Friday, July 29, 2016

From Darkness to Light - The Republican and Democratic Conventions


The Democrats left the Republicans in the dust in the battle of the conventions.

With clear vision of a still great America, with equal parts passion and compassion, with a heart and soul in Philadelphia that was missing in action in Cleveland, the party on the left was indisputably right as to the way forward for this country. 

We endured four days of darkness from the Republicans, the party of no becoming the party of NO, a screaming portrait of fear, anger, hatred, resentment. Those who spoke up for Mr. Trump a running joke, bouncing from Duck Dynasty to Charles in Charge. The few party leaders who were summoned to the podium barely mentioning their nominee's name.

In stark contrast, the Democrats choreographed a vision of a land that was welcoming, a house that was not irreparably broken, a heart that was still beating strong. The chasm between the funeral for America of last week and the celebration of our strength, courage and conviction that we these past four days witnessed in the place where our Union began twelve score years ago, was as diametrically opposed as Hell and Heaven. 

And yes, we know Hillary Clinton still has warts. But to listen to Michelle Obama, to Joe Biden, to Bill Clinton and then to the most magnificent orator of my lifetime, Barack Obama, was to hear the unmistakable sounds of what makes America once and forever great, and to get an intimate look at a candidate with the capacity and the indomitable spirit to make us even greater.

Where this will lead us, only November 8 will reveal. I can only hope that America was watching, intently and incessantly, these past two weeks. And that those who were undecided, or those who somehow found Mr. Trump at least superficially appealing, or those who had not been paying attention at all, were awakened to the realities of the two diametric opposites who stand before us asking for our hand in marriage for at least four years. 

I know it was but theater, but this was a remarkable show over the past fortnight. From darkness to light, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from what we can't become to what we must always strive to be. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Make Russia Great Again

Make Russia great again. That should be the new slogan of Teflon Don. 

As he continues his long distance man hug with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump now invites his buddy to act as a Republican party operative, hacking his way into our computers and deeper into Trump's heart.

As Mr. Trump threatens to undermine our commitment to NATO and, in so doing, open the door to Russia committing future acts of aggression, his recklessness and lack of understanding grows ever more ominous. 

Yes, there is a looming danger on the horizon and something we rightly fear. And it's name is Donald Trump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Joker Versus Cruella De Vil

It has been a battle of cartoon characters: Donald Trump, with the plastic smile of the Joker, speaking in hyperbolic untruths and slogans, relying on hate and fear to mesmerize the masses.

Hillary Clinton in the role of Cruella De Vil, always lurking in shadows, always scheming, always guarded, always but a half step ahead of the law. 

On this night Bill Clinton was tasked with bringing a third dimension to his wife, bringing her true character to light, bringing us into their living room if not the bedroom, giving us a front row seat into his home and her world.

And, on this evening, we heard of the depth of her passion for others and her lifetime of commitment to causes other than her own welfare. 

In stark contrast, after four fitful days of an unconventional convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump was revealed as nothing more than one who has spent a lifetime in commitment to himself and his own well being.

So while some may challenge Mr. Clinton, contending he was but  airbrushing history, airbrushing her story, the former President did manage to turn Ms. De Vil into something of a guardian angel. And maybe in the process he wiped that phony smile off the Joker's face.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The First Lady's Night (No, Not That One)

The chasm that should separate every Sanders loyalist from a Trumpette had all but disappeared. The "Hillary for Prison" brigade had meandered from Cleveland to the city of not so brotherly love. A repeat of the Republican disaster of last week seemed all but inevitable. And then Michelle Obama spoke.

Was I the only one thinking we chose the wrong wife of a President to break this glass ceiling? The present first lady seems untouched by controversy. She is elegant, forceful, determined. She commands respect, and the voices of dissent melted away as she captured the room. 
There would be no disunity, no disloyalty, no distance between Sanders and Clinton supporters. The enemy did not come from within and it was Hillary who would make us proud of this country and make a still great America that much greater.

This does not mean that all was kumbaya on this convention floor and that tonight's roll call vote will be a full throated coronation of Ms. Clinton. But let not those in attendance disappoint our most captivating first lady. This was Michelle Obama's night to bring sense and sanity to a party threatening self destruction.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Scary Tales

Scary tales can come true 

They can happen to you, 

When you've got no heart

And the truth you can't find

When you're narrow of mind

And you've got no heart.

So don't go to extremes

With impossible schemes

Can't you see that your dreams

Are but nightmarish screams

And life is more exciting when you pass your days

With love and not this hate that just gets in the way

And the sum of your worth

You're not better by birth

Don't be cruel of heart

For you're poorer by far

And the night has no stars

When you're cruel of heart

And you're not alive

If you merely survive

Living all of these lies

Makes you empty inside

Now here is the fun part

You get a fresh start

If you wake tomorrow with an

Open heart

Friday, July 22, 2016


Mr. Trump said we can no longer afford to be politically correct. And he is right, dead right. While he kisses the ring of the NRA, speaking of how proud he is to have gained their seal of approval, nearly one hundred of our men, women and children have their lives come to a violent conclusion each and every day. Guns do kill, over and over and over.

We are coming to take your weapons, or at least we should be. Even the most fervent advocate of gun control, has neither the courage or the political will to speak an answer begging for a question. Yes, we live in a country where there is mass destruction being permitted, more than that, condoned, by our infatuation with guns. 

We have virtually as many in our homes as we have people in this country. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. The real diversity in our nation lies not in our people but in our choice of instruments of death. We no longer dream of a chicken in every pot but an AR 15 or AK 47 in our bed.

The dark, dark images that were the centerpiece of Mr. Trump's acceptance speech warned us repeatedly that there is much to fear.  The real truth unspoken is when we no longer have any rein on our weapons, when we  have open carry of our guns into our parks, our playgrounds, our schools, our houses of worship, we give open invitation to danger and death. When police must wonder if the next car they approach will be their last, when arguments between neighbors, drivers, spouses are settled not with words or even fists but with bullets, we give open invitation to danger and death. When it is easier to obtain an instrument of intended harm then it is to obtain the right to vote, we give open invitation to danger and death. 

We can no longer afford to be politically correct, not on this issue. We can no longer tolerate the insanity that is our convoluted misreading of the Second Amendment. We were not intended to be a fully armed nation. We were not intended to be an uncivil population masquerading as our own well regulated militia. We were not intended to overthrow a tyrannical government by armed insurrection.

Take our guns away. Have the fortitude to utter those words. Don't speak of terrorist watch lists, of those who are mentally unstable, of those with a history of domestic violence. Speak larger, think larger, of a population armed to the teeth, a trigger finger away from ending the existence of you or me. That person resides in your city, your town, on your street and maybe even in your home. He or she, or maybe even you, have the capacity to pull that trigger, after a bad day at work or maybe too many days unemployed, after an argument that would otherwise end with slamming doors or tears. 

Mr. Trump, let me congratulate you on your message that we must tell the hard truths, the ones we don't have the will or fortitude to reveal. In your universe, you have addressed our bigotry and our hatreds. However you have not given warning, but rather acted as accelerator, giving those on your side unfettered right to bring into the light of day their anger, their hostility, their prejudice and their ugliness. You have not healed us, but opened a gaping wound.

But if we are to be constructive in the truths we tell, if we are not to exacerbate our problems, but diminish them, if we are to heal rather than hurt, then we must stop being politically correct on the issue of gun control.

The NRA must be silenced. Those who shout that they are coming to take our guns must be silenced. The legislators whose words foster the epidemic of blood in our homes, in our houses of worship, in our cars and on our streets must be silenced.

The voices of courage and conviction must instead drown out the cacophony. There must be an end to our national nightmare. There must be one goal and one only. Not to work around the periphery, not to seek the small victory, not to accept the status quo as an inevitability. We must rid ourselves of this disease, attack it at its heart, treat is as virulent as any other cancer that has to be eradicated. 

Yes, Mr. Trump, we must end our political correctness. We must enact laws that do come and take your guns away. We must make your home your streets, your town and city, your country, and mine, safer.

Take the trigger out of our hands.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trump and Shakespeare

They stayed away in droves from a former President to past presidential nominees and present leaders. Many running for office ran away, afraid they would be infected not with Zika but the Trump virus. This is the state of the Republican party.

And for those who did come, who did speak, there was a hold your nose theme. Paul Ryan invoked the name of the party nominee less times than the fingers on one hand, with a few digits unused. And then Lyin' Ted told the assembled to vote their conscience. The absence of an endorsement saying loud and clear that Mr.Trump presides over a house divided. 

Who bears witness for this man apart from his own family? Mr. Cruz, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Ryan who all have disdain and disregard for Mr. Trump and have spoken openly and often of his amorality, of his misspoken words, of his positions not being representative of that of the GOP. They came not to praise Trump, if not necessarily to bury him (by the way this phrase is partially plagiarized from Shakespeare).

Mr. Trump promised us a show. But I know he didn't intend one like this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Parade

It was vulgar. 
Parading grieving parents in front of the cameras. Using their pain to turn Hillary Clinton into a killer.
Parading black speakers in front of the lily white crowd. Using their skin tone to turn this bigoted party into a color blind party of inclusion.
Parading a noun, a verb and 9/11 in front of the nation. Using the flag to drape Rudy Giuliani and permit his venom to turn every immigrant into a terrorist.
Parading the third wife in front of the world. Using Melania's words to blind and deceive us and turn her husband into a person who cared about our welfare rather than merely his own ego.
And this was but night one. I would say stay tuned, but don't.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Shooter (A Fictional Tale)

I counted twelve weapons. I am certain there were more. It was as much a gun show as a political rally.

They were all white, almost all men, mostly young, or youngish. They were a powder keg waiting for the right accelerator, all swagger and testosterone.  Many dressed in red, white and blue, patriots all. They loved this version of America, their vision of America.

They were cordoned off in their designated pen. These hundred or so awaited the beginning of the coronation that was to commence later that evening. 

I had come as witness, to watch and report on this year's version of the greatest show on earth. I was decidedly opposed to virtually everything the gun toting crowd held dear. I was as angry about their lack of understanding of the fundamentals of governing as they were about anything and everything about me.

All that stood between us and uncivil war was a cordon of cops, a covey dressed in blue, their faces shielded from view, their purpose serious, their demeanor unmistakable. They were tasked with protecting not merely the gathered, but the very safety of this country. 

I stood maybe fifty yards removed from those who believed I was not their opposite but their enemy. We were all there exercising our Constitutional rights, of first Amendment assemblage and free speech and, for them at least, their interpretation of a second Amendment that permitted them to form their own version of a well regulated militia.

We stared at one another in uneasy truce. One, maybe in his early 40's, about six feet tall, blonde and blue eyed, seemed to fix his gaze and his intentions upon me. I could almost feel his breath, even half a football field removed. I was as uncomfortable as if he was standing beside me, poking me with deliberate belligerence. I stared at the ground, hoping to deflect his focus, but I could sense my ploy was useless. 

It was but a minute later that the inevitable voices of conflict began to rage. It started from our side of the equation, from among our righteous two dozen or so. It mattered not the words but merely the tone, condescending, belittling, full of vinegar and spit.

The fire was returned in rapid order, the biting sounds piercing through the air as arrows streaking toward their target. The men and women in uniform were keenly aware that this could quickly escalate to dark places and they warned, in clear and concise language, that inciting to riot would not be tolerated. 

The verbal attacks ebbed and flowed over the next few minutes to a kind of standoff. One insult parried by another. Calm in direct mouth to mouth combat with anarchy. Not only our universe, but the entirety of our nation readied for what was certain to come next.

Was this what was envisioned twelve score years ago when we were birthed? This union might have been conceived in liberty but was this its definition, this its intention, this its destiny? I wondered how Abraham Lincoln might have orated were he to give grave review of this assemblage. Could he have considered that his party would have chosen as its standard bearer this version of man's inhumanity to man? 

And then I heard it. The unmistakable sound. A blonde hair blue eyed piercing scream. A piece of his face gone missing. The blood streaming everywhere and in a fraction of a second he was down.

 "Shooter, shooter, shooter." And it was only then I realized that I had pulled the trigger.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Kiss My Ring Tour

Donald Trump is on the kiss my ring tour, trying out the sycophants to determine who will have the great honor of trying to clean up the mess that is Mr. Trump's constant companion.

It all started with the Chris Christie classic where the governor looked as if his last meal might well have been his last meal.

Today Governor Pence tried out for the role of Ed McMahon, doing everything but crooning "here's Donny" as he welcomed the "next President of the United States." It makes me want to check out the cost of living in Sweden.

Thankfully the auditions will end this week when Mr. Trump's latest Apprentice is named the Biggest Loser. If you have applied for this position you are either at the end of your political life (yes you, Mr. Christie and Mr. Gingrich) or you may soon be (yes you, Mr. Pence).

So,  good luck to the contestants. Pucker up and if you are truly fortunate you will win the lottery and lose the VP race.

The Rain Delay

Through the raindrops, the enormous letters on the screens proclaimed that GB loved NY. It didn't feel that way as the clock edged toward midnight and the stage remained as empty as one of Donald Trump's campaign pledges.

I have been to the house that Ruth didn't build (and the one he did) on maybe a thousand occasions spread over more than half a century. I have waited out rain delays, even one or two snow squalls. I have seen tarps placed on fields dry as a bone while I endured and then endured some more. But never have I stuck around like this, so far past my self determined witching hour. Not before the performers even showed up on their appointed stage.

As time passed, I learned the story of my new friend, seated to my right. Of the passing of his first wife, and of the second, seated next to him, who had been such a blessing. "She's squeezing my leg. She doesn't like when I brag about her." I was treated to a discourse on Starwood points and was amazed at the enormous choice of locations.  I discovered he loved fly fishing and had retired at 55 after 38 years at one job. He seemed very content.

And for those whom I didn't speak with, but caught my attention, I filled in the facts. I watched the family that sat a few rows in front of me. Were those boyfriends or husbands of the two daughters? Did the brother in laws get along? Why did the mom seem so quiet? Was the dad a little too attentive to one of his children? I had answers for all of my questions.

It was nearly 10PM before the first announcement. Until then we were seated in the slightest of mists, the rain visible only by looking into the lights that brightened the night sky.  We were convinced Garth would be coming out any minute. Hadn't he delayed his appearance almost 45 minutes the night before? We were calm, eager and ready. No rhythmic clapping demanding his appearance. No, we could wait a few minutes after waiting so many years for his return.

"There is a storm approaching and all those with seats on the field must seek shelter immediately." That was it. No "sorry for the inconvenience." No "free hot dogs on us." No nothing as to if or when.

But still most in attendance persevered. Sure there was the isolated chant of "FU Garth Brooks" and certainly it seemed like an updated version of how many humans can fit in a phone booth as we sardined into the corridors and concourses and stared out at the precipitation. But basically, if the crowd did not all grin and bear it, it came pretty damn close.

My son and I discussed the sunk cost fallacy as 10 PM turned into 11, the skies still spit out moisture and we contemplated how long it would take to dry the stage and get everyone back into their seats after the storm had passed. "It is all just an adventure, a story for us to tell in the days to come." It was the best I could come up with on short notice. 

Some vendors ran out of food as 40,000 or so hungry bodies crammed together,  having anticipated raiding the fridge at home by now, not standing and staring at a blank canvas.

And when the announcement came that we were allowed back to our seats, it was as if the doors to the store just opened on Black Friday morning. There was a collective yell, almost a shriek really, as though we had beaten Mother Nature herself.

Still it felt but a dim light in the distance. As the worker bees scurried about trying to turn wet into dry, the mist continued to descend from above. Even as one of those on stage used what appeared to be a leaf blower to compel the moisture to leave and the others performed their squeegee tasks, two drops of moisture seemed to appear for every one removed. I believe even Sisyphus might have abandoned this job.

Garth Brooks arrived about two hours past my normal bedtime. I had gone through my personal twelve step process, well maybe not twelve, past the boredom, the annoyance, the fatigue, the hunger, the questioning my sanity, to this place. Even for me, only the most peripheral of Brooks fans,  I could not but be caught up in the exhilaration of the moment.

The sound that emanated from the stands as the concert actually began was immense, self congratulation mixed with pent up anticipation. As the clouds lifted and the first star of the evening came into plain sight, the crowd erupted.

 It was music to my ears.

Monday, July 11, 2016


As the officers lay dying in pools of blood we were witness to a new image of red, white and blue in America.

Days removed from fireworks lighting our skies, the gunshots were now the new fireworks of our nation.

While we drape ourselves in the flag, coffins now line up draped in the rhetoric of a country at war with itself.

Cry for the dead. Cry for those who lost their lives as we have lost our way.

Cry out in anguish and pain. Cry out for a new freedom, not soaked in this insanity. louder than any weapon, more powerful than any bullet.

Let us be free, free from the death grip of guns. Free from an addiction that leaves so many bodies broken, so many lives fractured, so many images of our self destruction.

Free from the fears that drive us into the waiting embrace of the arms makers, free from our insecurities that drive us to lock up and lock down.

Let freedom ring, not gunshots. Let freedom ring, not the wails of those in mourning. Let freedom ring, not our plaintive cries.

Let freedom ring on the lands where today we bury our dead. Let freedom ring where tonight we mourn. Let freedom ring where we no longer can find peace.

Let tomorrow dawn on a new beginning. Let our minds be clear, our eyes be focused, our hearts be calm.

Let our thoughts be joined, our efforts be relentless, our determination undeniable.

Let our time be not wasted, our path be not broken, our faith be not shaken.

Let us resolve that we will no longer live in pools of blood, that enough is far too much, that we are not our addiction.

Let freedom ring. Let freedom ring. Let freedom ring.

Take away the guns.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Death By Numbers

Do you want to know the world that the NRA has wrought? A place saturated with weapons and soaked in blood. A place where our implicit bias, coupled with a gun in the hands (or pockets) of anyone and almost everyone, translates into a four year old being witness to death for a broken taillight. A place where assault rifles proliferate and police become target practice, clay pigeons dressed in blue and spilling red on the streets of Dallas. A world with its collective finger on the trigger.

Do you want to know who is to blame for this insanity? We who allow this, we who do far too little, far too late. We who don't organize a 10 million person march, who don't demand that there be a first amendment to the Second Amendment so that we understand that this is not a well regulated militia but an unregulated army of unnecessary pain. 

We are our own weapon of mass destruction.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

That's (Just) a Star

("In a Defiant, Angry Speech, Donald Trump Defends Image That's Seen as Anti-Semitic")

That's a star.
That's a wall.
That's a university.
That's a prisoner of war.
That's a Muslim.
That's a Mexican.

That's not right.

The National Basketball A$$ociation

There are moments when obscene takes on a greater inten$ity. 

In the Stone Age of $piraling $port's $alaries, Rickey Henderson, almost as soon as the ink dried on his $3 million per season contract, lamented his decision as le$$er lights pa$$ed him on the dollar tree as if he were $tanding $till.

$tef Curry is now laughably underpaid at $12 million per annum. I think Jeremy Lin just gave away his $ervices at 36 for 3, and Linsanity was but a blip on the screen a basketball lifetime ago.

In a society where millions struggle to escape poverty, million$ lose their meaning in the $tratosphere of today's National Basketball A$$ociation.

There are those moments when too much becomes too much. Thi$ i$ $uch a moment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Train Wreck


Can there be a determination both more underwhelming and overwhelming? As we learn of Ms. Clinton's recklessness, and see daily evidence of Mr. Trump's complete lack of readiness or understanding of what lies ahead, can we be both discouraged and motivated?

Side by side these two stride, Ms. Clinton saddled with past transgressions while Mr. Trump meanders aimlessly, reminding us daily of his complete and utter incompetence. 

We are witness to a train wreck, playing out in slow, slow motion. We are repulsed yet compelled to watch. We want to turn away, but understand the consequences of our pretending this is but a mirage.

And the true bottom line is that Donald Trump must be stopped. The damage he would do, not merely to our country, but to the globe, if his unthinking, uncaring, unfocused unique combination of hatred and misapprehension was unleashed, is virtually unimaginable. 

We are discouraged and yet motivated, disheartened and yet energized, dismayed and yet determined. So while we watch Ms. Clinton try to dig out of another hole of her own doing and Mr. Trump dig yet a deeper hole every time he opens his mouth, we must not lose sight of a singular truth. While Hillary Clinton might not be the ideal choice, Donald Trump might be the single worse choice ever presented to the people of America.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A False god

For Mr.Trump, it is all in the marketing. It is the declarations that make it, whatever it is, so. If he says that he is the greatest negotiator, do not investigate his failures. If he says he is well endowed, do not peek under the covers. If he says the Bible is his favorite book, do not query him on chapter and verse. 

He is his own religion. The unshakable, unalterable, undeniable belief vested in a higher being, Donald Trump. For those who profess to be guided by the teachings of Christ, to champion Mr.Trump is to abdicate their principles in support of a false idol.

This god brings promises of power as the ultimate salvation. And the land he envisions is as far from the promised land as dark is from light.