Friday, April 29, 2011


Can't shut 'em up and can't shut 'em down. It is big business as usual. Or as usual is defined by this Supreme Court.

As an arm of corporate America, this Supreme Court deserves much credit. As a protector of the rights of the individual against the abuses of those with power and wealth, this Court is an absolute disaster.

Over the past 2 years, the right warned of activist judges when trying to defeat the appointment to the Supreme Court of those they perceived would not be aiding and abetting their causes. Yet they applauded the determination in Citizens United where the conservatives on the bench undid history and legal precedent by finding that a corporation had somehow morphed into an individual with unfettered rights to control the destiny of this nation's elections by its pocketbooks.

Now, with the decision announced in Concepcion, those who are too big to fail, and too rich to be silenced, are found to be too clever to be sued. The right of those who have been aggrieved to aggregate by way of class action, to form an equal force against an otherwise immovable object, has been their only protection. When a "free" cell phone becomes a $30 free cellphone, who among us has the time, the energy, the know how and the willpower to work alone through the maze of litigation or an arbitration proceeding to challenge the wrongdoer?

For the giants among us to be able to insulate themselves from attack by a collective force, merely by inserting language in a document none of us has read or had an opportunity to negotiate, is contrary to legal precedent and to all values that this court should uphold. But while this is the court of last resort, they treat all efforts to reign in corporations as a case of first impression. Their decisions are activist in all the ways they should not be.

We have read of the oral argument in the pending Walmart case and can only anticipate that, consistent with Citizens United and Concepcion, this court will tell 1.5 million female employees of Walmart that they are too big a class to retain the right to sue. Get small, very small, and let each one of you move forward on your own against the biggest of them all.

This Supreme Court majority, in dealing a virtual death blow to class action litigation, has demonstrated that when it comes to questions of class, it has none at all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


("Culture of Complicity Tied to Stricken Nuclear Power Plant") Lax oversight, failure to enforce regulations, collusion, corruption, all creating the framework for a meltdown. Sounds vaguely familiar. Economic disaster on Wall Street or environmental tsunami in Japan. When "it's all about the money" and industries are allowed to obfuscate, to circumvent, to delay and ignore, we should not be surprised when it all threatens to explode.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Re: David Brooks ("The Big Disconnect")

It is not surprising that the mood of the country is dark. Job growth and falling unemployment rates notwithstanding, this country is years in to a devastatingly deep recession. Yet, we are not in discussions focusing on taking the necessary steps to accelerate a recovery. Instead, the talk of those like Mr. Ryan is centered on how to decimate the underclass while feeding the endless hunger of the wealthiest among us. The big disconnect is between the conversation we hear from the right and the necessity we feel.

There is no reason to celebrate now. Too many are hurting and too little progress is being made. Let this be the season where our attention is turned to solving today's problems today and then there may well be a psychological recovery matching a true economic one. We don't sense that is going to occur any time soon, and until that happens there is nothing to smile about.

the Shattered Plate (for the many under attack)

The sounds of death fill my ears
And takes from me what matters
You want my will to disappear
Now that the plate has shattered

The world I knew laid to waste
What once was now in tatters
Humanity leaves a bitter taste
Now that the plate has shattered

My soul is struck a vicious blow
My heart is bruised and battered
How can I know the way to go
Now that the plate has shattered

But I will find where each piece lies
And bring each back to life
For what is right will never die
No mortal wound by knife

And I will weave a tapestry
And show a wondrous plate
A miracle of spirit will it be
A testament of strength not hate

You cannot shatter me, I am not a plate
You cannot shatter me, you cannot
You cannot shatter me, this is not my fate
You cannot shatter me, you cannot

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birth right

"No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

While this clause has been the basis for the "birther" argument made so vociferously and so frequently by Donald Trump, there has just been a discovery of a long lost footnote to this Constitutional provision. Found deep within the catacombs of neglected constitutional writings, this additional provision is creating an uproar of monumental significance. For those within the Republican party who claim to read the Constitution, like the Bible, as a document to be strictly construed, this may mean the end of the debate concerning the legitimacy of the presidency of Barack Obama, and might signal the death knoll for the intended coronation of Trump. It reads as follows:

"Natural born is defined as the act of giving birth to a child without third party intervention."

There were but 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and only 39 signers of our Constitution. The oldest, and possibly the most well respected of those in attendance was Benjamin Franklin. 81 at the historic signing, Franklin was so infirm that he had to be carried to the sessions in a sedan chair.

But whatever his physical infirmity, Franklin's intellect remained fully intact. Revered for his interests in philanthropy and politics, he was also a man passionately involved in many aspects of science. Deep into his life, Franklin vigorously promoted all causes for which he felt strongly. As late as 1787, he was named the first President of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, a cause he had championed since the 1730's.

Equally important to Franklin was the preservation of both mother and child during the act of bringing said child into our universe. As of the late 1700's, most women gave birth at home without medical intervention.

Births, without medical intervention, were thought not only to be safer for mother and child, but served to promote psychological bonding. There could be no greater connection of a new born to its parent, and to its universe, than by the act of natural birth. Franklin was an adamant advocate of the belief that for a child to be capable of reaching his maximum level of intellectual achievement and emotional attachment to not only his immediate world, his mother, but the larger world of his country, he could not be forced, maneuvered, or compelled to enter this society through unnatural means.

And so, this forgotten footnote, was born. The writings, now discovered, speak of the extended discussions that took place on the third day of the conference, centering on this issue. Members of the delegations from Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland, took exception to Franklin's stance, castigating it as the "birther movement". Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia and Massachusetts found meaning and substance in the words of the venerable Franklin, and fought for the definition of natural born to be set forth as part of the words of the Constitution.

At the end of the day, with there being talk of filibuster (a word that didn't even exist until that moment) and a walk-out, compromise was finally reached. Franklin's concerns would find their way into the greatest document ever produced, but the definition he wanted for clarification to all who would thereafter read and interpret, was left as a footnote to history. And then this footnote was lost in the final version that took shape at the conclusion of the convention.

And there the story ended for well over 200 years.

At Jamaica Hospital, in Queens, on June 14, 1946 Donald John Trump was brought into this world. The child of Fred C. Trump, listed as a builder on the City of NY Vital Records, and Mary McLeod, housewife, the fact of this birth is further verified by the Certificate of Birth Registry for New York City.

Richard Eckhart is the son of Robert Eckhart, the obstetrician who performed the delivery. Robert Eckhart passed away in 1993, and all the the others in attendance at that fateful event, are long gone. However, Richard Eckhart has, in recent conversations with all those media outlets that Trump so relies upon, provided specific details of the birth, as told to him by his father shortly before his death. He spoke of problems that arose relating to fetal distress, cord prologue and abnormal presentation. And thus it is alleged that on a late spring evening in 1946, merely months after the end of the second World War, due to various complications and rising concerns for the welfare of mother and child, Donald John Trump entered our society by way of Caesarean section.

It has now been suggested to Mr. Trump that the easiest way to resolve any uncertainties relating to the report, is for him to authorize the release of all hospital records of his birth. However, Mr. Trump has responded by seeking an injunction preventing Mr. Eckhart from discussing the confidential information of his birth. He has alternately contended that Dr. Eckhart breached his sacred oath or that the information allegedly provided to his son, was false and defamatory. Trump's representatives say he will vigorously prosecute a multi- million dollar lawsuit.

As for the release of the records, Trump has said that one only has to look at him to know that he is the definition of natural. "I am a person who has met everything in life head on. My birth was no different."

The first birth utilizing surgical procedures was thought to have occurred almost 300 years BC. Bindurasa, the second Mauryan emperor of India, was born only by cutting the stomach of his mother, who had died as a result of ingestion of poison.

The term Caesarean was allegedly taken from the Latin verb, caedo, meaning to cut. It was originally a method reserved for those situations in which the mother had passed away. It was thought improper to bury one with a child still inside the womb. And so, it was intended to be the ultimate act of separation.

On August 4, 1961, at 7:24 PM, Stanley Ann Dunham gave birth to Barack Hussein Obama II. The certificate of Live Birth filed on August 8,1961 listed the State of Hawaii, Island of Oahu, County of Honolulu as the place where the current President of the United States arrived into this world.

However, unlike what had occurred some 15 years earlier in that hospital in Queens, it appears that Obama's birth was as uncomplicated as Trump's was messy. Upon the discovery of the words of our founding fathers, Obama was asked to provide hospital records of his birth. The next day, the full set of certified documents was released to the public. These revealed that only 90 minutes after entering the hospital, Stanley Ann Dunham completed the delivery. Short of cutting the umbilical cord, this was as devoid of outside presence in the procedure as humanly possible. It was in all ways a natural birth. Mother, child and environment all were in harmony on that warm, summer night.

When asked about the controversy, President Obama recently stated: "We have real issues to address in this country and that is what keeps me awake at night. I will not be drawn further into this sideshow."

In reviewing the admonitions of Benjamin Franklin, the deliberations of those at the Constitutional Convention, and the definition long ago lost, but now found, we must now address the unmistakable intentions of the framers that have, for well over 200 years, been misinterpreted and misapplied.

We are in a situation where Trump, not Obama, will soon be facing relentless criticism for failing to permit full disclosure. Whatever other shortcomings one may attribute to Donald John Trump, his attempted ascension may well be aborted unless he demonstrates that he is a natural born citizen of this country. Show us the records Mr. Trump. What are you trying to hide?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Twisted - Praising with Faint Damns

David Brooks ("Why Trump Soars") is the portrait of the writer in a dispute with himself. Everything in his reasoned mind tells him that this abrasive rich man is nothing more than the ugliest of the ugly Americans. Considering Trump to be one of the "freely obnoxious", and like others "in the realm of the Upper Blowhardia" is not an endorsement. These are not the traits that we hope for in our children, in our peers, and we should certainly not find anything endearing about them in those who dangle the possibility of announcing for the presidency of our country. Yet somehow, Mr. Brooks tries to morph all this into an image of a man full of "boyish enthusiasm for glory".

Mr. Trump is nothing more than an opportunist, taking full advantage of a stage empty of Republican candidates, to foster his special brand of absurdity. The suggestion by Mr. Brooks that the object of his muted affection is "more at home with the immigrants and the lower middle-class strivers... than the members of the haute bourgeoisie" is sheer lunacy

Maybe Mr. Brooks would "never want to live in a country without people like" Trump but this is certainly not my idea of what America needs or wants if it hopes to sustain its greatness. There is nothing "soaring" about Mr. Trump, and my fervent wish is that we don't have to be subjected much longer to tortured logic, like that utilized by Mr. Brooks, giving rise to faint, and phony, praise.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Uncivil Defense

"Let's Not Be Civil" is not a call to arms but rather a call to the Democrats to advocate for their fundamental policy positions. What we have seen, and come to expect, over the past 2 years, is a party that seems to compromise with itself even before it compromises with the other side. In the first major confrontation during the Obama presidency, the debate on health care reform, the single payer system might well have represented the Democratic vision, or at least its starting point. It never even saw the light of day. The watered down version of the Romney plan that remained at the end was the product of continuing concessions to the right. More was hoped for, particularly at a moment when both houses and the presidency were in Democratic control.

We have watched this pattern repeated time and again, most recently with the extension of the Bush era tax cuts and in the 2011 budget that reduces spending when an infusion of money is what we desperately need. There are large economic dilemmas looming in the near future, with debates on raising the debt ceiling and on the 2012 budget, and beyond, just warming up. President Obama has proven to be a person of compelling intellect, but not a wonderful negotiator. He has approached so many issues as if he is coming from a point of weakness. His "spirited defense of his party's values" was hopefully a sign that the Democrats, and their leader, will not so quickly abandon their core beliefs in the upcoming battles. An unwillingness to "fold" should not be considered uncivil. Just ask the Republicans.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Good Day Unexpected

This was not how I envisioned it. I began the long walk to the clubhouse, the start of my golf season finished after but 2 holes. My back was just not ready for the twists and turns of misfortune that the course would inflict upon me. Yet there was no sadness or frustration. It was sunny, with a slight breeze, and I knew that the next several hours would not be filled with the internal huffing and puffing that has become my golf game.

As Dennis and Elizabeth played on, I told them I would catch up later in the round. And so, on this early April day, I would spend the next 30 minutes going up and down very significant hills, with the purpose of advising those in charge that I had been defeated but 10 strokes (2 bogeys for anyone keeping score) in, and would kindly like a refund for the monies I had paid in anticipation of hours of mis-hit shots. As I passed group after group, hacking away and chasing mistakes left and right, short and long, I felt a little sadness. Not for me, but for them. For every triumph, I knew they had many tragedies ahead.

And so I eventually made it back from where I began. I was somewhat fatigued, as the pain was pretty persistent, at least on the uphill climbs. When I told those in charge of my travails, and showed them the soft brace around my waist to verify my tale, they reimbursed me every penny and wished me better days ahead. This was turning out better than expected.

I stopped to buy lunch for my group but realized I did not have the mental or physical fortitude to carry myself as well as sandwiches of tuna, ham and turkey (the only 3 options) along with several beverages back to where Dennis and Elizabeth would now be. I told my story to the person standing with the starter, and soon I was being carted back, food in hand, to rejoin the others.

And so, for the next 3 hours, I had a delightful time. I ate my lunch, watched and laughed as Elizabeth and Dennis tried and tried again to conquer the beast. There were wonderful moments, as Dennis narrowly missed a hole in one, and Elizabeth had a birdie putt lip out of the hole. And I could be a cheerleader, coach, friend and humorist, without being much less than that because I was brooding over how the gods had deserted me.

I realize this euphoria will not last. When I call the course to set the tee times for next week for the entourage, my name will not be among them. It will be a while before I wander out to the course again. And when I do return, it will be to measure myself up against the image of the golfer that I am not and will likely never be. But at least for one day, I can honestly say that I had fun. You know, after the second hole, I never hit one bad shot the rest of the day. It was, in many ways, the perfect round of golf.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

20-20 Vision

I applaud the President for having 20- 20 eyesight as he enunciated his "vision" for the future of our country. Like him, I see our universe through a very different prism than those on the Republican side of the aisle. But many of us who have heard the words before view them with a great deal of skepticism and concern.

Further,even in his strongest rebuke in many a day to those who would govern to the "needs" of the wealthy, the President's plan calls for most of the future pain to come from cuts to programs and not from enhanced tax revenue. We are still speaking the Republican party line that we need belt tightening rather than a combination of economic stimulus and more contributions from those with the most among us to propel this nation back from the brink. And we continue to focus our vision on tomorrow while the problems of today go seemingly unnoticed and unattended. The Republicans have managed not only to control what we discuss, but to take our eye off of what we should be concentrating on. If we can do better for those in our care right now, and get them back on their feet through aggressive government attempts to reinvigorate our work force, if we give them back their homes and their dignity, then quite possibly tomorrow they will help us eliminate what is made to appear as an overwhelming debt crisis.

It is encouraging that the man we first knew, the one who saw a better world for us and who was definite and defiant in his tone, emerged yesterday. We missed that man. But we are concerned he will disappear tomorrow, we are worried that his line in the sand will keep moving, as it has over the past 2 years, and we fear that we will continue to center the argument around the Republican muddled and distorted view of our nation. Prove my concern unjustified, Mr. President, please.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Threat Level 7

It has now received a rating on the International Nuclear Event scale at 7, meaning it involves "widespread health and environmental effects". No, it is not the impact of the nuclear disaster in Japan that is being analyzed, but the statements of some of those in the Republican party in possible opposition to raising our debt ceiling. From now on, I believe that every position enunciated by Boehner and the gang should be accompanied by a nuclear event warning label. "Position on immigration reform, a level 4 disaster. Position on extending Bush era tax cuts for the rich, level 5. Threat to shut down the government over the 2011 budget, level 6. And the tsunami of them all, threat to cause global calamity by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, level 7". We now have 3 events that have garnered this distinction, putting this potential catastrophe alongside Chrenobyl and Fukushima Daiichi .

We have warning labels on our products from cigarettes to Cialis. Why shouldn't we be entitled to fair notice each time the Republicans come out with some position that can be shown to cause harmful effects upon many in our society?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Divided States of America

This is an imagined speech by a beleaguered President Obama and follows up on the theme set forth in several recent posts:


August 1, 2011, 9 PM - President Obama, addressing the nation from the Oval Office:

150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln surveyed the landscape of a country torn apart. Fundamental and irreconcilable differences among its people as to the intrinsic value of each human being plunged this nation into civil war. For 4 years there would be bloodshed . No one was spared the agony of watching brothers stand against one another. The United States was, for a time, no more.

On July 8 of this year, this government lost its capacity to meet its obligations. Despite enormous sacrifices offered by the Democrats, hacking away at essential government programs, including education, health care, and family planning, not to mention the decimation of critical environmental and labor regulations, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives failed to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling, immediately sending the government into default and making it unable to meet its financial obligations, both foreign and domestic. Those who have lent monies to us on the strength of our word, and our deed, no longer find us credible or creditworthy. We have thrown our financial market, and those around the world into an economic decline unlike anything the world has ever seen. The Depression through which we suffered some 80 years ago seems insignificant in light of recent events.

Where has this left all of you? With the federal government in chaos, millions of government workers laid off, work on infrastructure halted, the social safety net--Medicare, Medicaid, and social security--defunct, poverty and unemployment have skyrocketed. Millions of private sector jobs have also been lost, as companies rely on direct government investment, loan guarantees, and the full faith and credit of US currency to operate, not to mention revenue from spending by government workers and their families. Protests and riots from each and every corner of the 50 states are a daily ritual. Shouts and threats of harm ring out as we inch ever closer to repeating the errors of 1861. Led by Governor Rick Perry of Texas, several state legislatures have passed resolutions nullifying federal laws or even demanding secession. Make no mistake, it is not if but when. It is not why but why not. It is not compromise but conflict that is on the horizon. And I cannot let it come to that.

We can no longer be called a union. Neighbors see neighbors as enemies. Our views on virtually everything are diametrically opposed. How we are to take care of each other, how we are to act as protectors for the planet, who we are and who we want to be no longer are part of a rational conversation. We have lost the ability, the will and the desire to communicate with one another and to try to bridge the gaps that separate us. And, as a consequence, our democracy has lost its ability to function.

I have been in meetings with leaders of both parties around the clock for almost 2 months. While there were once glimmers of hope, they had long since been eradicated. We have searched our minds and our souls but have not been able to bridge what is now clearly a chasm of hatred and mistrust. It is now time for us to face reality.

Therefore, as a result of agreement among all the leaders on both sides of the aisle, we will be bringing a resolution before both houses of Congress tomorrow. It will state that, on this coming election day, November 8, 2011, voters in every state will go to the polls to make a momentous choice.

As of that date each one of you will decide whether you wish to be under the care and control of a "red" nation or a "blue" nation. It is our only collective means of survival. It is the most important choice you will ever make, and it will bind to you to that national government. We are now a nation of 50 states. We will soon be 2 nations.

All the details will be set forth in the resolution and then you will choose your own destiny. I must come to the sad and irretrievable conclusion that no one among us is strong enough to bring together what cannot and should not be. The well being of the people is more important than the number of stars on the flag. We are no longer good for one another. We are only doing damage to this country and to this world. We must be better than that, separately, even as we can not be good enough together.

And so, once the results are tallied and certified, effective January 1, 2012, the United States of America will be no more, and two nations will be born anew, each one a set of states belonging to a different union. There will be 2 transition governments that will form among the present leaders, until elections take place for both the blue and red nations. There will be many hard days ahead. But I am confident that each one of us will find the resolve to move forward.

With much sadness, and much pain, I wish each and every one of you a better tomorrow. God Bless you and good night.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Letter of Apology to Donald Trump

I have read your recent letter responding to the terrible allegations raised by Ms. Collins. I can only imagine the outrage you must feel to be accused of making false and defamatory statements about the President. How could anyone imagine, given your impeccable history, that you were capable of doing anything as despicable as that? Your bluntness and rudeness, on display for what seems like an eternity, could never be mistaken for callous disregard of others. Your all too hard exterior is nothing more than your way of hiding a soft and mushy (under) belly. You are the most misunderstood man in America, with your hair some color and shape that must only look good when it glows in the darkness of the night. You are a serious candidate for President and we fully understand, your having gone through so many corporate bankruptcies and restructurings, how you can transform a silk purse into a sow's ear.

We apologize to you, on Ms. Collins behalf, for her unwillingness to bow to the force of "the Donald". I know you would like nothing more than to look sternly into the camera, like you do on your show that long ago stopped being the least interesting, and say "Gail Collins, you're fired".

To the next Republican candidate for the President of the United States, from a public who knows exactly who you are.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Problem

David Brooks ("The Ryan Journey") is better than this. Can he seriously contend that the Democrats have to use the Congressman's theories on economic reform as the starting point for the conversation?

The reality is that this country was thrown into a recession, bordering on a depression, by the former President who failed to provide funds for 2 wars, who curried favor with the richest among us by easing or eliminating restrictions on their abuses, who reduced the tax burdens that the wealthy should have been obligated to shoulder, as a responsibility for the privileges that our country had bestowed upon them. What Bush left behind was a country with ever increasing debt and an inadequate revenue stream. What he also left behind, as a consequence of his governing, was a country with massive unemployment that would necessarily create a drain on our limited resources.

However, after the departure of Bush, instead of doing what was needed, short term, to infuse the economy with money required to replenish it so that jobs could be created and funds start flowing through the system and into the government, those in Ryan's party made sure that this did not occur. As a consequence, the revenue stream into the government has not taken place. And those in Ryan's party have also made sure that the tax level for the wealthiest has remained unaffected, as they forced a 2 year extension of the Bush era tax cuts while demanding unrelenting sacrifice from those who continue to suffer.

No, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan for economic reform. If we didn't have massive unemployment, if we didn't have a failure to adequately tax the rich, if we weren't still fighting 2 useless wars that we didn't pay for, we wouldn't be in this mess. We wouldn't be talking about Mr. Ryan as the messiah. Upon closer examination, Mr.Ryan's plan is no more that a multi- trillion dollar redistribution of wealth taking from the poor and giving to the rich. He is nothing more than the anti- Robin Hood.

The Republicans are directly responsible for creating this disaster, and their policies have proven, time and again to be fiscally irresponsible and incorrect. No, Mr. Ryan is not the answer. He is only part of the problem.

The Calamity du Jour Tour

It is the calamity du jour tour and today it is coming to your hometown.

Whether propelled by the forces of nature or by man, it feels like we are taking turns demonstrating just how wrong, wrong can be.

By comparison to events in Japan, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and many other places who have played host to a maelstrom, a shutdown of 'non-essential' government services seems petty and inconsequential. But inconsequential as it may be, it is our inconsequential and we are trying our best to make sure that inconsequential does as much destruction as possible.

So the eyes of the world will turn, for just the briefest instant, in our direction, before each nation living in the midst of its own disaster, will be forced by circumstance to focus on its own monumental concerns. And in that instant when their eyes light upon the mess we have created for ourselves, they will undoubtedly wonder how we have managed, by our own hands, to bring the machinery of this country to a grinding halt. In the midst of the tears that the calamity du jour tour has brought to each of them, they may force a brief smile and a shake of the head. It is but the United States being their dysfunctional worst.

Tomorrow the calamity du jour tour will head off to find yet another victim. We can only hope that soon the tour will end and we will collectively be able to start to clean up the mess. Everything, good and bad, seems to run in cycles, whether on the smallest or largest of landscapes. Congratulations to those on the right who are so wrong and absolutely directly responsible for making our country home to the tour. You have proven by the enormity of your shortcomings, coupled with the power that you have so abused, that you are deserving of everything I, and most of the rest of the world, are now thinking about you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Un-united States

I wanted to follow up on the theme of yesterday's post. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I ask that you suspend disbelief for just a moment. What if ... we became two nations?

I mean, we don't like anything that they say. We don't believe in their values. We don't understand how they can do, or try to do, almost anything that they do, or try to do. And they feel the exact same way about us. We spend all day, every day, just trying to think how we can get away from them.

In our society, when the one we have pledged to live with forever, is someone we can live with for not one minute longer, we have a right of redress. It is called a divorce. We can petition the courts to equitably divide our assets and ask that we thereafter lead the rest of our existence free of the ties that bind. If it applies to 2, why can't it apply to 300 million?

Our divorce application will speak of wanting to live in a world with air we can breathe, with ice-caps that start to re-freeze, with roads and bridges that don't crumble beneath us, with schools that do not have to fit 2 children in each seat and teach actual facts, with room in it for the poor and the sick, with tolerance for those who do not look like us or even see the same God as we might. We will have a place for those who want the right to choose. This universe believes in the concept of share and share alike and not just survival of the fittest.

We will suggest that just because 1% of us, all on your side, hold almost all the toys, that you don't get to keep them when we split. No, we will contend, this division will be based on each one of us getting a proportionate share of the pie.

So, come this November, let's hold the most real election of all. If you believe in everything red, vote to live everything red. If your mind and your heart tell you that blue is the color in which you look and feel the best, then cast your ballot that way. No one, not one individual, will be running for office. The choice will be simple. It is either us or them.

Once the decision is reached, we will have a blue nation and a red nation. The blue people will elect other blues and run their own country in a manner consistent with their ideas of truth, justice and the American way. All the reds will govern the way that reds govern. The endless bickering, finger-pointing head shaking, threats of government shut downs will disappear. There will be no more my way or the highway. This will be government your way.

There are kinks that must be worked out, like if parents have the right to vote for their minor children, or if even a 3 year old gets an independent right to determine where his or her future lies. Sure there will be brother against brother, and husband against wife, but isn't that the way things are already?

We are only all in this together because that is the way we are told we must be. Let's make a clean break of it now, and tomorrow we will both be happier. Long live the un-united states.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Declaration of War

We are two nations living under a single roof. While bloody conflicts rage around the globe, the manifesto presented by Paul Ryan to our country signals nothing less than a declaration of war in the United States.

We have entirely different belief systems. We call them the party of "No" but what we really mean is the party of "know, but don't care". It is hard to conceive that greater differences separated the two sides in the last civil war that began in this country 150 years ago.

Ryan's claim and the manifesto's dictate is that, in the middle of the greatest financial debacle in 70 years, our richest individuals and corporations are entitled to an enormous reduction in their income taxes. In the wake of this action, will lay the bodies of the children, the elderly, the poor and the disabled. Those who are hurting the most among us will suffer the greatest atrocities. Medicare, and medicaid will lose their ability to protect. It is nothing more than survival of the fittest.

Some call what Ryan has done an act of courage. I call it an act of sabotage and treason. It does a great disservice to what this country does, or should, stand for. It is a sad day for all of us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


It is an extension of the tradition established by the concept of "too big to fail or to be effectively regulated" that was applied to big banks and big Wall Street concerns. Recently, we were introduced to the theory of "too rich to silence" with the ruling permitting corporations unfettered ability to control the political discussions. Now, the newest entry on the horizon is "too big to be sued". It is a world where David and his slingshot don't stand a chance.("When a Lawsuit is Too Big")

The 1.5 million women employed by Wal-Mart, who now speak as one against a pattern of discrimination against them in wages and promotion, are in danger of losing their collective voice. The justices on the Supreme Court, in their questions, raised concerns about application of class action principles to such a large and unwieldy situation. How can damages properly be assessed, when as even counsel for plaintiff admits, Wal- Mart's record keeping was so bad that it does not permit easy application? How can so many different situations all fit under one ruling? It is the form over substance argument that could well leave the biggest of them all effectively insulated against liability.

The Court also asked, if the de facto discrimination that existed here, was no different in relative per cent, from all the other big corporate players, can it be concluded then that all these corporations could be compelled to answer to Wal-Mart lawsuits? In that query one can see behind the curtain. The words were phrased in a way that implicitly questioned the sanity and the audacity of those who would challenge the most powerful among us. It is a difficult time to be the little person in a world where everything seems too big to take on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Great Austerity Budget

If and when it happens it will be the next bailout in our country. When the Federal budget for 2011 is finally agreed upon, the Democratic party will have officially bailed out on the American public. When, what I believe should be referred to as the GAB (Great Austerity Budget) becomes law, the ever shrinking backbone of the party in control of the Senate and the presidency will have officially vanished.

"Job Growth Could Stump Obama's Critics"
recites one of my favorite recyclable quotes from the President :“You should know that keeping the economy going and making sure jobs are available is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s the last thing I think about when I go to bed each night.”

We are now told that unemployment is, excruciatingly slowly, ticking downward. The lesson we should learn is that pumping money INTO the system, keeping the flow going from the federal government, is critical to maintain the possibility of continued job growth. And yet we have a Democratic party that has already agreed to reduce the budget by $10 billion dollars for 2011 and would be willing to allow the number to rise to somewhere between $33 billion and $61 billion, depending on sources quoted. How does this help the American people? The inevitable consequence of taking money away is that jobs will be lost, the unemployment figures that the Democrats now point to as a measure of success will get ever uglier and the recession will take even stronger hold upon us.

In the face of a threat of a government shutdown, there is the great capitulation of 2011. Before voting for the Republican plan of how to bring us back to health, the Democrats in Congress should think of the President. You don't want him up all night, worrying that we have gone down the wrong path for the sake of appeasing the opposition. So too, you don't want to be up all night worrying that those who have been your staunchest advocates will abandon you, as you seem so willing to abandon your core beliefs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blaine Stryker

Even his name seemed perfect: Blaine Stryker. In 2001, as a 10 year old, he had struck out all 18 batters he faced in a Little League game. At age 11, they had banned him from the league because they said he posed a danger to all the other children. He threw so hard, they reasoned, that if one of his pitches lost its precision, and headed for the little child in the batter's box, untold disaster could result. But none of his pitches were ever anything but perfect.

He always loved the game and everything about it. He always wanted new baseball worlds to conquer. And he conquered every new baseball world he entered. By the time he was 17 and heading into his senior year in high school, the frenzy was nationwide. His picture was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was compared to the legendary Sidd Finch, the creation of the mind of George Plimpton. He could throw harder, and with more precision, than the young phenoms who would burst upon major league baseball before him, Aroldis Chapman and Stephen Strasburg. And all he ever wanted to do was to pitch for the New York Yankees.

He told anyone and everyone that he would finish up his high school career and then only sign with one team, his team. No one else should attempt to draft him for they would be wasting their pick. Riches meant nothing. The Yankees everything.

Brian Cashman, the Yankee general manager, had been following the exploits of Stryker since that first perfect, perfect game in 2001. He had sent his top scouts to watch his progress from the time Stryker turned 11. Like anyone else who was watching, Cashman had determined that what the tapes were revealing was almost beyond comprehension. In 2010, when "The Freak" led the San Francisco Giants to a World Series victory, Cashman thought to himself that the real freak was about to burst upon the baseball world in ways unimaginable.

In the leadup to the 2009 draft, Stryker stood his ground. In all capital letters, on the front lawn of his parent's house, with the picket fence and 2 cars in the garage, was a sign that read "Do not draft me unless your team is named the New York Yankees". 3 teams gave thought to trying to buy the name from the team in the Bronx.

One day before the draft was to occur, the Yankees traded their 7 most highly rated players in their minor league system, and their draft rights in rounds 1 through 5 of the 2009 draft, for the rights to the number 1 pick. The team that had spent the last generation cultivating and maintaining players from their farm system, now abandoned that concept. Over a 13 year span there had been 5 World Series Championships, in large part due to Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettite and Williams. All but Pettite, who had a brief absence to follow Roger Clemens to Houston, were Yankee lifers. Now that entire philosophy was gone, and in its place all eggs had been gathered in one basket.

The following day, when Bud Selig said "With the first pick, the New York Yankees select Blaine Stryker", the calls for a criminal investigation began. This was the culmination of everything that everyone who hated about the Yankees hated the most.

24 hours after, with a signing bonus of $60 million, and a guarantee of another $110 million over 5 years, Blaine Stryker put on his uniform with the interlocking NY logo on the front. The Yankees insisted that he wear number 6 because only this, and number 9 would remain as unretired Yankee single digit numbers once Derek Jeter finished his playing days. And so, Stryker now wore the same uniform number as the Mick before his switch to 7 after the 1951 season ( "Seven" as George Costanza would hope to have named his first child). By the end of 2011, "Six" would turn out to be the most popular name for babies born in America from September to December of that year.

In the Yankee tradition, Stryker was sent down to minors for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was as dominant at every step of this phase of his career as he had been as that 10 year old boy. His record was a combined 24 wins and 1 loss over these 2 years.

Entering the 2011 season, the Yankees could wait no longer. Their off season hopes of obtaining Cliff Lee to share the top of the rotation with CC Sabathia were shattered when Lee spurned their offer and joined the Phillies. Andy Pettite could not be coaxed into playing one more year. Behind Sabathia there was little comfort. AJ Burnett had lost all movement on his fastball in 2010 and threw a succession of 59 foot curveballs. Phil Hughes had started the 2010 season in spectacular fashion and ended it in mediocrity. Ivan Nova had shown moments of greatness in his late season 2010 callup, but he was far from a sure thing. And then, there was the fifth spot in the rotation. Retreads, once good or very good, but now much less than that, were tried, but was this really the best the Yankees had to offer? And thus the world according to Stryker began.

The Yankees announced that there would be strict pitch and inning counts for the pitcher who would soon be known as " The Arm". "This", Cashman announced, "was immutable".By the end of the 2011 season, only Sabathia would throw more innings and pitches than Stryker.

His first pitch in a major league game came on April 4, 2011 before a standing room only crowd on a cold, misty evening at Yankee Stadium. When the scoreboard read "Fastball" and the MPH said "107", the stadium erupted as if the 28th World Series championship had just been won.

Stryker seemed to invigorate the entire team behind him. With a squad that was showing its age in many positions, the fear was that 2011 might be a disaster, or at least a disaster in Yankee terms. Boston had gotten Crawford, their rotation was still strong. Tampa seemed to be able to regenerate from within. Baltimore, and the old Yankee manager at their helm, Buck Showalter, gave signs that they would be tough, and Toronto was still a team with talent. If all went wrong, it could go very wrong for the Yanks.

But Stryker would have none of that. Through his first 8 starts, he amassed 7 wins and no losses. In 48 innings in those starts, he had 67 strikeouts 4 walks. His ERA was .93. He was pitching better than Bob Gibson had in his fabled year when his ERA was an incomprehensible 1.12. The team was scoring an average of 7 runs per game for Stryker. Each player seemed to have a bounce in his step, and the team began the year with 33 wins and 7 losses. And then it got better.

The last time a rookie had made even remotely as big an impact had been when Fernando Valenzuela joined the Dodgers . His herky- jerky motion, twisting and turning, and the movement on his pitches, brought him to stardom almost from day one. But nothing like this. And certainly nothing like start number 9.

That night, against a Minnesota Twins team that featured the astounding Joe Mauer, the first pitch Stryker threw registered at 111 miles per hour. The 71st pitch he threw, in the seventh inning, registered at 111 miles per hour. The pitch count, set at 80, was passed with one out in the eighth. No Twin had reached base, and 16 of them had been set down on strikes. This was not an evening to remove Stryker from the game, not unless you wanted over 50,000 fans streaming onto the field ready to attack Joe Girardi.

Pitch 94 was a split fingered fastball thrown at 100 miles per hour. The 27th Twin to come to the plate swung feebly and then it was over. 19 strikeouts, no runners to reach base. A perfect game. The most perfect of perfect games ever thrown in the history of Major League baseball.

Every stadium that Stryker pitched in for the rest of the season was sold out. When the dog days of August ended, he had accumulated 18 wins, and had no losses. His ERA remained less than 1 run per 9 innings. Behind him, Chamberlain, Soriano and Rivera cleaned up with almost Stryker like precision. In the games that Stryker pitched, the team ERA was 1.1 runs per game. And then it got better.

Through the month of September, with many teams out of the race, and minor league call-ups in late season auditions, the level of competition for Stryker diminished. And what was unbelievable was now even more so. The once unassailable mark of 59 consecutive scoreless innings by a pitcher, set by Orel Hershiser vanished as Stryker's total reached 71, before a rare walk and a broken bat double would end the streak. By the last day of the season, Stryker's ERA was .84. The team finished the regular season with a new Yankee record of 117 wins. And Stryker was 24 and 0. The perfect season. And then it got better.

The Yankees first round playoff opponents, the Oakland A's proved no match for the juggernaut. Stryker's turn in the rotation had been adjusted so that he could start the first game of that series. His line read like fantasy: 8 innings, no walks, 16 strikeouts, 2 hits, no runs. Sabathia and Hughes (now the 3rd in line) would also pitch shutouts. Thus, for the first time in baseball lore, a team held another scoreless in an entire playoff series.

The Red Sox were the next victims. After 4 humiliating losses, in which the combined score of the games was 23 to 4, Red Sox manager Terry Francona stated that "only once in a lifetime will we ever witness something like what is now before us. I am humbled and awed. I salute the greatest team to ever play this game, and the greatest pitcher ever to put on a uniform". Stryker had shut out the Red Sox on one hit in the first game of the series.

And then there was the Giants, trying to repeat as World Champions. "The Freak" had again been spectacular for them, going 21 and 6 with an ERA of 2.18. But "The Freak" was only human. In what would be his final appearance of the 2011 season, "The Arm" matched zeroes with "The Freak" for 7 innings. Then, in the eighth, Gardner led off with a bunt single, stole second and on an errant throw from the catcher went to third. After Jeter flied out to short center, A-Rod (who had been moved to third in the lineup in mid-year) laced a single to center. 1 run would be all Stryker needed.

In the ninth inning, with no pitch clocked at less than 108 mile per hour, the heat was unleashed for one final curtain call. 9 pitches, 9 swinging strikes, 3 outs and a Game One win. 3 victories later, the Yankees completed a sweep of the post-season, the first time this had ever been accomplished. Stryker's line for the post season showed an ERA of 0. Against the best, he was better.

It was the perfect end to the perfect season. Stryker had won 27 times and not suffered a single loss. With the 28th World Series trophy safely in their clutches, the team celebrated and New York city erupted. 4 million people lined the streets to greet the best that had ever been.

And so, on April 1, 2011 was a championship season and a pitcher the world has never seen, and never will, born.