Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Stop Handing Out Lottery Tickets and Start Handing Down Laws


("Vaccine Mandates Are Coming. Good")

As of this writing, I have been fully vaccinated for 4 months and 8 days. I reside in an area where vaccination rates have surpassed what is perceived to be herd immunity standards. The daily death toll in this entire State from Covid 19 hovers near 0. So, I feel as protected as possible under the circumstances. 

Yet I am angered by the failure at the Federal, State and local levels to mandate that the reluctant, the recalcitrant, the reckless roll up their sleeves and become inoculated.

Over 600,000 have died in this country alone. When is enough too much? I understand, although I disagree, that safety concerns must sometimes give way to religious accommodations, and I fully comprehend there are those who may have legitimate health issues that preclude their participation, but beyond that, get in line.

Only an EUA, not full FDA approval? Give me a break. We have just lived through over a year in collective Hell. I can't be silent while others die a needless, senseless death.

It is well past the moment of no return. Stop handing out lottery tickets and start handing down laws. Get the damn shot. Now!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Size 36 Pants

 The kids were acting like, well, kids. The three year old and his older brother engaged in play that resulted in cries of dismay or tears in an almost rhythmic pattern. Good moments followed by a blip of emotion. Rinse and repeat. Nothing of consequence, just boys being boys.

We sat outside in the backyard, cousins catching up with one another, a moment long in the making. The scene definitely reminiscent of the pre-pandemic world. Essentially ignoring the occasional outbursts from the little kiddy pool coming but a few feet away. The gentle benign reminders for kind consideration of the feelings of the wounded sibling, the direction from parent to child.

But I was restless in my chair. It was hot, the water was inviting and my natural instinct is to do something puerile and slightly stupid when I note any young one even in momentary distress. So, I ambled over to where the boys were aiming their water guns at one another and challenged them to find a new target. Me.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes, I did my best impression of Gale Sayers, zigging zagging and generally avoiding not a drop of the spray directed at my stomach, my glasses, my ears, my backside. The boys, especially the little one, taking extreme satisfaction in their marksmanship. I rung out my shirt every now and then, as it attached its full weight to my skin.

Rather than rest on my laurels, I made inquiry as to whether the family possessed a slip and slide. My next undertaking involved far more slip than slide, with the exception of one decidedly unremarkable but particularly painful belly flop.

You would have thought this activity would have fully satiated my inner kindergartner. But then my granddaughter arrived on the scene, along with her natural inclination to take it slowly, to analyze any new environment before taking the plunge.

And as she hesitated to take the dive, emotionally, down the little slide into the kiddy pool, I naturally decided my next calling. I gently placed my bottom so as not cause embarrassing destruction and thereafter took the two second trip down to the other bottom.

It is hard being a child in an old man's body. It is a bad fit, like clothing that is way too big and gives the rest of the world ample space for question.

So it was here, quite literally. For I was not invited to a pool party and had no change of clothes at the ready. I sat uncomfortably, moving to and fro, my idiocy sticking to me and beginning to make me reconsider my earlier actions.

I am a small person, size 32 pants my number with a bit of room to spare in my thinner times. Our host was a full grown person who I now learned wore size 36.

And so, I excused myself and headed to a dressing area where I soon emerged very grateful for having worn a belt with my shorts. 

Before we left at evening's end, the boys mom and dad thanked me for my willingness to do what I had done. But the sad secret is that this took no coaxing. Rather it was me unfortunately being who and what I am. A person who is masquerading in clothes intended for someone far bigger, far more suited than I for the attire he wears.

Thursday, June 24, 2021


 ("Indiana Woman Is First Person to Be Sentenced in Capitol Riot")

Sensitivity training? A $500 fine? A seven part primer on how to earn a get out of jail virtually free card?  Really?

I am definitely not an eye for an eye, strident law and order, kind of person. But was anyone watching the events of January 6th? Was this not a mob, an insurrection, a trespass on the very heart of our democracy?

And this is who the government charges? And then decides to make her read books as punishment?

Apparently the "I just got caught up in the moment" defense is a viable one here. This is certainly not the message I hoped would come from the court system after such a brutal attack on our police, on our Congress, on the very foundation of this nation.

This sentence was not a slap on the wrist of the Defendant but a slap in the face to those who watched in horror and disbelief as the events of January 6, 2021 unfolded.

For this Defendant, for this "tourist", it was, in her own words, the most exciting day of her life. Shame on her. 

And shame on us for our retort. Even the least guilty on this darkest of days should have received a punishment worse than the one ordinarily delivered to a jaywalker.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Job Interview

 My game is a bit in tatters at the moment. The putter mocking my every effort. The euphoria of a well struck drive promptly fading from memory as the succeeding iron shot forms an unintended parabola into unwelcoming flora. But I did not reveal any of these deficiencies during my interview for my summer job.

The pandemic has created havoc in every direction. The time from the earliest whispers of this coronavirus to its placement in the very heart of the very, very nervous system of this entire planet, making the definition of certainty absolutely uncertain. What once was immutable now but muted.

And as our economic universe wobbled, one of those arenas taking a direct hit was summer camps. That oasis for children, that place where parents of certain means could store their offspring for a short while, home to some of the best days for many young lives, now with a "closed until further notice" sign. There were a few exceptions, but for most of these camps, as for virtually everything else, 2020 was the summer that wasn't.

I spent my summers from ages 6 through 12 in the mountains of the Poconos. At a camp that focused on athletic endeavors, milk and cookies for an afternoon snack (I always stood in the chocolate milk line), brother and sister meetings by the campfire and Color War. And Joy Lutsky, who walked away with one of my sweaters for each of the last few summers in recognition of my ardor for her.

I was intended to spend my life in such a place. Now closing in on 70 years on this planet, I would still walk around with a baseball glove on my hand if it were even remotely socially acceptable. My greatest skill in life still making little kids crazy as they find an old person with the spirit of a six year old, willing to speak with them not at their level but at mine, which coincidentally happens to be exactly as theirs 

As the world lurched forward towards the summer of 2021, old realities returning to their rightful spot, still it was not quite what it once was. For camps in this area of the Berkshires, it was not necessarily a wariness on the part of parents to allow their little ones to leave the protective wombs, for there was an absolute hunger to allow their children to be nothing more than children again. Rather, it was an issue of finding people to oversee the well being of the assembled.

One arm of this dilemma was in not being able to freely recruit help from foreign countries. To my understanding, many summer camps rely heavily on staffing up with those who are not from here but way over there. This year, over there was too often merely out of bounds.

As the Coronavirus refused to go quietly into the night, as other countries continue to stagger under the weight of this disease, the relative ease and simplicity of coming and going is not so simple after all. And this is where I come in.

My daughter and son in law have become fast friends with the owners of one of these summer camps in the Berkshires. It being located no more than the full length of a championship golf course from where I reside. A sports camp with a small driving range, where golf is more of an asterisk, an afterthought, than a centerpiece. 

A pro golfer from England had served as master of ceremonies for the slices and hooks, the dribbles and the occasional wondrous swing. Six days each week there were skills being taught, if not always absorbed. But not this year, as he stayed on the wrong side of the Atlantic, marooned by an invisible deadly enemy.

Since Tiger was still sidelined with leg injuries and thus unable to undertake the demands of this role, the focus turned to lesser lights to fill the need.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. As my daughter and son in law extolled my virtues to their friends, and the owners undoubtedly understood that I would pay them to be allowed to be at the place on earth best aligned with my soul, my name scrolled across their ticker.

"Hello, this is Mike". He had me at hello.

I arranged to meet him at camp early the following week for my interview.

I think the first mistake I made was bringing my wife and son along with me, not only to visit the camp, but to actually be present while the owner and I spoke. I think it belied any seriousness of purpose on my part.

In retrospect, I also believe that my limiting my commitment to one day a week, rather than six, was not helpful to my cause.

Still, I held out the faintest hope that my winning personality, or maybe the urgency of their finding any solution, no matter how imperfect, might allow me to turn my fantasy into a part time reality.

Sadly, my phone has not rung since that day with a call offering employment. Maybe I merely performed poorly in my interview. Maybe the owner actually learned of my limited skill set. 

But, I will have to survive the disappointment and hope that another opportunity presents itself for me to find myself at the place on earth where I am best suited.

Until then I shall merely toil in anonymity, offering unsolicited and almost always unwanted advise to old men who have never been able to hit out of a bunker, will never be able to hit out of a bunker and would welcome nothing so much as my never considering that I have the capacity to impart any wisdom to anyone relating to the game of golf.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

As the Death Toll Reaches 600,000 (this is a piece I wrote almost 7 months ago in anticipation of this eventuality)




Closing Argument for the Prosecution - The People of the State of New
York vs Donald John Trump

 October 6, 2024

Six Counts- Depraved Indifference to Human Life

What is the value of a life? What is its worth? It cannot be
determined in dollars and cents. It is not a commodity that can be
traded. It is something that can truly only be measured in terms of
its impact on others, those it touches, those it shapes. In the final
analysis the value of a life, for good or bad, is judged by what it
leaves in its wake.

You all know the catastrophic numbers of Covid 19. You all know that
the landscape of this country was brutalized by this disease, raped
and pillaged and far, far too often left for dead. You all know of the
hospitals that were unable to serve their given purpose, the doctors
and nurses left screaming cries of anguish, their hearts broken day
after day at the helplessness they felt, at the smell of death that
permeated their souls.You all know of the families that were forced to
imagine the last breaths of a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, a
husband, a wife. You all know that these men and women are gravely
damaged, their spirits crushed, their tears a river of despair, their
days filled with an almost unfathomable pain.

I come before you not to ask for justice for the nearly 600,000 who
succumbed to a foe unlike any other this country has faced, a foe more
powerful than the most brutal dictator, a foe more devastating than an
atomic bomb. I do not seek retribution here for the countless millions
who are collateral damage, who have lost a friend, a lover, a
companion, a guide, a partner, a mentor, a child, a parent, a
grandparent. That is not my role.

I am tasked only with making sure that six people, six residents of
the State of New York, did not die without a voice. I am their voice
and I have told you, in chapter and verse, of their final days upon
this earth, their final words, their final looks of fear, of
loneliness, of bewilderment. Their final moments and what surely were
their last wishes.

I have told you of the days that came before Covid 19, that came when
their world was a very different place, when they were free to love
and laugh, to argue and complain, to spend their hours dreaming of the
promise of tomorrow. I have told you of the lives they lived before it
all came to a screeching halt. All because of one bad breath taken in,
one errant touch. All because of something that happened that didn't
have to.

They were neither young nor old, rich nor poor, black nor white. They
were neither perfect nor imperfect, happy nor sad, knowledgeable nor
uninformed. They were all of these things and more. They were not you,
but they could have been. They were not leaders but they might have
been. They were not destined for greatness but they should have been.
We will never know what their future held in store for them because
they have no future, only a past. Because they are dead today, they
will be dead tomorrow and for all the tomorrow's to come. There is a
finality to their existence that no wishing, no begging, no summation
of a prosecutor of the State of New York can undo.

Donald Trump didn't care about any of these people. He did not give
one thought to their welfare. He did not care about the hospital
workers, the nursing home residents. He did not care about the lives
that any of the almost 600,000 led. He did not care about their
stories, about their days, about their worries, about their dreams. He
did not care about how they lived. He did not even care if they
died.They were faceless, nameless and, in his estimation, wholly
unworthy of his consideration.

How do we know that? How do we know of his heartlessness, of his
cruelty, of his depraved indifference to the very existence of those
he was charged to protect. We know it from the words of the reporters
to whom he revealed his knowledge of the horrible certainties of this
disease and his admitted determination to do nothing about it. Even
worse than nothing. He made a calculated decision to lie about the
danger, to treat it as if it were a nuisance rather than the
unstoppable force he knew it to be. We know it in his words
challenging and belittling the pronouncements of science, of those
within his own ranks who pleaded for sanity and reason. We know it in
his endless capacity to mock those individuals who preached, who
practiced respect for the power of the enemy and who pleaded and
prayed for the President to be an equal and opposing power.  We know
it in his mistreatment of those states, New York chief among them,
from whom he withheld critical supplies, equipment and monies to
battle the enemy. We know it in the maskless gatherings of thousands,
all come to worship at the feet of this false God, all then taking the
possibility of disease away with them from these sites. We know it in
his demand for those in his administration, and those Republican
governors, senators and congressmen to follow his lead in exposing the
populations under their dominion to senseless danger. He even
willingly enlisted his wife, his own children to take part in this
Devil's play.

And for what reason did this occur? What benefit outweighed the
incalculable harm? For there must have been something. God knows there
had to be something. But we all know there wasn't. At least nothing
beyond satiating one man's ego. Nothing more than an unwillingness to
permit others to tell him how to run his country. Others to put his
reelection at risk. Others to impede his coronation. Others to
persuade him that the lives of those entrusted to his care were
something more than worthless commodities, something greater than a
dollars and cents calculation of the possible drop in value of a stock

And so today, you are given the solemn responsibility of reporting
back to the State of New York, to the United States of America, to the
world and to Donald John Trump that this is finally the day of
reckoning. Today is finally the time that the actions of this
Defendant have consequences for him. That a man whose life has only
been devoted to protecting himself, will be unequivocally informed
that he has failed in that goal, even as he has failed to protect, to
save the lives of the six in whose names we bring Mr. Trump to

For in the end, his life can only be measured by the devastation he
has left in his wake. And for this, I respectfully request, and the
six lives that are no more, demand justice. Demand a verdict of guilty
as charged.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Should The Dems Govern In Contemplation Of Trump?

 ("Three Paths to Containing Trump")

Is not the point of governing just that? To govern.

I despair of a party that leads not on principles but contemplation of what is most likely to keep them in power. Of a democracy that does not reward ideals but more likely triangulations. Of a country that reasons not what is good for the whole but what may be likely to keep one man from taking the oath of office in January of 2025.

I say to the Democrats push your agenda with every ounce of your energy. Act as if you were elected to do the good you promised. Don't allow Donald Trump to dictate the future of this country from his golf course or wherever else he may plant his ample ego.

So, Mr. Douthat, if you are asking me, and you are, I suggest the way to make America great again (sorry to borrow that phrase from you know who) is to do great things, or at least be willing to die (politically) trying. Don't govern in fear but in fervent pursuit of your beliefs.

Go big or go home.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Do You Like Light Blue, Papa

 "Do you like light blue, Papa?"

"I do. We like so many of the same things. We are so much alike."

There is a joy that attaches to me when I am in her company. A smile my constant companion as she goes about doing and saying what one does and says at her age. It is not that I find something extraordinary about her. It is that I find everything extraordinary.

"Do you like ice cream, Papa?"

"I do."

She can burst into laughter as I pretend not to see her while she hides, a large unruly mass under a blanket in forever motion but a few inches from my feet. 

She can inform her grandma "you seem a little tired" as she watches her yawn.

She can offer to hold her uncle's hand so she can ascend the stairs with him.

She can be transfixed by Daniel Tiger, seeming instantly to absorb every lesson being taught in this Mr. Rogers like neighborhood.

She can "spy with her own little eyes" a yellow school bus or clouds in the sky.

She can study intently, taking in the information of any surroundings before deciding whether it is safe to put her toes in the water.

It matters not the where, the why or when. It matters only the who.

"Do you like flowers, Papa?"

The true answer is that all I ask is for this little girl to keep asking me that question.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Mr. Trump, Don't Take Down That Blog

 ("Trump Shuts Down His Blog, Frustrated By Its Low Readership")

Donny, sorry to learn you deep sixed your blog. I thought it was the perfect forum for you.

It is really the place where ideas can be shaped and crystallized without unnecessary angst. Take it from someone who has labored for well over a decade in this arena and can still count my followers on my fingers and toes with a few digits to spare. 

Here you can test out your vile bile, like a comedian doing late night out of town stand up, keeping in the lines that draw laughs and discarding the rest. Here you can get ready for your return to prime time hatred and inciting insurrection. Here you can perfect your art of misdirection. Here you can rededicate yourself to your engine of destruction without unwanted sniping.

So please rethink your decision. The blogosphere is your ally, not your enemy. Don't put it to bed, not yet. Spend a few more months, or maybe even a year, tinkering with your material, getting your act two together. The world will thank you for it. At least that part of the world who counts each day without your incessant whining as a blessing.

Mr. Trump, don't take down that blog.

And, oh, by the way, in case you are interested, you can catch my blog at tooearlytocall.com. I am certain you will love it.