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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Our Double Negative President. Because One Negative Is Not Enough

Is there anything worse than that tricky double negative? Am I saying what I mean or not saying what I mean or not not saying what I mean? Sometimes I think my head will literally explode from not not thinking about this riddle wrapped in an enigma inside a conundrum inside a Russian nesting doll.

I don't not understand what Mr. Trump didn't mean yesterday. I mean I do not understand him but that doesn't mean I don't comprehend him. He said what he meant and he meant what he said and an elephant is faithful 100 per cent.

Mr.Trump tripping over his words? Don't tell me he doesn't lie. Or do tell me he does lie. I don't know what is fake anymore. Or I do know what is true. I am so confused. Or maybe not, not at all.

Mr. Trump, our double negative President. Because one negative is not enough.

PS - Here's a bad/good joke for you

What do you get if you mix Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin?  A double negative.

Or maybe it's not a joke at all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Russian Roulette

It turns out that Sarah Palin was correct. We can see Russia from here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

If We Are Cut, Do Not Yankee Fans Bleed (Pinstripes)?

("The New York Yankees Are A Moral Abomination"). 

I believe I am deeply offended by the few words I could comprehend in Mr. Hart's piece. As a long time Yankee fan, I suffered gravely through the entire hazy period from 1964 to 1976 until free agency bought us, I mean brought us, back onto our rightful seat on the throne. And who can forget the wasteland of 1982 to 1994? If you cut a Yankee fan do we not bleed? Well, it may not be red, but pinstripe is a kind of color, isn't it?

Look, I sympathize (but clearly cannot empathize) with the Orioles' present dismal plight. But our riches come not from overflowing coffers but merely astute observation of raw talent. Search your own soul, or more appropriately, your own squad's front office, for the source of your consternation.

And the deepest cut of all in your unmitigated assault upon my senses? Never, and I mean never, criticize Derek Jeter as to his range or his Gold Gloves. And don't even contemplate reminding us of his treasonous act of latching on to another squad seemingly mere moments after his last futile stab at a grounder a foot or two out of reach.

Mr. Hart (or should I refer to you as Mr. Heartless) there is no room on my bookshelf for your petulance, your boorish behavior, your relentless attack on all that is good, decent and American. Make America Great Again may be but a ridiculous note scribbled on a red hat that served as catalyst for the descent of this nation into Hell, but Make the Yankees Great Again is a tattoo forever emblazoned on my heart and embroidered on the Armani suits of all who toil for the mere love of the game for my favorite team.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Dangerous Time to Be a Friend to America

He does not trust friendships, always looking for the angle, the opening that his ally is utilizing to try to stick a knife into his back. He finds cause for concern in virtually everything in this universe, not seeing anything but the worst of intentions.

For those who admire this man, this behavior is refreshing, uncovering an unvarnished ugly truth. For the rest of us, it is but a mirror into the dark soul of a person without an ounce of morality, someone whose psyche is deeply damaged, who finds only the gravest danger whenever and wherever the hand of kinship is offered.

As for the Putin's around the globe whose avowed goal is to destroy our beating heart, he finds little fault. To him, there is honor in hatred, in cut throat practices, in the very art of trying to beat the other guy to a pulp. It is this warfare that draws him in, as it speaks to the essence of his own being. There is, in his warped vision, a nobility here.

So we are forever more to watch this President denigrate those who stand side by side with us, while at times giving effusive praise to the ones who would leave us bleeding by the side of the road. We are trapped inside his mind, his vastly disturbing beliefs playing out across the globe.

It is a dangerous time to be a friend to America. It is a dangerous time to be America.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Wild Boars and Mr. Trump

The Wild Boars were saved this week, but unfortunately one escaped and was seen wreaking havoc in Brussels.

We can only request one miracle a news cycle and to expect Mr. Trump to treat allies as anything other than mortal enemies was asking for a second transcendent moment.

We watched in awe at the cooperation, skill and ingenuity of cave divers from Thailand and abroad acting in concert to demonstrate what the best of humanity looks like in crisis. And then there is Mr. Trump, demolishing relationships and making America a four letter word around much of the globe.

The rescue of the boy's soccer team revealed the heights of which we are capable, showing our bravery and courage, our hope and determination, our creativity and the incredible genius with which we are endowed, allowing us to solve the most perplexing and daunting riddles and overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And then there is Mr. Trump.

It was the best of times. And then there is Mr. Trump.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Supreme Being



Merrick Garland is clear testament to its ill effects. So too is the very ascendancy of Donald Trump. And we pray daily for long life for Notorious RBG because of it. It is far past time that we deal with the elephant in the room. Lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court should be Constitutionally prohibited.

What would Mr. Trump suggest is his biggest accomplishment in office? Likely that with his second nomination to the highest bench looming, he will bend this nation's arc for decades to come, long after his small hands have been taken over the steering wheel.  Why should we as a nation permit such an outcome, left or right? How can we square limited duration terms for the legislative and executive branches and yet find no compulsion to put time constraints on the power wielded by the judiciary? 

This is, to be certain, not the mark of other democracies, where defined lengths of stay or mandatory retirement ages prevent power remaining firmly entrenched in one's grasp until death, or at least the right successor, do them part. 

We have long since rid ourselves of the fiction that permanent seat on the highest court assures independence from the political winds. In fact, the glee with which one party treats an opening and the gloom of night descending on the other is now maybe our most compelling demonstration of the clearly contemplated entanglements of this position.

If you believe that the extended vacancy on the bench after Justice Scalia's death was intended to allow the voice of the people to be heard that November, I have a bridge to sell you. 


And if you think that the warp speed with which Mr. Trump will thrust his replacement for Justice Kennedy upon us is not direct response to keeping even the possibility of the voice of the people from being heard this November, well I may be able to locate a second bridge for you.


I fully understand the futility of contemplating a Constitutional Amendment in this toxic environment. That the weight of our political wars will surely sink this ship before it leaves port. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the damage lifetime tenure is doing to the very fabric of our democracy.


Maybe in the days and years to come sanity can be restored and we can begin to seriously consider and act upon what is now a clear stain upon our nearly 250 year old experiment. 

        For the sake of the long term health of our nation, lifetime elevation to the Supreme Court should die a Constitutionally mandated death.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is the Democratic Call to Arms?

Is it this nation's unbending cruelty on immigration the issue that will move mountains this November? Or guns and the multiplying horrors in our classrooms? Or the Supreme Court tilting ever farther right? Maybe it is the mistreatment of allies and an affinity for autocrats? Then there is the long standing Mueller investigation and the possibilities of what this will reveal. And how can the boorishness, the vulgarity, the lies and  the ugliness of the President not be our first and last thought when casting a ballot? The phantom tax cuts for all but a few? The spiralling debt? The trade wars that threaten the stability of our economy? Roe v Wade under attack? The continuing economic uncertainty of the have nots? The list is as long as the first day of summer.

There are so many avenues to go down, or maybe it is none of the above. Tomorrow may lead us on a different journey, to a different conclusion as to where the bottom rests.

As the mid-terms creep ever so closer and world spins even further out of control, we are as confused and uncertain as ever as to the most persuasive and compelling mantra to stop the Republican runaway train in its tracks. Every day brings yet another cause for us to mobilize against. Every fortnight we rise in anger at yet one more step towards our own destruction.

There is grave danger in attacking too many demons. Too much diffusion, too little consensus. The Republicans are utterly void of rational, fact based policy but strong and focused in their drum beat message of fear and hatred. The Dems are left at the starting gate here, their loudest voice reserved for the call to get out and vote. Where is the gravitational pull in such an entreaty?


We have everything to fear when fear itself propels our adversary while casting a ballot is our call to arms.

Friday, June 29, 2018

July 4th - Deeply Red, Perversely White, Sad and Blue

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN THE RECORD, A BERGEN COUNTY NEWSPAPER



RED, WHITE AND DEFINITELY BLUE

This July 4th we are more deeply red, more perversely white, more sad and blue than in the recent past. As the imprint of Mr. Trump's presidency becomes ever more evident, the America we celebrate with fireworks lighting up the night sky, is not the America we seek.

It is not a welcoming place, it's arms not the ones that give comfort to the oppressed, the weary, but rather the second Amendment arms that proliferate throughout this nation, N.R.A. fueled and littering our streets in blood.

It is not a welcoming place, it's voice not free to express dismay or distress at the lies of our President, at the damage he causes, as the first Amendment retreats while under constant, blistering attack.

It is not a welcoming place, when those who have sustained a lifetime of  opprobrium and hatred for the color of their skin or their sexual orientation, now feel their hard fought 14th Amendment victories falling from their grasp as this nation tilts further right from the Supreme Court downward.

It is not a welcoming place when we turn our backs on our long time allies and look instead as role models to those who control and intimidate, punish and destroy the cries of dissent within their midst, autocracy rather than democracy, all merely for one and decidedly not one for all, the mantra.

This is the landscape we gaze upon this season, one filled with a faux patriotism, one that speaks to our worst instincts, that asserts superiorities, that countenances bigotry, xenophobia, cruelty and infliction of pain, that elevates the few and denigrates the rest.

This July 4th the sounds of liberty will be faint and indistinct, even as we celebrate the greatness of our land, the red, white and blue. 

What have we become?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

THE NINTH JUSTICE

THIS WAS A PIECE I WROTE SHORTLY BEFORE THE 2016 ELECTION - I DID NOT POST IT THEN, FOR FEAR THAT SOME MIGHT READ IT AND USE THIS AS CATALYST FOR A VOTE FOR MR. TRUMP. AFTER THE ELECTION, IT SEEMED POINTLESS. TODAY IT SEEMS LIKE A DISTANT DREAM, NOW REPLACED BY THE SEAT STOLEN BY JUSTICE GORSUCH AND THE OPENING CREATED BY THE ANNOUNCED RETIREMENT OF JUSTICE KENNEDY


At 3:52 AM on November 9, 2016, the President-elect first posed the question to the President. He thanked her for her consideration but politely said he could never accept her offer. In the days that followed, that proposal was oft repeated. If the President changed his mind, it might well significantly alter the course of this country's destiny.
Donald Trump had run the most destructive campaign in memory, his unchecked ego, his uncontrollable behavior, creating a national backlash against the party that had elevated him. Not only was his defeat clear and convincing, but his impact on those below him on the ticket was severe. A Republican party that had seemed destined to retain control of the Senate BT( before Trump) was AT on the short side of 50. And with control of this body wrested from its hands, the worst Republican nightmare was staring them in the face.

Antonin Scalia went quail hunting in Shafter, Texas on the day of February 12, 2016. The next morning, at age 79, the conservative Justice of the Supreme Court was pronounced dead. And on the morning of November 9, 2016, three days shy of nine months from the day his seat on the bench went empty, it remained that way.
In the eight years of Republican obstructionism that marked, and marred, the two terms of the Obama administration, this might have been their most egregious and outrageous display.  "Advice and consent" was replaced by derisive dissent, as the Republican mantra was that the American people, by their ballots cast on November 8, 2016 would dictate the choice of Justice Scala's successor.

With Republican control of the Senate, the nomination of Merrick Garland was not even considered. All pretense of normal protocol was abrogated. The opening on the court was like an open wound for this nation, a festering sore that clearly demonstrated to the world that we were a country in existential crisis.

William Howard Taft was President of the United States from 1909 to 1913, ending his tenure in office just before World War I would begin. But his tenure in a position of power, able to shape the future of this country, did not end with the swearing in of his successor, Woodrow Wilson. From 1921 to 1930, William Howard Taft occupied a seat on the highest Court in this land.

Barack Hussein Obama was a former Constitutional law professor, eminently qualified by background temperament and intelligence to follow the precedent established by Taft.  With the turn over of Senate control to his party, he could well fill the void in the Court created by Republican refusal to follow tradition, protocol and the law of the land. It was a natural fit for the President and the ultimate retribution against a party that had made its central tenet the destruction of his presidency and his legacy.

Hillary Clinton had been eyewitness, from day one, to the ascension of Mr. Obama. She had seemingly been the chosen one, the next in line for her party for 2008. She had paid her dues, seen as intimately as anyone in this country how the system works, and appeared to have an unfettered path to the Democratic nomination. Until Barack Obama appeared, catapulted by his 2004 convention speech and captivating the nation with his speeches that soared. And when defeat came to Hillary Clinton, she assumed that her conqueror would politely acknowledge her good fight, wish her well, and leave her coffers empty.

But that is not what transpired as Ms. Clinton was appointed Secretary of State, serving as a high profile member of the Obama administration, taking her lumps in a time of great upheaval around much of the globe, but proving her mettle and improving her resume for her run in 2016. Hillary Clinton would not forget what Barack Obama had done for her career. Nor would she forget how badly the Republican party treated the President, and her. This was the moment to repay old debts and to settle old grievances.

As of the morning of November 9, 2016, this was a lame duck Congress, filling out the balance of their terms while awaiting (despite the protestations of Mr. Trump to the contrary) the peaceful transition of power a little more than two months hence. For the moment, the Republican party still retained a majority in the Senate. And thus the conversation began as to whether the nomination of Merrick Garland was to be withdrawn by the President or would be considered and acted upon before year's end.

Hillary Clinton was not inclined to do the Republican party any favors. Garland had clearly been a compromise candidate, with more conservative values and opinions then she might have favored, but one whom President Obama felt compelled to put before the Senate by virtue of the Republican control. But that impediment would soon disappear and, if the nomination were withdrawn, as of January 20, 2017, the axis of power would shift dramatically. And then the possibilities were endless. Including her former boss.

President Obama had wrestled with this question for months, sensing with Mr. Trump's bizarre and destructive propensities that power could be wrested from the hands of his opponents. He understood that the Supreme Court held enormous sway over the future of this democracy and that the person chosen might, for decades, set the course for where this nation was headed. He did not want to challenge the right of Ms. Clinton to shape a Court that she would find most acceptable. Still, Judge Garland was held in the highest esteem. He personally found him a compelling choice.

And so, the President was most conflicted by how best to proceed on the morning of November 9. And when the President elect raised the question to him as to whether he would agree to be nominated to fill Justice Scala's seat, he was not at all inclined to accept. This nation had been fractured for the full term of his presidency, much of the country deeply troubled by the elevation of a black man to the highest office in the land. And now, the woman most reviled by them, maybe even more so than the enmity they felt towards him, was his successor. Could the country possibly withstand these two both in power, the executive and judicial branches in large measure directed by public enemies 1 and 1a?

But Mr. Obama did feel that, despite eight years on the job, so much had been left undone. And he was as concerned as Ms. Clinton that the Supreme Court was filled with those whose contemplations for this country's future as closely as possible matched his own. And who better could assure this would occur? By his own elevation, he could continue to help his vision become reality. Not just for a few years. But for the balance of his life.

On November 18, 2016, Barack Obama withdrew the name of Merrick Garland from consideration before the Senate of the United States. In his statement, the President thanked Mr Garland for his continued exemplary service to this country and for his patience and understanding in waiting out what must have been an excruciating delay in whether he was to appear before the Senate for confirmation.

 "But I am constrained by the knowledge that I no longer stand before you as the person chosen to run this nation in the coming years. And I believe it now my duty and obligation to allow Hillary Clinton to choose that person she believes would best serve this country as the ninth justice on the Supreme Court. I fully  trust her capacity to choose wisely, the nation believes in Hillary Clinton, and we all await her determination. Thank you all, thank you Judge Garland and God bless America."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Our Nation's Dark Hour

 THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES



It is a dark hour in the history of this country. President Trump’s wall is being built, brick by invisible brick, and his vision is becoming our reality.
Images of children in cages now amplified by the voice of the majority of our Supreme Court countenancing the most heinous of motives in doublespeak and pretzel-bending logic.
And with the announcement on Wednesday of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s imminent retirement, another seat on this bench will become staunchly conservative, and there is one more reason to be fearful and distressed.
The danger to this country comes not from without but from within. We are inch by inch and day by day abandoning our morality, turning away from the basic principles of a democracy, making Lady Liberty wonder whether she should pack her bags and move back home.

We mourn for those who suffer our indignities. We feel their loss in our hearts. We hear their cries in our sleep.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Three posts in one

Here is what I have held back this week:


 ("Republican or Conservative, You Have to Choose")

Come on David, you can say it. Much like the expert on tires in "My Cousin Vinny". Admit you are wrong. 

Stop making excuses, comparisons. Stop citing Roger Scruton and sounding like you know more than we do. Stop telling us it is about order or individualism. For once, speak the truth of what you see.

You are a smart man hiding behind your intellect. You have been given a sacred trust by the New York Times to provide honest reporting.

Now take a deep breath like that man on the witness stand who announced the error of his ways. That green car was not what he said it was. And the Republican party isn't either.

Make a clean breast of it. Jump ship. You will feel better for it.



('A Powerful Signal of Recessions' Has Wall Street's Attention)

How can we stop Donald? The sad truth is we can't. Only he can stop himself.

What killed the Republicans in 2008? The economy, stupid. We were in free fall when that November day came to pass, the stock market plunging lower than a Marilyn Monroe neckline. As a collective, we were about a step from taking a dive off the ledge.

I remember President Obama saying righting our fiscal ship was like trying to turn around a big ocean liner, a slow and arduous task. And it took many years before we were fully back on course and headed in the right direction.

But if anyone can quickly spin gold into straw, Mr. Trump can. A wobbly stock market, so touted by the ego in chief in earlier days, now is sending smoke signals of distress. The bond markets yield curve is flattening like a pancake.The king's self imposed trade wars present a clear and present danger to our financial health and well being. We are beginning to smell disaster in the wind.

As long as people feel the possibility that tomorrow will be better for them than today, it will be fool's folly for us to believe we can shake their belief in everything Donald. There are myriad causes for his elevation, chief among them his stoking the flames of our racism and bigotry, so shockingly pervasive in this nation.

But there is nothing like the sense of impending doom to turn believers into naysayers. 

It is not true that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Not nearly, with this man in power. We can only pray that he turns our ocean liner around quickly and heads us directly into the path of an economic iceberg, if icebergs still exist.

Give us your worst shot Donald. We know you can kill the goose that laid the golden egg if you try. Show us that you are a genius not only in bankrupting your companies, but that you can imperil an entire nation. 

And please hurry, as the mid-terms are approaching quickly.



("Trump Wants No Due Process at U.S. Border")

Today it may be a call for the death of due process for immigrants illegally entering this country. Tomorrow it could be a call for you. Or me.

When the voice of opposition in the media is sought to silenced and crushed, when our judges are chosen for their allegiance not to the law but their leader, when the Congress is told by our President how to run its business, when all branches of government are asked to be subservient to one man, we are no longer what we were intended to be. 

Mr. Trump's latest rant by way of tweet is but symptom of a disease ravaging this nation.

If it looks like a dictatorship, talks like a dictatorship and walks like a dictatorship, a democracy is in peril.

 It is not just those seeking entry into this country who are in harm's way. It is you and me as well.


If you will have me back, I am yours

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I think I was a bit impetuous in making my announcement yesterday, responding to a bump in the road by steering my car over a cliff. Strike that, I was a jerk.

I was slightly wounded, but should have taken a deep breath and counted to ten before opening my mouth and pouting my way out of your lives.

Today the sun is shining bright and there is a gentle breeze in the air. My friend and I have reconciled, he by eating a small bit of crow and me by realizing that a moment's lapse is no reason to throw away a relationship that has resonated deeply for so many years.

And so I come to you with hat in hand, begging your forgiveness for my trespass.  You deserved more of me.

If you will permit, I will rescind my announcement of one day ago. Erase it from your memory bank. Consider it my mulligan.

For better, and often much worse, I promise to bore you, charm you, annoy you and maybe once in a while captivate you with my reactions to everything wrong with our political universe, as well as continuing to advise on my boatload of personal peccadilloes.

I thank all of you who have taken the time out of your day to write to me and inform of your disappointment in my earlier decision.  

If you will have me back, I am yours.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Au Revoir

I have decided to stop posting my thoughts on the political issues of the day. First, I am flooded with ideas on a daily basis and I have overwhelmed you with a deluge of my comments. Too much, too many.

Second, it has caused me to distance myself from those who do not think as I do and spilled over into my close friendships. That is very distressing to me.

Going forward, I will restrict my blog to writings of a personal nature, like my continued broad incompetencies or contemplation of grandparenting. Safer and quieter.

If you want to receive my thoughts on the political trials and tribulations, if you know my email address, please contact me and I will try to oblige. For anyone else, I apologize if I am disappointing you.

Au revoir.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Round Two With the Boys

The fault was all mine.

When last we left the two young boys, I was extolling their virtues and discussing their vices. They were, after all, but my niece's two young sons exploring the universe, all energy and entertainment, exhausting and exhilarating.

This was a different setting, for their great grandmother had just passed and we were at their grandparent's house, their grandma sitting Shiva. And though it was not a moment of overwhelming grief, it was certainly not to be confused with a two year old's birthday party. A hint of decorum was required.

I have few special talents, few things at which I truly excel. Parallel parking immediately comes to mind, but apart from that I am really drawing a blank. Oh, there is one more thing after all. I am an expert at getting little children riled up.

So we were in my sister in law and brother in law's living room, crowded with friends and relatives expressing sympathy and offering their condolences and a shoulder to lean on. The boys were milling about, as quiet and reserved as is possible at that age. And then I intervened.

I started off slowly, maybe with just a smile that suggested I was ready to play, or maybe even a slightly raised voice that hinted at more to come. The older one, just four, took the bait and we were soon off and running. He hung on to my foot as I began to drag him around the room, screaming my mock cries that he cease and desist at once. And then his younger sibling joined the fray, latched on to my other leg. And, in but an instant, we were full out inappropriate.

We seemed to take over the whole room, like a bad improv act. Everything else seemed to slow down or halt completely. I was informed by the older child that I was "going to jail forever" for some grievous wrong I must surely have committed. I was half bitten, semi spat at, crawled upon, disparaged and generally involved in exactly the type of activity anyone with even a semblance of a brain could have avoided. But not me.

I have a granddaughter scheduled to arrive on this planet in less than 3 months. I know that my daughter is hoping that by some miracle I grow up in that time and somehow emerge as a respectable human being. But I advise her not to hold her breath.

After what seemed an eternity, the boys finally ran out of steam. My clothes were now dishelved, my lack of capacity on naked display. 

I announced, to the great relief of all I am sure, that I was taking my leave. And as I made my exit I thought about my shortcomings and what my future held. And waited anxiously for the day I could perform my magic on my granddaughter.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Boys of the Bronx (Casey at the Bat, With a Twist)

There was nary a reason to smile for the Boys of Bronx this day

The score stood five to nil, on the short end of this fray

The king was in command and time was running out

Defeat was in the air, of that there was no doubt


But then the king did falter and soon we plated two

We owed this to our Judge, who plays the game like few

And yet the clock was ticking when Didi came to bat

When his fly of sacrifice landed we were down by two like that


Then in the penultimate frame, Gary stood at the ready

Expectations few, so long had he been unsteady

But with one magnificent blow, the game was suddenly tied

And snatching victory from defeat was like fire in their eyes


Now in the last of the ninth, two men went quietly down

But soon did Didi reach and Stanton came to town

He stood there like a god, staring at the mound

And so the crowd awaited, as batter pawed the ground


Strike one was the first call, another made it two

Down to one last strike, or extra frames our due

And then the pitcher threw it and oh the sound that followed

The hurler's heart lay broken, his insides all were hollowed


And in that single moment, Stanton had arrived

All the talk and hoopla was surely not contrived

The ball went screaming forward, the fans were screaming too

The homer when it landed, meant victory like few


And in this summer of our content, as wins just seem to abound

We love our boys of Bronx, the youth that they have found

And in the days to come, we'll dream of sweet victory no doubt

For unlike the mighty Casey, our Stanton did not strike out


Shame on all of us

Tent cities, converted military bases. There is something grotesque in our barbaric mistreatment of those who came seeking our shelter not shelters.

We cannot help but draw parallels to another horrific moment when our nation lost its moral compass in a frenzy over imagined enemies. The Japanese-American internment camps during World War II is a stain that forever marks a low point in this near quarter of a millennium experiment in democracy.

We have, month after month and year after year, acted as if those asking for our compassion are committing heinous wrongs. We have been somnambulating,  awakening only now to the tragedies we have allowed to occur on our watch. This speaks ill not merely of our leaders but of us all.

Shame on us. It didn't have to come to this. History will long remember.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Depraved Indifference

("When Did Caging Kids Become the Art of the Deal?")

Can we possibly pretend to be surprised by the depths of depraved indifference now exhibited by this President? Can we possibly suggest this is the straw that broke the camel's back? 

From his ludicrous birther attack on Mr. Obama, to his opening salvo against Mexicans, from his denunciation of John McCain and his half decade as a POW to his verbal assault on the parents of a fallen soldier, from his shutting the door on Muslims fleeing their worst nightmares to his tepid rebuke of white supremacists at Charlottesville, if we are not long since past the point of no return then it is only because we have not been paying attention.

Mr. Trump is capable of the worst cruelties, of the most outrageous wrongs, of the most unfeeling, uncaring, unrelenting abuses. To him, the life of most others has little value, each as disposable as the next. These children, the parents, to whom he can express such lack of feeling, are but the latest iteration of his ugliness.

And if you think for even one second he can go no lower, think again. And wait but one more second.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pro Life Pre Life

("You Can't Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children")

It should be the sanctity of life, not merely of birth. It should be that compassion does not end with the first breath but the last. It should be that morality has no borders, no nationality, no race. It should be that those who oppose the cruelty they see in abortion oppose the cruelty they see in their President towards the many who suffer unspeakable daily wrongs. It should be our better angels that guide our hand and our policy. It is not.

There is a terrible hypocrisy in those who turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Mr. Trump against Muslims, minorities, women, against people whose only crime is seeking shelter from the storm. To profess loyalty to such a man based on his opposition to abortion, if that is even a position truly in his heart, is to make a lie of those who would tell us of the inherent worth of every being from the moment of conception.

And for the ones reaching out to us, only to have their children literally ripped from their arms, like babies from their womb, they know only of broken hearts and of man's inhumanity to man.




Saturday, June 16, 2018

Remembering my Dad

I am now a senior citizen and this will be the 39th father's day spent without a dad with whom to celebrate. I still miss him terribly. Time does not fully heal all wounds, certainly not the loss of a parent. Not one like him anyway.

He and I shared a passion for sport. We played catch on endless loop through the baseball season, we golfed together through countless rounds often sprinkled with my unseemly bouts of melancholy at my incompetence. He coached my teams, leaving work early, taking a bus from New York City to suburban New Jersey, often stripping off his tie and jacket just as the game was about to commence. 


But the winter was mostly a fallow period, a time for hibernation. There was no activity pulling at our sleeve. No reason to brave the cold. My most lasting memory of a repeated outdoor activity with him was of shovelling snow, and that hardly qualifies as sport.

Skiing was not on our collective radar. He had never been drawn to this undertaking, and as a child growing up in the 1920's, it was not even something one did. Aspen and Vail were not Aspen and Vail then.


Winter vacations focused to two locations, one in Miami , the other Pocono Manor in Pennsylvania. ln Florida we indulged our passion for golf,  soaking up the sun without lotion or hats, chasing a ball hither and yon. But Pocono Manor had no such defining undertaking. Ice skating? Hardly. Relaxing? Not with a frenetic kid. So what then to fill the hours.

There was a single rope tow at this resort. It took a skier up what I can only imagine was a tiny hill, maybe even something less than that. But, on this particular day, maybe as a result of running out of other options, my dad and I found ourselves standing on top of the one lonely run, looking uncertainly downward.  Neither of us with any notion of what was required to get from here to there. Only my dad had no equipment to help propel him. No boots, no poles, no skis.


I don't recall anything about my skiing. Not how often I fell, not how much or how little I enjoyed it, not of the fear or of the excitement. Not of others on the hill, or where my mom and sister were. Not of the cold or even of the hotel where we stayed. Just an indelible image in my mind, possibly as much  imagination as recollection, of my dad running along side me, up and down, up and down. A father and son performing a dance together on a tiny slope, fueled by the sheer joy of being together.


I did not become enamored with skiing until many years later, long after my dad had died. I have had the wonderful good fortune to share this passion with my wife and two children all with consuming love for this endeavor. And one day soon I hope to take a run with a granddaughter to be. But as much as all of this means to me, nothing can ever surpass that day at Pocono Manor.



        
       The one and only time I skied with my dad. Almost

Friday, June 15, 2018

Anthony's Nose

We hiked Anthony's Nose yesterday. Sort of.

It started as many of our climbs do. Up a short steep mountain. About forty five minutes and a mile and a half after the first step, the summit was reached, elevation and satisfaction gained. The Bear Mountain bridge, the Hudson River, the train trestle, the mountains across the way, all competed for our attention. Standing next to an American flag buffeted by the winds, staring out at the vast magnificence that lay maybe 800 feet below, beauty stretched across the horizon as far as the eye could see and the heart could absorb.

And then, after a few minutes of allowing this scene to wash over our senses, my son suggested that he, my wife and I complete a loop down from whence we came. It was, he informed us, the much straighter option and would bring us back to our car faster. 

So what if this was considered an "in and out" hike, where it was intended that one retrace the path up on the way down. So what if this alternate avenue of descent did not appear on most maps, nor was readily evident from our vantage point. So what if it was a neon sign flashing "do not go there." So what. 

We located a blue blaze, a marking on a rock, which suggested this path did indeed exist. And thus our great and terrible adventure began.

This was to be an hour and a half down what seemed, at least to me, not Anthony's Nose but his face. Not a half mile of well trod paths, but one continuing rock formation into the abyss. Not one giant step back into mankind, but only one small step after another by a man intent on remaining intact.

Actually it was less walking than sitting, trying to figure out the best angle to slide from here to there. Walking poles now near useless, more javelin than anything else, hurled from the top of a rock outcropping to its base, then picked up like large matchsticks, only to repeat the cycle again in mere seconds. Again and again. And again.

At each twist and every turn, surveying the landscape below, determining which crevice would serve as foot or arm rest to stop an unintended slide into oblivion. And upon completion of each mini disaster in waiting, yelling instructions to the one above on what to avoid in order to maintain maximum health.

Through it all, our son was as alive and happy as a descent into a hell of one's own choosing could possibly permit. Loving far too meek a word to describe his attachment to this moment. 

As for me, I couldn't understand why, despite all the rigor involved, the bottom seemed to be coming no closer, merely mocking me as I reached to soothe the next twinge in my back, my recurring thought of the Aleve that awaited at journey's end. Pain and exhilaration equal partners.

My son is an avid photographer. As we headed down, various viewing spots came to greet us, offering ever changing perspectives on the bridge and its companions. A train moved slowly along its tracks, allowing a chance to capture a magnificence that one could never truly know unless you understood what it took to reach this vantage point. Then coming eye to eye with the top of the bridge. Finally, finally reaching its belly and staring at the moving cars that earlier had seemed so insignificant in relation to their surroundings.

And so our trek concluded. All good things, and bad, must come to an end. As we headed to the car and I thanked God that I was still able to count all my limbs and teeth, my son uttered four words that sent a shiver down my back.

"Let's do it again."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Expletive Not Deleted

("How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump")

I would not get too hyperventilated about the excesses of  Mr. DeNiro. It will not be the deciding factor in November, but merely momentary blip on the radar screen.

Those squarely aligned with Mr. Trump did not require this outburst to draw their impenetrable conclusions about the failings of the left. For the ones still unsure if the President is demon or deity, rants have not defined their determination.

Yes, I know, we go high when they go low. But letting off a little steam can be cathartic, even if it sounds caustic and beneath the dignity we profess. So, forgive us our trespasses, our screams of outrage, our shouts to the gods to get this moron, this idiot, off the stage. Give us this small window of political incorrectness.

What Donald Trump is doing to this nation is obscene and profanity in reply can, and should, on occasion, be applauded.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump Look the Same If You Shut Your Eyes

("The Obama -Trump Grand Strategy")

Of course foreign policy involves sleeping with the enemy at times, whether it be Mr. Obama cutting a deal with Iran or Mr. Trump trying to thread the needle with North Korea. 

But Mr. Obama did not disrespect friends for sport as Mr. Trump has done with seemingly all who have shared our values and aspirations from Germany to France to Canada. Mr. Obama did not trash, like yesterday's newspaper, hard fought international bargains as Mr. Trump has done with TPP, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris agreement. Mr. Obama did not treat our word with such disdain nor our world with such contempt.

Yes, every President who deals with the difficult choices abroad must, in some larger sense, demonstrate similarities. But to try to put these two leaders under one umbrella is like equating day with night or black and white. They look the same only with your eyes closed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Handshake

("Trump Claims Progress After Historic Talks With Kim Jong-Un")

This was the moment Donald Trump had waited for. Forget the myriad failures, forget the multiple attempts to destroy Obamacare, forget the Wall, forget the environmental disasters, forget the NFL, forget #Me too, forget the tax plan handout to the rich. Forget the trade war with allies. Forget all the animosities, forget all the tweets. Forget everything you found distressing, distasteful, disconcerting. Remember the handshake.

This was the photo op he desperately wanted and needed. Donald Trump, game changer. The one that demonstrated "I alone can fix it." With the sheer force of his will, making steel bend with his small hands.

He wouldn't brook the thought of an entourage in the room with him. This was no time for a team effort, for shared glory. There was to be no hint this was anything other than Mr. Trump's singular effort.

Is this but the theory that even a stopped clock is right twice a day? That Donald Trump, for all his bluster and ego, just happened to be in the right place at the right time? That the North Korean President played his cards perfectly until he caught the world's attention and could bring his country back into the community of nations, with peace and the possibility of prosperity before him? That it was he pulling Mr. Trump's strings all along? 

Or is Mr. Trump something greater than the sum of his miserable parts? We all welcome the handshake as a sign of hope for better days ahead. But it ibbles me to think that this President will go to sleep this evening with the thought that he is indeed Superman, that his approval ratings will undoubtedly jump, that we will be compelled to now admit into our minds the remotest chance that we underestimated the charlatan at 1600. That this may even change the course of the mid term elections.

Nothing stops the shouting like a good photo op. And this was a doozy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Reign of Terrible

("Trump Tries to Destroy the West")

He smells subterfuge, sensing weakness in coalitions with allies, suspicious of intent, wary of motives, dismissive of  allegiances. Others a mere reflection of his own inadequacies and insecurities.

And in the wake of Mr. Trump's distortions, our landscape here and abroad is littered with broken promises, with ugly accusations, with recriminations and angst. Discordant remarks, like those of Mr. Trudeau, come with metronomic regularity, differing as to the specifics but similar in the disappointment that our leader is choosing to abandon those who have stood shoulder to shoulder with this country in peace and war, good times and bad.

We are long since surprised by the battles Mr. Trump creates, the fictions he turns into reality, the dramas he materializes out of thin air. And we wonder and fear what will remain when his reign of terrible is over. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Seven Iron

Nearly forty years ago, one of our closest friends was pregnant with her first child. Of all the things I should recall from that time, but one memory lingers. Her ability to hit a seven iron. She would play a full round of golf with virtually merely two clubs. The putter and that iron.

My daughter is beginning the third trimester of her pregnancy. The basketball in her belly is inflating quickly these days. And her golf game, almost non-existent before, has been in total hibernation.

Yesterday, my son in law and I were busy chasing glory and proV-1s around the course situated but a few drivers and a wedge or two from my residence. As tomorrow (now today) marks the first anniversary of my daughter's marriage, she agreed to meet her golf obsessed husband and me to play a few holes.

We planned to rendezvous at the eighth tee, located but a long putt from the clubhouse. Finishing up on seven, I hustled into the pro shop, announced my very pregnant daughter was joining us for a few swings, and paid the green fee and the cart rental. As I stepped outside, my son in law approached. "No cart", he said. "She's carrying her own bag." Now that impressed me.

So what if there were but two woods, four irons and a putter. My daughter, I thought to myself, was already lugging enough around with her. Her belly appeared similar to how I remembered my Uncle Alan's and I imagine he wouldn't even have trudged with his clubs from the car to the first tee.

Her swing looked much as I recalled. Very solid in parts, not so much at contact. The ball squirted off her club on the drive, and the first few shots were, to put it gently, unremarkable.

But then she took a swipe at the ball with a seven iron and suddenly the sun shined bright, the birds sang love songs, the air we breathed as crisp and clean as a perfect poem. My daughter let out a little whoop of delight, half yelled to her husband "did you see that" and bounded down the fairway, her step lightened even while carrying a load on her back and in her stomach.

And for the rest of the round, she channelled my friend from four decades earlier. Seven iron from the fairway, from the rough, from two hundred yards from the green or half that distance. Just her and her new best friend. Success not a constant companion but certainly a consistent one. Her smile as attached to my daughter as her child in waiting.


I can think of few images more likely to be forever seared in my brain than that of a well struck seven, a shout of joy, and my daughter trudging up the big hill at 18, lugging those extra packages with every step. It was the perfect anniversary gift not only for her spouse but her dad as well.

Friday, June 8, 2018

1984 Golf Photo from Bergen Record

This is the photo of me playing golf in 1984 that was included in the recent article I had published on Warren Miller Entertainment's website.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Trying to Avoid Stepping in the Poo

("Speaker Ryan Dismisses Trump's Charges of a Spy in His Campaign")

What do Paul Ryan, Trey Gowdy, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake  have in common? A visceral dislike of Donald Trump?  Their searing denunciations of the President?  A Republican not afraid to speak his mind against the leader of his own party? Yes, yes and yes. But, oh there is one more small, not so coincidental similarity among these men. Like Elvis, they are all leaving the building.

All of them have only demonstrated political  "courage" on the way out the door. For years, Mr. Gowdy, Mr. Corker and Mr. Flake have been prime examples of the worst that the Republican party has to offer. And Mr. Ryan, even through gritted teeth, has smiled as he helped the President push through the tax reform legislation that met the Speaker's long time reverse Robin Hood goal. These men have not fought the good fight against Mr. Trump at their own peril. Rather they have tolerated him and even applauded him, all for their own purposes.

So, I have a hard time congratulating their recent cries of dissent. Where were they when it was not politically easy to speak, when their future was in the halls of Congress, when they knew, they knew, they knew, that this President was daily committing the worst of sins against this nation?

You are not allowed to ride off into the sunset with a wave of your arm and a hearty "Hi Ho Silver". You don't get to erase all the moments you remained silent, turning your eyes from a disaster that  you saw clearly. Don't tell us as you make your exit that this man is a threat to our welfare, a disgrace to our nation.

It is too little too late Mr. Ryan, Mr. Flake, Mr. Corker and Mr. Gowdy. The horse has already left the barn. There is poo all along the way. And you can't avoid stepping in it now.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Transitions

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS PIECE IS SCHEDULED TO BE PUBLISHED  IN WARREN MILLER ENTERTAINMENT, AN ONLINE MAGAZINE

Like Elvis, the last vestige of winter has finally left the building. After an April and early May that was constant reminder there is a reason people move to Florida, the chill that would not disappear, has disappeared. It will read close to 80 degrees today, the grass is as green as an 18 year old making his first appearance in the 'bigs', the trees are spreading their arms in celebration after an endless hibernation.

Spring has definitely sprung. 

And my skis have taken up their unhappy residence in my closet. Wondering why they are being treated so rudely, living alongside an old chest of drawers, the sun nowhere to be found, their only companions dull, old, lifeless.  I apologize for my ill manners but assure them we will become best friends again one day soon.

But life is all about transitions, the shifting of emotions, as certain as the changing of the seasons. And for now, my new, old love, has returned.

Today my golf clubs live in the trunk of my car. My back aches are now attributed not to a bad turn on my skis, but a bad turn on my back swing. The only white that I now look at is in the sand traps. And my challenge is not getting down without breaking my bones, but getting into the clubhouse without breaking my clubs.

I have spent nearly four decades trying to master the dynamics of skiing, moving from short skis to long and then back again, concentrating on keeping my legs close together and then not, always hoping that by some minor miracle, tomorrow I will become the skier I picture in my mind. 

My journey with golf has taken an even longer arc, dating back six decades to a time when color tv was only an idea in someone's mind. Since then, the clubs have changed size and shape, metals have replaced woods and golf balls now travel distances not even imagined decades ago. And yet, much as with my winter love, the secret to success manages to elude me. I chase the ball into places unintended, I curse the gods many times each round, and yet, still I plod on, always hoping that by some minor miracle, tomorrow I will become the golfer I picture in my mind. 

I am fortunate in that I am able to follow two passions, nearly without interruption. My year is filled with  the love of sport, whether it be racing down a mountain or driving up a hill. Whether it be remarkably cold or uncomfortably warm. Whether I am a young father on the slope with my two children, or a medicare aged gentleman in easy banter with friends comparing the inadequacies in our short games. And I remain grateful, if sometimes frustrated, for the continuing opportunities to explore my mediocrity.

And when the greens turn to white and the thermometer announces it is time, I will take my golf clubs from my car and place them in their corner of the closet. And greet my old companions, and tell them of the great things we will soon accomplish on the snow.

It is all about the transitions.