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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

'Twas the Night Before the Inauguration

 It was the 19th of January and in the White House

Not a thing had been readied, not even a blouse

Not a tie had been packed,not a shirt had been folded
Don't dare touch a thing, the fat man had scolded 

I will not be leaving here I'm going nowhere
I'm staying in place and,I don't really care
If jolly Saint Biden thinks he's taking my place
Well I will not go for I won the race

I counted the votes by myself everyone
It took a few days but I got the job done
And when I was finished, well, you know the score
It was plenty for me and sleepy Joe three or four

They can come down the chimney or through the front door
They can come with their stockings to put in the drawer
They can come with a budget, they can come with a plan
But I won't be moved, for I am the man

Neither rain, sleet or snow so the post office motto
Neither I nor Melania will be moved from this grotto
I'm like Horton on his egg, there is no way I'm going
I have seeds planted here for '24 that need sowing

Tomorrow at noon you may come with a sled
You may try to take off with our marital bed
Hang your pictures, fill your fridge, take away my delights.
But I won't go easy, I will put up a fight

For outside of that door with subpoenas in hand
My future awaits but its not as I planned
They want me out now, their visage has hardened
But alas my Christmas stocking included no pardon

I stand here red faced, more orange than Santa
I'm too old to run, soon I'd be in a canter
So like Custer's last stand, here's my line in the sand
I won't leave this place, without pardon in hand

Pardon me sounds polite, it's not me at all
But pardon me President Pence so I don't take the fall
I'll resign, I'm resigned to do what I must
I can just leave in peace if in Pence I can trust

Four years' not so bad, though I wanted four score
I was the greatest since Abe that's for definitely sure
But tomorrow and tomorrow, no longer a petty pace
And now Pence won't forgive me, and I lost the race

So out on my bottom tomorrow I'll go
So out on the bottom what a fierce mortal blow
No Santa, no Mike Pence, not even Bill Barr
No Jared, no Ivanka, I've fallen so far
No Dancer, or Prancer or Rudolph will show
All alone with my lies and red ties will I go

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Give Me Liberty to Give You Death

 ("Thank You, Justice Gorsuch")

Religious freedom is not being abridged here. This is not a circumstance where one must practice beliefs in secret for fear of retribution from the state. Rather this is a weighing of the right of free association during a period of  national health emergency against the damage to the public that is likely to occur from said association.

We know that any prolonged exposure to others indoors creates a statistical probability that Covid 19 will be exponentially more likely to spread. Mr. Stephens and Justice Gorsuch would ignore that reality in finding no distinction between a quick trip to a liquor store and a seat at a Sunday service.

There are in fact inconvenient truths here that do not play well with the one size fits all logic of the Justice. This is not an act of trampelling upon a fundamental right but of allowing those professionals we must rely on in times of crisis to perform their duties unencumbered by constraints that would unnecessarily tie their hands behind their backs and imperil the health and well bring of those they are called upon to protect. Their line in the sand is neither arbitrary nor capricious, but directed at the clear distinguishing fingerprints of the moment.

"Give me liberty or give me death" is not, despite the protests of five members of the Supreme Court, the operative phrase herein. Rather, it is "give me liberty to give you death." And that, no matter how hard one may argue, is not a founding principle of this nation. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Competition

 

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Thanksgiving Tree

So there it was. In black and white, actually in color, but that is not the point. And my wife and I were nowhere to be found in the image that stared mockingly into my eyes.

My granddaughter's teacher had created a Thanksgiving tree on a piece of paper. From the branches hung those things, person or place, for whom our little two year old treasure was most grateful.

"Mom and dad" was a given. Her uncle, with whom she had a special closeness, also caused me no consternation. I could understand " the playground" and "school" might have been a combination of true sentiment and a little urging from the one who was placing the words as leaves that remained affixed through all seasons.

But "cheese sticks" was a bridge too far. I mean, I know food is needed to sustain us and I always have my own stash of cheese sticks at the ready, but couldn't my wife and I have slipped in ahead of this delicacy. Or even behind it. For there was no evidence on this tree of our existence, our importance, in this little person's life. 

I fully recognize there will come a day when the presence of grandparents is an intrusion. When the events of life are far more pressing, the friends far more important, even the foods far more interesting then these two old people populating your living room. But I was sure that day was some time in the distant future. That, at least in the moment when asked the Thanksgiving day question, we would have been a rung or two above cheese sticks.

This does not in any manner diminish my joy at being in the presence of this little beauty. My smile plastered on my face, my laugh accompanying virtually everything she says or does.

With one exception. Kid, put our names on the damn tree.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Place Where the Heart Resides

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


They are boarding planes, taking trains and buses, loading up their cars. All headed to the same destination.

The place where the heart resides.

They are not intending to do ill but they will take that chance. They are not wishing to get ill but they will suffer the consequences if they must. They are not asking to suffer but they are suffering already.

And so they defy the directives, they deny the realities, they decry the fates that would keep them apart.

Because they must be a part on this day. They must be one of many, not many who are each one. For if they are not together then they are not whole. And the hole in each of them would be too large for any of them to bear.

By the millions they have a single tale to tell. Of survival of the soul. Of a pandemic that would strip them of everything even if it never touched them. Of a disease that invaded every inch of their being even if it never reached them. Of the pain they felt coursing through their veins even if their health was unencumbered.

And so there is an exodus, a leaving behind of the loneliness of this God awful year, a journey to a spot where there is safety in numbers, even as there is danger in gathering. A day when they can remember how it used to be and forget for even the briefest of moments how it is.

They are heading home for the holiday. Because they cannot live without it. Even if they risk dying because of it.

The place where the heart resides.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Closing Argument for the Prosecution - The People of the State of New York vs Donald John Trump

 October 6, 2024

Six Counts- Depraved Indifference to Human Life

What is the value of a life? What is its worth? It cannot be determined in dollars and cents. It is not a commodity that can be traded. It is something that can truly only be measured in terms of its impact on others, those it touches, those it shapes. In the final analysis the value of a life, for good or bad, is judged by what it leaves in its wake.

You all know the catastrophic numbers of Covid 19. You all know that the landscape of this country was brutalized by this disease, raped and pillaged and far, far too often left for dead. You all know of the hospitals that were unable to serve their given purpose, the doctors and nurses left screaming cries of anguish, their hearts broken day after day at the helplessness they felt, at the smell of death that permeated their souls.You all know of the families that were forced to imagine the last breaths of a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, a husband, a wife. You all know that these men and women are gravely damaged, their spirits crushed, their tears a river of despair, their days filled with an almost unfathomable pain.

I come before you not to ask for justice for the nearly 600,000 who succumbed to a foe unlike any other this country has faced, a foe more powerful than the most brutal dictator, a foe more devastating than an atomic bomb. I do not seek retribution here for the countless millions who are collateral damage, who have lost a friend, a lover, a companion, a guide, a partner, a mentor, a child, a parent, a grandparent. That is not my role.

I am tasked only with making sure that six people, six residents of the State of New York, did not die without a voice. I am their voice and I have told you, in chapter and verse, of their final days upon this earth, their final words, their final looks of fear, of loneliness, of bewilderment. Their final moments and what surely were their last wishes.

I have told you of the days that came before Covid 19, that came when their world was a very different place, when they were free to love and laugh, to argue and complain, to spend their hours dreaming of the promise of tomorrow. I have told you of the lives they lived before it all came to a screeching halt. All because of one bad breath taken in, one errant touch. All because of something that happened that didn't have to.

They were neither young nor old, rich nor poor, black nor white. They were neither perfect nor imperfect, happy nor sad, knowledgeable nor uninformed. They were all of these things and more. They were not you, but they could have been. They were not leaders but they might have been. They were not destined for greatness but they should have been. We will never know what their future held in store for them because they have no future, only a past. Because they are dead today, they will be dead tomorrow and for all the tomorrow's to come. There is a finality to their existence that no wishing, no begging, no summation of a prosecutor of the State of New York can undo.

Donald Trump didn't care about any of these people. He did not give one thought to their welfare. He did not care about the hospital workers, the nursing home residents. He did not care about the lives that any of the almost 600,000 led. He did not care about their stories, about their days, about their worries, about their dreams. He did not care about how they lived. He did not even care if they died.They were faceless, nameless and, in his estimation, wholly unworthy of his consideration.

How do we know that? How do we know of his heartlessness, of his cruelty, of his depraved indifference to the very existence of those he was charged to protect. We know it from the words of the reporters to whom he revealed his knowledge of the horrible certainties of this disease and his admitted determination to do nothing about it. Even worse than nothing. He made a calculated decision to lie about the danger, to treat it as if it were a nuisance rather than the unstoppable force he knew it to be. We know it in his words challenging and belittling the pronouncements of science, of those within his own ranks who pleaded for sanity and reason. We know it in his endless capacity to mock those individuals who preached, who practiced respect for the power of the enemy and who pleaded and prayed for the President to be an equal and opposing power.  We know it in his mistreatment of those states, New York chief among them, from whom he withheld critical supplies, equipment and monies to battle the enemy. We know it in the maskless gatherings of thousands, all come to worship at the feet of this false God, all then taking the possibility of disease away with them from these sites. We know it in his demand for those in his administration, and those Republican governors, senators and congressmen to follow his lead in exposing the populations under their dominion to senseless danger. He even willingly enlisted his wife, his own children to take part in this Devil's play.

And for what reason did this occur? What benefit outweighed the incalculable harm? For there must have been something. God knows there had to be something. But we all know there wasn't. At least nothing beyond satiating one man's ego. Nothing more than an unwillingness to permit others to tell him how to run his country. Others to put his reelection at risk. Others to impede his coronation. Others to persuade him that the lives of those entrusted to his care were something more than worthless commodities, something greater than a dollars and cents calculation of the possible drop in value of a stock portfolio.

And so today, you are given the solemn responsibility of reporting back to the State of New York, to the United States of America, to the world and to Donald John Trump that this is finally the day of reckoning. Today is finally the time that the actions of this Defendant have consequences for him. That a man whose life has only been devoted to protecting himself, will be unequivocally informed that he has failed in that goal, even as he has failed to protect, to save the lives of the six in whose names we bring Mr. Trump to justice.

For in the end, his life can only be measured by the devastation he has left in his wake. And for this, I respectfully request, and the six lives that are no more, demand justice. Demand a verdict of guilty as charged.

Thank you. 


Friday, November 20, 2020

The Birdie Putt

 January 20, 2021- West Palm Beach, Florida


He was unsure whether to hit the five or six iron. He had been making good contact all day and so decided on the six. He hit it flush and ended up about 30 feet below the hole.

As Donald John Trump approached the green in his cart, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was being sworn in as the 47th President of the United States. The 46th, Michael Richard Pence, had taken office on the morning of January 19th, 2021. His only official act had been to pardon his predecessor for Federal crimes of any nature that he may have committed at any point during his life. 

As Donald John Trump lined up the putt, the count of those in the United States who had perished from Covid 19 stood at close to 400,000. The number who had contracted the disease in this country had passed 20 million in the first week of 2021.

Donald John Trump had lost the popular vote for his reelection by almost 6 million people. He was actually the 14th sitting President in the history of this country who had been beaten in his effort for a second term. He was unaware of that fact as he stood over the ball.

There had been almost 12 million vaccine shots administered to front line health care workers and the most vulnerable in our population since early December, 2020. Donald John Trump was convinced he would still be the 45th President had the announcement of the success of the drug trials been made in the days before, instead of the immediate aftermath, of the November 3, 2020 vote.

Donald John Trump had been without a birdie all round as his putt headed towards the cup. His scorecard reported he was only two over for the day but he had given himself several putts that he had missed from relatively short range. His actual tally should have read that he was at least five over.

As Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. swore, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, the birdie putt hit the edge of the cup, seemed for a moment like it would stay out, then fell to the bottom of the hole.

The former 45th President of the United States smiled and gave a little fist pump. He was, by his count, only one over par. 

He thought to himself, all things considered, it was turning out to be a pretty good day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

THANK YOU NOTES

Wilma Supik was a religion editor for the Bergen Record. In 1978 she wrote a piece in that newspaper in praise of someone who had changed her life, gave her the strength, the confidence to become a writer. She did not know where this person was, or whether the words on that page would ever find her eyes. 

The woman whose virtue she extolled had been her high school English teacher in the early 1940's, well over three decades removed from the sentiments Ms. Supik felt compelled to express. That woman was my mom.

I was reminded of that thank you note earlier this week. My first crush, almost 60 years ago, was on my fifth grade teacher. She was young, pretty, with a smile that put me at ease and, in the same moment, made my heart flutter. I don't know that I ever stopped having a crush on her.

As the fates would have it, with a bit of intervention from my mom and dad, by seventh grade that teacher became my aunt. And there this tale might have ended, but for the actions of one of my fifth grade classmates.

Several days back, she posted a picture of our class of 1963 on Facebook. The ensuing discussion among those whose young faces graced that page led to a suggestion to try to reach out to the teacher in the middle of that photo.

Yesterday and today, I have received copies of many thank you notes directed to my Aunt, with the understanding that more may be forthcoming. These words were intended for someone who had been out of each of their lives for nearly six decades. Yet, the details they recalled were as if all this had transpired but yesterday. And the feelings they discussed of the effect she had on their existences, some of whom found a stability in the classroom that was not evident elsewhere, were profound and clearly as present in 2020 as they were when they sat at their desks so many lifetimes before.

I have been graced to have known two women whose lasting impact on those they taught was far beyond anything they could have imagined.

This is my thank you note to both of them and to all the teachers who have been a positive force on those who came under their wing.

Thank you for shining your light on us. No matter the years that pass and the distance between us, please understand that light has never been extinguished. And the warmth from that light is still felt in each of our hearts.




Tuesday, November 17, 2020

FRAMED

 ("How to Deal with People Who Ignore Covid Safety")

Lockdowns. Punitive measures. 

Why can't we change the language  used when speaking  of efforts to control the spread of the pandemic? The crime is not in enacting these measures but in failing to do so. The death penalty is in ignoring the reality of the disease not in addressing it.

If you think language doesn't matter, that framing is of little consequence then you have taken a Rip Van Winkle the past four years 

There is a time for brutal honesty and this is it. This country has received an F in its attempts to treat cancer with a bandaid. We all know that only with aggressive treatment can we even possibly hope to survive until the panacea, the vaccine, arrives to save the day 

We are not going to jail if we stay inside as winter, literally and figuratively, arrives. We are not being punished but protected by keeping our masks on, by staying out of restaurants, out of bars.

Don't frame this as a crime against humanity but rather as a safeguard for humanity. We are not packing you up and throwing away the key.

This is one time the bad guy is not the one wearing the mask. Rather it is the one without it.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

 I am a little confused. Are we in the pre-black Friday blowout period or the pre-pre Christmas moment? Are these the best deals I can get or am I waiting for the best, best deals?

And what is this with TV's? How can it be that a 24 pack of toilet paper costs more than a 50 inch television with built in Roku and a 12 month free subscription to the New Yorker as an added bonus?

And speaking of magazine subscriptions, why can I get 99.5 per cent off of every list price? I mean I can pick up the December 1 issue at the newsstand for $6.99 or get 2 years delivered through the mail at 3 cents a week. It is like asking if you want to pick what is behind door one or two, when you already know that the first one has a million dollars stashed there and the other a copy of your mother's recipe for dried-out lamb chops with mint jelly.

This is a disorienting time for sure. One day falling into the next as we wait for our regularly scheduled program called normal life to begin again. And this time of year can be particularly confusing even in the best of times. As we drive around and see houses dressed up in their finest Christmas attire, Santa ready to put his ample backside down a possibly non-cooperative chimney, Rudolph warming up on the front lawn doing some calisthenics. Is November the new December?

I have too much time on my hands and thus my thoughts tend to wander further away from my brain. I mean if we can play the Masters golf tournament in mid-November why do we have to keep any other event fixed on the calendar? Why can't we swap out Christmas and Thanksgiving? Easter where New Year's Eve normally sits. Graduation the first instead of the last day of school. How about dinner at breakfast and Tuesday three times in March and everyday in April?

Everything after all is but a social construct. I mean it is what it is because that is what we say it is. But what if we didn't say it is, but said it might not be, or even that it wasn't? What if we made up a whole set of new rules?

Oh wait, the orange man already stole that idea. 

And we do want a sense of stability, of constancy, this year more than ever. We do need to understand that double stuffed oreos is going a bridge too far, that stop lights aren't a request but a demand, that giving myself every putt under four feet does not make me a bad person. 

If rules like this don't exist, then we are left with anarchy. What would prevent snow from falling in Newark, New Jersey on July 4th or day deciding it would rather be night?

No, there are some things that must remain immutable. Like me getting up to pee every two hours. Or free refills of beverages at fast food restaurants.

Let me just wish everyone a happy holiday season, free from the burdens that have befallen us this year, secure in the knowledge that we reside in the most stable democracy the world has ever known, for the past four years housed in the small hands of a very stable genius.

Is there no more sanity clause?