Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Cutting Room Floor

Earlier this week, I wrote to the New York Times. Again. And, as has happened with a regularity that is astonishing to me, and anyone who knows the limits of my mental acuity, I was advised that what I had written might soon appear, in the print  and/or online version of the paper.

Professional editing of my words began. After several egregious errors on my part were caught and corrected, the final version was approved  for publication.

Last night was my bride's 40th high school reunion. It is hard to believe by looking at her, but that's because there is a picture of an aging Dorian Gray hidden in her closet.  We had long since decided that I didn't need to spend $100 to eat a meal at the local inn and socialize with her former classmates. Plus, the evening before had been spent by me in conversation with many of these same people at a local bar.

With my son out of the house for the evening, I was left alone to stare at the computer screen incessantly, waiting for the Sunday version of the paper to appear online. I was about to gain additional recognition in my obsessive search for validation. My plans to read an article on Mr.Romney's Mormonism dissolved as I was unable to concentrate on anything but my contemplated one person celebration.

And there it was. In black and white, and maybe a splash of color around the edges. My thoughts on someone else's thoughts and then a response by the author in which my name was mentioned in a positive manner. Third party congratulations in possibly the most highly regarded newspaper in the world. My ego was satiated, at least for a brief moment.

I rushed to inform all those who were spending their Saturday evening waiting anxiously to read my thoughts of my latest accomplishment. I  just didn't bother to qualify my success with any caveat. "This piece appears in the New York Times"  I peacocked on my blog.

Only, it kind of didn't. At 6:30 this morning, I dressed and rushed out the door. We don't get the papers delivered on the weekends, and so with daylight just on the horizon, I headed in pursuit of glory. At the newspaper store, I groaned, so audibly that the proprietor asked me if everything was ok. I proceeded to regale him with tales of my self anointed greatness, and my disappointment that my thoughts were nowhere to be found in hard print. I had been left on the cutting room floor. He said something to mollify me, but what it was barely registered.

And so, to those I unintentionally misled about the scope of my grandeur, this is my mea culpa.

I have another issue that now arises. When I tell anyone who will listen, or is unable to get away from me quickly enough to avoid my thoughts of imagined immortality, of the numerical level of my achievement, does an on-line only inclusion come with an asterisk?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Voting Against One's Own Interest

The post below appears in  the online version of the "Sunday Dialogue" in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times on September 30. It is in response to a letter to the editor published earlier in the week.

Mr. Furstenberg touches upon several of the reasons for the seemingly incongruous action of voting Republican apparently against one’s own self-interest. 

Low-information voters often cast their ballots predicated on little or no facts. They tend to be, I believe, disproportionately white, working class and less educated. In a 2011 article in Truthout, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a G.O.P. Operative Who Left the Cult,” Mike Lofgren characterized these voters as ones whose mistrust of government, based on confusion and ignorance, “has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn.” 

Another article, “Why Working Americans Vote Against Their Own Interests” (The Pilot, June 24, 2012), includes a quote from John Steinbeck that “the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” 

Under this theory, disappointment at one’s status is not directed at those of wealth and power who might otherwise be seen as the enemy. Mitt Romney is your friend, waiting to greet you at the front door when you soon arrive to share in his wealth and power. 

In addition, the single-issue voter aligns himself or herself with a party that might not otherwise appear a logical bedfellow. For one who finds compelling the Republican Party’s platform on a matter like gun control or abortion, the party’s disregard for one’s plight has virtually no relevance. 

While Mr. Furstenberg might try to tie up all these disparate matters under the heading of hanging together rather than separately, I fear that it is a much more complex issue that defies easy explanation or resolution.

The Slump

It rained yesterday. That was a good thing.

Recently, my friend and I commiserated over our mutual plight. "My happiest moment", he explained, "is when I walk off the 18th green." Satisfaction was not in a task well done, but merely in a task that was, well, done. As inevitable as death and taxes, it is simply the "slump".

Each year, like some fool chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I begin my season with an optimism borne out of whole cloth. After over a half century of coming up empty handed I should have come to the uncompromisingly ugly realization of what I am, and more importantly, am not. But, with the pain and hideousness of past failures having receded over the winter months, spring and hope beckon.

It is now late September and the tooth fairy is no where in sight. I have hacked and chopped, sliced and sliced some more from the months of April until now. I have thrown away all my good swings and positive thoughts and been left only with a hissing, nasty mess. Every putt is offline, every chip a slap in the face. Each drive is framed by a question mark and my score is only an estimate. Even mulligans can't rescue me from what I have become.

I have started to lie to people when they ask if I am available to play.

I moved into new business quarters earlier this year. In one of the other offices there is a putter and two golf balls. Yesterday was the day that the owner of those items and I were to meet at his club at 7:30 AM. In the dark at 5 AM, it was hard to tell whether the sounds I heard from my 8th floor window were wind or rain. I checked weather.com and was reassured that it was precipitating. I was overjoyed to learn that the chance of this dissipating by tee off time was almost nonexistent. But, I was only a guest and could not be certain that my companion to be was not a mudder.

When the email came in that it was a better day to stay in bed then venture out, I was relieved and suddenly refreshed. But not everything is silver linings.

Today is Saturday. I have my weekly game with a number of my buddies. It is now 6:30 and all is still outside. The first light of day brings no joy. It is dry, and the course awaits.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kill the Umpire, the Sequel

In "Kill the Umpire", William Bendix plays Two Call Johnson, an ex-ballplayer who becomes, at least initially, a reluctant minor league umpire. His nickname is the result of his mistaken application of eye-drops, leading to temporary double vision and making of every call twice. This 1950 movie centers around an apparently blown call by Two Call, an ensuing brawl in which a player is knocked out, and a mob bent on revenge. As the plot moves forward,  the film's protagonist gains momentary redemption only to blow another play. At the conclusion, Two Call is once more on the run from an angry crowd.

I fear that this movie was prescient.

New, previously unreleased footage of the 2012 NFL Referee Strike Replacements. Or not.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fundamentally Flawed

("Mitt's Mortification")

It is not the process, but the party that is the root cause for Mr. Romney's dismal performance. Certainly, he is wooden and awkward, but he starts each day at a major disadvantage. He is the leader of a party that is anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-science and anti-intellectual. It believes in pandering to the rich and demonstrates nothing but contempt for the poor. It disrespects women. It distorts reality, choosing allegation and innuendo over fact. Its economic theory on how to revive our stalled economy has been proven demonstrably ineffective.

Mr. Romney has hitched his wagon to the wrong horse, and anyone who is so aligned can only come off sounding petty, petulant, full of pejoratives and predictably sour. There is a reason that only the Cains, Bachmanns, Santorums and Gingriches of this world were paraded before us. Today's Republican platform is dominated by concepts which are fundamentally shallow, flawed and often ugly.

For the Republican party the fault lies not merely in their star but in themselves.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Fall and Rise of Melky Mesa

In summer's waning days, there are certain givens. The days are shorter, the nights cooler and major league benches more crowded. On the first day of September, each team is permitted to expand its roster from 25 to 40 players. Mostly, for teams still in pennant races these additional bodies do little but take up space. There is too much at stake to allow precious at bats or innings pitched to be doled out to those on the fringes.

Sometimes however, for better or for worse, these add-ons are thrust into roles of critical importance. This was one of those moments.

From the youngest age playing this game, the fundamentals are just that: catch, throw, run and hit. Among these skills, the one that seems to least separate the haves from the rest of the universe is running. One can be a pretty awful player and still be an exceptional base runner. Even those destined only for mediocrity can accomplish the singularly unspectacular feat of touching each base on the journey ending at home plate. In the hierarchy of complications on the diamond, this is the lowest rung

The Oakland Athletics are perennial overachievers. Today, less than 2 weeks before the end of the regular season, they were locked in a struggle with the Yankees to gain an edge in the standings. Neither team was willing to capitulate and extra innings began to pile up. After having battled intensely the previous day, some  relief pitchers were deemed unable to perform. The result was a 13th inning extravaganza where first Oakland roughed up a Yankee hurler, Freddy Garcia, at the end of his career and out of gas, for 4 runs, and then the Yankees returned the favor in kind.

The rosters were now depleted by defensive and offensive maneuvering. Little remained except to choose among those September call ups for assistance. So, when an old and not so fleet Eric Chavez reached first base to start the bottom of the 14th, a young man by the name of Melky Mesa was appointed his replacement.

Mesa is 25 years old. For the last 7 seasons, he has toiled with only limited success in the minors, out of the spotlight and, by his statistics, seemingly out of consideration for an opportunity to appear on the biggest of stages. This year he called his baseball home Trenton and later Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Yet, on September 10, he was summoned to put on the most famous uniform in all of American sports.

The first time stepping on to a major league field must be an almost out of body experience. When this is magnified by being in Yankee Stadium in the heat of a race for the pennant, overwhelming is likely too timid a word.  Mesa's task was simple. Run. From first base all the way to home, step on the plate and the Yankees would win the game. There was nothing unusual in his 90 foot journey from first to second. It was the next scene that could have made his name live in infamy in Yankee baseball lore.

To get a sense of what is happening in critical moments on the field, it is often instructive to look in the dugout. Having spent a lifetime getting a sense and feel for what it means to see the flight of the ball off the bat, a team often presupposes a result, jumping out to greet a hero even before the play is concluded. And so it was when A-Rod lined a clean single into right center, the Yankee dugout exploded, anticipating that. Mesa, in his first appearance in a major league game, would soon be planting his foot on the plate in victory. Only that is not what happened.

About 10 feet after passing third base, he had a very ugly decision to make. He had to either admit that he had committed the most basic of mistakes and had failed to touch the bag, or make it seem like everything was normal, run home and hope no one noticed his monumental blunder. When he retreated and planted himself back on the base that had just eluded him, he must have wondered whether he had now completed possibly the shortest career in major league history.

Those who had envisioned glory returned to the dugout. They had to have felt compelling sympathy for Mr. Mesa. Even in the middle of this battle, when human frailty is so exposed there is a kind of queasiness and unease that emerges. When the next batter popped up for the second out,  Mesa remained tethered to the base that was now his mortal enemy.

But in this strangest of games, strange things came in bunches. Back in 1986, the New York Mets were down to their final out and destined to lose the World Series. Only a little ground ball, the kind that even the youngest of Little Leaguers routinely handled, wandered through the legs of Bill Buckner and history was forever altered. And so, in a play reminiscent of that fabled faux pas, a seemingly harmless grounder was misplayed by the Oakland first basemen. Mesa, smiling a smile reserved only for those who receive a call that the governor has granted a stay of execution, touched home. It was one small step for Mr. Mesa but one enormously giant leap for his emotional well being.

Afterwards, in the Yankees' locker room, a game ball was handed out for the most outstanding performance of the day.  It was given to Melky Mesa.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ju$t Rewards

("Temerity at the Top")

Mr. Brooks just doesn't understand. It is not that those who have reached the pinnacle deserve our contempt, it is merely that that they are not entitled to be venerated, coddled and protected. Accomplishment is very handsomely rewarded, as in the case of Mr. Musk. But our society, and certainly the least of those in that society, don't owe Mr. Musk a further debt, either economically or emotionally.

Medicaid and Medicare benefits don't have to be slashed so that the tax rates on those like Mr. Musk can be reduced to allow them to accumulate even greater wealth. I applaud Mr. Musk for having a $2 billion net worth but I know that his imagination, innovation and intuition had nothing to do with Bush era tax cuts. Don't conflate achievement with proper fiscal policy Mr. Brooks. Mr. Musk, and those like him, have received more than their fair share already.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Dear Mr. Romney,

We heard you tell us that the mortgage foreclosure process should be allowed to "run its course" until we "hit the bottom"and that the automobile industry was not worthy of being resuscitated. We realize your economic plan could result in 13 million fewer people being eligible to receive food stamps, that your position on Medicare could eventually lead to an out of pocket premium of up to $6400 per year for equivalent coverage to what is now provided and that by 2021 if your policies are enacted there would be between 14 and 27 million fewer people receiving Medicaid. We know you believe employment is there for anyone who would just stop relying on welfare.

It is perfectly clear from all your pronouncements, how you feel about all those who trust in government to sustain them through the tough times, to allow them even the most meager of existences. We know that the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, and the children who count on compassionate and benevolent leadership would not have a friend in the White House if you were elected. But we never thought you would be so frank in your assessment of the 47%.

To steal from a phrase that was born a year ago, we are the 47%. We are Democrats, and we are many more than you have counted. We are all who believe that America is not about giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, or running a business whose primary goal is to enrich the few and let the rest falter. We are people who believe that a plan that will bring 30 million additional people health coverage is a good and moral thing, an obligation not a burden for our country. We are the ones who don't place $10,000 bets and who don't have our money sheltered in overseas accounts. We are the people who don't have write offs for our horses or friends who are Nascar owners. We don't have elevators for our cars.

We have seen behind the curtain Mr. Romney, and what is there is something very ugly and small. We, whether rich or poor, young or old, black or white,  find reprehensible what you had to say about the 47%. We, Mr. Romney are much more than just 47%. We are Democrats and we are going to make certain that your vision for our country never becomes reality.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bachelor Pad

The refrigerator has clearly been abandoned some time ago. There can be no other rational explanation for the paucity of its contents. I survey the shelves and all I can locate worthy of human consideration are 2 jars of peanut butter, 4 cups of yogurt, 3 slices of cheese, a tub of a butter substitute and various beverages that I no longer drink (diet coke) or never did (beer and gin). Welcome to my bachelor pad.

Earlier this week, as my wife reviewed my work schedule, dotted with escapes to the golf course and court appearances, it was evident that my time in the office would be minimal. So, she reasoned, quite correctly, that with a few days of perfect weather forecast and the limited need for her to assist me, she was getting out of Dodge. On a spur of the moment decision, she and my son packed their bags and left me to my own devices, for 5 days. That is not a good thing.

There are no dirty dishes in the sink. Last night's dinner was a bagel with lox cream cheese spread, picked up at the store on the ground floor of my mom's apartment building. The bagel had been wrapped and put in a brown paper bag. The bag now sat on the kitchen table, while the wrapping served as a plate. I was just too lazy to do anything else.

It cannot be deemed the height of self sufficiency when I praise myself for taking the old newspapers out to the trash bin down the corridor, or when I water the plants on the terrace. And I think I may have even failed in one of those tasks. It appeared that the plants almost recoiled as the torrents came flowing out. If they were not drowning, they were certainly desperately looking for a life vest or other device to keep them afloat. The excess water spilled over the sides of the plant, and droplets, like a tiny rain storm, fell 8 floors to the earth. I wondered if anyone was walking underneath.

I was married at the conclusion of my last year in law school. The years after college, and before marriage, were spent in the comfort of my boyhood bedroom. I was coddled and protected, and without a break in the cycle, my ever suffering wife took over the task of being not only companion but caretaker. I just never grew up.

It is now Friday and I only have to survive until Sunday. By that time, there will be many trips to the refrigerator to take out the peanut butter and lather it on some crackers (if any can be located in the cabinets). The 3 slices of cheese will get eaten in one enormous gulp, as my incapacity in the kitchen is rivaled only by my startling habit of failing to "take human bites".  The yogurt will probably survive, as it is deemed too healthy an option. I will drink water and wait for the cavalry to arrive.

But, if for some reason, there is a delay in the return of my family (like trying to avoid me for as long as possible) I could be in serious jeopardy. I think I have enough provisions to last a week, 2 at the most. After that, I may be forced to do something else that has long been deemed too tough a task for me to master. Food shopping. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Doesn't Anybody See the Gorilla?

"Obstruct and Exploit" is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Amazingly, it is not only the Republicans who are trying to ignore it.

Fear of being perceived as a "whiner" is scant justification for the Democrats not pounding home the reality that the Republican party has not given this country the opportunity to recover. The number of cloture motions, to end discussion on proposed legislation, far exceeded 100 in both the 111th (2009-10) and 112th Congress (2011-12). In contrast, in the 2005-06 session there were 68 motions. To give this further historical context, there were never more than 41 such requests until the 100th congressional session. It was, until recent times, perceived as a method of last, not first, resort.

The intent of the Democratic party was to infuse the economy with funds when the private sector was unable or unwilling to do so.. Last year the President implored the Republicans in Congress to "pass this jobs bill". It was a mantra that was repeated as a central theme for weeks, but it had no chance of changing even one vote in opposition. There were, by independent estimates, over a million jobs in fields such as construction, firefighting and teaching that went unfilled, because the funds required went the way of procedural death.

The filibuster has been a tool utilized by the Republicans to blunt this presidency and keep this economy stagnant. I understand that it may be unseemly to blame the other guy when you, theoretically, are in control of the ball.. But the inescapable truth is that there has been one party seeking to end this recession and another seeking only to end a presidency. And the people voting on the first Tuesday in November should be fully aware of this 800 pound gorilla before casting their ballots.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

This is a tale of grilled cheese sandwiches.

I am not a shopper and never have been. Getting me into a store to buy anything other than baseball cards is a waste of time and effort as far as I am concerned. Much of my clothing can tell stories about incidents well before the new millenium.

As my mother's battles with her dementia began, layers of her existence began to peel away. The lunch dates at the club with the army of friends she had through all the years began to slow. The trips to the movies became more effort than reward as her ability to hear what was happening or comprehend its meaning became ever more diluted.

But shopping was a different story.. My mom always loved to shop. Not that her closets were overflowing, and not that she spent exorbitantly. But shopping was, for so many years, an integral part of her routine. So,even as my mom's condition led to much of her life receding, there was still the stores. And my sister.

There is one member of every family who is the most empathetic, the most caring, the most of what we all strive to be in our better selves. So it is in my family that my sister fills that role. She is so devoted to my mom's well being that she forces me, by her example, to be a better son. There is not a day that goes by, not an hour really, that my sister is not consumed by her concern that my mom's life is as perfect as it can be in an increasingly imperfect universe.

And as good a shopper as my mom once was, she is no match for my sister. So, through these last years, as we have tried to spend more and more time with my mom to fill the ever increasing gaps in her routine, my sister has soldiered on to shop after shop, week after week. But not me.

Which brings me back to grilled cheese sandwiches.

My central role in my mom's life was lunch or dinner partner. Until that became a physical impossibility for my mom earlier this year, I used to dine with her as often as possible. For the longest of times, this meant that I would find myself at Louie's Charcoal Pit on several occasions every week.

From 1948 until 1980, Teaneck was hometown to my mom, two of her sisters and countless friends. There were two restaurants that would serve as frequent host during my mom's ventures to Cedar Lane. Louie's, a local diner, was one and Bischoff's the other. Bischoff's was home to the best home made ice cream anywhere. To this day, my wife's absolute favorite food is coffee chip ice cream from this establishment. But their grilled cheese sandwich, while good, is not the same as the one you can get at Louie's.

Which brings me back to that grilled cheese sandwich.

As my mom's dementia began to accelerate, she lost the ability to read and interpret a menu.  Even before her eyes failed and she could no longer see the writing on the page, she was unable to decide that she wanted grilled chicken, or tuna fish or egg salad. So, she would stare at the images before her and reflexively conclude that she was in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich.

After a while, even the waitresses knew the routine. When we entered the restaurant, the cup of hot java would be in front of my mom within a matter of seconds. Often it sat there, unattended, until my mom realized it was before her, would take a sip and then chastise the establishment for giving her cold coffee.

I can't tell you how many grilled cheese sandwiches my mom has ordered during our lunches together. And when she eventually lost the ability to tell the waitress or waiter what she wanted to eat, it became my task, or that of my sister, to advise that what would really suit my mom's fancy was a grilled cheese sandwich.

My mom no longer is able to go to restaurants, or to shop with my sister. A different act in this play has now taken center stage, one in which my mom's apartment is now the setting. As much as some of those lunches or dinners were struggles, as much as those endless journeys to the stores must have been hard for my sister, I know that both my sister and I miss those days and look back on them with a mixture of many emotions.

Grilled cheese with Dorothy Nussbaum in Teaneck, at Louie's Charcoal Pit. Nothing else like it.

A Disappearing Act

("How My Mother Disappeared")

There is a desperation in being witness to the deterioration, inch by inch and brain cell by brain cell. I can remember my mom complaining for years that her memory was failing, even before I could see any evidence that her diagnosis had any validity. Then the signs began to appear,and the trickle of incidents became something more than that, until finally it was an overwhelming tidal wave of events.

When she was still driving, at the very beginning, she had a car accident. She couldn't remember where she lived, so she needed a police escort to lead her home to her residence of 30 years. And there was the day she called me to ask how to get to the stock broker's office she had visited week after week with clock like regularity, delivering deposits by hand, not believing the mail a sufficiently reliable option.

Now, more than a half decade later, she sits in a wheelchair, almost blind, unable to hear most conversation or to process virtually anything she does hear. She has gone through many levels of reaction to her decline, anxiety, frustration, anger, despair. Now she is much more placid, even as her entire world has become little more than the 4 walls of her apartment. I too have taken a journey from annoyance at her repeating questions ad infinitum to bewilderment at our collective inability to slow down the enemy, to a calmer acceptance of what is and a gratefulness for whatever is left.

Earlier this week, as I stood next to my mom, stroking her hand with mine, so she could know I was there and so she could have a physical sensation of how I felt, she told me that I was the best. Even in the midst of an ongoing and unspeakable tragedy, there are still moments when I can smile.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Going to a First Birthday Party

There is a first birthday coming up on September 17. I was there as an observer in the early moments which were chaotic, overwhelming and amazing. A big party is planned in New York City on the days leading up to the anniversary. I am invited, and whether you know it or not, so are you.

Occupy Wall Street was an amazing concept that came to life with the force of a category four hurricane, threatening to demolish anything and anybody that tried to block its path. It took over our streets and our minds, literally planting itself in the middle of the most important city in our nation and refusing to budge. It was, so it said, here for the long haul and it was going to change the way business got done.

I had to go to the Occupy Wall Street website to verify the movement's continued existence. It described itself as a "leaderless resistance movement"..."using Arab spring tactics to achieve our ends". Yet it is almost the American fall, possibly the most critical election of our time is two months away, and Occupy has not done enough to occupy our minds or impact our votes.

When I went to Zuccotti Park in those first frenetic days almost a year ago, I was very curious, and very excited. The organized march through the streets of the city was unlike anything else I had experienced. I listened to the chanting of slogans, many vying to become the centerpiece phrase for this revolution. I would return on several occasions in the weeks thereafter to the park that served as headquarters for an idea, to feel a part of something that was significant and was giving voice to the concerns and frustrations of so many of us.

The most recent post on Occupy Wall Street's website is in the unmistakeable voice of an equal opportunity criticizer. It faults President Obama as being merely another politician who can be bought and sold, as being no different and not bringing about real change. The idea of Mitt Romney was rejected as being incapable of doing anything but gut what remains of the public sector, destroy what remains of social services and empower corporations to further take over our country. Powerful words.

I had some discussions during those initial giddy moments about what Occupy was and where it should be headed. I thought that this movement's philosophical underpinning was clearly aligned with the Democratic party, with its denunciation of the 1% who were taking over the country, dollar by dollar, and choking out the life and vibrancy of the rest of our population. I thought that for the movement to have staying power it had to eventually choose sides and work to promote the cause of the Democrats, even if it saw this party merely as the lesser of two evils. I worried that without leaders, and without a defined direction, it might be a shooting star that burned intensely and brightly for a moment but then fizzled and fell to the ground.

But, in those first days, I tried to embrace the idea that being amorphous and all encompassing would not eventually diminish its power but would instead expand its universe. It was everyone and everywhere overnight. It was going to shape and change us fundamentally as a nation.

When we are in the moment, it seems like the moment is forever. This image, this snapshot is the immutable and permanent reality. But, fall turned into winter, and the strength and dedication waned. Weather and the demands of everyday life seemed to sap Occupy of its vitality, little by little and day by day. We went back to the rest of our existence and Occupy became merely another slogan. I think I retained a copy of one of the first issues of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, but I am not even sure where it may be.

There is a birthday party planned in New York City  in about 10 days. I may be there to celebrate the most outrageous and intriguing beginning of the revolution that wasn't. Maybe the embers of that star can be stoked and its light shine gloriously and powerfully on us again. Maybe it is not too little, too late to choose a path that will have an impact on this election and the direction that this country is headed. But, one year after the birth, if I do go to Wall Street it will be with far diminished expectations and a much more sober view of the power of this movement to occupy our heads and change our destiny.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Did you Listen?

Did you listen, you the undecided? I hope so.

Did you listen last week to the Republican posturing and pandering, the empty words lacking in policy, full of prevarication?

Did you listen now to Clinton, to Kerry, to Biden to Michelle and Barack Obama as they gave context to the actions of the President and contrast to the false visions of the Republicans?

Did you listen how the President inherited a disaster and an opponent bent only on his destruction and yet rescued an industry from demolition and a country from falling into the deepest of depressions?

Did you listen to the first lady speaking of the passion and persistence of her husband, of his devotion and dedication to make sure the fallen have a chance to rise and that each one of us has the right to continue to dream?

Did you listen to the former President as he dismantled the Republicans piece by piece on domestic issues?

Did you listen to the former candidate for President in 2004 as he dismembered Romney and Ryan on their foreign policy shortcomings?

Did you listen to the Vice President as he gave tribute to Obama and focused on the tribulations he met head on, with strength and courage?

Did you listen to the President discuss and defend his record on health care reform, on Iraq and Afghanistan, on nursing a very sick economy back from death's doorstep, on protecting the rights of each individual to make choices regarding his or her body or life partner?

Did you listen, you the undecided? I hope so, not only for your sake but for the sake of all of us. For if you did, you would clearly understand the Republican party's failings and the strength of the Democratic party's foundation. For if you did, you would no longer be undecided. You just have to listen.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Republican Oath (Recited Together with the Republican No Tax Increase Pledge)

("Ryan Admits Misstating Marathon Time")

"I swear to tell a lie, a complete lie and nothing but a lie, so help me God."

To borrow a term made famous by Roger Clemens, it was not that Mr. Ryan lied about his accomplishment, but that he "misremembered" it. As he misremembered almost every fact in his convention speech except that he was born and presently lives in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Among the most egregious Ryan fictional tales told in his remarks on stage were that:
  • his party's avowed promise was to protect the weak;
  • the debt ceiling fiasco and the ensuing credit downgrade for our country was a product of the Democrats' misfeasance;
  • President Obama was to blame for the shuttering of a GM plant in Mr. Ryan's hometown whose closure was announced during the term of President Bush;
  • and the mother of them all, a $716 billion reduction in Medicare funds was not the cutting of inefficiencies in the system, but rather the reducing of benefits for the Medicare recipients and that these reductions were endorsed only by the Democrats.
Mr. Ryan's most recent slips were but the latest examples of a Republican problem of epidemic proportion. If only the fact checkers would leave Mr. Ryan and his party alone to fabricate without recrimination, they would be so much happier.

Facts, as it turns out, are only what you say they are. And misrembering, in this universe, is just a fact of life.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Read Me, Hear Me

Yesterday, I was the guest interviewee on Virginia Reed's "A Woman's Perspective," a radio podcast on the Progressive Radio Network. You can listen to the episode by clicking the play button in the audio player embedded above, or you can download or stream it at PRN.