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."


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.