Thursday, February 26, 2009


For one brief moment, he stood on the precipice of greatness. Now, 30 stories above the earth, the view was very different. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, the ground rushed up to meet him and it was over. He was 32 years old.

It didn't have to be this way but it was. There had been choices that begged for different answers. They had all been ignored in the pursuit. He had been blinded by the light and now there was nothing left.

There was no getting back up, no ladder to climb. The weight of what he had done would not let him eat another meal, plant another kiss on a baby's head, shake another hand, send another misleading e-mail. The end was a relief for him, if not for others.

The gathering crowd surrounded the still figure. No one had seen it happen but many would later recall being witness to the descent. It was a scene that would repeat itself with increasing regularity over the next months. Earthjumpers they would be called as a group.

It was bound to start happening with everything that was swirling around. The world as we had long known it no longer existed. With the axis of the earth on tilt we were all losing our balance and our hold on our sanity. It was hard enough for us to put one foot in front of the other. For him, it was impossible.

He had been in the right place at the right time for so long that he wouldn't allow himself to be anyplace else. The money had come so quickly and so easily. If he passed up the opportunity, it would only go to others. If there were no consequences to pay for him, to hell with anything else. To hell was where he believed he would be going now.

The policemen soon appeared. The area was cordoned off and the remains of the short flight were examined. As the wallet was removed from the dead man's rear pocket by the officer, there was a slight flinch and a gasp. He had heard of this person. He had seen him in the papers, shaking hands with other rich and famous like him.

Now, he was just the first of many to come. It had all been so senseless. The worst of times were precipitated by the worst of men. He had been one of them. He was now just the leader of a new group, the Earthjumpers.

Soon the crowd dispersed. They had seen all that they could. They would take away with them stories to be repeated over many months. When they learned of the former celebrity of the silent body, it would make their tale take on added importance. Even in death, he would retain his notoriety. Only now, it would be associated with all things evil.

This is a tale that has not happened, yet. However, with each day that we get revelations of lives turned upside down and people who swindled and cheated in the chase for the golden ring, this story will be written. And when it is , you can say you read it here first.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rising Star?

Last night, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of a pair of "rising stars" in the Republican party (the other is, of course, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin), gave a shockingly tone-deaf and almost universally-panned speech in reaction to President Barack Obama's address to Congress.

The lowest--and most painfully ironic--moment in his speech came when he used the government's shameful and negligent response to Hurricane Katrina as an example of why government cannot be relied upon to help solve our nation's problems (as the Obama administration and the Democratically-controlled Congress are trying to accomplish with the stimulus package). If the outcome of the government's inadequate response to Katrina had not been so tragic and sad, Governor Jindal's remarks would have been comic for their complete lack of logic and self-awareness; instead, they were simply stupid.

Given the above, now compare the Fox News and CNN transcripts of Jindal's speech. Are the right-wing cheerleaders over at Fox trying to help Bobby Jindal clean up his mess and salvage his Republican wunderkind reputation by truncating the worst parts of his speech?

Here's a sampling of reviews of Bobby Jindal's speech:

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economist and liberal columnist for the New York Times:

And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

"Republicans, Democrats criticize Jindal's Speech" Associated Press Article

VIDEO: David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times
"I think it's insane...a disaster for the party."

VIDEO: And, lastly, Governor Jindal himself.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The great .....................disconnect

Hundreds of speeches, thousands of words and millions of comments. And so far, nothing to show for it.

We are in a hurry. We want to see pictures of foreclosure signs being removed, as people continue to live in their now more affordable homes. We crave images of the first shovel of dirt being dug on road reconstruction or needed rehabilitation of a school. We long for the picture of new wind turbines. We need to see the first new energy efficient car come off the lines. While money seems to get to the banks and Wall Street in a nano-second, there is a huge................gap in our minds between the thoughts of true economic recovery and any signs that it is about to get underway.

It is this I think, above all else, that has us in such a panic. Enough with the speeches. We have heard all the rhetoric. Show us the money. Show us the money.

In tonight's speech, President Obama would do well to pull out the down home stories of people's lives being turned around by what is being done. Let there be a glimmer of light, that tomorrow holds out the promise of hope and not a year or 2..........down the road. If we can feel some sense of immediacy, we can begin to put our house and our country back in order. Until that happens, I fear that all the words in the world will just dry up and............vanish.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More new shows

As the economy continues in free fall, here is a list of potential new shows to study the downside of the downside:

1) American Idle
2) The Weak in Review
3) Who Wants To Find A Millionaire
4) Wheel of Misfortune
5) Double Jeopardy
6) 12 (What's left of 24)
7) No Deal or No Deal
8) Bare Bones
9) Lost, Forever
10)The Too Late Show
11)Apartment (as we lost House)
12)Damages, gone wild
13)Law and Order, Special Victims (us)
14)Lie to me, please
15)Friday nights lights out
16)The small bang theory

I am sure there are many more possibilities. If you learn of one, please let us know.

My cousin Yuri

And the Oscar goes to:

Mickey Rourke playing a self -destructive tortured superstar of his sport, Alex Rodriguez, in the picture of the year, "my cousin Yuri"

Mr. Rourke:

"First, I want to tell everyone how difficult it was to bulk up for this role. I want to thank my trainer , Jose Canseco, for making it perfectly clear to me that you cannot succeed in anything in life without making the necessary sacrifices. I also appreciate the special talents of Ralph Macchio who brought the role of cousin Yuri to life in a way few could ever imagine. Madonna, in the role of Madonna, nailed every single nuance."

"In this life we have very few opportunities to showcase our talents at their highest. In the news conference to provide his mea culpa, Alex Rodriguez gave a once in a lifetime performance. It was that sense of you can't believe a thing I am now saying to you that I tried to capture in this role. Like Alex, I have spent most of my life making curious decisions and putting my foot directly into my mouth. I am so grateful for the opportunity that has been afforded to me to show the world, this late in my career, that one can learn and mature. I know that Alex is listening to me and nodding his head. I just can't tell if he is nodding side to side or up and down. Or maybe he is just nodding out."

"I want to thank the Academy and all its members. Last, a special shout out to my dogs. I love you and will be home soon. Go to bed"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hair yesterday, gone today

So it's 4 AM and I just shaved off my beard. There is actually more to this story.

As you may recall, shortly before Christmas I began the great facial experiment. The beard grew for several weeks. I got a few compliments, Joanne liked it, and I felt I was looking very professorial. Given my new internal fame as a writer, the look seemed to fit me well.

At that point I went to the barber for a trim of my hair and beard. I came out of the shop dissatisfied with the results. The beard remained too long. I was told that today's appearance was to always look like you were growing a beard, never like you really had one. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Joanne and I shopped and found a simple working beard trimmer. I got it home and couldn't wait to use it. I actually found the results of my first experiment with it to be excellent. With the beard trimmer set at 2, I looked as if I hadn't shaved in about 10 days.

Over the succeeding few weeks, I would shave my beard back every 6 or 7 days. This was going well.

In fact, it was going so well that yesterday I decided the wonder trimmer would work equally well for haircuts. Without the benefit of reading whether or not this product was actually intended to be applied to the top of one's head, I was going to apply tonsorial tenderness to my pate. My mistake.

The setting was put at 6. This should be a minor trim. Nothing happened with applied pressure downward of the blade. The next logical assumption was to try it going up the scalp. Scalp turned out to be the critical term. With one upward motion, virtually whatever hair had been on that part of my head was no longer. The job now underway, there was no turning back. Within minutes I had an almost shaved head.

Suddenly the beard and haircut gave me a very different appearance. Jo and I went out to dinner with some friends last night. The reactions were consistent and often brutal. The most benign remark was that I looked like I had my head on upside down. The rest of the comments were not as complimentary.

As I lay awake at 3:30 AM (my attempt to cure my insomnia with Valerian root not yet proving wholly successful) I decided bold steps were needed. I hopped out of bed, into the bathroom and the results, several minutes later, was much hair in the sink, and a new virtually Mr. Clean staring back at me in the mirror.

Joanne is, like any normal human being, still asleep. She should be waking in a few hours. If she has any compassion ( and she does) she will say little. There is not much she can do about living with someone clearly going through some sort of mid-life crisis except try to ride out the storm. Sometimes I feel sorry for her.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thinking Outside the Boxee

I know that the average reader of this blog might not be on the cutting edge of internet and media technology, rendering most of this post indecipherable. But I thought I'd post my latest rant--which started as an email to a friend--for your amusement anyway. I've tried to define and describe terms here as much as possible, but I'd be happy to offer further clarification. -Richie

From the fine folks who brought us hundred-thousand-dollar copyright infringement lawsuits involving sweet-old-grannies-on-fixed-incomes and adorable-little-nine-year-olds-who-really-like-Miley-Cyrus, comes the latest in a string of dumb moves:

Media 'content providers' (i.e. the major television networks and studios) just made HULU (the amazing website--memorably endorsed by an other-worldly Alec Baldwin during the Super Bowl--that delivers hundreds of television shows and movies to your computer, instantly and free of charge) pull the plug on BOXEE (that neat little application that delivers Hulu's shows and movies to set-top boxes like XBox and AppleTV, and consequently right to your television screen).

Bear in mind that Boxee was streaming ad-supported, legally-viewed content, the exact same content viewed in the exact same format with the exact same ad breaks as someone who viewed them on hulu.com on a computer screen. You know, the kind that the struggling media companies--who always seem about 5 years behind the zeitgeist and double that behind the technology delivering it--actually condone. The kind that, theoretically, helps said companies remain profitable and, even more theoretically, enables them to justly compensate performers and technicians for their work*. Yeah, that kind.

[*As an aside, fair compensation for online viewing is a whole 'nother can of worms, but the fact remains that the networks have made a decision to make more of their media available online as viewers' habits have changed, and being dickish and territorial about distribution still does nothing to help the people who actually create this content]

But, instead, they've decided to tell the Boxee users--who watched more than 100,000 ad-supported, legally-distributed, revenue-generating television and movie clips on Hulu last week alone--to take a hike. They've literally blocked, by their own volition, a steady source of viewership and income.

Boxee, obviously, thinks this is a stupid move. And, to Hulu's great credit, they, too, are working to convince the media mega-conglomerates that it is in their best interest to encourage the legal distribution of their content. But the folks back at corporate headquarters are still busily typing cease and desist letters and snail-mailing them off to BetaMax users.

So, until the media executives remove their oversized crania from their regions most nether, I'll have to go back to watching Hulu on my laptop (or, in all likelihood, simply watch much less of it, which is probably a good thing for my overall well-being), while other more desperate and less wholesome Boxee users will surely retreat into the shadowier realms of the internet where content flows freely and completely devoid of commercial interruption.

Of course, with the state of the world right now, I suppose this falls somewhere in between luke-warm pizza delivery and miscounted change at the coffee shop on the Injustice and Inhumanity Scale--but I do think it provides yet another example of big business in America acting stupid, and then seeking to blame the masses (i.e. their 'customers') for the consequences of their own stupid decisions.


David Brooks writes today (Money for idiots) at the sense of outrage felt by having to 'shower money upon those who have been foolish or self- indulgent'. Is that the way we are supposed to feel?

Much of our country, and truly much of the world, is now reeling under the collective weight of bad economic decisions that have seemingly spiraled out of control. Those of us who have not taken unwise steps are being asked to carry the burdens of others. Somehow, those millions and millions of people who find themselves in the most serious trouble are cast as villains in this global disaster. Brooks speaks of the "regrettable moral logic of housing bailouts" that compels us to help them , only based on the theory that "if their lives don't stabilize, then our lives don't stabilize".

Mr.Brooks, we were ALL duped. We all bought into the good, better, best for today and tomorrow. You and I are still living in our homes not because we are any smarter than those less fortunate, but only because we are more fortunate. You and I both were equally as stupid as all the others. We have just been a little luckier, so far.

And where does compassion play a part in our choices? If I were one of the people now facing the possibility of foreclosure, wouldn't I be hoping that you had the human decency to help me out in my time of need? It seems like hard times bring out the worst in many of us. We do not easily suffer fools I guess. We must be the one who can cast stones because we have no sin. Rick Santelli of CNBC went on a tirade on the air yesterday and shouted at the President to "have people vote... to see if they want to subsidize losers' mortgages!" ( quoted in the piece by Mr. Brooks)

I want to let you in on a secret. You and I are all part of one whole. We are not separate from our fellow man. There are not millions of bad, greedy people suffering out there today. That is you and me who is unemployed, hurting and desperate. We must all suck it up in these hard times, and do our part to make everyone's lives a little better. We should do this because it is the right thing to do, not because it is the only way to get us out of this mess. Shame on you for your selfish view of the world. You and I, and all of us, should be better than that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

No it alls

They are consistent. They are, in the words of Michael Steele, the Republican National chairman, as one in "disagreement with Congressional Democrats and President Obama" in denouncing the stimulus package as a waste of money (NY Times, February 18).

It is the voice of opposition for the sake of political gain. If the plan fails, there will be hundreds of Republican leaders standing over the carcass with I told you so in their eyes.

The future is fraught with peril. Almost as soon as billions had been handed out to the Big 3, they are back with empty pockets and pleas for more. As we send 17,000 more troops into harms way in Afghanistan, the coffers will continue to empty in our ongoing struggles to even find our enemies. We now have formulated plans to provide aid to those facing the imminent threat of loss of their home. We are using our money to stop the bleeding and hope we don't hemorrhage.

We will take many steps back for every step we take forward in the coming months. There will be times of legitimate finger pointing. But, like the boy who cried wolf, it will be virtually impossible to separate the Republican mantra from true dissent. If the sky is always falling, how do we know when Chicken Little is not just clucking?

If yes we can is always met with no you won't, we will all suffer. Let us be selective in how we try to instill fear and negativity. In a time where there is little positive, let the Republicans permit yes to creep into their vocabulary. It may hurt a little at first, but they might be surprised where it can lead them, and all of us, in the end.

A New Play


I walked into the theatre last night a cynic. Two hours later, I emerged reborn. In what is sure to take us by the hand and lead us in from the cold, a new play has now opened to a stunned and captivated audience.

It is a wake up call to the American public. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Pick yourself up, get off your derriere and get back in the game. When times get tough (you know the rest).

Arising out of the ashes is a bright new star for today and many tomorrows. The lead was played by a young man who not too long ago was known only by a select few. Carrying himself with a dignity and purpose we have not seen in many years, our hero invoked worship from the gathered throngs. He was born to lead and lead he would.

From the worst of times do we find the best? It is in our most vulnerable moments that our true strength emerges. These are the lessons we are taught, as we sit as mesmerized students, listening and learning. We want to believe. We have to believe. We do believe.

We should travel, as one, to the theatre tomorrow and for as many tomorrows thereafter as it takes for us to emerge refreshed and ready to take on the fight. In these times where every dollar has meaning, we will leave the theatre much richer than when we arrived. Run, don’t walk, to become part of an experience that will change you forever.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bringing it home

President Obama, consistent with his promise of transparency, has opened up discussion on the possibility of permitting the American public to get a first hand look at the costs of war. Since 1991, the policy of our government has been to deny the right of our media to show images of flag draped coffins on their final journey on American soil.

"If the needs of the families can be met, and the privacy concerns can be addressed, the more honor we can accord these fallen heroes, the better. So I'm pretty open to whatever the results of this review may be." (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, at a Pentagon news conference on Tuesday, February 10)

Why was the impact of 9/11 so dramatic? It was real because it was happening to us. We could see it, we could feel it, we could touch it, we could breathe it. There have been tragedies involving American lives lost abroad in terrorist attacks, but they were there and we are here. Tragedies on foreign soil are often too disconnected from our own world to retain their importance.

Why were the recent election results principally determined by the economic crisis? It was felt in our pocketbooks and in our heads. This was not some abstract discussion by the government of the merits and deficiencies regarding some policy that might effect us. This was happening inside our homes.

Until the impact of the war is in our eyes and part of our being, its meaning will be diminished. While the debate focuses on the morality of making personal tragedy public, it is making a public tragedy feel personal that really drives this argument.

It would be a disservice to those in the military to continue to be brought to their final resting place under cover of darkness. They deserve better and we need to truly understand the consequences of our decisions. Only in the brightness of the daylight will we all be able to see what we have wrought.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It was a slow Friday at work. In this economy, slow is the new pretty busy. With not much to do, and some time on our hands, Joanne and I made a decision. We were going to get stimulated.

It is very easy to not spend money in these hard times. Jack Benny could be a poster child for today's economically inactive. For those of us with a natural reluctance to part with George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns even in the salad days, reaching deep can be a very difficult exercise in 2009.

We have learned the hard lesson that when the economy stagnates, we all lose. So, when our dryer decided to bid us adieu earlier this week, we looked for the first opportunity to introduce a newer, better model to our home

We actually made 2 purchases on Friday. We stopped at a carpet warehouse that was essentially deserted. We were looking for an inexpensive replacement for the carpet that had slipped through our fingers and into our daughter's apartment when we made the mistake of showing our prize to her. We found a carpet marked down from $1299 to $99 and had our first new possession of the day. Has there ever been a carpet that was sold without being marked down?

The dryer proved to be a slightly more difficult acquisition. With no 90% off sales as in the carpet store, our selection did not present itself on a platter. However, after about 30 minutes, the dryer of choice stepped up and introduced itself to Joanne and me. As the credit card slithered through, and the sale rang up, I wondered if the President would have been proud of our having taken a part in his stimulus plan. One small step for man...

It felt right to spend, even in bad times. There was something positive in bantering with the salespeople and taking part in an activity which we had taken for granted not so long ago. Our personal stimulus package in effect,Joanne and I headed home, spent. There is always a price to pay for being stimulated these days.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I am reading "The Yankee Years" by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci. Torre speaks of being struck by a comment by David Cone about the team's "desperation to win". It immediately resonated with me as to its contrast with what is happening in our world today. For us, it is the desperation not to lose that is our psychological tsunami.

When I put down the book and opened the NY Times this morning, I read of Senator Judd Gregg's decision to withdraw as nominee for commerce secretary. The article quoted President Obama as stating that the "American people were "desperate" for Democrats and Republicans to work together". It was much more than coincidence that this term was utilized.

David Brooks today writes of an imagined scenario of future failure of our economy. In this not such a make believe world, Brooks portrays a psychologically battered America that had 'migrated from one society to another- from a society of high trust to a society of low trust, from a society of optimism to a society of foreboding".

In this new world order, we have everything to fear, as fear itself engulfs us. It is this sense of desperation that cannot be allowed to take hold. As much as we point the finger of blame at those who have led us to the brink, it will be our own insecurities that drive us over the edge. The one overriding task of this administration is to get us all on the couch and change our collective psyche.

Through the years of the Yankee dynasty, most other clubs were beaten before they stepped on the field. The Yankees knew that they would eventually prevail. They were not working from a core of weakness, but one of strength and domination. There was a will and a drive to succeed. Right now we are like the old Kansas City Royals who came to town with no reasonable prospect of victory. Defeat was the norm, and the only hope was not to be humiliated in the process.

Until we become more like the Yankees of old, and discard our sense of being the Kansas City Royals, we are in deep trouble.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Downhill racer

Following a straight path to stupidity is not easy. When I left you about 6 weeks ago, there was the possibility of surgery on my injured shoulder . I soon learned that the surgeon's knife could likely be avoided with rehab, as long as no further trauma ensued.

About 3 weeks later, in a follow up visit with the doctor, the issue of the resumption of my skiing was broached. "If you don't fall, then you can go for it". While I doubted this was a serious suggestion, I chose not to search for the true meaning. Even though my injury was far from healed, the next day I was back on skis.

The first run took me back to my earliest days on the slopes. The beginner hill had transformed itself into an Olympic challenge. Our perception of reality is our only reality. For me, fears that had long ago been relegated to the recesses of my mind were now my companions. With the weight of the doctor's words making my skis heavy beneath me, I began my descent.

Everywhere around me danger lurked. Sounds of other skiers approaching from behind put me into a panic. Didn't they know that I was injured and was not to be distracted? How could they possibly not understand that this was my space and invading it was a capital offense?

In my mind, the run took several days to complete. However, when I reached the bottom of the hill, only a few minutes had elapsed from start to finish. I had survived. I was thankful that my lack of common sense had not, for the moment, resulted in another visit to the doctor's office. I took a deep breath, made sure my ability to reason was safely tucked away, and got back on line for a ride to the top of the mountain. My idiocy has no boundaries.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fail out

If we envisioned the Bush administration as one big bumbling mess, we were prepared to fall in love with our new super intelligent replacement.We would not make any more bad decisions. We would certainly never repeat the errors of our predecessors.

Judging by the reaction of Wall Street and the media, Timothy F. Geithner laid an enormous egg yesterday. When President Obama spoke at his press conference on Monday, he deferred questions on the bailout to Geithner, indicating that he did not want to steal Geithner's thunder when he unveiled the plan. As it turns out, I think the President may have heard the rumbling in the distance and was just looking for shelter from an impending storm.

The apparent lack of detail or direction in the plan fostered an immediate negative response in the markets. While we desperately need the underpinnings of confidence to get us out of bed these mornings, the announcement yesterday probably sent more than a few people scurrying under the covers, heads buried.

I hope that this does not mean this crisis is just too big for us to put our arms around. There has to be a way out. If we continue to act like we are just wandering around the maze, hoping we somehow bump into the exit, I fear we may never emerge .

We have been living in darkness for too many months. Geithner seemingly showed us no path to daylight. For that, he has inflicted a little more pain on all of us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The New York Times

For all my loyal readers, I ask that you turn to page A26 of today's New York Times. There you will find ( on the op ed page) the "asterisk" essay I wrote yesterday ( in the letters to the editor section, under the title of "Balls, Strikes, Hits, Home Runs... and Drug Tests?").

I have now found my way into publication 3 times in the past months. The piece I wrote on Roger Clemens, Congress and the use of steroids ( the first post on this blog) was excerpted in Time Magazine ( March 10, 2008). On October 19, 2008 the New York Times published my piece responding to the Warren Buffett's op ed on whether or not to invest now in the stock market. On February 10, 2009, I find myself staring once more at my words in print.

It is very gratifying and very unexpected. It definitely provides me with incentive to keep on keeping on.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


"It's going, going gone. Another A-Bomb from A-Rod".

I am sad tonight. I don't want to be questioning every 100 mile per hour fastball, every 450 foot home run. I want to continue to believe in fairy tales. I want to enjoy uncluttered surroundings.

We live in uncertain times. We find sanctuary where we can. I take refuge in the game of baseball. I have and always will. I resent Barry Bonds. I resent Mark McGwire. I resent Sammy Sosa. I resent Roger Clemens. Now I find I have to resent Alex Rodriguez. I resent them all for making me have to work a little harder to find the purity in each pitch, in each swing.

I am 56 years old but I want to have the eyes of a 6 year old. I know that there are reasons and rationales , denials and explanations. I don't want to hear them. I don't want to deal with court systems, suspensions, Hall of Fame exclusions. I don't want to find home plate cluttered with subpoenas, drug tests and lawyers. When I look out on the field, I want to see 9 men and nothing more. I deserve this, as do all who love the game.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Full of bluster

It brings to mind images of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Something noble, something heroic. The underdog, unwilling to bend, unwilling to yield the floor. Against the odds, putting up the good fight in the face of overwhelming opposition. Filibuster.

Filibuster - Informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions. (US Senate, glossary).

" Fresh on the heels of ...House Republicans' refusal to provide a single vote in support of President Obama's $825 (billion) economic recovery package, Senate Republicans are now suggesting they will filibuster the stimulus bill.

That's the word from ThinkProgress, which Friday afternoon offered a round up of the latest in Republican obstructionism. While Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions offered a none-too-thinly veiled threat of a GOP filibuster ("I think its going to take 60 votes to pass the bill"), Arizona's John Kyl said he would explore "whatever parliamentary possibilities are in front of us." Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) promised to join the effort, announcing, "I would be a part of it." And on Thursday, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Robert Siegel on NPR that a filibuster of the Obama package passed by the House could be in the cards:"( Crooks and Liars, January 31, 2009, "Senate Republicans may filibuster Obama stimulus package")

Sometimes, real life and the movies diverge.

The stimulus package appears to be our economic lifeline. We voted the Republicans out of office because we believed they had failed to understand and protect our financial interests. We fought for and won the right to change our destiny under new leadership. Yes, we can and yes we would. Yet now, not even 3 weeks into the new term, it sounds and feels like the Republicans are driving the ship.

Is it a need for bi-partisanship that drives the President? It feels more like a need to avoid a Republican filibuster. It appears that the Democrats, being shy of the 60 votes needed to cast aside Republican opposition and push through its own legislation, must come hat in hand to the party in the minority.It feels and sounds like politics as usual.

There is some hope emanating from the halls of the Senate.The NY Times reports that the Democrats, while holding 58 seats, have only been voting 57 this week, as Senator Kennedy remains absent due to his illness. While Senate majority leader Harry Reid initially spoke of the Democrats being able to 'muscle the stimulus bill through' with at least 2 Republican votes, now the bipartisan group rules, and behind the scene brokering is the order of the day. Yet, 'despite the efforts of the President, Senator Reid and all of us (Democratic leaders)...it takes 2 to tango, and the Republicans aren't dancing". (Senator Charles Schumer in the NY Times, "Bipartisan push in Senate to Reduce the Costs of the Stimulus Plan February 6, 2009).

President Obama has continually spoken of the urgency of getting the stimulus plan passed.
"If we do not move swiftly an economy that is in crisis will be faced with catastrophe. Millions more American will lose their jobs. Homes will be lost. Families will go without health care. Our crippling dependence on foreign oil will continue. That is the price of inaction." ( NY Times, February 6, 2009)

We want Jimmy Stewart to fight the right battles. We want him supporting the Boy Scouts and not his own interests. We don't need to be held hostage in the most critical moments we have faced in almost 80 years. We want those in the Republican party not afraid to do what is right for all of us to step out of the shadows, step forward and be heard. When those voices ring, when those individuals decide to stand up against their own party's contempt for everything Democratic, we can move forward in the job of bringing this country back to its feet. Until then, we are only full of bluster.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009


He ran the perfect race for the last 2 years. But now, like a young racehorse facing his first true test, he has come stumbling out of the blocks.He has been undermined by a vetting process that has somehow failed to scrutinize potential tax problems for his nominees and rebuffed by the Republicans as one in an attempt to move forward the stimulus package.

Maureen Dowd in her column entitled, "Well, that certainly didn't take long" discusses the descent from the pedestal that President Obama is now encountering. Like many other ardent Obama supporters, I hoped my vision of Obama World would become reality. I can already here the other side saying "I told you so".

I , for one, have not lost my faith. Not yet, not so soon. While unrealistic expectations must now be replaced by uncomfortable truths, the overriding strength and vision of Obama remains totally intact. We must all remember that it is not how one starts the race but where one is at the finish that matters.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I must confess that when I began posting on the blog I was less than happy if people were not spending the little time it would take to read my writing. Pride definitely obscured my vision. I was making music and only a precious few could hear my song. With the passage of time, my feelings have moderated.

A report from Royal Pingdom of January 22, 2009 states that there are now 133 million blogs ( this data came from Technocrati). There are 900,000 new blog posts daily. In 2008 alone, there were 329 million blog posts.There are 1.3 billion e-mail users worldwide. 210 billion e-mails are sent on an average day. It is estimated that 70% of these are spam, which translates to 53 trillion pieces of spam last year alone. ( wikipedia)

Under these circumstances, what chance does my voice have of being heard?

We all have well meaning friends who deliver pieces of trivia, jokes, pictures, political discourse and other people's blog postings to us each and every day.It is all intended to amuse, engross, persuade or distract us. The purpose of it all is to engage us. We are 'overengaged'.

As such, we all become very selective in our choices. We all take great pride when we manage to catch up on the e-mails, and make a dent in ridding ourselves of items that are clogging the arteries of our computers and threatening their ability to 'compute'.

My voice, though very loud in my own head, is but the tiniest of whispers in this world. I no longer quiz my friends quite as often as to whether they have read my latest offering. I no longer expect my better posts to be met with thunderous applause. The reality of being 1 in 133 million is somewhat sobering.

Yet, like everyone else who undertakes this quest, there is a sense within that I am somehow different. There are over 200 million blogs that have been abandoned over time, as dreams of greatness fade. I still cling to the hope that my voice is being heard above the din. I still think that you have not wearied of reading my posts, and that the delete button is not the first thing that comes to mind when you see my post. I still believe that you look forward to my ramblings, and that they do have a place in your day. I continue to write for me and for you. I am still here.