Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

My cousin, Billy Joseph, died yesterday.

We grew up together. He was younger than I am and we all called him Billy. I tried to call him Bill when we got older but it sounded wrong.

He will always be Billy to me.

He was a thoroughly wonderful man. He was the best part of our family.

He was the youngest child and only son of my Aunt Jean and Uncle Lenny. Jean was my mother's older sister.

They lived in Teaneck, New Jersey. That's where we would gather to spend almost every Thanksgiving. I would always end up in trouble and my mother and uncle would often argue but Billy was always happy and would help turn discord into harmony.

And he was always sweet. He was very sentimental. He loved, and was very attentive to, his mother and to the rest of his immediate family.

He was a terrific brother to his two older sisters, Laurie and Margie, and a great uncle to Michael and Danny, Margie's boys.

He was a proud Jew and I will always remember how he read the Kaddish at my father's funeral. He helped create the continuity we all needed at that sad moment

Billy graduated from Clark University in Worcester and almost immediately went to work for Canon, USA.

Canon's headquarters are in Lake Success, New York. It's funny that Billy would work in a town called "Lake Success" because that's what his life was...a total success.

Billy met Sofi, from whom he was divorced, in Mexico when he was working there running Canon's operation. They had two kids, Andy and Sharon. He loved those kids...and they loved him. I suspect they always will.

We all will.

Everyone loved Billy. That was probably because he loved everybody back.

When the word got out over the past few days that he was in a Hospice facility, 34 of his friends came to visit. Thirty four...!

And there can be no better testament to the magnificence of the man than the fact that, in his last weeks, his former wife and her boyfriend nursed him in her home.

Billy Joseph was a jewel. He had the qualities we all strive for. He was kind and generous and smart and funny and above all he was sweet.

The Jews have a word for it.

He was a Mensch.

Billy Joseph was, quite simply, the best.

Happy Thanksgiving Sweet Man. I will always love you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Piper Time

You know how the saying goes. "If you want to dance..."

WTF (Washington Town of Fools)?

They are all going crazy in Washington this week about raising the debt ceiling limit.

The Democrats want to raise it and promise future cuts to try to get the country's financial house in order.

The Republicans are playing politics and won't agree to the myriad plans being offered as long as tax hikes are a part of the solution.

What is wrong with these people? Is it because they don't have to pay for anything that they don't understand the relationship between services offered and the need to pay for them?

We are fighting three plus wars, unemployment is high, our infrastructure is crumbling and our food, water, air and health system are all in crisis.

But "NO TAXES!" is the cry from The Right.

No taxes?

How else to pay for everything?

A first grader knows that if you want a candy bar you have to have a nickel.

You can borrow the nickel from Uncle Morty but he'll want the nickel back and a penny on top of it for good measure.

So you either earn the nickel outright or you borrow it or you forego the candy bar.

Or you steal it...

We, as a society, want a lot of services. From Medicare to Social Security to national defense and safe food, we want a lot from our government.

Over the years we have wanted more and more yet the Republicans continue to maintain that we can have everything without paying for it.

We can have troops in 3 theaters of operation for free.

We can have good health care and retirement funds for nothing.

We can have confidence in our food supply by the good graces of the Easter Bunny.

And they want to extend the Bush Tax economic policy which didn't work for Reagan any better than it worked for Dubya, whose father correctly labeled it "Voodoo."

Again I say...WTF?!!!

People object to high taxes in part, I suspect, because of two things.

One is that they see the rich and the political class being unaffected by those taxes.

And, second, they see the tax money either being squandered or misappropriated. Can anyone say "Bridge to Nowhere", "Bank Bailout" or "$600 Hammer?"

I don't think we, as a people, would mind paying money for the continuation of good quality services as long as we felt that the taxes were fair and that corruption was being stopped at all levels of government.

But until that day we will bitch and moan about having to pay for what we want.

I think that Congress and Obama will reach an agreement, albeit at the eleventh hour, when they realize that their paychecks will be in jeopardy if they don't.

They couldn't care less about "The American People."

We're disposable

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dr. Leery I Presume?

The Sixties.

Timothy Leary.

"Tune in, Turn on, Drop out."

I consider myself a political junkie. I regularly tune in to politics. I have covered it as a broadcast cameraman. It intrigues me.

I turn on to it. Hence the term "junkie." I'm somewhat addicted.

But recently I have found myself in the third part of that infamous phrase.

I am watching myself drop out.

As I have written in this space before, I was in Invesco Field in Denver in 2008 and about 100 feet from Barack Obama when he accepted the historic nomination of the Democrats to be their candidate for the presidency.

People were screaming and crying and holding one another. It was a time to rejoice, to be hopeful.

It was a moment at which we believed, however naively, that "change" was, indeed, possible.

But now, three years later, I find myself tuned out, turned off and in the process of dropping out.

I'm not paying attention. I just don't seem to care...

I am totally disappointed in Obama. The Republicans, to whom I actually listen, are devoid of ideas and leadership ability.

The entire political class is morally and intellectually bankrupt, in complete denial and totally out of touch with the average American.

The Tea Party offers a philosophical ray of hope but they, too, are unconcious when it comes to reality.

The power base in Washington is really on Wall Street and the monied interests control the conversation and, therefore, the agenda.

The problems we face as a nation are complicated and diverse. I don't pretend for an instant to have the answers but I do know one thing.

The politicians yammering to get our votes will say anything to get elected and once in office will do what their sponsors have directed them to do.

Until we start telling the truth and elect people who actually give a damn about this country more then their own pockets we will continue to be doomed to riding the slide down, down, down to our eventual demise.

This grand experiment, begun 235 years ago, has drifted so far from the moral center intended by the founders that it scarcely resembles the same country for which we have been fighting, lo these many years.

It's a tragic and horrible shame.

Obama can't fix it because he's the problem. Romney, Palin, Pawlenty and Bachmann, et al, can't fix it because they, too, are the problem.

The problem can't be fixed because we're out of ideas.

The problem can't be fixed because we're out of leaders.

The problem can't be fixed because we're out of heros.

Happy Independence Day...