Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Two Dissimilar Dislikes

This past weekend your paper ran an article about Trump's wild ride to the doorstep of the presidency.  Unscripted, unorthodox, unwieldy and in so many ways unbelievable. 

There is none of that in Hillary Clinton or her candidacy. Every word she utters, every smile she shows, every hand she shakes seems considered, calculated and in so many ways, contrived.

In a landscape where a strange haired outsider can make life so uncomfortable for her (and I am merely talking about Mr. Sanders), Ms. Clinton will soon face off against a boorish lout, full of himself and of virtually every quality a trained politician rejects. And it is precisely that contrast which will so animate this debate season. 

Hillary Clinton, dedicated public servant, who has spent a lifetime serving others, but seems to many only to be serving herself. Donald Trump, dedicated first and forever to himself, who has spent a lifetime in the pursuit of his own pleasures.

Both equally disliked. Go figure.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Behind the Curtain

This piece meanders through a universe of characters who seemingly have one mission only:  please the boss. It is not a political headquarters but a running episode of "The Apprentice."

The obsequious, the untrained, the unprepared. Like the master scribbling notes just before a speech, the acolytes serving as his alter ego to the public make stuff up on the fly. No direction, or more precisely only one, pay homage to Mr. Trump.

See him rail against Paul Manafort for attempting to reign him in. No one challenges the great Wizard of Oz. 

What do we learn from this peek behind the curtain? Not much except what we have long suspected: there is an underlying fear of failure even in the face of victory. As the demise of Mr. Cruz beckoned, Donald Trump worries of forces allied against him, seeing danger as much as basking in the glory of this improbable moment.

It is a picture of a king, awarding loyalty over competence, fealty over, well, anything else. We are witness to a wild ride at 30,000 feet, from high above an earth whose realities Mr. Trump cannot possibly understand from this distance. 

For him, and for us, tomorrow will likely look remarkably like today, organized only in the sense that everything emanates from and revolves around the center of this universe. Those in his inner circle buckle up for better and often the worst, as this wild ride continues towards its ultimate intended destination in Washington. Hold on.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Woman Card

("What My Mother Sees in Hillary")

While this is a touching tale of one woman's struggle to overcome the prejudices that pervaded her existence, it makes me wonder why we have such a hard time elevating Hillary's candidacy based on her gender.

Is it because this is a fight some consider a relic, something that was of the time of burning bras and Gloria Steinem? Is it because Hillary has been in our conscience for so long in so many different roles that we have wearied of our consideration of her worth as a representative of all women? Is it her toughness that makes her seem, well, less feminine to some? Is it because of 2008 and the emotional election of an African American that we find this story, Hillary's story less compelling, less interesting?

I do understand that Mr. Trump inspired much backlash with his Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina gratuitous demonstrations of Alpha male idiocy. And his "there Hillary goes again playing the woman's card" did generate the production of the Woman Card. But really, apart from the self destructive behavior of the Republican presumptive nominee, there is little excitement for the "first woman" role in this campaign.

In fact, the negative response to the comment from Madeline Albright of a special place in hell being reserved for those women who did not vote for Hillary, sent a strong signal to the Democratic front-runner to downplay this as a focal point of her message.

Whatever the underlying basis, there is scant connection between the story of Ms. Gutting's mom and the saga of the first woman with a serious chance to break this most incredible glass ceiling. If Hillary wins it will be for many reasons, but bringing this particular saga to a conclusion is not high on that list.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Donald Trump Interviewing Donald Trump For a Job

Dear Mr. Trump:

I pose this hypothetical to you:  There is a job opening for a critical position in one of your businesses. An applicant is interviewed by you. He is an older gentlemen, one whom you might not otherwise consider because of his age, but you know of him in another context and so decide he is at least worthy of a small moment of your time.

His physical appearance is unusual to say the least. His skin tone is many shades off, and what should be a standard caucasian off white has been replaced with a kind of burnt orange. His hair is long in the wrong places and there is more than a hint that something is amiss on top of his head.

He comes across as brutish, almost arrogant. His language is unnecessarily coarse and improvidently direct. He demonstrates a total lack of propriety in his manner and his speech pattern, and most strikingly takes gratuitous swipes at those lower on the food chain. He has what seems to be an enormous issue with ego.

Beyond the look and feel of this person, it is apparent from the first that he has virtually no knowledge regarding the critical issues relating to the job for which he is seeking your approval. He covers up his deficiencies with bluster, obviously hiding his fundamental lack of a grasp of the intricacies and specifics with virtually nonsensical blabber. He has not taken the time or the effort to try to learn even the most rudimentary aspects of your business. When you press him on various matters, he deflects and tries to steer the conversation in another direction. When he tries to impress you with his acumen in a field totally unrelated to the one in which he is now seeking employment, you easily see through this ploy. And when you look further into his resume in other areas, you are concerned that it is far less impressive than what he would suggest.

At the end of the interview, the candidate stands up, shakes your hand and asks when he can start the job.

Mr. Trump, what would your answer be?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Donald and Megyn, Sitting in a Tree

("Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly Are Convivial in Prime-Time Special")

Vice President Kelly anyone? In a universe where personal and political expediency Trump all else, suddenly Donald is in bed, so to speak, with Ms. Kelly and a host of others who previously found Mr. Trump repugnant, repulsive and ridiculous.

If it is not an orgy, at least it is a warm embrace, as party leaders and Fox kiss and make up with the presumptive nominee.

It was inevitable. Mr. Trump, despite his boasts of independence requires the money and machine of the party. For the Republican front-runner, in this land of convoluted logic, if Ms. Kelly can forgive his trespasses,so, he would suggest, can all women. Fox and Ms. Kelly can only embellish their ratings and value by ending the war of words and courting their prize possession. And Mr. Ryan and the Republican establishment will certainly be on the outside looking in come November should they leave Mr. Trump on his own island of ignorance and conceit.

For all, the charade of camaraderie and care will now play out in earnest. Act two of the show has now commenced.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Olympic Games - Yes or No

("Should Brazil Postpone the Olympics?")

We turned a blind eye to the atrocities in Berlin, the repression in Sochi. We allowed Beijing to host these games notwithstanding its human rights violations. Even deaths at the hands of terrorists were not enough to stop the proceedings in Munich.

It is beyond comprehension to believe that economic and political turmoil in Brazil will disqualify this country from acting as host to the world this summer.

But, in addition, to put the athletes at almost certain risk of illness in the polluted waters, as well as exposure to the Zika virus (notwithstanding the fact that it will clearly reach far beyond Brazil whether or not the Olympics is held), raises a serious question for immediate consideration.

Few athletes will raise objections, as their life's work will outweigh all other considerations. If history dictates, the show will go on.

Two Hours - Four Minutes - Barriers of Mind and Body

("Man vs Marathon")

The record for the fastest mile ever run stood at 4 minutes 1.4 seconds for almost nine years before that day in May of 1954 when Roger Bannister ran a full two seconds better than the old mark. It was a physical feat many experts had deemed unattainable.

45 years later the new (and still current) standard was set, more than sixteen seconds faster than the time posted by Dr. Bannister. Yes, sixteen seconds.

How can we measure the limits of our physical and mental capacities? While the consensus would seem to be that we are a full generation away from watching the two hour barrier for the marathon fall, the lesson from that damp and cold day in England is that we cannot truly know what the human heart and mind can accomplish. People do scale unscalable heights.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Storm Clouds

("When Did Optimism Become Uncool")

The last eight years have been an unrelenting stream of negatives emanating from the Republican party. Our economy is bad, enemies abound. The creation of millions of jobs is ignored, our attempts to begin reconciliation with old foes like Iran and Cuba is ridiculed. Meanwhile the Democrats, in very large part, have allowed the message that the sky is indeed about to fall to fester.

Republicans do well as aggressors, Democrats not so much.

From this maelstrom arrives Donald Trump, heading a party that is all (and only) about messaging. And Mr. Trump knows messaging.

Optimism is not only uncool. it is as foreign as Mexicans and Syrians in this environment. Make America Great Again captures the essence of the constant drumbeat that has hypnotized and mesmerized a party.

"It is not as bad as you think" would not make for a wonderful bumper sticker for Hillary Clinton, try as she might to hold on to many of the accomplishments of the Obama years.

This fall will pit the "end of the world" rhetoric of Mr. Trump against what? The Democrats will again be playing on the Republican home turf as we watch events unfold and wait for optimism to peak out from under the gathering storm clouds.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Donald Trump, Swiss Cheese and Pancakes

The two bedrocks of Mr. Trump's campaign were his financial independence and his willingness to stick by his statements no matter their political incorrectness. 

Now, with breathtaking, neck twisting speed, we are informed that this man who cannot be bought is up for sale to the highest bidder and will likely be at a pancake house in your neighborhood in the near future glad handing (oh, I forgot he doesn't like to shake hands because of the germs in touching you) for dollars.

And further that all those keep the immigrant out, send the immigrant back mandates were really only "suggestions." Wait, you mean he was not absolute in his passion and position but merely throwing out whatever popped into his head? 

Mr.Trump's foundation is a Swiss cheese of contradictions and his candidacy rests not on principles but on three card Monte.

Ms.Collins asks that Mr. Trump "show me the money." If she goes to the local house of pancakes this Saturday at 2PM she just may see it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Oh The Things You Can't Say

You must remain silent
You can't say a word
Not of secrets you're told
Not of whispers you heard

You have locks on your lips
And no, no on your brain
You can never, ever slip
Not in your house, or on a train

You can never slip. It may lead to a fall. That would never, ever do. Just say nothing at all.

When you're asked what's up
Say the sky, little more
If they press you much further
Tell them there's the front door

You have to be careful
And pretend you don't know
Give a nod or a shrug
Cause its all just a show

Just a show's all it is. Make believe, its pretend. Can't tell what you know, cause you might lose a friend.

Oh you might lose a friend.
Or maybe much worse.
No, the secret stays secret
Despite how they curse

Don't tell them, just don't
Tell them you can't and you won't
You must not, now or ever
You're not that smart, not that clever

Can't make up a lie
You're no good at that
Just muffle your mouth
With a sock or a hat

A sock or a hat or a shoe if you must. Whatever it takes to keep your mouth shut.

Oh the things you can't say
That you hear all the time
They lead to no good
If you talk its a crime

A felony it is
Lock him up, toss the key
You can never forget
A good friend you must be

Oh the things you can't say
Oh the words you must not
Oh the secrets you keep
Oh the battles you've fought

Oh the battles you've fought, just to keep it inside. Want to tell it to all, oh the thoughts that you hide.

And if you should speak
When you know you should not
Just deny that you spoke
If you should get caught

No, I don't really mean that
Don't mean it at all,
Just say you don't know
Or say nothing at all.

If there is a lesson
To be learned from my poem
It's keep your mouth zipped
Don't let your thoughts roam

Oh, the things you can't say
Oh the words you must not
Oh the lips you must button
Oh the grief if you're caught

Oh the trouble you'll have
It's not worth the pain
Just forget what you heard
And turn off your brain

Let me end at the end
Cause there's no place to go
And the things you can't say
Stuff them all in your toe

In your toe, or a shoe, or a sock if you must. Wherever they fit, in a place that you trust. Out of sight, out of mind, out of reach, hard to find. Just find a safe place for the things you can't say. Just find a safe place and lock them away.