About

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Indisputable Proof of God's Existence

So, you may know that Donald Trump and I are not on speaking terms these days. He has taken far too much of my mental energy and way too much of my time, as his carnival moves from town to town. But this story is not about him, or maybe it is.

I have been scheduled to play Ferry Point golf course for several weeks now. More accurately it is known as the Trump Golf Links in Ferry Point, New York. It is reported that New York City paid $127 million to build this public course at the southeastern shoreline of the Bronx. And leased it to Mr. Trump, allegedly for nothing, nada, for 5 years in exchange for his promise to build a $10 million clubhouse.

Public in concept, but with prices to play that make most every resident anywhere in the vicinity of the course as likely to end up there as I am to vote for Mr. Trump in 2016. So, when the decision was made to throw some of my money into the Trump Golf Links coffers, I had a moment of personal crisis. But only a moment, for as most golfers will attest, moral scruples are no match for an interesting layout.

There has been some discussion with my wife and children about the inconsistency of my total disdain for anything that Mr. Trump touches and my heading off to the first tee with thoughts not of maligned immigrants or disgusted women, not of the vulgar comments directed at Senator McCain nor of the circus that is Donald Trump, but only with concerns as to how severely the wind would effect my tee shot.

And my family was not the only one who found handing any money over to any enterprise associated with Mr. Trump indefensible. Among the foursome, we had collectively suffered many significant hits to our psyche from those who professed to love us.

It has been a dry summer with many spectacular days. Throughout the season, I can recall only two occasions in which the weather forced me to cancel plans to play eighteen. When, you may ask, were these? The first time, and then the second that I was scheduled to head to the southeastern shoreline of the Bronx.

Tomorrow was to have been the charm. The forecast is for beautiful sunny skies and warm temperatures, with a zero per cent chance of precipitation. Trump and Nussbaum, together at last.

To prepare myself and my game, this morning I headed to a local course. My swing was mostly intact and all went smoothly. That is, until I went to pick up the golf ball on the seventh green.

I had back surgery a number of years ago and have studiously avoided doing the necessary exercises to protect it ever since. Almost miraculously, it has given me little pain, literally or figuratively, in several years. Until I bent over to pick up that ball.

And so, I will not be on the southeastern shoreline of the Bronx tomorrow. Three strikes, and I am definitely out and Mr. Trump and his $9 billion or whatever other fictional number he may attach himself to, will not be supplemented by my greens fee. God, in his infinite wisdom, has decreed that this particular left of left liberal may not abandon everything he believes in for the sake of one round at Ferry Point.

But, if Mr. Trump should drop out of the race anytime soon, I hope God reconsiders.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Make America Great Again - Dubuque, Iowa- August 25, 2015 at 6 PM

I decided to attend the "Make America Great Again'" rally held on August 25, 2015 at 6 PM.  The place, the Grand River City Center at 500 Bell Street in Dubuque, Iowa. I figured there was little chance that Mr. Trump would be coming to my neighborhood anytime in the near future. So, I hurried to make arrangements to see, in person, what all the fuss was about.

Did you know there was a Dubuque Regional Airport? Neither did I. But, on the morning of August 24, at 7:19 AM I boarded a plane bound for Chicago. From there, I would switch planes and land, shortly before noon eight miles southwest of Dubuque.

I had, like most others, believed that Mr. Trump's  politically incorrect mouth and complete lack of willingness to adhere to any political norms, would lead him to be the first contestant on the Republican stage to be fired. But it turned out that these were exactly the conditions that elevated his candidacy.

I wonder how many times the name Donald Trump has been spoken, or written, since June 16, 2015, the day he announced his intention to become the 45th President of the United States. Before I embarked on my trip, I went back to analyze the June 16th speech I had previously heard, at least in part, but had dismissed as Donald being Donald. I now listened with more interest and less cynicism. The opening remarks of Ivanka listed her father's uncompromising striving for excellence, his ability to make the hard deals and his record of bailing out stalled or failed government building projects. She portrayed a proven winner, one who could boast unparalleled achievements in several fields.

So this was the picture that would be painted, of an America in decline and in grave danger of losing its swagger, in need of urgent rescue. And who better to do another rebuilding project than the man for whom swagger was clearly not in short supply.

Mr. Trump promised a bigger, better and stronger America than ever before. One that would take down ISIS, stare down Putin, reign in China, beat up on those who diminished us and keep out, by that great wall, those who would rape and pillage once they crossed the border. We would be economically revitalized, reborn stronger and better than before.

As I headed to my destination in Dubuque, Iowa I tried to imagine the spirit and fervor that would greet me when I walked into the Grand River City Center. The Center, as announced on its website, is situated along the magnificent Mississippi River and features a grand ballroom ideal for weddings, holiday parties and formal gatherings. The Exhibit Hall could hold up to 2250 patrons, and it was here that Mr. Trump would speak.

I would be invisible. I did not want to introduce my prejudices, or biases regarding Mr. Trump into the conversation. I did not want those who had gathered to be aware of an enemy in their midst. For I understood that the reaction would be, at best to shun me and at worst, well I could only imagine it would not be pleasant.

On the afternoon of August 25, 2015 at 3 PM, I stood on line outside the Exhibit Hall at the Grand River City Center overlooking the magnificent Mississippi River. In order to obtain a ticket for Mr. Trump's performance that evening, I had merely completed an on-line registration, which asked a number of questions soliciting personal information.  At the bottom of the first page of the application, it asked me to check a box indicating if I would caucus for Donald Trump or help him become the President of the United States. I decided that a little white lie might be needed to assure my seat and I thus announced my allegiance to Mr. Trump becoming "45".

By my estimate, there were nearly a thousand people who had appeared earlier than I outside the City Center. This was more than a political rally, this was a happening. So it was not Woodstock, but I could imagine some of those who had gathered might follow Mr. Trump around with the same  obsession as "The Dead" groupies. "Yeah, this is my third rally, how many have you been to?"  I quickly determined that being a fly on the wall was not a realistic possibility. I was going to have to be a full fledged member of this particular clan to be able to withstand the rigors of the Iowa afternoon heat and the questions of those in attendance until the doors opened at 4:30 PM.

There was, seemingly everywhere one looked, signs pledging allegiance to the once and future greatness of the United States. Red, white and blue was the dominant color pattern and my drab color choices made me seem out of step with the festive occasion.

It was Tuesday and business as usual for those in the world, including Dubuque, who were not standing and awaiting the arrival of Mr. Trump. But for those gathered here, there seemed no reality other than what they were about to witness. I have been fortunate enough in my life to attend a Super Bowl and a World Series game. And I had imagined that the allegiance that one feels for one's hometown team achieving the ultimate in a sport to which you have attached yourself, body and soul, could not be nearly matched in any other setting. But, this crowd had the feel of something as significant and important as either of those sporting spectacles. There was an energy that was almost bursting, as talk of  what each one of us was about to witness pulsed through the long line.

They were young and old, mostly white but not entirely. There were some blacks, including a number of black women, who had made the journey to this destination. It seemed remarkable to me that anyone whose interests were so misaligned with a candidate, any candidate, could miss all the warning signs. It was one thing to be passive, to decide that there was no one out there who spoke to you personally and stirred your emotions, but to be an active supporter of Mr. Trump, to spend your time and energy in enthusiastic allegiance to this man, that was something that made me entirely uncomfortable. But, like I said, I was trying to suspend reality as I waited for the doors to open and take us in. I was in their world, not mine, and this was their home into which I was intruding.

I was at a rally for a much younger Barack Obama in 2007 in New Jersey. It was very early in the process and Hillary Clinton was still the choice of most Democrats. I remember then Mayor Cory Booker working the crowd, going up and down the aisles and walking within a few feet of where my son and I sat.  Before Mr. Obama spoke, Caroline Kennedy gave an introduction, extolling the virtues of a new generation of American leader. Her endorsement, on behalf of a family that had dominated the American political conscience for so many years, was incredibly important and stirring. Once Mr. Obama spoke, with all the elegance and grace, all the passion and poise, all the intelligence and insight, I was a believer. This was a person of vision, embodying hope and the future of our country. This was someone who instilled images of our better selves, our best selves and made us want to become engaged again. This was everything that George W. Bush was not.

And eight years later, is this not history standing on its head in a strange and bizarre manner? Is not Mr. Trump the anti-Obama, not polished, not endorsed by the great political family in our country but actually mired in a fight, much like Mr. Obama to distance this country from another Bush? There was no elegance, no grace, no intellectual curiosity, no great insight, there was but Mr. Trump, a bull in a china shop ready to run over anyone and anything that stood in his way. Here was a man who was not young and untested but who at 69 years of age, had proven his mettle in his own venue, time and time again.  Here was a call not to end our prejudices but to recognize and embrace them as reality. Here was not a politician but the anti-politician, not no drama Obama, but all drama Trump. Here was not the consummate mind, but the consummate showman. Or maybe, they were one and the same but we were just not smart enough to realize it.

The doors opened at 4:45. By then, I am told, all but a few hundred of those who would be in attendance were there.  I scurried to my seat and had full view, less than 100 feet away from where Mr. Trump would soon speak. I settled in and was surprised to find myself carried along with the fervor that permeated the room. I wanted to hear what he would say.

Not that I did not know what was to be forthcoming. We have all already discovered that the off the cuff remarks had some standard one liners that had played well in the past weeks. Much like his reality television show, there was a format that was working and it would provide the framework for the remarks of Mr. Trump. I could write fully half his speech at this point, and I could only assume that by the end of September, I might be able to be his full time speechwriter.

I sat quietly as the minutes passed. While fumbling with my phone, checking e-mails and seeming to be busy in my own universe, I was eavesdropping on as many conversations as my ears would allow. What I heard was a remarkable succession of unqualified endorsements for anything and everything about Mr. Trump from his unfiltered comments to his unbridled endorsement of the Trump mystique. I decided to engage my neighbor to my immediate right in conversation.

He was younger than I, maybe no more than 40 years old. He was well dressed, as if he had just come from his office. He was blond,with thinning hair and seemed a non-threatening target.

I introduced myself, using only my first name, and placing my residence much closer to Iowa than was true. I learned that this thinning blond haired neighbor worked less than a mile from the Grand River City Center and had cut short what he was doing to hear Mr. Trump. After a few innocuous comments back and forth, I posed a question to him.

"The other day I was asked what one thing Mr. Trump could say or do that would most affect your support for him. What would your answer be?"

My thinning blond haired neighbor looked at me for several seconds and then answered slowly and emphatically. "If he hugged Obama, kind of like what Christie did."

I nodded my head in solidarity. I thought to myself, "with all the problems in the world, all the issues that have to be addressed, this, THIS, is what would cause my thinning blond haired neighbor the most anguish about Trump."

What was going to make this evening even more intriguing was the recent significant retreat of the stock market, caused we were advised, in large part by the problems that China was encountering in keeping their economy from sliding backward. Several weeks before, Mr. Trump had warned us about China playing us for fools, and when they devalued their currency, he pointed out that this was incontrovertible evidence that they were smarter and more savvy businessmen than we were. Tonight, in addition to the immigrant bashing that played so well, I was certain we would have a new topic to discuss, China. Forget that their problems seemed to indicate that their government was not quite so smart as Mr. Trump would portray, and that the stock market reaction was not due to China outmaneuvering us but rather was based on the fear that they would in fact stop being a business partner. Just putting the words China and stock market decline in the same sentence would be as much as Mr. Trump would need to convince this audience that he was the one and only person capable of understanding and out-negotiating them.

At 6:15 PM the local and state dignitaries filled the stage. One by one they spoke of the greatness of Mr. Trump, echoing the words of Ivanka from June 16 and expanding on the legend. It was all intended to bring the assembled to a frenzy, so that when the man of the moment finally appeared, there would be a coronation. On top of that strange mass of hair would rest a crown, and the king would be bringing truth and comfort to a crowd ready to profess their undying love.

By 8 PM, the preliminaries were over. And then, finally, entering from stage right, as a god more than a man, as the savior who would bring this country back from the depths, who would beat back all foes and who would once more, and forever, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, was the one, the only, Donald Trump.

If Mr. Trump was performing this routine in the Catskills it would be called shtick, with its own quirky idiosyncratic blend of sarcasm, waving arms and calls for confirmation of every non-sensical thought that emerged. "You know what I mean" or "don't you agree" punctuated many of  his punch lines.  He hit all the standards, lambasting and mocking political opponents and perceived enemies. He took evident pride in being able to use the derogatory term "anchor babies" without redress while Mr. Bush was taking an unrelenting beating for the same indelicacy. He ignored the separation of powers between the branches as he promised to bring Ford Motor company to its knees for threatening to build a plant in, of all places on earth, Mexico. The Constitution was clearly only a guideline, not a dictate, in Mr. Trump's vision, and those who he opposed would crumble before him as swiftly as cowering criminals before Superman.

But it was, in most respects, pedantic in the Trump scale of greatness, and, as we have all been reminded constantly, everything that Mr. Trump touches is not just great, but the greatest. And, the crowd, primed for an Oscar winning show, was relatively subdued, with quiet applause and supporting nods being the principal response.

It turns out that the fireworks happened not in this Exhibit Hall, not on this stage, but in the press area where Mr. Trump and a reporter from Univision squared off. Confronted with a somewhat relentless foe, Mr. Trump resorted to his bag of tricks, first trying to ignore his opponent, then having him escorted from the room, and finally sensing he might have overstepped, even for him, allowing the reporter an audience. It was here, only a few feet from where I sat, that the real action occurred. It turned out that I had traveled all this distance, only to miss what I had been hoping to see,  Mr. Trump having to do his rope a dope.

Mr. Trump's is a brand a vitriol and hatred, covered in the American flag, that I cannot countenance. He has invoked a nationalist, isolationist fervor that is unseemly and unsettling. He has taken away the dignity and worth of those who were by accident of birth not born in this country and has portrayed them as mere caricatures, without value or meaning.  His campaign will not be extolling our virtues but encouraging our vices. His is a call to anything but American greatness.

So, on August 25, 2015 when Mr. Trump announced in no uncertain terms that he was the person best qualified to lead our country, when all those in attendance were praising the greatness of a charlatan, I found only an Elmer Gantry masquerading under a big tent, in a side show that had somehow taken center stage.









Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Great Wall of Trump

We now have the first stated platform of Mr. Trump. In his town hall meeting and press conferences he denounces point by point positions as being inflexible. He tells us in his now not so off the cuff remarks that he is a GREAT negotiator and thus capable of making the best deal for himself and, by extension, for all of us. "Don't worry", he is advising us, "I got it".

And then he announces a stance on immigration that is so absurd and so distasteful as to defy belief. But it matters little that this wall, which will be the biggest and most beautiful ever because, like everything else he comes into contact with, maybe it will bear his name one day, this wall is America at its worst. 

Mr. Trump's platform rests not on the consideration of the disastrous economics of the futile attempt to chase  down and deport over 11 million "illegals" or on any rational review of  this nightmare of a policy statement but on his one simple immutable stance: "trust me, I got it". 

Trust me, he doesn't.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Manicured Lawn (or The Best Seat in the Park)

It is a bit of a labyrinth to reach our destination. We enter through a space reserved for those few who are deserving of special attention and are directed through the double doors, which are as tall and imposing as intended. Then to the left down the nondescript corridor, followed by a right onto the wide pathway where there is general milling of the hoi polloi. Past the shops and restaurants inviting the opening of the wallet and the suspension of economic reality. Next we begin our descent, ever closer to the manicured lawn where our attention will be drawn. The steps are more than mere means to an end, they are a declaration of wealth, or at least the appearance of wealth.

As we near our final resting place (no, not that one) we are stopped by a man in uniform. He examines our credentials and then makes us retrace our path, to the top of the stairs. Once there we are given a wrist band, temporary coin of the realm. With this we will be able to leave the less well off in our rear view mirror,  seen from a distance by the proletariat but given full protection from them accidentally meandering into our universe.

We move in full majesty ever and ever closer until we are separated from those residing on the manicured lawn by physical boundaries no greater than the distance of a good sneeze. It is talent alone that creates the chasm of space from those on the manicured lawn to us

In the world that existed before this one, when the distinction between those who had and those who wanted was but a blurred line, when the uniforms protected not those within from coexisting but were purposed with keeping peace, when this was a home that we all shared, I had been as closeasthis to the manicured lawn. I had interacted with those who stood on the manicured lawn and they had with me. But that was then and this was decidedly not.

As they took their appointed places on the manicured lawn, the kings and princes, the entrenched and the hopefuls, the chosen ones,  the future and the past played out in struts and frets, in glory and darkness, in triumph and turmoil. And from my perch my eyes sat in unobstructed judgment.

That is not to suggest I was without distraction. For the covey to my left had clearly been deprived of sustenance for some time before finding themselves, as I, wristbanded to an endless supply of gastronomic treasures, free from monetary constraint. And they paraded myriad food groups to and from, now and once more, never seeming to reach the satiation point. It was a prodigious performance made the more remarkable as two of this flock must have celebrated birthdays when FDR was assuring our collective well being.

On center stage was the savior, or at least today's edition. While my erstwhile friends made conspicuous consumption their focus, I tried to determine if this hero was real or but mirage. But even upon close examination, even as I was thisclose, even as I had been to this manicured lawn on a thousand occasions before, even then I was unable to decipher fact from fiction. At times majestic and at others pedestrian, this knight's shining armor was  arresting with edges of the plebeian. If this seat were that of the emperor, thumbs up or down would have been an elusive undertaking.

There was one other minute annoyance, so small I am ashamed to divulge. There was a pawn, or maybe a rook, placed in a box on the manicured lawn, sometimes impeding my vision of those who were the object of my attention. Much as I implored him to relocate his derriere, he was deaf to my supplication. How could I be thisclose and in such a predicament? I was forced to crane or collapse, to move this way or that as the man in the box remained as if tethered to this piece of terra firma.

As daytime descended into night and the the artificial brightness illuminated the manicured lawn, I awaited the moment when destiny would fall into my outstretched hand, when that universe and this would collide. As my neighbors left a trail of evidence of their having been in this locale, ever expanding waste and waistline, I awaited my white orbed manna from heaven as just reward. But it was not to be and as the fat lady sang, I was left as empty as a promise of fealty by a lothario.

When nothing remained but the echoes, when the manicured lawn was left with no kings or princes, when time moved inexorably forward, the wristband disappeared, much like the golden slipper and I was left once more as I arrived.  I retraced my journey, up the steps and back into a world where I was indistinguishable from the rest. No more favored status among the nations, just another ordinary being, without crown or sceptre

The truth is that I fit much more comfortably in a place removed from the manicured lawn. The wristband as barometer of worth does not rest easily upon me. As I disappeared into the ethos, I was filled with a peculiar mixture of unease and a fervent desire to return, as soon as the fates allowed, to my place thisclose to the manicured lawn.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frank Gifford

("Frank Gifford, Celebrity as Player and Broadcaster, Dies at 84")

He was a made for TV football star, impossibly good looking, well spoken, playing a glamour position on a championship team. Before Paul Hornung wrested the title of Golden Boy from him with those incredible Green Bay Packer, Vince Lombardi squads of the early 1960's there was Frank Gifford.

It was the perfect storm of talent, town (New York) and timing, as the images of our sports heroes no longer were limited to the pages of the newspaper, but entered our homes and our conscience as never before.

Frank Gifford's life would keep him in the public eye for most of his adult life, first as sports hero, later sandwiched between two very big personalities on Monday Night Football and finally as the spouse of Kathie Lee. It was a remarkable run and one in which, apart from very brief dark moments in his marriage, and one terribly frightening collision with Chuck Bednarik, greatness and glory were his constant companion.

Frank Gifford was a product of the second half of the twentieth century, of the melding of sport and entertainment. It was his good fortune as well as ours that we met and remained friends for so many decades.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Round One (Won?)

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS PIECE APPEARED ON AUGUST 9, 2015 IN THE RECORD


"And in the deep red corner, wearing merely a scowl and a menacing attitude, weighing nothing carefully but throwing jabs wildly in the air, with a record of however many wins he tells you he has, is the undisputed champion of the outrageous and absurd, the one, and hopefully only, Donald Trump."

In the first round of this 12 round fight (if it goes the distance for DT), it turns out that the referees were the ones throwing the haymakers, attacking from the opening bell as they tried to pin Mr. Trump against the ropes, making him raise his hand so they could  land a body blow labeling him a Republican/Independent/Opportunist. But Mr. Trump would not allow them to rope this particular dope, and slithered away. Throughout the battle he drew blood from Mr. Paul (attacking him as having a bad night), Mr. Christie (as having a bad Atlantic City), Rosie O'Donnell (as being Rosie O'Donnell), Mr. Bush (as being related to his brother) and Ms. Kelly (as being vulnerable to his counter-punching at any moment). This was hand to hand combat, not a debate.

Today the spin begins as the handlers for each fighter tell us of the victory of their combatant in the ring. Mr. Trump will no doubt be his own huckster, decrying his detractors and admiring his own footwork. Was the hair mussed? Were the scowl and the attitude stripped away to reveal a naked would be emperor?

This round, like those that come hereafter, will have to go to the scorecards to determine the winners and losers. We will not know whether Mr. Trump emerged bloodied but relatively unscathed until the pollsters tell us.

Our eyes and our ears inform us of little. Rather the numbers reveal if any real damage was inflicted. And if the attacks upon him and his responding insults and intimidations prove to do him no harm then we might well consider a new nickname for Mr. Trump: "Teflon Don."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Donald Trump and Howard Beale



Almost four decades have passed since we were so drawn in by the unfiltered words of a sudden hero. One who savagely attacked the status quo and who became the voice of a country long grown weary and frustrated by life which he not so gently referred to as "bullshit".

His anger and message were not only tolerated but wildly applauded.  With each passing day his popularity grew and the nation, seemingly en masse, embraced this man and his vision of a country disintegrating before their eyes.

Howard Beale was "mad as hell" and we opened our windows to shout as one that "we are not going to take this anymore."

But in the final scene, when his words no longer captured our attention or the television ratings, Beale became nothing more than a pathetic useless charade. And his death, orchestrated by the "Network" that had no need for a sad and demented figure with plummeting ratings, demonstrated that what one day can be considered genius in the next may well be revealed to be nothing but the sheer ravings of a lunatic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Republican Debate (Did You Watch- I Know the Answer So Here is the Synopsis for You)

("Confrontation is Avoided In a Republican Forum")

It served more as infomercial than debate as 14 hopefuls paraded seriatim before a moderator more than willing to forego serious challenges. It was our first earful of Republican chest banging of announced accomplishments and of promises of a Democratless tomorrow.

And the man in the middle was nowhere to be seen as Mr. Trump contrived some perceived slight (as if this ever stopped him before) to serve as predicate for not appearing. "I am not a debater" will be Friday's headline if things go badly for the leader of the pack, as he frames his excuses before the top 10 list (no not that one) go mouth to mouth.

Monday's warmup proved only that no candidate is willing to step into the gaping void of centrist politician. On issues like immigration, Planned Parenthood and foreign policy, each wannabe took turns at the most conservative of platforms. If any of the assembled were chosen, we could rest assured we would be a nation of fence builders, not fence menders, of hands off instead of hands on care and of diplomacy marked by carrying both a big mouth and a big stick into intended confrontations with those who don't pay us the respect we are so clearly due.

There were the usual zingers pointed at President Obama, Ms. Clinton and the most hated of them all, Obamacare. But in the end, this audition proved little other than we are in for a long and painful summer, fall and spring as the hopefuls move ever farther right in an attempt to pull the crazies (John McCain's word) into their particular corner.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Samuel Dubose and the Scarlet Letter

("The Shooting of Samuel Dubose")

It is a variant of the crime of "living while black". It is called "driving while black."  It is the insistent, irrefutable presumption that being black is invitation to wrongdoing. It is the immutable belief that in the next second, before you have time to react, you will be the next victim.

It is the implicit association test in real life informing us to shoot first and ask questions later when it involves persons of color.

It resides on every sidewalk, in every playground, in every car and in every step taken. It clings to every black man, woman or child like a scarlet letter. It removes individuality and inserts a stereotype into each encounter, each confrontation, each death piled on the death before it.

It exists in the minds and fingers of those who pull the trigger. It has happened again today, even as you read this, even if neither you or I know about it yet. It is endemic. It is epidemic. It is a national travesty and a national tragedy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trying to Avoid A Sack


Like a mob boss, Tom Brady ordered his underling to destroy evidence of the crime. Or maybe like a former President of the United States.

Roger Clemens at one point tried to throw his wife under the bus.  Lance Armstrong seemingly threw everyone under the bus.  

It is not so much the wrongdoing, but what happens thereafter that fuels the fire. If Clemens, Armstrong or even Nixon had quickly admitted the error of their ways, mouthed a lukewarm mea culpa, and asked for understanding, forgiveness and the right of redemption, who knows how differently their tales would have been written.

And as for Tom Brady, there is a long tolerated and even condoned practice in sports sanctioning whatever competitive advantage you can obtain, up to a certain threshold. And perhaps Mr. Brady slipped over that line. But had he admitted to a vague awareness of the circumstances, professed a misunderstanding of its wrongdoing and not had an underling tasked with a throw away akin to a pass into the stands in the face of onrushing linemen, almost certainly he would not be faced with the level of punishment now imposed. It was a very bad audible called at the line by a quarterback who saw a blitz coming. In trying to avoid the sack, Mr. Brady only incurred a penalty for intentional grounding.

Alex Rodriguez tried to buy up the evidence of his drug usage. He sued everyone in the chain of command, alienating his team, the league and those who wanted, somewhere deep in their heart, to be able to forgive his trepasses.  In the final analysis this only made a bad situation that much worse.

Mr. Brady's mistake was not so much in throwing deflated footballs against an overmatched opponent, but in everything that he did thereafter. And his punishment, even in the stated opinion of the Commissioner, fits not so much the crime as its aftermath.