Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As We Approach a Covid Death for Every Minute of the Year


525,600 victims
525,600 endings to life
525,600 victims
How do we measure such unending strife?

In sirens?
In heartbreak?
In teardrops?
In isolation?
In graveyards, in darkness, in husbands and wives?

525,600 victims
How do you honor the end of a life?

Daughters and sons
Daughters and sons
Now they're all gone 
Now that they're done 
Daughters and sons

525,600 victims 
525,600 endings to life 
525,600 victims
How do we say goodbye to each one?

In words they never heard or in dreams that have died?
In rainbows, in flowers, in times that we cried?

Remember each day
Recall each setting sun
The love they once knew
Now that they're gone

525,600 victims
525,600 journies through life

Monday, June 29, 2020

Obama's Voice

("How the Trump Campaign Is Drawing Obama Out of Retirement")

There is a calculus that must be occurring for the former President: is it better to remain silent and let Mr. Trump self-destruct or should Mr. Obama shine a bright light on the enormous damage done by his successor to our standing in the world, to our rule of law, to our constitution and to the very health and well being of our nation.

Does the political math favor Mr. Obama becoming a fervent voice to energize the Democratic base, recognizing that he will also be exposed as a target for Mr. Trump to attack and argue a Biden presidency is but subterfuge for four more years of Obama? 

Do the numbers permit Mr. Obama to convey a message of the enormity of the moment, or will his oratorical skills merely reinforce Mr. Trump's efforts to portray Joe Biden as a diminished old man?

 Mr. Obama may hesitate, for many  reasons, both personal and political, to take center stage, as pros and cons are weighed. But would it not be a shame if we, having suffered the indignities of Donald Trump, were deprived of the eloquence and passion of our most powerful messenger. 

Mr. Obama, no matter your internal conflict, please step up and tell Donald Trump to take his anger, his hatred, his pettiness, his incompetence, his hubris and his divisiveness and get the Hell out of the office he has sullied every single hour of his presidency. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Nine Lives of Donald Trump

("Trump Retreats to His Hannity Bunker")

Ms. Glasser suggests that the President is in free fall and that June could well mark the beginning of the end of the reign of terrible.

But bad as Covid-19 is today, and bad as it will be tomorrow, November's reality has yet to be written.

How many times from 2015 to now have we been convinced of Donald Trump's political obituary? From his opening salvo about  rapists coming across the border, to his attack on John McCain as a loser for being captured during the war, we have spoken of the cruelty and absurdity of his rhetoric. From the revelations about the Michael Cohen hush payments, to the Mueller investigation and the impeachment proceedings we have assured ourselves that his masquerade had been finally fully revealed. From his trumped up trade wars with China, his bromance with Putin, his alternating threats of annihilation and unadulterated love with North Korea, his dismal response to the Black Lives Matter protests punctuated by his almost unfathomable Bible holding fiasco, each bridge was, in our estimation, one too far.

But his death knell never sounded. And while Ms. Glasser would wish this to be the final chapter in the book of Mr.Trump's presidency, let us not forget our premature celebrations for the first woman President, derailed less than two weeks before the election by the revelations of Mr. Comey of possible fire where there was smoke. And a last minute retraction that could not undo the irreparable damage done.

So, while I thank Ms.Glasser for her analysis, there are months to go before I sleep. I remain with my glass half empty until the last vote is counted on election day. That is, if Mr.Trump and his henchmen do not stop us from counting the votes.

Friday, June 26, 2020


("America Didn't Give Up on Covid -19. Republicans Did")

When you have a President who suggests that everything he doesn't like is but smoke and mirrors, from interference by Russia in the 2016 election to his hush payments to dalliances, from his trying to use the power of his office to persuade a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent to the realities of a globe heating up at a frightening pace, when every day he tells you not to be fooled into believing what are his inconvenient truths, then if you count yourself among the President's followers, when he walks around without a mask, so do you. When he tells you it is safe to resume your life, you gladly agree. When he states that he has done a terrific job of beating back Covid 19 and that all the noise on the left is but politics at its worst, you nod your head, thank him for his leadership and walk right in to the eye of the storm.

When you turn to Fox News and Donald Trump for answers you get an America that looks like we do today, with a pandemic spinning wildly out of control at a point in time when it need not have been this way. A Republican nation being cannibalized at the direction of its leader.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The 100 Foot Orange Extension Cord and the Chair

I brought the 100 foot orange extension cord into the garage. Then I carried a kitchen chair to a spot in the parking lot where there was shade. It was not even 9 AM on the second full day of summer and it was already 80 degrees. And my mother in law is soon to be 93.

She had come to the Berkshires almost a week ago. It had been over three months since she had seen any of us. And I think she missed us as much as we did her. But she also waited most anxiously for this moment. The moment she could sit in that chair.

First, however, her granddaughter, my daughter got to sit there. And as she sat, my granddaughter, my mother in law's only great granddaughter, watched her mommy sitting in that chair and started to cry. We were there also, my wife, my son and I, all there looking at our daughter, our son's sister, as she sat in that chair. I held my granddaughter in my arms and assured her that her mommy was well and happy. But, as her mommy had a mask on and she could not see if her mommy was indeed happy, my granddaughter was clearly uncertain of her mommy's true frame of mind.

For nearly 30 minutes, her mommy sat in that chair, the 100 foot orange extension cord reaching from its starting point at the outlet in the garage to mere inches from where our daughter sat. And when it was over, when our daughter finished and got up from that chair, I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to sit in that chair next. That it was fun to sit there. She responded with a very emphatic "Nooooo".

The sun had moved, as it always does, over those 30 minutes. And so one of the other chairs I had brought out for my family to sit and look at the chair where my daughter had just been sitting and where my mother in law was now about to sit, had gone from being in the shade to the sun.  The offending chair was the one in which I was sitting and my wife warned me to move, since I didn't have a hat on and the doctor had removed a bunch of things from the top of my head years before. She was right, so I moved my chair into the shade.

My mother in law is a woman of elegance and beauty, and age had done nothing to diminish either of these qualities. But, as she waited for her turn in that chair, she imagined herself a little less of each, for it had been far too long since she last sat in a chair like this. And, even behind her mask, one could tell she was happy to be sitting there now.

I forgot to tell you about the garage. It was actually one of 20 connected garages, each one the property of a different unit owner in this apartment complex. The driveway for these garages was oval shaped. The chair and the extension cord were near one end of the oval. And anyone driving around that oval to get in or out of their garage would necessarily have to pass by the spot where the 100 foot orange extension cord, the chair that was next to it, and the other chairs, along with me, my wife, both my children, my granddaughter and my mother-in-law were now assembled. Not that anyone did come by that early on this morning. But I am telling you just in case someone had.

Where was I? Oh yeah, my mother in law now sat down in that chair. And for another 30 minutes myself, my wife, my son, my granddaughter and now my daughter, who had been the last to sit in that chair, sat in other chairs, or stood if we tired of sitting, and watched my mother in law sit in that chair, within inches of the 100 foot orange extension cord.

And when she was finally done sitting in that chair, my mother in law got up. Looking as elegant and beautiful as always. But maybe even a little more so now.

Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you about one more person who was present during all the times I have spoken about. My son has a very close friend who cuts hair. And in these most turbulent times, when danger is omnipresent, getting a haircut outside, thanks to a chair and a 100 foot orange extension cord that made functional all those hair cutting implements requiring electricity, is a wonderful luxury. 

As my wife took a broom and swept up any evidence of what had transpired, and I returned the chairs to their rightful places in our kitchen, and the 100 foot orange extension cord was placed in the storage shed, life, at least in this one regard, returned to normal.

But we all know this is a time when absolutely nothing is normal. Not even haircuts.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Leather-Bottomed Shoes and a Red Silk Tie

Covid 19 did nothing to lessen the brilliant oratorical skills of our President as he spoke with an elegance and depth rarely exhibited in the long and storied history of the United States.

For close to two hours he explained to a nation aching to be healed the struggles we face and the herculean efforts he and his administration have taken to assure that the pain we have endured is lessened.

And, in a close to 15 minute gut wrenching tale of personal travail that must rank favorably with Lincoln's Gettysburg address, Donald Trump provided intimate detail of a harrowing physical journey, risking his own well being merely to elevate our collective psyche.

Standing at the top of a steel ramp that would have proved too great a challenge to navigate for mere mortals, our President, refused to exhibit any fear while staring directly into the face of grave danger. With leather-bottomed shoes, undoubtedly purchased second hand, acting as accelerator the prospect of Mr. Trump sustaining a mortal blow while descending were virtually assured. But, with grace and beauty, this man defied all expectations and moved with precision and unparalleled skill down to Mother Earth eagerly awaiting his arrival. And in a show of ultimate courage and bravado, he sprinted the final strides in true Olympian fashion.

As if this recitation was not sufficient to lift the spirit of a downtrodden country, Mr. Trump next informed a mesmerized overflow crowd of the tale of the great red silk tie. With flourish and panache he held a glass of water in one hand, in itself an amazing feat of strength. And, to demonstrate his manual dexterity and willingness to lay down his best silk tie in service to a grateful nation, he put the glass to his mouth and took a long sip. Unbelievably, not a drop spilled and the tie was saved from imminent extinction.

It was a moment that must rank favorably with the first footsteps on the moon for its capacity to raise our eyes and our spirits to the heavens.

We have suffered far too many losses in these past months, our lives upended, our expectations crushed, our footing uncertain, our dreams seeming to vanish in the blink of an eye. And we cried out for leadership that could sooth our battered souls.

Donald Trump, on that stage in Tulsa, speaking to 19,000 in attendance, with two million more clogging every street for 10 miles in all direction and every single household in America in rapt attention, brought the United States to its leather-bottomed feet and red silk tied us together, the traumas we have felt now but a distant, fading memory. Our nightmare officially over

The power of words, as expressed by a President unlike any other. And Donald Trump is assuredly that.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Clan Rally

The look is different, the hoods of the past discarded, now replaced by defiant full face exposure, the spelling changed, but the ideologies in virtual lock step.

The Klan is a white supremacist group whose virulence is directed at African Americans, Jews, immigrants and the LGBT community. 

And while the worst of those in attendance on this Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma would suggest that they bear no resemblance to that ugliness, that they are but loyal, God fearing Americans, their hatreds are in clear view for all the world to see.

Their masks are off this evening. This is, for the least among them, a White Lives Matter protest orchestrated by their Supreme leader, the one who foments their anger, their resentment, their immorality. This is their answer to life  interrupted by everything they despise.

This is the moment they can taste freedom, can feel the air come back into their lungs, the moment they say "I can breathe."

This is their version of the greatness of America.

 Nothing but a Clan rally.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Visit With My Clothes

It was in a word, depressing.

I had come down unannounced, hoping my visit would bring a shower of unbridled joy. Instead, I was greeted like an intruder.

It is clear my clothes liked that I was away. Nobody to make them do anything. No appointments to keep, no obligations to meet, nothing but the time to do absolutely nothing if they so chose.

They clearly had been partying in my absence. How else to explain some underwear in the sock drawer, a long sleeve shirt hanging out with the short sleevers.

One of the shorts, those khakis that were my favorite, appeared happy, if not excited by my appearance. I got a smile and a nod, which is more than I can say for any of its neighbors.

I wonder if their allegiance may have wandered elsewhere during my extended disappearance. My key was in the hand of one or two others who were about my size. But I don't even want to think about that.

No one would talk about it with me. Clearly there was a code of silence  throughout their ranks.

The only one who did speak was a red polo shirt, the resident comedian. He reported the following:

"A pair of shoes was missing because they got their walking papers.

My best dress shirt wasn't there because it was still tied up.

My old pants were not coming because now they were on the loose.

The new golf hat was uncertain about me because it was trying to size me up.

My gray belt was not appearing because it was throwing a fit.

My hiking shoes were upset because they were sure they had given me the boot."

 I now realized that I had never been the master of this universe. My clothes had a mind of their own and I was only allowed in as long as my presence was tolerated. The shoe, I learned, was on the other foot.

It is a moment of great upheaval for all. This relentless disease has thrown our assumptions about the order of our days into disarray. What we once understood with absolute certainty no longer comes with any guarantee. And so it was with my clothing. I was now but an unwanted guest in their domain.

My visit was brief, for I have removed myself back to the place where I have been residing these past months as I try to wait out the storm. My heart is more than a little heavy, even if the rest of me is a bit thinner now.

For I understand that my mark is negligible, my importance to be discarded like an old sock full of holes. I am in control of absolutely nothing . Not even my clothes. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

White People and the Trayvon Generation

("The Trayvon Generation")

We pack the streets in protest, we white people. We know nothing.

We raise our voices in anger, we white people. We feel nothing.

We lower our eyes in shame, we white people. We understand nothing.

We assuage our collective guilt, for we now inform that we have awakened, we white people. We have looked away. We have done nothing.

We do not know, we do not feel, we do not see, we do not act, we cannot remotely comprehend black existence in America.

The names scroll across our screens as abstractions, disembodied from the pain and grief. Untouched by the fear of a mother unable to protect her children.

And we read "The Trayvon Generation" and applaud ourselves. We are 400 years too late.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Move Over Alanis Morissette

("Trump Rally Attendees Cannot Sue if They Contract Covid-19 Campaign Says").

 Move over Alanis Morissette.

So Donald Trump, the man who treated Coronavirus like it was a nothingburger, who considered his own experts on this topic as personal chew toys, who practically deported any wimp wearing a mask around him, who gave the six foot rule the same amount of respect as the Colin Kaepernick kneel, who would have us believe that this disease is disappearing even as the needle is jumping up in over 20 states, that same Donald Trump is making everyone who attends his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma take a blood oath that if they catch this non-existent virus while intertwined with thousands of other spit in your face screaming always Trumpers, if they should die as a direct consequence of being in close proximity to idiocy, well then Donald Trump was never in Tulsa and even if he was you never saw him and even if you saw him it was only for a moment and who could possibly get sick in a moment.

So Alanis Morissette, while "Isn't It Ironic" actually may not have contained any ironies, to comprehend the very essence of that word just show up in Tulsa next week at a rally intended to show America that it is safe to come out again, with the caveat that you must acknowledge as a prerequisite for attending that it is not safe to be there. 

Tulsa, Oklahoma - June 20, 2020

Tulsa, Oklahoma - June 20, 2020

President Trump reignited his campaign for re-election tonight before a crowd of almost 19000 (or in Mr. Trump's words, more people then will turn out between now and election day to listen to Sleepy Joe).

It was a sea of foaming white, shoulder to shoulder, filled with pent up emotion, finally freed from forced isolation, ready to announce to the world that this not so silent minority was back and badder than ever.

Mr. Trump spoke in his Trumpian dialect of free association, rarely making use of the teleprompter that gives him the awkward cadence of a prisoner of war being paraded before a microphone to thank his captors for their hospitality. Tonight the president riffed and the assembled roared in collective delight.

No matter that the great pandemic of 2020 was still gathering steam. No matter that the images of the Black Lives Matter protests were fresh in our minds. Here in Tulsa there was a very different truth on stage. One in which the terrible consequences of the President's mistakes in the handling of both these crises was nowhere evident. Here, America was Great Again. Here this nation had turned back the ravages of Covid 19 because we were tired of it, tired of being inside, tired of being separated, tired of the fear of losing a job or a business, tired of the nonsense of the six foot rule. And definitely tired of those damn masks. Here, the protest rallies of recent weeks were but expression of the sentiments of those who had no understanding or appreciation for the incredible gifts this country had bestowed upon all those residing in its midst. 

There were no masks to be seen in this venue, probably not within several miles of here. It was a sign of weakness and it would not be tolerated, not by those gathered and certainly not by the President. In his fashion, he mocked Sleepy Joe for his mask wearing, mocked those who were afraid to believe in the strength of America.

This was God's country, and Mr. Trump spoke of those who challenged him for holding up the Bible that day in the nation's capital. Those people, he said, did not represent this country, did not understand this country. And then he pulled out a Bible once more and held it aloft to the frenzied screams of approval from the crowd.

After over 100 days of forced isolation, Donald Trump was once more in his element, soaking up the adoration. This was the air he needed to breathe. To feel alive. To feel his greatness appreciated.

More than an hour and a half after he started, the President concluded his remarks and left the stage, grinning his Joker's grin after an ovation that lasted nearly six minutes.

Tonight, once more, all was right in the world according to Trump.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Animal Kingdom






This is what happens when a 20 month old knows the name of seemingly every animal on the planet and the full lineup on Disney Plus. Trust me, there is a lot to choose from.

I know we are not supposed to be sitting here. We should be outside on this beautiful afternoon. I am internally yelling at myself for my shortcomings but really, cut me some slack. My fingers are getting fatigued from searching for the perfect show. I am old and weak.

What must it be like to be so interested in anything and everything? 

We finally settle in on Steve, the seemingly befuddled penguin who is always a half step from disaster, who literally loses his way, but ends up happily ever after. I have grown very fond of him and look forward to our time together. 

There will be plenty of opportunity for us to investigate the wonders that await outside. To actually stop and smell the roses. But for now, surrounded by her six loveys, her Elmo, and even Eileen the bear, this little person beside me is most content just sitting and learning all about Steve's world.

Wait, she has grown tired of Steve.











I am exhausted.

Monday, June 8, 2020

All the News That's Fit to Print

("James Bennet Resigns As New York Times Opinion Editor")

"All The News That's Fit to Print."

That slogan has appeared on the masthead of the New York Times for almost 125 years. It is a declaration of intention, a statement that personal revulsion of those in its employ towards controversial views would not necessarily mandate these opinions fail to appear on their pages. And thus the Times has often allowed an uncomfortable voice to be heard.

But the paper has strayed from its mission on occasion, allowing op-eds that speak not to ambiguous truths but merely to outright hatreds, outrageous prejudices and incontrovertible lies. The worst among these writings do not produce meaningful discussion, but merely give a platform for the exhibition of a moral turpitude which does not deserve the light of day. And certainly not a place of prominence in perhaps the most respected newspaper in this nation.

The Tom Cotton op-ed was an embarrassment, and in this the overheated heart of a national crisis, something far worse. It gave a leading Republican, one who has the ear of the President, the imprimatur of legitimacy in his call for the use of overwhelming force by our own troops against an enemy not threatening the safety of this country but protesting the perpetual brutality against a portion of our own citizenry. 

That egregious error in judgment by the paper was met with swift and universal condemnation. And now, with the resignation of Mr. Bennet as opinion editor.

Because all the news that's fit to print means exactly that, and Mr. Bennet, and the New York Times, lost sight of what "fit" entails at a crucial moment.  A dark day indeed for the masthead.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Mr. President, Take a Knee

("As Trump Rekindles N.F.L. Fight, Gooden Sides With Players")

This country has taken a direct hit Mr. President. A double barrel explosion has wobbled all of us, none harder than the black community.

Covid has ripped at its heart with a grip penetrating and relentless, taking livelihoods and lives in staggering numbers.

And we have also once more been unequivocally informed that whether jogging through the streets or sitting in your car, the essence of being black in America is that disaster may find you in the blink of an eye. 

And this is the best you can do in response Mr. President? Resurrect your American carnage theme against those who kneel in silent scream about the outrages suffered for the unforgivable crime of the color of their skin.

Roger Goodell's change of heart is undeniably too little, too late and too suspect as the NFL treated Colin Kaepernick as pariah for far, far too long. 

As for you Mr. President, you can play only one note, that of outrage, as you with full intent mischaracterize the player's trope. In this our national hour of need, crying out for understanding and compassion, you reveal nothing but outrageous prejudices and unending vitriol. You are an empty vessel without capacity to unite and heal.

Mr. President, take a knee. Please take a knee.

Friday, June 5, 2020

History Lessons

We have been here in so many different contexts so many times before. And to what result?

In the unending struggle to mandate change, no matter the emancipation proclamation, no matter the civil rights act, no matter the protests, no matter if the other cheek is no longer turned and a gloved fist is raised.

No matter if the burning inside is mirrored in the streets, no matter if the injustices long camouflaged appear on endless loop before our eyes. No matter if the blind are forced to see, the deaf compelled to hear, no matter if we shove reality in their mouths and they are made to taste the bitterness of centuries of disregard and disrespect.

Why, oh why, do we believe that today is different, that tomorrow will be different? Why is this the moment when enough is actually enough? Why, given all that has come before, can we possibly think that hatreds will disappear, that ugliness will be sublimated, that the cycle will be broken and minds will be forever altered?   

History informs us of lessons never learned, of distressing perpetual truths. 

I worry about the futility of the moment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Mr. Trump and His Bible

("The Last Temptation of Trump")

Was he getting ready to testify? With his right arm in the air and his hand grasping the Bible was he there to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you who have no God other than yourself?

As publicity stunts go, this was a doozy. Dispersing a peaceful protest with force worthy of putting down an armed insurrection, this got off on two wrong feet. And then standing there in a pose so unnatural, so unfeeling, so demonstrably without hint or trace of empathy but almost exploding with utter disdain, this scene provided a remarkable visual statement of his contempt for those who dared expose the raw nerve of two and a half centuries of a nation's continuing disgrace.

Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything the Bible would preach. He is a man consumed by his vices, by his greed, by his hatreds, by his narcissism, by his pettiness, unable to produce a scintilla of desperately needed morality or the slightest evidence of compassion.

It disgusts me that in this time of compounding tragedies this charade was Mr. Trump's best response. We are alone in our grief and our pain as our President is but a fiction, a fraud hiding behind a Bible I am certain he has never opened, and its teachings that he has clearly and unequivocally never once in his life practiced.