Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hill and Dale

I want to come out strong and hard, right now, for Hillary Clinton for president.

I would have voted for her had she been the nominee in '08.  I voted for Obama because he wasn't John McCain, who I like, and against the notion that Sarah Palin could possibly be the leader of the free world.

I think Hillary Clinton would be a perfect president.  She is smart and tough as nails.  She has survived an interesting (to say the least) marriage to President Bill Clinton and has produced a daughter who, by all measure, seems like a nice girl.

Hillary is a lawyer so she knows the value of a good argument supported by facts and precedent.

But most importantly she knows how Washington works.  One of the great criticisms of President Obama is that he came to Washington as a naïve rube palpably unfamiliar with the real life, real time way in which the government operates.

Sure he had been a Senator but the truth is that he spent a fair amount of his tenure there running for president and had come to the Senate with very little legislative experience.

It seems, in retrospect, that he squandered a fair amount of his first term trying to get along with the Republicans who were, simultaneously, bent on his destruction (see: Mitch McConnell)

Obama thought that if he played nice, extended his hand in friendship and made moderate proposals, that the GOP would meet him halfway and we would enter his "Post Partisan" political universe.

How wrong his hypothesis proved to be.  The Republicans weren't at all interested in playing ball with Obama.  All they wanted to do was frustrate him at every turn just waiting for '12 when they could take back The White House.

The trouble was that they put up the wrong man for the job accompanied by the wrong running mate.  The country was in no mood for the upper crust version of America that Romney exuded nor were they interested in the austere manner in which Ryan proposed fixing the finances of this country.

So Obama won a second term.  Now we see politics as they are really played.  We hear tough talk and a "my way or the highway" policy tone coming from the Executive branch.

Gone is the smiling, jovial, innocent Obama.  Now we have the Terminator.  And what has happened?

Right out of the gate we have the twinklings of bi-partisan agreement on immigration reform.  We have a vigorous debate about guns and, with Obama's Stonewall reference, the possibility of true civil rights in the US rather than merely civil unions.

Hillary Clinton knows how to talk tough and, more to the point, be tough.  She took no crap from the senators arrayed against her at the Benghazi hearings and she will take no crap from the Congress when she's caused to deal with them on the issues of the day.

She's been there and she knows how to play the game.

Put aside, for a minute, all of the noise about her past.  About Vince Foster, about Health Care, about the Terminator Seed.

What we need in The White House is someone who knows what's up and is not afraid to fight.

And the fact that she'd be the first woman in the job is a wonderful bonus. We need a woman in the job.

God knows the men have screwed it up for long enough now.  If we can have women on the front lines of war we can damned well have them in the presidency.

So...Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in 2016.

Count me in.

But please, Madam Former Secretary/Former Senator/Former First Lady.

Lose the glasses.

Please...lose the ugly friggin' glasses.  You're much better looking without them...


Seriously, what would Jesus do?

Imagine, for a moment, that somehow, we could make Jesus appear, magically. 

There you are, sitting on a bench, minding your own business and, Presto!  There he is.  Jesus. Of Nazareth.

The reason you know it's him is that, not only does it look like him, beard, robe, etc.  But he's carrying a Martin guitar which is made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  Near Bethlehem, also in Pennsylvania. And all this time you thought it was Nazareth...in the old country.  Funny...

Anyway, here's Jesus.  The man, the myth, the legend.

Do you approach him?  Do you say "hi?"  Do you wait for him to come up to you?

If it's me, I go up to him.  I put out my hand and I say, "Jesus?  How are you?  Welcome.  Wanna sit and visit for a bit?"

Given that he's new in town my suspicion is that he says "yes" and now you're off to the races.

Obviously you both have a lot of questions.  "Can you save us?"  "What did you really mean?" "Are you married or not?"

His questions are no less interesting. "What's that thing in your hand that you keep fiddling with?" "Why is there a metal ring in your nose?"  "What's an Obama?"

But ultimately you look to Jesus for some answers.  Granted, he has already given us a few, the whole New Testament thing, you know.  But things seem to be going to Hell in a hand basket and Hell is, after all, something that Jesus is supposed to know about.

Well not Hell, necessarily, but certainly Heaven.  He's been there, or so goes the folklore.  The Last Supper, Easter, The Resurrection.  All of that stuff.

As the story goes, Jesus was crucified, put in a cave and, after a day or so, emerged from the cave, spoke a few words and then went off into history. 

Believe it or don't but it suggests that Jesus would be an authority on the afterlife, Heaven, if he, in fact, had the experience that is credited to him.

So if he's been to Heaven and seen God then he can tell us the best ways to avoid Hell.  And the hand basket for that matter.

He would reiterate the Love thing, the "love thy neighbor" business as well as the "turn the other cheek" line of conflict resolution.

He had some good ideas, or so we are led to believe.  He had publicists and boosters, mind you, but even if he said only half of the things that we think he said, he's still way ahead of most of us, especially those of us who speak "in his name."

Some of those guys are unreal.  They prance and pontificate and preach "the word of God" as if they know.

What do they know?  They know what they've read or what has been told to them but nothing of the real word.  They weren't there.  How could they know the truth?

But here you are face to face with "The Man".  The Big Kahuna.  Himself.

"What should we do?"

He 's not going to reinvent the prophecy wheel.  He's not going to amend his previous declarations.  He's simply going to restate the obvious.

If you are nice to people and treat them with respect and offer them love they will treat you in kind.

Jesus was a nice guy.  He was a part time carpenter, loved his parents, had some close friends and spent his short life walking around telling people to be kind to one another.

How can that be bad. 

But what we have done in the past 2000 years, "in his name" is to twist and corrupt his words of love and use them to our own selfish advantage.

So if I'm sitting there, minding my own business and, all of a sudden, Jesus appeared and wanted to talk I'd only have one thing to say.

"Please forgive me."

Monday, January 28, 2013


This is the 43rd Annual KW Predictions Post.  Well, actually it's really the 1st but calling it the 43rd gives it a more credible sound, n'est-ce pas?

In light of the Ravens-Niners matchup on Super Bowl Sunday I predict the Ravens by 7.

I make this prediction with no scientific backup at all.  Furthermore I am a Niners fan having lived in San Francisco when they won the championship against the Bengals.  It was incredibly exciting and I can still hear The City screaming when I opened the sliders on my friend's San Bruno deck after Dwight Clark made "The Catch" during the playoffs.  It was a wonderful time in the City by The Bay.

So I pick the Ravens.  I pick them for three reasons:

1)  They are due, especially after the Colts went to Indianapolis and left Baltimore, poor "Ballmer" without Johnny Unitas' team.

2)  Michael Oher's story was so brilliantly told in "Blindside" that I can't imagine rooting for any other team.  And I don't want to get a look from Leigh Anne Tuohy at anytime during my lifetime, should I have the honor of meeting her and she had read my predictions and they weren't for the Ravens to win.  Not ever...

3) My wife is cheering for the Ravens.

Personally, I am not a huge sports fan.  To be completely honest I really don't care that much.

I grew up in New York and I suppose I am a Yankee fan, mostly because my folks were to the extent that they cared.  But I lived in Massachusetts for 25 years and therefore have an affection for the Red Sox.

But then again, I like the Brewers logo and the Mets have a new stadium (even though it will always, and forever be Shea...) and I saw the Marlins once when I was in Miami on a project.

But, truth be told, I wish the Cubs would win one.  Once.  In my lifetime.  I've only been to Chicago a few times and my mother was born there but the Cubbies deserve one.  If the Red Sox can have a World Series title then the Cubs should have one too.  It only seems fair...no?
So...the Ravens by a touchdown.

My pick.  Take it to the bank.  Bet on it.

If anybody knows sports it's me.  And my wife.

We know sports.

Pass the Gatorade please.  And since there are no wings may I please have more hummus?

Mmmmmmm.  Nothing like the Super Bowl and Hummus.

Or Tabouli.  Or Carob brownies.  Or Tofu dogs.

Let's party!!

That's Entertainment!

Ah, Nostalgia...

What a wonderful thing.  Ain't nothin' like a birthday to getcha a-thinkin' 'bout the past.

It's hard, these days, not to think that things were better in "The Good Old Days."  At least, life seemed simpler, less complicated.  There weren't as many choices and what choices there were seemed easy enough to make.

There were, for example, only a few TV stations from which to choose.  That's pretty easy.  Ed Sullivan or Lawrence Welk.  John Lennon or The Lennon Sisters.  Easy as pie. (My father preferred Welk so I am painfully hip to The Sisters but I did get to see The Beatles on Ed.  Thanks Dad...)

Now there are, literally, hundreds of stations to watch with numbers like 237.

"Honey...what's on 237?"

"I don't know but Oprah's on 236, 14 and 196."

"Which one do you want?"

"I don't care...you choose."

Yeah, right.

In a previous post I confessed to being hopelessly addicted to Law and Order.  It was one thing, years ago, when the show was just on one channel, NBC.  On such and such a day at x-hour, period.

Popcorn, slippers, cozy chair...Law and Order for a glorious hour.

Now I have to choose among three stations and three different versions of the show.  I'm definitely not complaining but it's hard for a man to decide whether to watch Lennie and Van Buren or Goren and Eames or Elliot and Olivia.

Three great casts, three great stories, three great outcomes.  I can, at least, take solace from the fact that, in the case of Law and Order, each version has the same music.  Slightly different arrangements but the same song, nonetheless.  "Boom. Boom", if you know what I mean...

Anyway, it feels as though our lives are interminably complicated these days, made so by so damned many choices and versions of virtually the same thing.

Cars, shoes, food.  How many fast food stores to we really need when they are, for the most part, all the same?  What is the difference, really, between a Big Mac and a Whopper?  Not much as far as I'm concerned.  I prefer the Whopper, personally, but they really are the same...a couple of bucks worth of garbage.

So, yeah, birthdays are great for looking back at the past, how it was "when I was young."

I don't want to go back, mind you, but I wouldn't mind fewer complications in my life.

I know, I know...it doesn't have to be that way.  I can just go with what I really want and ignore the rest.  But that's hard to do.  Really hard.

Especially when you want it all!  Cake and eat it too, ya know...?

Which reminds me.  My birthday cake was delicious.  Chocolate Ice Box Cake made by the loving hands of my caring, beautiful wife.

Layers of chocolate mousse and lady fingers covered with handmade whipped cream and beautifully decorated by my adorable daughter.

No complications there.  Love and chocolate.

Slam dunk!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New and Improved

I think I speak for most people when I say that advertising is just so much bull.

"New and improved", "As seen on TV", "50% More!"

Almost nothing that is said in modern advertising is really believable.  Products may be literally "new", as in they are in new boxes or have some sort of new packaging but, by and large, they are the same old thing all over again.

And we are treated to smiling faces, snappy jingles and crisp graphics.  And we are wooed by scenes of lives lived with ease and, in some cases, grandeur.

One ad that is especially irksome is the one now airing for Jaguar, the luxury car company.

We hear wind whistling and we see white out conditions.  A man, clad in expedition gear, emerges from the blizzard and trudges toward the camera.  Cut to his destination, a mound of snow. He finds himself in the driver's seat of a car and the camera cuts to a closeup of a button reading "start."  His gloved finger pushes the button and we cut to a long shot of the mound as the snow explodes from it revealing a car, a new Jaguar.

We then see the car driving toward the camera and then cut to a wide shot of the car driving confidently down a snowy road as music swells and the voiceover tells us that this car will be ready for us no matter when or where.

Yay!  We are saved!  We have been walking aimlessly over the tundra seemingly lost to the ages in a desert of frozen nothingness only to be rescued by the durability and worthiness of this sheet metal- shrouded god of automotive genius.

PLEASE!   You have to be kidding me!  Please, tell me that you are joking when you try to sell me on the idea that a multi-thousand dollar luxury vehicle is the one that The National Geographic would give to its' intrepids as they launch off into the wilderness in search of new discovery and world fame.

Ernest Shackleton survived a year on Antarctic ice floes by his own guile and determination not because he had a Rolls Royce to drive around in.

No self respecting explorer would be caught dead (actually they would be caught dead...) trudging through the jungle in a glossy sheet metal 4x4 with a cat as a hood ornament and Michelen radials.

At the very least they would have a Land Rover with solid tires and a winch.  Not a "Range Rover" with a baby seat and childproof window locks.  Not a "Beamer" with heated seats.  Not a "Caddy" that gets 15 highway and 12 city.

The ad has an appeal but damned if I know what it is.  If I wanted to project an image of manliness and fearlessness I'd drive a four wheel drive pickup with a spare gas can and a trailer hitch.  I'd wear jeans and a Leatherman and I'd have my baseball cap on frontwards with a logo from some obscure fishing supply store in the Tierra del Fuego.

I wouldn't drive a Jaguar into a snow bank and then head off to plant the flag on some distant iceberg expecting to come back days later, start the thing and cruise off to the nearest -ced latte bar.

Advertising attempts to sell us stuff we can't afford and don't need based on the premise that we will be cooler for owning it.

Just cold and poor.  In a Jaguar (Jag-you-are...) in a snow bank.  With no cell service.

And definitely no latte.  The iced, yes. Not the latte...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Law and Disorder

Help me...PLEASE!

I'm addicted.  I can't control myself.  I'm a junkie.  And I'm smitten.  I have a crush on Law and Order, the Dick Wolf leviathan.

All of the spinoffs, all of the episodes and all of the actors. From Elliot to Huang to Goren, Van Buren, Lennie (may he rest in peace) and McCoy.  I love em' all!

I confess to especially loving SVU or SUV as we call it in my family.  It's available on three of the cable channels and it's almost always the choice when we sit down to watch television.

What I love most is the dialogue.  The characters are so well defined and have such wonderful, sometimes very funny, lines.  Finn is street smart, Munch is the intellectual, Cragen is the Dad and Olivia the gorgeous sister with whom you had better not fool around...on any level.

And Elliot is the tough former Marine with a big heart and a real, manly-man, tattoo. (I think I ran into Christopher Meloni on the street in Manhattan recently but wasn't sure so I didn't bother him, which I now wish I had to tell him how great an actor I think he is and how much he is missed on the show but that I hope he's doing well and what he loves and that we'll see him in something else again soon...)

And the story lines are so twisted!  They are derived from actual crimes but are somehow improved upon.  You think you know what's up and then Wham!  They throw you a curve ball.

It wasn't the personal trainer, it was the janitor.  And he was having an affair with the victim's brother who was a transsexual married to the personal trainer's former father-in-law.

Stuff like that.  And then the ADA takes over and has a confrontation with either Elliot or Olivia or both and then, at the last minute, changes her mind, but it's too late and the guy is acquitted and the music swells and the scene fades to black and the words "Executive Producer Dick Wolf" appear and it's over.

Well only for a second because on the USA Network they often run what they call a "marathon" which consists of back to back, endless (thank you GOD!) episodes from every franchise, all seasons, different casts and a wide range of stories.

Albeit, the program is a bit formulaic and predictable but it is a lot like a hot fudge sundae.  There are many elements and you know exactly what you're going to get and what to expect but it is always satisfying and, after a very short while, you always want another one.

Law and Order.  Olivia and Elliot.  Ham and Cheese.

Somethings are meant to be together.

Trivia Question:

What actor from Sex in The City was in the original cast of Law and Order?


Chris Noth

You're welcome...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Black and White

Can we be serious for just one goll-durned minute...?

How many...now be honest here...how many minorities do you count among your friends?  How many have been to your house for dinner?  How many have you had a drink with recently?

I ask because I was struck ("I was struck" is a phrase used by pundits to seem erudite...OOOOO!....erudite, indeed!...to seem important.  Baloney... if, "at the end of the day", you were to ask me...) the other day when I was watching a commercial on television, by the casting choices.

There were several white women, one Asian, one Black and one Hispanic.

A lovely, interracial bevy to be sure.  But, seemingly, a departure from what I expect is the norm in our society.

I realize that I write from a White, European, American perspective.  That is the society I have come from and in which I grew up and now live.

I know that other societies are different and, therefore, the perspective would be different.

Someone who came from, and grew up in and now lives in, a Black, Asian or Hispanic environment would probably say the same thing.  They probably don't often socialize with people from other groups either.

I think it's true, however much we may wish it were otherwise, that "birds of a feather do flock together."

I was recently in a cafeteria at a major corporation and the above notion was in full display.  The Asians were all sitting together, as were the Blacks and the Whites.  There was very little commingling, if any.

Furthermore I think that racism is prevalent in our society, as a whole.  People tend to throw off on the "other", regardless of what the characteristics of that "other" is.

Yes, we have a Black President.  Yes we've had a Black Secretary of State and Black generals.  Yes we have an Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court and Black Mayors.

But do we have an truly integrated society?  I think not.  The only people, save a precious few, who really care about Martin Luther King Day are Black people.  Obama's color was very much a part of his victories in many ways.

Columbus Day is for the Italians (but not the Native Americans...forgive me Sweetheart.)  St. Patrick's Day is for the Irish and the drunks.  Christmas is for the Christians and the shopkeepers and Passover is for the Jews and those who love a full bodied, yet somewhat precocious Manischewitz.  Etc., etc,, etc...

So the TV spot I watched didn't seem to reflect any reality that I am currently aware of.  Again, I ask you.  How many lily White women in the 'burbs sit around their living rooms discussing the latest advances in douche technology with their Black, Asian and Hispanic friends?

Not many I'm sure any more than their lily White husbands stroll the golf courses of our great land in thrall with the latest musings about erectile dysfunction, all the while patting the backs of Jamal, Ming and Jose.

So the PC police have succeeded in creating no real progress in the area of race relations.  What they have done, however, is create more opportunities for minority actors.

Yo!  Action, amigo.  ACTION!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

We Need More Gyros

A Gyro is a delicious Greek sandwich sometimes pronounced like the word "hero."

Not only does the world need more delicious Greek sandwiches (what is it with the recent popularity of Greek yogurt and now Greek yogurt in cereal...? A bid to help their economy...?) but we definitely need more Heroes.

We have practically none at the moment.

Especially in the world of sports.  Especially at the Tour de France level of competition.  Especially with people named Lance.

Give me a break.  I watched his interview with the over-celebrated and much-hyped Oprah Winfrey.  It seemed to me that he was hedging.  It didn't seem genuine.  It seemed calculated.  It seemed phony.

Maybe I'm naïve but it feels as though we had more heroism in years gone by, in "The Greatest Generation", as Tom Brokaw put it.

Men volunteered to go to war.  People dropped out of school to work supporting their families.  Men opened doors and children said "Please" and "Thank you" and "May I?"

We seem to have lost the ability to think outside of ourselves and are left with only self-absorption and ego-centricity.

Enough is never enough.  More bandwith, more speed, more caffeine.  Bigger, better, FASTER!!

And no one seems to be willing to make the sacrifices that were made in generations past.  We go to war on credit cards, don't want to see the dead bodies and get fat watching endless hours of mindless "Reality" television.  Do we really need to watch a half hour devoted to brassieres or celebrity dysfunction when our children are dying in deserts, "Over There?"

We are a population of takers, not givers.  Spare me the tired rhetoric about Doctors Without Borders and the soup kitchens and shelters that dot our cities. 

Those are a rare few individuals who understand the concept of giving for its' own sake.  Loving and caring for our fellow travellers with no expectation of monetary reward.

We celebrate Bill Clinton's ability to make millions on speaking tours but don't spend much time celebrating Jimmy Carter's Habitat efforts.

And when was the last time you heard about a millionaire sports star stopping long enough to shake an adoring fan's hand, let alone give a kid's mitt an autograph (I wonder how he's doing, Ol' Mitt.  Wasn't at the Inaugural.  Hmmmm.  Sore loser?  Couldn't afford a tux?)?

They are too concerned with royalties and "security" for that.  What they forget is that without the kid they are nothing and without the kid growing up to be an overpriced ticket buying adult they'll be asking not "where's my trailer" but "want fries with that?"  And "security?" What?  Is the fan gonna hug the guy to death?  Come on!  Most of these athletes can bench press most of these fans (maybe not the "potatoes" but at least the kids...) so where's the threat?

Heroism.  Giving of yourself and expecting nothing in return.  Not just giving of your life and limb but giving inspiration and example, love and respect.

A sandwich without tzatziki or lamb is not a Gyro.

A person without humility or courage not a Hero.

He's just on the cover of a box of Wheaties, which we all know is junk food...full of sugar but lacking in real nutritional value.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


In previous posts I misidentified President Obama's daughters as Malia and Malika.  Their names are Malia and Sasha.

My apologies.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

N(ot) R(eally) A(ppropriate)

The NRA has created an ad that, among other things, suggests that President Obama is being hypocritical by rejecting the idea of armed guards in schools all the while having Secret Service protection for his daughters.

If this weren't so infuriating it would be laughable. 

There is no parallel between the two cases.  The President's children are, by their very nature, potential targets of assassination.  They are the highest profile children in the world with the possible exception of the British royal family.

Average kids in average situations are, normally, not in anyone's crosshairs.  They get up, ride the bus and spend uneventful days in schoolhouses all over the country.

It is the regular children that we are talking about in this national debate about gun violence.  The kids of Littleton and Newtown and Taft who, because they were in the wrong place one day, ended up a statistic at the FBI.

Some of the children of the wealthy and powerful spend their days in gated enclaves patrolled by private security companies and are sometimes chauffeured to and from school on a daily basis by drivers trained in the art of evasive maneuvering.

The children of Sandy Hook were ordinary kids in an ordinary school in a small town in Norman Rockwell's America.  Wrong place, wrong time.

Malia and Malika Obama may be ordinary children but they live in the most un-ordinary environment possible.

Their parents are constantly concerned with their own welfare as well as the welfare of their children.  They are surrounded by highly trained and lethally equipped members of an elite force of bodyguards responsible for protecting a head of state and his family.

For the NRA to suggest that there is a link between President Obama's children's protectors and his lack of confidence in the "armed guards in schools" solution obscures the greater point.

Military style assault weapons are appropriate for the military and putting guns in school creates the possibility of more carnage rather than less.

And what kind of message is that to send to our young children?  Do we live in a police state where violence, or the threat of violence, is met with the potential for more of the same?

The proper message our leaders, whether lobbyists or legislators, could send is one of tolerance and patience and a willingness to listen.  Problems can be solved by looking at all options and then choosing the one that fits the situation.  Radical thinking only serves to marginalize rational perspective and, in turn, creates polarization and discord.

Put more love in school not more fear. 


Here's a suggestion:

Equip guns with a GPS tracking device that can be used to deactivate the weapon in the case of loss or theft.

Make it so only the legitimate owner of the gun can turn it off.  Not the government.  Not the best friend.  Just the person who bought it and legally registered it.

That way, if a gun is lost or, more importantly, stolen it can be rendered useless by its' rightful owner and therefore wouldn't be as much of a threat to civilized society.

It won't stop all gun deaths but it might slow the problem down a bit and mute the argument that "only criminals will have the guns."

If we can put a man on the moon and control our televisions from the couch, surely we can make guns safer.

The Second Amendment is sacrosanct and an important part of our history, culture and daily life.

Keep the guns.  Buy more if you like.

But let's be sensible about how they are used in our society.  Let's engage in non-partisan conversation and listen to all possibilities, regardless of how far-fetched or nutty. Let's knock off the juvenile "us and them" extremism and find common ground.

Our future depends on it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I am Sorry (Yellow)

The trouble with public apologies is that they never ring true.  I never believe the people who are apologizing.  (I was taught never to use absolutes..."Never"..."Always"...but sometimes "if the glove fits"...pun intended)

Apologies for domestic abuse or insider trading or lying under oath or any number of other asocial transgressions seem to be the order of the day.

Apologists always (another unavoidable absolute) seem to be self-serving, more concerned with their public image as it pertains to their income stream, than with the concept of making amends and atoning for their myriad sins.

The popular impression of this act of public "contrition" is mired in the notion that the one apologizing is not so much doing so because he/she is sorry but rather sorry that he/she was caught with his/her pants down, sometimes literally.

From Charles Colson to Martha Stewart to Anthony Weiner and now Lance Armstrong, we are treated to the spectacle of the once great being paraded before the microphones and cameras to dutifully show remorse and to beg forgiveness of their once adoring public.

To that I say, "Bull!"

If you had a shred of decency and a morsel of ethical awareness you, A) wouldn't have done what you did in the first place and, B) wouldn't find it necessary to bore us with your crocodile tears and false mea culpas.

And furthermore you would donate all of your ill gotten gains to charity and, for that matter, one that dealt with your very problem.  A fund for abused women or an anger management program would be a fine place for you to put your millions.

Go back to Square One.  Go back to the moment in time when you were just beginning your career.  Start at the moment when your bank account didn't reside in the Cayman Islands.

Give all of your awards and proclamations and trophies away.  Melt them all down and give the metal to a sculptor to create a statue extolling the virtues of honor, compassion and modesty.

Give your Rolex to a worthy cause as an item to be sold at a fund raising auction.  Donate your Ferrari to pay for a year of treatment for a young victim of cancer.  Give your yacht to an inner city children's organization to be used as a floating summer camp.

Go ahead, (punk...) say "I'm sorry" and put your money where your big fat mouth is!

Return to your roots and the honorable motivations that propelled you to the level of achievement that you so recklessly squandered at the altar of your own hubris and greed.

If you can't show us that you mean what you say in actions, than your words are just hollow teleprompterizations.

Then again, a life of ignominy won't be so uninteresting.  You'll be in some pretty notable company even if it'll be hot...as Hell!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Charles Weller


Charles Weller is credited in some circles for having first used the sentence, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party."

He devised it to help people learn to use a typewriter (a what...?)  Others said "...their country" and that's the version I'm going to use now.

And I want to direct it at our new president, Barack Obama,  Actually he won't officially be our new president until the 20th but bear with me.

Now is the time for President Obama to stop fooling around with politics and come to the aid of the American people by making some brave, hard choices.

Taxes, the environment, the wars and, Godforbid, gun control.

If President Obama has any guts and/or conscience, he'll forget about whether or not his decisions are popular, or even if they will effect the midterms in 2014.

He'll choose what's good for these United States.  Not the gun lobby, or Big Oil or Martin Marietta or Wall Street.

He'll think of Joe and Jane M. America ("M" for Middle Class) and make policy based on sanity and logic and the future rather than what will be good for his legacy or library or benefactors.

This country is in the soup and the only way out is to take the bull by the horns and actually DO the things that most Americans really want.

Most Americans really want competitive schools that provide top notch education in a safe and healthy environment.

Most Americans want to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat clean food.

Most Americans want their children to come home from Afghanistan and Iraq and everywhere else on the globe where they are at risk simply for wearing a uniform that sports the American Flag.

Most Americans want reasonably priced energy that doesn't pollute the air, land and/or sea.

Most Americans want to get what they pay for in government services rather than paying a fortune and getting nothing but the wrapper.

Most Americans want to pursue happiness without fear.

Most Americans want an America that is, once again, respected and loved the world over for the good that it does rather than hatred for the trouble it stirs up.

Come on Barack!  Step up.  Have some courage.  Forget the polls and the historians.  Do what's right!

If not for us then for Malia and Malika.  After all, they're Americans too.

Do as I Say

I find it hard to believe that I say, to my daughter, almost exactly the same things that my parents used to say to me.

"When I was your age...", "When you're older you'll understand.", "When you have children of your own..."

Oh...my...God!  Am I that old?  "Where has the time gone?"  In reality, I'm NOT that old.  I'm only in my sixties.  My daughter is only in her teens.  We are separated by only four decades, plus or minus, but the differential seems like eons.

When I was a kid I reacted to my parents admonishments in exactly the same way that my daughter reacts to me...with a hefty roll of the eyes.

To her credit, she is much more polite than I was.  I rarely see her reactions.  I was a jerk. She sits and listens to me pontificate and go on, and on...and ON...about whatever, from skirt length to TV watching to homework to household chores. I stormed out in a huff.

She questions and argues her point intelligently and can be disrespectful but most of the time she just endures my predictable attempts to guide her down a safer, more productive path than I took.

It is true, as my wise wife says, that the only thing you can't give to your kids is the benefit of your experience.

Your kids have to walk down the path by themselves and experience each and every bump and twist and turn that comes their way.

It doesn't matter that you did EXACTLY the very same thing that they are doing.  It doesn't matter that you KNOW what will happen if they make that choice.

They hear you yakking but they are not listening.  They have to fall down in order to know that, A) there's a bump there and, B) what to do the next time they encounter one.

Actually they do listen once in a while. 

I have spent a lot of time telling my daughter about the dangers of smoking and thankfully, after one or two experimental tokes, she has chosen not to smoke.

I told her that drinking can make you, not only stupid, but can make you sick, or worse, dead.

I am grateful that, after a couple of "secret" sips in the woods, she has decided not to indulge.

So maybe all of the repetitive blather that I have knee-jerked into her little ears has, somehow, gotten in, past the ubiquitous iPod, telephone, TV and internet.

Maybe all of the things that my parents bored me to death with lodged in my subconscious and are now being passed down to my beautiful little girl.

A true oral history.  Real, tangible heirlooms given, like gifts, to my child by her parents, and grandparents and great-grandparents.

Like silver, or gold, or jewelry or art.

Only much better.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In The End...

In the end...it always comes down to money.

"Show me the money", "Follow the money."

Money is at the root of all evil and it makes the world go 'round.

So what we should stop talking about is the desire/need to curb gun violence.  We should start talking about is the money which is the elephant in the room.

Why else would the NRA or the video game industry or any one of the hundreds of legislators be so reticent to talk about the problems created by guns in our society?  It has to be the money.

The NRA is probably the most powerful lobby in Washington along with the Big Pharma and the defense contractors.

And our shameless politicians consistently cave to the pressure put on them by the NRA.  The NRA claim to represent average citizen gun owning voters.  But the positions put forth by the NRA are extreme, by most measures, in contrast to the data showing most gun owners favoring more comprehensive gun laws if not, at least, an open and honest dialogue about the problem. And they help fund many political campaigns.

The video game industry, along with Hollywood, has no interest whatsoever, in discussing the national gun disease because, by doing so, they would jeopardize the billions in profits that come from the sale of their products featuring and, in most cases, celebrating gun-related violence.

Granted we have a long history of that violence in this country dating back to the Revolution, the Civil War and the taming of the Wild West but those events happened long before any of us, now alive, were ever born.

The British are no longer repressing us, the War Between the States was settled (the Union won if you were curious...) and the only threat we have from the Indians is at the Casino.

It's 2013 and maybe we could have a frank and open discussion about the nagging problem that is wreaking so much havoc from Littleton to Aurora to Blacksburg to Sandy Hook and now Taft...let alone Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Oakland to name only a few.

What would be helpful would be if the citizenry would band together and support politicians directly rather than through lobbying organizations such as the NRA.  If politician "A" can't get elected without the contributions of special interests then the voters could replace the lobby's money with money of their own.

In that way the politician would be more accountable to the voters rather than the corporate few and maybe the voice of the people would actually be heard in Washington.

Sure, gun owners who belong to the NRA contribute to the lobby's treasury with their dues but they only represent a fraction of the sensible citizens of this country who want to see real change rather than political blustering and grandstanding.

If politicians funded their campaigns with individual contributions then they would be less beholden to the industries so accustomed to buying their votes to influence legislation directly tied to those industries bottom lines.

Grass roots.  Do it yourself.  Take a stand.  WAKE UP!

The problems we have will never be solved by the corporate hacks masquerading as legislators in Washington.

The only real change will occur from the ground up...never from the top down.

We have the power to help save our society...if we would only just use it in a sane, civil and constructive manner.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What 'Piers to be the Problem?

I'm sorry but I just have to speak up here!

Apparently there is a petition circulating to deport CNN host Piers Morgan back to The UK.

Has the Right completely lost it's mind?  Have they gone over the bloomin' edge (a Britishism there...)? Are they completely crazy?

The man is simply speaking his mind about gun control.  He is not advocating the overthrow of the Republic.  He is not talking about an armed insurrection (quite the contrary...)  He is not suggesting revolution.

He is using his "bully pulpit" to express views shared by millions of people, worldwide.

No one is calling for the removal of any of the hosts of the Fox News programs for their pro gun positions. To hang your hat on the fact that he is a British citizen misses the point and obscures the issue.  Who cares where he's from if all he's doing is voicing an opinion? Tourists do it all the time about rip off cabbies and crumby restaurants.  You don't see the INS or Border Patrol knocking down their overpriced hotel room doors.

Firebrands and blowhards on the Ultra-Conservative side of the argument are SCREAMING about the Second Amendment.

How DARE they complain about someone exercising their FIRST amendment right.  No...he's not an American Citizen but there is something intensely hypocritical about people proclaiming democracy as the best thing since sliced bread for peoples enslaved by tyrannies yet not ok for someone who disagrees with their views.  Freedom of Speech is a HUMAN right...!

Shame on you for using the tragedies in Sandy Hook as a tool to further your own career and political agendas.

Be a part of the solution not a force for continuing the lunacy.



It occurred to me, after yesterday's post, that I spend a fair amount of time criticizing this or that and rarely offer much more than a few words of solution.

Ergo (a fancy word for therefore...), I thought I'd try to be more helpful and less whiney (complainy...?)

I think that the solution to most of our problems is in the way that we communicate with one another. Often we don't listen, intent on making our point and prevailing in the argument.

When we are disagree with one another we tend to get louder in an attempt to empower our point of view, somehow by volume rather than by merit.

And the concept of respect is often not a part of any discussion.  We think that if someone disagrees with us than they are "less than" and, therefore (a common variety of the word "ergo" which is Latin for "therefore"...) not worthy of our respect.

If we could actually slow down long enough to, in fact, hear what the other guy is saying then we just might get some valuable information.

Some people think that you have to have a position on an issue and never change your mind.

I disagree.  I admire those who, after careful evaluation of the evidence at hand, are able to amend their point of view and conclude in a different way.

Before the discovery of the New World, conventional wisdom was that the Earth was flat.  If you sailed toward the horizon you would, eventually, fall off into an abyss full of monsters and fire.

A few brave souls ventured forth any way and, lo and behold, came back from the opposite direction.
They hadn't disappeared into the void, as many had feared, but had circumnavigated the globe and proven that the world was not flat (my apologies to Tom Friedman here, whom I greatly admire and aspire to be more like...) but round instead.

Previously held beliefs, convictions solidly felt by their owners, were shown to be faulty and required a second, fresh look.

If we could allow for the possibility that what we think, what we believe, could possibly have a different interpretation, then we could be open to new information that just might change our minds.

And imagine what it would be like if two people decided to enter a discussion with that openness.
Worlds would definitely collide.  Black and white would become gray and solutions would be found.

Love and respect and openness to possibility are all the elements needed in solving the world's problems.  If I greet you with kindness, and deference and willingness then you will be disarmed and available for me to persuade.  And if I am open to your point of view then I might be persuaded as well.  We just might find the solution that had , theretofore, eluded us both.  Two heads might be much better than one.

I think this concept is what is sorely lacking in out national discourse (uh oh...complaining again...)

Our leaders stake out positions and are unwilling to listen.  They think they are right and the other guy is an idiot. "America...Love it or Leave it!"

So that's what I think will help.  Less yelling and more listening.  Less vitriol and more harmony.  Less Latin and more cookies.

Let the schmoozing begin!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm Sorry...in Advance

I'm sorry, in advance, if I offend anyone's "delicate sensibilities" (Matt Damon in "The Departed")

The wrong kids were killed in Sandy Hook.

The children who died at The Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012 were beautiful, cheerful, darling little babies just beginning their lives.

They were sons and daughters, grandchildren, cousins and friends.

There is an unfillable hole in their families now.  Those youngsters will never again play in the backyard or wake up with a tummy ache or be thrilled with excited anticipation on Christmas morning.

They are gone.   Forever.

I was in Sandy Hook for the 8 long days after the shooting, covering the story with ABC News.  I was grateful for the assignment but hated the reason.

During that week we ended up in many conversations about what had happened and one recurring topic was the "media." 

The media was certainly there in force.  At least 1,000 journalists from around the world, accompanied by 100 satellite trucks and a lot of technicians, were everywhere.

In the local restaurants, at the firehouse, at the "downtown" crossroads.  There was no place you could go where you didn't encounter a member of the press.  We were ubiquitous.

And, to many local residents, we were an incredible pain in the ass and, some would say, the ultimate cause of the massacre.  The "fifteen minutes of fame" argument against the broadcast media.

But let me tell you something that may be a hard truth to hear.  Once we turned our cameras off, the story was over.  Not for the people in Sandy Hook who lost so much.  For them the story will never be over. 

But for the rest of the world "Newtown" became a slogan and a reference to the bloody past just like Columbine, and Virginia Tech and Aurora and the countless other examples of gun violence, large and small (Chicago, Detroit, Oakland anyone?) that are a part of our collective history.

Sure there is chatter about gun control in some quarters and maybe a few minds were either changed or opened, but the problem of violence and gun control will never change.

The politicians and, so-called "leaders", we look to for guidance are too cowardly and self absorbed.

They don't care about anyone but themselves and their own narrow self interests.

Which brings me back to my original premise.  The wrong kids were killed in Sandy Hook.

If they had been the children of the chairman of Smith & Wesson, or the children of the president of the National Rifle Association or the children of Congress, then we'd see action.

Had they attended Sidwell Friends or St. Albans or Deerfield then we'd hear an entirely different tune.

The unfortunate truth about our social structure is that the people we entrust to make the decisions that directly effect our daily lives are so disconnected from the realities that we face that they have absolutely no idea about the impact that those decisions have.

Men who never served this country send our sons and daughters to die in war.

Companies who don't use their own products foist those goods on us and turn the other way when we get sick or die from using them, disclaiming their way out of lawsuits.

And advocates against the myriad social issues that litter our consciousness, from abortion, to stem cell research to healthcare to gun control never seem to be the people directly affected by those "passionate" positions.

There's a big difference between an intellectual stance and the real world.  Philosophy has its' place in the classroom and the café.  The real world is what lurks just outside the door.

And it's tragic that the right kid's parents don't know that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Middle School

The political establishment in this country is more akin to Middle School than it is to a serious legislative organization.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Sometimes this, purportedly, august body is reduced to game playing and name calling that you would be more likely to find on any schoolyard rather than in a world capitol.

Members of Congress act like they have never heard to the words "respect" and "compromise."  Gone are the days when Senators and Congressmen would gather to discuss and debate an issue and craft laws that served the country.

Nowadays they get embroiled in hyper-partisanship and miss the bigger picture.

They have been elected to represent a given constituency.  Stipulated.  But that group of voters is a part of the larger whole we like to call The United States. 

We decided, in 1776, to band together and create a nation that would go on, in the ensuing decades, to become one of the greatest democracies ever known.

But we are at risk of turning this country into a third rate affair.  Our infrastructure is crumbling.  Our education has gone from the best to not nearly so.  Our economy, once the strongest, is, perpetually, on the brink of collapse.  Our reputation in the world as kind and helpful global citizens has been shattered by unnecessarily protracted wars and incessant international meddling.  And our popular culture, the envy of every society, is contributing garbage rather than artistic innovation.

What has gone wrong?  What happened?

What happened is the systematic degradation of the moral fabric of this once great nation.  I don't mean porn in prime time or violence in our schools, malls and churches.

I mean the almost total absence of heroes and real leaders.  Instead of Jim Thorpe we have Lance Armstrong.  Instead Chester Nimitz we have David Petraeus.  Instead of Theodore Roosevelt we have George W. Bush.

The people who are celebrated are often the ones who have accomplished the least.  We put all of our faith and hope in television and sports celebrities and couldn't pick the Surgeon General out of a lineup.

When Latrell Sprewell can attack his coach on national TV and become the hero of thousands of boys, old and young, then we have completely lost our way.

When Martha Stewart can go to prison for insider trading and emerge from her "country club" incarceration and be welcomed back into our kitchens with open arms, then we are in trouble.

And when Eliot Spitzer can violate our trust by hypocritically engaging in the very behaviors he campaigned against and then be awarded a lucrative cable contract...well then we are all doomed.

And let's not forget Richard Blumenthal's alleged lying and Lindsay Lohan's debauchery and Chris Brown's domestic violence charges.

We fall at the feet of people who have shown a patent disregard for the law and, more importantly, the concept of integrity.

So it is no wonder that our legislators act like little children at an assembly.  They have no moral compass.  They can't tell right from wrong.  They are only out for themselves and are elected by a selfish and corrupt group of "base" (in all senses of the word...) voters whose only concern is for what serves them not the country as a whole.

Ultimately...shame on us.  We put up with mediocrity and then complain about the results.  We have abandoned excellence and settled for the easiest way in or out of any situation.

Do we demand to see the coffins as they pass through Dover?

Do we demand an accounting of the billions spent bailing out the Wall Street wealthy?

Do we demand the best in our educational systems?

No, no and no.

We sit passively by as our society slowly vanishes.  This is not about "family values", the tired and disingenuous slogan of the Right.

This is about honor, integrity and morality of the highest kind.

Without those values it will soon be over.

"Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me."

True then...true now.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

There's a First Time for Everything

I'm getting older by the day.  I'm in my sixties now but it wasn't always so.

I was 5 once. 

And the other day I was reminded of that fact.  I was leaning over to tie my shoes and realizing that it was a bit of a chore.

My back hurt and I couldn't easily reach the laces because of a combination of factors; too much belly and not enough flexibility.

I've been working on the belly part trying to eat less crap and taking the stairs at a brisk clip rather than the escalator.  It's working.  I went down a pants size and I feel better but, nevertheless, the shoes weren't as easy as they used to be.

And that reminded me of the first time I tied my own shoes.

It was the spring of 1956.  I was living in Woodmere on Long Island.  Woodmere is one of "The Five Towns" (Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Inwood and Hewlett if you were wondering...) near New York City.  It's a bedroom community and my parents and my late sister had moved there from Manhattan to escape the city on behalf of country living.  My father was able to keep his boat in Macy's Channel near Far Rockaway and my folks had a vibrant social life. My Dad left his bike at the train station when he commuted into the City.  That kind of place.

They had torn up our street, Brower Avenue, in order to replace the sewer and water lines so there were big (to me) piles of dirt everywhere.  The perfect environment in which to get dirty and play.

One of the neighborhood boys, who was much older than I, probably 8 or nine, was in the street when I came out to play in my dungarees and Buster Browns.

He was very cool as I remember because, for one thing, he wore sneakers.  They were black U.S. Keds and were the higher type with the round rubber label on the side.  He alse wore dungarees (Dungarees...not Blue Jeans.  Dungarees...!) and he had on a nondescript tee shirt.

But what made him especially hip, in my eyes, was the fact that he could tie his own shoes.

I was solely dependent upon my parents for this necessary task.  Never mind food and shelter.  Shoe tying was the thing I was fixated on at that moment.

So there we were.  Two little boys sitting in a pile of dirt talking about our shoelaces.  

He told me to pick up the two laces, one in each hand.  I followed intently. 

"Put one over the other and then pull the bottom one through the hole," he said.

I did exactly what he told me to do.

"Pull them tight."

I did.

"Make a loop with the left one and take the right one and swirl it around the loop and under the swirl and pull the loop of the second lace through and pull them all tight and even them out and make sure they aren't uneven so one will drag on the ground and you could slip on it or snag it on a tree and fall down."

What, I thought?  What the HECK ("Hell" was not available to me then.  My vocabulary has since expanded to include other, more colorful, words that I wish I had had at my disposal at that time...) are you talking about??

I did what he said and failed.  He explained it all again and demonstrated on his sneakers.  I tried again and, lo and behold, after a few mistakes, I succeeded!

Whoopee!  I could tie my own shoes!  I proceeded to tie and untie them a hundred times and
couldn't wait to show my mother.

She, no doubt, saw it as a triumph but certainly not as the liberating event that it was to me.  Today, laces, tomorrow the MOON!

But the reminiscence about my shoelace tying Baptism made me think of other "firsts."

The first time I rode a two-wheeler (my father pushed me around the yard on my "new to me" blue bicycle with the skinny tires endlessly until I finally stayed up by myself.  I had never had training wheels.  I went from trike to bike in one afternoon!)

My first baseball glove.  I was a terrible player but had a cool Red Schoendienst autograph model which I still own...

My first kiss...in the bullrushes at the beach while my mother played backgammon nearby. If she had only known...

My first movie...Disney's "Lady and the Tramp."  C'mon...give me a break.  It was in the 50s.  Life was different then. 

Etc. etc., ad infinitum.

There's a first time for everything and those firsts are priceless moments never to be repeated.

But be careful.  Memory Lane is a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.  As Don Henley famously sang, "Those days are gone forever. I should just let them go but..."


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tax This!

I'm sorry but I will just have to weigh in here.

For a long time now we have been hearing and talking about taxes.  Grover Norquist (hard to take a guy with a name like that seriously but he's got legislators by the cojones...) has said that we don't need new taxes and many Americans agree.  "Leave my money alone!"  they cry.

But the problem really isn't taxes.  It's corruption.

We are taught at an early age that there "ain't no free lunch."  That's not quite true as many kids get lunch for free in school when their parents pay no taxes at all.  But that's an entirely different matter.

The fact is that we, as a society, have decided that we want a lot of stuff.

We want roads and bridges and clean air and safe food and a military that is prepared to protect us from "all enemies, foreign and domestic."

We want good schools and libraries and a host of other things that make our lives better.

And all of that costs money.  A lot of money.

Our problem is not with the fact that we have to pay for what we get but that an inordinate number of people have either figured out how to game the system and/or have found the myriad loopholes in the labyrinthian tax code and end up paying little or no tax while enjoying all of the benefits.

If you are rich you can hire a shrewd accountant who can devise schemes by which you avoid taxes through shelters and trusts and complicated investments.

If you are poor or middle class you just pay what the government says and just keep going, paycheck to paycheck in some (most) cases.

If you are rich and connected you go to the head of the line in the bidding process and by virtue of your influence, through campaign contributions, you can charge $1,000 for a $10 hammer and the "oversight" committee "concerned" with your industry will look the other way.

So what we should be talking about is not taxes, because we need the money for all of our desired services, but corruption and special interest influence peddling that takes the money we pay in and distributes it to a very rich and influential few.

Term limits, sunshine laws, bi-partisan and/or civilian oversight groups and citizen pressure will help turn this foundering ship around.

Without a real change in the way that government conducts our business, going over the "fiscal cliff" will seem, in nostalgic hindsight to have been a sunny day at the beach.

George H.W. Bush (hope he's recovering comfortably) had it half right; 

"Read my lips...NO MORE BULLSHIT!!"

When I Was Your Age...

I received a cheerful email from Verizon yesterday that informed me that I am eligible for an upgrade (Yay!) and, therefore, a new iPhone (um, uh Yay...?)

That made me think of the my childhood.  When I was a kid I, like every other kid, wanted the newest and the latest.

The newest bike, the latest record, the neatest and coolest sneakers.

But I have come to, in my senior years (ha!) to see "new" as nothing more than advertising baloney.

I understand that the iPhone and it's ilk can do amazing things.  Like pretend to be a beer or popcorn or be a flashlight.  It can also, incidentally, be a phone and a letter writer.

The touchscreen is a pain for those of us with larger, fatter fingers.  It is very easy to misspell any word by simply hitting the wrong key.  I confess to owning a Blackberry.  My teenage daughter has informed me that nobody really emails anymore, they all text, and that Blackberrys are so, well, so very "elderly."  Thanks for that.

So here goes for those of you over 60.

When I was a kid we had:

Black and white television
Black and white photography
78 rpm records
One, black, rotary dial telephone
Manual typewriters
Carbon paper
The word "gay" meaning "happy"
Compromise in Congress

We didn't have:

The Beatles
The Internet
Cell phones
Bottled water
Flat screen televisions
The Kardashians

I'm just sayin'...