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Monday, March 25, 2019

Not guilty? Not innocent

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST APPEARS IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE BOSTON GLOBE

The worst of this is Mr. Trump taking on the role of blameless victim. If Mr. Trump did not commit crimes, at least crimes relating to the scope of Mr. Mueller's investigation, it is not because his actions are above reproach, his moral fiber beyond question. Not because he made a conscious determination not to cross a line. Just that it didn't happen.

Donald Trump has spent a lifetime as an unscrupulous, manipulative, undisciplined businessman, husband and now President. There are legions of tales of his con games from his treatment of minorities in his housing complexes, his swindling of contractors, his cheating on wives, his payoffs of mistresses to keep silent, his abuses of his not very charitable foundation, his multiple bankruptcies to avoid creditors he has manipulated and deceived and on ad infinitum. He has demeaned and maligned those who stand in his way from political opponents to parents of a deceased war hero to foreign leaders to his own agencies from the FBI to the CIA and the Department of Justice, all because they had the audacity to speak of the far too evident flaws and deceptions of Mr. Trump. He has stoked the worst instincts in those who follow and believe in him, their bigotry, their xenophobia. He has reduced his office to the level of a reality game show, tweeting policy determinations in the middle of the night after consulting with no one but a television set turned to Fox news. He has courted autocrats and dictators, willing to turn a blind eye to their worst atrocities. He has treated virtually everyone else with disdain and contempt, none worse than immigrants across a constellation of nations whose only wrong was trying to flee violence, war, poverty and famine. He has stocked his administration with those willing to do his bidding no matter the reason or the result

So you will have to excuse me if I fail to agree with Mr. Trump's definition of exoneration. This is a man who is a walking talking definition of a criminal whether he is ever charged or indicted. So he managed, quite possibly, to slip away this time. But do not equate this with Donald Trump being blameless. No halos for this man, not now or ever. Not guilty is not the same as innocent. Not even close.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Awaiting Mr. Mueller





("James Comey: What I Want from the Mueller Report")

For a President who has taken a pound of flesh from this nation, I am hoping for at least an ounce of blood in the Mueller report.

While Mr. Comey may not care the outcome of this investigation as long as it's determinations are untainted, I cannot share his dispassionate gaze.

We have watched in horror as Mr. Trump has soiled his office beyond recognition. He has turned his bully pulpit into a bully's pulpit, has made lying his centerpiece, discarding truth as a flexible, worthless concept. We know full well that if he has not broken an armful of laws relating to the areas under investigation it is not by design but mere serendipity.  

He is a walking, breathing scandal, having spent a lifetime disregarding moral and legal precepts. These past two plus years have been ones of collective anguish, and our abiding faith that Mr. Mueller would ultimately prove this charlatan the heartless crook he has forever been, mandates something far more than an antiseptic synopsis of undistinguished behavior.

So, Mr.Comey, you who may well have been responsible for placing Mr. Trump in office with your breathless last minute heated cries, making much ado about nothing concerning Ms. Clinton and her emails, you must excuse me if I am not fully comfortable with your present high-minded stance.

Let Mr. Mueller report to us that his investigation has not resulted in an empty vessel, let him instead chronicle chapter and verse of the myriad sins committed by a man who deserves nothing but our full-throated condemnation. 

If Mr. Mueller is not going to bring us the head of Donald Trump, let him at least give us a drop or two of his blue blood.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sticks and Stones and Donald Trump


AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE RECORD, A BERGEN COUNTY NEWSPAPER






What Mr. Trump does with his bigotry, his hatreds, his vitriol, his invectice, his diatribes is to give sanctuary to the worst instincts, the anger, the distortions of those whose prejudices and ugliness seek confirmation. His is the warm embrace, the succor that makes them comfortable in giving voice, in giving life to their malevolence.

If the President of the United States, the President of the United States says they are not wrong to feel rage against immigrants, if he tells them that Mexicans and Muslims are an existential threat to this nation, then ipso facto this will be a land more prone to violent attacks, to tragedy piled upon tragedy.

Mr. Trump's words do not exist in a vacuum, studied and then discarded. They attach to the heart and soul of those who believe in him. They become part of the listener as much as they are of the speaker. And their acts are an extension of what Mr. Trump has invoked.

So the old adage about sticks and stones is a falsehood. For Mr. Trump's comments do give cover to cruelty, do incite hostilities, do cause damage far more real and permanent than bruised feelings. Words, especially those of Mr. Trump, are far too often the catalyst for grave, irreparable harm.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mutiny? No, nothing beyond a momentary false bravado


AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEARS IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES


Let us not overreact to this action by a handful of Republican senators. It is not a coup, not nearly time to suggest Mr. Trump's unfettered desecration of our democracy is nearing a conclusion.

What Mr. Trump did was blatantly defy the will of Congress in his declaration of a national emergency. It was not the policy but merely the procedure, the stripping of the fundamental power of Congress to control the purse strings which was the precipitating cause for this mini revolt.

But fundamentally this was little but a symbolic slap on the wrist, to be quickly undone by presidential veto. And life, as we have unfortunately come to know it, will quickly and inevitably return to normal in the tomorrows to come.

There will be no talk, at least no serious talk, of Republicans joining in a call for impeachment and conviction of a man whose entire presidency has been one dismal abuse upon another. There has been no growing of a backbone, no declaration that this is an irreparable bridge too far. 

It is a welcome moment when there is even a hint of something other than pure capitulation by Mr. Trump's party to his whims and tantrums. But unless and until he declares the powers of Congress to be dead, until he puts a crown on his bird's nest and announces he is now king, there will be no Republican mutiny at 1600. Just the occasional reminder that some in his party have not simply permitted the President to cast all their votes for them.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Six Months Old







So I turn six months old in a few hours and I am worried. I read about the scandal surrounding college admissions and I fear that even if I have served two terms as President by then, I might not get into the school of my choice.

I think back a half year when I was so carefree. Back then I was just trying to figure out what a diaper was and the difference between day and night. Back then I didn't know anything about Fox News.

Now I wonder whether it makes political sense to move forward with impeachment proceedings. Now I am sad to learn Alex Trebeck is sick. Now I have to deal with the trauma of the Knicks trading Porzingis and the Giants dumping OBJ. Now I wake each morning to the reality of Donald Trump.

But now I know who my mom and dad are, I know what snow is. Now I know how to laugh and smile, I know I have a favorite "lovey"and I know how to turn the pages in a book. Now I know what solid food is, I know I have almost as good an appetite as my dad and I know that one day soon I will be able to sit up without falling over.

So I still spit up way too often. But that will pass. I am still trying to get the hang of this crawling thing. But that will come soon enough. And while Dad says I am almost ready to dribble a basketball, the truth is I am really still just dribbling. 

I recognize that the rigors of a presidential campaign lay ahead for me, I am a bit concerned about the extent of the problem with the arm of Luis Severino and I am distressed by the long term effect of ongoing trade wars.

But I am happy. I am happy for the thousands of kisses I have received and I am happy to feel protected and safe. I am happy that I am surrounded by those who make me feel like the most important person in their lives. I am happy that each day I learn so much and I hunger to absorb as much new information as I can.

So here's to the past six months and to the adventures that lay ahead. Life is indeed wonderful. Thanks mom and dad for deciding to bring me into the world. I love you both very much. And I promise in the days to come I will give you as many hugs as you could possibly want. That's the thing where I wrap my arms around your neck, right?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Preparing to Hit the Campaign Trail


I have just spent nearly a week with my granddaughter. In that time we discussed topics as crucial as rolling over from back to belly and belly to back, eating solid foods without trying to grab the spoon from grandma and going to sleep without artificial aids (not Ambien but a binky).

But most of our days were spent in a far more important pursuit, framing her platform for her run for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020.

We talked about the Green New Deal but she thought I was referring to the avocado we recently introduced into her diet. We considered climate change but her understanding focused on how cold the living room seemed even with the heat on high. We analyzed our friendship with Canada but she imagined I was speaking of the girl downstairs. We covered immigration, voting rights, gerrymandering, an equal protection amendment for women, Russia, China, North Korea, mass incarceration, the opioid epidemic, infrastructure needs, gun control, Medicare for all, raising taxes on the wealthy, the electoral college disaster and myriad other matters of consequence. But she kept getting distracted by her favorite book on the parts of the body.

Overall though I thought our preparation went wonderfully, certainly far better than did any of the sessions involving then candidate Trump. He nodded off while being educated far more often than my granddaughter did for her naps. And since my granddaughter has not yet learned how to tweet, or even type, she was able to concentrate in ways Donald could not. In addition, since neither of them actually reads books, she was at no competitive disadvantage.

I know there is a long way to go between now and the convention. There are certain to be many pitfalls, many places where it is not easy to find a good place to change a diaper, many days when my granddaughter would rather play with an empty water bottle than make another speech. But she has the boundless energy of youth on her side and she will only become stronger and more mature in the coming months. 

So, I am filled with a hope bordering on overconfidence, certain as I can be that there is ample room in this nation to embrace a brand new face (with maybe a little spit up in the corner of her mouth). A person unencumbered by past transgressions, willing to fight without end for what she believes, unafraid to take on Donald Trump. A person who is up in the middle of the night not covering her backside, but maybe having her backside covered.

And while, like the President, she has small hands, she is only 5 months old. And unlike him, she has a very big heart.

Look out America. Here she comes.

Fairy Tales Are Not True



Fairy tales are not true, no, not even a few
Oh your lying heart
And hard times you will find, life can be ever unkind
To a lying heart

You alone you demean with your litany of schemes
You will cry in your sleep for you're in this too deep
And investigations will mushroom with each passing day
And subpoenas either issue or they're on their way

Don't you see all your dough can't your evil unsow
Oh your lying heart
For though rich in your head, you've turned gold into lead
With your lying heart

And with all of your lies, you will never survive
From all you contrived, you have nothing derived
And here is the worst part, there is no fresh start
For one as bad as you with a lying heart

For one as bad as you with a lying heart.

Bread Crumbs Leading to the Front Door




A full time job.

If we worried that the members of Congress had too much time on their hands, with little but fundraising to occupy their days, Mr. Trump's house of horrors has given new life to an old body.

With a litany of wrongs to dissect as endless as the universe, a cast of characters as long as a Tolstoy novel and a villain who leaves more bread crumbs leading to his front door than Hansel and Gretel, Jerry Nadler and crew will be kept busier than a one armed paper hanger.

So, while our infrastructure is crumbling, our environment is disintegrating, our taxes are taxing, our immigration policy is devastating, our gun control is oxymoronic, our votes are unprotected, our cyber security is insecure, our health care reform D.O.A., our plight is unrelenting and our expectations are evaporating, at least we have our investigations to keep us warm at night.

While Mr. Trump has not a clue how to govern, he is a master at disaster. And for that Achilles heel, make that his entire foot (in his mouth), those otherwise left merely to twiddle their thumbs in the halls of Congress are eternally grateful.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

My First Crush







A half century is a long time to have a crush on somebody. But I still do.

It was 50 years ago this week that Mickey Mantle announced his retirement. The Mick arrived on the scene in the season of 1951, with an uneven beginning before his star shined bright later that year. Just about the time I was conceived. So you might say that we entered the big stage together.

From my earliest memories, Mick and I were friends. He would hang around the house with me, my glove an extension of his arm. We would be in my backyard together, Mick making a throw from the center field wall to the cut off man, little Robby, who turned and threw a bullet, a perfect strike to home plate, cutting down the runner trying to score from first.

And at night I would listen to my friend's exploits on the transistor radio, that brown leather covering a smell my mind recalls vividly even today. And there, in my mind's eye was Mick, like a blur between first and second, sliding in safely, dusting himself off, grinning that slightly off center grin that told me how much fun it was playing baseball.

When he got injured I felt the pain in the pit of my stomach. When he struck out, I ached. But when he hit those home runs that traveled farther than nature intended a baseball to go, I felt a rush of adrenaline unlike anything else I had ever experienced.

We were best friends for 18 seasons, inseparable. He was always my hero, a god really. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I know it was mostly a mirage. I know he was a pretty bad alcoholic and an even worse husband. I know that I should long ago have abandoned my silly childhood fantasies and brought Mick crashing back to earth. But that will never happen.

To me, Mickey Mantle was and will forever be what I saw the first day he entered my universe. Forever young, forever great beyond description. And though it is nearing 70 years since he first arrived and 50 since he lay his bat and glove down, he is still walking beside me, still in my mind, still in my dreams. Still and forever my first crush.

Friday, March 1, 2019

When You're With Don ( A message to Republicans in Congress)



When you let Don
Turn you into a clown 
You'll regret what you did
You've let everyone down

When you protect 
You make yourself a fool
You have lost everything
You are evil and cruel

You're covered in dung
You need some disinfectant
You're at the lowest rung
You're disrespected

When you let Don
Get away with his lies
You become just like him
Til the day that you die

When you elect
To do nothing at all
You turn into a joke
You build him his own Wall

You're better than this
At least you know you should be
You lay down with a dog
You wake up with fleas

When you pretend
That you're blind to all this
That he's really not bad
All his hate you dismiss

Then you're with Don
You're with Don all the way
From the first cover up 
To your last dying day

First cover up
To your last dying day