Saturday, February 26, 2022

David, With a Home Made Molotov Cocktail, Takes on Goliath

 It is the story of David and Goliath, except now David has no stones in his sling.

With tanks rolling in, helicopters and planes flying overhead, bombs piercing their hearts, Ukrainians are left armed with nothing but their will and instructions to prepare home made Molotov cocktails. Guns handed out at seeming random to ordinary citizens on the street to somehow defend themselves against the arrival of overwhelming force by a massive, well trained, enemy.

And the world watches. And speaks of more and tougher sanctions. And waits for the slaughter to be over.

Putin has fully calculated that while sticks and stones may break bones, mere words of economic pain will never deter him. And that, in this tale, it is not Goliath, but Kyiv, that will suffer a mortal blow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Who Are We?

 ("Ukraine and the Crisis of American Self Belief")

Who but us, indeed.

Putin is not blind. He sees we have grown weary, and wary, of wars in far off lands. That we have no appetite, whatever misgivings this creates, to preserve and protect with our bloodshed, the rights of those being trampled upon by the likes of an obsessed autocrat.

Putin knows full well that we have weakened ourselves and our standing in the eyes of the world with our internal struggles. A former leader who attempted to bring democracy in this country to its knees. And a Congress that can only agree to disagree. Our sense of moral superiority, or at least moral integrity, deeply compromised.

It is a damaged America that Putin looks upon as he calculates and triangulates. One that he has determined has not the psychological wherewithal, not the unbridled commitment to cause, even as it purports to have the stated intention, to keep him from planting the Russian flag deep into Ukraine.

Who are we? Putin is answering that for us with every mile his forces move closer to their goal.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Aggressor

 ("Putin Orders Forces to Ukraine's Breakaway Regions")

The Ukrainians are the "aggressors" like an opponent who continually put his face in the path of Mike Tyson's fist was the aggressor.

Surrounded by 190,000 Russian troops, the idea that Ukraine would provoke confrontation is one that  would be a bad joke if it weren't so deadly serious.

As they send in "peacekeepers" to do anything but that, Mr. Putin's long all consuming obsession with Ukraine is nearing its inevitable conclusion.

And the world watches unable, or at least unwilling, to do anything to stop him in his tracks.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Fifty Differences Between Dems and Republicans

The Dems ask what they can do for you.

The Republicans know what they can do to you.

The Dems believe all for one is possible.

The Republicans believe in as much for one as possible.

The Dems see things as they are and ask why.

The Republicans make things up and ask why not.

The Dems reside in a big tent.

The Republicans live in a big house.

The Dems protest evil.

The Republicans protect evil.

The Dems try to conquer divides.

The Republicans try to divide and conquer.

The Dems search for the truth.

The Republicans hide behind lies.

The Dems never know for certain.

The Republicans are certain they know.

The Dems want to love you.

The Republicans love to hate you.

The Dems feel your pain.

The Republicans cause your pain.

The Dems believe in serving man. 

The Republicans believe in man-servants.

The Dems open their arms.

The Republicans close their borders.

The Dems say we can't survive in an environment of toxins.

The Republicans thrive in a toxic environment.

The Dems want minorities on the Supreme Court.

The Republicans hold a majority of the Supreme Court.

The Dems interest is in principles.

The Republicans is in interest on principal.

The Dems seek a meeting of the minds.

The Republicans mind if they have to meet.

The Dems are concerned about the times we live in.

The Republicans are concerned about the Times.

The Dems want to earn your vote.

The Republicans want to remove your vote.

The Dems believe all people are created equal.

The Republicans believe all rich are created superior.

The Dems focus on character.

The Republicans focus on characters.

The Dems find strength in dignity.

The Republicans are strongly indignant.

The Dems are in favor of a minimum wage.

The Republicans are in favor of a minimum wage.

The Dems believe in obligations as well as rights.

The Republicans believe in their right to have no obligations.

The Dems are a party by the people.

The Republicans have parties with the people they buy.

The Dems are the party of affirmative action.

The Republicans are the party of no.

The Dems ask if the meek will inherit the earth

The Republicans ask who will inherit the wealth


The Dems say this is the land of the free.

The Republicans say that's exactly what's wrong.

The Dems believe in the power to heal.

The Republicans believe in the power of heels.

The Dems care for the least.

The Republicans could care less.

The Dems know right from wrong.

The Republicans know left from right.

The Dems walk a mile in your shoes.

The Republicans hail a cab.

The Dems worry about raging fires and melting ice.

The Republicans worry about how hot or cold the shower is.

The Dems say numbers don't lie.

The Republicans then lie about the numbers.

The Dems see the inequality in justice in our courts.

The Republicans see injustice in equality.

The Dems are the party of the donkey.

The Republicans are a party of jackasses.

The Dems think before they act.

The Republicans act before they think.

The Dems swear by the Constitution.

The Republicans swear at the Constitution. 

The Dems are always on the defensive.

The Republicans are always offensive.

The Dems want to help you up.

The Republicans want to hold you up.

The Dems believe you lead your followers by example. 

The Republicans believe they will follow wherever you lead.

The Dems are the party of blacks and whites.

The Republicans are the party of black and white.

The Dems want to get a shot.

The Republicans want to take a shot.

The Dems believe in the right to an abortion.

The Republican right believes this is an abortion. 

The Dems believe in wind and solar power.

The Republicans believe that is a lot of hot air.

The Dems want to earn your trust.

The Republicans want a trust that earns.

The Dems believe in rock and roll.

The Republicans believe in Rolling Rock. 

The Dems are searching for the right path.

The Republicans tell them exactly where they can go.

The Dems believe good trumps bad.

The Republicans believe Trump.

The Dems want world peace.

The Republicans want a piece of the world.

The Dems want more who think like me.

The Republicans want more.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Say It Is So, Joe

 ("Can Dems Dodge Doomsday?")

This presidency has been beset by what seems like the 10 plagues. Covid has been center stage from the first breath of this administration, has taken so many from us, and fundamentally altered the lives of all those who remain.

We are disoriented and disillusioned. We have been shut in, shut out and, in the eyes of far too many, shut up. We see prices rising, tempers flaring and the drumbeat of war escalating. We are scared and scarred.

It is not a moment for Dems to speak of successes, to defend and deny, but rather to admit that we are weary and wary, sad and sick of the struggle. It may not win the day but it won't lose it.

Joe Biden must tell the hard truths in the way that fits this man. He must radiate empathy, compassion and an understanding that America will not be fooled by trying to put lipstick on this particular pig.

By facing the worst with open eyes and open arms, Joe would be the best Joe he can be. It is all we can ask of him and the least we can expect.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A Fall From Grace (In Two Part Harmony) -

 As certain as death and taxes.

As undeniable as the rising and setting of the sun.

In a million tomorrow's not this.

Our eyes betray us.

The impossible happening not once but again and then again.

Dreams shattered on the side of a hill. A lifetime of labor swept away as dust in the wind

As if, at his apogee, Michael Jordan forgot how to soar, Michael Phelps went to war with the water, Tom Brady's arm glared at him as  useless appendage.

There are stars and then there is the GOAT.

This doesn't happen to the GOAT.

Not to Simone Biles. And never to Michaela Shiffrin.

 As certain as death and taxes.


Like a wounded bird. Unable to fly.

Tethered to the ground by allegations, intimidations, implications and insinuations. 
The ice beneath her feet and in her veins now a pool of tears on her face. Pain filling the very air she breathed.

And in the moment, who could not express sympathy for the little girl lost. 

Kamila Valieva, damaged and bewildered.

A bird with a broken heart.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Brothers (and Sisters) In Arms

In times of distress, it often helps to be embraced, emotionally at least, by those similarly situated. Whether one is battling addiction, illness or loss, it can be both educational and comforting to share war stories with others who fully understand the difficulties you are attempting to comprehend and conquer.

And so it was recently when my wife and I strolled the streets of our town as I began my trek back to what I was before what I am now, my arm in the black sling serving as ever present advertisement of my condition. When who, or more accurately, what should we chance upon moving steadily in our direction. Yes, another black sling, resting on another left shoulder. Sling to sling, I asked as I approached, what happened to you.

What are the odds of another rotator cuff, biceps tendon tear bumping into me (at a safe distance) on my meandering? Since we both wore our hearts on our sleeve, we became instant comrades. His insult, I learned, caused by the trauma of age, not injury. His recovery a few weeks my senior. His limb a few strides in front of me. As we parted company, much like the Lone Ranger, I knew not this masked man's name, but I was now aware of his rank and serial number as a soldier in our struggle against a common enemy.

And then, last evening, the cell phone rang, another left shouldered, recent rotator cuffer having learned of my circumstances and checking in to see how I was faring. Giving me the wisdom borne of her experience, seeking to reduce my discomfort as to the known and unknown I will encounter on my journey. Had I tried this remedy for sleeping, that one to lessen the physical trauma. Informing me as to a rehab therapist with excellent hands. Acting as a mentor to teach me the tricks of our unsolicited and unwanted trade. 

I am grateful for their guidance, and the knowledge that I am far from alone in my battles. In fact, residing in a town with a disproportionate percentage of those in the latter stages of taking up their allotted space on this sometimes not so firm terra, I now suspect I could put my fishing stick down on just about any corner and land me another left shouldered sling.

Here we are one for all and all, at least in our travails, as one.

Brothers (and sisters) in arms.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Deja Vu All Over Again

I always hoped my children would find there were certain aspects of mine they would find worthy of  emulation. Unfortunately, the list appears to be paper thin. It is not my singing voice, not my sense of humor, not my myriad inabilities stacked one on top of the next. They did not follow me on my career path. It is not that they don't like me well enough. It was just that I was left to meander through life in my own fashion, while they have followed their own bread crumbs, thank you very much.  That is, until this past weekend. Most regrettably.

Today I visited the doctor who had first diagnosed the extent of the trauma to my left shoulder several weeks ago. I also made a trip to the same lab that took images of my injured parts. But on this occasion it was not to reinspect my wounds, but to examine another member of my family. Did this have to be the way in which my son chose to be like dear old dad?

What odds would you give that, within a month after my fall, my first born would trip over his ski pole and land with a resounding thud on his ski season, merely and clearly so he could practice empathy rather than sympathy. The left rotator cuff and biceps tendon both barking at him in a similar, though seemingly slightly less aggressive tone than the orchestra of scratching fingerprints across a blackboard that were shouted into my ears. 

It is hard to decide whether to laugh or cry at the distinct possibility that we will soon be side by side in the rehab facility performing the same tasks. The ringmaster advising (by our last name) that one of us needed to step it up, and each of us thinking he was talking about the other. The best news, for the moment, is that it is hoped he will be able to avoid the surgeon's scalpel, although I do have a good one to recommend should push (or fall) come to shove.

Our residence looks more than ever like a wing of a hospital. With ice packs and bottles of pills, my ever-present sling, all hosted by my wife. When one peruses the dictionary for the word beleaguered there is little doubt whose picture is prominently displayed. Now faced with the impossible task of tending to the needs of two very needy people.  When I asked her today as to the two words she most regretted uttering, it was intended as the perfect set up line for the expected, and received, retort :"I do."

I say this in a whisper (so as not to put the hex on it) but my recovery from last week's surgery has gone swimmingly to date. The imagined horrors of the first few days at home did not materialize and I think I have been semi-pleasant in the house. I can only hope that my son's injury proves less consequential than feared, and that soon he is fit and willing once more to test out the laws of gravity on the slopes.

For the moment, we are holding our collective breath. As for my wife, I can only imagine what she is thinking. But I would wager a small fortune that her words of contemplation are suitable for mature audiences only.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Pills and Sympathy

 February 2, 5 AM.We are on the Harlem River Drive going 40 MPH, in the middle lane. Cars are passing on both sides, as if we are standing still. My wife's night vision is, to put it bluntly, lousy. When car lights coming in the other direction get near, she tells me she can't see the road. I am on my way to the hospital for surgery. I am just not sure, given how this trip is going, what they might be operating on.

Everyone at the hospital wants to know my name, date of birth and if I know why I am there. Most of the time I get all the answers correct. My favorite part of this experience is the warm long yellow socks they give me to slip into. These make their way home with me, like that imagined bathrobe from the fancy hotel I never stayed in. And a close second is the little tv on a swivel I got to watch in my curtained off cubicle while waiting for my grand entrance. That unfortunately did not get tucked into my goody bag.

I am scheduled to be sliced and diced at 7:30 and, at the appointed hour, I am in an operating room with a lot of strangers, all wearing similar clothing. I don't think I formed any lasting friendships there. 

The next thing I really recall is staring at nine bottles of pills on the bedroom dresser. It does not give me a sense that the next few days will be ones to treasure. I  received a nerve block before surgery, so day one was  actually
a bit of a honeymoon. Today is day two and  now reality has replaced fantasy. And the pills have become my new best friends.

The worst side effect is I don't feel like talking on the phone. So all the sympathy I  could soak up like a sponge is left dangling.  I hope this passes soon as it was probably what I most looked forward to as a collateral benefit for my suffering.  

For the moment, I am tuckered out and will have to leave you here.  But I request that my bride gets the honor of being deemed most exhausted as you can only imagine the length and breadth of her 24 hours. Save your well wishes for the one who deserves it.

P.S. - Our car totally broke down today (from fear, I am quite certain)