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


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?


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


("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.