had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. She hasn't even tasted solid food yet. He had a tremendous ego and was full of hubris that clouded his judgment and severely limited his capacity to properly formulate policy. She doesn't even know the meaning of ego and hubris. Literally.

And when it came to dealing with foreign people who sought to enter our homes, she had shown a unique ability to accept new babysitters without question. Everyone was equal in her eyes, entitled to the respect shown for one's own family. Although, truth be told, at two months old, it was hard for her to really distinguish between her parents and the neighbors downstairs.

She is prepared for the relentless grind of the presidency, the 3 AM wakeup calls. But, she says, she is up for a feeding at that hour, so not much need actually change.

And she makes a solemn promise not to tweet in the middle of the night like you know who. Tweeting, she suggested, is a sign of an immature mind, unable to formulate complete thoughts, unwilling to do the work necessary to provide reason and substance to one's professed position. Or maybe it is that she still doesn't know how to use a computer.

The immediate reaction of the public was overwhelmingly positive.

"It is well past time we had an infusion of young blood in the government."

"She is tainted by no scandal, has no skeletons in her closet and, in fact, is even a little scared to look under her bed."

"She is a breath of fresh air for her party and the nation. And God knows our environment has been toxic far too long."

There is rumor that Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are re-considering their decision to run for the Democratic nomination.

And Donald Trump, we are told, is ranting and raving, challenging those in his administration as to why they had not seen this coming and stopped C.L. before she got out of her crib.

Privately, Mr. Trump has told those around him that he believes C.L. is an unstoppable force.


Friday, November 16, 2018

My emails with my granddaughter

So I have begun emailing back and forth with my granddaughter. I know this is a little unusual since she is only two months old, but she is clearly very precocious, as we discuss a whole range of topics.

She is very concerned with the state of our democracy and keeps asking me how the hell we managed to elect such a (she then used a series of expletives, but since this is a public domain, discretion keeps me from repeating her terminology). I have no good explanation for our irrational behavior.

She has expressed a firm intention to ski this winter, following in the footsteps of the people who refer to themselves as her mother and father. I tried to explain to her that you have to crawl before you can walk (unless you are her uncle who basically by-passed the first step) and you have to walk before you can ski. But she has a stubborn streak and is adamant. So, if you should see a 3 month old working on her snow plow in a few weeks time, you will know exactly who she is.

She was witness to the chaos in New York City with yesterday's unexpected snowfall. She called the Mayor's office to complain about her father being stuck on the West Side Highway for hours. She is still awaiting a call back.

She has asked about where she can make a donation to help those who have been displaced by the California wildfires. And she wonders if she can do anything to make life even a little better for those who approach the border to this country from Mexico, as she finds man's inhumanity to man absolutely bewildering. She clearly has a good heart.

She is still trying to learn to open her hand fully so she can swat that little black and white object that is just tantalizingly close when she plays with her toys. Some things are just harder than others to master.

She went without a diaper for a few days, but I don't think she is quite ready for big girl underpants. But I applaud her for the effort.

She is deciding who she will designate as her best friend. There are several candidates who her mom has introduced her to, but no clear favorite has emerged.

She does not like being put on her stomach. She requests that anyone who does this to her stop. Now.

She is diligently studying the intricacies of  football. She understands the blitz, but wonders why, against veteran quarterbacks who read these schemes so well, the defenses don't just stop and reconsider whether this tactic is worth the risk.

She asks if the Knicks are actually a professional basketball team And she says she can't wait to go to her first Yankee game with me in the spring. She reminded me that Aaron Judge is her favorite, even though she has never seen him play. She admires his demeanor as much as his reported skills.

She is struggling to comprehend the recounts that are going on in Florida and wonders what a hanging chad is.

She asks me why the President seems so mad all the time. She questions what could possibly be making him that unhappy with that many people.

She likes to be read to. And she pretends that she doesn't yet know how to read. Fluently. In four languages.

Anyway, I could go on forever with the emails that now enhance my in-box, and my life. My granddaughter is such a wonderful young woman (I know, at two months, most are not referred to as women, but she deserves this title) and I so enjoy our time together.

I just remind her that her grandma and I are babysitting tomorrow night, so she should get ready to party. No bed time, and anything she wants to do is perfectly ok. It is great being a grandparent.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Myth of the Dissident Republican





("I Take Back My Praise of Jeff Flake's Book")

What we want is a Republican in full out mutiny. Sticking his or her head out the window, sreaming in semi-lunatic manner, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" and then voting against absolutely each and every item proposed by the full out lunatic in the Oval Office. Such a creature does not exist. Not Susan Collins, not Lisa Murkowski, not Jeff Flake, and truth be told, not even the dearly departed and nearly sainted John McCain.

The recent Supreme Court appointment of Justice Kavanaugh is a perfect case in point. Ms. Collins protested and then dissolved, Ms. Murkowski threatened and then vacillated, Mr. Flake demanded and then disappeared. It is the mantra of the mostly unhappy, the dissidents who promise revolt and then, revoltingly, don't live up to their promise.

And if Mr. Flake's book snookered you, shame on you. For we have, time and again, been witness to the embodiment of the mantra, "actions speak louder than words." And Mr. Flake's many words in his book are no match for the actions that betray them.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Jeff Flake.