About

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Thank God for Donald Trump

("Trump Backs Away from Demand for Immediate North Korean Denuclearization")

What, you mean dealing with a country on the issue of nuclear weapons is not as simple as suggested, that an all or nothing attitude will surely lead to nothing, that time and patience are required to try to achieve one's aims? 

Thank God we have a leader with such perspective, with an understanding of the great and terrible difficulties, the compromises and concessions that one must anticipate when trying to negotiate the kind of agreement that is good for everyone and no one in confronting such an enormous and volatile subject. Thank God he knows better than to throw away an opportunity for a better, safer tomorrow in pursuit of a perfection that does not exist in the real world.

Think if we had a leader without such a supple mind. Think of the possible damage he could do, the progress that would never happen. Think of what a destructive force he could be.

Think of Donald Trump. On second thought, don't.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

And we have guns, guns, guns

Well he got his daddy's gun
Took it to the high school now
Maybe thought about the library
But chose the art class now
And with those bullets blasting
Shooting as fast as he can now

And we'll have guns, guns, guns,
'Til the Congress takes the damn things away
(Guns, guns, guns, 'til the Congress takes the damn things away)

Well the kids can't slow him down
As he shoots up the place now
Aiming right for the heart or maybe the face now
Gotta lock down the school
As we all give him chase now

And we'll have guns, guns, guns
'Til the Congress takes the damn things away
(Guns, guns, guns, 'til the Congress takes the damn things away).

Well they knew all along
We were wise to this game now
And their votes were all bought
What a  damn crying shame now
Just another in a river of tears
As he shoots for his fame now

And we have guns, guns, guns,
Cause the Congress won't take them away,
And we have guns, guns, guns
Cause the Congress won't take them away
And we have guns, guns, guns
Far too many have seen their last day
Guns, guns, guns
Far too many have seen their last day
Guns, guns, guns,
And with our blood we all pay
Guns, guns, guns,
And with our blood we all pay
Guns, guns, guns
What else can we say
Guns, guns, guns
What else.............



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Say It Ain't So

("Robinson Cano's Suspension Wounds the Mariners, and His Hall of Fame Chances")

Say it ain't so, Robby Cano. At the risk of sounding like a combination of a bad John Sterling home run call and a possibly apocryphal tale of a young boy and Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo., I can't help but be saddened by the thought that now both of the C and C boys have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

I remember the forever smile on the face of the young Robby, as he and Melky Cabrera emerged as future stars of a team in the midst of a seemingly dynastic run. Enthusiasm, exuberance and innocence permeating their very beings. Now in retrospect, your photo of Robby and Melky high fiving with A-Rod close at hand, stands not so much as testament but question mark.

He was and will forever be a great player, possessed of such an easy grace around second base that it made it appear, at times, he wasn't even trying. His bat whipping through the zone as the reincarnation of Rod Carew. The game played with the skill and joy with which it was intended.

But now there is a stain upon his legacy that neither time nor distance can ever erase. As we look back on a career that led this man to unfathomable riches, we wonder how much of the loot was pilfered and how much earned. And worse, how much of our love for everything Robby, was based on a lie.

The Hall light, and the one in our hearts, may just have been turned off. Say it ain't so, Robby Cano. 

The Swamp

("Only the Best People")

This is not death by a thousand cuts, but by thousands. The positions left vacant, the reassignments. This is Mr. Trump's real version of draining the swamp,  ridding or at least neutering those in the system whom James Comey might suggest have a "higher loyalty" to the truth rather than merely to protecting and promulgating the President's intended goals no matter their legal or ethical shortcomings.

And the hiring patterns follow the lead of a leader who has a disdain for study and in depth analysis, who certainly has spent more time concentrating on his golf swing than contemplating the effect of withdrawing from the seven nation agreement with Iran. 

So too, the financial abuses of those like Mr. Pruitt and Dr. Carson cannot be considered aberrations but consistent with the dictate and demeanor of a President who believes rules of protocol and practice were not intended to apply to him.

Everything that is ill and ill intended flows from the head of the state, the head of the snake. Firings, hirings, misfirings all fit a pattern, all a product of a distorted vision of what government is intended to be.

Not of the people, by the people and for the people. But of, for and by one person only.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Signed in Disappearing Ink

("An Indecent Disrespect")

We elected the ugly American to lead us into battle. That talk loudly and carry a big schtick, half crazed, take what is mine and what you thought was yours caricature of everything that people across the globe despise.

This is Mr. Trump tearing down Atlantic City and building it back up in his image, only this time it is not merely a small slice of our own universe that suffers from his moral bankruptcy and total lack of vision and understanding.

Trump treating other nations like he has those bankers he left holding the bag, make a better deal with me or fall into the abyss. 

His word is your bond. His promise is he makes no promises. His contracts have only your signature. He commands not with his presence but with his commands. All for one and that one is me. 

It is a recipe for disaster, maybe not today but there will be a reckoning tomorrow. If not now, certainly not never.

He is playing Russian roulette seemingly with everyone but the Russians, a second Amendment gun pointed only at your head.

This is not policy, it is unmitigated chest pounding of the worst kind. Dangerous, reckless. Not making America great, merely making it grate.

Monday, May 14, 2018

I Elected Donald Trump

("Liberals, You're Not as Smart as You Think")

Are 60 million people racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, climate change denying idiots? No, but they knew or should have known what they were unleashing upon the world that Tuesday night in November of 2016. And that was a monumental error in judgment now playing out in agonizingly slow motion.

God forbid we do anything to turn a four year nightmare into an eight year sentence without the possibility of parole. But what are we permitted to say without deeply offending everyone who is considering voting Republican in November?

You have put us on the defensive with your piece, made us consider that we may be to blame for the mess we see before us. We liberals have driven conservatives away with our haughtiness. We have created Frankenstein. We are the true idiots.

Yes, it is wrong to lump all people in one boat. Like say all Muslims and Mexicans. But am I allowed to ask what you find so attractive in this President, in a man who is an insult to the office and to this nation? Or do I sound too aggressive in my tone, too demeaning in my inquiry?

Tell me what I must do to turn your heart and head around. I know Mitt Romney's 47 per cent remark was matched by Hillary Clinton's deplorables comment. That for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Please help me get it right. Tell me what to say. You see I am not as smart as I think I am.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sports in Black and White

("How Did Our Sports Get So Divisive?")

Patriotism covers up many sins. We are all as one, joined in heart and head against some terrible enemy hell bent on taking away what is ours by birth. I saw it in the stands of Yankee Stadium shortly after 9/11. The red, white and blue, the symbolic holding of hands. With us or against us. Black and white. 

But I realized then as I do now, that it is not that simple, that we are united in name only, that when we leave the stadiums and arenas we enter a universe that tells a far different tale, that God does not bless all Americans equally, that our prejudices and hatreds against one another did not vanish when the twin towers tumbled, that this coming together was but facade. Black and white with a very different meaning. 

And the constant tributes, the fly overs, like one giant recruiting poster for the military. Apple pie a la mode, our sporting events as complement to our surge of national pride. With us or against us.

And for the unforgivable sin of telling this country it should take a hard look at the reality of who we are, for informing us of the hypocrisies we don't want to admit, for saying there is a far more complicated truth then is being revealed, that if you want our sporting events to be venues for reciting more than statistics, if you are really asking us to look into our souls we should do so in unvarnished terms, for this ultimate blasphemy both Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have been stripped of their livelihood and, in the minds of many, deemed traitors to our very nation. 

All just a question of black and white. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

On Canceling My Subscription to the New York Times

There was an article on page 2 of today's New York Times on the gathering I attended last week of the most "accomplished" of the letter writers to that newspaper.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/insider/new-york-times-letter-writers.html

There was one unforgivable omission. No picture, reference or quote relating to me.

Only Donald Trump and I truly know what it is like not to be fully recognized for our brilliance.




Is There Something Less Than Damning with Faint Praise - 3 Men Come Home

("Trump Welcomes 3 Americans Freed from North Korea")

The return of the 3 men imprisoned in North Korea is a triumph, for which we should all be grateful. But it gives me agita just thinking of Mr. Trump receiving plaudits for anything on his watch.

He was certain to mention the Nobel Prize (he would never speak of it, he merely noted that we did). And here we go again counting crowds (the most media ever at 3 AM). This was not all about him, until it was.

I can't even quantify the level of my distaste for everything Trump and the wrecking ball he has taken to this nation's standing in the world, destroying relationships and dismantling agreements at every turn. 

And yet, whether by sheer luck (even a stopped clock is right twice a day) or maybe, just maybe because his one flew over the cuckoo's nest strategy with Kim Jong Un proved effective, we find ourselves staring directly at the possibility of the easing of tensions with North Korea.

Is there something less than damming with faint praise? If so, that is my sentiment as Mr. Trump takes a victory lap while those, like me, who find every second of his presidency mind boggling wrong, shudder.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Killing the Deal with Iran

We have been witness to the attempted unraveling of everything Obama by Mr. Trump. Just as Mitch McConnell swore his party's overriding task was to stop President Obama from accomplishing his goals, so Donald Trump's obsession has been to take away every last success of his predecessor.

Mr. Trump failed in his first attempt, as his efforts to kill Obamacare ended in repeated defeat, the last at the hands of his own party with the deciding vote cast by John McCain.

But if Obamacare was the signature domestic achievement of his predecessor (although righting the sinking ship of the economy might be considered as well), the seven nation deal with Iran was its foreign policy equivalent. It's essential purpose, understood by all who took part in the years long negotiations, was to temper the flames and allow space for the possibility of better days. 

But Mr. Trump recognizes none of this. He merely sees red, a bull in a China shop, wherever and whenever he looks at a deal engineered through Barack Obama. And neither logical argument nor the entreaties of our allies and signatories to the pact with Iran will keep this courier from his appointed rounds.

Mr. Trump will kill this deal, smug and satisfied as he crosses off a big item on his to do list. A man on a personal vendetta not to make America great but to diminish the legacy of a former President who had the audacity to treat Donald Trump with the amount of respect he deserved. None.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

John McCain - In the Dying Light

("John McCain Battles Donald Trump with His Dying Breath")

John McCain's heart was always in the right place, even if his head might not have been. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran? Sarah Palin??? But mistakes of judgment could not hide his deep and abiding passion and commitment to the welfare of this country.

His mission was to be of service, and to be of service with honor. To meet his responsibilities with unfettered devotion, to be able to stand proud not only of his accomplishments but the manner in which he comported himself in battle, whether on the fields of war or the halls of Congress.

I did not vote for Mr. McCain in 2008, not because I thought he was the wrong man for the job, but because I thought he was not the right one.

And with his last breaths, if these are indeed to be the same, he stands strong and determined to call out a President who has little regard for the welfare of anyone but himself and who does a grave disservice to the ideals upon which this nation was founded.

John McCain may not share many of my political beliefs, but he did possess a grace and dignity that made him near saint to those on both sides of the aisle. 

And when he is no longer, it will feel as if we have lost far more than merely the light shining from a single soul.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Night at the New York Times

There was an angry mob gathered on the 15th floor of the New York Times building last evening. The crowd, close to forty strong, vented their mounting frustration at the speaker who sat before them. He was an editor of the Op Ed pages of this venerable newspaper and he had personally wronged virtually all who filled the room.

We had assembled at the invitation of the Times. We were those men and women who had most often badgered the editors of the Letters page into submission. Our names had appeared with repetition as authors of letters worthy of publication. We were simply the best of the best, or so our egos reported. We were there for our accomplishments to be noted and applauded. Thank you, the New York Times was saying, for saving us from ruin.

And yet those in charge of the Op Ed page had clearly not received the memo about how accomplished each of us was. The questioning of the speaker began politely enough. What is the secret handshake needed to move from the left page to the right? Is it a wink and a nod, a $20 bill slipped into your hand while no one is looking, an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner? 

But when the answer was not forthcoming in easily digestible terms, the mood of the crowd darkened. We know how to write and we have opinions about everything. If two plus two doesn't equal four then what does it add up to?

Getting a letter published even once in the New York Times is incredibly hard. And for those of us who have had the good fortune to be selected for that honor, we should be astonished and grateful. And call it a day at that. But for the select few who have been repeat offenders in the letters section, there is clearly the fever of fame that envelopes many of us. And it leaves us dissatisfied when we don't get more. We are better than mere writers of 150 words, more or less. We are the articulated sounds of America and we deserve, we are entitled to 850 or 900 words. Because, well just because.

I am among those who has tried and repeatedly failed to impress these judges. I, like the others, feel like nobody turned their chairs around on The Voice. But listen to me sing that high note.

But I have an expertise. I am most well versed in Yankee baseball and if you would only open up your closed mind you will comprehend that the history of the favorite games I have attended over six decades would make fascinating reading.

 But I know Donald Trump better than he knows himself. I eat, drink and sleep (albeit, fitfully) the man. I can write 1000 words on his small hands for God's sake. Give me a few op-eds on him, and I will rid the country of this vermin once and for all.

But I am a lawyer. Okay, I mainly do house closings, but still I am as qualified to muse on Constitutional questions as Mr. Trump is on the pros and cons of the deal with Iran.

But my mom recently died and I can write a compelling piece on the issue of dementia and outliving one's life.

But I am soon to be a first time grandfather. But I have a love hate relationship with golf. But I have been published many times in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Purple Clover (you don't have to go to these sites to read my work, trust me).

The list of topics is endless. And useless. I have as much chance of seeing my name on the Op-ed page as do you (unless, of course, you actually do have a chance). I may know how to put 150 words together, or even 850, but that in no way qualifies me to jump from one side of the page to the other.

One must possess both the ability to express an opinion coherently and a depth and breadth of knowledge on a matter of interest and concern. One without the other is merely the sound of one hand clapping.

My take on my mother's decade long descent from her illness might make for an interesting tale but a piece by a doctor who had spent decades studying the brains of those impacted by this disease would certainly capture the attention of the editorial staff. Or Mike Pence weighing in on what a Trump presidency is getting right rather than what I continually suggest it is getting wrong. Or Doug Glanville looking at baseball from the inside, rather than me peering in through the window.

And this was the gentle message that our speaker tried to convey. But we wanted none of that. We were here to be recognized, not to be anonymous in his eyes. We were here to be feted, not continually rejected. We were here because we deserved it.

And that meant getting the secret code. Or at least his direct email address. I left without either.

Hillary Clinton, a verb and 911

Possible book titles for the Donald and Rudy show:

1. A tale of two liars
2. The buck stops somewhere else
3. The world according to dumb and dumber
4. We do it our way
5. The art of the slow reveal
6. 911, a verb, Hillary Clinton
7. Inmates number 10001 and 20001
8. You say collusion we say confusion
9. 911, a verb, Hillary Clinton (this is always worth repeating anytime, anywhere there is trouble)
10. Lies, injustice and what used to be the American way
12. The Fools on the Hill
13. Stormy Daniels had sex with that man, Michael Cohen
14. Cutting down George Washington's cherry tree
15. The art of the comb over
16. Our lips aren't moving
17. A bargain on a bridge in Brooklyn 
18. Donald and Rudy join Fox News
19. The art of the cover up
20. Hillary Clinton, a verb, and 911 (Donald gets top billing)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tangled Webs and the $130,000

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST APPEARS IN THE RECORD, A BERGEN COUNTY NEWSPAPER

It turns out to be this generation's version of  "I did not have sex with that woman." But Mr. Trump did have sex with that woman, Stormy Daniels, and did in fact repay Michael Cohen the $130, 000 hush money, apparently with a vig added.

Someone in the President's ever revolving corner will undoubtedly try to turn Mr. Trump's "know" into "now know" and linguistically attempt to resuscitate their leader. And remind us that Mr. Trump may have misspoken but not to Mr. Mueller, merely to reporters on Air Force One. And that this constitutes neither perjury nor obstruction of justice but at worst a technical failure to comply with federal reporting requirements. And the timing of the repayments is of paramount import and fully exonerates a wrongly accused and deeply aggrieved President. And we owe this man our sincerest apologies.

But we know what lies sound like, what a cover up looks like. We have lived through Richard Nixon. 

Shakespeare had to be contemplating Donald Trump when he wrote "oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Practice does not make perfect Mr. Trump.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Fail-Pass Exam


Robert Mueller has been fierce and relentless in his pursuit of the truth, which has clearly led to Mr. Trump's doorstep. And here he is with four dozen inquiries meant to pierce the veil of uncertainty and get to the heart of what, where, when, why and who. Only that will never happen.

Donald Trump is a buffoon, full of false bravado, believing he can bluff his way through any situation, dancing a little two step, misdirecting and misleading anyone anywhere he wants. And sitting in the White House makes a pretty compelling argument for Mr. Trump's success in this undertaking.

But even he can intuit the risks in taking this approach with Mr. Mueller. For surely Mr. Mueller already holds the answers to the questions posed. And the President cannot score a 100 on this test with half truths and outright lies. 

This is where the road ends for the special counsel. With a "I would love, just love to set the record straight, but upon the advise of my attorney (not named Michael Cohen) I refuse to answer your absolutely stupid questions on the grounds that they are absolutely stupid", the President will inform his most obstinate critic to take his toys and go home.

Even getting the questions ahead of time, the smartest President, strike that, the smartest person who has ever lived, will never take an exam he would surely fail. So he will merely pass.  

Monday, April 30, 2018

All He Is Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

When did we trade in Hitler/Mussolini for John Lennon/Mahatma Gandhi? Was Mr. Trump just saying "give peace a chance" when he waxed eloquent on the size of his weapon and reining fire and fury upon North Korea? Is this what the orange face of diplomacy looks like in the 21st Century?

This is our version of htraE, the Bizarro world in which everything is backward, where bad is good and Donald Trump, it is hard to even put these words together on paper, can be mentioned in the same sentence as the Nobel Peace Prize.

This is a man who has flaunted his indecency and lack of morality as a badge of honor, treating human suffering like a chew toy. From Mexicans to Muslims, those seeking shelter from the storm have been treated with absolute contempt and disdain. He has assaulted our senses and likely binders full of women. He has threatened nuclear conflagration as if life was but a disposable commodity.

But, it would seem there is a possibility of peace in Korea. And what part in this would be attributable to our leader? As Mr. Trump in his understated way advises us, "Everything."  

And if this possibility should one day soon morph into reality, if we mistrust but verify that Kim Jong-Un has dismantled his nuclear facility and capability, does Donald Trump deserve recognition as the greatest peacemaker on the planet? Do we forgive and forget his omnipresent transgressions, his myriad and daily reminders of what a despicable human being he is?

For the sake of our universe, I hope the seemingly impossible occurs, the Koreas unite and the fear of a nuclear North Korea is no more. But a noble and Nobel Mr. Trump? Only in Bizarro world. 

And maybe ours.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Getting sick from your medical bill is not a covered illness

Here we go again. Hieroglyphics courtesy of your insurance carrier.

My son definitely should be awarded an honorary PHD in interpreting medical bills and health insurance policies. When my wife came to him with yet another unexpected charge for a medical procedure it was like a Yogi Berra truism: "deja vu all over again."  But one more head scratching  episode of "who's on first."

The latest fiasco apparently involves the physical location where a certain procedure was done. We are mandated to read through the manual of dos and don'ts, filled with dotting i's and crossing t's, so that the cough we can't kick or the finger that got caught in the door doesn't get exacerbated until it becomes a full blown case of financial disaster.

I am sick and tired of worrying about whether being sick and tired will burn a hole in my pocket and my stomach . I am now of Medicare age and, for me,  the deciphering of documents has largely disappeared. But, oh by the way, the cost of my premium has not. Between the alphabet soup of different items requiring their own monthly payment, and an annual review of my income to determine next year's costs for protection relating to hospital, doctor, pharmaceutical and air breathing , it seems that the concept of paying into the system for a lifetime in exchange for truly free medical coverage in one's advancing years is more than a smidge of a shell game. And please make sure your doctor does not treat Medicare like a disease.

But my real beef is not with the dollars and little sense wake up call on turning 65 but the perpetual hold my breath, cross my fingers and pray to the gods that tomorrow's mail will not inform me that the procedure performed on my wife was actually a shove it up our collective backsides out of network, wrong facility, not that doctor, unnecessary, experimental, never heard of it, didn't say pretty please, we are no longer in business, hold for the operator, we don't have that code, what date were you born, can I speak with your supervisor, are you standing on one leg, moment.

Seeing yet another claim denied is more than likely to give me a heart attack. Which of course would be uncovered since I had not requested pre-authorization before clutching my chest.

"I don't know - third base."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Me and Rudy

("Robert Mueller's Last Resort")

As we speak of contingency plans, what ifs and whistle-blowers, as we ponder hypotheticals and weigh options, Mr. Trump continues on his daily path of destruction. While Mr. Mueller meticulously moves forward, month after agonizing month, building a case, trying to "turn" witnesses, step by step and inch by inch, the orange faced joker struts and frets his forever hour upon the stage.

I am, in this moment, a supporter of Mr. Trump's latest stooge, Mr. Giuliani. For you see, justice delayed is in fact justice denied. Every extra hour the President sits on his throne feels an eternity. Every misbegotten tweet, every foreign policy misstep, every morning we wake up wondering what disaster will be inflicted upon us from the Oval Office, is our national form of water torture. 

And though I do believe that Mr. Mueller should, in the best of all possible worlds, dot every I and cross every T, this is far from that world, and the one we now inhabit will be better served by a little more speed and a touch less thoroughness.

So Rudy, if you can convince Mr. Mueller to move matters along a little it would be much appreciated. While the waiting may be annoying Donald, it is slowly killing all of us.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Mirage

("America Abhors Impeachment")

So it is only now that we awaken to the stark reality that Mr. Trump is going nowhere soon? That it is somehow a revelation that the chance of impeachment is less than awakening tomorrow to a crewcut, pale faced Mr. Trump?

Our hatred of everything about this President has clouded our thinking process and made many believe that an overwhelming force would penetrate the minds of Republicans in Congress and inevitably lead to the expulsion of a singular stain on our democracy. It ain't happenin'.

The Dems will struggle to regain control of the Senate, as 26 of 35 seats up for grabs in November are already in their hands. Many of these races will be in states that voted overwhelmingly Republican in 2016. And if the numbers fall as we dream and the Senate has a change in control, what about the House?

The Republicans presently hold 237 of 435 seats. No matter the myriad failures of the President, there is love for one's own Congressperson, gerrymandering, voter suppression, racism among a host of explanations for why a tsunami will not wipe the Republican party off the face of the planet.  If you believe the House will be 2/3 donkey in November, you are residing in an alternate universe where facts don't exist (yeah, that one).

Despite the Mueller probe, the Trump paranoia, the nation's disgust, the Republican's in Congress will not oust one of their own. History and our own eyes and ears tell us that this party will circle the wagons if there is a lynch party heading Mr. Trump's way.

And without the numbers, impeachment is  but filling our heads with a vision of a world no longer according to Trump that is ultimately mere mirage.

What's an 11 letter word meaning nothing?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Putting Words In the Mouth of Donald Trump

("The Man Behind the President's Tweets")

Are we to believe Mr. Scavino is a voice in Mr. Trump's head, ranking up there with the Fox News crew, planting words in the President's mouth and thoughts on his screen?  That he is no longer making $200 a loop but now nearly $500 every day of the year, handing the President occasional punch lines instead of a driver or three wood?

Mr.Trump will steal from anyone and claim it as his own if it plays well. And well, maybe Mr. Scavino is the evil behind the evil. But Mr. Scavino's main job qualifications are kiss up and shut up. 

So though Mr Scavino may have a 280 character flaw, the one character trait he obviously possesses is the most precious commodity in the President's universe: "a higher loyalty." Just like Michael Cohen (oops).

And this means that the man who may sometimes be responsible for putting distressing comments on our computers and knots in our stomach will keep his mouth firmly shut when asked if he is not actually a caddy but the one swinging the club.

Yet whether Mr. Scavino is something more than mere lucky loser,  like Mr. Lewandowski or Mr. Cohen, making a career out of being a sycophant, the essence of Mr. Trump is embodied in every ugly tweet, every misbegotten rant. 

And even should Mr. Scavino be a part time Shakespeare of slime, in the final analysis he is but a vessel, spewing the President's bile through his fingers. 

Like a well paid prostitute, doing disgusting acts for the right price. Something with which Mr. Trump might have a passing familiarity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Worst Is the Best We Can Expect - The Ballad of Scott Pruitt

("Scott Pruitt, Man of Little Shame")

Being wholly unprepared and unqualified, as Ben Carson admitted he was to run HUD, Rick Perry taking over an agency he couldn't recall but vowed to end, or  Betsy DeVos,  intending to make public education less than before her reign of terrible, makes it hard for one standout to be deemed the undisputed leader of this rat pack.

But Mr. Pruitt has managed to be the biggest rodent of all. His proclivity for personal excess on the public dole, combined with his handing out death to those he serves by fiercely protecting a dying industry, defines him as the worst of the worst.

Considering who these men and women report to, the worst is the best we can expect.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Thousand Words - My DMV Photo

I stare at the image on the driver's license. It looks just like me, except older. I take the former license out of my wallet and compare one photo against the other. The inescapable conclusion is that the score is mother nature (or father time) one, me zero.

It is strange, living with me every day as I must, I can't see myself age. There is not a line I spot today that was not there yesterday, not a prominent sag in the skin around my neck that suddenly makes a 14 1/2 collar impossible to close without surgical intervention.

Apart from those years when I was able to pluck multiple dying hair follicles out of my head with the greatest of ease, there have been no neon signs warning me not to look too closely at what was transpiring.

But there it is, this person definitely bordering on old, his face seeming much wider than a few years earlier, the entire image less robust. How is it that I hadn't noticed?

It doesn't help that I have Dorian Gray lying next to me in bed every day. Married to me over 40 years, my wife has somehow, despite the daily hardship of cleaning up the mess that is her husband, somehow avoided virtually all signs of growing older.

She is that person in your high school class you immediately recognize at the 50th reunion. I am the one you have to, not too impolitely, sneak a peek at the stuck on nametag, and still can't possibly imagine what this fellow looked like as your classmate.

It is not vanity so much as wonder at the mystery of time. What was going on inside of me that I could not feel? What just occurred that sent a signal to my head that it was now not going to hear that noise as clearly as a minute earlier, not see that road sign as well as night as it did last evening? Each change too subtle for me to comprehend. And yet, here I am.

Even in the moments I took to write this piece I am certain my body has not been at rest, something has changed, somewhere, somehow. I am not the same as I was a half hour ago, a half minute ago, a half second ago.

It is hard to comprehend the magnitude of one photo taken by a woman at the DMV, among the hundreds she takes in a day, the thousands every month.

She is, in the most graphic way, chronicling the passage of time and its inevitable impact on all who are told to stare straight ahead at the camera. And causing me, and I would suppose countless others, to look instead directly in our rear view mirrors.









Friday, April 13, 2018

An Oath of Loyalty to Protect Us

("A Higher Loyalty")

There is more than a little irony in the perception of James Comey as a heroic figure battling the filth that envelopes everything and everyone that touches Mr. Trump, as Mr. Comey refuses to bend to the will of the President and give an oath of loyalty.

For James Comey, perhaps more than all others, due to one egregious and ill timed error in judgment, is responsible for the mess in which we are now embroiled.

Eleven days before the election, Mr. Trump was in free fall. The mood of the electorate, in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape, was that this revelation was a bridge too far. Republican politicians were throwing in the towel, waving the white flag. And then Mr. Comey announced his intention to reopen the investigation into Ms. Clinton's emails, based on new revelations off the computer of Huma Abedin, the then wife of Anthony Weiner.

The focus of the nation shifted, and in the succeeding nine days before Mr. Comey "cleared" Ms.Clinton once more, countless early ballots had been cast, and countless minds had been irretrievably altered  In an election decided by less than 77,000 votes in three key states, in all likelihood the victory had been handed over to Mr. Trump.

While Mr. Comey may have been a little "nauseous" contemplating that he could have contributed to Mr. Trump's elevation, maybe his own "higher loyalty" should have been to the future health of our nation.  Before he speculated, without proofs, on October 28, 2016, he had an obligation to consider what he might be unleashing. For a man, so careful and deliberate in his actions, it was a monumental blunder.

Mr. Comey pledged to protect this nation from those who would do us harm.  The pervasive sickness now infecting our country is daily reminder of his failures in that regard.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Case of Mistaken Identity About Paul Ryan

("Saving Paul Ryan")

Have the courage of your convictions. Do the right thing. Stand tall and proud.

No matter the platitudes we hurl at Mr. Ryan as he heads towards the exit, no matter our pleas, don't count on his metamorphosis. There is no inner morality just waiting to explode. 

Mr. Ryan has been a willing partner on Mr. Trump's wild ride, his occasional protestations notwithstanding. The signature policy victory of this administration, the inconceivably ugly tax bill, had Mr. Ryan's fingerprints all over it. What Mr. Ryan pursued, Mr. Trump trumpeted.

And yes, I am certain Mr. Ryan privately blanched at the President's boorishness. But Mr. Ryan's distress was not of sufficient caliber to take arms against this ridiculous excuse for a President. For truly, they have been but partners in crime, these reverse Robin Hoods, willing to steal from the poor to give to the rich.

Paul Ryan is no saint. Just a wolf in sheep's clothing. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Small Packages

I am expecting a grandchild in the fall. It will be my first, so you can imagine my nervousness and excitement. I have long dreamed of this moment, tired of smiling and nodding at the tales of my friends as they uniformly tell me it is the best of times for them. Move over and make room for me.

Yesterday, much of our family gathered at the home of my mother in law, as we celebrated the birthday of my niece. My daughter was there, the bump of my grandchild to be becoming more prominent, her first trimester constant companion, nausea, now thankfully apparently in her rear view mirror.

Also in attendance were the young sons of my niece, now two and four year old mini-mes of their parents. Cute beyond description. The same pair who seem indescribably adorable in those Instagram photos and videos. The ones where my niece, with her wonderful sense of humor, captures in but a few words and a few images the joy in being a mom to these two. And, oh yes, the terror and sheer exhaustion.

From the second they entered until the moment of their exit, they were in motion. Verbally, physically, emotionally they were stuck in the on mode. The blinds became a fascinating toy to shake. The windows to the outside world now the place for a running comment by the two year old on something that was intelligible to a mom and dad but not to the rest of the universe. You know, the age where language is just being acquired and it runs through the sorter of a parent before it comes back in English, through one of them as translator. "He said, daddy's car." Oh.

There was only one minor calamity, a direct hit of head on window. After about a minute or two of that kind of intermittent wail that comes from a child when injury occurs, he was distracted and soon back to doing whatever he was doing before being so rudely interrupted, albeit with a rather sizable egg on his forehead.

And of course, I watched and listened for every response by my daughter to the mayhem, to gauge the level of her joy or trepidation at her own imagined future. She seems so comfortable and playful with these two. It is a good sign.

In the midst of this scene, I asked my niece when she had given up, when she had surrendered to the insanity of being a mom to two young jumping beans. She gave me that half smile that said a thousand words. And you could tell that she and her husband loved every second of it, holding the boys and giving kisses when they weren't wriggling away, taking incredible pictures of the four year old making pancakes with his great grandma, sure to be an Instagram hit when posted.

The four year old never stopped smiling, hardly ever stopped laughing, happy and fascinated by the vent in the floor that blew air and made his hair, and that of his brother, swirl. A box became something else, I am not sure quite what, but whatever it was took on an importance beyond it's seemingly limited purpose.

After lunch ended, the two year old hit the wall. No, not literally like the window. He repeated a phrase for several minutes that was translated into English  as "go home, go home".

About 10 minutes of trying to put shoes and jackets onto moving, squirming targets ensued before success was achieved. And then, suddenly they were gone and the world was suddenly quiet and still. And much less interesting.

Taking care of children is truly a young person's sport, the energy it requires to absorb these cosmic forces of nature seemingly endless. But they are such a joy to watch, their enthusiasm for life so heartwarming, their thrill at turning the smallest, most inconsequential item into something of wonder and importance, their imagination hard at work, their need to explore, understand and find reasons for laughter, boundless. They demand our attention because we are fascinated with how they are experiencing life at a hundred miles per hour.

But for those of us not used to going more than the speed limit, it is exhausting in the watching, and even in the retelling.

So, while I am overjoyed at the thought of becoming one of that elite group of billions known as grandparents and cannot wait for that moment to occur, I must admit that a teeny part of my brain gave a sigh of relief when those two wonderful, thrilling, joyous little kids left the apartment and peace returned.

Hurry up and arrive, my young grandchild to be. I so eagerly await your appearance. But I apologize in advance if sometimes it may appear I am not completely and utterly saddened by your departure. Just give me a moment to catch my breath and then we can start over again. I promise.

Feeding the Beast

("The Post-Campaign Campaign of Donald Trump")

It is the emotional craving, the all consuming, omnipresent, unquenchable need for confirmation that doesn't merely mark this presidency but defines it. This pathology playing out on endless loop, the President not only unwilling but unable to stop himself. 

The barrage of criticism over his tweets, over his constant self affirmation of his greatness, of his being the best, the biggest, the most powerful, his insatiable desire for self promotion, none of the blistering negative response can possibly cause Mr. Trump to reconsider the propriety of his words or his actions. There is a sickness at the heart of the man and no one will alter his preordained course. It is in his DNA.

Others have played to their advantage upon this obsession. Foreign leaders have fawned over him, greeting him as welcomed hero, with the pomp an circumstance befitting an emperor. And at home, this President dreams of military parades, all before him bowing at the feet of their unquestioned ruler.

These rallies, the endless number counting, the do you love me refrains, these are the air that Mr. Trump needs to breathe, to survive. Washington suffocates him. Mar-a-Lago is refuge from the storm. But nothing reinvigorates him like the sounds and sights of an adoring crowd. Here he is freed of the insecurities and doubts, of the naysayers and the harping critics. Here he is God, omnipotent and without blemish. Here he is loved, adored, deified. Here is where, in his mind, he comes for healing.

And where we, an incredulous and disbelieving nation of onlookers, stare at the mess we have created as it is being perpetuated and revitalized. A disease being fed.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Donald Trump's War of Words (with himself)



On The Wall-

We will build the biggest most beautiful wall and Mexico will pay for it, believe me.

We will build the biggest most beautiful wall and we will pay for it (and maybe Mexico will send us a note of congratulations)

Who needs a wall when we have the National Guard?


On Tariffs-

10%, 25% who knows how high it will go. We are done being everyone's fool

Well maybe that doesn't include our friends from Mexico and Canada, and maybe anyone else whose name doesn't start with China

You mean China took us seriously? Let's talk


On NAFTA

The absolute worst, rip it up deal (apart from Iran) in the history of deals

Maybe it could use a little tweaking, but otherwise what are you complaining about?


On North Korea

I am going to blow Little Rocket man and his whole shithole country into a million little pieces

Now, tell me again, which is his first name? Should I wear a red tie or blue one when we meet?



On DACA

I love the Dreamers and I will make laws that show you how I feel.

DACA is dead. And ICE is coming to get you.


On Collusion and Obstruction of Justice

Read my lips. There has been no crime here. It is all fake news.

Well, maybe a little wrongdoing from a few people I don't even know from years before I even thought about leading us all into the abyss.

It is Donald Jr.  Maybe Jared. But definitely not me, or Ivanka. Could be Ivanka.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Unforgivable Sin of Mr. Trump

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES


("President Trump's Perversion of Leadership")

It is in his contempt for the very office he holds, his attempt to make the presidency bend to him instead of giving it the respect it deserves and we demand, that he does the most damage.

He luxuriates in his boorishness, somehow perceiving that changing what came before means repudiating every shred of decency, renouncing every ounce of compassion, rejecting every hint of morality. What has for the history of this nation attached as unassailable mandates for the President of the United States now has been cast asunder in the wake of Mr. Trump's daily assaults.

Even as we watched others in this position falter, we never sensed that the very essence of what made us a great nation was under attack. We took comfort in the unshakable belief that our highest office was bigger than any one man, that its underlying principles were greater than the mistakes of omission or commission of any temporary holder, our structure stronger than any errors committed under one person's watch. 

But that understanding has been shaken to the core. Mr. Trump has made us question the fundamental belief of the greatness of the office of the presidency. And beyond all else, this we can never forgive.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Monster is Unleashed

It stands almost 20 feet high, weighs near 800 pounds, has 6 hands and an equal number of feet. It is a monster who can do damage almost beyond imagination. And it is coming to a city near you. 

Welcome to the 3 headed beast known as JSS.

It was on display for the first time  yesterday. And it was frightening. Lightning bolts exploded from its wooden tentacles. Just over 60 feet away, a man who made the grave error of attempting to harness the beast's fearsome power, quaked. Thousands who gathered to witness this terrifying sight, gasped. Children clung to their parents.The very earth seemed shaken to its core.

And this was only the beginning. Opening day 2018 in the land of Judge, Stanton and Sanchez. Promising to make Murderer's Row a mere asterisk. Striking fear in the hearts of everyone they meet along the way.

You have been warned.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Stormy Daniels Night

TO THE TUNE OF STARRY STARRY NIGHT


Stormy Daniels night
Paints a picture sad and gray

Looks upon a life's decay
With eyes that see the 
Devil in your soul
Hitman at your call
Scare the daylights out of her

Take the dough and go away

In words we all understand
And yes, we comprehend what you tried to do to her

She won't suffer your insanity
How you would not let her be
She would not listen
Now you're in a row

Perhaps you're sorry now

Stormy Daniels night
Was a dud that's here to stay

Swirling mess your ugly ways reveal
The darkness in your heart
Nothing changes you
Daylight or the darkest night

All the same within your sight
All damaged by your clumsy, groping hands 
And yes we comprehend what you tried to to do to her

She won't suffer your insanity
How you would not let her be
She would not listen
Now you're in a row

Perhaps you're sorry now

Passing Shower or Tsunami

("Stormy Daniels Spanks Trump Again")

Count me among the few who did not watch the Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes. It is not under the covers that Mr. Trump is revealed but in the cover up.

Like everything else in his seedy existence it is in the payoffs, the kickbacks, the threats that the depths of his ugliness, the full extent of his moral depravity is evident.

So it turns out he essentially had a one night mediocre tryst with a porn star in a lifetime of inappropriate dalliances. That is not a tale even worthy of page six.

But it is his hubris, his pathological inability to mouth a mea culpa, his storm trooper tactics that he has used to his advantage to steamroll through business and marriage that may one day be his Achilles heel.

Somehow, Mr. Trump has weathered many other stormy days, both before and during this presidency, one death knell after another now laid to rest while he moves inexorably on. 

Was this but one more passing shower or tsunami? Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

March 24, 2018

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS PIECE APPEARS IN THE OPINION SECTION OF THE RECORD, A BERGEN COUNTY NEWSPAPER


It is an age of disillusion, of confusion, of dismay with our institutions, of distress over our Constitution. A time when freedoms are being hollowed out, when death is being meted out, when good intention has seemingly evaporated and love for our fellow man teeters on the brink of extinction. It has been, in so many ways on so many days the worst of times.

But then there was yesterday, when we announced we would no longer be frightened, when our steps lightened, our eyes brightened. Our resolve manifest, our destiny in our hands, our future no longer a dark shadow on the horizon. 

As the youth of this country introduced themselves to us, we were amazed by their poise, by their purity of purpose and commitment to cause. In their voices we found the hope that had disappeared, the strength that had been sapped from our weary bodies, the focus that seemed out of our reach.

We owe those who have brought us so low a debt of gratitude. We thank them for allowing us to see what a better tomorrow looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like. We thank them for awakening the passion and promise of the next generation. We thank them for making us understand that today is not forever.

It was, in so many ways, on this one day, the best of times.