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Monday, September 25, 2017

Making America Great Again

("The Day the Real Patriots Took a Knee")

The "sons of bitches" took a knee. 

One thing for which Mr. Trump deserves credit: the rebirth of activism in this country. Long dormant, with hazy images of burning bras or massive anti-war protests, a generation that seemed far from ready, willing and able, has now risen up to give us a meaningful collective voice.

The death of Obamacare has surely been averted, at least this long, because of the the onslaught of opposition from the millions who refused to sit idly by and watch it's destruction. 

The immigration ban brought us out of our seats and into the streets. And while we have learned that there is a limit to what we can accomplish, as Mr. Trump's new edict takes effect, there is no limit to fervor and heart.

And on the football fields we did not take a knee in surrender, but we rose up, taller than ever. This was about much more than even the racial animus of a despicable despot. It was an awakening. 

We are indeed mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.

Thank you Mr. Trump for bringing out the better part of us. You really may make America great again.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Airball

("Trump Attacks Warrior's Curry. LeBron James's Retort:'U Bum'")

But a few days after baiting a leader who launches missiles at a seeming record clip, Mr. Trump now unleashes his fury on another well known for his long range weapon capabilities.

The "madman" Kim Jong-Un and the bad man Stephen Curry in the same sentence. What were the odds?

To say Mr. Trump's skin is thin is to insult skin. He sulks, he whines, he pouts. He complains, he berates, he bellows. He is the child we worried about, the one we feared would cause harm to himself or others if he didn't grow up. And look what has happened.

You, Mr. President, have spent these last years hurling insults at virtually everything that breathed from our former President to the leaders of your own party, from the parents of one whose son died in battle, to almost all those who ran against you for the position you now hold. You have denigrated Muslims, Mexicans. You have fired off tweets at former beauty queens, been dismissive of reporters, found fault with peaceful protesters. 

But understand this. Some things are sacrosanct. Even we have our limits on your petulant behavior. We love our sports and our sports heroes. Attack them and you attack us.

So chastise North Korea, Iran. Challenge NATO. Castigate Congress. But leave Mr. Curry alone. That is a bridge too far. 

Airball, Mr. President.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

C.T.E. - Chicken (or) The Egg

("Is C.T.E. a Defense for Murder?")

Chicken (or) The Egg. CTE.

Was Aaron Hernandez an anger and hate filled young man whose wrongheaded propensities may have been exacerbated by years of football filled blows to the head? 

Or was his body merely an unwitting and uncontrollable vessel for a disease that created a volcanic personality disorder?

Can we excuse Money Mayweather? 

Do we forgive Ray Rice? 

What about Jovan Belcher?

Is it a bridge too far to excuse assault and murder? 

Do we believe, or at least does it create a reasonable doubt, that the fault lies not in these stars but in our sports?

Is our ultimate verdict not guilty by reason of the insanity of their chosen employment?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the Dying Light

As we baby boomers collect our social security checks and contemplate retirement, we have become a generation of orphans. Our parents are gone, or soon will be.

My sister and I spent an excruciating decade watching our mother become ever and ever a smaller semblance of a being. Her dementia engulfed her mental and then her physical state while we were but helpless witness.

But the one most amazing benefit of this experience was the opportunity to see the relentless nature of my sister's devotion to our mom. One could only imagine that the mental fatigue, the exhaustion of the intimate examination of a life wasting away, would eventually lead to cracks and fissures. The visits would diminish. The favorite foods would be forgotten. The attention to detail would fade. The devotion would wane.

But until my mom's dying breath, that never was the case with my sister. The same sweet treats appeared even when it became virtually impossible for my mom to eat. The calls to the caretakers were as steady on the last day of their duties as the first. The  coloring of my mom's hair years after she went blind and was not even aware of who and where she was, was unquestionable.

There was an uncompromising, unbending, unyielding attachment of child to parent, and time and pain were no match for an indomitable will.

Dedicating hours upon days upon months upon years, repaying a parent's love. Contemplating nothing quite so much as never having done enough.

Our children have witnessed the worst of our generation. The idealism of the 60's turning to the excesses of Wall Street. The belief that we were going to be different, going to make a difference becoming a question of whatever happened. The promise of tomorrow becoming the often sad reality of today. But, in my sister's unwavering commitment, and even in me as I was pulled along in her wake, they have seen something far better.

If you were to ask my son or daughter, or my nephew and niece, about the best part of the children of Dorothy Nussbaum, it would not be in what we have accomplished in our work, in the toys we may have accumulated or even in the love we have shown towards them. It would be in how we have treated our mom in the dying light.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Bull(y) in a China Shop

("Warmongers and Peacemakers at the U.N.")

Well, that went swimmingly.

Did we expect anything less from Mr.Trump who never met a hyperbolic insult he could resist?

Each word that emanates from his lips causes us to hold our breath. He is a one man nuclear disaster and if you push his button, or even if you don't, he is likely to explode.

Iran, bad. North Korea, bad with an exclamation point. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Game over. You lose.

It is a complex world seen through the eyes of a simpleton. A place where patience and nuance are expletives and diplomacy is for weaklings.

He is a bull(y) in a china shop, only this shop holds not just China but 193 member States. He is as out of place in this assemblage of world leaders as a tailor in a nudist colony.

Mr. Trump is a joke, only this is deadly serious. And threatening to totally destroy a nation is about as deadly as it gets.

So, let's get our President out of New York City as soon as humanly possible. The traffic tie up is killing us. And that qualifies as the best part of his visit.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pencil Without a Point


"Your recent writing has been insipid."

My friend didn't use that exact word, because no one actually speaks that way, but his descriptor was clear in its intention.

I have long believed that tooearlytocall.com is the perfect name for my blog, as its multiple layers of meaning touched upon the various themes central to my late, late night meanderings.

But there has, for some time, lurked in the shadows a backup, ready to emerge when called upon. 

Several years ago I was on a golf course and was looking to write down my score on the card that lay before me. My search proved futile and I announced to my fellow cart member that all I found was a "pencil without a point."

Forget what was happening with my game. I had just stumbled upon a phrase that encapsulated a writer's worst fears. 

As the words of my friend now damaged my ears and ego, that alternative title, long contemplated, emerged front and center in the part of my cranium in charge of this undertaking.

Nothing for me will ever supercede tooearlytocall. This combination of words was the brain child of my son. His genius attached to my pedestrian ruminations.

But the title of my blog does fail to capture the gnawing fear that on far too many occasions my writing is uninspired or much worse. 

Maybe I should use an asterisk, an "also known as", or some other method to announce the layer of paranoia which is as central to this endeavor as my insomnia, my obsession with politics or baseball.

And, as I conclude, I worry whether this piece on a pencil without a point is nothing more than a demonstration of itself.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

No Laughing Matter

("Is Nothing Funny, Mr. President?")

"It is time to put an easy laugh back on top of the (Democratic) ticket." 

Did someone say Al Franken?

In his new book, Franken describes the difficulty of trying not to be funny as a politician, so a former comedian can be considered first a worthy candidate and now a meaningful Senator. But his journey as a member of Congress is speckled with tales of gently poking fun at the enemy. It is in those moments that alliances are formed and barriers dissolve.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, builds not bonds but walls and resides in a dark humorless universe where one only laughs at, not with, others. His is a world of punching down, of mocking, of finding  the weakness and exploiting it. He does not deem his hair a comedy gold mine, but your ugly face, disability or menstrual cycle  is perfect fodder for his anger filled jibes. Even Hillary's bathroom needs was found somehow disqualifying.

And the principal catalyst for his presidential run was said to be his dyspeptic response to being the butt of the joke. He appeared as uncomfortable as a man sitting on a bed of nails as President Obama took him apart at that infamous Correspondents' dinner.

One of the shortcomings of Ms. Clinton was her inability to be the antidote to the dour Mr. Trump. Her smile seemed frozen in place and her laugh was drowned out in the cacophony of the campaign.

Al Franken is a serious man with serious goals for this country. But having the capacity to chuckle at his own inadequacies and help others find the humor in the midst of all the craziness might be his most valuable asset. 

And Mr. Trump is certainly no laughing matter.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Big BANG Theory or Good Will Hunting

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

("Congress Goes for Its Guns")

Single payer health care? A non-starter. Environmental regulations with a thought of saving the planet from imploding? Forget about it.  Financial reforms to protect our economy from another meltdown? Who are you kidding. Taking away any vestige of control from gun control? Now you're talking!!

If it is a slow day in Congress, there is always another way to kill time by making killing easier and more fun. 

Tax protection for the middle class? Too taxing. Addressing the rights of voters to actually vote? Not really. Taking Mr. Trump's finger off the nuclear button? Stopping the decimation of Roe v Wade? Undoing the Citizen's United debacle? Showing compassion for the oppressed and beleaguered? Stop bothering me!!!

But please be sure to tell all those from Columbine to Sandy Hook, from Gabby Giffords to tomorrow's Gabby Giffords that our legislators are busy saving the hearing of those with a weapon of permanent destruction in their hand, that there is nothing so important as being a nation that carries an unholstered big stick, that extending the unintended consequences of the Second Amendment seems our infinite national obsession.

They should entitle this bill "The Big BANG Theory"or alternatively, "Good Will Hunting."

And, as to that portion of the legislation directed at permitting the importing of 41 dead polar bears (for intended display), it must be said that this is a gross extension of that which was penned by our forefathers, who wrote only of our right to bear arms.

When discussing this most critical work of Congress, I implore you to speak softly so you don't do any damage to the sensitive eardrums of our most beloved hunters. 

Thanks for understanding.

Friday, September 15, 2017

("Why Did Trump Work Again With Democrats? "He Likes Us" Schumer Says")

Chuck, he doesn't like you. Mr. Trump likes only himself first, last and in between. Not country, not party, not policy or person but merely self. Everything else is but mirage.

This is not a Humphrey Bogart "beginning of a beautiful friendship" moment. It is not an Arlen Spector-like cuddling up with the Dems. It is a "what's in it for me" blip on the radar screen. Mr. Trump's exact words.

Favor is illusion here, a shake of a hand followed by a stab in the back.

From a man who has no moral or political underpinning do not expect stability or consistency. 

There are no friends in this universe. Steve Bannon, gone. Reince Priebus, kaput. Michael Flynn, oy.

And so the Donald, Chuck and Nancy show may be playing on our screens for now. But Mr. Trump can change channels with one click. Or, more accurately, a tweet. 

Be warned.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don Quixote, Sisyphus, Canada and Medicare

("Bernie Sanders: Why We Need Medicare for All")

A simple solution to a complex problem? Mr. Sanders' relentless drumbeat for sanity and reason has as much chance of now succeeding as did Sisyphus. 

It is not merely that a Republican Congress, Republican President and enormous forces of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries align against him. It is that we are living in a moment where fact, if not universally disregarded, is ultimately discarded. We are as a nation, but witness to environmental disasters and mass shootings, refusing to connect the dots, seemingly willfully oblivious to the damage we do to ourselves. Scott Pruitt's invocation was but our preposterous, pathetic blinders-on response to uncomfortable truths.

So, Mr. Sanders can set forth the statistics, remind us that we can see Canada from here, tell us that tomorrow can be better than today, but his proposal to save lives will die a quick death.

Our morality is on life support as crisis and calamity, economic and emotional devastation have proven inadequate weapons to rouse us from our stupor.

Mr. Quixote, you deserve more than this from us. But, at least for today, you dream the impossible dream.