Thursday, January 28, 2021

Appreciating My Wife of 48 Years

 When you’ve woken up next to the same person for the last 48 years there is not much that surprises you. Rather, what you develop is an appreciation of your partner’s varied and numerous talents.

Gilda is the consummate student. The task of learning a new skill refreshes and energizes her. Two years ago on our anniversary, I detailed her professional achievements as a nurse and nurse practitioner, all in specialties where she lacked any prior experience—newborn intensive care, ICU/CCU care, infectious diseases researcher during the HIV, Lyme Disease and hepatitis scourges of the 1980s-1990s, and spine surgery pre- and post-operation assessment (

She was fortunate to have skilled physicians instruct her along the way. It has been in her leisure activities that her intensity to self-expand her capacities has been demonstrated to me. 

Time has not dulled her enthusiasm for learning. She can spend hours researching recipes, then trying them out. A self-taught praiseworthy cook, she has become as well a superb baker, especially of braided challah. It is a wonder I have not put on pounds from her cooking and baking output. Must be my metabolism.

Her green thumb talents extend to outdoor and indoor plants. She has turned our basement into a winter greenhouse with grow lights suspended over geraniums exhumed before frost covered the garden. She experiments with winter growing techniques, with plants boxed in the attic or inside clear plastic bins on our patio. She can spend hours talking with our son-in-law Donny about plants. I know of few gardens as beautiful as the one Gilda cultivates each year. Last summer’s project was building a stepped entry to land on top of a rock outcropping in the corner of our back yard. From that same promontory our kids used to ride their sleds after a snowstorm until they got big enough to conquer the hills of Maple Moor Golf Course. 

Gilda loves exploring new areas. The best trails to walk, parks to visit. Beaches. Neighborhoods to look at interesting houses, especially those with magnificent trees.

She has the patience I don’t have to research online vacation rentals. She can spend hours organizing photo files.

She’s a member of several book clubs, each meeting on different days. Apart from those clubs, her concurrent reading usually involves one book of fiction, one of non fiction. “American Dirt” is her current book project. 

She reads online at least four newspapers every day: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Omaha World Herald, The Westchester Journal News. And for good measure she logs onto one or more times a day.

As a teenager she sewed her own clothing. She taught herself to sew so expertly she was hired as a seamstress by a Greenwich Village shop while attending Brooklyn College. That’s how she came to sew a cape for Frank Sinatra. Now, she mostly does small but intricate projects, like shortening sleeves or legs of sweatshirts and sweatpants to accommodate her small frame.

It is hard keeping up with her. Just listing all her interests tires me out. 

Happy 48th anniversary, Gilda Bear!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

GOAT vs. The Kid, Biden Undos Trump Imprint

 The GOAT vs. The Kid: Everyone—at least those interested in sports—is naturally focusing on the upcoming Super Bowl battle between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the reigning champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. 

More specifically, they are locked in on the matchup between the teams’ respective quarterbacks—Tom Brady of the Bucs, tagged the GOAT, the greatest of all time, with six titles out of nine previous Super Bowl appearances during a storied 20 year stint with the New England Patriots, and the upstart kid, Patrick Mahomes, acknowledged as the best of current quarterbacks with a one year old Super Bowl ring on his finger earned in just his third year in the NFL.

It is a story line hard to resist. But for my money the winner will be decided by how elusive KC’s speedy receivers—Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman—will be once they catch a Mahomes’ pass. If Tampa Bay can contain their yards after catch, the Bucs have a chance. If they run wild, as they did against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, it’s game over, no matter how marvelous Brady plays.

Force of Habit: Though my sense of relief is palpable, I cannot shake a habit of checking the news feed on each night after I get into bed. Many times in the middle of the night if I cannot fall back asleep I check it again. First thing in the morning, another check. A bad habit impressed on me through four years. 

For four years I dreaded discovering the latest trauma our fearful leader inflicted on us. I knew it was wrong to be so obsessed, but with no more restraint than a moth displays as it wings its way to a fiery death I could not tear my eyes away.

He is gone but neither forgotten nor to be ignored, especially as his impeachment trial begins in two weeks and, more importantly, there are too many would be claimants to his throne as chief rabble rouser. Cruz, Hawley, Johnson, Jordan, Gaetz and more too numerous to mention. Already he is plotting revenge on those he feels betrayed him, lining up candidates for state and federal elections. 

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. 

Surprised? You Shouldn’t Be: Anyone surprised by all the executive orders Biden is issuing to reverse Donald Trump’s imprint on America and world affairs clearly slept through the last year.

Republican dyspepsia over Biden’s signature spree is pure political theater. Elections have consequences. Trump did the same to many of Barack Obama’s initiatives. All of Biden’s reversals were part and parcel of his campaign, from his high profile promise to reenter the Paris Climate Accords to his reinstatement of transgender troops to the military. 

Perhaps the only regret anyone should be voicing is Biden’s inability to quickly resolve Trump’s inefficient distribution of the rapidly developed COVID-19 vaccines Trump proudly and rightfully claimed as an achievement. 

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. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Taking a Shot Like a Man

Dr. Harry would be proud of me.

I didn’t cry, even whimper or cringe, before, during or after the doctor plunged the needle into my left arm Friday morning. I took the first Pfizer coronavirus vaccine like a man.

I wasn’t always that mature. Indeed, I still get the willies, what I usually call the heebie jeebies, whenever I see shots being given, a regrettably common piece of  newscast footage during these pandemic times. During my childhood in the 1950s, receiving an injection from our family physician, Dr. Harry, was ear shattering trauma.

My plight was side-splitting fun to my older siblings. Even if they too had to endure an injection, they gloried in my anticipated, prolonged agony.

I would start moaning the moment Dr. Harry entered our home (general practitioners made house calls in those days). As Dr. Harry—whose real first name was Bernard which he didn’t like as much as Harry—was a family friend, he would be in no rush to puncture me.

Tall, with a looping gait, bulging eyes and a shock of receding, not necessarily combed, wiry grey hair, Dr. Harry would slowly make his way down the carpeted hallway to the bedroom I shared with my brother.

An examination—my last hope for a shot reprieve—preceded what inevitably resulted in Dr. Harry diagnosing an illness best treated by a shot in the tush. Before my fate was sealed, the examination was a source of giggles. He’d poke me where I was ticklish, always asking when was the last time I had a bowel movement. It was decades before I knew the significance of that question.

The laughter ended when I would realize my symptoms called for a shot. Dr. Harry would vanish from the bedroom into either the kitchen or bathroom to wash his hands and prepare the needle. By this time I’d be screaming. 

My mother would be holding me down, trying to soothe me, making sure my bare buttocks faced upward. Dr. Harry would slip into the room, say a few nonsensical remarks and quickly, surprisingly, thrust the needle into my behind. I’d scream some more. Cry a little louder. Hug my mother a little tighter. Dr. Harry would retreat to the dinette where he and my mother would gossip awhile over coffee. 

With Gilda sitting beside me waiting her turn, Friday’s COVID-19 vaccination episode had no such drama, though I did tell the physician administering the injection of my childhood experiences, not to provide patient history but rather to allay any histrionics on my part. 

The toughest part of the experience was securing appointments for the inoculations. To no avail Gilda had tried and tried to pierce the online application process. Our inability to get appointments while almost a dozen friends secured time slots depressed us. 

To the rescue came Bella. Within half a day of trying she nailed two appointments at the Fort Washington Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The staff was cordial and efficient. We left within 45 minutes of arrival with appointments three weeks hence for our second vaccination.

If Dr. Harry were alive today I would tell him I am looking forward to my next shot. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Unity Challenge Biden Faces

In homes like mine across America, perhaps even the world, Wednesday night was a time of exultation primed by relief that four years of despair had ended earlier that day at noon.

Joe Biden is now president of the United States. But almost half the nation believes he is an imposter. A usurper. He is not the man they believe won the election. 

They believe that falsehood, despite repeated decisions by courts in numerous states that election results were legal, that votes for Biden were legally cast. They believe that lie, even after a Republican administration in Washington attested that the November 3 election was the most fraud-free of any in our history. 

Imagine how they processed Wednesday’s pageantry. Will they welcome Biden’s call for unity, his plea to end an “uncivil war” between red and blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal? Biden declared war on political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism. He vowed to defend the truth, defeat the lies.

Keep in mind, the president of the naysayers and his enablers lied to them. Not some inconsequential fib like the size of an inauguration crowd. No, this lie cut right to their belief in the validity of their government.

Politicians lie. Before and after they achieve their ultimate goal—election, then reelection. Presidents are no different. Presidents lie. All presidents do. Johnson and Nixon lied about Vietnam. Reagan lied about Iran Contra. Bush II lied about Iraq.

Even after their lies have been exposed many supporters refuse to abandon allegiance to their president. Call it blind patriotism or idiocy, it is a fact of life.

Biden will have to somehow pierce their armor of infallibility without damaging their capacity to transition to a new reality.

But even as some movement back to reality has begun—after four years of being unfaithful to the truth Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate said, “The mob (that attacked the Capitol) was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” while under threat of a lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems right wing media have retracted claims the company’s voting machines compromised election results—Biden’s wish list faces seemingly insurmountable odds of success.

The cancer of falsehoods has already metastasized. In an effort to minimize viewership losses to more extreme networks, Fox News is doubling down on disdain for anything and anyone Democratic. Wednesday night Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity spewed innuendo and lies to an audience susceptible to manipulation (

Few presidents enter the Oval Office with an overwhelming mandate. Biden’s margin of victory in the Electoral College matched that of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton four years ago. In the popular vote tally, Trump outdid his 2016 performance. He garnered 74.2 million votes, more than any other sitting president, 11.2 million more than he did in 2016. But as in 2016, Trump polled fewer votes than his Democratic opponent. More than 81.3 million chose Biden.

Unlike previous elections, the loser and many of his followers have not accepted defeat. Wednesday night in their homes was not devoted to celebration.

The great divide is a chasm Biden cannot be expected to bridge in a day, a week, a month, even a year. Though Biden’s inauguration was a visual celebration of diversity, the day before outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted multiculturalism.

“Wokeism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker,”

Pompeo tweeted. 

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Less Than a Day to Fresh Start: Thank You, Don

 With fewer than 24 hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office as our 46th president, the nation can collectively exhale and be proud to have survived the last four years. As a blogger, I am thankful Donald Trump provided endless inspiration. I would have been a lot less productive without his stimulating presence. 

For the record, since The Don and Melania descended the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, to announce his candidacy, he has been mentioned in my blog 311 times out of 482 posts. No doubt, even after eviction from the White House Trump will continue to be part of the national discussion. He is a gift for journalism that keeps on giving. 

Of course, I probably would not have lost sleep, nor developed a nightly arrhythmia, had he not sucked the air out of political discourse, but let’s not quibble over details of his deplorable and inefficient presidency, such as his repeated promise of a better and cheaper health care plan that he failed to deliver.

You can read or listen to lots of reporting and commentary on specific achievements and underachievements of Trump’s tenure. No need to repeat them here. Instead, I will try to highlight some unique aspects of life under Trump.

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. 

Nearly 400,000 deaths related to COVID-19. For sure, Trump is not responsible for the pandemic. But he bears overwhelming responsibility for the ineffective, deleterious manner in which his administration handled the scourge, from his disdain for its potential disaster to his failure to effectively promote wearing masks to limit its spread to his failure to mount a national response. 

Plaudits to Trump for Operation Warp Speed to develop vaccines, but disses for his administration’s handling of its dispensing. Even to the very end his government lied about the availability of vaccines. Too many of those 400,000 deaths can be attributed to Trump’s actions and inactions.

Carnage showed up, as well, at the Capitol two weeks ago. Trump’s army of deplorables, yes, deplorables, savaged our democratic heritage of the peaceful transition of power. Trump has yet to admit defeat. He has yet to admit he lost in a free and fraud-free election. His subterfuge of our election process fueled the miscreants who invaded the Capitol. 

By inciting the assault on the Capitol and refusing to acknowledge results of a free democratic election, Trump probably blew any chance he had to win a Nobel Peace prize for his Middle East peace initiatives. After all, it would be more than awkward to reward overtures for international tranquility to a person who stoked the flames of domestic violence, insurrection, racism and anti-Semitism.  

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 should thank him for providing an object lesson on the oath of office taken by a president and our elected representatives and senators. A president says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“To the best of my Ability.” Surely we have found out that  Trump’s ability is limited.

Members of Congress, meanwhile, say, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

“Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Let’s thank Trump for exposing in a very real sense domestic enemies. No longer should we concentrate solely on how foreign agents might sabotage our freedoms and elections. Domestic terrorists, working in tandem with or at least with the benign approval of the president and members of Congress, are a more radical threat. 

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, be it from enrichment through emoluments previously thought to be forbidden, or through pressing foreign governments to interfere in our elections. 

Americans like to humanize our presidents. Often it is by  observing their interaction with a pet—FDR’s mutual allegiance with Fala, his Scottish Terrier; Obama’s Portuguese Water dog, Bo. Or it could be through their self deprecating sense of humor, evidenced by JFK’s or Reagan’s. 

Trump had no dog, no pet. He exhibited no sense of humor beyond ridicule and insult hurled at detractors, swallowed whole by his guffawing, adoring sycophants. 

What we learned from Trump is that his ego bruised easily. Some attribute his decision to run for president to the night Obama and Seth Meyers made fun of him during a White House Correspondents dinner in 2011. We can be sure that in exile Trump will try to exact revenge on the 10 Republican congresspeople who supported impeachment and on any GOP senators who might vote to convict. 

Though we knew it in the abstract, we learned concretely from Trump that a president has the power to circumvent judicial norms in civilian and military courts. All presidents exercise the power to commute or pardon criminals. Trump used his authority to absolve men who tried to undermine our election process and who violated the military’s code of honor. 

Biden cannot reverse any of those commutations or pardons, but I would advocate for him to commute the remainder of Michael Cohen’s sentence. Yes, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer committed crimes. But he also has spoken truth about Trump’s violations of law and civility. 

Equally worrisome, Trump turned the attorney general and the Justice Department into his personal lawyer and legal firm rather than the people’s representative. 

With the acquiescence of Republicans in the House and Senate, Trump showed the executive branch can act independent of any congressional oversight. I wonder how Republicans will react to similar behavior from Biden. 

For too long social media have given a pass to extremists. We should be grateful that in exorcising Trump from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms an intense discussion has begun on the responsibilities and limitations of technology companies. 

When he campaigned in 2016 Trump claimed to be an expert on debt. As president he has added $7.8 trillion to the national debt, largely due to tax cuts for the rich and corporations he pushed through and for the economic collapse from his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Paying off the added debt will be a decades long legacy.

To stimulate business and buttress families in need, Biden will push for more deficit spending. As the recession of 2008 demonstrated, there’s no better way to jump start the economy. Of course, Republicans who were silent partners in Trump’s fiasco handling of the economy can be expected to revert to being deficit hawks. 

Biden should ignore them. He has two years with slim majorities in the House and Senate to push expensive but necessary programs before the next election could shift the balance of power in each chamber. 

One last thing I’m thankful to Trump for—assuming nothing happens before noon Wednesday, I’m thankful he proved me wrong and never invoked martial law.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

6 Days to Fresh Start: Pussy Defines Trump Era

What is the single, defining word that personifies the Trump era? 

Could it be “wall?” Donald Trump promised a wall across the southern border to keep out Mexicans and other Latinos. He promised Mexico would pay for it. Of course, Mexico didn’t. And Trump never managed to build more than a few hundred miles of wall.

Instead, we end his presidency with American tax dollars paying for his incomplete wall. More tragically, we are paying for the wall of steel barricades surrounding government buildings and monuments in Washington to keep Trump’s radicalized right wing supporters from vandalizing our national heritage on, before or after Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

How about “impeachment?” Only three of 45 presidents—Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump—have been impeached. Trump has achieved that notoriety not once, but twice. 

Like his predecessors in ignominy, Trump evaded conviction by the Senate for his first impeachment. He’s almost certain to escape conviction again. Conviction would require at least 17 Republican senators to vote “aye,” assuming all 50 Democratic senators support the charge. Reaching that level of bipartisan agreement is as realistic as Evangelical Southern Baptists and the Catholic Church suddenly announcing their merger and support for abortion on demand.

Trump may be found not guilty of inciting an insurrection that stormed the Capitol last Wednesday to void Congress’ constitutional act of confirming the votes of the Electoral College in favor of Biden, but he most assuredly is not innocent of the charge and for trying, desperately and continually trying, to overturn the will of the people in what his own administration labeled the most secure election in the nation’s history.

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. 

Maybe “fake news” is the defining word. (I know that’s two words, but Trump says it so often it sounds like one word.) Because of Trump and his enablers, we live in a world where far too many accept “alternative facts” as gospel. 

With Balkanized media, the public no longer has a common source of reality. Progressives have their media sites, conservatives theirs, anarchists, white supremacists, indeed, any faction, have theirs. 

Just as our television viewing options have geometrically multiplied from the days of the Big 3 networks—CBS, NBC, ABC—news options have expanded beyond the imaginable. All one needs is an Internet connection to begin skewing truth into fake news. 

An increasing number of Americans rely on social media for their news ( 

Trump’s false claims of election fraud led to his current impeachment. His disregard for the dangers of COVID-19 and the steps necessary to contain its spread has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and counting. 

Fake news is a Trump legacy that will not go away.

Pussy Galore:  To me, the word that bookends the Trump era is “pussy.” 

Pre-2016 election, Trump’s signature word was from comments with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005. Revealed weeks prior to the election, Trump was heard describing how he relates to women: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

In the waning days of his presidency, Trump is said to have cautioned Vice President Mike Pence that he would “go down in history as a pussy” if he didn’t throw out the Electoral College votes Biden won in Georgia and install the votes of a rogue Trump slate.

Don’t get me wrong. Many presidents cursed. Many were womanizers. Many bullied. Yet, Trump’s vulgarity and the trauma he has put our nation and the world through is encapsulated in that one word spoken decades apart. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

8 Days to a Fresh Start: No Tears for Adelson

 I shed no tears at the passing of Sheldon Adelson, reputed to be among the richest people on earth. I don’t begrudge him that achievement, but use of his wealth to underwrite and perpetuate radical conservative politicians and ideas in the United States and Israel made him to me a persona non grata. His financial backings girded Donald Trump, Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu and right wing politicians as they undermined democratic values in their respective countries.

My antipathy toward Adelson harks back to 1986 when I first met him. At the time, he headed up The Interface Group, the producer of COMDEX, the computer industry’s biggest exposition. COMDEX  attracted some 100,000 conventioneers to Las Vegas. With rare exception, attendees had to book their plane and hotel reservations through COMDEX. The turnkey program was a big moneymaker.

With a convention system structured around Las Vegas in place, Interface cast about for another conference theme. The National Housewares Manufacturers Association had recently scrapped its second annual show in July in Chicago. It opted to hold one show a year in January in Chicago. Interface, meaning Adelson, decided to pounce on the opportunity to outmuscle the housewares association. It proposed a show in Las Vegas in August.

To jumpstart his idea, Adelson came a-courting to Lebhar-Friedman’s corporate offices in New York. Together with Chain Store Age General Merchandise Trends, of which I was editor and publisher, our three other retail publications in the discount store, drug store and home center fields were important media for anyone who wanted to reach housewares industry influentials, both at the retailer and vendor levels.

During a meeting with publishers and editors, Adelson could hardly have been less congenial. He wasn’t used to anyone questioning his proposals. Instead of listening to our ideas, he forcefully told us how he would upend the industry, how buyers and sellers would flock to Las Vegas regardless of how hot the town could be in August. By the end of the meeting, our two camps were as divided as the North and South after Lincoln’s election.

The show was a disaster. Though scheduled to run three days, exhibitors started tearing down booths in the middle of the second day, a violation of protocol of any trade show. They could hardly be blamed, for there was virtually no retailer traffic. No one wanted to come to Las Vegas in 110 degree heat.

I didn’t really care as Gilda had joined me for her first trip to Las Vegas. It meant more time we could spend together. When the vendors started folding up their tents, they also started selling floor samples. We bought a 12-inch heavy metal skillet we still use, a constant reminder of Adelson’s flaming out in the sun.

Adelson took it all in stride, never held another housewares show, subsequently sold COMDEX and parlayed the proceeds into casino holdings in Vegas and around the globe. While I regret his political donations, he also used his vast resources to underwrite medical research.

Adelson’s passing marks the crumbling of another foundational pillar that contributed to the building of the Trump empire, economically and politically. 

It has been a traumatic week for Trump. Pillar by pillar Trump is being abandoned. After four years of sycophancy, Vice President Mike Pence last Wednesday chose to honor the Constitution rather than Trump’s unfounded and illegal attempt to undermine the validity of the November presidential election.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook jettisoned his accounts on their social media platforms because of his insistence the election was rigged and his fanning the flames of insurrection that led to the storming of the Capitol. Other tech companies have suspended his ability to use alternate social media sites.

Trump’s longtime financial lifeline, Deutsche Bank, has decided to end its decades-long relationship. No more new business, but Trump still owes it some $300 million due in the next few years. Trump also lost Signature Bank as a financial partner.

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and New York Post said he should resign.

PGA America rescinded holding the PGA Championship golf tournament at Trump’s Bedminster, NJ, golf club in May 2022. 

Bill Belichick, coach ot the New England Patriots, declined to receive from him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Under penalty of dismissal, Cumulus Media, the second largest radio network with 416 stations, ordered its on-air talent, including right-wing talk radio hosts Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, to stop spreading misinformation about election fraud and any suggestion that “infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.” 

The cascade of defections from Trump and his Republican enablers shows no signs of abating. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

10 Days to Fresh Start: Wild Wednesday Wisdom

Not everybody gets the same Facebook and Twitter feeds. In case you didn’t see them, here are some favorite tweets and postings that came across my feeds since “Wild Wednesday” at the Capitol: 

Katrina VandenHeuvel @KatrinaNation tweeted: “Historian Eric Foner’s wise suggestion—instead of impeachment, 4 which there is no time, they should invoke section 3 of 14th Amendment, barring from office anyone who took an oath to constitution & subsequently engaged in or encouraged insurrection or rebellion. Majority vote.”

Ari Berman @AriBerman tweeted, “Republicans confirmed Amy Coney Barrett 8 days before election but say you can’t impeach Trump 12 days before inauguration.”

Robert Reich @RBReich tweeted, “Call me an originalist, but I think the Framers of the Constitution intended the impeachment process to be used to remove a president who incited a takeover of the Capitol.”

Young Daddy @ Toure tweeted, “I don’t ever recall Republicans saying we shouldn’t investigate Hillary again because we need healing. It’s only when Republicans screw up do they suddenly say we can’t have consequences, we need healing.”

Barbara Malmet @B52Malmet tweeted, “One more person died in Trump’s mob rampage on the Capitol than perished in Benghazi. Where’s the Republican outrage? O wait, none of their offices were trashed, were they?”

The Other 98% posted, “Imagine thinking humans have a right to Twitter and not Healthcare.”

Occupy Democrats posted, “To anyone complaining about a private social media company like Twitter kicking Trump off their platform … Think of Twitter as a Christian bakery and Trump as a gay wedding cake.”

Tea Pain @TeaPainUSA posted, “Who overthrew the Capitol? Muslims? No. Mexicans? No. LBGT militants? No. Black Lives Matter? No. Socialists? No. Communists? No. 

White. Trump. Supporters.”

Fred Maroun posted, “We condemn Palestinian chairman Mahmood Abbas when he lies and incites violence against Israel, predicting, quite correctly, that his words would likely inspire violence, but then we seem to totally forget that correlation when it is Trump, not Abbas, who does the lying and incitement? We have no excuse. None.”

Middle Age Riot @middleageriot posted, “During a tantrum over his election loss, Donald Trump held his breath until Georgia turned blue.”

Hamilton Nolan @hamiltonnolan posted, “Seeing the police response to the BLM protesters all year vs the police response to right wingers storming the Capitol is a fantastic validation of everything BLM has been saying.”

Ben Costiloe @BenCostiloe posted, “For those wondering if it’s worth impeaching him this time, it means he: 1) loses his 200k+ pension for the rest of his life; 2) loses his 1 million dollar/year travel allowance; 3) loses lifetime full Secret Service detail; 4) loses his ability to run in 2024.” 

Of course, those consequences take effect only if the Senate convicts.

Friday, January 8, 2021

12 Days to a Fresh Start: Capitol Memories

Did your middle school or high school class visit Washington, DC, as my senior class did 55 years ago? From across our great land thousands of students annually embark on a trip that often is more memory inducing than civics inspiring.

Back in 1966 an FBI agent walked us through FBI headquarters, filling us with stories of how the bureau captured gangsters and saved us from the evils of communism and its secret agents. We saw money being printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. We climbed to the top of the Wasington Monument, arduous but not beyond our capacity as 17- and 18-year-olds. We dawdled at key monuments, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. We didn’t get to go inside the White House but we spent time at several Smithsonian buildings.

We examined the Capitol, inside and out. We viewed the magnificent rotunda with its huge pictures depicting historical events including Columbus landing in the New World, British troops surrendering after the Battles of Saratoga and Yorktown, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We gazed to the top of the cupola to ever so difficultly see the fresco and frieze with even more detail of our national history. 

We stood in the original location of the House of Representatives and the original Senate chamber. We took turns sitting in the balcony of the House. 

Over the next four decades I visited Washington at least once a year, mostly to visit my brother and his family, but also to join anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, to march to express solidarity with Soviet Jewry seeking freedom, to view a new Smithsonian exhibit and the opening of the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

I never again stepped foot inside the Capitol until May 2010 when, as a member of Shalom Yisrael of Westchester, I led a group of eight Israeli women during a visit to Washington. Each subsequent year with a new group of women, all first responders to terror and national disasters in their country, I rekindled my relationship with the Capitol until this year’s excursion was suspended because of COVID-19. 

The Shalom Yisrael trips to Washington followed a pattern. Over a two day period we’d visit the National Mall, stopping at the statue of Albert Einstein for a group picture, walk across Constitution Avenue to the Vietnam War Memorial, and then climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Gazing east we would see the Washington Monument and the Capitol lined up in a straight line. We would walk through the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. Depending on their interests our Israeli guests spent time at different building of the Smithsonian Institute. 

If Congress was in session, recently retired Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) would spend an hour or more with us over lunch in the congressional dining room. One of her staff walked us through the Capitol’s nooks and crannies, the original rooms for the Supreme Court, the House of Representatives, Statuary Hall in the crypt of the building, and the rotunda. 

We would sit in the balcony of the House, one time observing as a congressman advocated for more foreign aid for Israel. The Israelis were familiar with the venue, having watched it many times during presidential addresses and when their prime minister addressed a joint session of Congress. 

Another time, before he was selected as a vice presidential candidate in 2012, I pointed out to them Congressman Paul Ryan. In 2019, while waiting for an elevator, I thanked Rep. Jerrold Nadler for his tireless efforts to rein in Trump’s excesses. 

The point here is not to showcase my encounters with elected officials, but rather to reinforce the access everyday citizens had to members of our legislature and to the very halls of our government. 

I could not help but think of those moments during the madness that unfolded before our eyes on Wednesday. Multiple times I have walked through the very halls and corridors these insurgents terrorized and vandalized. When the Shalom Yisrael program resumes, hopefully in Fall 2021 or spring 2022, I wonder how I will explain what happened. 

Was it the coordinated action of an outlier segment of our populace, egged on by a despondent, despotic-minded president, or the spontaneous revolt of a handful of dissidents who, encountering little resistance from unprepared and undermanned security personnel, overwhelmed guards and in a frenzy defiled the “people’s house” and shamed our national heritage? 

Either explanation will not shield me from embarrassment.