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Sunday, July 15, 2018

If We Are Cut, Do Not Yankee Fans Bleed (Pinstripes)?

("The New York Yankees Are A Moral Abomination"). 

I believe I am deeply offended by the few words I could comprehend in Mr. Hart's piece. As a long time Yankee fan, I suffered gravely through the entire hazy period from 1964 to 1976 until free agency bought us, I mean brought us, back onto our rightful seat on the throne. And who can forget the wasteland of 1982 to 1994? If you cut a Yankee fan do we not bleed? Well, it may not be red, but pinstripe is a kind of color, isn't it?

Look, I sympathize (but clearly cannot empathize) with the Orioles' present dismal plight. But our riches come not from overflowing coffers but merely astute observation of raw talent. Search your own soul, or more appropriately, your own squad's front office, for the source of your consternation.

And the deepest cut of all in your unmitigated assault upon my senses? Never, and I mean never, criticize Derek Jeter as to his range or his Gold Gloves. And don't even contemplate reminding us of his treasonous act of latching on to another squad seemingly mere moments after his last futile stab at a grounder a foot or two out of reach.

Mr. Hart (or should I refer to you as Mr. Heartless) there is no room on my bookshelf for your petulance, your boorish behavior, your relentless attack on all that is good, decent and American. Make America Great Again may be but a ridiculous note scribbled on a red hat that served as catalyst for the descent of this nation into Hell, but Make the Yankees Great Again is a tattoo forever emblazoned on my heart and embroidered on the Armani suits of all who toil for the mere love of the game for my favorite team.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Dangerous Time to Be a Friend to America

He does not trust friendships, always looking for the angle, the opening that his ally is utilizing to try to stick a knife into his back. He finds cause for concern in virtually everything in this universe, not seeing anything but the worst of intentions.

For those who admire this man, this behavior is refreshing, uncovering an unvarnished ugly truth. For the rest of us, it is but a mirror into the dark soul of a person without an ounce of morality, someone whose psyche is deeply damaged, who finds only the gravest danger whenever and wherever the hand of kinship is offered.

As for the Putin's around the globe whose avowed goal is to destroy our beating heart, he finds little fault. To him, there is honor in hatred, in cut throat practices, in the very art of trying to beat the other guy to a pulp. It is this warfare that draws him in, as it speaks to the essence of his own being. There is, in his warped vision, a nobility here.

So we are forever more to watch this President denigrate those who stand side by side with us, while at times giving effusive praise to the ones who would leave us bleeding by the side of the road. We are trapped inside his mind, his vastly disturbing beliefs playing out across the globe.

It is a dangerous time to be a friend to America. It is a dangerous time to be America.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Wild Boars and Mr. Trump

The Wild Boars were saved this week, but unfortunately one escaped and was seen wreaking havoc in Brussels.

We can only request one miracle a news cycle and to expect Mr. Trump to treat allies as anything other than mortal enemies was asking for a second transcendent moment.

We watched in awe at the cooperation, skill and ingenuity of cave divers from Thailand and abroad acting in concert to demonstrate what the best of humanity looks like in crisis. And then there is Mr. Trump, demolishing relationships and making America a four letter word around much of the globe.

The rescue of the boy's soccer team revealed the heights of which we are capable, showing our bravery and courage, our hope and determination, our creativity and the incredible genius with which we are endowed, allowing us to solve the most perplexing and daunting riddles and overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And then there is Mr. Trump.

It was the best of times. And then there is Mr. Trump.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Supreme Being



Merrick Garland is clear testament to its ill effects. So too is the very ascendancy of Donald Trump. And we pray daily for long life for Notorious RBG because of it. It is far past time that we deal with the elephant in the room. Lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court should be Constitutionally prohibited.

What would Mr. Trump suggest is his biggest accomplishment in office? Likely that with his second nomination to the highest bench looming, he will bend this nation's arc for decades to come, long after his small hands have been taken over the steering wheel.  Why should we as a nation permit such an outcome, left or right? How can we square limited duration terms for the legislative and executive branches and yet find no compulsion to put time constraints on the power wielded by the judiciary? 

This is, to be certain, not the mark of other democracies, where defined lengths of stay or mandatory retirement ages prevent power remaining firmly entrenched in one's grasp until death, or at least the right successor, do them part. 

We have long since rid ourselves of the fiction that permanent seat on the highest court assures independence from the political winds. In fact, the glee with which one party treats an opening and the gloom of night descending on the other is now maybe our most compelling demonstration of the clearly contemplated entanglements of this position.

If you believe that the extended vacancy on the bench after Justice Scalia's death was intended to allow the voice of the people to be heard that November, I have a bridge to sell you. 


And if you think that the warp speed with which Mr. Trump will thrust his replacement for Justice Kennedy upon us is not direct response to keeping even the possibility of the voice of the people from being heard this November, well I may be able to locate a second bridge for you.


I fully understand the futility of contemplating a Constitutional Amendment in this toxic environment. That the weight of our political wars will surely sink this ship before it leaves port. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the damage lifetime tenure is doing to the very fabric of our democracy.


Maybe in the days and years to come sanity can be restored and we can begin to seriously consider and act upon what is now a clear stain upon our nearly 250 year old experiment. 

        For the sake of the long term health of our nation, lifetime elevation to the Supreme Court should die a Constitutionally mandated death.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is the Democratic Call to Arms?

Is it this nation's unbending cruelty on immigration the issue that will move mountains this November? Or guns and the multiplying horrors in our classrooms? Or the Supreme Court tilting ever farther right? Maybe it is the mistreatment of allies and an affinity for autocrats? Then there is the long standing Mueller investigation and the possibilities of what this will reveal. And how can the boorishness, the vulgarity, the lies and  the ugliness of the President not be our first and last thought when casting a ballot? The phantom tax cuts for all but a few? The spiralling debt? The trade wars that threaten the stability of our economy? Roe v Wade under attack? The continuing economic uncertainty of the have nots? The list is as long as the first day of summer.

There are so many avenues to go down, or maybe it is none of the above. Tomorrow may lead us on a different journey, to a different conclusion as to where the bottom rests.

As the mid-terms creep ever so closer and world spins even further out of control, we are as confused and uncertain as ever as to the most persuasive and compelling mantra to stop the Republican runaway train in its tracks. Every day brings yet another cause for us to mobilize against. Every fortnight we rise in anger at yet one more step towards our own destruction.

There is grave danger in attacking too many demons. Too much diffusion, too little consensus. The Republicans are utterly void of rational, fact based policy but strong and focused in their drum beat message of fear and hatred. The Dems are left at the starting gate here, their loudest voice reserved for the call to get out and vote. Where is the gravitational pull in such an entreaty?


We have everything to fear when fear itself propels our adversary while casting a ballot is our call to arms.

Friday, June 29, 2018

July 4th - Deeply Red, Perversely White, Sad and Blue

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



RED, WHITE AND DEFINITELY BLUE

This July 4th we are more deeply red, more perversely white, more sad and blue than in the recent past. As the imprint of Mr. Trump's presidency becomes ever more evident, the America we celebrate with fireworks lighting up the night sky, is not the America we seek.

It is not a welcoming place, it's arms not the ones that give comfort to the oppressed, the weary, but rather the second Amendment arms that proliferate throughout this nation, N.R.A. fueled and littering our streets in blood.

It is not a welcoming place, it's voice not free to express dismay or distress at the lies of our President, at the damage he causes, as the first Amendment retreats while under constant, blistering attack.

It is not a welcoming place, when those who have sustained a lifetime of  opprobrium and hatred for the color of their skin or their sexual orientation, now feel their hard fought 14th Amendment victories falling from their grasp as this nation tilts further right from the Supreme Court downward.

It is not a welcoming place when we turn our backs on our long time allies and look instead as role models to those who control and intimidate, punish and destroy the cries of dissent within their midst, autocracy rather than democracy, all merely for one and decidedly not one for all, the mantra.

This is the landscape we gaze upon this season, one filled with a faux patriotism, one that speaks to our worst instincts, that asserts superiorities, that countenances bigotry, xenophobia, cruelty and infliction of pain, that elevates the few and denigrates the rest.

This July 4th the sounds of liberty will be faint and indistinct, even as we celebrate the greatness of our land, the red, white and blue. 

What have we become?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

THE NINTH JUSTICE

THIS WAS A PIECE I WROTE SHORTLY BEFORE THE 2016 ELECTION - I DID NOT POST IT THEN, FOR FEAR THAT SOME MIGHT READ IT AND USE THIS AS CATALYST FOR A VOTE FOR MR. TRUMP. AFTER THE ELECTION, IT SEEMED POINTLESS. TODAY IT SEEMS LIKE A DISTANT DREAM, NOW REPLACED BY THE SEAT STOLEN BY JUSTICE GORSUCH AND THE OPENING CREATED BY THE ANNOUNCED RETIREMENT OF JUSTICE KENNEDY


At 3:52 AM on November 9, 2016, the President-elect first posed the question to the President. He thanked her for her consideration but politely said he could never accept her offer. In the days that followed, that proposal was oft repeated. If the President changed his mind, it might well significantly alter the course of this country's destiny.
Donald Trump had run the most destructive campaign in memory, his unchecked ego, his uncontrollable behavior, creating a national backlash against the party that had elevated him. Not only was his defeat clear and convincing, but his impact on those below him on the ticket was severe. A Republican party that had seemed destined to retain control of the Senate BT( before Trump) was AT on the short side of 50. And with control of this body wrested from its hands, the worst Republican nightmare was staring them in the face.

Antonin Scalia went quail hunting in Shafter, Texas on the day of February 12, 2016. The next morning, at age 79, the conservative Justice of the Supreme Court was pronounced dead. And on the morning of November 9, 2016, three days shy of nine months from the day his seat on the bench went empty, it remained that way.
In the eight years of Republican obstructionism that marked, and marred, the two terms of the Obama administration, this might have been their most egregious and outrageous display.  "Advice and consent" was replaced by derisive dissent, as the Republican mantra was that the American people, by their ballots cast on November 8, 2016 would dictate the choice of Justice Scala's successor.

With Republican control of the Senate, the nomination of Merrick Garland was not even considered. All pretense of normal protocol was abrogated. The opening on the court was like an open wound for this nation, a festering sore that clearly demonstrated to the world that we were a country in existential crisis.

William Howard Taft was President of the United States from 1909 to 1913, ending his tenure in office just before World War I would begin. But his tenure in a position of power, able to shape the future of this country, did not end with the swearing in of his successor, Woodrow Wilson. From 1921 to 1930, William Howard Taft occupied a seat on the highest Court in this land.

Barack Hussein Obama was a former Constitutional law professor, eminently qualified by background temperament and intelligence to follow the precedent established by Taft.  With the turn over of Senate control to his party, he could well fill the void in the Court created by Republican refusal to follow tradition, protocol and the law of the land. It was a natural fit for the President and the ultimate retribution against a party that had made its central tenet the destruction of his presidency and his legacy.

Hillary Clinton had been eyewitness, from day one, to the ascension of Mr. Obama. She had seemingly been the chosen one, the next in line for her party for 2008. She had paid her dues, seen as intimately as anyone in this country how the system works, and appeared to have an unfettered path to the Democratic nomination. Until Barack Obama appeared, catapulted by his 2004 convention speech and captivating the nation with his speeches that soared. And when defeat came to Hillary Clinton, she assumed that her conqueror would politely acknowledge her good fight, wish her well, and leave her coffers empty.

But that is not what transpired as Ms. Clinton was appointed Secretary of State, serving as a high profile member of the Obama administration, taking her lumps in a time of great upheaval around much of the globe, but proving her mettle and improving her resume for her run in 2016. Hillary Clinton would not forget what Barack Obama had done for her career. Nor would she forget how badly the Republican party treated the President, and her. This was the moment to repay old debts and to settle old grievances.

As of the morning of November 9, 2016, this was a lame duck Congress, filling out the balance of their terms while awaiting (despite the protestations of Mr. Trump to the contrary) the peaceful transition of power a little more than two months hence. For the moment, the Republican party still retained a majority in the Senate. And thus the conversation began as to whether the nomination of Merrick Garland was to be withdrawn by the President or would be considered and acted upon before year's end.

Hillary Clinton was not inclined to do the Republican party any favors. Garland had clearly been a compromise candidate, with more conservative values and opinions then she might have favored, but one whom President Obama felt compelled to put before the Senate by virtue of the Republican control. But that impediment would soon disappear and, if the nomination were withdrawn, as of January 20, 2017, the axis of power would shift dramatically. And then the possibilities were endless. Including her former boss.

President Obama had wrestled with this question for months, sensing with Mr. Trump's bizarre and destructive propensities that power could be wrested from the hands of his opponents. He understood that the Supreme Court held enormous sway over the future of this democracy and that the person chosen might, for decades, set the course for where this nation was headed. He did not want to challenge the right of Ms. Clinton to shape a Court that she would find most acceptable. Still, Judge Garland was held in the highest esteem. He personally found him a compelling choice.

And so, the President was most conflicted by how best to proceed on the morning of November 9. And when the President elect raised the question to him as to whether he would agree to be nominated to fill Justice Scala's seat, he was not at all inclined to accept. This nation had been fractured for the full term of his presidency, much of the country deeply troubled by the elevation of a black man to the highest office in the land. And now, the woman most reviled by them, maybe even more so than the enmity they felt towards him, was his successor. Could the country possibly withstand these two both in power, the executive and judicial branches in large measure directed by public enemies 1 and 1a?

But Mr. Obama did feel that, despite eight years on the job, so much had been left undone. And he was as concerned as Ms. Clinton that the Supreme Court was filled with those whose contemplations for this country's future as closely as possible matched his own. And who better could assure this would occur? By his own elevation, he could continue to help his vision become reality. Not just for a few years. But for the balance of his life.

On November 18, 2016, Barack Obama withdrew the name of Merrick Garland from consideration before the Senate of the United States. In his statement, the President thanked Mr Garland for his continued exemplary service to this country and for his patience and understanding in waiting out what must have been an excruciating delay in whether he was to appear before the Senate for confirmation.

 "But I am constrained by the knowledge that I no longer stand before you as the person chosen to run this nation in the coming years. And I believe it now my duty and obligation to allow Hillary Clinton to choose that person she believes would best serve this country as the ninth justice on the Supreme Court. I fully  trust her capacity to choose wisely, the nation believes in Hillary Clinton, and we all await her determination. Thank you all, thank you Judge Garland and God bless America."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Our Nation's Dark Hour

 THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES



It is a dark hour in the history of this country. President Trump’s wall is being built, brick by invisible brick, and his vision is becoming our reality.
Images of children in cages now amplified by the voice of the majority of our Supreme Court countenancing the most heinous of motives in doublespeak and pretzel-bending logic.
And with the announcement on Wednesday of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s imminent retirement, another seat on this bench will become staunchly conservative, and there is one more reason to be fearful and distressed.
The danger to this country comes not from without but from within. We are inch by inch and day by day abandoning our morality, turning away from the basic principles of a democracy, making Lady Liberty wonder whether she should pack her bags and move back home.

We mourn for those who suffer our indignities. We feel their loss in our hearts. We hear their cries in our sleep.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Three posts in one

Here is what I have held back this week:


 ("Republican or Conservative, You Have to Choose")

Come on David, you can say it. Much like the expert on tires in "My Cousin Vinny". Admit you are wrong. 

Stop making excuses, comparisons. Stop citing Roger Scruton and sounding like you know more than we do. Stop telling us it is about order or individualism. For once, speak the truth of what you see.

You are a smart man hiding behind your intellect. You have been given a sacred trust by the New York Times to provide honest reporting.

Now take a deep breath like that man on the witness stand who announced the error of his ways. That green car was not what he said it was. And the Republican party isn't either.

Make a clean breast of it. Jump ship. You will feel better for it.



('A Powerful Signal of Recessions' Has Wall Street's Attention)

How can we stop Donald? The sad truth is we can't. Only he can stop himself.

What killed the Republicans in 2008? The economy, stupid. We were in free fall when that November day came to pass, the stock market plunging lower than a Marilyn Monroe neckline. As a collective, we were about a step from taking a dive off the ledge.

I remember President Obama saying righting our fiscal ship was like trying to turn around a big ocean liner, a slow and arduous task. And it took many years before we were fully back on course and headed in the right direction.

But if anyone can quickly spin gold into straw, Mr. Trump can. A wobbly stock market, so touted by the ego in chief in earlier days, now is sending smoke signals of distress. The bond markets yield curve is flattening like a pancake.The king's self imposed trade wars present a clear and present danger to our financial health and well being. We are beginning to smell disaster in the wind.

As long as people feel the possibility that tomorrow will be better for them than today, it will be fool's folly for us to believe we can shake their belief in everything Donald. There are myriad causes for his elevation, chief among them his stoking the flames of our racism and bigotry, so shockingly pervasive in this nation.

But there is nothing like the sense of impending doom to turn believers into naysayers. 

It is not true that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Not nearly, with this man in power. We can only pray that he turns our ocean liner around quickly and heads us directly into the path of an economic iceberg, if icebergs still exist.

Give us your worst shot Donald. We know you can kill the goose that laid the golden egg if you try. Show us that you are a genius not only in bankrupting your companies, but that you can imperil an entire nation. 

And please hurry, as the mid-terms are approaching quickly.



("Trump Wants No Due Process at U.S. Border")

Today it may be a call for the death of due process for immigrants illegally entering this country. Tomorrow it could be a call for you. Or me.

When the voice of opposition in the media is sought to silenced and crushed, when our judges are chosen for their allegiance not to the law but their leader, when the Congress is told by our President how to run its business, when all branches of government are asked to be subservient to one man, we are no longer what we were intended to be. 

Mr. Trump's latest rant by way of tweet is but symptom of a disease ravaging this nation.

If it looks like a dictatorship, talks like a dictatorship and walks like a dictatorship, a democracy is in peril.

 It is not just those seeking entry into this country who are in harm's way. It is you and me as well.


If you will have me back, I am yours

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I think I was a bit impetuous in making my announcement yesterday, responding to a bump in the road by steering my car over a cliff. Strike that, I was a jerk.

I was slightly wounded, but should have taken a deep breath and counted to ten before opening my mouth and pouting my way out of your lives.

Today the sun is shining bright and there is a gentle breeze in the air. My friend and I have reconciled, he by eating a small bit of crow and me by realizing that a moment's lapse is no reason to throw away a relationship that has resonated deeply for so many years.

And so I come to you with hat in hand, begging your forgiveness for my trespass.  You deserved more of me.

If you will permit, I will rescind my announcement of one day ago. Erase it from your memory bank. Consider it my mulligan.

For better, and often much worse, I promise to bore you, charm you, annoy you and maybe once in a while captivate you with my reactions to everything wrong with our political universe, as well as continuing to advise on my boatload of personal peccadilloes.

I thank all of you who have taken the time out of your day to write to me and inform of your disappointment in my earlier decision.  

If you will have me back, I am yours.