Friday, November 30, 2012


My friend had her hair colored yesterday. I know what you are thinking but keep reading.

Earlier this week, her sister lost her battle with ALS. My friend's constant trips down to Washington to watch the unfolding tragedy, most often in the company of both her husband and her mother, are now over.

She is not a religious person, never has been. She does not believe in God nor in the possibility of an after life. But, like many of us, she can not be unequivocal in her position. There is always the remote chance that she is mistaken. Which brings me back to the issue of hair coloring.

My friend's sister, so I have learned from years of tales told, was a woman who put much importance on appearance. Even during the course of her illness, she wanted to make sure that her hair was combed just right, that she was properly made up. How you present yourself was more than a decision, it was a declaration.

There is a memorial service next Monday to honor my friend's sister. One more trip to Washington, this time to say a final goodbye. And just a chance that one of those in attendance might be paying close attention to detail. "You see", my friend said, "if my sister is looking down on me, she would not want to find any gray roots."

So an avowed skeptic is hedging her bet. And hoping her sister thinks her hair looks perfect.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Stone Throwers

("Make Up Turned Break Up")

They deny irrefutable proof of global warming at an ever increasing cost to our nation. They fabricate concerns of "death panels" to frighten the public and try to derail passage of health care legislation providing protection for millions. They seek to suppress the vote of those who oppose them and deprive them of their most essential freedom. They utilize every subterfuge to undermine the President and diminish the chances of our economic recovery.

These are the people who dare throw stones at Susan Rice. Her appearance on national television on a Sunday morning was not even a blip on the radar screen.  Her statements were couched with asterisks and allowed for the possibility that the information was incomplete and might not be proven accurate when the dust settled. The unfolding facts on the attack on the consulate in Benghazi were subsequently debated in prime time before the nation by the Presidential candidates.

There is no honor in the behavior of Mr. McCain, Mr. Graham or Ms. Ayotte. This is only more of the same from a Republican party where political gamesmanship knows no bounds.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Minus 12 and Holding

"Minus 12." It is not the correct answer but it brings a big smile to my face.

It takes 2 people to sponge bathe my mom in her bed. I enter the room hesitantly, notwithstanding Mary's indication that I am welcome. My mom is fully covered in towels and a robe, but she is not aware of her state of dress, and I worry what may transpire in my presence. Yet she seems quiet and restful, not at all combative like she has been in this circumstance in the past.

My Aunt Shirley was turning 90 that day, almost 5 years younger than my mom. "Do you know it is Aunt Shirley's birthday?"

"Shirley Solan"? It is a good sign that she remembers her sister's name.

My mom's feet and ankles are feeling the warm massage. Maybe the gentle touch on the skin helps focus her thoughts.

"Do you know how old you are?" For many years my mom decided that she was and would remain 39. In fact, she proudly wore a tee shirt on each January 8 through much of the past several decades which proclaimed she was "39 and holding". While I was growing up she advised that she was 4 years younger than my dad. It was only after he passed away and I thereafter dealt with various records of my mom that I discovered she was actually 2 months his senior. So, numbers, or at least the hiding of this particular number, always held a significance for her.

The question I posed was not intended to solicit a proper response. It has been a long time since she retained the grasp of these fundamental facts. Just having her search is now a victory in itself. Several seconds pass without reply. "Minus 12.''

Having been witness to and participant in the past half dozen years of her life has been a horrible and enlightening experience. I have learned much about myself and about what many of us must do to cope with life's fragile equilibrium. What brought me to tears in past years now is understood, if not accepted. And what was once considered tragic is now something different, not better, just different. So when my mom grasps for answers that escape her, but comes up with a unique and intriguing alternative, I no longer cringe. I find the possibility of humor, and make believe that my mom is telling the big fish story. She is her old incorrigible self, holding on now not to an age but to a concept that has a metaphysical meaning.

My mom always said that you are only as old as you tell yourself, and that age is just a number. And minus 12 sounds like a really good number to me. Maybe on her 95th birthday she will not be wearing that old shirt but rather a new one. Here's to my mom, "minus 12 and holding."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Challenging Kobayashi

I arrived at my cousin's early on Thanksgiving afternoon having eaten only a single chocolate chip cookie for breakfast. I was saving several hundred calories which I could then spread judiciously over the course of the afternoon.

I began a tour of his new residence, walking past the assorted offerings from appetizers to desserts spread about the kitchen. I wondered whether it would be impolitic for me to ingest a cookie on the run. I hesitated briefly then moved on, trying to appear oblivious to the many foods facing imminent demise.

There is a discussion between the weak me and the weaker me which occurs at moments like this. For as long as I have known me, and it feels like a relationship that has lasted my entire life, I have failed miserably in moderating my impulse to gorge.

The shrimp, resting pure and proud, was my first area of attack.  It was a withering assault, the cocktail sauce slathered on, piece after piece. I was like Kobayashi only faster. The plate recoiled in horror at the severity of it all. In the end, what remained were a few remnants, shreds of what had but moments before been such an impressive array of talent.

There was rumor of whitefish salad. I moved with singular focus from room to room until I located the dish. Hiding between the celery, crackers and potato chips, it seemed to recognize its fate. Within seconds the indiscriminate, maniacal siege had commenced. The weapons of choice were many. Try as the fish might to slither off the outside of a cracker, or the edge of the stick of celery, it may have received a momentary reprieve but the inevitable was, in a word, inevitable.

The next several hours are but a blur. I think there was a television, football games, relatives and some relative unknowns in the vicinity of me and my food. I remember a small mountain of little hot dogs being placed within reach and then being vacuumed in by me, one with mustard, the next with ketchup, in a serial procession.

I have vague images of a plate being filled with traditional Thanksgiving fare, and then another one of similar dimension. By dessert, I flailed about, making but lame attempt to meet my allotment. But none of this has the clarity of those first minutes when there was nothing between me and my insatiable needs.

On our trip home last night, my daughter remarked that it was one of the best Thanksgivings she could remember. I will have to take her word for it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Thanksgiving Feast

It was a cold rain, one that warns of winter's arrival. In the mountains, not too far from downtown Denver, there was a forecast of up to 2 feet of snow that would serve as catalyst for skiers' fantasies. It was early Sunday morning, a time when most would be staying in bed under warm blankets, girding themselves against the inclemency.

I shivered slightly on the walk with my wife. My hood was not quite tight enough and kept falling off my head in the breeze. We were on our way to the Denver Art Museum, hoping to see the Van Gogh exhibit. Later that day, weather permitting, we were on a flight back to New York. My most pressing concerns were the chill in the air and the scarcity of tickets to view the master.

As we turned a corner towards the museum only a few hundred yards away, there, stretching almost the entire length of the block, was one continuous table, set in festive colors. It had the look of  Thanksgiving  with an orange and brown paper table cloth serving as protective cover. It was actually many identical folding tables, lined up all astride one other, all connected by the massive orange and brown.

In the center of the street, situated so that those on both ends of the table would have equal access to sight and sound, was a small band shell. Several musicians had gathered. In the middle was a young girl, whom I imagined as the lead singer. The  performers and the equipment, while under a canopy, were still subjected to much of the harshness of the day.

Next to this site, the food was being readied. Hundreds of bottles of soda were packed tightly together. A group was working, pulling apart the meat on the turkey into individual portions. Nearby, the bread was stacked high.

A makeshift hair salon found a home on the grass. There, a lone hair cutter was busy at work, putting the finishing touches on an apparent makeover.

At the far end of the block, the crowd was gathering in a line, two or three across and many rows deep, waiting for their chance to partake in the offerings. It was only mid-morning, and all was not nearly ready. The rain continued to fall intermittently, stopping for a moment but then increasing in intensity.

Most in the group were silent. One was not, screaming loudly while those around tried to ignore him.

During our three days in the city,  the landscape in the business district where we were staying was dotted with clusters of people whom it appeared life was treating with no kindness. Our hotel looked down upon a pedestrian mall, made Disney like clean. A free bus ran its length, inviting those with the resources to take in its restaurants and shops. In the midst were those for whom this street provided only the promise of a bench.

My wife and I reached the end of the block. We walked past those waiting for the rain to diminish and their stomachs to be filled. We headed on to the museum.

About 90 minutes later, having taken in the wonders of the art and listening to an audio explanation to enhance our experience, we ventured outside. The weather had turned even a little colder, and the rain followed our every step.

By the entrance of a nearby building, sheltered under an overhang, were three or four men. Plates in hand, they were partaking of their meal. People were similarly huddled together in various other places, all strategically located for protection from the elements. On the stage, the young girl singer, slightly off key and a bit too loud, was serenading to the few who sat at the brown and orange covered table. One person stood nearby, gesticulating wildly to the music.

It began to hail. I worried whether our son, returning from a visit with friends, was dressed warmly enough. Soon we were back in the hotel. I pressed up against the fireplace. Although it did not generate as much warmth as I hoped, within a few minutes the chill exited my bones.

Later, as the hail turned to snow, the weather at the airport became a problem. We waited for our plane to be de-iced, but even as the snow intensified and conditions deteriorated, we were able to manage our escape and head into the dark night sky.

On the street near the museum, I was certain that the stage had been taken down and the block long table removed.  The brown and orange tablecloth was now but a memory, torn and discarded.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Romney's Parting Shot

 ("Romney Attributes Obama Win to "Gifts")

Who is the real Mitt Romney? Just over one week after the election, the former candidate for President doubled down on his theory regarding a portion of the population that was beyond the reach of the Republicans. It was the 47% speech with slight variations. The recent college student, people under 26, young women of child bearing age, Hispanics and blacks were all takers, people whose loyalty could be "bought". Government "gifts" of healthcare, possible forgiveness of crushing debt, prevention of unintended pregnancies, the ability to pursue the American dream, all of these were Democrat bribes that the Republicans could not offer.

It was Mr. Romney at his ugly worst. Throughout this campaign, we were told that the ever shifting positions of the Republican candidate reflected nothing more than a fixed intention to get elected. Don't believe the outrageous Tea Party rhetoric he parrots, but merely trust that he will do the right thing once he gets into office. It turns out that centrist Mitt was the mirage.

The Republicans paraded before this nation a group of wholly unqualified potential candidates. The primary season was full of highly forgettable figures who did disservice to their party and this nation. What was left at the end of the day was a standard bearer who believed there were many among us who could be discarded. It was a vision of an America where the 'haves' deserve more and the rest deserve only contempt.  Mr. Romney, in what will hopefully be the final words we hear from him, revealed how small he truly is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Moral Failings

 ("Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers' Ethics")

I understand that General Petraeus, General Allen, or many of the others now or recently censured or investigated, stood in positions of enormous power and could use their station to exercise inappropriate control over those subservient and subordinate. And I appreciate that, at the highest levels, the concern with national security breach is real. But absent these findings, is discipline warranted for the moral failing of not being as true to one's spouse as one has promised to be to one's country? I wonder how many in the military would be left to serve were they required to advise as to their faithfulness not only to the United States but to their life partner. The answer, in this arena, like everywhere else on our planet, is self evident. The military is not, and should not be, in the business of determining moral codes in the bedroom.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Now Pronounce You

The wedding ceremony was called for 6:30. As the cab driver made a U-turn and headed back from where he started, I looked nervously at my cell phone. It told me that I should be unhappy, very unhappy. I was.

How, in this day and age, can a taxi not go directly to its proper destination? The era of guesswork in travel had seemingly gone the way of the dinosaur and the typewriter. Plug in your starting and ending points, and some omniscient being instructed as to each twist and turn from here to there.

We had been set to travel to Denver in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday. United Airlines announced, nearly 24 hours prior to our departure, that virtually all of its flights were cancelled due to the nor'easter that was bearing down on the metropolitan area. After superstorm Sandy, it seemed like a very cruel joke. Somehow, our flight survived. My son's educated guess (and given his study of the airline industry, analysis was more accurate a description) was that we were spared as we were flying to a United hub. They wanted this plane, our plane to get out of where it was and to a place where it could be further dispatched. Money, as always, speaks.

Not that the journey was without its hiccups. As we pulled away from the gate at our allotted time, the snow pelted down. We would have to be de-iced before heading into the air. But, in a virtually deserted airport, with a runway seemingly begging us to get the hell out of there, it would be well over 2 hours before we left the firma of the terra. Mechanical issues, which would take but a few minutes to correct (is there ever one that is not announced as a minor problem?) quickly brought us back to point A and square one. But, finally, neither rain, nor sleet, snow nor broken part could keep us from our appointed rounds, and on to Denver we went.

The hotel was located in downtown Denver, chosen by the wedding planners for easy and quick access by the guests to the location where the wedding was transpiring. Less than a 10 minute ride, so the expert on this matter at the front desk advised. As the taxi pulled up, my cell phone told me we had time to spare.

The driver's response when informed of where we were headed should have tipped me off. It was framed more as a question than a declaratory statement. But, he was the one in charge, and this is what he did for a living. I ignored the hesitation in his reply when the site of the wedding was repeated. And he took off as though he was confident that he had a mental image of every left and right, every stoplight and pedestrian crossing. All was good.

The meter and the miles began to pile up. Uncertainty was evident in every twist and turn. When the car slowed, and made that very unceremonious u-turn, not the first of this meandering mess, the driver fessed up. Within seconds, my son took over. Talk about back seat driving. Left here, right there, another right, another left. It was 6:36 when the taxi went right past our destination. After one last error was corrected, we were where we were supposed to be. The meter read almost $19. I handed $10 to the cabbie, which he found to be fair wage, and off he went into the night.

While we were being driven to distraction, the words of beauty and wisdom had started. Fortunately we heard almost all of what was a very warm and genuine ceremony. The evening was a great success.

At the end of the night, one of our friends who had also made the trip to the mile high wedding, drove us back to the hotel. It took less than 5 minutes.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Vote

I would propose that one person's vote, and one alone, may well have changed the course of this election and the shape of our political future. If Chief Justice John Roberts had decided that the Affordable Care Act did not withstand Constitutional scrutiny, the next President of the United States would have been Willard Mitt Romney.

The central piece of legislation of the Obama administration was the health care reform that eventually bore his name. Much political capital was expended during the initial 2 years of the President's first term on this issue. While the country struggled to deal with the economic mess left behind by former President Bush, the Obamacare debate raged. If that fifth vote in the Supreme Court had been different, much of the conversation thereafter, during the debates and on the campaign trail would have focused on the time wasted and lost by the Democrats and their President on a matter that was ultimately of no consequence and no benefit to this nation.

Certainly, there are myriad reasons for the Republican defeat on November 4. The party will, as it did after the 2008 election, have to determine whether the path it had chosen was too extreme, too exclusive, to garner enough support in an ever shifting demographic. But despite all their shortcomings, despite having chosen a candidate who never gained his footing or found a true voice, despite all the errors along the way, we might well this morning be waking to a very much altered political landscape were it not for John Roberts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Special Message For The Ladies On Election Day

 A guest post by Richie Jay.
Hey, ladies. This one goes out to you.

More than 94-and-a-half years ago, my grandma, Dotsy, was born in New York City on a chilly January day in 1918. It would be another 2-and-a-half years, until August 1920, that women in the United States had universal suffrage, a.k.a. the right to vote from coast to coast.

In November 1981, my parents moved with an adorable black labrador named Coal and an even more adorable little infant named Richie to Tenafly, NJ, where we lived just a few doors down from the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house, as in the house where Elizabeth Cady Stanton once lived. Yes, THAT Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who, along with Susan B. Anthony, drafted the original text of what became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

In August 2003, I started a graduate program in public policy in California, where I learned a lot about civil rights in the United States, and where I also had an advisor, originally from New York, whose best childhood friend was the present-day resident of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house.

So, what I'm trying to say here is that women's suffrage is kind of a BFD to me. After all, I have a wonderful grandma whom I love and care about deeply, and who I think is equal to or greater than me in every way imaginable, and I cannot fathom a time -- shockingly during her lifetime -- when this was not a given. And I grew up, quite literally, in the bosom of women's empowerment, which then curiously seemed to follow me wherever I went.

Which all leads to today. And brings me back to talking to the ladies. (People without lady parts, please stop reading.)

Women. Ladies. Magnificent Goddesses of Suffrage: You fought hard for the right to vote. And you deserve to make your voices heard. Loudly. And today is your special day to enfranchise yourselves with abandon. Be indulgent. Treat Yourself to the fabulous pleasures of voting.

In fact, you owe it to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and my dearest Grandma Dotsy to show up at the polls -- even wait in a long line, if you must -- step into that booth, and pull that lever/touch that touchscreen/punch that punchcard/do your voting thing, and then shout out loud: "I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME VOTE!" Or don't shout. Vote. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

And, though I am loath to give any advice to women, since it is truly us men that should be taking advice from you, I'd like to, humbly, offer a voting suggestion:

If you'd like a president and a supreme court that respect your right to make choices about your own body, about whom you can love, about how, when, and even if you'd like to have children, about important and deeply personal healthcare decisions, then I shall most gently and humbly suggest that you vote for BARACK OBAMA. (Also, if applicable in your district, perhaps you'd like to refrain from voting for Congressmen or Senators who think that rape is a gift from god and that women have ways to 'shut that whole thing down.')

If you'd like a president who believes in improving the quality of public education, and in improving access to and affordability of higher education, and in expanding job opportunities and pay equality for women, then I shall kindly recommend that you vote for BARACK OBAMA.

If you'd like to breathe cleaner air, drink purer water, eat safer food, and, yes, live near slightly lower oceans, please consider voting for BARACK OBAMA.

If you'd like to live in a country that cares for its poorest and most vulnerable, its hungry and disabled, its grizzled war veterans and frail but still remarkably adorable little old Jewish grandmas -- even at the expense of higher estate and capital gains taxes for millionaires and billionaires -- then you should probably, maybe, but this is totally up to you, since it is, of course, your vote, not mine, vote for BARACK OBAMA.

Ladies. In closing, I am ever grateful that you had the intelligence, strong will, and perseverance to fight for the right to vote nearly a century ago. And I sincerely hope that you will keep up that fight today. Every time each one of you votes, you are, in your own small way, becoming Elizabeth Cady Stanton. And, for that, you should be tremendously proud. I know I am.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Acceptance Speech

Tonight is not about who I am but who we are. There is an unbreakable American spirit, a sheer determination to overcome adversity, a courage and a strength that is and will continue to be the centerpiece of this nation. At our core is a common desire to demonstrate to the rest of the world all that is remarkable and all that is possible.

I have gone from one end of this country to the other and seen the struggles that we face. I know that sometimes it feels like brighter days will never arrive. But we are emerging  from the darkness. I will not rest, I cannot rest knowing the difficult times that still lay ahead. In recent days we have witnessed the unspeakable tragedies of a storm that has cost us in so many ways. But we will overcome, and in the weeks that follow, we will begin to rebuild, brick by brick and block by block. It is who we are.

The past months have been marked by the harsh reality of politics. But while Mitt Romney's vision of the road to recovery and mine may diverge, we share an unshakeable belief in your greatness. Democrat and Republican, old and young, man, woman and child, no matter the color of your skin or the part of this vast land you call home, we will all as one find the answers. It is who we are.

 I will ask for sacrifices from you, but you have never shied away from responsibility. I will expect commitments from you but you have never been unwilling to act. I will look to you for my strength, I will lean on you for my support. I will count on you because I can. It is who we are.

And we will emerge better in so many ways. Our  renewed focus on education will lead to more productive students and more secure futures. Our investments in energy will find us more diverse and more independent. Our rebuilding of our infrastructure will bring jobs to many and revitalize areas long neglected. Our recognition of our firefighters, our policemen and women, all those dedicated to preserving and protecting will help us as much as it will help them. It is what will happen because it is who we are.

We will speak to each other and not over each other as we reach for solutions. We will treat with respect those who act in pursuit of our common interest. We will not always see eye to eye but we will not turn our backs on those who have different answers. We will find a way to find common ground. We will do this because it is who we are.

The world is much changed from what it was that day in November of 2008 when I stood before you in Chicago. One could not have ever imagined that in foreign lands, far and wide, there would be such a demand for a new path. It is a path that is strewn with obstacles, and uneven landscape. And it is one for which the final resting place is near impossible to locate. We have been confronted with enormous challenges in trying to help those who look for a better, more respectful, more inclusive community in which to live. But help them we will, and we will be a consistent and moral friend to those who deserve our friendship, because that is who we are.

We have fought the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have brought home those who served us so nobly in one war and we will soon welcome back those who remain abroad in Afghanistan. And we will take as good care of these returning heroes when they are on our shores, as they have us. We will not forget them, we will not let them go hungry or without shelter. We will keep them safe from the storm because that is who we are.
We will  continue to be diligent and make it abundantly clear to those who would do us harm that we will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit. They will not rest easy one day, one hour, one second. We are as relentless as we are strong. We will do what we can, what we must, because that is who we are.
We will be steadfast in our care of  the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the neglected so they will never feel lost or alone. We will make certain that our first order of business is to mandate that the least among us is treated with the respect and dignity that all of us deserve. We will act responsibly towards them because that it is who we are.

Too many awake every day just waiting for the opportunity to do all of which they are capable. I will move heaven and earth to assure that their capacity is not wasted. We will pursue policies that give them a chance, because a chance is all they ask for. There is no stronger or better worker in the world and they will always make us proud because that is who we are.

I thank Mr. Romney and the Republican party for caring about our future. I thank all who have shown faith in me and cast their ballot in my favor. We are the greatest nation in the world and in the coming days the world will look at us and marvel . Tomorrow will be a good day in America, and the one after even better.. I know it because I know who we are.

God Bless You and God Bless the United States of America.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Marathon

Whether you agreed with it or not, the New York City Marathon was going to happen this Sunday. That is, until the middle of the day on Friday when it was not. Was the Mayor's ultimate decision the right one?

When is the moment after a tragedy when it is appropriate to move forward with a major sporting event? When does this cross over from being an insensitive intrusion and instead become an emotional regeneration? I look to devastating events and their aftermath for guidance and insight.

On October 17, 1989 the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics were warming up for Game 3 of the World Series. Suddenly, the upper level of the stands in Candlestick Park began to tremble. The Loma Prieta earthquake registered 6.9 on the Richter scale. The final toll was 63 dead, over 3,500 injured and thousands homeless. All the airports in the Bay Area were closed. Transportation was halted as major roadways sustained massive damage. The estimate of repair costs was near $2 billion. Ten days after the stands shook, game 3 was played.

The events of 9/11 brought this country to a horrified standstill. The New York Stock Exchange did not open on September 11, and would not renew operations until September 17. Broadway theaters remained dark for but 2 days and reopened (with dimmed lights) on September 13. New York City's mayoral primary had begun on September 11, but was suspended during that day and did not continue until September 25. And on the day that the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, Bud Selig announced that Major League baseball would not be played on that day, and no strike or ball was called until 6 days later. In the 24 hours after the attack, 11 people were pulled alive from the rubble.

Sandy arrived on the New Jersey shore with a brutal intensity and its ferocity reached into millions of homes. Few parts of New York City were spared. Physical destruction was massive and power outages continue to create enormous hardship in the days after the storm's arrival. The estimate on the financial costs now run as high as $50 billion.The emotional devastation appears without end. In the midst of this, almost 50,000 runners were to line up this Sunday morning, November 4, to run slightly over 26 miles through the 5 boroughs of the city, past those whose lives have so recently been disrupted.

On November 23, 1963, on the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Pete Rozelle, the commissioner of the National  Football League decided that the games would go on that day. It was, he later decided, the worst decision of his career.

When the earthquake of 1989 hit in San Francisco and Candlestick was damaged, that earlier determination of Mr. Rozelle was remembered by baseball commissioner Fay Vincent in comments he made shortly after the 9/11 attack: ''How could we think about playing in a stadium that wasn't available?''  ''We talked about going to Anaheim. We could have gone to Oakland....My decision was influenced by Rozelle's. He said it was a terrible mistake. You can't play a game against such events.''

On September 15, 2001, 4 days after the Twin Towers came down, the New York Times published an article entitled "After the Attack, Where to Get Information, A List of Emergency Numbers and Websites". The piece began as follows: "Searching for Missing Loved Ones. Finding a place to stay. Trying to get to work. Looking for a way to help." 

The New York Times on November 3, 2012 reported as follows ("Hardship Strains Emotions in New York") : In the New York area there were "powerfully long lines for free meals, lines for buses to take people where crippled subways could not, lines for gasoline that stretched 30 blocks in Brooklyn."  The article stated that "critics said it would be in poor taste to hold a footrace through 5 boroughs while so many people in the area were still dealing with damage from the hurricane."

"Wisely Stepping Aside in Bombarded City" (New York Times, November 3, 2012) reacted to the Mayor's change of heart on allowing the race to proceed: "It was already a bad idea when the winds stopped howling and the tides stopped surging and the real public servants, out there in the neighborhoods, began to report just how bad this was, how bad this still is."

What lessons do we learn from all of these events? The answer may depend on different criteria, but I believe there is one overriding concern: are we in the search and rescue period or have we moved into  recovery mode? In the first phase, there is a sense that the tragedy is still unfolding, the wounds still wide open and  there is something we can and should be doing to put an end to the underlying event. In tragedies like the one in 1989 in San Francisco, or 2001 underneath the rubble in New York City, or 2012 throughout the tri-state area, the immediacy of the pain does not begin to recede until the lights are back on, the heat in the apartment warms the cold that has attached,  the roadways welcome traffic or the hope of finding live bodies underneath the rubble no longer exists. It is only then that it is appropriate to bring sport back into our lives.

On September 21, 2001, 10 days after the Twin Towers fell, a major league baseball game was played in New York  Years later, Chipper Jones, a participant in that event, recalled the night: "Everyone went home feeling great, feeling wonderful. We had done our jobs as baseball players to entertain people," Jones said, "but we had gone I feel, above and beyond just the normal's day work in that we owed it to the City of New York and the Northeast United States to help heal a little bit, help take people's minds off a terrible tragedy for a couple of hours."

New York City is still underneath water, still in the midst of trying to dig out from under the rubble. The process is not yet complete. While there were many reasons for the runners to line up on Sunday, none of them were good enough. The healing will begin, but only when the raw nerve is not quite as prominently exposed.

Freedom Will Light & Heat Your Home, Repair Your Roads and Educate Your Kids

Another guest post by Richie Jay

First a little primer: When you view an ad on the internet, it is being served to you by one of the major ad networks. Those ad networks collect all sorts of information, using things like your IP address and tracking cookies. From the data they collect, they can determine, at the very least, where you are, and often quite a bit more than that.

So, on the Drudge Report (I know, awful, but bear with me) this morning, 2 big Romney ads were being served to me: (1) "Our economy runs on freedom, not government"; and (2) "We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in."

Setting aside for the moment that I'm not a Romney voter, let's focus on the big picture: (1) I live in New Jersey, and they know this; (2) New Jersey just suffered the worst natural disaster in its history, and they know this. (3) They have the power to choose when, where, and which ads they serve, and they know this.

Even our Republican governor knows that the economy doesn't run on "freedom" (whatever that means) when people's homes are under water (and not in the mortgage sense, in the literal, wet sense), roads are impassable, the power is out all over the place, public transit isn't running, schools are closed, and people can't buy gasoline. So that platitude sounds even stupider than it normally would, even to a dyed-in-the-wool Romney supporter.

And that "moral responsibility" business is about the most immoral thing you could possibly say at a time like this. If we were able to fight two wars, because they were deemed necessary, without paying for them, it takes a whole lot of gall to slam the purse shut at a time when we desperately need government spending to run search and rescue operations, rebuild infrastructure, and simply get lives back to normal. This is the absolute worst time to suddenly find fiscal responsibility, coming from a party that had exactly none of it for the past few decades, in spite of their soundbites about it.

My advice to Romney's web team: Serve up some different ads. Maybe even nice ones about helping people in need (heaven forbid!). At least to people in New Jersey. There's literally only a few days left until the election, and you can't find a message that isn't "Screw You, People of New Jersey. Your government shouldn't help you. Because that's not FREEDOM! And LIBERTY! And STUFF!"?

Well, screw you too, Mitt Romney.

P.S. Close the carried interest, capital gains, and Cayman Island tax dodges that you use, amongst others, Mr. Romney, and we could find some cash to spend on these relief efforts, so it wouldn't be, you know, "immoral" for the government to help people.