About

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Primary Concerns


"The Republican Party Primary of 2012- A Musical" was a Broadway hit that never was. But while that opportunity passed, another gift of even larger proportion, like manna from heaven, looms for 2016.

Of the announced candidates, even months before the first shot is fired, there is the neurosurgeon who has determined that being gay is a result of incarceration and that the current state of the country is but an eyelash removed from Nazi Germany. Or the Senator from Texas, the self described smartest man in every room who is a very,very proud wacko bird, loves to shut down the government and read Green, Eggs and Ham. Or the female entry who watched over HP's decline and parlayed that into a losing effort against a Boxer. Or Mr. God's, Guns, Grits and Gravy, the huck(abee)ster for the Diabetes Solution. Or the son of another failed nominee who noted that walking, talking normal children can end up with profound mental disorders after taking vaccine shots. Or the Senator who takes his foreign policy position from the movie "Taken".

And that does not even take into consideration the Jeb Bush two step on his brother's Iraq attack, Chris Christie's cone-moving, Rick Perry redux with intellectual looking glasses, and a long list of the other unannounced including the king of interesting hair dos and investigations of foreign born presidential candidates.

It would be a shame not to parade this entire army of hopefuls onto the stage, if not for a debate, at least for what should certainly be an entertaining show (on Broadway).

Monday, May 18, 2015

To Kill or Not to Kill, That is the Question

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

He was undeniably guilty of one of the most devastating crimes ever committed on our soil and was almost certainly unrepentant, the testimony of one famous nun notwithstanding. He was thus a perfect test case for whether our society has the courage to stop the horrific practice of killing its own with the sanction and approval of our legal system.


It is the jury selection process that is in large part to blame for the perpetuation of this practice. Before the trial begins, those who believe the death sentence to be inherently wrong are excluded from deciding the fate of the accused. What remains is not a representation of community sentiment, for in this instance a vast majority of Bostonians would not deem voting to kill another human an action our society should condone. What all these death penalty cases share in common is that those deciding the fate of the accused believe it is morally sustainable to vote to end another person's life.


It should be the burden of the prosecutor, State or Federal, to convince a jury composed of those both pro and con sanctioned killing that particular circumstances demanded the most brutal of all retorts. I do believe that if this standard were imposed then the barbarism would stop and our country, like virtually the rest of civilized society, would be weaned off its thirst for an eye for an eye justice. And even the Boston Marathon bomber, arguably the worst of the worst, would stand as testament to our commitment not to lower ourselves to his level.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Brady's Deflated Balls



Does this episode warrant comparison with Bonds, A-Rod and McGwire, or is it more akin to the exploits of Perry, Ford and Sutton? Is Brady to be damned or praised? Was this cheating or ingenuity?

Whereas we have consigned our steroid induced heroes of baseball to the role of undeniable villain, unworthy of recognition in the Hall of Fame, no such shame has followed those accused of being masters of "doctoring" their pitches. Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton and our own beloved Whitey Ford were aficionados in applying vaseline, pine tar, sandpaper, spit and even thumbtacks to the surface of a baseball. Perry wrote a memoir entitled "Me and the Spitter." There appears to be honor attached to this tactic, more like an artist at work rather than an act of a master thief.

Bill Belichick, the legendary coach of Mr. Brady, is certainly one who has a flexible interpretation of the rules of the game, being involved in episodes such as "Spygate". Thus, maybe like those minions under Governor Christie, a win at all costs mentality pervaded the Patriot team and lodged firmly in the head of Brady. But, I find it hard to believe that in every locker room in the NFL there are not those who are searching frantically for the football equivalent of the spit ball.

Is Tom Brady's legacy irrevocably tarnished by Deflategate? I would suggest that his ego and  stature may suffer a short term beating but that Canton, Ohio assuredly will one day have a bust with his name on it. Maybe a slightly deflated bust.

Friday, May 1, 2015

What If They Played a Game and Nobody Came?

While the beating heart of America pulsed and hissed, filling the air with havoc and pain, inside Camden Yards there was silence, punctuated only by the solitary pop of the glove or crack of the bat. It was vivid reminder that life is not a game, that sport, filled with its metaphors and hyperbole is nothing more than distraction. The energy we invest in loving and hating, living and dying with those who toil on its stage is but illusion.

These stadiums serve as our cocoon, our harbor,and haven, where we congregate to escape the often harsh realities of the day.  And when there is emptiness here, it is a stark declaration that what is transpiring beyond its borders is too volatile, too  encompassing, too critical to allow us the luxury of sport. It is in the vast expanse of empty seats that the limits of the game is defined.

In the city of Baltimore, in the aftermath of the killing, in the wake of its violence, in the depth of its despair, the game of baseball played out in eerie solitude. We all waited outside its gates, anxious for the moment when the anguish would subside, the hatred recede, the heat dissipate and the doors open once more to provide us shelter, at least for a little while, from the raging storm.,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Fire in Baltimore

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS PIECE APPEARS IN THE BERGEN RECORD

There is a fire burning out of control in Baltimore. But it is not one that can seen by the eye or touched by the hand. It resides deep within, in the souls of those faced everyday with a world that has turned away.

President Obama warns about us responding only when the external flames are the highest and most visible. And history teaches us there is little reason to believe otherwise. For in the aftermath of each  high profile death, with each protest march, with each anguished cry, comes little. When night has passed to day and only the embers of despair are evident, we act as though nothing has happened.

Why will Freddie Gray be  different? Why will Baltimore mark a turning point? There is scarce hope that, even a stone's throw from the capital of our nation, we will awaken tomorrow to a new and better reality. Until we treat each life as if it were our own, until we open our eyes and reach out our hands to see and touch the soul of the beleaguered the fire will continue to burn.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton "Bad Person"

Mr. Brooks is making this a personal indictment of Ms. Clinton. While merely using polling statistics as reference, he leaves us with the clear impression that the putative Democratic nominee is the "bad person" in this scenario.

If I read the description of Mr. Brooks of this demonstrably damned leader who has to "push,bully, intimidate, elide the truth" then it is not Ms. Clinton but rather Governor Christie who comes to mind.
And who among the Presidents of the last 70 years since FDR  were the ones with the most "good private morality"? Would Truman, Ford and Carter all be on that short list? They were, from all external perceptions, decent people but lousy politicians.

So, I have issue with both the tone and content of the argument of Mr. Brooks. The Clinton machine is ruthless, and Hillary, more closely examined and known then possibly any other politician who has considered running for the Oval Office, certainly has her flaws. But was she an ineffective Senator or Secretary of State? Were there personal shortcomings, moral flaws, that made her a bad person and a bad leader? If so, show us chapter and verse.

For those who do not find Ms. Clinton an attractive option in 2016, and I would count Mr. Brooks among these, the former first lady appears an inviting target. But the truth is she champions causes for the poor and underprivileged and has demonstrated a caring and concern for others that is sorely lacking in the resume of the Republican candidates who will be soon be paraded before us. Such is the  morality that matters to me.

Mr. Brooks would have us read a book by the cover he puts on it. I think that does a grave disservice to Ms. Clinton and those who would follow his advise.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner is in fact a poster child. Emblematic of all of those who have been closeted, made to feel different in an ugly and cruel way, and yet despite the attacks to the very core of their being have come out. As Republican.

What is it about so many that allows them to align with a party that would not invite them to a party? Why would a gay couple host a fundraiser for Ted Cruz? And why would someone like Jenner, who will undoubtedly spend the remainder of her life advocating for one cause, look for  comfort, solace and protection from the group that has spawned the likes of Bobby Jindal?

Jenner has the opportunity afforded to a precious few in a beleaguered community to have a voice. And the next time she speaks, I would hope what we hear is the voice of reason, passion and determination. Of a Democrat.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bobby Jindal - A Voice of Intolerance

("Holding Firm Against Gay Marriage")



Governor Jindal would suggest that his is a heroic stand against left wing liberals who would destroy religious freedom. I would suggest that what he intends to do is rather to give state sanction to intolerance and hatred.

What the governor fails to recognize is that these are businesses open to the public to perform a service. A musician, cake maker or photographer is not, in the course of his or her employment undertaking a religious role. Singing a song, baking a cake or taking a picture is not a fundamental exercise of a first amendment right. 

We are a country founded on the principle of protection of certain inalienable rights. What Mr. Jindal misconstrues is whose rights we are addressing. When we permit our worst instincts to permeate our government, when we take umbrage at efforts to insure that all men and women who are created equal are entitled to our equal protection, then we fail to abide by the basic tenets that make this country exceptional.

It is now a half century since segregation, under the cover of constitutional protection, was held to be without legal predicate. Mr. Jindal's misguided efforts to stigmatize and ostracize the gay community with government blessing, demonstrates not courage but only an updated version of moral and ethical bankruptcy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hillary and Out of Town Tryouts


Every candidate goes through periods of uncertainty and self-reflection on the campaign trail. Positions shift, subtly if done well, as the winds of fortune change. What works is embraced and the rest discarded like old uncomfortable shoes.

This is politics and these are political animals willing and anxious to sway as many uncertain voters as possible with whatever pablum it takes. Hillary's grandmother image will disappear quicker than John McCain's love for Sarah Palin if her numbers decline. Image, not substance, is the movie playing on the campaign trail over the next 18 months.

Cut Hillary a break. She is in out of town tryouts for her tour, testing out punchlines before she reaches the bright lights of Broadway. This show is merely in previews, and we should not give it a review just yet. There will be plenty of time for our condescension and criticisms. For now, we should just sit back and chill out.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jeb Bush - Hispanic Male


I understand this gaffe may not cost Jeb Bush his chance to become the third member of his family to serve as President. But are we really supposed to accept the notion that his designation of himself as Hispanic was a matter of momentary distraction coupled with a blending of identities with his wife?

This was not a matter of perception, eg am I funny or clever or even am I conservative. In those areas, maybe the concept of husband and wife becoming a mixed enterprise could have meaning. But undisputed fact is not a question open to interpretation. Mr. Bush cannot possibly have confused his race with that of his spouse, even in the most generous attempts to explain his actions

Maybe Donald Trump should demand that Mr. Bush provide his birth certificate. Or even better, that Poppy Bush be compelled to take a paternity test, so that we can be certain of the true lineage of this person whom we all may have been fooled into believing was the son and brother of "family" members who occupied the Oval Office.

 Let us not create unnecessary fictions to protect candidates from their moments of stupidity.  It is unseemly and unwarranted