Friday, December 31, 2021

Looking Back on 2021, Trenchant Thoughts

Year-end reviews are a hallowed practice of journalists. With that in mind, here are trenchant thoughts contained in some of my 89 blog postings listed by the date they appeared: 

January 1—When 74 million can vote for a man who has based his whole life on selfishness and greed, who sets an example of grifting, bullying and denigration, who abdicates responsibility, who demands personal fealty over loyalty to the nation, we are a country infected by a condition much more deadly than a pathogen. … The tasks facing Joe Biden as president in three weeks are no less comparable than the labors of Hercules. Perhaps the most difficult will be instilling in everyone a sense of collective obligation, of compassion and empathy. 

January 14—Words that define Trump’s presidency: Wall; Impeachment; Fake News; Pussy (from his “Access Hollywood” tape to how he said Mike Pence would “go down in history as a pussy” if he didn’t throw out Electoral College votes for Biden. … As long as a sizable majority of Republican voters believe Democrats stole the election from Trump; as long as some 150 Republican congresspeople live in districts carved out to assure their election by rabid right wing voters, thus negating any need for them to speak truth to their constituencies; as long as Republicans fear even an out-of-office Trump and express more fealty to him than they do to the Constitution, Trump will be around to torment the democratic process and values honed over 244 years. 

January 19—I am proud that during these last four years I never once wrote the title “president” immediately followed by Trump’s name. … A presidency that began with an inaugural address characterized as “carnage in America” has ended that way. 

January 21—Trump’s army of deplorables, yes, deplorables, savaged our democratic heritage of the peaceful transition of power. … We should, in an ironic fashion, be thankful to Trump for providing visual evidence of the dangers of demagoguery. We should thank him for informing us to the susceptibility and receptivity of vast swaths of the population to manipulation. We no longer can be holier-than-thou when addressing undemocratic actions in foreign lands. Trump’s not so subtle flirtation with white supremacists has lifted the veil on racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant, misogyny and homophobia so prevalent in our society. … We should be thankful that Trump and his toadies in Congress showed us being president can place one above the law. 

January 21—As long as leaders of the Trumpian Republican Party continue to profess and expound white supremacist ideas, Biden’s hope for unity will be an unattainable dream.  

January 22—The toughest part of the (vaccination) experience was securing appointments for the inoculations.

January 26—I’ve noticed that most of my email and Facebook friends have had their outrage soothed by Joe Biden’s inauguration. Regrettably, some Trumpers among my feeds live on in a delusional reality.

January 26—Too bad Trump failed to realize that vaccines not injected into people’s arms were as worthless as degrees from Trump University. Trump’s handling of the pandemic crisis is another example of his overall business history—all sizzle with no substance. Unfortunately, from this failure more than 420,000 have died. So many could have been saved if Trump publicly took the crisis seriously and advocated wearing masks. 

February 1—There have been incidents of airline passengers refusing to wear masks in flight…One easy solution would be to permanently ban anyone from future flights if they don’t wear a mask. They should be placed on a FAA no flight list. Extreme? Yes, but necessary.

February 2—This is the sorry state of politics today. Principled compromise is rejected. Extremism rules. Champions of the former choose retirement.

February 3—In these politicized times, Republican senators will latch onto any reason to acquit (Trump of impeachment). The fear they felt January 6, as rioters broke through barriers and ransacked desks and offices, pales in comparison to the fear of revenge they believe would come their way from Trump and his legions if they vote to convict.

February 11—As long as Republicans remain afraid to stand up to Trump, our country will be terrorized by him.

February 17—As quoted in his The New York Times obituary, (Rush) Limbaugh said, “I have talent on loan from God.” Apparently, the loan came due Wednesday.

February 23—Is a prejudice unknown still a prejudice? Are we now to scrutinize all playthings for their prejudicial development? Did Barbie sexualize young girls? Did Candy Land foster obesity and tooth decay. Did GI Joe glorify war. Did Ralphie’s fixation with getting a Red Ryder Air Rifle in “A Christmas Story” stoke allegiance to the National Rifle Association? Sensibilities are being “woked.” … What I find most troubling with counter culture idealists is their failure to accept personal growth and development among people who they believe do not deserve reverence because at some point in their lives, usually when they were younger, they exhibited some form of prejudice, even if it was an accepted form of behavior at the time.

February 26—Which Joe is president of the United States? Joe Biden or Joe Manchin? … Having a rogue player amidst the Democratic caucus will surely result in failure to maintain control of Congress, failure to win re-election and, more importantly, the failure of our nation to rebound from the distress Trump’s ineptitude and ego left us in.

March 12—Eliminate the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to end debate in the Senate. Get rid of it before Republican leader Mitch McConnell does it to you next time the GOP controls the Senate with less than 60 senators.   

March 21—When will we accept the reality women face—discrimination that too often leads to violence (physical and emotional) in the workplace and at home? … Let’s keep in mind that even the most popular book ever sold, and presumably read, is full of cultural norms Western society would find repulsive. The Bible contains such inappropriate themes as fratricide, incest, idolatry, sedition, rebellion, vengeance, genocide, slavery. And, of course, misogyny.

April 21—This crime [the killing of George Floyd by Policeman Derek Chauvin] was no split second reaction to imminent danger. Floyd had no weapon. No gun. No knife. He was pinned to the ground, arms cuffed behind his back. He was helpless to prevent his life from being snuffed out. His cries that he could not breathe went unheeded by Chauvin and, indeed, the three other policemen at the scene, two of whom helped keep Floyd motionless. 

May 12—When one wonders how a civilized, educated society such as Germany of the 1920s and 1930s could have fallen so rapidly, so completely, into the barbarism and depravity of the Third Reich, one need only contemplate the transformation of the Republican Party that once stood up for human rights, international relations, free markets and the rule of law.

May 13—To combat lies, silence is not golden, it is an enabler.

May 26—Alternate realities are cultivated little by little, small lies followed by big lies. … It is a small reality check that pictures no longer can be trusted. Soviet-era photo manipulation is now available to anyone with a computer.

June 3—Despite warning from health officials that the pandemic is not over, caution has been discarded to vent a year of pent up demand for pleasure. 2021 has become a year of living dangerously. 

June 24—Elections after (2022) may be as free and fair as they are in Russia if complacency keeps Democrats, Independents and patriotic Republicans away from the ballot box in 2022.

July 11—The winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year was “Murraya.”

July 20—Do we really need to indulge millionaires and billionaires seeking an out of this world high when so many citizens of our planet suffer from poverty and its related illnesses. … Explore underwater farming. How’s this for untapped potential?—“The United Nations estimates that the world could easily be fed if just 2% of oceans were used for sustainable farming.”

July 29—The most damning revelation in books about Trump’s last days in the White House is not that he praised Hitler. The most damning thing is that his legion of followers remains loyal.

August 16—They (Afghani military) cared more about surviving than the fate of their country or their fellow countrymen, especially the women who will be forced to return to living in a 21st century Dark Ages.

August 18—The lesson to be learned (from Afghanistan) is that our support for any government must be linked to the values we share. If our clients are corrupt, oppressive, dictatorial, we should expect a groundswell of opposition to form that could take months, years, or decades to topple the status quo and with it America’s standing in the world.

August 30—A nation that defeated or contained the scourges of polio, measles, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases has resisted in dramatic fashion the miraculous development of COVID-19 vaccines. People, who for years have adhered to merchant and restaurant rules to wear shoes and shirts if they want service, vocally and forcefully have challenged mask wearing in private and public enterprises. 

September 6—The richest, most productive country in the history of mankind is a hollow shell. We have let our infrastructure decay. We have outsourced much of our manufacturing prowess and the solid jobs that underpinned the middle class. Many want to close our doors to immigrants—especially refugees—who, our history has shown, are among the most creative and industrious of our workers. The long march to equality of opportunity to vote, to learn, to work, to enjoy decent housing, to tap into quality healthcare, has been stymied by political and judicial roadblocks. 

September 11—20 years after 9/11, what kind of nation are we?

October 23—COVID-19 has exposed us to more than just an insidious germ that can kill. It has revealed a failure of national resolve, an absence of shared purpose.

November 3—The failure of Democrats on a national level to coalesce around meat and potato issues that could improve voters’ lives has left them vulnerable to unending local criticisms, and, just as pointedly, to the belief they do not know how to govern, that they just want to appease strident radical interest groups. 

December 7—What is the true nature of American character? Is it an E Pluribus Unum ideal or a mythologized Western movie psyche that values the individual over collective responsibility? 

December 29—With daily reports that hospitals are overwhelmed, with staff near burnout status, perhaps we need to implement a triage approach: Given a choice between treating a vaccinated patient or an unvaxxed one, admit the former to intensive care. Send the unvaccinated home.

December 31—Happy and Healthy New Year!  

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Triage: Prioritize the Vaccinated in ICUs

Each evening for more telecasts that I care to remember I am advised by the nightly national news on CBS, NBC, or ABC that a Covid vaccination and booster shot are the best shield to prevent or minimize becoming a pandemic statistic.

Here’s how Dr. Paul Offit, director of the vaccine education center of Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital, responded Saturday when NBC’s Kristen Welker asked what viewers should do: “To help stop the spread of Omicron, get vaccinated. It’s simple…There is a ticket out of this. Just get vaccinated.”

Being a rational person I had already taken those steps. So I listen passively as I daily sit through similar admonitions from doctors and infectious disease experts. 

Passively? Not really. I’m actually quite disturbed that in the face of all this advocacy, after time and again seeing an unvaccinated patient regret their decision not to get the shots while imploring other holdouts to roll up their sleeves, I wonder how could millions ignore these pleas? Could it be that they just don’t hear it?

I don’t watch or listen to Fox News, One America News Network or other conservative media so I don’t know if their newscasts carry similar pleas from and to the unvaccinated. I don’t know what they report from medical experts, though I kinda doubt they link up with credible health officials given their reported attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s lead expert on infectious diseases.  

I do know that Fox News commentators like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have disparaged calls for vaccination and mask mandates. They have contributed to the politicization of medical information. They have engendered medical misinformation and disinformation. 

Having inflamed seeds of distrust in government, the godfather of the vaccines, Donald Trump, has not been able to sway his followers to get inoculated. During recent rally appearances he has been booed after advocating vaccinations.

It has been widely documented that the highest levels of Covid infections occur in counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2020. 

Sadly, failure to get vaccinated is not confined to Trumpers. It’s prevalent overseas, as well. 

“The inertia (to get vaccinated) comes because they can’t be bothered, because as far as they are concerned the fear of Covid is overblown and affects only the elderly or the chronically sick and vulnerable,” says Dr. Charles Martey of Accra, Ghana.

His solution to overcoming their resistance: “Don’t tell them about the wonders of the vaccine, tell them about the horrors of Covid,” he advised The Clarion, a northern England online news outlet.

I’m not sure that is extreme enough to get their attention. Already, some companies, such as Delta Air Lines, are assessing unvaccinated workers an extra health insurance fee—Delta’s surcharge is $200 a month. Delta saw an uptick in vaccinated employees after the surcharge was announced.


Pocketbook penalties might not be enough.

With daily reports that hospitals are overwhelmed, with staff near burnout status, perhaps we need to implement a triage approach: Given a choice between treating a vaccinated patient or an unvaxxed one, admit the former to intensive care. Send the unvaccinated home.

It’s a cruel choice, one made every day on battlefields, scenes of disaster, and emergency rooms. “In medicine, triage is a practice invoked when acute care cannot be provided for lack of resources. The process rations care towards those who are most in need of immediate care, and who benefit most from it,” says Wikipedia. 

In the case of unvaccinated Covid patients, I would add a criterion—having rejected exhortations to get inoculated, even the most dire unvaccinated do not deserve to benefit from the best practices of the medical and scientific communities. 

Government has provided a means to combat the pandemic. To take advantage of the process, individuals must first demonstrate a willingness to be part of the solution. Easily done. As Dr. Offit said, “It’s simple…There is a ticket out of this. Just get vaccinated.”

Friday, December 17, 2021

Time for Some Pithy Thoughts

“Pithy” is not how I would describe my writing style. For those who prefer short bursts of insight, here are pithy comments culled from recent Facebook and Twitter postings:

“Funny hearing how people were worried that he [Trump] was ruining his legacy on 1/6, when his legacy is that he created a health crisis, an economic crisis, a social crisis, a climate crisis, a constitutional crisis, and a humanitarian crisis in only 4 years.”—Ted@Trom771

“Failing to prevent a crime usually does not make someone an accomplice, but it is sufficient when this person had a legal duty to intervene. ... The Constitution gave Trump a clear legal duty to intervene.”—George Conway

“If the Senate can raise the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, it can save American democracy by passing voting rights legislation with a simple majority vote.”—Ari Berman

“Never in our nations history has so many in leadership of a political party conspired to overthrow an election. Not through Civil War, World Wars, Depression, civil strife nor pandemic. This is an unprecedented level of corruption, moral cowardice and treason.”—Mike Madrid

“We’re heartbroken. We’re overwhelmed. The situation is critical. Please get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested for COVID if you feel sick.”—Mayo Clinic Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program

“If my rent can go up every year, so can the minimum wage.”—Patriotic Millionaires

“I told Fox it was a bad idea to schedule their tree lighting & book burning in the same place.”—Betty Bowers

“From 1659 to 1681, The Puritans outlawed the celebration of Christmas in Massachusetts. They hated its pagan roots and excess. Meaning the only group to ever ban Christmas in America…were Christians.”—

“Today’s reminder that the GOP members of Congress who advised or encouraged Trump, Meadows and others to reject electoral votes were themselves elected in the same election on the same ballots under the same state and federal election laws.”—Jim Sciutto 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Tornado Disaster Relief Exposes GOP Hypocrisy

Earlier this week Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell tweeted his appreciation to President Biden for his “rapid approval of Kentucky’s Major Disaster Declaration.” McConnell and the entire Kentucky congressional delegation, including Sen. Rand Paul, appealed to Biden after “tornados caused significant destruction of property, dangerous road conditions, significant vegetative debris, power outages for 120,000 households in 16 counties, and severe impacts to transportation and infrastructure.”

Biden has promised Kentuckians “to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to support your state as you recover and rebuild.” 

I’m all for it in Kentucky and the other five states battered by the weekend tornados: Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi. It’s the proper and humane thing to do.

Being the cynic that I am, however, I wondered how McConnell, Paul and Republican senators from those states reacted to the upheaval wrought by Superstorm Sandy in metro New York and other Eastern Seaboard states in October 2012.

Perhaps not surprisingly, six of the nine Republican senators from the devastated states—including McConnell and Paul—cast votes against helping Easterners recover from Sandy. They and another 25 of their GOP colleagues rejected federal aid to Sandy-battered areas even though they sought funding for earlier disasters much smaller in their respective home states (

Keep in mind that Superstorm Sandy killed 117. The economic toll was in the billions of dollars. More than 300,000 homes in New York and 350,000 in New Jersey, alone, were damaged or destroyed. 

It is another shameful example of Republican provincialism and disdain for Blue states, be they on the East Coast, West Coast or in the Northern Midwest. 

The hypocrisy of Republican ways is transparent to anyone who takes the time to monitor their actions, or who reads critical media, such as this story in The New York Times (

With pundits proclaiming an inevitable Republican return to majority status in one or both chambers of Congress come 2023, it is an open question whether Democrats will emulate opposition disruptive tactics. Assuming Republicans will not have 60 or more senators, the number needed to pass cloture to end a debate, will Democrats use a filibuster threat to stymie the GOP, or will McConnell, as a resurrected majority leader, have Senate rules amended to thwart any opposition by a simple majority vote. 

I have little doubt McConnell will push for such a change to Senate rules, rules that Democrat Chuck Schumer has not been able to change to enact Biden’s agenda.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Is the United States Still a Superpower?

On this 80th commemoration of the bombing of Pearl Harbor that presaged America’s entry into the Second World War from which it emerged as the unchallenged superpower champion of democracy, it is appropriate to ask, “Is the United States still a superpower?” 

Yes, we possess more destructive nuclear arms that any other country, but in this age of cyber warfare and fanatical, religious extremist organizations, is our military sufficiently organized around affirmative responses to today’s challenges?

During World War II we fought the Axis Powers on two fronts. Could we engage on two theaters of operation today, for after all, Russia is threatening to invade Ukraine and China has similar designs on Taiwan? 

Alliances forged after WWII are fraying. Our commitments are subject to political whims. The last administration cozied up to autocrats. America’s aversion to be involved in international conflicts—until our land or citizens are attacked—has centuries-long roots. 

Domestically, we are a nation in transition, so much so that nearly one in four Americans indicated in a survey a “willingness to secede” from the Union. The percentage was markedly higher for Republicans in Southern and Mountain states ( 

Our politics is no longer the “art of compromise,” but rather a “winner-take-no-prisoners” form of combat. 

And all the while, the infrastructure that empowered our economic strength—railway, air and highway systems, modern telecommunications, power grids, clean water supplies and industrial plants—has atrophied instead of being maintained and upgraded while China has leapfrogged our capacities.

Perhaps a deeper question we should ask is, “What is the true nature of American character?” Is it an E Pluribus Unum ideal or a mythologized Western movie psyche that values the individual over collective responsibility? Has the bifurcated public response to COVID—the wearing of masks and the acceptance of vaccinations—highlighted the fissures in our society?

To be a superpower democracy requires not just the consent of the governed but also an educated public, educated not just to the truths and myths of our nation’s founding but also to the missteps we made along the way, so the faults are not repeated. 

Are we a superpower? The nuclear code black box a presidential aide carries near the president does not by itself answer the question in the affirmative. 

American superpower status comes with responsibilities. It is time we rededicated ourselves to the values our mythology ascribed to the United States.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Short Takes: Wisdom in a Few Words

My voice of partisanship and, yes, reason is not alone. Here are some shared sentiments I culled from Facebook and Twitter postings you might not have seen:

“I don’t like paying higher gas prices either but it’s incredible that people will buy GOP outrage on gas that’s $4 instead of $3.50—but then excuse GOP for keeping the minimum wage at $72.5 instead of $15, insulin at $1200 instead of $35, & paid leave at 0 weeks instead of 12 weeks.”—Qasim Rashid

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”—Desmond Tutu

“If paying a cashier a living wage will make prices go up, why doesn’t replacing cashiers with self checkouts make prices go down?”—Mohamad Safa

“Being an American means reckoning with a history fraught with violence and injustice. Ignoring that reality in favor of mythology is not only wrong but also dangerous. The dark chapters of American history have just as much to teach us, if not more, than the glorious ones, and often the two are intertwined.”—Ken Burns

“When you see your roads being paved and bridges being built, thank a Democrat.”—Left Action

“Companies that complain they can’t find workers because unemployment pays more should realize it’s because they aren’t paying enough.”—The Other 98%

“When you have more than you need, build a long table not a higher wall.”—St. Alban’s Episcopal Church

“This holiday season, if you really want to thank Jesus for your food, then give him and his family a path to citizenship and pay them living wage!”—The Other 98%

“Proud Boys asking for better jail conditions is just another example of them not understanding things until it personally affects them.”—The Other 98%

“You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there’s a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.”—Left Action

“The Pentagon spends over $2,000,000,000 every single day. Meanwhile, 40,000 veterans experienced homelessness last year. What if ‘support our troops’ meant reinvesting funds to actually provide veterans with basic necessities?”—The Other 98%

“Is there a nicer feeling than being in a room full of people and the dog chooses to come sit next to you?”—Peace, Love and Music

“Apparently, 12 years of tuition free public school isn’t socialism. But add 4 more years and suddenly it’s a communist plot.”—Jeffrey Levin

“White privilege is refusing to get a proven vaccine while millions of Black and brown people around the world still can’t get access.”—Robert Reich

“Likely we will have to live with Covid and its variants for many years. Vaccinating the world regardless of cost will save millions of lives in the US let alone around the world. We don’t need more shut downs, we need more people vaccinated to prevent deaths.”—Maxine Clark

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being, and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When government makes that decision for her, she is being treated less than a fully adult human.”—Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Monday, November 29, 2021

Crime Caper Movies Beat Smash & Grab Reality

The recent rash of “smash and grab” robberies made me think of a delightfully charming 80-year-old heist flick starring William Powell and Kay Francis. “Jewel Robbery” had breezy dialogue, no violence and the type of escapism the masses in the midst of the Depression needed to make their lives a little less gray.

For good measure, view another 1932 gem, “Trouble in Paradise,” with Kay Francis as a rich businesswoman preyed upon by tandem swindlers Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins.

Here is my list of crime capers to enjoy:

Jewel Robbery

Trouble in Paradise


How to Steal a Million

Charade (the Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn version)

The Sting

The Lookout

The Asphalt Jungle

They Live by Night

Larceny, Inc.

Double Indemnity

Oceans 11 (all versions)

Raising Arizona



Monday, November 8, 2021

Marathon Musings and Top Racing Movies

I am not a long distance runner. Never was. Though in my youth—by that I mean at least till I turned 50 or so—I could run pretty fast. Short distances. If I hit a ground ball to the second baseman during a weekly softball game I had a better than even chance of beating his throw to first base. 

As a youngster I ran faster than any of my friends. They learned to ride bicycles. I didn’t. I reasoned I could keep up with them by simply running. I was wrong. I never learned to ride a two-wheeler until I was 40, long after my childhood friends and I parted ways. 

Age coupled with some peripheral neuropathy in my feet slowed me down. It mostly manifested itself during daily walks up and down Park Avenue during the last decade of my commute to and from work. Ever the competitive person, I would imagine myself in a speed-walking contest with an unsuspecting pedestrian at least half a block ahead of me. In the morning, upon exiting from Grand Central Terminal, I’d race him or her to my office at 425 Park Avenue midway between East 55th and 56th streets. On the way back home I’d race to the entrance to Metro North. 

My racing reverie was inspired by Sunday’s 50th anniversary of the New York Marathon. Gilda’s brother, Carl, did run marathons, so one Marathon Sunday some four decades ago we decided to brave the chilly weather and cheer him on. We waited behind blue police barricades at the 20-mile point, up in the Bronx. Carl was a good runner. We expected him to pass within an hour of the leaders.

We waited and waited for nearly four hours. No Carl. Numb from the chill and hungry, we headed home, figuring Carl must have pulled up lame before our vantage point. Being pre-cell phone days, we had to wait until we returned home to contact him.

Turned out Carl was not injured, that he indeed had kept to his expected pace. But the stress of the race had so contorted his image that we didn’t recognize him as he loped by. Ah, well…

It’s been many years since Carl ran a marathon. Since then several friends have trained for and run the NYC Marathon. I’m in awe of their discipline and stamina. Congratulations to the 30,000 who participated in Sunday’s race. They were winners even if they came up short of the required 26.2 mile course.

Racing Movies: Before anyone reacts to my list of favorite movies on land, sea or air with a racing theme, or significant scene, be aware I have not seen any of the “Fast and Furious” or “Cars” franchises. Here are my recommended films: 

National Velvet

Chariots of Fire

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


Ford vs Ferrari


Grand Prix


A Day at the Races


Days of Thunder

Breaking Away

American Graffiti

Rebel Without a Cause


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

For Democrats the Time To Act Is NOW

I wonder if President Joe Manchin and Vice President Kyrsten Lea Sinema are happy today in light of a Republican gubernatorial win in Virginia and a potential upset victory in New Jersey? Oh, did you think they were just U.S. senators from, respectively West Virginia and Arizona? Not by a long shot. 

For, after all, it has been their repeated intransigence that has left the Democratic Party in disarray, unable to cobble together progressive pocketbook and environmental legislation that Democrats could run on instead of having to defend Republican attacks on culture issues. 

They, not Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and surely not Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, are driving the agenda of the current administration. Yes, Mitch Mcconnell and Kevin McCarthy are Republican stumbling blocks in the Senate and House, respectively, but the true cogs in the Democratic works are Manchin and Sinema. Manchin’s reluctance to accept Biden’s initiatives after repeated entreaties and adjustments validates what I wrote back on February 26, “Which Joe Is President? Biden or Manchin? (

For sure, there were statewide issues that sunk Terry McAuliffe’s bid to return to the governor’s mansion of Virginia and Philip Murphy’s nailbiting cling to the keys to New Jersey’s residence of power. The failure of Democrats on a national level to coalesce around meat and potato issues that could improve voters’ lives has left them vulnerable to unending local criticisms, and, just as pointedly, to the belief they do not know how to govern, that they just want to appease strident radical interest groups. 

One, if not two, more states could turn the clock back on progress toward equality, environmentalism and health care. Republican Glenn Youngkin’s boast that he would immediately suspend any teaching of critical race theory in Virginia public schools is particularly disheartening because it was in Virginia in 1619 that the first shipload of African slaves arrived on American soil. And nearly 200 years later the slaveholders of Virginia were in the forefront of breaking up African families by selling off individual slaves to cotton plantations in Deep South states. 

How reactionary will Youngkin be? He is on video privately assuring a supporter he will address restricting abortion rights if he won. Will the Robert E. Lee statue recently removed from downtown Richmond be reinstalled on prominent state property? 

It’s a painful exercise contemplating a return to repressive days of yore. On Facebook a posting fondly recalled 1962, with its lower cost of living. 

While everything is ridiculously less expensive (average rent $110/mo., Harvard tuition $1,520/yr., movie ticket $1, gasoline 27 cents/gal.), what is not included in the nostalgic look-back is quality of life: 

Blacks lived under public Jim Crow laws in the South and covert discrimination in the North; women would have to wait another dozen years to obtain the right to get their own credit cards separate from their husbands’; until 1975 in many states women could be barred from serving on a jury; working women had no pregnancy or maternity leave protection; many states outlawed any form of birth control, even for married couples; interracial marriages were illegal in many states until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia the restrictions were unconstitutional ( 

Life may have seen simpler back in 1962, in a “Handmaid’s Tale” dystopian way. There’s no doubt the country is trending toward a more traditional nostalgia. Even in supposedly progressive New York State voters Tuesday harkened to Republican voices and rejected ballot initiatives liberalizing same-day voter registration and allowing anyone to cast an absentee ballot.

An effective, even transformational Biden presidency, rests with Manchin and Sinema finalizing their support of the president’s Build Back Better program. Concurrently, progressive and moderate Democrats in the House must stop their wrangling. 

As the battle over the Affordable Care Act in 2010 showed, compromise legislation is better than no legislation. While they still have majorities in the House and Senate, tenuous as they may be, Democrats must act NOW.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Facebook Language Woes of Its Own Making

Lost in Transliteration: Facebook has many problems, not the least of which is with its translation app. 

An Israeli friend posted a recruitment message in Hebrew for a technology company. Listed were several open positions. All well and good until the final job classification—the Hebrew transliteration of “fashionista.” 


The problem? Facebook translated it as “fascist.” 

Just past midnight Sunday I notified Facebook of the egregious app faux pas, but as of 5 pm Monday no correction had been made. Of course, I’ve also notified my friend.

Lost in Translation: Facebook no longer wants to be known as simply a social media company. So, founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg has changed the corporate name to Meta, signifying a transition to a metaverse, what he says is where the physical and digital worlds come together (please do not expect me to explain it in any deeper way).

Zuckerberg’s Meta has fostered its fair share of ridicule and skepticism, perhaps the most cutting from Israelis, including my friend Karin, who noted, “I think Mark Zuckerberg must have skipped that one Hebrew class when they explained what “Meta” means….Well, for my non Israeli/Jewish friends, “Meta” in Hebrew means - SHE IS DEAD…so good luck with that, Mark    


Original Intent: Many of our Founding Fathers surely led contradictory lives. Chief among them—Thomas Jefferson, whose statue will be removed from the New York City Council chambers because he was a slaveholder of more than 600 humans, who even upon his death failed to free most of them. 

This despite his credited authorship of one of the most famous passages in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent & inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.” 

Of course, that statement was the result of community editing with other delegates to the Second Continental Congress. 

In Jefferson’s first draft, a handwritten copy of which Gilda and I saw last week in an extraordinary Polonsky Exhibition of “treasures” collected by the New York Public Library (including a first edition Gutenberg Bible and a majestic King James Bible, an original copy of the Bill of Rights and original Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends dolls), the Declaration’s principal author had the following description of the slave trade expunged from the final, adopted transcript: a “cruel war against human nature itself” and “an assemblage of horrors.” 

The Library’s accompanying commentary properly reflects, “Jefferson’s omitted passage allows us a solemn opportunity: to imagine how history might have been different if, from the beginning, the United States had taken a stand against the evils of enslavement.”

Frankensteinian Attack: It being the season of Halloween, it was no surprise that a horde of horror movies, including “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” and “Phantom of the Opera,” found their way onto home television screens (can’t say “small screens” as in the past, as many, including yours truly, enjoy viewing films on 50-inch plus monitors). 

“Young Frankenstein,” the comedic sendup written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, and directed by the former, was shown Saturday night on TCM (Turner Classic Movies). A few days before watching part of the film, I viewed a 2019 documentary TCM aired on Carl Laemmle, the German-Jewish immigrant who founded Universal Studios in the early 20th century and who rescued many Jews from Nazi Germany during the late 1930s. Among its many notable films Universal concentrated on horror flicks—“Frankenstein”, “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man” and their many offshoots, to cite a few titles. 

Deep into the documentary, there was a clip from 1974 of Brooks promoting his then new film on “The Tonight Show.” Brooks used the occasion to once again comically malign my given name. “There was a director many years ago by the name of James Whale who made all those wonderful ‘Frankenstein’ movies,” said Brooks. “He made ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘The Bride of Frankenstein,’ ‘The Son of Frankenstein,’ ‘The House of Frankenstein,’ ‘Frankenstein’s Friend, Murray.’”

Brooks never seems to miss an opportunity to verbally assault my given name ( 


More Westerns: I was admonished for not including some classic Westerns in my list of favorite oaters. Chief among them, “High Noon,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “3:10 to Yuma” (Van Heflin-Glenn Ford version), “The Shootist,” and the recently released “News of the World.”

Guilty on all counts, though to be honest, while I often rewatch “High Noon” I do not think it is among Gary Cooper’s best. As I wrote to a friend in my defense, “Gary Cooper was anti-violence in several movies—“Friendly Persuasion” and “The Hanging Tree,” to name two—so it was not a reach for him in “High Noon.” I like the movie but not as much as his others like “The Westerner” or “Along Came Jones” where he mixed in some humor in his portrayals.”