Monday, August 31, 2020

Message to the President - Shut Up and Stay Away

 ("Portland Death Inflames 2020 Debate")

Donald Trump spent the weekend, when he was not on one of his golf courses, tweeting out incendiary messages, in manic barrage. In another universe, one might consider this a psychotic break. But now it is just another day at the office. The Oval Office.

In a moment that crystallized our collective fury at the President's campaign of hate, the Mayor of Portland called out Mr. Trump for being the catalyst, an accelerant with his words that fueled emotional fires. It was a slap in the face put down of a Leader who does not lead. You and your message are not welcome here. 

And it drove Mr. Trump into an absolute frenzy.

This nation is burning, both literally and figuratively and Donald Trump is unwilling and unable to do anything to control either. As our storms rage, our advise to this destructive force of a man is simple.

Shut up and stay away.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mr. Trump's New Slogans

 This is the great disconnect:

180,000 have died but he has been our savior;

The streets are bursting with unrest but he is the one to bring law and order;

He was to turn an imagined dystopia into nirvana but now, four years later, he promises he will turn our actual dystopia into nirvana. 

What am I missing here?

I have heard he is considering the following new slogans: 
"Make America Great Again, I Mean It This Time" 

"I Broke It, Now I'll Fix It" 

"If At First You Don't Succeed, Well That's What A Second Term Is For"
"Fool You Once, Shame On You, Fool You Twice, I Have A Great Deal On A Bridge" 

"How Much Worse Can I Be?"

"How Much Worse Can It Be?"

How much worse indeed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Why I Won't Watch the Republican National Convention

He has destroyed our position in the world, disregarding long standing alliances around the globe. 

He has found comfort and curried favor with leaders who subject those under their control to the worst of abuses.

He has made our nation one that is now more pitied than admired, less trusted than scorned. Our promise, our vow, no longer of meaning.

He has been dismissive of a disease that has spread like wildfire throughout this nation and has failed to provide the leadership needed in a crucial moment.

He has made a mockery of our constitutional safeguards and has treated all branches of government as subservient to him, owing fealty to him.

He has shown no interest in morality or ethics.

He has shown no interest in truth. 

He has shown no interest in the suffering of others.

He has avoided prosecution for myriad wrongdoing not by reason of his innocence but mere protections of his station.

He has fought against the environment.

He has fought against the elevation of education.

He has fought against voting rights for those who do not find favor with him.

He has discarded proven science and promoted alternatives that have endangered our safety, health and well being.

He is racist, xenophobic, misogynistic.

He is cruel, petty, mocking, vindictive.

He is lazy, anti-intellectual.

He does not read. He does not listen.

He surrounds himself with unqualified sycophants and lackeys.

He cannot express empathy or compassion for others because he has none. He is a narcissist. 

He finds enemies at every turn. He would silence his critics and reduce the media to a tool for propaganda.

He has blurred the lines between public office and personal desires beyond recognition.

He has instilled fear that our very notion of democracy is in jeopardy. 

He has amplified the matters that divide us and acted as an accelerant for hatreds and insecurities. He brings out the worst in those who believe in him.

He is as unqualified and unsuited for the tasks before him as anyone has been in the nearly 250 year history of America. He is a little man in a very big job.

He has watched over the devastation of our economy and the loss of over 175,000 lives and his best response is "It is what it is".

You are right Mr. President, "It is what it is."

This is why I refuse to watch the fantasy, the "alternative facts"  that is the Republican  National Convention.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Kellyanne Conway, Mother of the Year

 ("Kellyanne Conway to leave the White House at the end of the month, citing the need to focus on her family.")

Talk about burying the lead.

While you make reference, without name, to Conway's daughter and her tweets critical of her family, you neglected to mention that Claudia Conway has written of seeking to legally emancipate from parents who have ruined her life.

Not one mention in your piece of what must be the actual concern of the adminstration, of Donald Trump, that this three ring circus of George, Kellyanne and Claudia threatened to be a distraction and an embarrassment, that Conway would be a liability his campaign could not afford.

Please, no mother of the year kudos for Kellyanne. Her announcement about leaving to devote herself to the care of her clan, like virtually everything else she has stated since 2016, is  but "alternative facts."

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A One Man March (an unfinished tale)



No one noticed as he stepped out the front door of the house in which he had resided for 52 years. He was greeted only by the rising sun and the sounds of his hometown awakening from its nocturnal slumber.

He was 88 years old and there were 296 miles to go between thought and realization.

It was September 19, 2020. Fall was only moments from taking control. There were suggestions of it in the cold in his fingertips. He turned up the collar of his jacket to brace against the reminders of the changing season.

I often wonder where greatness resides. Who among us will step from the shadows to become a moment in history?

He had led an existence indistinguishable from others. Performing the same tasks, learning the same lessons, good and bad mixing in their own measure, at their own pace.

There were afflictions consistent with his years. Death had brushed up against him on several occasions. He survived only because it apparently got distracted and headed elsewhere.

There was no reason to believe he could walk through his own state without death finally paying the requisite attention. He headed down his block and turned the corner as six states lay ahead.


It had come to him in a dream, a fleeting image that he took with him into waking conscience. It remained a steadfast companion in the days before that September morning.

It was, in his estimation, not a request or an invitation. Rather, it was an indelible instruction.

There was no mapping out, no scheduling, no weighing of options. There were no conversations.

He was finishing mile one. The wind had subsided. The collar of his jacket was now turned down.

And no one noticed.


In a different universe, he had been a teacher. For over four decades, those who came through the doors of the school navigated daily uncertainties. He was not one of them.

If their attendance was spotty, his was not. If their attention was wandering, his was not. If their allocation of resources was divided, his was not.

When he retired, he was certain no one had noticed.


On March 15, 1954, at 22 years of age he had gotten married. His bride would be his first and lasting love.

On their 66th wedding anniversary, she developed a cough. Soon she was enveloped by Covid. On April Fool's Day she left him a widower. He was alone, in their home, when he learned of her final retreat.

He sat, without word or movement, until the light of day had faded, his only companion a darkness that now pierced his soul. He put his head in his hands and began to cry.

And no one noticed.


This town, his town had fared poorly in recent times. There were vivid indications of problems wherever the eye traveled.

He passed stores shuttered even before the suffocating disasters of recent months. He went by a half century of memories, so many now irreparably altered, the landscape pocked with troubles laid heavy upon each street, their weight causing the very pavement to buckle.

He had not rested for at least two hours. He barely noticed he was moving. In stark contradiction to the images that greeted him, there was a lightness to his gait that belied his years.

At mile 5 he read the sign welcoming him into the neighboring county.

And still no one noticed.


He had never given note to political furies. His was a simple life, unencumbered by discomforts that sometimes follow the strongest of passions. Yet he found himself deeply unsettled in this the early part of his 89th year on this planet.

And it had driven him out the door that morning. Now he was nearly 12 miles from his first step. Evening had arrived as he stood by the side of the road.

The bright headlights of a car suddenly shone upon him. A police officer approached.

Someone had noticed.


He had broken no laws. He had harmed no one. He was merely walking.

As he explained his circumstances, as he informed of his intended destination, he was certain he found a willing listener. It was only when he was placed in the squad car for the ride back to where he commenced, did he understand he had been mistaken.

Later that evening, when the officer arrived at the station, he told the strange tale of the old man by the side of the road.

One of those listening was married to a local reporter.

Someone else had noticed.


On January 14, 1956 his wife gave birth to their only child, a boy.

He was, by all accounts, exceptional. He carried happiness in his pocket and doled it out in generous doses to all who asked.

On February 1, 1971 he was at a local burger place with two friends, each a year his senior. A man walked in carrying a gun. His ex-girlfriend was seated at the table next to the boy.

When the shooting stopped, four people were dead, including the shooter who had turned the gun on himself. The 15 year old boy at the next table had been shot twice in the head. He died instantly.

No one had noticed the gun.


On September 20, 2020 he awoke at 6 AM. One hour later, wearing the same jacket as the previous day, he walked out his front door.

The day was warmer, the sun a constant. By 10, he was carrying the jacket in his arms.

He traversed over 10 miles that day before he was stopped by the cop who had delivered him  home the previous evening.

This time the ride came with a warning: Do it again and he would not be returning home but to a psych ward.

When the cop finished telling the tale this time, and the story made its way back to the local reporter, she sensed there was something that could be important in this 88 year old man and his intended journey.

In two days, he had walked 22.4 miles.

Soon, a lot of people would notice.


He was born July 4, 1932. America's national day of celebration. Except his arrival occurred in Mexico. The youngest of three boys.

The United States was in the midst of a Depression that would steal it's swagger and remove it's smile. Yet it still offered more than what he and his family could find where they resided.

In the beginning of 1936, they entered the land of the free and home of the brave.

On D-Day in 1944, his older brother lost his life on Normandy Beach.

In the madness of that hour, no one noticed.


A four paragraph story appeared on page five of the local newspaper on September 21, 2020.

It spoke of Don Quixote and the impossible dream. It used the word quest twice. And while it did not refer to him by his name but rather cloaked as a former mythic movie hero, it told of an 88 year old local man and of a mission that had to be completed within 45 days. It reported of the chances of a person that age traveling that distance in that time span. It referenced Jimmy Stewart. And how, like Sisyphus, this man's rock had rolled back to the starting point each of the past two nights.

The article was entitled "The One Man March, A/K/A Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

It was terrible writing, a shameless and horrific invasion of privacy. And it happened to be read by someone who knew someone who had a much larger audience of eyes awaiting his every thought.

Very soon, a lot of people would notice.




On Pennsylvania Avenue (why was a street here named for a location elsewhere) the morning of September 19, 2020, seemed unremarkable. It was, in the bastardized fashion of this patch of earth, not in manner different from the day before. Nearly 300 miles away, the earth moved slightly on its axis. But the tremors were not felt even at their place of origin. And certainly not here.

The game had begun in earnest in recent days. The urgency of what was nigh being felt more with each rising of the sun. The blows coming with the quickness of an Ali jab in his prime. Each opening exploited. And where none existed, well one would just have to be created out of thin air.

It was an unusually cold beginning to this day. As a strong breeze sent a wave of chill straight down Pennsylvania Avenue, he turned up the collar of his jacket.

He did not have the faintest notion of what was approaching.


The newspaper business had been in freefall in recent years. It had become an exercise in Darwinism as many of those who had once been powerful now became but historical footnote.  But some were still standing, able to withstand the blows that had come like an Ali jab, in his prime.

On the evening of September 21, 2020 word had filtered down of a peculiar little episode taking place 55 miles from where this tale now sat. This seeming fable had landed on the desk of a very important writer. He had been vainly searching for weeks for something that was beyond the ordinary, that would catch his eye, make his heart take notice.  

It would be three more days before his thoughts became part of the nation's discourse. 

Until then, all remained quiet. The calm before the storm.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Joe Biden Has Friends

 Joe Biden has friends. 

He has legions of those he has touched along every step of his journey. Those who give willing testament to his inexhaustible capacity for caring. Those who make abundantly evident the worth of the man.

And if this election is to be about the content of one's character, and it damn well should be, who will step forward for Donald Trump? Who will inform us there is more to him than the cruelty he has so often thoughtlessly exhibited, the pain he has so easily dispensed, the disregard and disdain he has so clearly demonstrated for the trials and tribulations of those suffering under his watch? 

Where are his friends? 

The last four evenings have been a vibrant celebration of the values of, and the value of, Joe Biden. And of our nation's desperate need to rid itself of the plague that has descended upon it and taken malignant hold, not over the past half year, but since election night 2016.

Joe Biden has friends.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

 ("Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote")

This is a President who appoints people with a mission to cannibalize their own institutions. Scott Pruitt and his EPA deregulation, damaging the air we breathe and doing nothing to alleviate global warming. Betsy DeVos, with her support of vouchers and cuts to federal funding gutting the public education system. Bill Barr turning the office of Attorney General into a supporting role as Roy Cohn-like defender of Mr. Trump. And now Mr. DeJoy, intending to make the postal service and the 14th Amendment disappear like a magic trick.

All of them not as protectors of the greater good but mere lackeys carrying out a plan for the approval of an audience of one.

DeVos. DeJoy. DeRegulate. DeStroy.

The Life and Death of Kamala Harris

 On August 11, 2020 Kamala Harris was named as the Democratic Vice Presidential pick. The next day, the New York Times reported on the untimely death of Kamala Harris from Covid 19. 

In a bizarre coincidence, James"Kamala" Harris,70 years old, was  a former professional wrestler whom the Times described as portraying the "stereotypical menacing African warrior who was always supposed to lose to his white opponents."

At a moment in time when we celebrate the ascension of a strong black woman to a place of political prominence, we are reminded of a parallel universe where skin color is portrayed in a wholly different light.

Two worlds and one name colliding.  The life and death of Kamala Harris.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Mr. Brooks, This Is Where I Stand. Even In Diapers - (A Guest Post by CL)

 ("This Is Where I Stand")

I turn 23 today. Ok, 23 months but that is mere technicality.

This is my official request for David Brooks to stop the nonsense. "Conservative Radicalism". Historical perspective. Moving left here, right there. It is enough to make my young brain ache.

Is he incapable of making a simple declaratory statement? Maybe something like this: "Our democracy is in danger. All hands on deck."

I have only known one President in my lifetime but even I know a fascist when I see one.

There are not two sides to every issue Mr. Brooks. Some things are just plain wrong.

I have to end this letter now because I am going for my nap. But when I wake up I would like to read an Op Ed from Mr. Brooks that does not make him seem like both the smartest and dumbest person in the room. Call it an early second birthday present.

Mr. Brooks, this is where I stand. Even in diapers.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Attacks on Kamala Harris

 ("Her Voice? Her Name? G.O.P.'s Raw Personal Attacks on Kamala Harris") 

You indicate that the "Trump campaign struggled to launch a clear attack" against Ms. Harris but that is not accurate.Their's has always been a theme park filled with a basketful of different hatreds. And in Kamala Harris there are Republican riches to be mined.

Hatred of blacks
Hatred of women
Hatred of black women
Hatred of angry black women
Hatred of angry, powerful black women
Hatred of angry, powerful black women, born of immigrants
Hatred of angry, powerful black women who are not "really" black
Hatred of angry, powerful black women whose very name raises suspicion they are not true Americans

This is the Trump version of a campaign strategy and though you might perceive it as disjointed and disorganized it is anything but. 

Bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia all sell well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

America Is Dying

 This nation 

That feeds off its fear, not its hopes
That finds reasons to divide not multiply
That communicates so much but says so little
That has found selfishness, not selflessness, a virtue
That chooses not to open its heart but close its borders
That is far too comfortable living with lies rather than searching for truths
That is capable of  great compassion but instead abides its great cruelties 
That for some know no want, but for many know only profound pounding deficits
That treats freedom as a right to exploit, not a gift to be nourished and deeply cherished
That has lost sight of what is just and real and is blinded by charlatans and masquerades

This nation, our nation, is sick 

It is playing out on our televisions, our computers, in our hospitals and on crowded maskless streets, bars and restaurants,
It is in the votes that will not be counted, in the jobs that cannot be filled, in the classrooms that remain silent and vacant
It is living in the homes that have suffered great losses of spirit, of love of hope
It is etched on our faces and embedded in our souls
It is in our prisons and in our prejudices

It is a pandemic, a disease, that is destroying us

America, is dying

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Easy Riders

('If We Get It, We Chose to Be Here'. Despite Virus, Thousands Converge on Sturgis for Huge Rally)

Governor Noem is hoping South Dakota will steal, with slight modification, the state motto of New Hampshire. Her version: "Live free and die."

Courting Mr. Trump and eyeing a national future, Ms. Noem is more than willing to bring 250,000 maskless motorcyclists into her state to demonstrate that stupidity indeed has a conservative bias.

After hosting Mr. Trump's July 4th Mt. Rushmore egothon, the Governor has upped her game, as she embraces those who come armed with nothing more than bravado against a deadly disease that is clearly not impressed nor deterred. 

A nation mourns the loss of its sanity. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

43 Years and Counting (Every Second)

I remember little of that day, mainly of my soon to be mother in law fixing my tie right before I walked down the aisle. Even then I was not a capable person.

The years since just happened. No grand plan, merely two people doing what needed to be done. Strike that, one person doing and the other, well, something far less.

I sent my wife an email yesterday, setting out the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds since we exchanged I do's. I promised her that, if there was a God, her perseverance would be rewarded. But with her luck, who knows.

For those of you who continue to insist my inability is but performance art, that no one seemingly uncompromised person could possibly suffer such grave incapacity, I have one word in response: really?

I am what I am, or more accurately what I am not. 

And that means that most everything you can think of, I can't. Name a task. No, I can't perform that one. Try something simpler. No, even simpler. Still beyond my ken.

And through it all, stands my wife.  In some ways imperfect, for no one is without blemish. But in her willingness to shoulder the burden known as me for well over four decades, to perform the high wire act of life with no net, to get up each morning ready, willing and able to take on virtually every conceivable role of two people, she has been breathtaking.

I owe my wife much more than I have given her, much more than I will ever give her. But I am thankful every day that she has found the strength to persist in this endeavor, that she is willing to find adequate cause to carry on with a partner such as me.

I love her and my wish for her is that there is in fact a benevolent God.

43 years and counting.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Shakespeare On Baseball's Declining Health (Going, Going, Gone?)

Oh enemy most foul
For it be not fair that this sickness runs with abandon between these lines
How did this strike not one, not two but strike three
Out, out the cry piercing the air
And yet this disease steals our very breath
As we lay caught in its web
No safety found at home
Our protest in vain, our cry's bootless, a deaf ear turned to our fervent appeals
For if this be not a blow most mortal, it is nigh upon us
We are but walking shadow
Death waiting with grave intent at the top step
Our nation's heartbeat near extinguished
Fear rampant that the games we play today 
Will in all the tomorrow's to come be going, going gone