Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not a "Solution"

Upon reading of the enactment of the Arizona law compelling all immigrants to carry immigration documents, my thoughts, like those of Cardinal Mahony and millions of others, turned at once to one of the darkest moments in the world's history.

"Why does the world shed crocodile’s tears over the richly merited fate of a small... minority? … I ask the American people: Are you prepared to receive in your midst these well-poisoners of the... people? We would willingly give everyone of them a free ...ticket and (money) for travelling expenses, if we could get rid of them." (Quoted in N H Baynes, The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, Oxford University Press, 1942, Volume I, pp.727-28).

It serves as a chilling reminder of the worst that resides in all of us. It is a sad moment when the Governor of Arizona feels compelled by right wing factions, by election year concerns, or by what ever voices are in her head, to sign into law a bill which so clearly violates the most basic concepts that are the underpinning of our nation. Let us hope that this law is quickly erased from the books and is but a regrettable footnote in the struggles to find reasonable solutions to the issues regarding illegal immigration.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bad Times, Bad Numbers

David Brooks, "The Government War"chastises the Democratic party for what he calls a "federal onslaught" on this country. He points to the falling numbers of liberals and the diminishing popularity of the party as sure indications that the Democrats are tone deaf and on the wrong path. I disagree.

The continuing downturn in the economy and its devastating impact on so many of us, controls the mindset of the nation."It's the economy stupid" has no less relevance today than when those words were first uttered. I believe that Mr. Brooks is looking at the wrong chicken and egg when he suggests that the insistence on attacking the course of enormous issues like health care and financial reform with some government oversight make this a 'disappointing time'.

With economies on the precipice not only here but on a global scale, parties in power in countries throughout the world, are vulnerable and unpopular. It is hard to look good in bad times. That, Mr. Brooks, is the real message behind the numbers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gold Man Sucks

While we were losing money
And struggled to find bucks
For them, all milk and honey
It's true that Gold man sucks.

They bundled all our hopes
And we were out of luck
They treated us like dopes
It's true that Gold man sucks

They gambled on defaults
And left us as dead ducks
They covered up their faults
It's true that Gold man sucks

Their profits now are soaring
Their bottom line is great
They find our rants most boring
It's Gold man that I hate

They mortgaged all our futures
With complex interest rates
We're bleeding and need sutures
It's Gold man that I hate

Deregulate they cried
The market will control
But not through all the lies
For Gold man has no soul

The lobby will give cover
Confusion is their goal
The bottom line their lover
Oh Gold man has no soul

Wall Street has its hero
Wall Street set our fate
Wall Street left us zero
It's Gold man that we hate

A Tea Party

They gathered round to hear the words
They shouted in firm accord
They rose as one, emotions stirred
They would not be ignored

They all came for the party
They all came to drink the tea
They all came for the party
They would not let it be

The light in the white house had gone out
To them it was black and white
1600 left no doubt
Day had turned to night

They drank the brew without thought
Its poison filled their head
They longed for battles to be fought
All reason left for dead

Their leader looked familiar
We had heard that voice before
She was that lady moose killer
Who had walked out Alaska's door

Get the man out of my pocket
Shouted one on social security
Let health care die, just fock it,
Said one with medicaid guaranteed

Patriots all, the tried and true
Patriots all red white and blue
No more immigrants, that they knew
Seal the borders, we want our due

They raise their glass, a message sent
For all the land to hear
To shut up and shut down government
And fill the land with fear

Is this what a party is meant to be
Is this the best we can do
Is this from sea to shining sea
Is this the land of the few

So end the party
All go home
We've had enough of you
End the party
And go home
No tea, no more, you're through

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Disappointing Day


5:30 AM- Mattress- "Oh my God, don't you ever sleep? Can't you take a pill or something? I am exhausted these days. Don't turn on the light. Don't you dare turn on the light.You disappoint me."

5:35 AM- Computer- "Oh my God, don't you ever sleep? Oh, is this the day your genius will finally surface? Do you expect words of greatness to come out of me this morning? You have got to give me more help than you have recently. Tomorrow, if you don't find something exciting, I am shutting down. I will freeze up and you can find a pen and a piece of paper to do your dirty work.You disappoint me."

6:15 AM- New York Times and Bergen Record- "It is about time you picked us up. The floor is cold and dirty here. We feel so common. I want to go into the bedroom and relax a little. Don't bring us into the room with that stupid know it all computer. And for once, please try to read us with care. We have put a lot of time and thought into every word. And don't take us with you into the bathroom. It is demeaning and it is not a pretty sight in there. Don't you dare bring us in there. Don't you dare.You disappoint me."

7:15 AM- Shower- "You really shouldn't have eaten all that dessert over the weekend. That is not a flattering look. Bald and dumpy is not what we should be aiming for. I want you to try working out, just a little. I know what it has done for Joanne. Now, she looks fabulous. You still can't touch your toes, can you? Oh my God, you can't even touch your knees. You disappoint me."

7:50 AM- Clothes Closet- "Will you please give us a little help in here. When was the last time you went shopping? 6 pairs of khaki pants does not a wardrobe make. Aren't those your nephews pants, from 15 years ago that you are putting on? Can't you do any better than that? You disappoint me."

8:15 AM- Car- "I am freezing. Turn on the heat. What kind of garage is this? Water is leaking on me, and the drip, drip is driving me crazy. You guys are so cheap. I am an elder citizen and I deserve more respect. My oil needs changing, my fluids are low, and if it wasn't for Joanne, I would be breaking down on the road. Start paying attention to me. You disappoint me."

8:45 AM- Office phone- "Oh no, not you again. I still have a massive headache from your banging me repeatedly yesterday. It is called a cradle for a reason. I think you have to go into some sort of anger management therapy. Get a hold of yourself. It is only a job. You disappoint me."

8:50 AM - Desk in office- " What is going on with you these days. Everything that lands on me is full of drama. Stop throwing stuff at me, that pen hurt and left a mark. And can you tell some of those guys who come in to see us to get some new stories? I am tired of listening to this nonsense day after day. Let's take a deep breath, count to 10 and start out with a new attitude shall we. You disappoint me."

9:45 AM- Shoes- "Where are you taking me? Get back to your desk. You can't be taking a break already. Why are you getting in the car? Where are we going?"

10 AM- Shoes- "The Department of Motor Vehicles!! Do you see the line outside the door? Get back in the car!. Get back in the car right now!"

10:30 AM- Shoes- "We are not moving. You get up at 5:30 AM and you can't get me here when this place opens. What were you thinking? You disappoint me."

11:30 AM- Passport- "Please don't tell me you didn't bring enough points with you. I am not coming back here again. Oh, thank God, Joanne made you actually read the instructions before you showed up. Otherwise, you and I would be through. You disappoint me."

Noon- Stomach- "Are we eating here again? We must be meeting your mother. I know the drill, eat until I hurt. You disappoint me."

1 PM- Desk- "Where have you been? I thought you said you would be gone a few minutes? Don't you know we have work to do? You disappoint me."

2 PM- Vending Machine- "You know you want the Diet Coke. Who told you it was bad for you? Don't walk away from me. Don't you dare walk away from me. You disappoint me."

4 PM- Real Estate Closing Statement- "Is that all you are charging for all the work you did on this matter? Don't you have any sense of self worth? Don't you know if you don't ask, you won't receive? You disappoint me."

5 PM- Door to the office- "Yes, I am so happy you are walking out me now. Maybe you should consider taking tomorrow off. I can put a sign on me stating that you are gone until further notice. You disappoint me."

5:30 PM- Refrigerator- "Do you never eat anything during the day? Did you ever hear of a balanced diet? 5 pickles is not an appetizer. Stuffing your mouth full of food is distressing for me to watch. You disappoint me."

7PM - Television- "How come everyone else shouts out the answers to the Jeopardy questions, but you don't seem to know anything about anything? You should be watching "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" I take that back. I already know the answer to that question. You disappoint me."

8:30 PM- Mattress- "What are you doing back here already? I need a couple more hours of alone time. Go lie on the couch and fall asleep downstairs. I will tell the television to raise its voice at the commercial just before the 11PM news. Get out of here. You disappoint me."

10 PM- Wife- "So, did you have a good day/"
Me- " I would have to say it was disappointing. Definitely, disappointing."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Morally bankrupt

Tea Party Supporters Are Doing Fine But Are Angry Nonetheless- (New York Times, April 18)

I find it appalling that there is even an implied recognition in this headline of some legitimacy to Tea Partiers because, per the results of a recent poll, their members are wealthier and better educated than the general public. The underlying theory, that because they don't fit our pre-conceived notion of who they are, these people are necessarily taking a stance based on something right and compelling, is inaccurate and misleading.

Their putative leader went to numerous colleges before graduating and is now making several million each month fueling the fires and telling her listening audience not to retreat but to reload. So much for the effects of schooling and money.

These are people who preach anti-intellectualism. Their positions rely not on the mind but on the gut. Education does not equate with curiosity and comprehension. Wealth does not equate with compassion At its core this is a group of seriously flawed, limited individuals. Neither a college degree nor a few bucks in the pocket can change that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I shot a hole in one today. It was the second time in a long and mostly undistinguished career that it has taken me but a single shot to get the ball from tee to hole.

I have played golf for 52 years. I have probably averaged 30 rounds a year over that time. That would be 1560 rounds of golf. There are typically 4 par 3's in each round. That would add up to 6240 opportunities for golfing immortality. 2 out of 6240, or 1 every 3120 attempts. They say even a monkey gets it right some of the time.

I hit a 7 iron on a hole listed at about 160 yards long but playing at about 140. However,in future years this will become an 8 iron from about 185.

Since the ball did not land and roll, but descended directly from the air into the cup, my playing partners and I only heard the clang against the pin. None of us were sure if the ball had disappeared into the hole, or struck the flag and bounded away into the rough, the woods or the water. I knew I was either about to put a 1 or a 5 or 6 on my scorecard.

I had been the first to tee off, so I had to wait for 3 other shots, and then take the walk up to the green to learn the fate of my golf ball. Really, those around me were much more animated about the event and anxious about the outcome than I.

I think that having played for so long, and had so many ups and downs, my reaction was perceived by those with me as at best muted, and at most, bizarre. I quite honestly was more concerned with the bad chips I had hit, and the putts I had missed, earlier in the round, than the shot that was now being applauded by those in attendance.

I hit the ball really well all day, and even with the ace, shot a somewhat disappointing 82. I am sure the thrill of this hole in one will find its way to the pleasure center in the brain soon, but it hasn't gotten there yet.

In keeping with a long honored tradition, I bought a drink for everyone who witnessed the feat. For the record, my celebratory beverage was water, Steve had a diet coke, Dennis had a beer, and Chad took his libation (whatever it was) with him into the corner when he made some business calls. We know how to party.

And so, back to the rest of my life, armed with the knowledge that for one brief moment today, I was as good as it gets. Or at least a reasonable facsimile.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Noises off (and running)

My son advised me yesterday that he would not be reading the newspaper for the next several months. This self-prohibition, I suspect, will have to extend to all form of mass communication, if he is to have any chance of success in reaching his stated goal. With the announcement that Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring from the court at the end of this term, the geiger counter on political rhetoric is about to go off the charts.

We have already witnessed the routine with one Obama nominee for the high court. The proposed appointee will be attacked for words that are misread and misapplied, for decisions projected to mean something never intended, for doing this, for not doing that, and for being something other than whatever objectors contend that person is supposed to be. The defenders will defend the honor and integrity of the candidate, will praise the accomplishments large and small, will extol the virtues demonstrated by this and that, and will raise their collective voices in anger when dismissing accusations of the other, as maliciously suggested by those opposing without reason.

The object of all this attention will deflect and avoid. With great seriousness, and at times with even greater humor, he or she will handle all the flying adjectives and adverbs with grace and dignity. Sticks and stones will be the calling card. At the end of this charade, once the nouns and verbs have settled into their cubbyholes for the evening, and the votes are counted, we will hopefully have chosen a worthy successor to Justice Stevens. We can ill afford not to.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Batter up

How dare Joe West challenge the right of Derek Jeter to perform his ritual before each and every pitch. Who is this umpire to speak with such disregard about the pace of the games played by the Yankees and Red Sox? What right does he have to ask that the boys of summer speed it up?

I LOVE baseball and I do understand the inherent appeal of not punching a time clock. Our lives are filled with deadlines and time constraints. One of the things that separates baseball from all other sports is its absence of defined pace. I spend more quality time with my children and friends at the Stadium than almost anywhere else. There is ample opportunity to discuss the game, the weather, politics, social situations or anything and everything that comes to mind. The problem is that you sometimes feel that all of this can be accomplished between pitches.

Over the years, the time when night games begin has moved up. This has to be attributable, at least in part, to the increased length of each game. I do recall when the possibility of a 2 hour game existed. Now, it seems like the Yankee- Red Sox games are in the middle of the 5th inning when this mark is passed.

I remember when stepping out of the batter's box between pitches only occurred as a matter of emergency, not habit. Catchers did not wear out the grass between home plate and the pitcher's mound addressing how they were going to pitch to a particular batter, and then do it again with the next batter. Pitchers did not leave the mound to wander, to pray, to gather their thoughts.

I want to be able to think that I have the capacity to watch the end of night games live, and not just the highlights on the next morning's cable show. I would like for the kids who are fans to have some opportunity to see Mariano Rivera before their bedtime has to be extended for hours.

Would the beauty of the game be diminished if we established and enforced basic codes of conduct, and adequate penalties for failure to comply? If there were restrictions on stepping out of the batters-box, on stepping off the mound, on conferences which involve the catcher, the pitcher, and seemingly everyone else on the field except the manager and the pitching coach, on time between pitches, and on the myriad of other almost ritualistic behaviors that combine to S L O W the pace of the game to a crawl, would this offend us?

I often give myself a self-imposed 2 hour limit on the time period I stay at night games after they commence. Except in rare instances, this means I leave my seat, exit the Stadium, walk to my car, travel across the George Washington Bridge, and get home, often in time to watch the last inning or 2 of the game from the comfort of my living room.

Maybe if they started the games at 5PM, I could stay until conclusion. Or maybe, just maybe, if the words of Joe West were taken to heart, I would be able to view, in person, Mariano throw that same pitch that he has thrown so many thousands of times to overwhelmed batters over the past 15 seasons. For now, it is the game itself that continues to swing and miss at the opportunity to step up to the plate.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fleas (flees)

Doesn't this all sound too familiar? The United States turns a blind eye to the repressive ways of the head of state, unpopular with his people, in order to facilitate its efforts in the region. A relative of the leader, deemed a corrupt and destructive force, is allowed to remain despite cries for his removal. No, not Afghanistan, but Kyrgyzstan

When we lie down with dogs, as we have done in Kyrgyzstan, in order to maintain our military base there and a lifeline to Afghanistan, we come away scratching our heads. The uprising yesterday, the flight of President Bakiyev, and the possible challenges this now presents us, should be stark reminder of just how fragile, and potentially futile all our efforts will prove to be.

It seems like a house of cards, ready to disintegrate into a pile of nothing at a moment's notice. We are trying to superimpose stability to an area rife with a thousand pitfalls. As we look to Afghanistan and hear of Taliban posing as villagers to collect their stipends from the US, as we learn of villagers who are killed for receiving handouts from our country, as we continue to have an impossible time trying to even figure out who the bad guy is, or what to do with him, we stagger forward. In all its forms, whether it be in Kyrgyzstan or Afghanistan, our strategy appears messy, confusing, and tenuous.

Monday, April 5, 2010


My children are a little concerned. Maybe more than a little.

I have decided to come Face to Face with the 21st century. I have now become a member of Facebook. Quite honestly, I don't even know the language associated with this site, and how to navigate through its waters is purely foreign to me.

You have to understand that, to me, Iphone means you just picked up the receiver to make a call. I have no pictures, no symbols, no games or photos on my Samsung phone. I am not quite certain how to store phone numbers and the only time the phone camera works is when it accidentally goes off in my pocket.

I use a computer for its most basic elements. I can email and I can write my blog, thanks to Richie making it idiot proof (well almost idiot proof, as I have posted on several occasions on the wrong blog site). If I were Columbus, this would still be a pristine country, with foreign intruders being only in storybooks. I am not, by nature an explorer.

Thus, the fear is that with this expansion of my communication horizons will come errors of either omission or commission. I may go where no man has gone before and not even know I have been there. I may wander in and out of sites, get onto your 'wall' (whatever that may be) or find myself 'friending' everyone or no one. I may block you, or let you in, without intending to do so. I may be part of a communication I did not know I was part of, or be speaking to no one while I intended to converse. There is absolutely no way I will figure out how to post any photos, and whatever else the rest of you in this world do I will only do because sometimes even a monkey gets it right.

I have told my children I will try to do this alone. I spend way too much time at the computer staring at a problem that seems to be beyond solution. My instinct has always been to get Richie involved. My brain shuts off while he maneuvers through what, to me, is an endless maze. No more, not with Facebook.

I promise to take it slowly. I am actually fearful of where I might find myself at any moment. Thus I will be more than careful.I will actually try to read the directions and instructions before I make the next move. I am hopeful that my brain will permit me to learn something new, something in the present tense. However, if you see what appear to be random events popping in and out of your Facebook page, if a comment appears and suddenly is gone, don't be concerned or perturbed. It is only me trying to come Face to Face with my limitations.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Goal for Rangers, An Assist from Writer

I know that the Rangers are making a late season rush to the playoffs, but unless they have reinvented the rules, I believe there was an error in your article about their latest victory ("Late Rally Lifts Rangers Closer to Playoff Spot").

The National Hockey awards 2 points for winning a game and 1 point for losing a game either in overtime or a shootout. The article indicated that the Rangers had now accumulated 13 points in their last 6 games with their latest victory. I am a fan of the team, but even I can't figure out a way to make this possible.

Thanks for trying to make it easier for the Rangers to succeed, but next time you might want to give addition and multiplication tests to those writing on mathematical matters.

PS- Strike 2- I read your in-box letters section and the lament of one of your readers over the possibility of expanding the NCAA post-season basketball tournament by 41 teams from 65 to 96 next year. Let's see, 6 take away 5 is 1, 9 take away 6 (well, you get the point). A little more diligence, please.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


"White House Calls Karzai Speech "Troubling" (Peter Baker, New York Times Caucus Blog, April 2, 2010)

"Why are we helping this man?" The question raised seems wholly appropriate when President Karzai finds that the actions of America have created "a knot in our heart: our dignity and bravery has been damaged and stepped on". In contrast to his open disdain for our country, he has recently been courting favor with China and Iran.

Our years in the mideast have been marked by what seems like an unending attempt to convince ourselves as to our mission and our goals. We came to the region under an illusion, our efforts have been rife with confusion, and our vision seems marred by delusion.

It is more than time that we take a good hard look at where this is all taking us. Let us for once, not predicate our policies on imagination but on reality. The words of President Karzai, should serve as stern warning. We continue to drain our resources, both economic and emotional, as we shed blood and dollars in support of a ruler who will let us do his bidding but considers us no more than invaders. Tell me again, why are we helping this man?

Home Cooking

Curtis Granderson? Really?

I was born the year after Joe DiMaggio retired. While I was only able to view his grace and skills through the lens of history, over the 58 years of my life I have been able to witness a succession of greatness at the true center of the Yankee universe. From the days of DiMaggio starting in 1936, until the present there has been almost a constant in Yankee World Series victories: the center fielder was home grown.

Apart from the aberration of Mickey Rivers in 1977 and 1978, and the 1943 victory which occurred when DiMaggio was a soldier at war, the last 23 World Series have been produced with a born and bred Yankee protecting that most hallowed part of the Yankee turf. Even before that, Earle Combs was pinstriped from beginning to end of his career and center fielder on the great Yankee teams of the Ruth/Gehrig era that dominated in the late 1920's and early 30's, and won championships in 1927, 1928 and 1932.

Can Curtis Granderson step into the shoes of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams to be part of the next generation of World Series champions? Or will he be a Ricky Henderson, an imported legend, who roamed center field for 5 years with success but no rings?

Almost as important is the query if we can ever have a love affair with an outsider. When I think of those most beloved Yankees of the last 6 decades, the names that immediately come forth are Mantle, Williams, Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and even Bobby Murcer. All, except Murcer, spent every day of their major league careers in a Yankee uniform. While Murcer finished his career in the foreign surrounds of Chicago, after his playing days ended he returned as a broadcaster and spoke of his undying passion for the team until his death. He was, in the minds of most of us, a Cub in name only, but a Yankee in spirit from first to last.

All those we most love, and all those who have been most crucial to the success of our team have been nurtured and matured in the confines of Yankee Stadium. Will Curtis Granderson break that mold? Will we find love and success with an 'outsider' roaming as one of the centerpieces? As a life-long Yankee fan, I hope for the best but know that history would dictate otherwise.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools

For their rhetoric, unconstrained by fact
For their belief in separate and unequal
For their lack of compassion
For their abuse of their station in life
For their willingness to destroy rather than build
For their short-sightedness
For their message of anger and hatred
For their willingness to incite
For their attempts to make all of us less rather than more
For their failure to try
For this and for the thousand other things they have done for which they should be ashamed

The following are inducted into the permanent April Fools Hall of Fame

Lamar Alexander
Michele Bachmann
Glenn Beck
John Boehner
Paul Broun
Eric Cantor
Tom Coburn
Lindsey Graham
Rush Limbaugh
John McCain
Mitch McConnell
Sarah Palin

Attorney generals of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska,Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington

The Georgia Legislature

The Republican Party

The Tea Party