Republicans Are Abusing Our Government?

The New York Times published a disturbing story titled, “Hard Right in Congress Sows Havoc.” A right-wing representative allegedly said most of what Congress does is not good for American people. He added that Congress’ actions are unjustifiable. The writer of the article wanted to indicate that even right-wing lawmakers were unhappy with Republican leadership.

What I find outrageous is that the venom of the reporter is directed at just the right leaning Congress population, exclusively. The nincompoops on the other side of the aisle escaped the wrath of the Times. Both sides of our political system need to stipulate that they have made mistakes and have put self-advancement ahead of the good of our nation.

The article, which belongs in the op-ed section of the paper, speaks to the grip of an ultra-conservative minority that “uses the federal government as a threat to the republic, a dangerous monolith to be broken apart.” They are a wrecking crew aimed at the nation’s most important institutions on a variety of fronts. They are eager to impeach the president (sound familiar?). They are tying up spending bills and holding up military promotions. When the opposition in Congress believes the majority is out of line, obstruction is their only weapon. This is indicative of a healthy governmental system. The last thing we need is a left-wing majority that is not tempered by the opposition.

The writer indicates that the right has always been the law and order party. Yet, it is attacking the FBI, for inappropriate behavior, and the Justice Department, which has a leader who has been accused of lying. The opposition is just doing its job pointing out inconsistencies and misgovernment by the majority.

From my vantage point both parties are incompetent, culpable, non-compromising and the New York Times’ story on the front page of the paper says the right is abusing its minority position. I counter this by stating that the minority party is doing exactly what it should be doing in light of the atrocious performance of the Biden administration.

I want to be clear that I am not in favor of hardball politics when so much is wrong internally and externally outside our borders. But, ignoring an immigration crisis on our border, instituting woke legislation that usurps parental educational responsibility, spewing overt lies and condoning chaos on our streets, is where work needs to be done. And to be concerned with these problems does not threaten our republic; it improves it.

Biden and his son have falsified so much during the past several months. The president has great wealth because he has influenced others in government for cash payments. Much of this was accomplished through his son and the faux business arrangements he has with certain rogue governments. How can we ignore these actions?

Right-wing Republicans have honorable objectives in mind as they oppose stupid legislation that puts our economy in jeopardy. Left-wingers think they will solidify their position by giving every minority group excessive benefits without any quid pro quo. Entitlements are bankrupting the country. Both parties are anxious to spend as much money as possible to make friends with extreme groups domestically and overseas. It’s time this ended.

Was Oppenheimer a Hero?

On Saturday, I saw the acclaimed movie, “Oppenheimer”. It is yet another anti-war and anti-nuclear statement that reflects the sentiment of many people across the globe.  

Why did Oppenheimer, a pacifist and an alleged communist, take on the job of inventing a new weapon of mass destruction for the US? Was it scientific curiosity, perhaps? Was it the challenge afforded to a man who wanted to be on top of the scientific world beside Albert Einstein, perhaps? Was Oppenheimer so consumed that the Nazis and the Soviet Union would have a distinct advantage in the weapons race? I think it was a little of all of these things.  

Arms races that have clearly dominated our political decisions since World War II, are becoming more hazardous every year. Only the USSR and the US had the scientific and technological capabilities to harness the atom and create a weapon that could alter mankind in just a few hours during the war. Are the costs of development and deployment of nuclear weapons only fundable by the wealthiest countries in the world? No.  

Irresponsible and radical regimes now have access to nuclear weapons in part because they have the money to acquire ready to use weapons. And, they believe their power and influence is enhanced by using a nuclear threat against their enemies and others that they compete with economically. North Korea and rich Arab nations are perfect examples of this phenomenon. To this point, the threat of nuclear attacks is worth more than actually owning the weapons. I hope.  

In earlier days, the threat of mutual destruction prevented nuclear nations from using atomic or hydrogen bombs. Although the US and Soviet Union produced many nuclear missiles that could destroy mankind, no one expected these leaders to press the button and commit nuclear mass genocide.

These days nuclear weapons are in play for many countries, and there is a distinct risk that a deranged leader would use the ultimate weapon regionally and set off worldwide Armageddon.   What are we doing in response? Spending billions to be armed against our enemies? Threatening each other? Diverting our energies from climate change and pandemic to killing other human beings?  

Oppenheimer was truly concerned about an arms race, proliferation of nuclear weapons and misuse of weapons for political gains. At least that was what the movie implied. Is Oppenheimer a hero, or did he make it possible for demented egomaniacs to destroy the world?

Trump’s Plans to Usurp Power

The New York Times, in a front-page story titled “Trump and Allies Seeking Vast Increase of His Power,” attempted to frighten voters who might support Donald Trump. To be clear, I support neither Trump or Biden in the 2024 election. But to believe Trump has the intellectual chops to restructure the country administratively, and to reassign the role of Congress, regardless of who is in charge of Capitol Hill is total hogwash.  

This is another attempt by the media, the New York Times specifically, to influence the election with misinformation and crazy speculation. Some statements in the article are outrageous. They include the following:  

  • Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government.
  • They’re going to reshape the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority in the president’s hands.
  • They’re going to end the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence from White House political control.
  • They’re going to increase the president’s authority over every part of the federal government.
  • The FCC and the FTC would be under direct presidential control.
  • They will abscond funds that Congress has allocated to finance independent projects.
  • They will strip employment protections from thousands of career civil servants, making it easier to replace them if they are deemed to be obstacles to Trump’s agenda.
  • They will scour the intelligence agencies, the state department and defense bureaucracies to remove officials that the president has vilified as the sick political class that hates our country.

  I’m not really commenting on the wisdom of restructuring critical parts of the government. The fact is that Trump could not even keep anyone working for him during his first term. Just about every important individual he recruited quit. Trump has no people or leadership skills.  

The initiatives in this article are so far out of bounds I can’t believe the Times published the article.   So many of the proposals by Trump’s people are flat out unconstitutional. Congress is not going to allow the president to interfere in its budgetary process. Only the veto would be available to the president. The justice system will never allow Trump to approve or inspire actions against his political opponents. The legislature and judicial branches of our government would go bonkers if any president attempted such a restructuring.  

And finally, once again, Trump is not capable of intellectually doing so much harm to our government. We may as well start the impeachment process right now, except Republicans will vote with Democrats to throw the man out of office this time around.

Is Humanity Growing Less Truthful and Empathetic

Softball Politics has historically opined about issues affecting politics, business and foreign relations. In this latest post, however, I will delve into human relations and how they are negatively impacting our country and the world.  

The reason for my focus on this phenomenon is I have witnessed a marked deterioration in truthfulness, ethics and empathy among our leaders and neighbors in most facets of life. The result has been a dramatic change in the relationships between world leaders, our political representatives and even in our families and friends. Most people are more combative these days.  

I’m not a philosopher, but I’m in tune with the actions of others and whether they represent an acceptable way to behave in times of duress. The areas that I will cover include the truth, violence and empathy.  

Let’s begin with our politicians and the lack of transparency that Americans now experience. Our leaders keep things from us that we should know about. There are no better examples of liars taking control of our lives than the presumed nominees in the 2024 presidential election. Both men do not for a minute seem concerned with the truth or the feelings of their constituencies.  

The plight of Joe Biden and his son Hunter is front and center. The drama associated with these two men is usurping a lot of resources and brainpower from more productive activities, but there are some very important issues at stake. Joe Biden obviously was involved with his son and has taken money illegally and/or unethically from shady people and governments around the world who are looking for favors. This is corruption. Conservative members of Congress have jumped on the bandwagon and are accusing the first family with all types of misbehavior.  

To make matters worse, the Justice Department is apparently protecting the first family by withholding information that they uncovered during its investigation. Why is this important? If the leader of our country is incapable of following legal and moral standards, how can we expect common citizens to do what’s expected? And, are the Bidens above the law? I think not.  

At the same time, Donald Trump continues to bamboozle millions of Americans who somehow see it right to support him for the presidency. Trump has been lying to people his whole life extending into his term in office and into the current election campaign. Most politicians are afraid to criticize Trump in any way feeling reprisals may damage their own political ambitions. In my humble opinion, Donald Trump is the worst example for our children, our voters, our allies, our enemies. He will go down in history as a scoundrel of the worst sort.  

The point to be made is that we have dropped to a new low in terms of human relationships led by the two men who are vying for the presidency. As an aside, I continue to hope for circumstances that will railroad the political ambitions of both of men before the next election.  

Telling the truth is such a basic thing. Our country would not have advanced to the present stage unless its leaders and citizens were truthful during the past two centuries. I see all sorts of respected and honored traditions going to hell in a handbasket because our leaders are bold faced liars and only concerned about retaining their own positions.  

I shouldn’t be critical without some sort of suggestion to improve the situation. The best I can do on short notice is to recommend the country enact more term limits on our politicians so that new blood continues to refresh our government. There’s a reason why presidents can only serve two terms. We need new ideas and people confident enough to sell creative ideas to the public at large.  

The second issue I wanted to discuss is violence. It’s just wrong to use the First Amendment to cover the tracks of violent behavior. Our forefathers never for one second wanted free speech to be an excuse to physically attack fellow citizens or their property. Even Berkeley has been untrue to the cause. When I was in college, it was the epicenter of free speech, and recently students burned down the town to protest a conservative talking head that was scheduled to make a presentation.  

The violence that erupts from “peaceful demonstrations” is unacceptable and is tearing our country apart. Several years ago, I decided to avoid conversations about politics with strangers that I met at rubber chicken dinners and other social affairs. At the time, I thought debate was good sport and enjoyed discussing my ideas versus somebody else’s that were diametrically different than mine. I gave up the activity because certain people hated me after these conversations, not accepting any views that were opposed to their own personal perspectives. I think it’s a sad moment when a country with a First Amendment that guarantees free speech has citizens who can’t have a drink and talk about whether a politician is good for our country.  

Free speech is not a synonym for violence. No matter what you hear from radicals on both sides of the aisle it’s unacceptable, immoral dangerous, and a threat to our democracy. Moreover, you can’t have free speech unless all perspectives are unfettered, excluding the violence provision.  

We are now at the point where certain topics can’t be discussed in a public forum, or even in our own homes. The woke generation uses innocent conversation as a reason to cancel people. Every important issue seems to have a racial, sexual or personal angle in the minds of those who are paranoid. How are we to make changes to improve the lives of all citizens regardless of color, religion, sexuality or political perspectives if we can’t have a peaceful conversation about the issues in public or in Congress?  

The next issue on the table his empathy. I practice yoga and meditation and appreciate the importance of showing empathy to those who have less than I do. Every act of kindness should be respected by others. Those that give money to the needy should be applauded for their generosity. Every day is a new opportunity to be empathetic and to improve oneself by showing how concerned we are for others.  

The beneficiaries of the generosity of wealthy people should not accept the benefits from others with an attitude. It should be viewed as an act of kindness, and not just a tax deduction or a sign of bravado.

But empathy is much deeper than giving money. It also involves the unease one should feel when others suffer. We must have sympathy for those who search for fresh water and food every day. We must empathize for children who are homeless and living in squaller. We must feel emotion for those who are impacted by war and devastating acts of Nature. And Americans must offer to help.  

Having said this, the US cannot rescue the whole world from evil, pestilence, famine, disease and other calamities. We must pick and choose how we dedicate our resources to helping others. In this regard, I believe we need to take care of our own before we take care of people in other countries. It breaks my heart to see people on the street begging for money and food while our government is incapable of finding the resources to help them.  

And then there is the issue of ethics. This is a topic that seems to be lost on many people around the world. Our government and businesses have developed an extensive list of ethical considerations. If we don’t abide by these standards, our infrastructure will come crumbling down.

  Some examples of this for individuals would include paying your taxes truthfully. Our government operates with the taxes it receives from its citizens. To cheat and underpay for somebody earning $50,000 or $1,000,000 is criminal, literally and figuratively. Why should one person say that their taxes are unfair and force another person to make up the difference?  

The same holds true for corporations and for the government. In particular, Congress is responsible for the power of the purse meaning that they are given the job of allocating money for different purposes every year. If they cheat, it’s no different than if an individual cheats. If they allocate money to people that don’t need aid, somebody else maybe going hungry tonight.  

But the whole body of ethics is important for other reasons. In order to run smoothly, businesses and our government must have rules that everyone follows so there can be no misunderstandings. Frankly, I believe too many people are taking liberties with ethics in this day and age.  

There’s much more to talk about from a philosophical perspective. Perhaps I’ll take up other issues in the future blog posts. For now, make it a habit of being truthful to yourself, your partner, your children, your business associates, your friends and your government. Additionally, feel for those who have less than you do.  

Trump And Biden: Bad For America

Republicans and Democrats are guilty of ignoring the facts pertaining to criminal acts allegedly perpetrated by the current president and previous one. Keep in mind each of the men are leading preliminary polls to represent their political parties in the presidential election. Is this all America has to offer to its voters?

Trump is reaching new lows with recent statements he has made. He governed like a despot, ignoring tradition and exacerbated a wide swath of America with his big mouth and anti-democratic attitude. Not to be disrespectful, but I continue to scratch my head and wonder how any normal person with moderate intelligence could support a man like Trump and pull a lever with his name on it on Election Day.

Biden continues to dodge questions about potentially illegal activities by his son and himself that involve cash payments for access and other kinds of corruption. The liberal press is determined to protect the incumbent president and give him an advantage in the impending election. The information that has been accumulated regarding improper activities by the president seems to be mounting every day, in spite of efforts by journalists to convince us otherwise. The intensity of media coverage of Biden absolutely blows my mind when compared to the coverage that Trump has been receiving.

Republicans on the other hand are complaining about unfair treatment of Trump. The fact is that if both men are guilty of crimes, they both should be indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The fact that Biden is just as bad has Trump, does not mean that Trump’s actions can be excused. They both are bad for America.

The Department of Justice has taken sides in this whole controversy and is supportive of Biden. I think we should expect dramatic changes in the way that the Department of Justice handles missteps by political players. If they do not act with fairness, they will lose credibility to do their job in the future.

Most Republican presidential aspirants are continuing to protect Trump to a certain extent. Some say that Trump is being treated unfairly and is not being held to generally accepted rules of law, while others think that time will tell whether Trump has committed illegal acts and needs to be punished. There’s also a group who believes that the alleged crimes should disqualify any person from running for president of the country. I stand with the last group.

As a citizen, I am concerned that Trump will be the nominee of the Republican Party, and we may be in store for another arduous four years of his leadership. This will not happen if Republicans recognize the fact that Trump is unworthy of being our leader and is an embarrassment to our country. But if his Republican competition does not accentuate Trump’s crimes, it is possible that Trump could win.

On the other side of the coin, our current president is feebly attempting to govern our country. It’s almost sad to watch such a vibrant man lose touch with reality and with the American people. Exacerbating his situation is that he is also a liar and a corrupt person, if one believes the information that’s being uncovered by those investigating his actions with his son.

What frightens me is that the longer we wait to get rid of these two men and make it impossible for them to run for president, the more risk we have in actually having one of them be our leader for another term. What also frightens me is that our country is in need of a strong, honest, capable, transparent person. Biden promised to bring Republicans and Democrats to the table to negotiate new laws that would help America. He has not done so, and there’s no reason to expect that a second term would be any better.

Trump incredibly continues to act obnoxiously and negatively. He has been evil and untruthful during the days before the primaries. I wish all voters would take the time to study the facts and make a judgment about Trump’s character because it does not rise up to presidential expectations.

I’m afraid also that our enemies are becoming more aggressive because of our lack of leadership during the past six years. China shows no indication that they are going to try to work with the US for world peace. Russia is a bully that is incapable of being a world leader and a dominant factor even fighting against a small country like Ukraine.

It’s time to recognize the realities and find a strong person to represent us.

Finding Great Medical Care

In recent years, the medical system in the country has come under enormous pressure. I was fortunate to be a beneficiary of a shining moment that resulted in great medical care. When very talented doctors work in highly sophisticated hospitals on complicated ailments and diseases, the outcome is usually very beneficial for patients. In my situation, a surgeon listened to me carefully and was courageous in making his own diagnosis, even while others disagreed.

Several weeks ago, I experienced significant pain affiliated with my Achilles tendon. The pain persisted, and I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who treated my family on several other occasions. After perusing an MRI of my tendon, he said that I did not need surgery.

Note: the Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in our bodies. When the tendon rips apart, surgery is the recommended treatment. When the tendon is partially ripped, it is possible to avoid surgery with intense rehab. The tendon does grow back. 

While away on vacation, I was casually walking indoors and heard a popping noise that emanated from my ankle. This was followed by significant pain for just a moment. I reported the situation to my doctor, who asked me to take another MRI. It showed the tear in my Achilles tendon worsened.

I began to take rehab and spoke with two foot specialists about the situation. One of them emphatically told me that the injury was serious and should be surgically repaired.

I asked the orthopedic surgeon to reconsider my situation, and he tentatively decided to repair the Achilles tendon with surgery.

I scheduled surgery and prepared myself to deal with an extraordinarily difficult rehab regimen. While doing so I noticed that my tendon was feeling a little better. I reported this to my doctor who said that before he did the surgery, he would take one more look at my injury.

On Tuesday, I checked in to get the surgery done with the assurance that the surgeon would consider my treatment one more time. I entered the surgical preparation room, disrobed, had my leg shaved and was hooked up to an IV. Suddenly, the doctor appeared.

He reexamined the area in question and definitively decided to not do surgery. He did not want to subject me to an extended rehab regime and wanted to avoid the perils of an invasive treatment. I was unhooked from the IV and walked out the door with gratitude. Before I left, the doctor said that he was not equivocating when he said, I should not do the surgery. It gave me great comfort that it was the right decision. I am extremely thankful that the surgeon made a tough call.

With confident, talented and experienced doctors, common sense and a strong desire to get well, we can all make better health care decisions and ensure our health. We only hear about situations where doctors and patients have erred and rarely hear about the great moments.

Thank you to my doctors, my wife, the rehab specialist, and all the others that participated in my final decision to not do surgery. 

Farewell 885, We Will Miss You

After 30 years, my wife and I moved from our long-term residence. It was a tearful goodbye to our wonderful and comforting home with all its memories. We purchased it a few months before our twins were born in 1993, and it served us well for many years.

It’s interesting how we get set in our ways when we live in a place for a long time. I had all the comforts of home as a stay-at-home dad when our children were young, and during later years when I worked from my man cave. I only emerged from my hideaway lair to eat, workout and sleep.

Most people were envious of my man cave because it was so different from the rest of the apartment, and all mine. Most of the rooms were minimally bright, given the fact that Upper Eastside apartments are shaded by their close proximity to near-by buildings. However, my office has paneling that is dark brown. When we decorated the apartment, several years after moving in, I decided I wanted to have dark wood and an old and distinguished feel. My wife hated it. The room was an ideal environment to do my writing without disturbances, and I was very productive during most of the years in the apartment. Guests needed a special invitation to enter my room.

After the twins were born, which was about two or three months after we purchased the apartment, we were happy that we had so much space because the apartment was always crowded with family and friends.

During the years, we had numerous get togethers for business and parties for family. Probably the most memorable were the Seder meals that we hosted. We had a long foyer in which we set up a table that could hold 30 or 35 people. The area was perfect for big meals. It was always great getting together with my wife’s family and guests of all faiths.

One year, my two brothers-in-law who led our Seders were unavailable. On the day of the Seder, my wife said I needed to lead the group. I said, what? I’m Catholic. I accepted this honor because I had been to enough Passovers over the years. There was no formal training at Notre Dame for such a contingency. I studied my Haggadah all afternoon and received good marks from the attendees. Elijah even showed up.

Our home was a safe place for our friends our children’s friends. One of the sad memories was welcoming those who were dislocated during 9/11. We collected kids from both of our children’s schools, and they spent the afternoon watching Nickelodeon, while the adults followed the horrific events of that day on news TV. We were joined by some of my wife’s colleagues from work who were unable to get home until much later in the evening. It was really a sad time, but we felt safe in our home.

While living at our old apartment, I worked out twice each day. I spent many satisfying hours in the gym on aerobic equipment and using weights. The gym became a social place for me where I got to know some of the other residents quite well during chat sessions while we were working out. In fact, I was selected to buy new equipment for the gym. I actually conducted a poll to ensure that everybody was heard in terms of their preferences for the equipment we installed.

One inconvenient thing that happened during our time at the old place was our gas was shut down for 18 months because a leak was found. We had to buy a hot plate like college because our stove was gas-operated. At that time, we were empty nesters so we could always order in or make sandwiches for dinner. What our neighbors that had children did was a challenge. Not having access to a stove in your apartment for a year and a half was a real struggle. This was one important reason we opted for a newer structure.

The question is why did we move after so many years? Answer: After COVID my wife wanted to have outdoor space.

She promised me that we would do a limited amount of construction and try to use some of our furniture from our old apartment. Let’s put it this way, none of this came to fruition. Working with architects and construction people, we completely gutted the entire apartment, and we bought all new furniture. Happy wife, happy life.

I’m ecstatic to be in a new apartment and my new man cave, which is secluded from the rest of the house. People that visit our new home, especially the men, are really envious of my private space. My wife and I are extremely happy with our new digs. My happy life has only become happier since we moved in. I realize that family makes our house a home, not its address. Hoping for many more years of love, family and good times. 

Biden No, Trump No

America is on a collision course domestically and with the rest of the world because of unwise decisions or inaction by the current president. In spite of this, Democrats are ready to support Joe Biden as he runs for a second term.

Similarly, Donald Trump, despite his inability to effectively lead the country, is the frontrunner even while he battles the authorities over a plethora of crimes and untoward illegal behavior.

The collective reasons why neither Biden or Trump should be in politics is overwhelming. And the people that support these two bozos should consider their choices before the situation worsens.

Repeatedly, this blog has viciously attacked these likely candidates. Cries from learned individuals and savvy pols are falling on deaf ears. Both men will endanger our democracy and our way of life. Their actions as presidents have proven so. Today, more than any other time in history, we need leaders who are willing and able to negotiate effectively, who will not back down from the dangers that impact our country and our way of life and be transparent. What Americans don’t need are leaders who are self-absorbed, intellectually deficient and have total disregard for our laws.

How do Biden and Trump compare to past wartime presidents? George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt are the standards our leaders must live up to; we do not need bungling old fools who eschew traditional morality.

I’m sick of hearing why Biden and Trump are good candidates. Joe Biden has not lived up to any of the promises he made during his last campaign. He promised to be a leader who would bring Americans together; the opposite has occurred. In every situation, Biden has bowed to the most radical, liberal individuals in his party. In the meantime, he has ignored important issues that dramatically affect our country and the way we live. Most important is the immigration catastrophe on our southern border, which is hurting border states greatly from a financial perspective and causing gigantic refugee problems. Also, Biden has supported costly and ill-conceived woke efforts including defunding of police departments, decreased bail for dangerous felons and inappropriate actions by teachers. He has backed ridiculous proposals to pay off school loans and fund ill-conceived new entitlements.

As a world leader, Joe Biden has fallen short in every challenge. He stood by and allowed China to make great gains in terms of world leadership at the expense of the United States. Only after being forced to do so, Joe Biden help the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Many say that the Democrats are in power because they accede to the needs of the downtrodden without any consideration towards the financial security of our country. Biden has taken this ideology to new heights.

I’m stunned that some Americans continue to be very supportive of a Trump campaign for president. How in heaven’s name can anyone support this man when he is such a horrible person, a dishonest and disgraceful businessman, a narcissist and after he has convincingly proven that he has no ability to manage the country. To make matters worse, he’s the subject of numerous criminal and civil proceedings ranging from rape to concealment of top secret documents to election crimes and sedition, involving the storming of the capital.

What is further disconcerting is that there is a man who’s considering running for president and challenging Donald Trump. In order for Ron DeSantis to have a realistic chance to defeat Trump in the primaries, he must stipulate that many of Trump’s ideas and accomplishments we’re good for the country. The problem is not Trump’s overall perspective of our country, but rather his destructive personality and his inability to govern in an organized fashion.

It may seem obnoxious that I’m being so critical of the two men who are leading the polls for the presidency. Biden is avoiding all contact with the press and building a wall around himself because of his inability to put two coherent sentences together. His own people don’t trust him to give speeches and field ad hoc questions.

Trump is continuing to act the way he did during the first round of his political career. He’s attacking every Republican and Democrat who disagrees or challenges him in an insulting way.

As one voter, I am sickened that there is a possibility that these two men will square off and the winner will be president again. I’m ashamed that the United States does not have more qualified and attractive people to be president. We are at a crossroads politically in the United States and internationally so that we must have the best possible people leading us. There are more problems now than ever in the history of the country and the ability of the leaders that we are electing to office has eroded materially. It’s a sad moment for the US.

Skiing In The Torture Chamber

Skiing has been a passion of mine for the last 30 years. My wife introduced me to the sport shortly before we were married. On our first trip, we traveled to Beaver Creek in Colorado for a week’s worth of lessons.

As we drove up to the resort, I saw some of the trails from the roadway. I told my wife there was no f—–g way that I was going to ski down those steep runs. She told me that I would be before long.

The trip was a great success because I was immediately smitten by the feelings that I felt. It was a miracle that I was on 2 strips of wood with two poles, and I was able to negotiate all sorts of challenges on the snow. My instructor was a retired businessman who had the patience of Job as I struggled to ski over tiny bumps trying not to lose my balance. I should point out that I played many sports and was determined to become a good skier in a relatively short period of time.

To make a long story short, I began to ski regularly before our children were born with my older son and daughter. Every year, we were in Vail for the holidays in December and March. I was always trying to ski on terrain that was beyond my current level of ability and was subjected to a fair number of injuries. I broke my nose on a bump run (I looked like a raccoon). I broke my ribs on another bump run when I fell on my ski pole. And I tore my rotator cuff, which required surgery, on a business ski trip with my wife. Notwithstanding all these injuries, I continued to push forward and ignored the potential risks of further injuries.

Making my experiences that much more fun were the outstanding skiers who instructed me over the years. Unlike golf, where I took very few lessons over the years and never improved over a life time, I was always with ski instructors every time I hit the slopes. In the beginning, they gave me many lessons on various techniques about how to ski bumps and powder and other conditions that arise during a day on the hill. Later, we were skiing without too much teaching going on and mostly having fun.

I have become very good friends with the men and women who taught us how to ski and improve over the years. Oftentimes we misbehaved but never risking ourselves with improper behavior. Improper being defined as dangerous; it does not include crazy stunts and sophomoric antics.

One of the most outrageous moments took place with all the ski instructors who were teaching my family, which totaled four on this given day. Everybody else in my family decided to call it a day after lunch. My guys and I went out for some fast tracking all around the mountain. For some reason one of the instructors coronated me the King of Sweden. Several other instructors joined the club, and we flew down the trails leaving all other skiers in a cloud of snow dust. While negotiating the hill, they were stopping traffic all along to make way for the King of Sweden, me. I admit I only have been to Sweden once, and it wasn’t in any royal capacity.

One of my ski instructors was a true daredevil who would do the most outrageous things during the course of the day. We ate lunch daily in a restaurant that was on the hill in Vail. During that time, we fed up to 15 people for lunch. Everybody was trying to outdo each other with funny stories and humorous moments on the hill. One day I was looking for my instructor. His name was Mike Janelle.  I wanted to get back on the slopes after lunch, so I went outside of the restaurant and asked where Mike was. Somebody pointed to the roof of the building. Mike was on top of it preparing to ski off the eave and do so without being caught by the restaurant staff. Everyone was dumbfounded watching Mike do his thing. He did do the stunt without injuring himself. It was one of the great moments of our skiing times together.

Over the years, my ski instructors (James, Pete, Jeff and of course Mike) would come up with challenges during the ski day (our other instructors were Kim and Kristen). For instance, we would try to see how many black and double black diamond runs we could ski in one day. Usually this is done with no stopping for hot chocolate or to blow your nose. The only rest was the ski lift, lunch and if nature called. Occasionally, other people would join us for a very hard day on the hill. I began to have T-shirts made with Torture Chamber caricatures logoed on them. These would be given to those that could withstand a full day of balls to the wall skiing. To this day, some of my kids have been clamoring for me to reinstitute the chamber and have some new shirts made to comemorate the event. Mike Janelle and I once skied 24 black runs in one day.

In order to be a good skier you have to be on the slope often. With our twins and my older daughter and my older son, we were in Vail many times during the past 30 years. This enabled my family to really improve and to be safe. I must admit that schlepping all the equipment and all the kids was a daunting task. In the long run, it was worth all the effort because my family members have all become excellent skiers.

It is possible, very possible, that you might enjoy yourself skiing at a well run resort such as Vail (there is territory to ski for everyone). The resort is constantly reminding people that there are dangers because some of the trails are not groomed, and you must be aware of all the skiers around you who unfortunately could put you in jeopardy. As I mentioned before, I was hurt a number of times, but it was all worth it as I look back.

One of the weirdest injuries that happened to me was a hematoma on my upper thigh from a fall on some rocks. The black and blue mark stretched from my buttocks down to my foot. I decided to go to the doctor because I was afraid of blood clots or other kinds of issues. When I pulled my trousers down for the doctor to see the wound, he was taken aback. That made me really creepy. Nevertheless, he said it was harmless and not to worry about it. I spent most of the vacation showing off my hematoma every chance I got.

The other issue is cost. By the time you pay for your lodging, travel, instructors, passes, lunches and dinners, the tab for such a trip is enormous. I decided that everybody should have their own ski instructor which dramatically increased the cost of our trips. My rationale was that everyone’s safety was paramount and it was worth the money.

Unfortunately, my skiing days have ended. As a septuagenarian, I have to be aware of injuring myself and the longer period of time it takes to heal from such injuries. Additionally, I take medication which makes injuries more dangerous. For this reason, I decided to stop hitting the slopes and just accompany my family when they wanted to ski.

All of the good times, the fun dinners, the fun lunches, the holiday memories and the stunts that we pulled off over the years give me great pleasure when I think about them. I’m so happy that my family enjoys skiing and we’ve cemented this tradition by buying a beautiful place in Vail which we use as our home base during the winter season.

There was one very sad moment during the past few years, the passing of Mike Janelle who I mentioned earlier in this essay. Mike was a daredevil. He was one of the best skiers I’ve ever come into contact with. He was a professional off-road bike racer. He was among the funniest people I ever met in my life. I missed him terribly over the last years that I was skiing. It would have been great for him to enjoy watching how I improved since he started working with me. We all miss you, Mike.

Skiing became a very important part of my life and it increased the amount of time I spent with my family, especially during holiday seasons. I recommend the sport to anyone who has a sense of adventure and any amount of athletic ability.

He’s a Pariah and Not Worthy of Your Vote

I’ve been tracking the anticipated indictment of Donald Trump. It’s incredible that the alleged crime and the attendant machinations by a rogue NY District Attorney involve a payment of hush money to a call girl.

Are we really holding up the nation’s business to deal with a Trump dalliance and setting aside existential issues that include the war in Ukraine, a growing partnership between China and Russia, a banking crisis, growing crime in our cities and a drug epidemic? I would rather our leaders and lawmakers focus on these problems rather than “hooker-gate.” 

Having said that, aren’t we all exhausted trying to live with Donald Trump. He is a never-ending annoyance. He’s a pain in the ass. He’s also being investigated for much more serious alleged crimes like sedition. Why aren’t Donald Trump lovers giving up and supporting the likes of Ron DeSantis, who is very much akin to Donald Trump politically without all of the drama, cheating, lying, self aggrandizement, anti-social behavior, and bad karma?

Republicans are going to have a chance to completely control the US government. If a meaningful number of conservative voters support, Donald Trump, we will lose the election to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren or some other woke radical. If you want continued chaos in our government and country, all do you have to do is give the key to the White House to our liberal adversaries. 

Please, conservatives, moderates and independents, don’t allow Donald Trump to trash our country again. He’s a pariah and not worthy of your vote.