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Friday, July 29, 2016

From Darkness to Light - The Republican and Democratic Conventions

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


The Democrats left the Republicans in the dust in the battle of the conventions.

With clear vision of a still great America, with equal parts passion and compassion, with a heart and soul in Philadelphia that was missing in action in Cleveland, the party on the left was indisputably right as to the way forward for this country. 

We endured four days of darkness from the Republicans, the party of no becoming the party of NO, a screaming portrait of fear, anger, hatred, resentment. Those who spoke up for Mr. Trump a running joke, bouncing from Duck Dynasty to Charles in Charge. The few party leaders who were summoned to the podium barely mentioning their nominee's name.

In stark contrast, the Democrats choreographed a vision of a land that was welcoming, a house that was not irreparably broken, a heart that was still beating strong. The chasm between the funeral for America of last week and the celebration of our strength, courage and conviction that we these past four days witnessed in the place where our Union began twelve score years ago, was as diametrically opposed as Hell and Heaven. 

And yes, we know Hillary Clinton still has warts. But to listen to Michelle Obama, to Joe Biden, to Bill Clinton and then to the most magnificent orator of my lifetime, Barack Obama, was to hear the unmistakable sounds of what makes America once and forever great, and to get an intimate look at a candidate with the capacity and the indomitable spirit to make us even greater.

Where this will lead us, only November 8 will reveal. I can only hope that America was watching, intently and incessantly, these past two weeks. And that those who were undecided, or those who somehow found Mr. Trump at least superficially appealing, or those who had not been paying attention at all, were awakened to the realities of the two diametric opposites who stand before us asking for our hand in marriage for at least four years. 

I know it was but theater, but this was a remarkable show over the past fortnight. From darkness to light, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from what we can't become to what we must always strive to be. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Make Russia Great Again


Make Russia great again. That should be the new slogan of Teflon Don. 

As he continues his long distance man hug with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump now invites his buddy to act as a Republican party operative, hacking his way into our computers and deeper into Trump's heart.

As Mr. Trump threatens to undermine our commitment to NATO and, in so doing, open the door to Russia committing future acts of aggression, his recklessness and lack of understanding grows ever more ominous. 

Yes, there is a looming danger on the horizon and something we rightly fear. And it's name is Donald Trump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Joker Versus Cruella De Vil

It has been a battle of cartoon characters: Donald Trump, with the plastic smile of the Joker, speaking in hyperbolic untruths and slogans, relying on hate and fear to mesmerize the masses.

Hillary Clinton in the role of Cruella De Vil, always lurking in shadows, always scheming, always guarded, always but a half step ahead of the law. 

On this night Bill Clinton was tasked with bringing a third dimension to his wife, bringing her true character to light, bringing us into their living room if not the bedroom, giving us a front row seat into his home and her world.

And, on this evening, we heard of the depth of her passion for others and her lifetime of commitment to causes other than her own welfare. 

In stark contrast, after four fitful days of an unconventional convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump was revealed as nothing more than one who has spent a lifetime in commitment to himself and his own well being.

So while some may challenge Mr. Clinton, contending he was but  airbrushing history, airbrushing her story, the former President did manage to turn Ms. De Vil into something of a guardian angel. And maybe in the process he wiped that phony smile off the Joker's face.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The First Lady's Night (No, Not That One)

The chasm that should separate every Sanders loyalist from a Trumpette had all but disappeared. The "Hillary for Prison" brigade had meandered from Cleveland to the city of not so brotherly love. A repeat of the Republican disaster of last week seemed all but inevitable. And then Michelle Obama spoke.

Was I the only one thinking we chose the wrong wife of a President to break this glass ceiling? The present first lady seems untouched by controversy. She is elegant, forceful, determined. She commands respect, and the voices of dissent melted away as she captured the room. 
 
There would be no disunity, no disloyalty, no distance between Sanders and Clinton supporters. The enemy did not come from within and it was Hillary who would make us proud of this country and make a still great America that much greater.

This does not mean that all was kumbaya on this convention floor and that tonight's roll call vote will be a full throated coronation of Ms. Clinton. But let not those in attendance disappoint our most captivating first lady. This was Michelle Obama's night to bring sense and sanity to a party threatening self destruction.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Scary Tales

Scary tales can come true 

They can happen to you, 

When you've got no heart

And the truth you can't find

When you're narrow of mind

And you've got no heart.

So don't go to extremes

With impossible schemes

Can't you see that your dreams

Are but nightmarish screams

And life is more exciting when you pass your days

With love and not this hate that just gets in the way

And the sum of your worth

You're not better by birth

Don't be cruel of heart

For you're poorer by far

And the night has no stars

When you're cruel of heart

And you're not alive

If you merely survive

Living all of these lies

Makes you empty inside

Now here is the fun part

You get a fresh start

If you wake tomorrow with an

Open heart

Friday, July 22, 2016

BANG!

Mr. Trump said we can no longer afford to be politically correct. And he is right, dead right. While he kisses the ring of the NRA, speaking of how proud he is to have gained their seal of approval, nearly one hundred of our men, women and children have their lives come to a violent conclusion each and every day. Guns do kill, over and over and over.

We are coming to take your weapons, or at least we should be. Even the most fervent advocate of gun control, has neither the courage or the political will to speak an answer begging for a question. Yes, we live in a country where there is mass destruction being permitted, more than that, condoned, by our infatuation with guns. 

We have virtually as many in our homes as we have people in this country. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. The real diversity in our nation lies not in our people but in our choice of instruments of death. We no longer dream of a chicken in every pot but an AR 15 or AK 47 in our bed.

The dark, dark images that were the centerpiece of Mr. Trump's acceptance speech warned us repeatedly that there is much to fear.  The real truth unspoken is when we no longer have any rein on our weapons, when we  have open carry of our guns into our parks, our playgrounds, our schools, our houses of worship, we give open invitation to danger and death. When police must wonder if the next car they approach will be their last, when arguments between neighbors, drivers, spouses are settled not with words or even fists but with bullets, we give open invitation to danger and death. When it is easier to obtain an instrument of intended harm then it is to obtain the right to vote, we give open invitation to danger and death. 

We can no longer afford to be politically correct, not on this issue. We can no longer tolerate the insanity that is our convoluted misreading of the Second Amendment. We were not intended to be a fully armed nation. We were not intended to be an uncivil population masquerading as our own well regulated militia. We were not intended to overthrow a tyrannical government by armed insurrection.

Take our guns away. Have the fortitude to utter those words. Don't speak of terrorist watch lists, of those who are mentally unstable, of those with a history of domestic violence. Speak larger, think larger, of a population armed to the teeth, a trigger finger away from ending the existence of you or me. That person resides in your city, your town, on your street and maybe even in your home. He or she, or maybe even you, have the capacity to pull that trigger, after a bad day at work or maybe too many days unemployed, after an argument that would otherwise end with slamming doors or tears. 

Mr. Trump, let me congratulate you on your message that we must tell the hard truths, the ones we don't have the will or fortitude to reveal. In your universe, you have addressed our bigotry and our hatreds. However you have not given warning, but rather acted as accelerator, giving those on your side unfettered right to bring into the light of day their anger, their hostility, their prejudice and their ugliness. You have not healed us, but opened a gaping wound.

But if we are to be constructive in the truths we tell, if we are not to exacerbate our problems, but diminish them, if we are to heal rather than hurt, then we must stop being politically correct on the issue of gun control.

The NRA must be silenced. Those who shout that they are coming to take our guns must be silenced. The legislators whose words foster the epidemic of blood in our homes, in our houses of worship, in our cars and on our streets must be silenced.

The voices of courage and conviction must instead drown out the cacophony. There must be an end to our national nightmare. There must be one goal and one only. Not to work around the periphery, not to seek the small victory, not to accept the status quo as an inevitability. We must rid ourselves of this disease, attack it at its heart, treat is as virulent as any other cancer that has to be eradicated. 

Yes, Mr. Trump, we must end our political correctness. We must enact laws that do come and take your guns away. We must make your home your streets, your town and city, your country, and mine, safer.

Take the trigger out of our hands.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trump and Shakespeare

They stayed away in droves from a former President to past presidential nominees and present leaders. Many running for office ran away, afraid they would be infected not with Zika but the Trump virus. This is the state of the Republican party.

And for those who did come, who did speak, there was a hold your nose theme. Paul Ryan invoked the name of the party nominee less times than the fingers on one hand, with a few digits unused. And then Lyin' Ted told the assembled to vote their conscience. The absence of an endorsement saying loud and clear that Mr.Trump presides over a house divided. 

Who bears witness for this man apart from his own family? Mr. Cruz, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Ryan who all have disdain and disregard for Mr. Trump and have spoken openly and often of his amorality, of his misspoken words, of his positions not being representative of that of the GOP. They came not to praise Trump, if not necessarily to bury him (by the way this phrase is partially plagiarized from Shakespeare).

Mr. Trump promised us a show. But I know he didn't intend one like this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Parade

It was vulgar. 
 
Parading grieving parents in front of the cameras. Using their pain to turn Hillary Clinton into a killer.
 
Parading black speakers in front of the lily white crowd. Using their skin tone to turn this bigoted party into a color blind party of inclusion.
 
Parading a noun, a verb and 9/11 in front of the nation. Using the flag to drape Rudy Giuliani and permit his venom to turn every immigrant into a terrorist.
 
Parading the third wife in front of the world. Using Melania's words to blind and deceive us and turn her husband into a person who cared about our welfare rather than merely his own ego.
 
And this was but night one. I would say stay tuned, but don't.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Shooter (A Fictional Tale)

I counted twelve weapons. I am certain there were more. It was as much a gun show as a political rally.

They were all white, almost all men, mostly young, or youngish. They were a powder keg waiting for the right accelerator, all swagger and testosterone.  Many dressed in red, white and blue, patriots all. They loved this version of America, their vision of America.

They were cordoned off in their designated pen. These hundred or so awaited the beginning of the coronation that was to commence later that evening. 

I had come as witness, to watch and report on this year's version of the greatest show on earth. I was decidedly opposed to virtually everything the gun toting crowd held dear. I was as angry about their lack of understanding of the fundamentals of governing as they were about anything and everything about me.

All that stood between us and uncivil war was a cordon of cops, a covey dressed in blue, their faces shielded from view, their purpose serious, their demeanor unmistakable. They were tasked with protecting not merely the gathered, but the very safety of this country. 

I stood maybe fifty yards removed from those who believed I was not their opposite but their enemy. We were all there exercising our Constitutional rights, of first Amendment assemblage and free speech and, for them at least, their interpretation of a second Amendment that permitted them to form their own version of a well regulated militia.

We stared at one another in uneasy truce. One, maybe in his early 40's, about six feet tall, blonde and blue eyed, seemed to fix his gaze and his intentions upon me. I could almost feel his breath, even half a football field removed. I was as uncomfortable as if he was standing beside me, poking me with deliberate belligerence. I stared at the ground, hoping to deflect his focus, but I could sense my ploy was useless. 

It was but a minute later that the inevitable voices of conflict began to rage. It started from our side of the equation, from among our righteous two dozen or so. It mattered not the words but merely the tone, condescending, belittling, full of vinegar and spit.

The fire was returned in rapid order, the biting sounds piercing through the air as arrows streaking toward their target. The men and women in uniform were keenly aware that this could quickly escalate to dark places and they warned, in clear and concise language, that inciting to riot would not be tolerated. 

The verbal attacks ebbed and flowed over the next few minutes to a kind of standoff. One insult parried by another. Calm in direct mouth to mouth combat with anarchy. Not only our universe, but the entirety of our nation readied for what was certain to come next.

Was this what was envisioned twelve score years ago when we were birthed? This union might have been conceived in liberty but was this its definition, this its intention, this its destiny? I wondered how Abraham Lincoln might have orated were he to give grave review of this assemblage. Could he have considered that his party would have chosen as its standard bearer this version of man's inhumanity to man? 

And then I heard it. The unmistakable sound. A blonde hair blue eyed piercing scream. A piece of his face gone missing. The blood streaming everywhere and in a fraction of a second he was down.

 "Shooter, shooter, shooter." And it was only then I realized that I had pulled the trigger.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Kiss My Ring Tour

Donald Trump is on the kiss my ring tour, trying out the sycophants to determine who will have the great honor of trying to clean up the mess that is Mr. Trump's constant companion.

It all started with the Chris Christie classic where the governor looked as if his last meal might well have been his last meal.

Today Governor Pence tried out for the role of Ed McMahon, doing everything but crooning "here's Donny" as he welcomed the "next President of the United States." It makes me want to check out the cost of living in Sweden.

Thankfully the auditions will end this week when Mr. Trump's latest Apprentice is named the Biggest Loser. If you have applied for this position you are either at the end of your political life (yes you, Mr. Christie and Mr. Gingrich) or you may soon be (yes you, Mr. Pence).

So,  good luck to the contestants. Pucker up and if you are truly fortunate you will win the lottery and lose the VP race.