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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.