Saturday, May 24, 2014

Appointed Round

In response to the threat of rain, our golfing group dropped from 6 players to 2 this morning. This is not the first time this has happened. As self proclaimed leader, I have decided that something needs to be done to stem the tide. Like Commissioner Silver of the NBA, I see an underlying problem that has been allowed to fester and must be eradicated before it infects the entire community. The following is my proposed missive:


Just got a call from Dennis. I think the Commissioner is considering instituting a system of fines depending on when and how often you drop out. I am trying to dissuade him from taking such drastic action, but he can be a very intransigent person. He is not a nice fellow.

I am PLAYING next weekend and have been notified  that I will be $10 lighter in the pocket if I don't show up. I am considering filing an appeal but since there is no one to appeal to, I am hesitant to hire counsel unnecessarily.

Beyond the fine, I am told I will lose mulligan privileges for the next round.There are few sanctions in sport that are as bad as the death penalty exacted by the NCAA on those who violate their mandates. This is one of them. The only punishment more horrific would be to compel me to play summer rules.

I say we advocate for term limits. I believe that the Justices of the Supreme Court should not be given lifetime appointments, for the potential abuse of power is far too great and far too real. So too, in my own tiny universe, someone who would impose such draconian measures upon his subjects should not be allowed unfettered, unlimited rule.

But until that time occurs,  be fairly warned that all those who swear they will appear at their appointed round, much like the postman, face  potential dire consequences should the weather, or some other circumstance unforeseen, intervene and give them reason to reconsider. For as well as I am acquainted with the man who has imposed these potential sanctions upon me, be advised that there is a ruling body of one who also knows your name and where you live.

My son once told me that his boss warned those in his employ that the only excuse for not showing up for work was a funeral. Your own.

Life is sometimes cruel.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Melting Facts

It could be called the fall and rise of the Republican party. After the 2008 election, at a time when the economy was tanking and calamity seemed virtually inevitable, not only was the stock market collapsing but so was the stock of the Republican brand.

In January of 2009, Nate Silver wrote "the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base — but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us."

Mr.Silver, and like minded people, were wrong. The Republican tactics did not become a self perpetuating purveyor of doom for the party, but rather a rallying cry. The Tea party arrived, filled with passion, venom and little if any factual underpinning. The Republican leadership became emboldened and rather than disavow their errant ways, they doubled down. Opposition for opposition's sake became the guiding principle.

And thus, whether it be climate change, inflation spirals, or any other issue which should involve analysis and reason, stridency and repeated emphatic denial of the facts on the ground instead became the only focus.

Given the perspective of time, we now see the perverted wisdom, politically speaking, of this practice. The Democrats seem without answer or response. It is they who seem more in the death spiral, as the real possibility looms of both Houses being under Republican control as of this November.

Thus, unless and until circumstances dictate another course of action, the probability of the Republican party reversing its trend and embracing something other than a radically incoherent and factually depleted platform is about as likely to occur as the ice sheet's sudden resurrection.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Faux Outrage

("Center Wing at the Republican Circus")

It is a perpetual cycle of searching for a weakness, perceived or real, and wringing every ounce of moral outrage from the party faithful. It is the Republican way.

Benghazi, Obamacare, IRS-gate, are mere catchwords. Politics has devolved into something terribly crude and horribly misguided. There is almost nothing left but the facade of government. There is virtually no more discourse, only accusations and finger pointing.

We will soon begin in earnest the 2014 election season. Then, as soon as the embers of those flames die down, the dreaded push for 2016 will rear its ugly head.

There will undoubtedly be many intervening "calamities" upon which the Republicans seize in their frenzy to gain control of both Houses and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While the many ills of the country, from the environment, to gun control, unemployment, poverty, immigration and countless other pressing matters go unattended, we will be asked to give serious consideration to some of the old "standards", like Hillary's involvement in the Benghazi "cover-up" or maybe even her role in the Monica Lewinsky episode.

For the Republicans, some stories are just too good to die.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Obama- Fair or Foul?

We don't do well with shades of gray, with complexities, with questions without defined responses.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Both in the domestic arena and in foreign affairs ("President Obama and the World", "It's Not Just About Obama" and "42 and 45 Overpower 44") the New York Times grapples with where the cause and effect lies regarding a president who stares out at a world seemingly beyond his capacity to control.

Is it the Republican party leaders who have laid us fallow? They have been unalterably committed to the destruction of the Obama presidency and in the wake of that determination have kept our economy from recovering, ignored pleas to repair the infrastructure or address our the energy imbalance, allowed the middle class to virtually disappear and watched as the lower class sunk into despair. Or can this all be laid at the feet of a president who Maureen Dowd has consistently alleged is not remotely interested in getting his hands dirty or playing the games that these people play?

And in lands abroad, where hints at democracy have turned into nightmares of  authoritarian brutality, where our efforts over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have seemingly brought little by way of permanent success but merely left us dazed and confused, and where one leader has turned his personal vision of a return to prominence of his country into an ugly and ongoing dance where his lead is countered by not much of anything, are we truly capable of doing much more than plugging up one hole while a dozen others are erupting? Do each of these plays have to come to their own conclusion or are we truly capable of performing the role of  deus ex machina?

We are far too myopic, far too willing to judge events as they are unfolding and declare victory or defeat, good or bad, right or wrong. Both those who come to condemn President Obama, and those who come to praise him, should step back, take a deep breath and understand that time and history will give us much more definition than we can ever find in the moment.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My 15 Seconds

Printed below is an excerpt from an article that appears on the New York Times website. It is written by the Editor of the New York Times letters page.

In the original article (paywall), after many erudite statements from the most frequent contributors, you will find a statement by me, which I included in the excerpt below. It is, I believe, some of my finest writing. I hope you agree.


An excerpt of 'Meet the Regulars' 
By Thomas Feyer

Every day, hundreds of thousands of readers make their way through The New York Times, in print or online. Hundreds of them — outraged, amused or touched in some way — like to write back and give us a piece of their mind.
Then there are those I call the Regulars. They write a lot — some almost every day, some several times a day. Their letters are especially clear and cogent, bettering their odds of being selected for publication in the highly subjective winnowing process.
I thought I would bring some of the frequently published letter writers into the discussion, so I asked them to address — preferably in 100 words or less, shorter than the typical letter we run — one of these questions:
▪ What do you get out of writing so frequently?
▪ What are your main interests?
▪ What are your secrets to getting published?
**Here is my response, which made the cut for publication:**

To the Editor:

Question: What do you get out of writing so frequently?
Answer: Insomnia.
The writer is a lawyer.