Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Rest of Mr. Trump's Top Hits

The recent article in the Times chronicled 487 people, places and things that have been the target of Mr. Trump's ire and disregard. However, the newspaper missed 13 others who have suffered the slings and arrows, the barbs and tweets emanating from the fingers or mouth of the man who never passes up an opportunity to insult. Rounding out the top 500 hit list are the following:

1. Jesus -  I have no respect for a guy who gets nailed to a cross - not a victim, just a loser, bigly.

2. God - he took 6 days and screwed things up totally. The only good thing he did was build golf courses, but I build them better. And he forgot that wall in Mexico.

3. Lincoln - what a joke - he couldn't run Trump Tower, forget about our nation. What did he have, like 13 states to worry about? I have 50 and I can handle it in my sleep. And getting shot? Give me a break.

4. Fred Trump - overrated. I grew up in poverty, walked six miles uphill each way to school every day. I am a self made man. Only I could have done this.

5. Mike Pence - what an idiot. Religious fanatic, refers to his wife as mother. Isn't that called an Oedipus complex?

6. Melania - still speaks with an accent after all these years in the United States. And now I'm stuck with her parents forever. Damn chain migration.

7. Tiffany - not my daughter - and who the hell is Marla Maples, never even met her.

8. Donald Jr.- stupid is as stupid does - another loser. Took that meeting without my knowledge, never told me about it and now look what's happening. I think he is colluding with Mueller. Oh yeah, that is called an Oedipus complex.  By the way, I graduated at the top of my class from an Ivy League school.

9. Jared Kushner - I told him he should take care of all the big stuff and what has he done so far?  I guess I have to do everything myself.

10. The greenskeeper at Trump National (or whatever all my golf courses are called) - the course played too long last weekend. Tell him to shorten all the holes for me by Friday. And the carts are too slow.

11.  Ivanka - she refuses to sit on my lap anymore

12. Donald Trump - I don't give myself enough credit - I am a true genius made to sound like an idiot by that idiot.

13. The American public - You can fool all of the people all of the time.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Stupid At Any Age

It was hot yesterday. As in, oh my god this is uncomfortable. Which is why it made perfect sense for myself and two friends to play a round of golf walking  and pushing our clubs with hand carts.

In the aggregate, we were 217 years old, certainly enough time to gain even a small measure of common sense. For the oldest among us, I learned this was virgin territory, the first occasion he had ever spent a day chasing a ball while simultaneously pushing a cart. Better late than never. Or more accurately, better late than before you die.

We trudged through the morning heat, my unhappiness growing in almost direct proportion to the escalating temperature. But it was my game, or lack thereof, that precipitated my foul mood. For my friends, it was merely mother nature's cruelty to which they were responding.

By about the 12th hole, our elder statesperson was looking decidedly crimson in the face, his shirt drenched in sweat, his countenance and his gait a bit wobbly. When I inquired as to the state of his being, he hesitated a moment before semi assuring me he was still functional. "But I may quit soon" he added.

I responded that if he had enough we should throw in the towel (now soaked with perspiration) and head for the great indoors, and the joy of air conditioning. But he shrugged me off and we persisted.

I felt a bit like a corner man at a prize fight, closely monitoring to see if my ward could still recall the days of the week and his mother's first name. But with stupidity as our constant companion, we trudged ever onward.

By the 14th hole, my other playing partner was also entering the twilight zone, swinging the club out of habit rather than intent, moving forward by instinct rather than command.  

As we reached the 15th green enough was too much for both of them. Each a TKO victim, each step now a chore. Why we didn't call for an Uber to take us in was just one more demonstration of our collective inadequacy. And me, seemingly with all my wits about me, the most pronounced in my failing.

After far too long, we made it back to where we began. I was grateful that both my friends, however unsteady, were now safe and secure. One sat on a chair, looking for all the world like Muhammad Ali after the Thrilla in Manila. The color in the face of the other now returning closer to the shade of a human rather than a fire engine. 

It was, in the long history of my time on the course, one of the more memorable experiences. And it had nothing to do with my lack of physical abilities. 

Stupid, as it turns out, is not reserved merely for the young.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The High Cost to a Free Press

("A Free Press Needs You")

It is astounding what power one person can exert to bend our most fundamental realities. When the backbone of our nation, our free press, feels threatened and oppressed by the wild theatrics, the absurd musings, the paranoid ruminations of Mr. Trump, it is compelled, as now, to act in unison to defend its right to exist.

Your editorial, and the accompanying reference to voices near and far, large and small, is chilling testament to a moment in history few of us ever expected we would witness.

The right to challenge misdeeds questioned, bias presumed, motivations damned. Mr. Trump has made a
change in the critical perception of the value and purpose of a free press.

Among the litany of grievous wrongs committed by our President, this must rank as one of the most heinous.

A sickening, almost incomprehensible truth that is anything but fake news.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Random Recent Thoughts of a Restless Mind

("Welcome to the Resistance, Omarosa")

Please. Omarosa versus Donald. What have we become?

It is ok for page 6 of another, unnamed, tabloid but the New York Times should not waste a moment of thought or space on its Op ed page to an examination of this cat fight.

Is this really news that Mr. Trump is as venal a character as he appears? Do we applaud Omarosa for foregoing a continuing paycheck in this administration? 

Two wrongs don't make a right, Or a column,


("Stephen Miller's Uncle Calls Him a Hypocrite in an Online Essay")

The story that Dr. Glosser relates resonates with the vast majority of those who read his words. Tales of escape from harsh, often brutal realities blanket this nation from sea to shining sea.

Mr. Miller is not the architect of the immigration policy that defines us as a cruel and unfeeling nation. But he is its willing advocate and a spokesman for an administration whose central theme is do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you.

There is no historical perspective, no memory, no thought that there but for serendipity, or the grace of God, go I. No recollection that in a time not so long past, it was your parent or grandparent, your aunt or uncle, who was seeking shelter from the storm.

Dr. Glosser has a right to be gravely disappointed in his nephew. He has fallen in with a bad lot who have forgotten their history lessons.

See evil, hear evil, speak evil. That is what happens when compassion, understanding and recognition that we are all not so different from one another, are sacrificed at the altar of power.


("F.B.I. Agent Peter Strzok, Who Criticized Trump in Tweets, Is Fired")

Mr. Trump was right after all. The Mueller investigation has turned out to be a witch hunt, only not the one he has been whining about.

Mr. Trump's constant harangue has been for the focus of our ire to be turned on those who have spent the last two years painstakingly uncovering a series of annotated wrongdoings by many in the king's inner circle. For today, his wish has become our command.

And so, Peter Strzok is now beheaded, a sacrifice to the altar. Executed for the unforgivable sin of expressing his opinion in private of the lunacy of the thought of an orange faced presidency. Connecting dots to a guilt that doesn't exist.

Meanwhile, the crumbs that lead to the front door of the White House remain achingly incomplete, as the probe of Mr. Mueller lurches ever onward, step by step and inch by inch. Instead the FBI is, in this moment, perp walked before us as the bad guy.

In this President's universe, it often feels like up is down. And the sky has now fallen on Mr. Strzok.


("A Baseball Player Needed a Haircut. His Barber Flew 7000 Miles to Give Him One")

When I first heard of baseball and haircuts, it involved a fastball aimed just under the chin or cranium of the batter. I seem to recall Bob Gibson throwing that "message" pitch about every other delivery.

Haircut took on a very different meaning soon thereafter, as the late 60's moved us into an era where memorable heads like that of Oscar Gamble made the helmet an almost useless ornament. 

And through the years, haircut has been the centerpiece of many a Yankee conversation, as Mr. Steinbrenner imposed his will on the look, if not the mouth, of those under his command. No mustaches, no hair below the collar. 

In recent times, the Met pitching staff has dominated, if not on the field, then in the competition for best flowing locks of a starting rotation. 

But now we have reached a new statement moment in the haircut evolution. Personal barbers travelling halfway around the world to make sure every hair follicle is in its place, every day an opportunity to take off your cap in a moment of celebration to reveal the masterpiece that is you.

I am sure if Bob Gibson were still on the mound and witnessed a player showing off his coiff, he would be more than willing to offer him a haircut. Free of charge.


("Does Sacha Baron Cohen Understand Israel?")

I lasted one episode with Mr. Cohen's latest effort. It is crude, vulgar, definitely over the top and entirely unwatchable. Except that it has gathered seemingly enormous attention.

And it has little to do with his characters, and everything to do with the response to them. Morad is memorable not as an Israeli caricature but an American one. The ridiculous Republican, willing to believe in everything and anything in an unfettered attachment to his prejudices. Unthinking, unmoored and unrepentant. It is a window into how a Donald Trump can gain, and retain, such fervent  worship.

Morad is but a prop and to make him the central character is to miss the crucial point of Mr. Cohen's statement.


("Let's Not Throw the Word Treason Around")

When I read OpEds such as this, that strike such a discordant note with me, I immediately review the credentials of the author.

In January of 2017, the New Yorker ran a piece entitled, "Intellectuals for Trump", with the sub heading "a group of conservative thinkers tries to build a governing ideology around a (then) President-elect who disdained ideology". In that article, Chris Buskirk was described as a "little known polemicist who wants (American Greatness) to become the leading voice of the next generation of conservatism."

If the New York Times is going to publish extreme right wingers, which it can and will certainly continue to do, it owes the public some context regarding the words which appear on the page. Not to do so creates at least the impression that voices such as Mr. Buskirk have no particular agenda in mind, and are non-biased, or at least not heavily biased, in their contemplation of the unfolding universe. It does your paper and your readers a disservice to allow that impression to float unchallenged in the air.

 "Warning to readers- Mr.Buskirk is a Trump apologist."  That would be a more honest way to introduce us to his thoughts.


("The Great Distractor")

The debate, if it is with Mr. Trump, will never be on your terms. For Mr. Trump does not debate, he antagonizes, does not focus on issues for he understands virtually nothing.

We smirked when, as a candidate, he failed to prepare for his skirmishes with his Republican opponents and thereafter Ms. Clinton. How could he not look the fool in such encounters?

And he did look ridiculous but only to those who were judging him on the content of his words and the deficiency of his character. We did not comprehend that he was not speaking to us at all, was not worried of our expectations and demands.

And so his presidency has proceeded in parallel universes. The problem for the Democrats is finding a language that will allow them to be heard by those who have turned a deaf ear to their words.

If a Democratic candidate talks to a roomful of Republicans does he make any noise?


("Young Rudy Giuliani Defends Himself")

There once was a man named Rudy
His actions were a little bit crudy
He huffed and puffed and bluffed his way home
Looking not like a giant but a gnome

He ranted and raved at Michael
It got him in every news cycle
I hate him that Cohen he damages the throne
So leave dear old Donny alone

He clutched at his head in wonder
And screamed at our terrible blunder
Don't question the king just kisseth his ring
And of his great virtue you must sing (sing)

Once he was but noun, verb and 911
That was surely his ticket to heaven
But now Donny's the man so Rudy 's does what he can (can)
To protect his golden goose's spray tan

Oh Rudy what a mess you have made
What a dreadful goose egg you've laid
You grow smaller each day with the nonsense you say
Your integrity's a terrible price to pay


("Trump Pushes for Interview With Mueller Against Lawyer's Advise")

Donald Trump is a pathological liar, willing to do or say anything at any moment to further his cause. The truth is but a disposable commodity in his relentless pursuit of self preservation and self aggrandizement. What lawyer would ever voluntarily put such a client in the cross hairs of interrogation by special counsel's office?

Donald Trump will never answer one single inquiry of Mr. Mueller or those who work under him. Not even so much as a "what is your full name." Nothing good, at least for the President, can come of it. His lawyers well know that. Heck, you and I know that.

So, we will continue to get this fiction that Mr. Trump welcomes the chance to speak and end this "witch hunt." And somewhere in the distant future the Supreme Court will sustain the objection of his representatives to quash the subpoena seeking to compel his responses to questions hanging in the air.

So Mr. Giuliani can do his pretend dance but we know better. The mouth that roared, the king of the never ending tweet, will remain forever mute in reply to investigator's demands. And, if nothing else, the thought of Donald Trump shutting up and shutting down, even for a brief moment, is most welcome. 

The sounds of silence in the Oval Office. Priceless.


("Waiting for Caesar")

The imperial phase might be arriving soon? Does not Mr.Douthat recall that, seemingly before the roar of the extraordinarily large crowds cheering the emperor's coronation had died down,  Mr. Trump's first unconstitutional fiat on immigration had issued. From the moment he took office, Mr. Trump viewed his powers as unlimited and unrestrained.

He has followed not the law, not historical predicate, not the advise or suggestion of Congress or those in his administration. He has railed against oversight and criticism. He has considered his election a mandate to take any and all action he wishes. He has been unbridled, uncouth, unrepentant from first tweet to last.

The imperial phase is all this President understands. There are no limits to his hubris, his intent to rule by executive order, his shredding of the most basic predicates of our democracy.

And to compare the actions of Mr. Obama to Mr. Trump merely provides unwarranted cover for this President's abuse of his office.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Different Eggs in the Same Basket

("If We Silence Hate Speech Will We Silence Resistance?")

There is a clear demarcation between those who have been the historic victims of our prejudices and those who have been the perpetrators. 

Thus when the President condemns black athletes for protesting the perpetuation of intolerable hatreds that have long been a stain upon this nation, that is a far cry from our seeking to silence the proclamations of one like Alex Jones and white nationalists whose vitriol lacks not only factual underpinning but the long suffering of demonstrable wrongs.

It is when we fail to recognize the distinctions, when we consider each declaration with the same litmus test, that we lose the bright lines that distinguish what should be protected statements from those that do not deserve to see the light of day.

Certainly there are limits, even for those who have longstanding reason to feel aggrieved. Speech preaching the worst violence would be beyond ours to sanction. But we fail ourselves and our nation when we lump all utterances of righteous indignation and indisputable bigotry in the same basket.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Reading the Sunday paper

Reading the Sunday New York Times is a stream of my subconsciousness. It directs me where it desires, it answers questions only slightly posed, it has definite likes and dislikes and it avoids those parts of my brain that are deeply and perpetually undernourished.

It has now started to advise me, after a long period of obstinate denial, that my heart and my head belong first and foremost on the sports pages of your paper. No longer does it allow me the fantasy of contemplating my ascension to a universe of vital considerations of the rise and fall of humanity. It is painfully obvious that I am not at that advanced state of being. Thus, this morning I began by investigating the plight of my favorite team temporarily deprived of its most astounding star, the sudden disappearance of superiority of its most transcendent arm, and the compelling tale of the nonagenarian spending her waning moments sitting endlessly in her appointed place in the stands (like Horton hatching an egg) pencil and scorecard in hand, a reminder of an era in dire threat of extinction.

Only reluctantly do I gravitate to the section that is denominated a review of the week but is truly more of an insight into our preferences and prejudices. Here I learn why baking sourdough bread is a mystical experience, wonder whether it is better to die all at once or little by little and cogitate about the possibility that the fate of the world may one day rest on the talent, or lack thereof, of a single translator.

Ultimately though, even as my conscious being is pleading with me to go read that book about Obama and Biden as a detective duo,  I am drawn to the topic that causes my brain to swell as near to explosion as a brain can come. I stare at the image of the Vice President inside the face of the President and read how for every bad there is a worse. I am told that young people don't like lousy governing policies and I wonder how my generation, once made up of young people, grew old and politically crotchety. I reach inside the head of Mr. Trump to learn that our leader is really a bad Mafia Don. Although in this universe, bad may be the ultimate compliment.

And here I rest, and take his opportunity to write to you, before I move on. Wondering where this exercise has taken me, what have I learned of myself and my world. Am I different than I was but an hour before, has my being become more advanced, does my heart beat grow stronger? Or am I as I was when first I awoke, just a little older, a little more cluttered with information crammed into a brain already many years into the overload cycle, a little closer to the end than the beginning?

So concludes, at least for now, my treatise on the exercise that is, for most of those meandering through existence at a forever advancing stage, our most consistent form of workout. Pushing our brain left and right, back and forth, up and down, and somehow landing in the same spot we started. Winded a little, fatigued in the molecules that bounce off the insides or our brains, in need of a moment's mental rest.

For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. The Sunday paper, til death do us part. Or at least until Mafia Don shuts down the failing New York Times.

Friday, July 27, 2018

On Mr. Trump's Re-election in 2020 and the Eight Year Itch

("How Trump Won Re-election in 2020")

After the 2008 election there were serious suggestions that the Republican party was dead. I am sure that in the archives of even your own paper there were learned treatises indicating this party had lost focus and was being abducted by alien forces (no, not those aliens but right wing tea party radicalism). The Democrats held the Congress and the highest office in a firm, and seemingly, impenetrable grip.

But by 2016 the world had shifted on its axis and the Democrats were now on the outside looking in. Alice in Wonderland? No, it is the eight year power cycle that has controled our political universe, almost without exception for nearly three quarters of a century.

Since the changing of the guard in 1952, when Mr. Eisenhower and his party wrested the power of the presidency from the Dems, the Oval Office has been on a two term and out cycle as regular as the waxing and waning of the moon, except for the one term of Mr. Carter followed by 12 years of Republican rule (two for Reagan and one for Poppy Bush).

So, history and precedent is on the president's side in 2020. No matter how aberrational his behavior, how unique his perspective on how to conduct himself, short of self immolation (which is clearly an omnipresent possibility), there is a very strong likelihood that Mr. Trump will wear his thorny crown for two full terms.

I have predicted such a result from the first moment of his ascension and neither revolting incendiary tweet, Robert Mueller, Elizabeth Warren nor any self inflicted wound will likely keep this most unseemly serial prevaricator from his appointed rounds.

For in the end, the fault lies not in this self imagined star but in ourselves. We find comfort in wearing the same clothes for multiple rinse and wash cycles until we finally decide they are now but old rags to be discarded. And after four years we have a pronounced tendency to believe everything still fits well enough to continue to wear.

Mr. Trump, despite his bizarre actions, his seemingly daily descent into the recesses of a warped cranium, no matter his strange hairdo or ridiculously long ties, is the wrong man at the right time. For a long time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Twelve Billion Subsidy to Farmers - Heckuva job, Donny

("So Now Trump Wants to Protect Farmer's From Trump's Trade War?")

Wait a minute. Twelve billion to subsidize farmers?

You mean Canada, Mexico, China did not raise the white flag in surrender? But you told us this was easy, simple.  

Explain to me like I don't know anything about tariffs. I know you are an expert because, well you are an expert on everything. If we are handing out money  because your self inflicted trade war screwed our own in record time, how is that a good thing? Oh, because you say it is. Now I get it.

Funny how winning can look a lot like losing. Heckuva job Donny.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Black and White and Red All Over

("The Heartbreak of Raising a Black Daughter in a Red State")

Those are not Trump signs that remain on the lawn long after their purpose has passed. They are statements of intent.

There is a pervasiveness to the hatreds of our President that permeates and infects our nation. A permission slip to be your very worst. To take pride in your prejudices, to make bad virtuous, to live in a world broadcast in black and white, viewed only in color.

This the America we hoped we had outgrown, but now fear is growing out of control. This is the America that Mr. Trump has unleashed upon us.

Black and white and red all over.

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Nation on High Alert as the Highest Office Resides at an All Time Low

There is a sense of dread that attaches to this presidency. It is the unshakeable feeling that tomorrow there will be some disaster, almost always manufactured from the brain of Mr. Trump, that will serve to lessen our democracy, imperil the well being of our country, diminish our standing in the global community and generally give me a headache and/or a stomachache.

So now we have extended an invitation to Mr. Putin to come play in Washington. After this past week's debacle, why is Mr. Trump doubling down? To undo the humiliation, to prove he is immune to criticism, to suggest he is the master of a universe in which the first word that comes to mind is dunce?

But it is not only here that the President's incompetence is so staggering. It is in everything he considers, from the tariffs, to NATO, from Canada to Mexico, from the first Amendment to the second, from white supremacists to mass black incarceration. His total lack of preparation, of judgment, of insight combined with all the wrong instincts as immigrants get treated like a disease and morality is considered a four letter word, creates a nation on perpetual high alert.

This is a dark moment in our nearly 250 year experiment. Led by an arrogant fool, the next crisis merely a stray thought and a tweet away. 

This is not how the Founding Fathers drew it up. The highest office now uncomfortably residing at an all time low.