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Friday, June 24, 2022

On the End of Roe v Wade

No matter the omnipresent human violation of gun violence, no matter the overwhelming sight of Ukraine covered in blood and despair, no matter the environmental destruction that is everyday more evident, no matter the depth of emotion brought about by our political divides, no matter even Donald Trump's blatant efforts to destroy the very fabric of our democracy, nothing, NOTHING, feels so immediate as today's ruling by the Supreme Court.

It is your children and mine, your grandchildren and mine, who are the ones to whom this decision is addressed. It is their liberties that are being deleted as if they were errors on a page to be removed by the turn of a phrase. It is a direct attack, not a hypothetical, not happening thousands of miles away, not occurring over years or decades, not in someone else's neighborhood, someone else's home. 

It is a sad day in America. I know that many will feel vindicated for their efforts leading to today. I know that the Republican party will pat themselves on the back for denying Merrick Garland the seat he rightfully deserved on this very Court. I know that Donald Trump, by his good political fortune in the passing of RBG will expect congratulations for what has now transpired. I only know that what has occurred today may be the first of many steps in a descent of our country into an image that may one day soon be unrecognizable. I only know that the very heart of this country has been torn today.

We knew this day was coming. We have felt it in the winds. And still when I learned of the decision I let out an audible gasp. This one is personal.

The Medicine Cabinet

  I got old overnight.

My mistake was going to several doctors. So they got to tell me things I didn't want to know about myself. No, not about my ego, but  thank you for asking.

As of this morning I have quadrupled the row of pills which now line up before me. My enlarged prostate has now been joined by high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataract and hiatus hernia, as a team dedicated to reminding me that thinking young is not exactly the same thing as actually being young.

The good news is I now learned an endoscopy takes about as long as a Donald Trump speech on the incredible virtues of Nancy Pelosi. 

The less good news is just about everything else.

I think I was somewhat silently dismissive of those friends of mine who lined up mountains of pills before them as they addressed a multitude of sins committed by their bodies. That somehow, good fortune was my eternal right, that aging was something someone else did.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a lament, but merely an acknowledgement that my days from here on will be marked in " take this in the AM, take this before bed." And that I owe a debt of gratitude to my uncle A. Alan who taught me the art of swallowing pills.  You know, swirl the water around in your mouth, then tilt your head back violently so the pill descends before it has time to realize what has transpired.

Each one designed to make my body believe the lies I have been telling it all these years.

I think the lesson I take from this is definitely never go to doctors. Or maybe it is to definitely go to doctors.

All I know for sure is that the medicine cabinet is suddenly very crowded.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Dad

 My children never met my father. He died over a year before my wife and I welcomed our first born into the universe.

And while I have tried to keep my dad alive with stories of who he was and what he meant, what he means, to me, those tales end when my sister and I are no longer here. What then becomes of him?

I fear his immediacy will disappear. The sense that he is still able to shape thinking, to influence decisions, to have a say in the outcome of an event in which his position is persuasive, or at least instructive. WWMDD, what would my dad do, no longer part of the lexicon.

There is a sadness for me in that. While I know that one day people will speak of me in the past tense, I do not feel any urgency that humanity be guided by me in my absence. But I believe there will be a great loss when my dad's voice fades.

I understand there is a tendency on my part, and on my sister's, to wash away any of the foibles that were part of dad's makeup. The areas where one could argue he fell short of perfect. But do I really have to recall cranky moments in traffic, or any other peccadilloes? For me, and for so many like me, who are today paying homage to our fathers, we can be forgiven if we only recall the best that was offered.

Whatever good my children and my grandchildren take from me is because I am no more than a vessel passing on the lessons I learned at my father's knee. My best but a shadow of his.

And while my grandchildren will never tell stories about my dad, maybe all is not lost, if what he instilled in me somehow takes root in them. If what I found so breathtaking, what I tried to remember and to emulate, can become part of their makeup.

If that occurs then maybe my dad will continue to exist even after the immediate memories are no longer. At least I know that is the fervent hope of my sister and me on this Father's Day.
 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Thanks, For Nothing, Mr. Barr

 ("A Striking Contrast: Trump Officials Then and Now")

Funny what the guillotine of a perjury charge can do to bring out the best in a person.

I thought men and women in public service owed a continuing duty of honesty and fealty to those under their care. So, it would stand to reason that people in power would have given us fair warning that Donald Trump had departed from the world of reality in the days and months following his election loss in November of 2020.

Mr. Barr and the others now on parade, should you not hang your head in shame when you look at your response to the sham of the President and those like Mr. Guiliani that inexorably and inevitably led to the events of January 6, 2021?

There were many co-conspirators in this plot, not merely those who acted in support but the ones who failed to act against it or to alert the public of a truth that lay buried beneath a mountain of lawsuits and lies. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Eye of the Beholder

 ("Donald Trump, American Monster")

He always says what he means but never means what he says. For Donald Trump, the truth depends on who's asking.

Why was Donald Trump not indicted for his threats against President Zelensky to withhold US support if he didn't dig up dirt on the Bidens, or his challenge to the Secretary of State of Georgia to find 11,780 votes needed to overturn the election results in that state, or his inflation of the value of his properties to lenders to better the chances of securing needed funds, or his instructing Michael Cohen to quiet Stormy Daniels with a payoff to secure his chances at the Republican nomination, or his litany of challenges to his followers to take on the government, by whatever means necessary, in the wake of his election defeat? 

Simple. What you and I heard was not what he intended but merely our misinterpretation of his words and deeds. Donald Trump was guilty only of letting his mouth run ahead of his brain, of amplification and puffery. The criminality was in our minds, not his.

What his followers heard was a man being a man, righting wrongs, exerting his power and guile to get exactly what he wanted. Unless of course, this would result in any criminal charges. In that event, read the paragraph above. 

We catalogued Mr. Trump's exaggerations, his half truths and outright lies during his presidency about Mr. Putin and his relationship with Russia (does anyone even remember the Mueller report and the first impeachment), about COVID and his daily game show on how we should address or ignore it, about virtually every subject that came across his desk (when he wasn't at Mar-A-Lago playing golf) and yet here he is, in 2022, still sneering that self satisfied sneer, still clinging to his stories tighter than that dress did to Marilyn Monroe. Unless of course that could lead to an indictment.

In that event, go back three paragraphs. 

In the end, we hold this truth to be self evident: when it comes to Donald Trump, truth is never self evident, nor are lies. 

Ugliness, as well as beauty, merely in the eye of the beholder.



Saturday, June 11, 2022

Your Wait Time Will Be

 



Today I made a call and was told I was the first caller on line. 15 minutes later I was still the first caller on line. I hung up and called back 10 minutes later. I was now the eleventh caller on line. After 10 minutes, I had not moved up. I hung up. The following is how I imagine another call like mine would go on the other end of the line

________________


11:45 AM - You are the eleventh caller on line. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available representative. Your wait time will be approximately 12 minutes.

12 minutes later - You are the ninth caller on line. I am taking an early lunch break because I hate my job and work as few hours as I can get away with. Your wait time will be approximately 10 1/2 minutes.

10 1/2 minutes later - You are the eighth caller on line. Don't you have anything better to do with your day then wait to speak with me? I am not going to be able to help you anyway, so just realize what a colossal waste of time this is. Your wait time will be approximately 7 minutes.

7 minutes later. You are the first caller on line. Really there has been no one in front of you this entire time. I just like to play with people's heads. Your wait time will be approximately 45 seconds.

45 seconds later. You are the third caller on line. You know that adrenaline rush you got when you thought you were first on line. Just killed that buzz. If you are still interested in what I tell you the wait time will be, then you are even more gullible then I thought you were. But if you need to know, I am actually considering picking up the line as soon as I finish this beer.

After the beer is finished - Sorry, I just had to run to the bathroom unexpectedly. But I am feeling better, thanks for asking. I apologize for the unusual delay. I'm here now. Before I get to your question, there are 3 simple questions you have to answer correctly. Yankees or Mets? Alcohol or marijuana? Was there an insurrection on January 6th?

By the way, have you been following Jeopardy this season? How could they have so many who win at least five times in a row. I smell something fishy going on there. Maybe their ratings were going down the tank after Mr. Trebek passed away. But that's just me.

And I wonder what your thoughts are about dining inside these days. I try not to get into discussions of substance with just anyone but I have the sense that we are forming a special connection here.

Anyway, what did you have on your mind? Speak louder, I'm having trouble hearing you. Are you in a bad cell zone? If you lose me, you can just call back and ask for me specifically and you will jump the line. My name? Oh, sorry, I am not authorized to give out my name.

I can't answer that question without checking with my supervisor, who is out today but should be back as soon as you no longer require the answer to that question.

If I can be of any further assistance don't hesitate to call back.  Please remain on the line to answer a short customer satisfaction survey. Your favorable responses would be greatly appreciated.

Have a wonderful day, and thanks for calling "wait, wait don't tell me".


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Blood, Tears and Indifference

 ("As Survivors Demand Action, House Passes Gun Bill Doomed in Senate")


It is the ultimate insult. The in your face disregard given to the voices of the grieving. The decision irrefutable, intractable, immutable.

There will come a time when the death grip of second amendment fanaticism loosens. But that is not today and it will not be tomorrow. And the words of those suffering the fresh wounds of loss will not be the catalyst. 

One wonders why there is such a chasm between the parties. Let the vote of the House and Senate serve as Exhibit A. It feels as though neither heart nor brain is evident in those who find insufficient cause to end this terrible plague upon our nation.

In the anguished pleas for sanity we face a most awful groundhog day of blood, tears and indifference. We should be better than this. The sad reality is that today we are most assuredly not.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The Opening Act

 I'm here to welcome you in

My guitar and heart on a string

Opening up, I'm opening up 
Hoping my words will sing

I give you my two cents 
You give me back maybe one
I play for pennies and smiles
That show me how I've done

I try not to seem so desperate
But where do I go from here
45 now, like an old time record
Just a step ahead of my fear

I should be closing my opening act
Counted in heartache and miles
But I just can't let it go
Still chasing those pennies and smiles 

I live in my grandparent's house
Hardly a penny to my name
A life on the road to nowhere 
But I'm still looking for fame

I may be broke but I'm not broken
Chasing after pennies and smiles
I'm opening up, your opening act
And I'll be with you for a while

So settle in and settle down
Please listen to my tale
And if you like what you hear
Please buy my CD's on sale

I live in my grandfolk's house
With a nod to the past unspoken
Chasing after pennies and smiles
Broke but still not broken

An opening act for life
That's all I'll ever be 
But give me a penny and a smile 
And the world's done right by me



Friday, June 3, 2022

Dirty Laundry

 ("The Actual Malice of the Johnny Depp Trial")

This trial was about celebrity and our collective voyeurism. It had the feel of Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson fanaticism by those who could not, or would not, separate myth from reality. It was pathetic. And it damaged a movement that must fight for every inch of gain. Every day.

But mostly this story should have been buried somewhere deep in the recesses of public media, not deemed worthy of front page news. We have unrelenting catastrophes that deserve our unfettered attention. This nation's gun violence epidemic, Covid's continued hold, Ukraine's ever unfolding tragedy, should not be forced to share space with the dirty laundry of the Pirate of the Caribbean.

Is Johnny Depp's career damaged beyond repair, or will this verdict in his favor prove catalyst for his next great adventure? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Should We Be Shown Images of the Dead Children in Uvalde?

 ("Should We Be Forced to See Exactly What an AR-15 Does to a 10-Year Old?")

Would this country, would much of the world, be as involved in and committed to the cause of Ukraine against Mr. Putin without the photographs and videos of  the gruesome reality in the streets, the hospitals and homes of the victims of Russian brutality? Surely not.

We are moved by photographic evidence in ways that words, no matter how forcefully stated, can fully capture. But I fear that images such as those discussed herein, of the destruction and mutilation of young lives in Uvalde, would not prove a catalyst for revision on the issue of gun control but merely exacerbate our unrestrained disrespect for those who do not share our views. 

We well know the playbook of the gun rights advocates. These photos, they would argue, are not intended to address root causes, but merely to distract from the truth that we must strengthen, not weaken, our ability and resolve to protect us from these atrocities. They would suggest that liberals should be ashamed of themselves for taking a moment of grief and attempting to exploit it. Their diatribe is an exercise in excruciating pretzel twisting, mind numbing, logic which we have been forced to endure time and again.

This nation has long ago hardened its views, pro and con, on the matter of gun control. Unlike the defense of Ukraine, we are today not being asked to formulate an opinion on guns, but merely if we would alter our position on their proliferation given horrific demonstration of their effect.

Sadly, I believe the photos of 19 dead children would not bring about the intended result one would fervently hope they might. As such, let these images remain buried, for they will not resurrect the dead nor plead their case in a manner that will stop the next Uvalde from occurring.