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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A boo-boo


So what lesson did we learn here?
Doctors are fallible: perhaps. 
I am a hog for attention: now you're getting it.

I write this to you with two free arms, the cast having been relegated to yesterday's news as it turned out I had suffered but a mere boo-boo. My orthopedist releasing me from bondage and giving me the greatest of gifts: the opportunity to write a second piece focusing on my favorite topic. Kind of a double good break for no break at all.

I sat around a dinner table last evening with several family members, all of whom have recently coped with health issues of varying degrees of significance, from troublesome to bordering on uh-oh. But none of them had received a sliver of the outpouring of support I had garnered over the past few days. Could anything be better than not actually being injured but gathering enough sympathy to fill the deepest ocean, with a few drops still left over?

So it turns out the attending physician misread the x-ray, believing a vein (in my case, maybe "vain") had been proof of great insult to my body. His boo-boo was in thinking my boo-boo was something more than mere line on a screen signifying next to nothing. But I am told this is not an unusual error, and I hold no animus towards the man who was responsible for my last blog post. In fact, I owe him a great debt.

You see, my readership has fallen off in recent weeks as people grow ever more fatigued by you know who and you know what. But my numbers spiked, like looking at a jumping heartbeat on a screen, when the topic of the moment turned to my personal failings. For those who follow my writing like nothing more than a look into the world of someone whose life is always seemingly one step away from the latest oops, virtual if not actual.

I should have asked the doctor to give me the soft cast for I could possibly have used it to my advantage in the 
future. But lacking the requisite quickness of mind, I left my prop on the cutting room floor, relegating it to imminent certain death. 

I miss my cast.

Yes, doctors are fallible, for life teaches us that none (well, maybe except for our Supreme Leader) are perfect. But for me, the greater life lesson is that people are willing, anxious really, to give you their support and there is absolutely nothing I need more than your undivided attention.

I think my boo-boo is starting to ache a little. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Stand up you're rockin' the boat

I dreamed last night I was in the halls of Congress
And by some chance I was called to testify
And there I stood and I swore to tell the whole truth
But Republicans they swore that I'd lie

For those people all said
"Get out, get out you're rockin' the boat"
Those people all said
"Get out, get out you're rockin' the boat"
And the Devil did tweet as I spoke
With his small vocab and his big ego
"Get out, get out, get  out, get out
Get out you're rockin' my boat"

I testified what I knew to be the whole truth
And some did clap when I told them what went down
But those who swore by the Devil were unhappy
And they swore I was only just a clown

For those people all said
"Beware, you're in the Devil's way"
Those people all said
"Beware, beware of the games you play
For the Devil will make you suffer
With your fancy words and your soulful tones
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up
Shut up you're rockin' his boat"

And while I feared he would surely seek his revenge
I walked outside to catch a breath of air
And as I stood, someone hollered, "You have saved us"
That's the moment I sang out, "Thank the Lord"

And I said to those gathered there
"Stand up and rock the boat"
I said to those gathered there
"Stand up and rock the boat
For the Devil can't pull you under
With his checkered past and tv remote"

"Stand up stand up, stand up, stand up,
Stand up and rock the boat
Stand up, stand up, stand up, stand up
Stand up and rock the boat"

"Stand up"



Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Fall

This may be the hardest piece I have ever typed.

It started out like any other day, in fact better than most. The sky was an untarnished slate of blue, the wind was in momentary hibernation and the air was as clean and pure as Marie Yovanovitch.

As my son and I began our hike, we contemplated several miles of mostly gentle, wholly uncomplicated terrain. The last of the leaves had left their former residence and now formed a blanket of protection for Mother Earth. But winter had sent notice that it was anxious to flex its muscles and thus a small, almost imperceptible coat of white acted as overcoat for the ground. Beneath our feet on each step was a double layer of potential trouble. And underneath, not visible to the eye, were those intermittent rocks announcing their presence.

But really I protest too much for these combined forces were of little note as we began our trek, reaching our ultimate goal and gazing out on a landscape that stretched out for miles below us. We had been here before, but each time was as the first. It was the image of New England on a mid-November day, with the snow revealing itself on the distant trails of a mountain as if it were ready to accept its first paying customers, and the town below seemingly frozen as if it were merely a picture of itself.

Then we commenced the trek back from where we began (this being an "in and out" hike). Soon into our descent my son noticed that the leaves were now sticking to the sole of his shoes, forming a shield against traction. And so I saw a similar issue emanating from the bottom of my feet. But, we would shortly be back to the car and thus I paid scant notice.

And then I fell, for the first time.

I had clearly seen this rock, flat and unencumbered. But as my feet slipped out from under me and I went airborne, I heard myself let out a small shriek, for I am nothing if not a wimp. While pride did not go before this fall, my son's camera, in its case on my back, did. And so, it acted as bumper and I landed with but the gentlest of thuds. Luckily, it appeared the camera had also survived.

We have been hiking for many years as a family, hundreds, maybe thousands of miles between today and that first step into the wilderness. And I could recall not once when I had ended up in an unintended position. So, as my son's concern turned into laughter as he saw that only my ego was bruised, we continued our march, clear in the mutual understanding that this had been but a fluke, the equivalent of someone like Donald Trump being semi-elected President of the United States.

And then I fell for the second time. (God, I hope this not an omen for his re-election)

This rock I did not see as it lay camouflaged beneath the leaves and snow. And I stepped on it at such an angle that my right ankle twisted and I was once more performing a gravity defying act in the air. I must have landed on my left arm and shoulder though my airborne cry related to the momentary discomfort I was experiencing in my foot.

My son stared at me, once more with concern in his eyes, coupled with more than a hint of bewilderment. I took a few short hops on my ankle, limped for several steps and then pronounced myself embarrassed but otherwise fit.

And that was the end of the story. Almost.

We finished our journey, got in the car and returned home. I counted myself fortunate to have escaped harm and looked forward to the balance of the day, unencumbered by any physical reminders of my mishaps.

Until about an hour later. We were sitting in the kitchen and I happened to press my right hand on my left forearm. It was tender, and more than that, it appeared to be slightly misshapen. I took off the top layer of clothing and indeed the angle from shoulder to fingers seemed not quite right.

After short consultation with those gathered around, I put a winter coat on, walked out the door and headed to the hospital emergency room, but a few blocks away. My family gathered there with me in short order.

It is actually a great experience going to your local, small hospital in the middle of a work day. My information was taken within seconds and within minutes I was being attended to by several people. X- rays followed and the attending announced that, yes, I had a small non-displaced fracture in my forearm. One of those soft casts was soon encasing my arm and I was advised to see my local orthopedist in the days to follow.

One more wrinkle.

As I was about to leave the hospital, the attending said the radiology department had looked at the pictures and did not believe that dark line was a fracture. So, at the moment there is a split decision, the report I received noting the two disparate determinations.

I now await the deciding vote early next week. In the meantime, I am weighed down by this cast, making life a little more complicated.

And making this possibly the hardest piece I have ever typed.






Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Let THOSE People Go


It is not a statement of virtue, of strength, of moral courage. Rather, "Let THOSE people go" is the sound of a likely majority on the Supreme Court abandoning the core principle of American greatness, turning dreams into nightmares and exposing the ugly underbelly of bigotry and hatred that is far, far too prevalent and persistent a poison coursing through this nation's veins.

It is a solution in search of a problem. The Dreamers have not been a scourge on our society, have not drained our resources, have not threatened our present nor our future. This is not cutting out of a disease but rather casting out those whose crime is not one of commission but merely of circumstance of birth. 

For those who would find reason and basis to further President Trump's obsessive quest to "purify" our land, there is only shame. If I had a vote, mine would be to direct "Let THOSE people go" at those justices who would do injustice under pretenses they well know to be manipulated and false.

We are better than this. Or at least we should be.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Defamation of Characters

Twitter filed suit today on behalf of its 280 characters against the President of the United States. The suit seeks unspecified damages together with an immediate injunction against Donald Trump from using their platform to further what they describe as "an endless stream of misdirection flowing into a river of lies and emptying into an ocean of misinformation."

There was immediate reaction from many of Mr. Trump's most fervent supporters:

"Twitter is controlled by immigrants, James Comey, Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Pocahontas and Joe Biden's son."( IT, DT Jr. and ET, who wish to remain anonymous to protect the guilty- hint as to their identity, oh hell you don't need one)

 "Is Twitter really spelled with three T's and only one R?" (Rick Perry)

"This is an unconstitutional infringement on the right of our leader to act without thinking, to respond to crisis after crisis in ways most surely to deflect attention from his myriad criminal enterprises, to inflict the most damage in the most ways imaginable with the least effort possible" (the Justice Department)

While most of the 280 characters refused comment, some were willing to reveal their thoughts (in 280 characters or less, of course):

"He gives a bad name to all characters, but maybe mine the most. I can't count the times I have landed directly in the middle of "FAKE NEWS!" (Character 5)

"I have spent my career in public service, but now I feel like I am nothing more than a character out of a bad Godfather movie" (Character 37)

"I am in agreement with my brothers and sisters, but quite honestly he has hardly ever called on me to speak on his behalf" (Character 280)

This comes on the heels of the lawsuit initiated by DC Studios against Mr. Trump to cease and desist in his attempt to physically impersonate The Joker. The studio contends that ticket sales are being damaged because the President is giving The Joker a bad name.

In response, Mr. Trump has, quite naturally tweeted a response.

"I won the election by the largest margin in the history of the world. Even Putin called me the other day to congratulate me, once again, for my great victory. These 280 characters won't even give you their names, they just go by numbers, as if they can hide from the FBI, which is either the best agency in the world or a corrupt arm of the Democratic party depending almost solely on what I ate for breakfast, or whether Sean Hannity is on vacation. These lawsuits are a joke, and if anyone is to blame it is that stooge Cohen, or maybe Guiliani, depending on whether I decide to throw him under the bus. And, did I tell you how big the crowd was at my inauguration?" (Donald J Trump, in what turned out to be a multiple tweet).


Character 280 just amended his statement as follows: "That lunatic has to be stopped."

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Charity Begins at Home



("No Charitable Thought for Donald Trump")

So what if he has to pay $2 million to rectify his wrongdoing. That is mere Trump change as the President convinces us that his only fault was taking too literally that charity begins (and ends) at home.

This is but the smallest ripple in an ocean of transgressions. We can hardly recall the kerfuffle with Stormy Daniels, the Trump University imbroglio now mere error of hyperbole and even the Mueller report, which was to reveal what Mr. Trump was hiding under the covers (oh wait, that was also the Daniels affair), largely a historical (and some would argue, hysterical) footnote. 

So this latest boo boo might have a hard time ranking among the top ten atrocities and could well be considered yesterday's news yesterday.  

The bar for this man has now been set so low that many will look favorably upon our cheater in chief for "happily" agreeing to pony up to actual charities the money he stole from the cookie jar. 

And you doubted this was the person who could make America great again. Or at least spin your dough into his gold.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Sharing Clothes, And A Heart




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

("Who Will Wear My Dead Husband's Clothes?")

This is sad and beautiful tale and it serves as stark reminder of our connections.

While her world has been deeply shaken by her husband's sudden death, there is a larger universe battered each day by man's inhumanity to man, lives upended due to the cruelties needlessly inflicted.

And so, where better place to find a home for these clothes? 

These garments worn in the tomorrow's to come as a reminder of what has been lost and as statement of what we gain when we understand we all wear the same clothes whoever we are and wherever we may be. And that all our hearts are broken as one.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Tweetin' The Night Away

 ("How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in 11,000 Tweets")

In Mr. Trump's hands, actually fingers, it is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, casting aside alliances, treaties and lives as if they were all wholly without value. All accomplished in but a few characters from a man lacking any.

An alternate universe, filled with the thoughts of someone consumed solely with the state of his own being, not dissuaded by facts or logic from his hatreds, his biases, his proclamations announcing a rage without predicate or boundary.

It is Mr. Trump's playground as he Twitter's dumb and dumber while this planet burns. It is not governing but ranting, not weighing but spewing, not discussing but disgusting.

It deserves not our review but our rebuke. But it is all we get from Mr. President. And it brings shame upon the man and a stain upon our nation.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Note to Standard Time


I do not like thee standard time
No I do not like thee at all

You are a common criminal 
Robbing me of color and light

I do not wish to fall back on you
For you are not a soft landing

    So unless turning back the clock
Means I now have hair again

If you don't mind
And even if you do

I would ask that you just move on
To some other place that finds you appealing

And give me back what you have pilfered
Including some of that Halloween candy







Thursday, October 31, 2019

In Conversation With A One Year Old



I nod in affirmation for I am certain she is telling me something important

I just don't know what that might be

And she may gesticulate for emphasis

Which only means I should nod more furiously

Language is what you say it is

Even if what you say it is isn't language

But to her it makes perfect sense

So while she has spent an entire lifetime trying to understand me

Now her shoes are on my feet

And though they may be a little tight

I will do my best to fit round pegs into square holes

And just nod and smile some more

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The 18 Minute Gap

It turns out the reconstructed transcript of the President's "perfect"conversation of July 25 with the Ukrainian leader, Mr. Zelensky, had an 18 minute Nixonian gap. However, the missing piece has now been located in Mr. Trump's underwear drawer and, thankfully for the people of this country, the full tale is before us. Here it is:

Mafia Don:  "Oh where was I? Oh yes, it is true that they kiss my ring."

Mr. Zelensky: "What a wonderful tradition. If I ever get the chance to meet you in the White House, oh great and powerful Don, it would be my greatest honor to kiss your ring on my bended knee."

Mafia Don: "Did I ever tell you how big the crowd was at my inauguration? Hey, weren't you a tv star before you won your election? Do you know my show was the highest rated ever? I saved NBC. In fact, I saved television. And what was my thanks? Those liberal bastards never gave me an Emmy. I only ran for President because they didn't appreciate me. And also because Obama made a bad joke about me at that stupid Correspondent's dinner. And I had to sit there and take it. Nobody does that to Mafia Don and gets away with it."

Mr. Zelensky: "I fully understand. They don't recognize your greatness, oh all powerful one."

Mafia Don: "And besides Obama there was Hillary with those 30,000 emails that the Russians are still looking for, God bless them. They are true friends. So, where was I? Oh, Joe Biden. I was talking with my buddies at Fox News the other night, I am thinking of entering an executive order making them the official station of the White House and blocking out all other channels 23 hours a day. And they told me you should look into something he and his no good son did over where you are. My sons can be no good some times also. But that is our little secret. Understood?"

Mr. Zelensky: "Yes sir, Mafia Don, absolutely."

Mafia Don: "Do you play golf? When you come over I will take you to the best course you have ever seen. Do they have golf courses near you? If not, I may want to build one over there as soon as I finish here. And, by the way, I may have to declare myself President for life one of these days. I have Guiliani looking into that now. But that is another of our little secrets. Understood?"

Mr. Zelensky: "Absolutely, Mafia Don, sir."

Mafia Don: "So do I have your support on this Biden thing? Because I know you are looking for a little help these days and I wouldn't want to have to say no. But don't tell anyone there is a quid pro quo. Pretty impressed with my Latin, huh. I learned that in that military academy my parents sent me to. You know I would have served in the army if I didn't have that damn bunion removed. But all of this is our little secret. Do you understand me?"

Mr. Zelensky: "Yes, absolutely Mafia Don. It would be my honor to serve you in any way I can. Do they show your TV program on reruns? I would love to watch every episode."

Mafia Don: " This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship my friend."






Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Damned If They Do and Damned If They Do



("Impeachment Does Not 'Overturn' An Election")

In the logic of the Republican universe, the effort of the Democrats to appoint a Supreme Court justice to an open seat in the last year of President Obama's term was an attempt to subvert a FUTURE election.

And the impeachment inquiry launched in response to a present action of President Trump is an attempt to undermine a PAST election.

Thus it appears the Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they do.

Under this premise, I am not certain when Democrats are actually free to take part in governing this nation. There appears to be no window of time when action by Democrats is in fact justified.

Which, I think, is exactly the point the Republicans are making.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Donald Trump Quotes Made Famous by Groucho Marx

("Extra! Extra! Prez Won't Read All About It")

Mr. Trump leaving the NY Times and the Washington Post reminded me of a Groucho Marx quote: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." Except, Mr. Trump fictionalizes he is TOO GOOD instead of not good enough.

However, Mr. Marx has in fact often spoken in the past as Mr. Trump's surrogate. Here are but a few of the gems:

1. "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."

2. "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well I have others."

3. "The secret to life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

4. "Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife."

5. "If you've heard this story before don't stop me because I'd like to hear it again."

6. "Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you."

7. "Why a four year old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four year old child. I can't make head nor tail out of it."

8. "Women should be obscene and not heard."

9. "A man's only as old as the woman he feels."

10. "Be open minded but not so open minded that your brains fall out."

11. "If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you."

12, "He may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot."

13. "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

14. "While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery."

15. "What have future generations ever done for us?"

16. "When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, "Damn, that was fun."

17. "Television is where you watch people in your living room that you would not want near your house."

18. "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

19. "Why don't you go home to your wife? Better yet, I'll go home to your wife, and outside of the improvement, she won't notice any difference."

20. (EDITOR'S NOTE - THIS WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON POST) "From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it."

IF ONLY MR. MARX WAS THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECHWRITER THIS MIGHT BE A LITTLE MORE BEARABLE..

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Elizabeth Warren's Reality

("Elizabeth Warren Wants to Lose Your Vote")

Dear Mr. Stephens:

This is a serious time requiring serious people addressing serious problems with the gravity they deserve.

I ask you to read in depth of the tireless effort of Ms. Warren over her years of service in the Senate. Spend the time to truly review her platform. Don't peruse and don't try to extrapolate an entire philosophy from one quote about how to respond to an environmental nightmare, a category 5 storm bearing down on all of us, being treated by Republicans as if it were a chance of sprinkles.

Elizabeth Warren is not a radical but she does want to shake this country out of its lethargy. She is a champion of causes for those in need, no matter how you would attempt to paint her Medicare for all proposal as mere hyperbolic fantasy. 

She intends to push back hard against forces that do harm to those in her care. She has always done so.

So, Mr. Stephens, Elizabeth Warren does not want to lose your vote. She wants America to regain its equilibrium and it's dedication to its essential proposition that all people are created equal and all are entitled to equal protection against the abuses of the system that Mr. Trump and his party would welcome and facilitate.

She doesn't want us to run from reality. She wants us to face it.

In Search of a Common Language

("Why Does Only One Party Play By the Rules?")

We hold this truth to be self evident for the Republicans: truth, like Elvis, has left the building. Or, at least, it is outside taking a cigarette break.

And thus how, the Democrats ask each day, do you prepare to argue against fiction, or at least the possibility of fiction, at every turn? 

Issues like climate change, immigration, trade wars, Russia, voter suppression, health care, taxation, even Supreme Court vacancies all become battles to establish a common language before substance can be debated.

Truth does no favor to Republican positions on virtually all matters of import and so Mr. Trump, in his singularly crude way, has provided his party with ready example and excuse to fabricate. Follow the leader because obfuscation and misdirection is a strategy that fits this party like a glove.

Campaigning has always been about framing, about pushing facts to their logical extremes in your direction. But when facts become fungible, framing becomes impossible.

And 2020 is likely to be as much a tug of war of what it is we are actually debating as it is about whose proposals are more worthy. For if we focus our debate on whether climate change is a reality, we may well never get to the question on what to do about it.

Which is just the answer the Republicans are looking for.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Living In the Dark

The streets were all quiet. All were safe in their beds. When the creature appeared who would live in their heads.

He talked in few words. And he made little sense. But the creature cared not that he sounded quite dense.

Listen, oh listen, I have something to say. Don't go outside, it's not safe out to play. They're coming to get you and take you away. Just stay close by me and I'll save the day.

He looked like a clown. With his big orange face. But they were all scared they'd be gone without trace.

He huffed and he puffed. And then puffed some more. And soon they all feared just to open the door.

Listen, oh listen, I have something to say. Don't go outside, it's not safe out to play. They're coming to get you and take you away. Just stay close by me and I'll save the day.

Reason left the building. Sanity left there too. And all that remained was to listen and do.

He said lock the doors. And turn the lights out. So they lived in the dark, dared not wander about.

Listen, oh listen, I have something to say. Don't go outside, it's not safe out to play. They're coming to get you and take you away. Just stay close by me and I'll save the day.

Morality went missing. Compassion soon lost. He said not to worry no matter the cost.

For he said he would save us. For he was the one. Our leader and king, the moon and the sun.

So they lived in the dark. Dared not wander about. For they trusted in him without shred of doubt.

'Til one day it happened. The door opened wide. And they soon found out there's no reason to hide.

The sun was still shining. The birds sang their tune. No one was lurking about to cause ruin.

They had feared their own shadows. No one there to cause harm. The orange faced clown just a huge false alarm.

Listen, oh listen, we have something to say. We can go outside for it's safe to play. No one's coming to get us or take us away. Just leave us alone and get lost, do not stay.

Thus, the creature departed. His orange face white. For he just turned pale when others saw light.

So don't let the creature get back in your head. For you're safe and warm when tucked in your bed.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Healing the Sick (System)

("Can Warren Escape the Medicare Trap?")

I have lived for many decades down the rabbit hole world of deductibles, co-pays, and denied claims that seemingly turned comprehensive coverage into catastrophic only.  Where the only winner is the company. Always fighting, always uncertain, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is the universe of private health insurance. It is one all of us have experienced to a larger or smaller extent.  

And, for the past two years I have resided in the calm waters of Medicare, where all of the countless hours of aggravation and worry have receded and life makes a little more sense.

Look, I understand that Ms. Warren's Medicare For All push is mostly a dream that has little hope of becoming a reality given the present constitution of Congress combined with the hesitancy of many people in the general public to abandon the devil they know. But our health care system is an undeniably sick mess, both for those fortunate enough to be covered and devastating for those who are not.

And this nation deserves a President who is serious about this problem, who dreams big and fights hard to take the greed and corruption out of the equation and makes our nation face head on the cancer of private health insurance.

There has to be a better answer and the one undeniable truth is we will NEVER find it with Mr. Trump residing in the Oval Office. 
 
So if this becomes a battle of Warren against Trump it should not be framed as whether Ms.Warren refuses to accept good over perfect, but whether this nation will accept the perpetuation of bad under Mr. Trump for the possibility of better under President Warren.

Friday, October 18, 2019

A David Brooks Question and John McEnroe Answer

("If It's Trump vs Warren Then What?")

Mr. Brooks, how can this be a serious question? Have you not watched the damage Mr. Trump has inflicted upon the Constitution, the rule of law, the very fundamentals of a presidency and a democracy? Have you not seen the children in cages, not paid attention as he abandoned allies, the latest and worst his atrocity in Syria? Were you forgiving his immorality, his crudeness? His embrace of autocrats and dictators? The damage he has done to our own nation with his bull in China trade wars? His perversion of the truth? His adamant refusal to treat the government as three co-equal branches but rather all for one, him? What about his environmental abominations? His attacks on the media, making a mockery of what a free press means to a functioning society?

And you measure that against Ms.Warren and her dedication to making life better for the downtrodden, to reining in the abuses by corporations, to suggesting that health insurance companies have profited too much for too long at a cost of the economic and physical well being of far too many in our midst.

As John McEnroe once famously intoned, "You cannot be serious."

The answer to your question Mr. Brooks is then we elect the first woman President of the United States and rid ourselves of a national disgrace masquerading as the leader of the free world.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Opening the Gates of Hell

("Trump Is Making Syria, and the Middle East, More Dangerous")

Syria is a conflagration, the fire started as Mr. Trump opened the door to Mr. Erdogan and stepped aside. Chaos now the order of the day. You can't tell the teams without a scorecard, strange bedfellows abounding. The Kurds now ally with their old enemy, Mr. Trump  punishes Turkey for doing what he invited them to do. ISIS once again becoming part of our vocabulary.

A more monumental unprecipitated error is hard to imagine, as blood flows and turmoil reigns as a direct and incontrovertible result of one unbelievably ill conceived tweet. A region's fragile stability shattered in the blink of an eye.

There have been countless errors of commission and omission during this terrorist attack of a presidency. Our nation and our world perpetually on high alert. But perhaps nothing Mr. Trump has stumbled into has done as much damage as this.

Maybe the most chilling thought is that with each day there is presented another opportunity for Mr. Trump to do even worse harm. Today it is Syria's turn. Tomorrow it could be anywhere else. 

Nowhere, and no one, is safe. That is the horrifying defining mark of this man.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

On Continuous Loop



Have you ever listened to "Do Your Ears Hang Low" and "Elmo's World" on nearly continuous loop for four days?

I have (my apologies to Tom Papa).

Our one year old granddaughter has been tasked with watching over her grandparents and educating us on all things critical in this universe not named Donald Trump.

I am now and forevermore infused with glorious lines such as "can you throw 'em o'er your shoulder like a continental soldier." I know that no one from the Gershwins to Bruce Springsteen could ever surpass the luscious images evoked by the wondrous "Hang Low" lyricist.


As for Elmo, this little red figure with three buttons on his headphone, permitting different tunes to emerge from his head, is a dancing maniac. I watch in complete awe as our granddaughter spins around on her backside (since she doesn't yet hold her balance with ease while upright) to the enchanting melodies.

I am reminded of either a scene from the Exorcist or a John Travolta movie. And to make it even MORE perfect, our little genius has learned that if she pushes one of the buttons before the tune ends, there is absolutely no break in the music. As in NO BREAK.

But lest I lead you astray, there is an almost indescribable joy in each and every moment of this assault on my senses. For I am in the presence of a little human being who brings uninterrupted smiles to my heart no matter how many times my ears try to take cover. For listening to this music means she is happy in a way that only those just beginning their journey know, unencumbered by the worries of the world, reveling in the gyrations of Elmo as if she was staring at the Mona Lisa. 

So I give thanks to my granddaughter for being my mentor and showing me that there is an entire world of pleasures awaiting on the other side of Trumpland.

And I have but one question for those now reading my words: do YOUR ears hang low?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Donald Trump : poet laureate

I have a suggestion for Mr. President: instead of your blood curdling insults of everyone you despise, say what you are thinking in rhyme. It wouldn't change who you are, but it would make you seem a much more pleasant tyrant.

For example, try this one on for size with Joe Biden:

"Old goat, you were a puppet on Obama's knee. Realize your words can't touch the greatness of me."

Or Nancy Pelosi-

"There once was a girl in the House. And she was a terrible louse. She blew and she blew til her face was all red. But in the end no one cared what she said."

So, Mr. Trump, we wouldn't hate you any less for the way you have decimated this country. But I do think you were prescient in your call to "Make America Great Again". You just were a little early in your proclamation. It should have come AFTER your time in office, not before.

"There once was a man from New York. And he loved to hear himself talk. He yapped and he yapped from morning to night. But his words added nothing to the political landscape and, instead, only exacerbated animosities and made him appear nothing so much as a ridiculous, petulant, narcissistic, bloviating buffoonish bully."

You just can't make a catchy nursery rhyme out of Mr. Trump.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Weekend at Bernie Sanders


Since the Republicans pilfered the Supreme Court seat rightfully the possession of Merrick Garland, they have had their eyes and their stethoscopes fixed on the eighth wonder of the world, RBG. It is beyond question they are dying for her to perish, at least in the employment sense, watching her every breath and holding theirs.

In response, I am absolutely fixed in my intention that as long as 1600 is occupied by an elephant's ass the Dems must keep RBG alive and, well, well. And even should she literally cease to be, she must remain firmly tethered to her chair, as we refuse to admit the certainty of her conclusion. Look, we haven't heard Clarence Thomas speak in several decades and yet there he is, still taking up space. Has anyone put a mirror to his mouth to see if there is any evidence of life?

This all came rushing back to me this week with word of the heart attack of Bernie Sanders. And my thoughts turned to that other most famous Bernie who held sway over his dominion even after his demise: Bernie Lomax. All it took was a little desperation and a pinch of ingenuity from his two young employees combined with the desire of all those who believed in the power of Bernie to see him as they imagined he was, even if he wasn't.

And while I wish Mr. Sanders a continued long and healthy existence, I can say with no equivocation that I would rather a dead Bernie Sanders than a live Donald Trump in the Oval office.

Can you imagine how much calmer the world would be without the 3 AM tweets, without the screaming paranoia, without the insults and the narcissistic rants? Could the phrase silence is golden ever have greater meaning then now? Could a dead Bernie Sanders possibly do more harm to this nation than a live Donald Trump? Would our standing improve around the globe and our environment take a deep replenishing breath if we just shut up and rested behind those dark sunglasses that hid the fact that Bernie was, well, just a concept now?

Bernie Lomax will never die, now and forever on his boat waving with arms manipulated by others whose lives were improved by the mere perception of him. They learned that all it takes for something to be real is to pretend hard enough that it is so. They discovered you can't kill an idea that people want to survive, no matter how misshapen it may be.

It is a lesson that, unfortunately, Donald Trump teaches us every day he remains in power.  

Friday, October 4, 2019

My Review of The Joker



Does Donald Trump bear an uncanny resemblance to the Joker? There is something about that phony wider than your face grin. But even more than the physical resemblance, it is the cartoon character reactions to the world around him that tethers our living and breathing nightmare to the Gotham villain.

While the cinematic universe attempts to absorb and respond to the dystopian vision on the screen and the fear that this ugliness will have real life ramifications, this is actually already playing out before us, with overwhelming consequences, in front of our disbelieving eyes.

There is a warped depravity at the heart of The Joker, a lock him up insanity that festers and then runs rampant when unleashed. Yet, apparently, in this latest telling, the ultimate bad guy's hatreds are momentarily deemed compelling and heroic as he confronts head on, with guns blazing, the omnipresent horrors of a universe unworthy of redemption. A deeply damaged man who, at least to some, demonstrates ultimate courage in his unrelenting fury cascading down upon an unrepentant Sodom and Gomorrah.

I have not seen The Joker in the theater, nor do I intend to do so. Not when I have to watch him on the small screen every day and deal with the unremitting disasters he creates.

Donald Trump is rated "I", for immature audiences only.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Relentless Servant of Humanity

("In a Career of Reporting, These Are Still Stories that Touch Me")

This is a cynical age, suffocated as we are by the constant insanity and nearly overwhelmed by the frightening perception that we are likely powerless to change the course of destiny.

And then we read of Mr. Kristof's extraordinary journey through life and of the power of meaningful journalism to shine a bright light in some very dark places and give millions a reason to hope and believe in a better tomorrow.

With a President who denounces the press as the enemy and derides the best reporting as fake news, it is those like Mr. Kristof who serve as vivid reminder of the importance of free and unfettered reporting, compellingly demonstrating that truth matters, that all human beings have value and that we must open our eyes and raise our voices to the injustices that damage our planet and wound our soul.

Thank you Nicholas Kristof for being a relentless servant of humanity.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mr. Trump's Most Dangerous Enemy

We always wondered if he would shoot off his mouth and the bullet would pierce his presidency. Donald Trump may, in historical perspective, have had little to fear but to fear himself.

He had dodged the fusillade of Robert Mueller, the slings and arrows of Michael Cohen. But he could not forever outrun his own hubris, possibly suffering a mortal wound from his belief that his status as Mafia Don made him stronger than the Constitution, more powerful than democracy itself. He thought that kissing his ring was a given.

I believe he does not see the wrong in his "asking" for a favor. When the Don has done so much for you, you owe him and he can call on you at any moment to reciprocate. No matter the specifics.

This was not a request, notwithstanding the words chosen. And for Mafia Don, who has spent a lifetime reading the script of the Godfather as though it was the Holy Bible, and acting out its rituals, where was the harm in his latest salvo aimed at the President of Ukraine?

Donald Trump did not recalibrate his actions to fit his station. Instead he has attempted to reshape a 250 year old experiment in his image. The Boss of bosses.

But now, thanks to yet one more extraordinary moment of self destructive behavior, he may have finally shot himself in the foot, no the heart, in an act of presidential suicide.

Instead of finding enemies all around, Mr. Trump would have been better served looking in the mirror to locate his most dangerous foe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Impeachment


It has been our form of water torture, the drip, drip, drip of a President with no morality and even less idea how to govern making a mockery of his oath of office, shredding the Constitution and leaving our democracy in tatters.

From his first day in office he has proven his unfitness with his lack of preparation, his boorishness, his commitment to self preservation over fealty to country, his pulling this nation ever closer to autocracy as he maligned and minimized all those who would question or challenge his actions.

And yet, like a cat with nine lives, for every grotesque misdeed, for every revelation of abuse of his station, for every determination that he had seemingly gone a step too far, he remained defiant and unscathed. Mueller could not bring him down. And all the slings and arrows of the "fake news" cabal only proved he was stronger than any attack.

Now, with yet another head shaking, stomach churning, poke in the eye challenge to the basic precepts of the restraints placed upon a President, in his effort to blackmail Ukraine into acting as his hit man on Mr. Biden's candidacy, he has made even the most reticent of Democrats call for the head of Donald Trump.

And thus the battle begins, turning this sideshow barker turned leader of the free world into a defendant in what he will undoubtedly bill as the greatest charade on earth. 

Like a common criminal, Mr. Trump has stolen the gold of the office of President of the United States and turned it into something almost wholly unrecognizable and without value. The question is if he will now pay the price for his thievery.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

How Dare You

(" How Dare You": 16 Year Old Chides World Leaders on Lack of Action on Climate Change")

Could there be a more powerful speaker on this earth than Greta Thunberg? 

Her comments to the United Nations were an assault upon a generation that has failed in its duty to preserve and protect the planet for those who succeed them. A stinging rebuke for those who ignore science at the peril of their children. A warning that half measures may save face but they will not save the future.

Her anger almost bursts through her tiny frame. Her disappointment morphing into unbridled disgust. Her contempt for leaders who lead us nowhere but into certain disaster palpable in words that come forth like sharp knives.

In a country where we have been witness to the darkest of days from the highest office, the dedication to just cause by Ms. Thunberg was a startling beautiful beacon of light.

Her "how dare you" speech should be watched in our homes, our schools and in the halls of Congress. It should seep into our collective conscience, elevate our discourse and act as catalyst for our treating our world and our tomorrow's with requisite urgency and passionate commitment.

She will not forgive our continued failures. And, be warned, she is watching. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

He Has


He has assaulted our senses, our values and undoubtedly more than a few women.

He has countenanced, no he has encouraged wrongdoing by his underlings and our enemies in his name's sake.

He has made a mockery of study and science.

He has broken our promises and shattered our standing. 

He has treated the Constitution as a suggestion, and the other branches of government as subservient.

He has made crude and rude into templates for presidential behavior.

He has turned truth into lies and lies into his own virtual reality.

He has acted with contempt towards our allies.

He has encouraged bigotry and hatred.

He has been cruel without care.

He has allowed ego to dictate action.

He has demonstrated no intellectual curiosity, no interest in history.

He has brought this country and his office to the lowest common denominator.

He has spent his time as President as he has his entire life, in search of self gratification and enhancement.

He is, without question, the absolute worst possible choice to be this nation's representative and the leader of the free world. He is a clear and present danger to our environment, our economy, our health and well being, our very way of life, our democracy itself.

And yet, there is a significant likelihood he will be leading us for five more years.

So the question is not what we think about him but what this says about us.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Turning Up the Heat




From the mouth of babes.

 The global warming issue got very hot yesterday. From every corner of the planet came a synchronized warning, "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore." But was this White House, which is revoking a waiver permitting California to enact auto emission standards higher than the federal, listening?

 We have seen the youth of this country mobilize in protest against an administration that continues to treat diminishing the power of the Second Amendment as the third rail no matter the blood that spills and the terror that reigns in our classrooms.

We, young and old, have tried to recover from the devastation of a Trump presidency by taking to the streets to demand that our government give women's rights true meaning. Instead, we have been repudiated in a continuing relentless attack as Planned Parenthood facilities have withered on the vine and millions of women now face terrible, unnecessary health risks.

So, what hope do we have that, while this planet burns, our Nero will do anything but continue to fiddle, the passionate cries of the young from one end of the earth to the other falling on deaf ears at 1600? 

In truth, we can only hope that the "we vote next" message finds its way into the hearts and minds of the parents and grandparents of these children. And that those who vote not tomorrow but today, turn the chants of the young into resounding defeat at the ballot box for politicians who would treat global warming as a matter of opinion, not urgency.

The heat got turned up on this planet yesterday. 

Thank goodness.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Put Down Your Pencils. And Come Out Swinging



("Let's Debate: Are Democrats Doomed?")

"Now you will be given 60 seconds to tweet your most insulting, fact free response to each question, followed by a 20 second sigh from your opponent."

Does anyone doubt that Donald Trump could decide to take the low road and declare presidential debates an unnecessary expenditure of human energy, as he already knows how the media will twist his lies and fabrications into, well, lies and fabrications?

As we ponder the Democratic candidates trying to fit sound bite responses into sometimes very cramped quarters, we all have an eye (ok, maybe even both eyes) and an ear on 1600, waiting for the tweeter in charge to translate what we have seen and heard into a series of one line disses.

This, we know, is what our collective future holds for us. Forget the campaign trail, don't fill your brain with information you can regurgitate on a stage in a one on one with the mouth that spewed. Instead, be prepared to deal with slings and arrows coming from the fingers of a brain that has a "do not disturb" sign hung on its front door.

How many times will AOC and her posse be referenced no matter who is the chosen challenger to the king? How many immigrants will be standing at the border waiting to pour into your living room en masse the moment Mr. Trump's wall is torn down? How many guns will be pried from your cold dead hands the instant the Second Amendment is shot down in cold blood on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight? How many degrees of separation from environmental reality can fit into a lightbulb? 

The rules of the game have been changed. Before, "no kicking, no biting, no pulling of the hair" was the warning given to each of the participants in the fray. And as we watch the Democrats tussle with one another, we sense that they (at least most of them, most of the time) have that statement tattooed on their foreheads. But once Mr.Trump enters the arena, Wrestlemania will commence. Chairs will be broken over heads and a 2020 version of a Two Stooges marathon will become the main event.

" When I say put down your pencils, stop writing. And come out swinging."

Friday, September 13, 2019

What Debate?

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

Raise your hand if you watched the Democratic debate from stem to stern last night. OK, the three of you can put your hands down now.

I did, maybe because the Yankee doubleheader was finished by the start of the evening, or maybe because I felt I owed it to the people on stage to make certain their effort was rewarded with something more than the sound of one hand clapping.

But honestly, the answer to the question is ANY of the above. Sure, Bernie was hoarse from always yelling and Castro's attack on old Joe made me squirm, but this was a group of intelligent people with passion and compassion, seeking to show us there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

I doubt the needle will move much after last evening. People have debate ennui already and we are only in about the second inning. This is a process that lingers far, far too long and our brains are perpetually on overload just trying to endure another day with you know who doing his worst impression of a crazed dictator.

And for those Democratic candidates who didn't make the cut of the top 10 don't worry. I won't tell anyone you weren't there last night.

On to the next auditorium, town hall meeting, or the other dozens of places each one of you is headed. "If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium." And there are miles to go before any of you sleep.

Is it still 14 months to the election? Wake me in about a year. 

Hey, how about those Yankees!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Heart Is Yours To Keep

I stare at you
And watch you breathe
So still and peaceful like a river calm
Your eyes wide open captured all the light
That filled your day from early morn
And my heart is yours to keep
As you wander off to sleep
No troubles can reach you
I'll keep you safe from harm

I stare at you
And watch you dream
Of the wonders that will come your way
Your eyes wide open to the promises
Tomorrow beckoning within your reach
And my heart is yours to keep
As you wander off to sleep
No troubles can reach you
I'll give you shelter from the storm

I stare at you
And you are all the world
There is no other place upon this earth
My eyes can see no other face but yours
And all I know is here within my gaze
And my heart is yours to keep
As you wander off to sleep
No troubles can reach you 
I'll keep you close and warm


My heart is yours to keep

So wander off to sleep

No troubles will reach you 
Forever in my arms




Monday, September 9, 2019

A Starring Role

("The Real Donald Trump Is a Character on TV")

He is obsessed with his ratings: the biggest crowds his non-stop mantra literally from his first day in office. Playing to a full house while others struggle for crumbs the red meat he requires for his very survival.

This has all been about attention. His candidacy clearly intended not as reality but as a means to keeping his name, his face in the public eye. And if being a category five hurricane gave him the 24 hour coverage he needed, he had that part down pat.

Remember, this is a man who in earlier times reportedly acted as his own PR agent under the pseudonyms John Barron and John Miller to tell tales of himself to the press. Anything and everything was fair game to feed an insatiable ego.


Donald Trump became President by mistake. Not because he wanted the office, but because he needed it. Not because he intended to improve the world but because he hoped he could stay relevant. He HAD to stay relevant.

And so the buffoonish character he plays, the loud mouthed braggadocio, the foul mouthed puerile, the Archie Bunker on steroids, was the one born of testing at rallies, the one he learned from the villains at Wrestlemania, the one he honed and crafted on The Apprentice.

 If, on that first day he descended the escalator, the Mexicans as rapists line had fallen flat then who knows how different the world would look today. But it caught fire and there is nothing Donald Trump craves more than being the heat of a fire. The higher the flames, the more it demands our attention.

So this presidency is all about Donald Trump being a five alarmer. Huge and out of control. Playing the role of a lifetime.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

My Birthday Wish

My granddaughter is rushing up to her first birthday. She appears on the cusp of so many breakthroughs, walking only a step away, talking in Shakespearean verse surely the next sounds to emanate.

Graduating from baby to child as I stare in unadulterated awe. As if she is the only being on the planet. A smile permanently etched on my heart. Her grandfather wrapped around every finger of her tiny hands.

A year ago I wrote to a child yet to be born, welcoming her and telling her of my hopes and dreams for her future. But that was mere abstraction. This is as real as it gets.

I look out on a world of young grandchildren, with grandparents embracing the same feelings as I, aching for the same joys for the most precious being in their lives that I wish for my granddaughter. We are all but variations on a theme, none of us more worthy, none of us more entitled.

And I ask why do some get treated so poorly, with a cruelty that none among us deserve. I see a nation that destroys lives for no reason other than that it can. Who declares happiness and possibility the province of some but not others. Who treats with disdain and contempt the lives of people whose sin is not who they are, but where they were born.

And I know my granddaughter is no better or worse than them. That it is serendipity that she is not among those whose lives are damaged by a darkness superimposed on their being. And I can but imagine the ache that would rip my soul if I were one of those grandparents.


So for my granddaughter's first birthday I wish for her all that my words to her a year ago envisioned. That as she grows, she grows into the best person she can be. That her life continues to bring me an almost indescribable happiness.

And that for all the grandparents around this nation who have suffered the most, that in the tomorrows to come their pain subsides and one day soon they are able to dream the same dreams as I. That their grandchild's first step is unfettered, their first words filled with poetry.

That is my birthday wish for my granddaughter. And their's.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Our Little Secret

There it was, on the side of the road. A cutout big enough to house maybe two cars at most. A small opening in the trees, no markings to announce its intention. Here our hike began.

My son located this trail by a combination of sleuthing and serendipity. A brief mention in two discussions on line. A route of a mile or less to a waterfall. No description of the journey to the destination. No hint of what lay between here and there. No clue of what waited to greet us.

Only a small way up the road we had passed a well known trailhead. There, at least twenty five cars had gathered, shepherding a relative mass of humanity. Here it was us and nature. The road less traveled. As in extremely less.

We had no expectations as we walked the relatively flat path. In short order we came across the beginning of the stream bed. It was dry as the desert floor. The rocks protruded from the earth and we could have moved forward in their midst without fear of a drop of moisture dampening our feet or our spirit. And so it continued for a good while, no sign that we would encounter any hint of water along the way. An easy hike with a disappointing payoff. This was why it was unmarked and unattended. It was, I was certain, wholly unremarkable.

And then it began. The trail we had been following suddenly became more suggestion than statement. No definition marked the path ahead. Did it turn left? Maybe. And now the hill ascended, not in slow orderly fashion, but all at once, as it burst upward to the sky. And the first tricklings of water covered the stones that were, in a blink of an eye, situated far below.

In skiing, the most difficult terrain is the double fall line, signaling you should be moving in two directions at once. And now, as we strained to move upward, we were also invited sideways, to our right to the ravine that waited to capture our attention and any errant step.

We had definitely not been warned, or prepared for this. Looking for the foothold, or the finger pull as we thrust ourselves up the gnarly path, or maybe it wasn't the path, it was hard to distinguish friend from foe. 

At certain moments we thought of retreating, no one would know the better. We had given it valiant effort and there was no shame in saying enough. But then we caught a glimpse of a waterfall through the trees, barely a few hundred yards above. We heard it calling us and we did not want to be rude to our host. And so, on we trekked seeking answers to the questions of where and how we were possibly to continue our steep ascent.

It took less than an hour to complete this most treacherous portion of our task. From the point where the one and only marking on this trail, stating "US Boundary" notified us we were entering what exactly? to where this trek would conclude. And then we came upon it.

My son said we could have been anywhere in the world as we stared out on this site. The sheer sides of rock, chiseled from millions of years of contact with the falling water, creating a carving on both sides worthy of the finest sculptor the world has known. The trees hovering, staring down at the majesty day after day for eternity. The greens that blended seamlessly into this landscape, a perfect painting come to life.

And at the fall's bottom a pool of water, as clear as the sky on a cloudless day. How deep its reservoir unknown. Six feet, maybe much more. Every pebble on its bottom as visible to our eyes as those that sat on the dry bed that had greeted us far below at the inception of this adventure.

We looked at each other in utter disbelief, as if we were the first humans to gaze upon this sight. As surprised at this find as if we had discovered that pot of gold at rainbow's end.

And so my son took to chronicling our treasure, photographing it from all angles we could get to, even taking video to try to capture its essence. But we both knew nothing he would show others would do justice to what we were so privileged to witness. It was the sheer unexpectedness of the strain of reaching this point and the surreal beauty that we now soaked in with every pore of our being that made this such a unique and unforgettable moment. What we viewed, what we felt, could not be expressed from within the confines of a camera.

And then we descended, giddy from what had just occurred and certainly a bit saddened that we were leaving this smallest reminder of something far, far greater than us.

We will breathe word of this locale to no one, first because we don't want to send anyone on a path unintended for their level of capacity. And also because I think whatever God there may be wanted to keep this quiet, not marked for the hordes but maintained as the private reserve for a select few who stumbled unknowingly into its magnificence. 

Just our little secret.