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Saturday, January 21, 2017

The March in New York City, January 21, 2017

We came to this place in strollers and wheelchairs. We came in all shapes, all sizes and all colors. We came not in the hundreds or the thousands but in the hundreds of thousands. But we came as one heart.

The march in New York City was no different from the one in Washington or Boston, no different in the largest of cities or the smallest of hamlets. It was comprised not of man or woman, not of black or white, not of rich or poor. Its very being was in the idea that this nation was going to fight for the rights and privileges long fought and richly deserved. The resolve that no despot was going to impose his will upon this nation and bring it to its knees. The belief that when we joined hands we were forever strong and formidable. The unshakable determination that one flawed election could not and would not mark an inevitable destiny for this nation.

There are wrongs committed upon us by those who should know better, those to whom we entrust our care and the care of this planet. There are lives to be protected, rights to be safeguarded, victories to be preserved and defeats to be reversed. There are voices that need to be heard, tears that require solace and pain that must be tended. 

Each step on this route was taken not with my feet but by the waves of people who descended on this place in common cause, by those throughout our country who cried out, by those throughout the world who marched arm in arm with me today. There was a tidal wave of emotion, a tidal wave of sound, a tidal wave of humans demanding humanity in its best sense be preserved. 

And Mr. Trump should understand that we will not disappear because he refuses to see us, we will not be quieted because he refuses to hear us, we will not go gently into the night because he has made it dark. For we will march today and tomorrow and for as many days and nights as we have to, for there is no other way. One heart, one head, one foot in front of the other, we move inexorably forward.

Mr. Trump's Greatest Hits

It was a package of his greatest hits. His hits on on our crime and drug infested nation, on a Washington establishment that he will do nothing but perpetuate, on a universe ready to pick the pockets of America and take our jobs, on the threat of ISIS whom we would swiftly annihilate even as our 45th President announced in certain terms that we would no longer be the world's policeman.

There was no soaring vision, only those small dark places that Mr. Trump calls home. An America in decline, in disgrace in dismay.

Here was a man, totally unequipped for what lays before him, unable to muster up an idea that we could cling to. This was a campaign stump speech, a 16 minute tweet, without the puerile insults but with the same damning of enemies, those Mr. Trump sees everywhere he looks.

"America first" is a warning not only to foreign lands but to those in our midst who are "foreign" in the eyes of our new leader. Be you of the wrong color, of the wrong nationality, of the wrong religion, beware.

For better or worse, and if Mr. Trump is allowed to proceed unfettered then the latter shall surely prevail, we are now in the tiny hands of a preening, prevaricating, clueless catastrophe, destructive, demonic, incomprehensible and insufferable, always but a moment from raising a terrible swift sword, always but a thought away from calamity. 

We must summon the strength and the courage to persevere and to prove that we are better than this. That we have made a mistake but that there are not inevitable consequences. That we are not powerless but must demonstrate our resolve in the streets and in our every action. That we still have a voice, we still have a heart that beats and a brain that works, we still have a reason, a purpose and a chance to make certain that Donald J. Trump does as little harm as possible.

 Mr. Trump's inaugural address was our call to arms. Let us not grow weary or forlorn. Let not the darkness overtake us or make us fearful. Let tomorrow be a better day. Let us get to work.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Letters to the Oval Office - The Voice of a Nation

("To Obama With Love and Hate and Desperation")

It is emblematic of the current President that the letters he read each night reflected not merely unadorned admiration but also the voice of a nation confused, scared, angry, hurt, in pain.

Mr. Obama heard and listened to the words of the disillusioned, the downtrodden, the discouraged and the dismayed. He understood his failures as well as his successes.

Can we imagine Mr. Trump engaged in a similar undertaking? For he is nothing if not a man who discards bad news as rubbish, who denies dissent, who is seemingly unwilling to reflect upon his shortcomings or respond to the voices of despair. Mr. Trump resides in his own ivory tower, in his own bubble where it is hard to imagine even those closest to him challenging or questioning his judgment or pointing out moral dilemmas.

I fear that the the many thousands of letters to the next Oval Office will not be read nor will the best of them, representing the essence of our collective being, with its many complexions and complexities, be heard by Mr. Trump.

For on January 20th  the light will grow dim in the White House and the office in charge of listening to the pleas of the American people will grow as dark as the heart of the incoming President. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Breaking News - Trump to Have Translator with Him at All Times


The Republican party has continually been making excuses for the Twit in Chief. It has been a full time job defending the oft indefensible remarks. 

We have been advised to ignore his words but rather look into his heart, yet we do not possess the necessary medical equipment. And so from China to Germany, from NATO to the news media, the Offender in Chief has done almost incalculable damage. 

Anonymous sources have now confirmed that rather than allow the ill formed phrases of the Idiot in Chief to go unattended for even a minute, Mr. Trump will never be left alone with his thoughts.

Instead, a new position has been created, Translator in Chief. The principal function is to defuse each nit-wit like phrase and turn straw into gold, or at least make it less flammable. 

There are several leading candidates. It is rumored that the favored choice of the President-elect is Sarah Palin. Something to do with her ability to see Russia wherever she looks. And that she and Mr. Trump apparently share the same reading list. And similar vocabulary. And she has nice legs.

But there is also the strong possibility that this post will be held not by man or woman but by computer. Watson, the machine that first rose to fame as a contestant on Jeopardy (the TV star in Chief's favorite intellectual program) has been recently interviewed. 

While no final determination has been made, I am informed that there is a seat reserved for Watson next to Mr. Trump when he delivers his Inaugural address this Friday.

But when asked if it was up to the challenge, Watson said there were some tasks that were just too hard. Even for it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Proof of Life

("Wait. Is that Hillary Clinton? Let's go say Hi")


Mark Twain. Paul McCartney and now Hillary Clinton. Reports of their deaths all greatly exaggerated.

In the early morning (mourning) hours of November 9, we wondered how we would survive the night. After the Thrilla in Manila, Muhammad Ali informed us that his battle with Joe Frazier was the closest thing to dying he had ever known. For many of us, metaphorically this felt just as close. And we all presumed that for Hillary Clinton, it was not only her political epitaph, but her personal one as well.

We thought that if she somehow survived she would surely become a Howard Hughes recluse. There would be false reports of her sightings every few years. We would never have incontrovertible proof of life, just a partial image or a message that could not possibly be verified. Even if she somehow persevered, she would spend this darkest of all her winters in deep hibernation.

But, she actually took a walk OUTSIDE even before we could muster the energy to do so. And we are told she is taking regular sustenance, doing grandmotherly activities, and most incredibly  I don't know how say this gently, attending HIS inauguration.

Wherever Hillary Clinton ventures these days, she is treated with a reverence she was never able to fully attain during the long, often torturous slog that has been the last quarter century of her life in the spotlight. Always looked upon with suspicion, always a little too cold, a little too remote and a lot too cautious with every word uttered for us to find the Ali in her.

But with this cataclysmic defeat, and her ability to rise up from the canvas so quickly, Hillary has shown all her remarkable resolve. She has been hit with the mother of all haymakers and yet here she is, come take a look.

Surely, the applause will soon die down and images of Hillary Clinton being part of the fabric of our country, will draw less and less attention. But for today she is a celebrity, cherished  for giving us permission to move forward. She is not dead, and if this didn't kill her, it surely shouldn't kill us.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Breaking News - Donald Trump to Rent Out the White House


In a startling development, President-elect Donald Trump today announced that he would not be moving into the White House after his Inauguration, but would instead be renting it out on a daily, weekly or  monthly basis.

Trump has stated that while he is President he will continue to reside in his luxury residences in New York City and Florida.  At a press conference Mr. Trump advised that "when I am in Washington, I will be staying in my new great hotel, it is the best, believe me."

When asked how he could conduct  the business of this country from remote locations he answered as follows: "I am the business of the United States. It comes to me."

As to his plans for who may occupy the White House and the terms and conditions of any rental, the real estate mogul took over: "Who wouldn't want to say that they had stayed in the Lincoln bedroom? It is almost unimaginable the money that I will be able to generate, especially during Christmas and when the cherry blossoms are in bloom."

"But who", a reporter from CNN inquired, "will the revenue go to?"

Mr. Trump responded as follows: "I will not answer that question, as you will only report fake news. And, just so you know, I will never release my tax returns as they are not for your prying eyes."

When pressed further, Mr. Trump, in a semi-shout exclaimed, "the money will be paid to a trust run by my son and all profits, after he takes his cut as trustee and I take mine as proprietor and manager of the establishment, will be donated to a charity run jointly by my wife and daughter."

So, if you are planning a trip to Washington DC this year, you might want to consider a stay in a residence that is more than 200 years old, with plenty of history attached to it. But please don't steal the bathrobes. It is a Federal offense.

PS -this is a fictional tale with sadly too much truth attached

Fair or Foul

("Fair Weather Fandom")

He should wear the scarlet letters FWF like a badge of shame. How dare he exult in a team's success when he hasn't spent the last 108 years desultory and thoroughly depressed.

I have lived more than six decades bleeding Yankee pinstripes. Well, maybe not so much bleeding as lauding. Excellence was in fact my promised right. The fallow years, the Horace Clarke, CBS days, were hard to watch and even harder to swallow, but I persevered. Well maybe I turned away for a second or two, OK a decade, but I returned to Reggie and Catfish and then Derek and his Rat Pack. I died a thousand deaths in 2004 when the Curse of the Bambino was lifted. And I suffer the apparent ode to mediocrity that has become the now Bronx Bummers.

So I may decide not to drag my body to the House that Ruth Did Not Build and I may even choose to turn my attention elsewhere rather than subject myself to another game filled with men left ninety feet from home and a starting staff in search of a starter.

But I still wake each morning and determine my mood based on last night's box score. In a world that is more bewildering to me with each passing day, I know there is one constant: my beloved and, for the moment, beleaguered Yankees. Like the game itself, I am ready for fair or foul.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Blind Trust

Despite his naysayers, Donald Trump does believe in the concept of a blind trust. In fact, it is the very reason he was elected.

For Mr. Trump, blind trust is encapsulated in one phrase: "believe me." It intends that those who listen have faith not so much in his words as in his very being. It is the predicate for the seemingly bizarre and twisted logic of his personal Cruella de vil, Kellyanne Conway, that we should judge Mr. Trump not by what comes out of his mouth but what's in his heart.

And so when Mr. Trump informs us that he is not bound by long held ethical guidelines to divest himself of holdings or even to separate himself from continued control of them, except for the paper thin veneer of transfer to his children, we have to believe. For if we have abiding faith that, in his heart, Mr. Trump will build a wall (paid for by Mexico) between himself and his family, then we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

We now start down the perilous path of a Trump presidency with virtually nothing to hold onto for assurance that our country will survive this man. Nothing, that is, except blind trust.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Farewell to Barack Obama

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


Long after the echoes of his last words had died, the crowd remained. As if by holding fast in that great arena they could stop the passage of time. As if it was Chicago, 2008, not 2017. As if, instead of the promises of yesterday, it was the promise of tomorrow.

As Barack Obama left the stage for one final time, as we fear that all the good he has done will soon be but history, as we lament the passing of the torch to one who casts a shadow of ugliness on this great nation, as we sense we are becoming less than we can be, less than we should be, less than we must be, as the light recedes and the dark reality descends, our hearts are heavy.

We listened to what he had accomplished in the face of unrelenting opposition. We struggled as he told us that a democracy and all it offers is not an absolute, but something we must be ever vigilant to protect. We cried as he saluted those who had made his life and ours fuller.

He was not perfect. No man is. Not all the blame for his failures lays at the feet of others. But he was relentless in pursuit of his task, noble in his effort, and pure in his desire to see that the basic promise of this country,that all are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, be fulfilled.

Tomorrow we will awaken to a new world, one in which the contrast between the current President and the next could not possibly be starker. And we wonder how we could have fallen so far in our vision, in our concept of the qualities that we revere and the qualifications that we demand in the one chosen to lead, to be our example to those scattered across the globe of what America is and what it means.

And so we wish we could press the pause button, or more accurately, rewind. And that we could awaken tomorrow with a sense that the day filled us with excitement, not dread, that the hours passed with joy, not pain, and that the President was someone  to whom we could point with pride, not disdain.

We will sorely miss Barack Obama for everything he intended and everything we dreamed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Breaking News on the Wall


Donald Trump announced what will be the first major infrastructure project during his presidency. It came as little surprise. The Wall.

But there was an apparent significant change in the specifics. Where Mr. Trump had earlier been insistent that the Mexican government would pay for the cost of construction, that no longer appears the case. Last week, Mr. Trump stated that he could not wait for Mexico to agree to fund this work. Now he said he has a new approach.
 
"I will round up illegal immigrants, thousands and thousands of them and give them a choice: either immediate deportation or building the Wall, without any charge for their work."

"It is going to be great", Mr. Trump stated, "we get what we want and don't have to pay a penny for it."

When it was pointed out to Mr. Trump that slavery was abolished in 1865, he dismissed the argument. "You and your political correctness. Illegals will make America great again."

PS- the above events did not happen, but they definitely could have (or maybe will)