Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Debate

You will have to inform me what transpired after the first 20 minutes. After that, I turned to the Yankee game for solace.

This was a disgrace, a humiliation, as an abusive man aimed his vitriol at his opponent, the moderator and our democracy.

If you watched until the end you were either a masochist or a paid reporter. 

If you learned anything of substance it must have been by accident.

I turned to the talking heads afterwards for the post mortem and they appeared shell shocked.

Will our nation really have to take this punishment on two more occasions?

As for me, I can only hope the Yanks make a long playoff run and  I am spared even a thought of what Donald Trump is doing to diminish his office and this country.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Secret Trump Voter

 ("Meet a Secret Trump Voter")

There are 330 million people in this country and approximately 150 million who will cast ballots this November. Congratulations to Mr. Stephens on finding one person who will vote contrary to our expectations.

What a waste of space in your newspaper. You would have been better served devoting a column to favorite recipes of the candidates or the weather forecast for November 3 in all 50 states. Or even better, left the column completely empty.

I recognize that your paper feels an obligation not to put it's finger too heavily on one side of the scale. But this is no time to present either- or's. There are not two sides to this tale.

To give the imprimatur of reasonableness to this piece does a large disservice to this nation.

Yes, Mr. Stephens, not every lesbian, black or even Muslim will vote for Mr. Biden. This is not a revelation, but the law of averages.

The Times can do better than this. Much better.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Falling Leaves

 The first few random leaves floated down, their yellow bodies gently touching the earth with the softness of feathers. These were the forerunners, the ones who would test the course before the racers came in ever increasing waves of aggression. Fall was falling. And there was no way to stop it's descent.

Summer had proved precious  respite. That season the one that separated us from the terrible reality of the moment. Those months where we had been compelled to learn a vocabulary filled with desperate words of pain and loss, of fear and uncertainty, of numbers upon numbers. Our eyes studied graphs and charts as we attempted with small success to separate fact from something far less. Gravity pulling us down a dark hole.

Summer was the antidote to all that poison. We were allowed the freedom of deep breaths here, moments where we might be untethered from haunting thoughts, where our feet could transport our mind to places far removed from the images that forever crowded our brain. 

I wonder what concerns the leaves have as they begin their fall from the limbs that housed them. Are they worried about the end of their existence? Do they mourn impending demise? Do they ache for friends and family? Or do they just reach for the ground and eventually disintegrate, as if they had never even been? Without a trace.

Maybe they are nothing more than they appear, without the benefit, or curse, of thought. Like the questions begging response these harrowing days, I cannot begin to fathom the correct answers. If they even exist.

When this all began these leaves, the ones now under contemplation, had not even come into being. Winter was still upon us, with all its grays, everything muted, color in full hibernation. The trees in stark display, skeletons completely exposed. It was near the end of their barren season.

And as we were to discover, the beginning of our own.  

The existence of these leaves as the only real definition of ephemeral. Like the summer itself, as we tried to lose ourselves in the moment, the moment was no more

This morning's rain seems to have accelerated the destiny of the doomed. The ground no longer merely sprinkled with fallen reminders of the recent past, but in some instances wholly blanketed. It was as a mirror of the disease that had overtaken us. First slowly, then all at once. 

And it is not merely yellows that have surrendered but browns and oranges. No longer just an occasional branch that has given up the mirage of comfort, but some trees in full flight. Neighborhoods blighted. And it spares not those who rested on high, for all are equally subject to the ravages of an enemy they cannot see or turn back.

I miss the summer more than any I have previously known. 

The leaves are falling.   

Thursday, September 24, 2020

PTSD - PRE-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 It is a disease spread across this nation tormenting Democrats from sea to suffering sea. The symptoms are constant fear that:

 1. Donald Trump will spend the debates being Donald Trump while Joe Biden will only be, OMG, Joe Biden.

 2. Bill Barr will pull a James Comey on steroids in our most critical hour. 

 3. The Russians will be called for a two minute minor penalty for interference while committing a hundred major misconduct infractions. 

 4. Every Republican vote will be counted twice and every Democratic vote will disappear in the Bermuda Triangle. 

 5. The polls will open for one hour in every blue state and there will be armies of "good people" with guns standing watch. 

 6. The Coronavirus vaccine will be approved and given to 30 million Americans on November 2nd. 

 7. The Supreme Court, with the ninth Justice firmly in her seat, will rule on November 2nd that the election goes to Trump by technical knockout. 

 8. Mitch McConnell will announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for 2024 on November 4, 2020. Trump says Mitch is the right man for the job.Trump announces he will take on the position of co-President in 2024.

 9. Everything that Trump has said or done that is heinous, repulsive, destructive or reprehensible, ie everything he has said and done, will be wiped from the history books. 

 10. Fascism will become the newest in thing.

 11. Democrats will just give up.

 Don't tell me you haven't had some or all of these thoughts. We have seen 2016 and it is us. This is a glass less than half full moment. We don't believe the polls, we don't believe the sun will rise in the morning, we don't believe in miracles, we don't even believe in Santa. We don't believe in anything as much as our impending doom. 

 We live in dread the world will end on November 3, 2020.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Til Death Do Us Part (Again)


("End the Poisonous Process of Picking Supreme Court Justices")

Today's Op-Ed  in the New York Times echoed virtually every thought I laid out in a letter to the editor nearly two years ago (October 7, 2018 blog post). I now post it again for those whose may have a vague recollection of my words, or who may have "missed it" first time around.

My tongue firmly in cheek question is if I am entitled to co-authorship credit

---------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

"A Better Way to Confirm a Justice" -

I suggest that the premise of your question is wrong, putting the cart before the horse. It is not, or should not be, the hearings that are tweaked but rather the process itself that is in DIRE need of radical reform.


Til death us do part. 

If there was one lesson to be taken from the Garland to Kavanaugh fiasco that played out over these past two years it was that the time has come to face head on the ugly reality of lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.

Our founding fathers lived in a universe markedly different from ours. It has been a near quarter of a millenium since the birth of this nation and death has receded farther and farther from our collective being with each new medical advancement. We stay healthier and fit longer and our capacity to be productive, or destructive, members of society has lengthened with each passing decade.

Term limits for our highest office in the land were codified in the 22nd Amendment, passed by the 36th state (There were only 48 states at the time) in 1951, in clear response to the only President who ruled for more than two terms in this nation's history. Concerns  on the length of power of the presidency were voiced from the time of the framers of our Constitution forward. But it was only the reality of FDR's tenure that spurred this nation to action.

We are now at such a point in history regarding appointments to the Supreme Court. On the next occasion sane people are in position of power, the first order of business should be to call for a constitutional Amendment for an 18 year term limit for a Supreme Court Justice. Come Hell or Mitch McConnell during each four year presidential term there will be two new appointments to the highest court (and with its effect, the current Justices would be unseated in FIFO order). 

The bloodbath we have recently witnessed will thus never be repeated, the urgency to rule this land in perpetuity having been muted. 

We stand at one of the lowest points in the arc of this nation. If we do not treat the disease now infecting us with immediacy and urgency it will continue to fester and make us sicker and sicker.

Til death do us part.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Is Lindsey Graham Right?

 ("You Would Do the Same": Graham Is Defiant on Supreme Court Reversal)

 Is Mr. Graham right?

Would I do whatever I could to deny yet another seat on the court to a "conservative" voice?

With a lifetime appointment, these nine hold permanent sway over the destiny of our nation. And with the imminent prospect of a full two thirds entrenched, probably for decades, on their side of the ledger,  Republicans would undoubtedly sorely regret allowing their past pronouncements to hamstring their present actions.

The 52 other Republican Senators are all as guilty as charged as Mr. Graham. All equally convicted of choosing party over country, of abdicating their responsibility to protect and preserve our most fundamental constitutional mandates, all abandoning truth and honor as necessary predicates for their undertakings.

But if the shoe were on my foot, if a lie detector were attached to me and my answers were monitored,  would it not reveal that I would kick the Republicans when they were down? Politics, as Mr. Trump has so clearly and viciously explained to us in word and deed, is about nothing other than winning. Do as I do, not as I say, his motto, that of Mr. Graham, and indeed that of the feckless 53. 

We have reached a nadir in our political arena. Where those like Lindsey Graham can spit in our face with impunity and declare themselves pure of heart, undeterred by our slings and arrows, nor by their own prior sworn pledges, not in the least restrained by their unambiguous understanding of the blatant hypocrisy in their actions.

But, given the opportunity to do unto others, I wonder if my worst self too stands at the ready to be unleashed. Retribution my guiding force.. 

I am fearful the bottom may still have a ways to go.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

On Turning Two

Having now celebrated my second birthday in style, well Covid style, I am fully prepared to take on whatever challenges are laid at my feet.

My teacher has requested that I give my class a lecture on the legacy of RBG and this nation's peril should Trump not be soundly thrashed on November 3. However, as the introduction of politics into a pre-school program is likely inappropriate, I have suggested that the topic be  changed to "the perils of not being able to have your lovey with you at all times."

I have been giving some thought to using the potty on occasion. In fact, I managed to do #1 on a potty just recently. But since I am not absolutely certain what #1 is, I am not sure I will be able to repeat this on command.

This year I might be asked to shorten, or even do away with, my afternoon nap. That is a concept that just seems contrary to the laws of nature. I mean who could possibly go from the moment you wake up to the time you close your eyes at night without at least a couple hours siesta. I may be forced to relocate to a more enlightened country where everyone takes a mid-day break and just chills.

What do I hope life will be like in my third year? I hope I make a BFF. I hope I climb the climbing wall all by myself. I hope I am fluent in four languages by my next birthday, one of them definitely being either French, Spanish, German or Chinese. I hope my teacher continues to be as much fun as she is now. I hope mommy and daddy give me as many hugs as is humanly possible. I hope the world calms down and the fires and floods and virus that have this country in their grip recede. I hope I can decide what flavor of ice cream is the best. I hope my uncle watches Bluey with me every time we get together, especially the bicycle episode.

I know life is what happens when you least expect it and I hope I am ready for it's surprises. Maybe I will even learn how to ride a bike or swim in the ocean before I turn three. But as long as I am loved by all those who mean so much to me, I know everything will be ok.

That is, as long as Trump is not reelected.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

On the Death of RBG

 It was as if the notion of democracy itself was gravely imperilled by the passing of the Notorious RBG. We collectively tried to will her survival until we could wrest control of our nation from the slime of Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell. If she could just keep breathing and keep her seat on the bench until January of 2021, then we would find the resolve to continue the fight to preserve our very soul.

For those who challenge Mr. McConnell, Ms.Collins, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Graham with their own past words, save your breath. For those who would ask that the death bed fervent wish of Ruth Bader Ginsburg be honored, stop fooling yourself.

This is the distraction the President needed from the plagues that overwhelm us, the floods, the fires, the virus that is destroying us, from four years of his systemic poison. The death of RBG breathed life into Donald Trump's candidacy. The war cry of his party for the next 45 days will undoubtedly be that this is the reason 45 must remain in office. Forget all else, forgive his trespasses, control the Supreme Court. Don't allow socialism to get a foot in the door. 

We mourn the passing of a little giant who changed the course of this nation through her intelligence, her determination, her lifelong pursuit of causes vital to our forming a more perfect union. And we are even more deeply saddened by the fear that, with her death, she may have put in jeopardy so much of what she accomplished. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Are They All Wrong?

 The Lincoln Project

Republican Voters Against Trump
43 Alumni for Joe Biden PAC
Romney for Biden
Over 100 former staffers for John McCain
John Kasich
Colin Powell
Christine Whitman
Chuck Hagel
William Webster
William F. Weld
George W. Bush
Mitt Romney
John Bolton
Olivia Troye
 and that is just the tip of the iceberg

Are they all wrong? Are they really merely the "disgruntled"?

And where is the corresponding list of Democrats Against Biden?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Imminent Cure

 ("Trump Again Scorns Science on Vaccine and Masks")

Are there any of his own experts not confused, mistaken, plotting to undermine and overthrow? Is the Coronavirus nothing but a Chinese hoax perpetrated upon us, amplified by the distortions of his own task force and the CDC? Are Fauci, Birx and Redfield but secret agents of the enemy?

We have lived through the winter of our discontent, the spring of our disconnect, the summer of our dismay. Now fall stands nigh. And still Mr. Trump persists in his war not against the virus but those on his team with the audacity to question the truths only he finds self evident.

We are well advised to remove our masks and any semblance of intelligent thought when we arrive in Mr. Trump's orbit. For our safety, there should be an "enter at your own risk" warning attached to every one of his dangerous  pronouncements.

We survive despite, not because of, Donald Trump. However, I do agree with his contention that we are on the precipice of a cure to this most persistent disease. 

It lays not in a vaccine but at the ballot box.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Mr. Trump's Acts of Destruction

 ("What I Learned From a List of Trump Accomplishments)

You ask for a list of what Mr. Trump has destroyed, or attempted to, in the past four years:

1. Our standing in the world
2. Our environment
3. Our constitutional safeguards
4. Our alliances
5. Our capacity to vote
6. Our moral authority to act as human rights watchdog.
7. The line between government and personal interests
8. The line between right and wrong
9. The notion of three co-equal branches of government
10.The difference between truth and fiction
11.The value of our promises
12.The U.S. postal service
13.The freedom of the press
14.The very notion of our exceptionalism
15.The office of the President.

With his singular lack of capacity he has overseen the loss of nearly 200,000 lives and counting and destroyed millions of families in the largest act of devastation this country may have ever seen in it's almost 250 years.

With his myopic view that what is good for Trump is his only barometer, he has orchestrated a near catastrophic failure of our economy and has refused to seek necessary financial safeguards to alleviate the suffering.

With his dog whistle calls for racism he has stoked the fires of division and hatred, elevated to places of prominence white nationalists and given rage a critical seat at the table.

With his incessant stream of conscience tweeting he has remade the universe in his image, filled with insult, with petty grievances and has turned the very thought of governing into a freak show.

You ask what Mr. Trump has destroyed in the past 4 years. The most fundamentally accurate response: Everything he has touched.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Soundless Summer

 Roger Angell, in referring to the 1981 baseball strike, called it the Soundless Summer. 2020, in most ways, is but a variant on that theme.

Our bellies do not burn as in seasons past. The smell of the game does not float in the air. It is as though the sport itself is disembodied, hovering somewhere out of reach, visible yet merely an abstraction.

The stands that house the joy, the anguish, the long periods where we are allowed to focus on those around us, on the conversations we overhear, these now lay fallow, empty and silent. We are, above all else, a community. We fans revel in each other. We share our stories. We share our passions. We don't merely watch this game of baseball. We live it. Together.

In this strangest of summers we take in this sport alone. This has been an all encompassing pandemic of mind as well as body. We watch baseball in isolation. There is no companionship, no one to nod in agreement at our most profound comments, to ridicule our false prognostications, to share in the flow of this sport coursing through our collective veins.

What we now see are cardboard cutouts  masquerading as us sitting in our seats. What we hear are the piped in sounds manufactured not by us but captured in some studio. What we witness is not a reality but a shadow of a resemblance of one.

And thus the game loses so much of its intensity. Baseball, beyond all other sports, relies on it's eyes, it's ears, and beyond all else, it's vocal chords, to provide it's full meaning. For in an undertaking with long moments that can very closely approach ennui, we the fans must fill in the gaps. And cardboard cutouts fall gravely short of accomplishing that goal.

So, Mr. Angell, nearly four decades after you wrote of a Soundless Summer, I would suggest that we are witnessing a similar phenomenon. For we have discovered that even as the players play, baseball has no voice if we are not there to hear it.

Strenuous Flus

 (Trump Admits Minimizing the Virus, Knowing It Was 'Deadly Stuff')

"It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus."

My emotional response to this revelation is much more muted than it should be. I am so wearied from the energy wasted in responding to Mr.Trump's endless barrage of misdeeds that this one, the one that should elicit the greatest outrage at the devastation it has caused, instead almost brings an opposite reaction. 

I find myself focused on the idea of a "strenuous" flu. On the fact that we have been saddled not only with malevolence but also with clear stupidity. He, who speaks in such juvenile language, whose phrases are forever littered with words we discarded as soon as we possibly could, whose incompetence hides in plain sight nearly each time he opens his boca, the best he could come up with was "strenuous"flus. 

Really, I am ashamed to say this brought me a momentary inner smile. Amid all the destruction, all the horrible struggle we as a nation have faced as we are called upon to fight this terrible pandemic with one hand, and sometimes it seems both hands, tied behind our back thanks to Mr. Trump's intentional deceptions, amid all this, I found my gaze transfixed on the word "strenuous."

This is what four years of Donald Trump has done to my brain. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Unintended Consequences

 This has been a season of swirling controversies for Novak Djokovic. First, his comments questioning the efficacy of vaccines and any governmental mandate to individuals as to their use. Then his organization of the Adria tour in Serbia and Croatia where those involved rejected protocols for mask wearing and social distancing, prematurely ending in a rash of Coronavirus cases including his own and that of his wife. Finally, his recent decision, not  universally applauded, to resign as President of the ATP player's union to break off and form a new union.

But nothing compared to one swipe at a tennis ball in anger and frustration. Its path leading directly to unthinkable consequences.

Did the punishment fit this crime? Certainly, if intention was the catalyst for the determination, the match would have continued with but the smallest of penalties. The look on the face of Djokovic the moment he heard the anguish in a brief cry of pain and realized what had transpired, unmistakable in its apology for his transgression.

The one in a million shot something a man who has hit a million shots over a tennis lifetime would not have expected in a million years.  

I grew up in an era of bad boys, from Nastase to Connors, to McEnroe. A time of ill tempers, bad language and broken racquets.  When the concept of right and wrong, in this court at least, was fluid and flexible. Where verbal abuse of the chair umpire, the linesman, even the ball boys, was almost as accepted a part of the game as topspin lobs and crosscourt backhands. But those days are now but vague memory, historical footnote.

Now it is clearly understood there are rules that apply with equal force whether you are a wild card entry or the number one player in the world with a seemingly unimpeded path to Grand Slam title #18. And one is a form of strict liability for your outbursts and their results. And even as he pleaded his case before the sentence was handed down, you could sense that Djokovic knew the inevitability of the answer.

And thus a man who had beaten back the negatives that followed him through recent months, who had walked into this tournament without tasting defeat on the court in 2020, who had questioned rules of protocol both personal and professional and was still standing defiant, left this arena with tennis bags flung over his shoulder and the weight of one thoughtless moment bringing him crashing to earth. 

No ace up his sleeve, or on his racquet, to defeat this opponent.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

By the Numbers

 ("How Many Lives Would a More Normal President Have Saved?")

We don't need another apologist for Mr. Trump's actions during the Coronavirus epidemic.

He has through inattention,  ignorance, incompetence, neglect, negligence, through jealousies, hatreds, petty grievances, through televised preening, maskless appearances and a White House acceptance speech featuring in your face, shoulder to shoulder disregard, made this a disaster of massive proportion.

He has wholly revealed that in an hour of crisis he is unready, unsteady, underwhelming and overwhelmed. He has taken our exceptionalism, our advantages, our knowledge and dissipated them all in a demonstration of exactly how not to respond. His contempt for Democrats, for scientists, for the suffering of others who get in the way of the narrative he has created out of thin air are as palpable as the numbers that attack our senses and our hearts every waking moment, and haunt our every sleep.

Mr. Douthat, you can try to make the numbers dance on the page, try to contort them into a space where Mr. Trump seems somehow almost worthy of a passing grade. But we know better. 

We have been witness. We have watched. We have read. We have heard. We know the measure of this man. And he measures up not even to the lowest of our expectations for one in the Oval Office. 

Donald Trump has failed us in every conceivable manner.. His myriad shortcomings exacerbating and accelerating, turning bad into horrific, a case study in misfeasance, malfeasance and malpractice.

No matter, Mr. Douthat, how you try to rationalize, it doesn't get worse than Donald Trump.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

On the Death of Tom Seaver


As a life long Yankee fan, I believed he spent the first decade of his career with the wrong New York team, but even I had to respect Tom Seaver's greatness.

The magic was in that thick lower torso which generated such enormous power, and the stride that seemed to carry him half way to the plate before the ball was released from his hand.

And even though he left New York in 1977 and would spend most of the balance of his baseball life in other uniforms, Tom Seaver will forever be a Met. His legacy secured in 1969 when a team that had floundered before his arrival in one sudden burst miraculously became the best there was.

Our sports heroes never grow old in our minds and a half century later Tom Seaver's luminous talent remains a vivid image for those privileged to have witnessed his long shining star.

Tom was indeed terrific.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Don't Tell Me of the Reluctant Trump Voter

 ("Unwitting Progressives for Trump")

Please don't tell me of your friends who will reluctantly vote for Mr. Trump.

Don't tell me they can't distinguish between sympathy for a people long abused and distaste for methods that do not further their cause.

Don't tell me they seriously consider Joe Biden to be in favor of the destruction that has erupted in the worst moments.

Don't tell me they can't see Donald Trump's fingerprints all over the escalation of tensions, his amorality at the center of these confrontations.

Don't make us out to be fools. Your friends will vote for Mr. Trump using these events as cover.

Don't perpetuate the lies people tell themselves and may tell you for why they are casting their ballot, their lot, with the likes of Donald Trump.

It has absolutely NOTHING  to do with "progressives." NOTHING.