Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Third Horse in the Sixth Race

I have been at the track betting on horse races a handful of times in my life. My methods on picking a winner are less than scientific ( being based on the name of the horse or whether it has lessened it's load just before entering the gate). I have little or nothing to go on, beyond my faith that somehow everything will work out well. Sadly, my record is pretty much abysmal. 
Yet  I suggest that we apply my method to our political races. What have we got to lose?
I say this, not in the heat of the moment, for now is the calm before the next storm. There are no advertisements, we are not inundated with information that even the most interested of us discard after awhile. The candidates have not memorized their talking points yet (one, most notable, never even feigned doing that), they have not begun the process of shaking hands, plastering a smile on their face, waking up in a Groundhog Day universe, begging for dollars and your approval.
We are a nation of non-voters. So many, for reasons of laziness, apathy, belief in interchangeable parts, disgust with what is viewed as a corrupt and morally bankrupt system, or just about anything else the mind can conjure, have no interest in taking the time or effort to pull a lever, hang a chad or do what is required to exercise their feet, their mind and their Constitutional right. Our largest percentage at every election, city, state and national, is for the clear winner - nada, rien, no one.
And the mid-term elections next year will produce a massive non-turnout. No matter how much the airwaves are filled, our computers are clogged, our mailboxes are stuffed.
For those of us who do participate in the process, I think I speak for us when I say I am absolutely and forever sick and tired of being bombarded with an endless supply of useless information. I dread the thought of the run up to the next presidential election. If it is not tomorrow, then it will be the day after that we hear rumblings of who, what, when, where and why. And when the floodgates open, they never close. We are drowning in drivel, inundated with idiocy, overwhelmed with oratorical overload.
We are told that many who do bother to decide democratic, republican or the third horse in the sixth race, don't turn on their brains until the announcer's lips are ready to announce "they're off'." All that came before, that hurt my ears, stung my eyes and turned my stomach is, to these folks, as but dust in the wind. They have been biding their time for they are smart enough to know that those like me have been ruminating about far too little for far too long.
And even for those most interested, interest turns to disgust and despair as the days turn into months, and each minute can seem an eternity. So why do we do this to ourselves?
Let us take a step back, a time out and reflect on what we really want, what we really need. I would suggest that we don't need debates, not one, as they are but talking points stuffed into whatever question is posed (most times it is virtually impossible to find an answer that is within a country mile of the inquiry), or opportunities to study the manner of dress, the tone of voice, the smile or frown, or even the bathroom habits of a candidate. And we take away nothing more than we decide fits our purpose.
Further, there should be no more speeches, no more campaign trail meet and greets, no more learning about the "real" person behind the mask.  This is an exercise in style, in ability to hide deficiencies, in form over substance. I don't want any more listening tours, no more getting to know me. If the candidate hasn't figured out who he is and who I am by now, I am not here as an educational tool.
Listen, what I think we really need is nothing. No debates, no speeches, no endless babble. No over-analysis, no understanding, zippo, goose-egg, zero.
If you and I actually intend to go to the polls, let the candidates line up on the day of the race, leaving the paddock a few minutes before the bell. Let us examine them, front and back, coming and going, see who has the most appealing gait, and who can dump the most you know what from his or her behind before taking off in full sprint towards the finish line.
It would save us endless aggravation, countless hours of our lives and give us a couple of minutes of good clean fun. And probably many more of us would bother to turn out.
Now that's picking a true winner.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Misfit, Not Unfit

("Who Decides Whether Trump Is Unfit to Govern?")

Is there a question on Mr. Trump's constitutional capacity to govern? No.

Is there a question on Mr. Trump's Constitutional capacity to govern?  Now that is a wholly different inquiry.

Donald Trump will not now, nor ever, have the qualities or qualifications to run this country. His impetuousness, vulgarity, bigotry, egocentricity, his lack of intellectual curiosity, inattention to detail, inability to decipher information, his lying, whining and incessant tweeting make him a spectacularly bad choice as President. He is a danger to the well being of each and every one of us, each and every second of his presidency.

But that does not mean that he is, in the 25th Amendment sense at least, unfit to hold the highest office in the land.

In June of 2015, from the moment the Wall moved from the brain of Mr. Trump to the ears of this nation, we had a duty to declare him unable to carry out the necessary responsibilities required of possibly the most complex and powerful position on the planet. It is our failing, not Mr. Trump's that is the real issue here. How could we have allowed such a clearly wrong choice to sit in the Oval Office? 

If there is a need for psychiatric evaluation, let it be to determine what aberrational part of our collective brain permitted us to overlook all of the glaring deficiencies, the neon lights that were blinking in our face warning us "no, never ever go there."

The fault ultimately lies not in Trump but in ourselves. And our Constitution does not protect us from our own stupidity in electing him.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Harvey - Throwing a Lifeline to the President

Disasters, natural or otherwise, can in ways even manipulated, be boons to the careers of politicians. The immense pain caused by the unfolding calamity can trigger equally intense positive emotions for the politicians who navigate their turbulent waters with deftness.

The tragedy at the Twin Towers propelled a decidedly mediocre politician, Rudy Guiliani to national prominence. " A noun, a verb and 9/11" most aptly described how Mr. Guiliani made a career out a horrific occurrence that scarred our landscape forever.

And we dare not forget Chris Christie who became the darling of his party after Hurricane Sandy, emerging as the candidate of choice for many in 2012 and remaining a party front-runner until the churning waters above the Hudson drowned his career.

Mr. Trump's presidency has been marked by lows and lowers. He has turned even the calmest of streams into raging maelstroms. But now, with the horrors of Harvey descending on Texas like Noah's flood, the President has an opportunity, at least temporarily, to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. It is a political lifeline, a distraction from Trump created tsunamis.

In the many tomorrows to come, the President will undoubtedly fail to lead us anywhere but into trouble. But in the hours that lay directly ahead, he has, at least a chance to appear presidential, however phony or calculated that may be. For the sake of those in desperate need and the emotional well being of our nation, I hope Mr. Trump does not do his utter worst yet again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


There have been certain immutables in my life; my mother asking if I had enough to eat, my love affair with the Yankees, my support for the Democratic party.

And, oh yes, one more: an invitation to break the fast at the home of my friends.

For what must be at least a quarter of a century, as sure as the sun rises, there was this feast. My friends, as generous of appetite as they are of heart, with their motto excess is best displayed in a kitchen that is the epicenter of their universe, hosting a hungry horde of friends, relatives and assorted countrymen. The lox my perpetual favorite, but devouring whatever was within arm's reach.

It mattered not that I long ago stopped the practice of fasting, my mind and stomach triggered merely by the thought of the gastronomic treat that awaited.

And even as life changed, a child married and our family was pulled in different directions, even as this year an invitation to another home was accepted, the possibility of not receiving that wonderful note requesting our presence at the home of our friends seemed as remote as a trip to Mars.

So it was with more than a touch of bewilderment that I read, multiple times, the announcement: there would be a one year hiatus in the tradition, as my friend's family was heading to other environs to celebrate this year. It was an email promising this was but a hiccup, but it was like suggesting that the sun would be on vacation until further notice, or that my mom was telling me that I had eaten too much already.

Or  like waking up one morning to find the Yankees no longer in pinstripes, names now prominently displayed on the back of their uniforms. Oh, you say that's exactly what occurred this weekend.

My friend's thoughts appeared to be part apology, part lament, for he understood that it was not just his pleasure, but his duty to open his arms and his kitchen to the huddled masses on this day each year. To not do so would be akin to Lady Liberty turning her back on those at her doorstep yearning to be free.
Oh, this is a most unusual and unsettling time.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Homeward Bound

I'm sitting in deep contemplation
Got to find a way to vent frustration
The landscape's not as I had planned with devastation close at hand
His every word so clearly damned, no poetry at his command
Homeward Bound,
I wish he was
Homeward bound,
Home, with no thoughts escaping
Home, with no trump(ets)  playing
Home, forever more I'm praying
In silence he should be.
Every day's nightmarish dream
Of invective and thoughts obscene
And each rant sounds the same to me, the moodiness, the tragedy
And each so strange, a manic plea, reminds me that he ought to be
Homeward Bound,
I wish he was
Homeward bound,
Home, with no thoughts escaping
Home, with no trump(ets)  playing
Home, forever more I'm praying
In silence he should be.
Tonight, he'll say the world may end
He'll play the game, it's all pretend
With all his thoughts I disagree, the pain they cause to you and me
Their emptiness does harm you see, I need to know that soon he'll be
Homeward Bound,
I wish he was
Homeward bound,
Home, with no thoughts escaping
Home, with no trump(ets)  playing
Home, forever more I'm praying
In silence he should be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What's in a name? Shakespeare was wrong

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." Apparently, Shakespeare was mistaken. 
Robert Lee, a part time announcer for ESPN, has now been redirected from his employment in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia football game scheduled for September 2 due to concern for his safety. Mr. Lee's crime was sharing a name with a statue in that city, recently the subject of national attention.

What have we become as a nation? Are we so vacuous that we can't distinguish between a former mid 19th century Confederate general and a  present day gentleman of Asian descent  whose full time job is in Albany, NY? Do we really have to worry that anyone named Robert Lee is now less safe than someone named Robert Smith?

ESPN, Mr. Lee's employer, should seriously reconsider its absurdity. It merely reinforces the problem, magnifying it and amplifying it. Mr. Lee has committed no sin and while ESPN is not throwing stones at him, it is clearly overreacting and creating a problem where none exists.

Somewhere in America there must be a person named Abraham Lincoln. Maybe Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Lee could become an announcing duo, giving us reason to believe that finally the civil war has ended.

What's in a name? Shakespeare may have to do a re-write on Romeo and Juliet.

Sunday, August 20, 2017



("The Week When President Trump Resigned")

Mr. Trump did not resign this week.  He never cared, even a little, about governing, not from the moment he came down that gold gilded escalator and landed, incredibly, in our laps.

His was, is and will forever be a journey with only one passenger. No room for compassion, morality or any other virtue. No ruminating about a nation's ills and how to heal them. Nothing but an ego trip across America gone wild. 

We should not have been more deeply shocked and dismayed by the newest exhibition of depravity. Be honest. This is a broken record. Look back at the insults, the tone deafness that attaches to this man like white on rice. 

There has been no abdication, no renunciation of his duties by Mr. Trump for one simple reason. He never took office.  He has not been President for even one second. He has just been playing one on TV.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Mr. Trump lives to fight another day. As we stagger under an endless succession of body blows from the mouth and mind of this blowhard, we gird ourselves for tomorrow's fusillade. 
For as certain as certain can be, there will be another barrage coming. Today it is the defense of white supremacists. Yesterday it was a nuclear tug of war with the leader of North Korea. Tomorrow it may arise from anywhere, like a tsunami, unannounced and capable only of destruction. 
We have been witness to this act for more than two years now. You would have thought either he would slow down or we would learn to ignore. But neither has come to pass as the insanity of this man sitting in the Oval Office only seems to grow larger with each passing hour.
What a horrifying word.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Make America Hate Again

("The Hate He Dares Not Speak Of")

They can stand in the light of day now, their prejudices unfiltered. Mr.Trump has invited them to riot, incited them with half-hearted condemnations, indicted others rather than spoken in unqualified words of the ugliness in their hearts and heads.

This is a man who, during his campaign, spewed bile in the direction of everyone from Rosie O'Donnell to Carly Fiorina and even John McCain, denouncing them and countless others for mortal sins like being fat or ugly or being captured by the enemy. And he brutally demonized those whose only crime was being born in Mexico or living as a Muslim.

The invectives have continued unabated during his presidency as he channeled the bigotry of the most vile through his malicious tweets and bizarre pronouncements. Here was a man in the highest office in the land giving truth to our inner demons, giving sanction to the white supremacist, giving them cover to believe they were the victims in a land made impure.

We are a nation under siege from the Oval Office, our morality attacked, our compassion dismissed, our standards disintegrating, our very language laid to waste.

And from this toxic environment Charlottesville emerges as surely as day follows night.

Hear evil, see evil, speak evil and evil will inevitably appear, unmasked and unafraid.

Make America hate again.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Small Hands, Big Weapon

OK, I'm sorry we made fun of the size of your hands. We promise never to challenge your manhood again. Now will you please stop waving your big nuclear weapon in the air.
This is what we feared. That this man would get in a shoving contest and would be afraid of nothing so much as looking small and weak. That someone would push his buttons to the point that he pushed THE button. That the big bang theory of this President would be put into motion and we would be powerless to stop it.
And here he is, out of control, raising our threat level to his shade of orange. Mr. Trump loving nothing so much as hearing the sound of his own bellicose and belligerent voice.
It is a battle of schoolyard bullies, exactly the type of macho confrontation that our political system, if not that of North Korea, was designed to safeguard against. But Donald plays by his own rules and that is what makes him so virulent, so toxic, so dangerous.
Mr. President,  we see you have a very large weapon of mass destruction.  Now put it back where it belongs.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My New Neighbor Upstairs

I wished my sister a good night and headed downstairs to my bedroom. She was right. This would have made mom happy.

It has been a half century since we lived together in that red brick house, our bedrooms next to each other, our parents across the hall. It was an idyllic time, the house filled with love and respect, my sister always there to protect me.

We have remained close over these many years, speaking virtually every day. But what serendipity brought us physically to the same place, her apartment unit directly above mine? Is it mere coincidence that my mother in law lives on the same floor as my sister and one of my oldest and closest friends resides in the apartment next to me? How could timing and circumstance have collided so often to create an attachment to so many close to me not only emotionally but now geographically?

My sister and I have shared the loss of our dad, far too early and very recently, the loss of our mom, in some ways, far too late. We have shared the weddings, the births, the hard days and those we wished to cling to forever. But I know we never envisioned that we would, at this point in life, be sharing laundry detergent.

My wife and I have a standing dinner invitation with her mom each Tuesday. We will now be walking right past the door to my sister's apartment on the way down the hall. I don't know if schedules will permit us to set aside another evening for bonding with my sister and our brother in law or if the Tuesday night enclave will occasionally expand to include them. But it is just amazing to think this possibility exists.

Our most recent upstairs neighbors were an older, quiet couple. I never recall hearing any noise emanating from within their unit. And while I have a hard time recalling much of anything from a half century past, I do remember my sister being forever kind, considerate and attentive to my needs. I now take this opportunity to remind her that I am often in bed by 8:30 so if she could turn the TV down after that and maybe walk in slippers it would be  greatly appreciated.

Mom, I promise we will do our best to continue to make you happy that we ended up together again, brother and sister. But can you tell her not to take my key away, so I can get some of that delicious crumb cake whenever I am hungry?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Disregard (Double Entendre Intended)

("It's Not Too Late on North Korea")

Message to leaders all around the world: disregard everything Donald Trump says or writes. Not some things. Everything.

This is a man who speaks eons before he thinks, who is allergic to investigation, who treats historical perspective as a disease, who knows nothing and contemplates even less, who is without insight, whose wild ruminations reflect not the will of this country but merely the ramblings of one who loves to hear his own voice, who can't even frame a coherent sentence much less set policy for a nation.

So, my advice is let him babble, nod your head and then go about doing the serious task of governing with those who are serious about that task. Find those who treat their job title with the importance it warrants and shut out the noise of an impetuous fool.

A Warning to Death and Taxes

("Nicknames on Yankees' Backs? What Would the Bambino Think?")

Death, taxes and no names on Yankee jerseys. Strike one (literally).

Yes, baseball could use some percolating, as sometimes it seems as out of place as a belt salesman at a nudist convention. The pace of the game often seeming neanderthal, a Volkswagen in a 21st century sports world of Porsche.

Bill Veeck brought us the midget batsman, Charley Finley allowed hideous uniform choices to emerge. Yes there were those who tried to bring color to a television set that was black and white.

But this, is this not a bridge too far? Is there no bastion that is sacrosanct, no refuge remaining?

What would the Bambino have scrawled across his back had he been given freedom of expression? Images of a hot dog, a beer and a cigar? 

No, there are some traditions that are greater than the moment, that can't be allowed to die. That are immortal. And if this one is not, then what else we consider immutable is anything but? 

 A warning to death and taxes. Be afraid.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Music to My Ears

("Glen Campbell, Whose Music Bridged Country and Pop, Dies")

My mom spent her last years removed from the universe. Her connections melted away, friends and most family gone and, if not forgotten, at least in the far recesses of her brain, in a place she could not reach.

Her facility with language also disappeared. Our conversations, or what remained of them, were truncated, empty and unconnected to time or place.

Yet, there was one remaining flicker of light that never wholly vanished. When my mom was in hospice care, her favorite moments were with her music therapist. It was then that my mother was most alive, suddenly able to sing a Sinatra tune, the lyrics jumbled a bit but still a reasonable facsimile of the original.

As I read of the death of Glen Campbell, of his open struggles with Alzheimer's and his last album filled with the songs that remained within reach, I remember my mother and the final video taken of her. There she was, with her therapist, in full voice, the words of Sinatra on her lips. 

Truly, and in ways only those who have been witness to the devastating effects of dementia close up can fully comprehend, the sound of my mom singing was and will forever remain music to my ears.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Kvetch

("America's Whiniest Victim")

"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

From the first he cried. If they didn't treat him with respect he said he was taking his toys and going home. Well, Donald, they don't and you should.

Your own administration hates you and stabs you in the back, the leaks seeming more like tidal wave. Your own party couldn't pass a health care bill for you and slapped you on the wrist for the way you and Putin cuddle. You are being investigated by those who should be swearing an oath of loyalty to your greatness. The media points out your lies instead of merely accepting them. Your views, if they can be called that, are questioned, criticized and condemned not merely by foe but alleged friend. You seem ready to fire everyone except your daughter and even she seems uncomfortable being tied to your volatile, puerile contemplations.  Your universe  is  replete with the incompetent, the  incapable, the insulting.

Everywhere you turn there is treason in the air. You may be the worst President possible but you are by far the best at playing the victim of anyone who has held the most powerful office on the planet. Even "you won't have me to kick around" Nixon and his paranoia seem benign in comparison.

Mr.Trump was a candidate and is now a President who finds enemies in every corner. And for those in this country who feel aggrieved, who believe they are misunderstood, mistreated, minimized, he is their perfect ally, their most pure voice. Whiny, cranky and forever unfairly maligned. 

He is the embodiment of the kvetch. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hell Freezes Over

When pigs fly.
When hell freezes over.
The twelfth of never.
Mr. Bartman forever pictured in our mind snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, or at least the glove of Moises Alou.

Having been tried and convicted of killing the Cubs' chances of emerging from almost a century in Hades, the thought of the devil receiving absolution from this team was about the same as the possibility of the Bronx Bombers getting a thank you note from the Beantown Boys for the charitable gift of taking the Bambino off their hands.

But I guess time, and Aroldis Chapman, heals all wounds. The curse of Bartman, and his stay in baseball purgatory, is now but ugly footnote.

Welcome home Stevie.

P.S. - I hear the Cleveland Indians have a call out to you.