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Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Revolutionary Ideas to Save Time and the Game of Baseball

("Coming in 2017: Intentional Walks Without Pitches")

10 contemplated rule changes for 2017 that would revolutionize the sport (time saved is per game)

1.  After a home run is hit, the batter just touches home plate without running the bases.Average time saved: 98 seconds.

2.  A pitcher gets one free strike per inning. Thus, a three ball, two strike count with bases loaded and two outs, becomes an inning ending punch-out with a wave of the hand. Average time saved: 21 minutes.

3. If a team is ahead by more than four runs in the seventh inning or beyond, they forfeit their right to bat. Average time saved: 36 minutes.

4. One batter on the opposing team can be designated as ineligible for any game. The same player can not be chosen more than once per series. Average time saved: 38 minutes.

5. The third inning, and any extra inning, is three balls and two strikes instead of four and three. Average time saved: 39 minutes.

6. Managers are eliminated. Average time saved: 56 minutes.

7. Home teams get to call games two hours after the first pitch is thrown. The dilemma is the team must make this choice before the game starts. Average time saved 58 minutes.

8. One fan, coming to the park with two screaming children, is chosen to decide when he has had enough and wants to leave. At that point, everyone, including the players, has to go home. Average time saved: 78 minutes

9. There can be only one pitching change per inning, and none in the second, fifth and eighth innings. If a game lasts more than 10 innings, the opposing squad gets to designate the pitcher(s) for the  11th and 12th innings Average time saved: 81 minutes.

10. The season is reduced to 12 games. Average time saved: infinity as baseball dies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Partners in Crime

("In First, Trump Condemns Rise in Anti-Semitism, Calling it "Horrible")

Candidate Trump gave license to free expression of intolerance, prejudice and hate whether its target be Mexicans, Muslims or Jews. President Trump has done nothing but fuel those flames with incendiary comments and actions from threatened wall building to deportation squad building, from targeting Muslim countries for bans to targeting Muslims in our midst for heightened scrutiny.

But his aversion to speaking out against those who despise Jews, like David Duke, to his treatment of the Holocaust as a moment in history that was apparently not targeted as the eradication of Jews by Hitler, to his indifference to rampant acts of anti-Semitism under his watch, is both seemingly peculiar and deeply troubling.

Is Trump blind to the consequences of his actions, not intentionally complicit but merely unable to connect the dots from his words to the fire he has flamed? He would have us believe this so, with his far too belated, and way too anemic a response to the growing wave of anti-Semitic acts throughout our nation.


If Mr. Trump is truly a man committed to Jewish welfare let him take his goon squads away from the homes and businesses where immigrants reside and work, and instead turn their focus to weeding out and eliminating the hate crimes, locating and prosecuting those who would intimidate and assault Jews with violence against their person and property.

But we know that won't occur. Mr. Trump will give lip service and no more to stopping the flow of these crimes. For this President would then have to re-shape his vision, making his own followers not the victims but the perpetrators, something Mr. Trump is unwilling to contemplate. If rampant and unfettered targeting of Jews plays well with his base, then it suits his purposes. The hate President and the haters he engenders and emboldens. Partners in crime.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Should Entertainers Take a Pay Check and Shut Up?

("Should Athletes Stick to Sports?")

Should Meryl Streep not have poked a stick in Donald's eye? Should Bruce Springsteen have performed at the inauguration? Should entertainers, whatever their arena, keep their head down, take a pay check and say thank you?

I am not just a husband, a father, a lawyer, but a concerned citizen of this planet, aggrieved by the blatant hostile acts of Mr. Trump which speak to the worst of intentions and the cruelest of beliefs. If I had easy access to a larger platform, a higher visibility, I would hope I would have the courage of my convictions and take every opportunity to demand that we not suffer this absurdity in silence.

Shame on those who condemn the passionate voices. We are, first and foremost, not actors or musicians, not football players or lawyers, but people who should care deeply about the welfare of our fellow man, and make our presence known and felt.

Let those with the ability to be heard, speak.

The Fallacy of Republican Opposition to Trump

("How Can We Get Rid of Trump?")

Dump Trump. It will NEVER happen unless Trump fails to push for tax cuts to the wealthy and abandons virtually all Republican orthodoxy.

Many in his party may not like his style, may shake their heads at his impetuousness, may question not only his judgment but his sanity, but will NEVER challenge his right to remain in office as long as he does their bidding on their core issues, keeping the well to do happy, doing as little as possible for those who need the most (see Obamacare and Medicaid) and making it increasingly difficult for them to be voted out of office (see the intended decimation of voter protection laws and the unwavering support of gerrymandering).

Trump is not their enemy but their ally, the natural result of a party tracking further and further right. Attacks on immigration are not anathema to this party's beliefs but representative of them.

Let us stop pretending that there is a President and then there is his party. He is them, a crude, rude, boorish version but make no mistake, one and the same.

Impeach Trump. Have his own cabinet betray him. That is as likely to occur as Trump shaving his head.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Teflon Don

When his sins did not come back to haunt him, I called Donald J Trump "Teflon Don". Early in his run for the Republican nomination, he belittled John McCain, a man who withstood years as a prisoner of war and came back a hero, as a "loser" for getting caught.
 
Yet Mr. Trump not only survived this seeming mortal mistake, but triumphed despite more than occasional earth shatteringly inappropriate comments.
 
But it is not merely in his ability to separate himself from his own bad words that makes this President a Teflon Don. It is in his capacity to impersonate an imagined Mafia boss in his demeanor.
 
For Trump, running this country is like barking out an endless series of executive orders. Much as John Gotti, the original holder of this title, Teflon Don Trump sees himself behind his desk having his underlings appear, kiss his ring, and await his directive.
 
Teflon Don does not need to get his hands dirty, does not need to sweat the details. He merely has to spew forth mandates as the head of the family, making demands of those in his command.
 
Teflon Don's "I alone can fix it" is Marlon Brando advising a frightened and beleaguered patron to stop worrying for the godfather will protect him.
 
But this Teflon Don is a failure for he does not run his house with caution and wisdom but rather in haphazard fashion, shooting first and only then making others clean up his mess.
 
Teflon Don Trump would never last as a Mafia kingpin, his trigger hair temper and endless capacity to escalate skirmishes into wars, making his a house divided and vulnerable. 
 
If this Teflon Don were in a movie he would be killed off early, if not by his enemies then by those within his own ranks. But this Boss is not an imagined character on film, not the head of the five families, but a nation of 330 million. Not a creation of fiction, but a more than fictional reality.
 
Teflon Don Trump. Marlon Brando and John Gotti would roll over in their graves.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Doctor Will See You Now

("Is it Time to Call Trump Mentally Ill?")
 
Thomas Eagleton was a bright man by all accounts, a Harvard law graduate who was George McGovern's choice for Vice-presidential running mate in 1972. That is until word leaked that he had suffered bouts of depression earlier in life requiring hospitalization. This fear of some potential future return of his symptoms was thought a disqualifying condition. Was that fair or just treatment for Mr. Eagleton, as this nation passed judgment upon him? No, but it was clear political reality.
 
And yet the author of this op-ed would suggest that those who are daily witness to  Mr. Trump's often bizarre and erratic behavior have a duty to couch their opinions in hypotheticals and what-ifs when the President's mental instability presents a clear and present danger to the welfare of the country. It is the Trump trick of making the President the victim and the accuser the problem. But there is far too much at stake to allow this mis-direction to stand.
 
Mr. Eagleton was accused, convicted and run out of town without proof of correlation between his condition and the right of the country to be alarmed.
 
In stark contrast, Mr. Trump demonstrates each day, in bold letters, that he suffers from severe mental and emotional instability that threaten our very way of life. It would be wrong in this circumstance for professionals, trained to identify mental illness, NOT to speak out forcefully and with particularity to Mr. Trump's demons. Put Mr. Trump on the couch and expose him for what he is.

 The doctor is in and will see him next.


and also


("For a Troubled President, the Media is a Satisfying Target")

Did he really just ask a black journalist to set up a meeting for him with the black caucus because he believed that all black people must know and have access to each other? 

This just seems to get more absurd with each passing day. When candidate Trump began his all out assault on virtually everything and everyone that had an ill word about him, we questioned his political savvy, his mental acuity, even his sanity. But as President he has continued to act in an erratic, confrontational and often irrational manner. His aggressive, accusatory tweets have seemingly multiplied and merely amplified his bizarre behavior.

The media is clearly enemy number one, misunderstanding his motives and intentions, making him seem a bad guy, a danger and even worse, a fool. When Mr. Trump feels he is being betrayed, belittled or cornered he lashes out, no better example than the press conference circus of yesterday. 

When that occurs, he says and does really stupid things. In responding to a non accusatory question by someone who appeared by his look to be a religious Jew,  Mr. Trump provided a non-sequitur reply in which he proclaimed himself the most un-anti-semite of all time. 

Good thing he didn't spot a Chinese person in the corner of the room. He might have asked him if there was a good place for egg rolls in town. 

I keep wondering how so many people thought this was the best we could do for this nation.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Incomparable Incompetence of Donald Trump

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

("Inching Toward a One-State Solution?")

What did you expect, oratorical brilliance and studied analysis, looking to historical precedents for guidance and demonstrating a full understanding of the subtleties of the situation? 

This is what we get with Donald Trump, a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling mess, an incoherence that threatens everything he touches. Along the way there will be casualties, hopefully not in lost lives but most certainly in opportunities squandered and in alliances damaged or destroyed. 

All we can hope for is that Mr. Trump occasionally stumbles into solutions to problems not by insight or preparation, but by pure serendipity. This country is in the hands of a rank amateur, an impostor pretending to be something he demonstrates ever more with each passing hour that he is not.

Today it is an Israel-Palestine debacle, a one state - two state,  "you say potato I say potahto, you say tomato, I say tomahto" answer to one of the most profound and perplexing problems of our times.  I am almost surprised that Mr. Trump's next line was not something like "red state - blue state."

Tomorrow it could, and most assuredly will be, something of equally momentous import and consequence.

Every tweet that comes out of his head, every phrase that tumbles out of Mr. Trump's mouth, is a potential four alarm fire. I just hope we have plenty of extinguishers at the ready. We will surely need them.

If only we could somehow end our ill conceived dalliance with the overwhelmingly mismatched Mr. Trump, and just, in the words of the immortal song, "call the whole thing off."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reporting for Duty

 
I am reporting for duty. With my arm fresh and my legs strong. With my uniform clean and my mind clear. With my dreams intact and my possibilities endless. With determination and focus. With dedication and devotion. With love and respect for what I am about to undertake.

I have been a part of this endeavor for as long as I have been able to formulate a thought. I have lived through the disappointments, survived the harshest of times. I have sipped the champagne and worn the crown on my head. I have tasted the glory and spit out the pain. It is all coursing through my veins and enveloping my mind, as real as if it were me taking that lead and daring the pitcher to throw over, chasing down that ball in the gap and laying flat out, running out every ground ball as if my very being depended on it.
 
I am Sanchez and Tanaka, Sabathia and Betances. Today I can throw a hundred miles per hour, can make it to first in three seconds flat, can outthink you, outwork you, beat you at your best. I am back where I belong, home again and ready to go. I am alive and filled with excitement. I am at spring training, reporting for duty.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Stories the White House Did Not Want to Tell You

Top 10 Stories of the Week - Second Edition

1. President Trump revealed that he thought the "one China" policy referred to how many children each family could have.
 
2. Sources confirmed that Mr. Trump recently acquired a large parcel of property in the West Bank where Israeli settlements threaten to expand. The White House denied that a Trump hotel and golf course is under consideration.
 
3. Michael Flynn has taken a post within the Putin administration as chief keeper of secrets.
 
4. A second case of voter fraud was found in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott said he only meant to vote once but his finger got stuck on the button while he was in the polling booth.
 
5. Climate change deniers point to the massive snowfall in the western United States as clear evidence that the planet is not warming. In related news, an iceberg was seen floating in the Hudson River with six bewildered seals holding on for dear life.
 
6. Rick Perry and Ben Carson are rumored to be switching jobs. Mr. Perry reportedly stated he had accomplished everything he could in his present job and was eagerly awaiting new challenges.
 
7. Donald Trump has apparently stopped shaking Shinzo Abe or Abe Shinzo's hand (who can remember which name goes first with these foreign leaders). The Japanese Prime Minister was seen counting his fingers to make certain none were pilfered in the exchange.
 
8. Melissa McCarthy has been chosen to moderate the debate this Saturday between Alex Baldwin and President Trump.
 
9. Melania Trump smiled. Once.
 
10. The Great Wall of Mexico has been put on hold. President Trump was said to be cashing in his 401K  to try to pay for the initial construction costs.

Dasvidaniya, Mr. Flynn

("Flynn Resigns, Accused of Lying About Russia Dealings")


Wait, which lies disqualify one from retaining public office? Michael Flynn gave "incomplete information" based on a "faulty" memory and the swirl of events and he is kaput.

Is it the fear of blackmail that distinguishes between those falsehoods which are permitted and the ones which are verboten? That seems to be the benchmark established by this administration. Certainly, merely misleading this nation and predicating policy decisions on absolute fabrications is insufficient predicate to warrant even the gentlest reprimand.

So what we need focus on is a misstatement, large or small, that could prove so embarrassing as to cause the speaker to fear the consequences if the truth emerged. With all the poop emanating from this White House, we should be able to hit these targets blindfolded.

Thank you Mike Flynn for the service you have done this nation in your abbreviated time on this stage. You leave us knowing you were the first, but surely not the last, to exit in disgrace. You have shown us the template we can utilize to drain this swamp. For that this nation is forever grateful. Dasvidaniya.