Sunday, February 28, 2016

Campaign 2016


Nothing ignites passions like hatred; not love, friendship, nor respect.  It is the entire Republican platform. Derision. Talk softly and you are a loser. Jeb got jabbed with it.

And this is still spring training. Between Super Bowl and Super Tuesday, our two highest holidays. Just a preview of coming attractions. They are clawing each other as if their own MGM lion has been un-caged. Bed-wetter. Choker.

Soon our national pastime, quadrennial carnival will begin in earnest. It’s safe to assume they are saving their best poison barbs for the post-convention full-frontal assault.   

Must we hear that Trumpet?  That rouged-faced, straw-haired Colonel Blimp give ‘m his old razzle-dazzle? Yes, we must. I, for one, offer myself as human sacrifice to lend him my ears and root for the bully-blusterer to jeer himself to ignominy while dragging down the entire GOP ticket. The party of Lincoln, born 1860, dies 2016.

I want him to unload his glossary of invective, release his noxious air. Target skin color, the weak and defective, men who sweat, and those disgusting women who use the bathroom.

I want to hear more about that wall that keeps us from rapists which grows not from grass roots but drops from his sky of pies.

We have lived through a coup d’etat. The Republicans have applied the brake and break to functioning governance. They have subverted the judicial and legislative branches.

I look to their putative candidate to march them into the sink hole. He speaks fluent trash and is wearing no clothes. In full transparency the party of fear and loathing has been un-masked.

Have you no decency, Senator, attorney Welch asked rhetorically of Joe McCarthy. In fact he didn't but the great majority of us will repudiate this litany of name-calling.

It was Chekhov who said that nothing unites us like hatred. If he was right we are doomed. I’m betting he got it wrong.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Political Junkie


If Marx was right that religion is the opium of the masses then politics must be the myopia of the asses. I know, I’ve been a political junkie for the past seventy plus years.

While other kids were engaged in wholesome activities like swiping broomsticks in apartment basements to use as stick-ball bats I was upstairs running from apartment building to apartment building distributing pamphlets against the Taft-Hartley Law. I went to hootenannies and listened to Paul Robeson singing about the Spanish Civil War. Most elections were a lost cause but we had the best songs.

Is it my imagination that each presidential race is a little more insufferable than the one before? It’s only February and I’ve already had my fill. I don’t think I can take another eight months of Trump’s inanities, Rubio’s robotics or Cruz’s snide mendacity. I can’t handle Hillary’s je ne sais quoi. I’m even weary of Bernie’s rants against that famous street in lower Manhattan…. and I don’t disagree with him.

In fact I’ve been waiting lo these many decades for someone to say what Bernie is saying. Maybe that’s why his message felt stale to me upon arrival. I could have told the world that in 1945. Maybe I did but did they listen? No.

Now the truth is out there, the S word has been uttered in public and he has driven Hillary so far to the left she is squirming. He has ignited a new conversation. Yet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I want Bernie to leave the race. On Tuesday, Thursday and weekends I’m ready for Hillary to do the same. One of them has to go.

It is beyond my imagining that my attorney Bernie could win a general election. More likely he would lose Yuge, unless the folks in Alabama confuse Bernie Sanders with Colonel Sanders and think they are ordering fried chicken.

Of course it is possible my myopia doesn’t allow me to see the revolution at hand, that the down-trodden masses are rising up and demanding their due, that racists are confessing their pathology, and big banks can be redeemed by Jimmy Stewart so we can all have a Wonderful Life.

It is also possible that those of us who dislike Hillary Clinton but don’t quite know why have been persuaded by a pervasive campaign of gender politics. Racism morphs easily into misogyny. Methinks her ambition and testiness would not be remarked upon if she were a he.

If the Clinton machine prevails on March 1st they will most likely be the party choice with a big boost from those 712 super delegates. In that scenario I say, step aside, Bernie. Please. Hillary needs to address the unpersuaded. She needs to answer the Republicans not defend her credentials as a Progressive. She must recapture the narrative among the millennials in our midst.

If the Bern catches a wind and scorches Hillary she should know for whom the alarm tolls. Her time may be up.

Those who control the arsenal for Conservatives are salivating over the prospect of attacking a Jewish Socialist. I’m sure they also have Bengazi drones and email drones ready to drop on HRC. Let’s give each a chance to prepare strategies against their vitriol.

Ideology aside, the imperative is for a Democrat POTUS to insure a left-leaning SCOTUS. In the world of real politik our best bet for profound change is to sweep the stench of Scalia from the high court and install a progressive for the next generation.

Let me know when it’s over. I don’t think I can handle all the bluster and rhetorical noise until November. Yet I also know the hold it has on me and the pain of withdrawal. I don’t stand a chance.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Missing: Two Hours


As years pile up under the heading of, The Past, most of what just happened is beyond retrieval. Yet, if pressed, we could probably recover yesterday and maybe the day before that.

I’ve always been amused to watch a witness on TV courtroom drama recall in great detail what occurred on the evening of Oct. 23rd eleven years ago.

I just lost two hours. My version is that I was under an anaesthetized sleep. I was in the pre-op area asking the anesthetist for a slightly heavier dose than last time I underwent this procedure. I’m not fond of being half-awake with a covering over my face except for an aperture exposing my left eye. The next thing I knew I was back in the same place two hours later.

Nothing unusual about that. Except that’s not what happened. During my post-op visit to the doctor the following day he told me I was fully awake responding to his orders to move my eye-ball up, down or sideways. How could I have been so present and absent at the same time?

I shall never forget what I cannot remember. This is a classic case of an unreliable narrator. There were possibly a half dozen witnesses to document my behavior. Maybe I also sang a medley of arias from Gilbert & Sullivan or recited the roster of the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers. Maybe I killed cock robin. I’ll never know.

I saw that movie, the one where a hypnotized guy is instructed to scale the wall of a mansion, memorize the combination to the safe behind the portrait hanging in the great hall, swipe the crown jewels and deposit them under a specified park bench. And then return to his job as mild-mannered pharmacist in Grover Corners.

But inspector, I’ve been here the whole time, triturating counterclockwise with my mortar and pestle.

Oh yeah, then what is that mud doing on your shoes? And how do you explain an eye-witness who saw a man in a hospital gown, open in the back, leaping over a six foot high hedge with a counterclockwise look on his face and a shiny object in his hand with your fingerprints?




Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life on Coumadin

Cut back on greens, the technician said,
too much Vitamin K
so Peggy sent back the broccoli
for zucchini instead.
Then the salad had spinach
also off-limits.
She opted for kale
but that dreaded  K sound
clotted the corpuscles.
She then ordered coleslaw
and when we got home we saw
cabbage was high on no-no list
and even worse with the mayo.
Pale lettuce is the answer
famous for its absence of K
as in clog.  Let flow the blood
to all ports of call on far archipelagoes
with its oxygen cargo
like a barge down the Mississippi,
Old Man River minus the mud,
no embolisms of eddies or reefs.
Let it gurgle into off-ramps, tributaries
like freeways at 3 AM
no jack-knifed big-rigs, no road-rage.
You could roll a head of lettuce
down the Grapevine but stay away from 
those greeny Ks in the cabbage patch. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Eye and Heart


Word has just come down that my heart sac is no longer of abnormal size which in turn means that I shall soon get my left eye back. My sinister lens has been delinquent for the past couple of months. One forgives prodigal body parts for straying. I’m happy to have all my original equipment returned even though many friends have new hips and walk with late model knees. 
The body is a lesson in connectivity. The occasional pain in my toe is somehow tied to my pancreas which can’t process all the bagels I have put in my mouth.

Since mid-December I have been looking at the world with Cyclopean vision. Sometimes half is more than enough to surmise what sort of trouble we’re in. Even the unilateral sight of Ted Cruz is more than I can handle.

Our architecture is a wondrous thing. How the scaffolding holds together and compensates when needed. A neuropathy in my right hand signals the left to open jars. No search engine browses better than our brains. At least it knows what to delete and separates what’s important from what’s more important. We are our own password.

I used to be a high-rise but seem to have lost a few floors on my way to becoming a tear-down. It wouldn’t hurt to get that second window back. At this age I’m girding my loins for insults yet to come.

Fortunately I never got much beyond touch football so I don’t have to worry about chronic traumatic encephalopathy. If I’ve ever been concussed it must have slipped my mind. I won’t have to watch the Super Bowl in a stupor. My favorite part of the game is the huddle. They even have a minion to satisfy the gods.
We’re all going to use up our allotted time but why hasten the day? I know it’s hard to be good. Red wine? Bluesy sax. Red apples? Blue in the face. The occasional Reuben sandwich is almost worth dying for... an hour or two earlier.

The eye and the heart work together. By heart, how else but by heart, to learn snatches of the poets. How so much depends on the red wheelbarrow (Williams) beside the green freedom of the cockatoo (Stevens) while yellow smoke rubs its muzzle on the window pane. (Eliot) What do you think of your blue-eyed boy now, Mr. Death? (Cummings).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Feeling the Bern

Nobody gave me a chance either when I ran for milk monitor in kindergarten. I counted on votes from those who had never voted before. In fact none of us had ever voted before.

Bernie Sanders also needs a sizable chunk of the over 90 million eligible voters who stay home on the second Tuesday of November. For the past century and beyond the average no-shows hover around 40%. Even FDR, in 1932, couldn’t rouse more than 58% of the populace to the polls.

Lincoln turned out 82% when the country was about to split open. When George Washington ran for the first time the turn-out was 1.3% or 39,000 voters. Those prohibited included Blacks, women and the unpropertied. All the rest voted for George. The last time a candidate ran unopposed was in 1820 when James Monroe rode in on the Era of Good Feeling.

We are now in the Era of Bad Feeling. Bernie Sanders is calling for a political revolution. If he prevails it would be a velvet one and a revolting situation for Hillary Clinton as well as the entire Power Elite. Even with his virtual tie in Iowa and commanding lead in the New Hampshire polls one could still get 7-1 odds in Las Vegas against a Sanders White House.

He has already moved the bar on the spectrum back to the progressive agenda of old. Feeling the Bern, Hillary has rediscovered the language if not the programs her husband relinquished twenty years ago when his brain got caught in his zipper. The word Socialism has suddenly become acceptable in polite society. We are catching up with the rest of the world.

Bernie has struck a chord with the under thirty electorate. If I remember correctly I also counted on the same constituency in my kindergarten campaign. But did they show up with raised hands? I never knew. I was waiting outside in the corridor.

The disaffected voters who feel left behind are Sanders’ audience and they are angry with the process and the players in it. With the rigged system in which their needs are profoundly unattended. With big banks who cheated them of their homes and pensions. With a bloated Pentagon drunk on misadventures. With paychecks insufficient to live a middle-class life and with unconscionable student debt. They are so upset they may even wake from their somnolence and vote.

I wish Bernie were younger. I wish he would vary his message, address foreign policy matters, connect with people of color. I wish he was Elizabeth Warren.

The conventional wisdom is that Bernie is unelectable. Maybe Hillary is the unelectable one. She seems always to be just a tad out of sync with the historical moment and carries more baggage than a herd of elephants. She would have been perfect twenty years ago when that other Clinton did his mischief in the Oval Office.

I was hoping for some clarity in the writing of this however I’m still of two minds. The prospect of Trump or one of those Cuban-Americans is enough to make me settle for Hillary. I would not care to witness the dismantling of social programs and dissolution of protective regulatory agencies.  

I shall probably hold my nose and vote for her. Bernie would be powerless unless he carried a dozen senators with him and two dozen House members. Even if he got the nomination Democratic legislators would more likely run away from him.

After my term of office as designated monitor I went into a steep decline and was barely heard from by the 4th grade. Let’s hope the Bern doesn’t flame out in a similar fashion. He lit the torch; may it catch on in the grass roots.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Speaking of Borders

Listening to Donald Trump one would think we are under siege. In fact the U.S. has one of the safest most peaceful neighbors on the map. Canada is not invading Alaska nor Mexico massing troops in Tijuana. The only threat we face from the north is the prospect of that Canadian export, Ted Cruz. Two oceans have insulated us from European squabbles and Asian adventures except for Pearl Harbor almost twenty-five hundred miles away from our continental shores.

Contrast this with China, fourteen countries nibbling at its sprawling flank or more likely China doing the nibbling.  India and Pakistan still have a disputed border after more than 65 years. And then there is Israel, nibble, nibble.

In the aftermath of World War I the winners carved the Turkish Empire with all the relish of a Thanksgiving dinner, the bones of which are still piling up today. It kept cartographers working through the night with a full palette of ink. Borders divide people artificially. Erasure would eliminate a lot of perpendiculars.

There was a time when Virginia extended up to the Canadian border. Since 1790 it has shrunk and a handful of other states have been carved out. The Mason-Dixon Line was born out of a dispute between Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Why quibble? These sacrosanct borders were merely land grants issued by King George. It’s time we gave up states and settled for five or six regions. Is there really a difference between Kansas and Nebraska or the Dakotas?

Nationalism is a pandemic disease and xenophobia its virulent form. There is no moral justification for exclusion of migrants. Those of us dropped to earth here rather than there cannot hide behind the accident of birth. The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the free flow of people within borders. Why not extend that right beyond?

Open borders are a win-win. The free-flow of people would create a heterogeneous society which would, in theory at least, reduce the possibility of war. Economists say open borders would double Gross World Productivity. It has been estimated that a 1% bump in immigrant population into the labor force in the Western World would reduce global poverty as much as three times more than all foreign aid combined. Refugees also bring with them the benefits of a re-vitalized, innovative charge to the economy. Who knows, we might even be able to export Donald Trump?

Someday, but not this week, we’ll realize we’re all here sharing this hunk of orbiting dust as temporary                 custodians with a renewable lease, providing we learn to behave. Let the oceans be our only borders. Nature abhors straight lines.

For more information on this subject check out:
 http://freakonomics.com/2007/10/17/the-case-for-open-immigration-a-qa-with-philippe-legrain/