Three Sum

The last time

I had dinner

with someone

I didn’t


was a few




the pool


other friends

in common.

It was not


We were



We realized


like us,

they used 

to live

in Connecticut.

The guys 

play golf.


We shared

likes and


We would

learn more




In sum,

we were


with knowledge 

of some





and likes…





a meal


a like 




and their




A conversation



to meet





white supremacist



are the



It was 






whose calling cards 

are crazy 



we can

only hope 
















The sum


of the



the horror

of hate–







the “dinner



silent and











to balance



staying aligned


a loser, 






abetting violence

by abiding



Why has no one called for Trump’s resignation? His commuting Roger Stone’s prison sentence, despite ample evidence of Stone’s guilt, provided the familiar dyspepsia of horror without surprise.  Trump’s gall is endless. As is Stone’s. (I’m sure there’s a gallstone joke somewhere….)

But even Mitt Romney, who dared to vote to convict Trump, and called Stone’s commutation “unprecedented, historic corruption”, didn’t call for Trump’s resignation. Why bother? Americans can vote him out in November.

We heard that argument before the Impeachment proceedings. It’s too risky. We can just vote him out. Meanwhile, what could possibly be worse than what lead to the Impeachment?

Amidst the heinous policies against immigrants, that includes family separations still, and caging children, Trump has withdrawn from our allies and has continued to cozy up to autocrats. He is unconcerned with the plight of Americans, or those who seek to live as Americans, unless he benefits personally. 

Meanwhile, the only one who has not begun to confront the hideous, systemic racism embedded in our American being, is Trump. As the country is pained and seeks healing and transformation, he wants to restore the statues that glorified the Confederacy—that seceded from the U.S! As statues came down, literally all that’s left is the base.

And yet, while we as a country have been resigned to racism in insidious forms, we are being lead once again by a movement toward dignity—Black Lives Matter. The overt brutality caught on video has been effective in showing what most White people don’t see or experience. There is profound concern that the resignation that has endured for so long in this country will continue without dramatic change. 

And the concern about November….besides a rigged system of gerrymandering that has persisted and expanded for decades disenfranchising voters, especially Black and Latinx voters, we are losing a battle against COVID-19, that has us sequestered to stay healthy.

Trump’s abdication of responsibility to keep Americans safe should have demanded calls for his resignation, but we have been too resigned to his crazy. His recklessness and laziness, not to mention an ability to govern or be a serious human, has actual repercussions. His demand to re-open schools without adequate policy proposals or funding so that they are safe is simply cruel. 

It’s hard to list the top most egregious displays of flagrant abuse, but I still can not wrap my head around the Russian bounty on American troops in Afghanistan. Trump claims to not have been briefed. Still, there has been no effort to do anything about the fact that Russia has put a bounty on American troops in Afghanistan. No calls for resignation. 

Vote him out? We started with Russian interference in our elections. Here we go again. Resignation? Voter suppression. Resignation? A PANDEMIC that makes going to the polls a personal and public potentially life-threatening situation. And he seeks to limit mail-in ballots. Vote him out?

We are the ones who have been resigned. We have been resigned to injustice for too long. We have been believing that institutions and norms are too entrenched and difficult to change, and yet Trump has easily trampled and dismantled. 

We have revered traditions, institutions, and norms, even ones that have outlived their use, and have become afraid of big changes. Yet here we sit at home, if we are able to and are considerate, forced to change our behavior. We can’t be resigned to not take responsibility now. (I know–doubly negative.) We can’t be resigned and await guidance, hope, support from this so-called POTUS. Our representatives should have called for his resignation, but we have all been too resigned. 

Absent calls for Trump’s resignation, we must confront our own. 

Thank You Notes

Thank you, President Trump, for your assuredness early on in the COVID19 pandemic, as it began in the USA. What a relief it was to know that you could declare that this was just like the flu. No big deal. 

Thank you, President Trump, for reminding us that, “One day, it’s like a miracle. It’s going to disappear.” We should all live so long.

Thank you, President Trump, for letting us know that, “Anyone who wants a test can get one.” Well, nobody really WANTS to get that COVID19 test, right?

Thank you, President Trump, for announcing that, “A vaccine will be available soon.” 18 months is not that long. I mean an 18 month old is still a baby.  

Thank you, President Trump, for asserting that the US was “the most prepared country in the world.” I’m sure we were; just not since 2016.

Thank you, President Trump, for suggesting that this novel Coronavirus was a Democrat hoax, distraction, attempt to undermine your presidency. Your instincts are truly consistent. We can count on you to remind us of other awfulness, at any moment for any reason.

Thank you, President Trump, for closely watching the stock market plummet while COVID19 cases and deaths continue to rise exponentially. Now we have a two-front war.

Thank you, President Trump, for calling yourself a “Wartime President”. I was thinking of some other names. 

Thank you, President Trump, for your daily briefings. They are anything but brief, and barely informative, since the next one introduces a different protocol than previously suggested. Your omnipresence is hard to miss. I feel like I have a front row seat at one of your rallies. 

Thank you, President Trump, for mentioning Governor Cuomo in New York, and Governor Newsom in California and that woman in Michigan. So many governors.

Thank you, President Trump, for acknowledging your status as #1 on Facebook. WOW! I can’t begin to imagine how many hits that means.

Thank you, President Trump, for exemplifying family values and showing confidence in your do-it-all-son-in-law, Jared Kushner. You understand better than anyone, that youth, unencumbered by mastery, experience, or any success, gives a pandemic a new look. His understanding of the separation of Federal and State stuff is really amazing. When he said, “…Our stockpile” is not for state use, he must have meant that the federal stockpile is intended to supplement the states’ needs. See, he gets it. We have so much yet to learn!

Thank you, President Trump, for insisting on “regular” voting—none of this mail in ballot stuff. Changing anything now would be so difficult. I know you want to see a Democratic Convention this summer.  I’m sure you would love to see people go to their regular polling places in November. Your commitment to keeping America great (again) is always on full display. 

The Comb Over

In an attempt to disguise, strands are carefully swept across and over the other side.  The intention is to cover; conceal; shield. The part that divides one direction from the other gets lowered to convey a sense of fullness and depth. The look is achieved with gusts of hot air.

It’s quite a style that attracts attention, yet it seems glaring that something quite different exists underneath the Comb Over. The effort to maintain this deception of what’s actually there is extreme, and the coverup is usually worse than the crime. Well, maybe not in this case, despite the desperation of the Comb Over. 

The Comb Over, attempting to deflect from the bald truth, is a daily routine of bald-faced lies. The vanity and ignorance, much less the deflection of the naked truth, gets combed over and over and over calling more attention to what’s being camouflaged.

It’s become a very hairy situation. 

History Buffed

I’m surprised he didn’t say Michael Jackson. Or Janet Jackson. Or Jermaine Jackson. Or even Glenda Jackson.

In an interview yesterday, POTUS Trump wondered why the Civil War wasn’t “worked out” and suggested that Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the war started, could have prevented the most horrific war in U.S. History. Oh, and he neglected to mention the word slavery, among any other facts.

The POTUS Trump’s ignorance is staggering, and his ability to “tell it like it is” is actually a pathetic display of what little ability he has to speak beyond childish simple phrases (albeit with unwarranted arrogance instead of naïveté). This is not merely about not being a great speaker, (which he thinks he is). This is about inadequacy, incompetence, indifference, and idiocy.

This is real news, (and yet, is this really news?), and real history. The POTUS is about making history, and The POTUS TRUMP is all about being an historic figure (although, he will probably remain historic for all the wrong reasons). I never expected any POTUS to be an historian, but I do expect presidential candidates, much less THE POTUS, to be real students of History.

But this POTUS is always distracted and seeks bright, shiny objects (and “Strongmen” where he has business interests). And where luster begins to fade (in his case, knowledge and ability), he buffs it up. Of course any kid who has ever taken an AP U.S. History exam knows, the causes of the Civil War is an essential question/prompt. Actually, every child learns about the causes of the Civil War in elementary school, before tackling the complexities of the conditions preceding the war in more sophisticated high school history classes. This POTUS really is like the Emperor With No Clothes. He is in the buff. He’s no history buff; just nakedly foolish and impetuous, caring only about enriching himself and his family, while feigning Populism.

How many history buffs will be created as a result of this latest ridiculousness? I hope many. What has happened here, and is happening around the world, is an obliviousness to History’s lessons. Those who rightfully feel like Democracy is not delivering fast enough, or the downsides of Globalism and Immigration, as well as technological advances that render many jobs obsolete, have reason to be frustrated and concerned. Legitimate concerns need not deligitimize all of reality, including institutions and forces that have many dimensions, and understanding actual trajectories and consequences, rather than fantasies.  This POTUS and others who claim a similar “Populist”/nativist appeal like to think that their personal histories are the most important, and that problems need not be complex. It’s so simple. Just ask the history buffs.

Control -Alt -Delete

I have long thought that Donald Trump wanted to return to an alternative version of the 1990s—not the 1980s ( when Trump Inc built gaudy buildings and he became a loud-mouth celebrity of sorts); nor the 1950s—that vanilla era of seeming harmony and affluence, when Father knew Best, and Westerns dominated tv (and the issues of civil rights and women’s rights were simmering beneath the frothy surface).

The 1960s, of course, would not be the Don’s optimal back to the future decade. It was then that he avoided serving, obtaining 4 deferments, ultimately keeping him from going to Vietnam.

The turbulence of the 60s and 70s were not his bag. He began working for his father, and by 1971 took over the real estate firm and expanded it exponentially, for hundreds of businesses and partnerships.

But the 1990s….now there’s a decade to which he seems to want to return. He could Delete the Clintons, and restore an Alternative version, where he could Control the media (especially using 21st century Twitter). So far, he has sought to correct political correctness—that 90s term— by Alternatively spewing hateful, cruel, or at best, thoughtless phrases. The Contract with America will get an Alt-Right update with Trump. As long as he is in Control, (and Republicans Control both houses), the Alt-Right will Delete whatever it can.

The 90s… We were not deeply embroiled in wars and our economy was strong, and to most, felt strong. Law and Order reigned supreme. (Never mind the consequences over the last 3 decades.) The Militia movement became a thing. The President could get impeached for a sex scandal and remain in office. Microsoft was dominant. And of course, with the collapse of Communism, Russia could be our new friend.

Enter Trump. In the Trump universe of “truthful hyperbole” or Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”, anything goes—especially facts. This administration is desperate to Control or provide “Alternative”, or just Delete facts that are unappealing.

The Women’s March on Saturday, an historic event in the USA and around the globe, was not only remarkable in its numbers, but in its inclusion, peace, and joy. Everywhere, participants seemed to share the same experience. Women organized a march (and satellite marches and rallies) that encouraged participation, expansion, opportunities, concern for one another, and responses to the insults and invective that Mr. Trump has hurled, especially at women. This was not merely “identity politics”, another throwback term. This was a statement of solidarity that we can do better—all of us— on a range of issues.

Communities everywhere were invigorated. Individuals were energized. The tone everywhere was positive and aspirational, in stark contrast to the “American Carnage” Inauguration speech delivered just the day before. But Trump and his spokespeople insisted on the new Control Alt Delete in response: Determined to assert Control by insisting on “Alternative Facts” and even deleting unappealing information.

Today, the Trump administration issued a gag order to the Environmental Protection Agency, instructing the EPA not to discuss a recent freeze on grant funding and forbidding the U.S. Dept of Agriculture from releasing “public-facing documents”. No tweeting, National Parks!

This Control Alt Delete strategy is Orwellian and feels utterly Anti-American, not retro. Trump proclaimed his Inauguration a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”. His charge that day and his Control Alt Delete actions every other minute are the antithesis of the patriotic devotion that I experienced and witnessed on Saturday. And I have never felt more patriotic devotion than I did that day.

Diversity became pluralism. Liberty (not mentioned in the inaugural speech) was petitioned for all. Excellence in our institutions, not dismantling them, was being insisted upon. Community engagement and action opportunities were provided. And the truth was in the facts.

Control Alt Delete won’t make America great again. But a new movement is afoot that just might.

Dis Appearance

“I just don’t think she has a presidential look and you need a presidential look.”

One way or (and) another, Donald Trump dissed Hillary Clinton’s appearance. Of course he’s not the first or last to dis HRC’s appearance, but he used it as a disqualifier for the presidency of the United States.

Whether he was being sexist (he was), or just a jerk (he was), we often talk about looking presidential, as opposed to a presidential look. “Looking presidential” implies that a person exhibits certain qualities with a demeanor of distinction: authoritative (not authoritarian); intelligent (not ignorant); well informed (by reputable resources and critical thinking); diplomatic (not wheeling and dealing); cordial; articulate…

Other qualities such as charisma may be highly regarded, but ultimately seriousness is preferable for a job that demands gravitas and clear thinking. Strength is another quality that is difficult to define, but purposeful beyond self would be respected. Oh, and then there’s respectable…. I guess there are varying definitions of looking respectable, but presenting (not exclaiming) oneself as decent, reasonable, of substance…these seem to comprise an expression of respectability.

It’s amazing how much we disregard, disqualify, disrespect, distrust, dishonor, and even just dis people based on appearance. We assume a tremendous amount based on appearance. Even those who prefer to minimize an appearance of effort in their appearance, are conveying something through their appearance, namely: I’m not shallow; I’m interested in more than my appearance. Likewise, we often assume that those who have sartorial interests or accessorize are making a different sort of statement, and that those interested in presenting themselves more materially are therefore shallow and/or materialistic. Beware— sometimes appearances can be deceiving!

As we are all always concerned about looking good (whatever that may mean)—of a certain type or status—even if that means modest—we are always aware of when others look bad. Looking good or bad goes way beyond our physical appearance. It’s what we do and how we are. We use external appearances too often as assessments of character—that which really defines whether or not we look good.

And yet, everyone has a look. We can change our look through hair, clothing, glasses, etc., and we tend to think of this as expressing our selves and/or our position. Some of us, however, only know how to look one way. Our look hasn’t changed, but have we?

So what about that presidential look? What does that even mean? Looking presidential is more significant than a presidential look, although a presidential look should reflect the qualities that have one look presidential. A presidential look (or any look) is one’s superficial (external) appearance. Looking presidential is one’s demeanor.

Trump does not look presidential; nor does he have a presidential (modest and distinguished) look. Why would he dis appearance? Because it’s the lowest common denominator. It’s broad enough to include the most base of his base, who have difficulty with race and gender (as they are understood first by appearance). Because if anyone is shallow, it’s Trump. And those Trumpeters want simplistic, caustic, anti-, because they regard their blowhard as strong.

Why dis appearance? Because it immediately attracts the disgruntled.

To me, that doesn’t look very good.

Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Bernie Sanders is 74; Donald Trump is 69; Hillary Rodham Clinton is 68. I wish I had a fraction of their energy, and I am significantly younger, although no youngster myself. But I’m really sweating this election.

Besides their ages, this election cycle is fraught with a “Back to the Future” sense of direction for our country. The Trump and Sanders campaigns have motivated followers to get excited about undoing. The Clinton Campaign has been rather uninspiring, but has been attempting to veer left, while remaining centered on the importance of strengthening our institutions, rather than upending them.

The Trump and Sanders campaigns feel unconventional, not just because no one initially expected either one to go to the Conventions, but because they have aroused the energy of anger and outsider status, ironically of mostly white males, who seem to relish the “outsider” candidate who says what they are thinking, and maintains a steady sense of chutzpah.

And HRC….she maintains that her entire life has been chutzpah; the boldness to work hard and achieve in various leadership positions, and get knocked down over and over, and keep pushing forward. The media has not captured inspiring snippets of her. Mostly, she’s talked about in the media as being disliked and around forever, which has become a serious negative in this cycle.

Her quality of being guarded tends to fuel suspicion, and of course, she’s had a history of cozying up to the rich and powerful, and then having a private e-mail server as Secretary of State. None of which is unique to her, or illegal; just not okay either. These issues that continue to plague her feed the narrative of the Clinton Chutzpah (as opposed to her own lifetime of experience and service)— not the audacity of hope or of dismantling the status quo, but of getting away with what they can at the time.

Both Hilary and Bill Clinton have great intellects, yet do stupid stuff all the time. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton can be shrewd and competent, and create long lasting alliances across demographics and across the world, yet still manage to generate ire at home. Hillary Clinton, unlike Bill, does not seem to enjoy the political campaigning, but she has created an amazing resume that has her in most ways uniquely and historically qualified to become POTUS.

But in 2016, experience is the enemy. It’s a narrative of what is wrong with US, and although 3 candidates who occupy all the air time are all Senior Citizens, this country seems to be suffering from Senioritis. Enough with the plodding along and policy that can be worked on by those with different ideas.

In fact, the parties themselves are in disarray. Will we end up with the party of the affected and the party of the disaffected? It’s getting to be more perspiration than inspiration. Being inspired by being disaffected and angry is a dangerous path.

So is the only way that these old timers can inspire is to invoke old stories and old grievances? Somehow, it’s been a sweat inducing exercise thus far.

Outthink Disruption

I recently saw a Facebook ad for IBM Analytics with the slogan “Outthink Disruption”. What a perfect tagline for our current culture of politics, and our culture and our politics. Forget distractions; we live in the age of disruptions, as though that’s a good thing.

Those who seek to disrupt feel that they are not served by the status quo. Disruption may be effective and even appropriate. Altering or even destroying the structure of something may be important to contributing to or saving lives. Or, such a disturbance may merely interrupt or cause more problems.

When I saw the tagline “Outthink Disruption”, Donald Trump had just become the presumptive nominee of the GOP (a nostalgic name for what is not very related to the modern Republican Party). Certainly Trump has been a Disruption, and he encourages his Trumpeters to Disrupt.
One could say that Bernie Sanders is also advocating Disruption, although without the mishugas, obnoxiousness,low brow-ness, narcissism, insults, hate, misogyny, racism, jingoism, xenophobia, or winking at violence.

The momentum for Disruption is palpable, but we have been living through 8 years of thoughtless disruption that has yielded frustration left and right. Disruption can’t be the goal. We have to Outthink Disruption. Progress occurs incrementally, and often through compromise—something that our culture  (or politics) doesn’t embrace. We expect instantaneous results—disruption—and we tout our way of life as the ultimate because we can do whatever we want in an instant.

Except we can’t. Not without ramifications.

As a culture, we have become hateful—not only of those we fear might seek to destroy us, but hateful of ourselves, and we are destroying ourselves. The vitriol that occurs during Primary season, and through the general election, seems to heighten each cycle. I’m not sure if we are really more hateful than ever, or that hate has a YUUUUUUUGE platform. Everyone yells and posts and overexposes and then stays within one’s own social and anti-social media bubble, condensing the ire and agreement.

I’ve heard all sorts of statistics, (which I take with a grain of salt), about how much hate there is for Trump and for Hillary. HATE. Hate is very powerful. It envelops and distorts. It is irrational. It is toxic. I hate hate. I have certainly felt hate. The fire of hate fuels the ego’s sense of what is right. But I don’t want to hate people. It’s actually too easy. I hate intolerance. I hate plenty of ideas and ways of being. Hate can lead to dangerous disruption—not merely shaking things up or tweaking the status quo.

We have to Outthink Disruption, which means examining our love of hate (and our uncomfortableness with thinking outside our comfort zones).

When I saw the tagline “Outthink Disruption” for IBM analytics, I thought it was a clever, albeit almost 20 year late, response to Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. “Think Different” was actually a response to IBM’s motto “Think”. And here we are in 2016….

Can we Outthink Disruption?

The Man Who Sold the World

Michael Stipe:



David Bowie:–SJKVQQ


Over the last 24 hours, I have been inundated with videos of Trump and Stipe, with headlines about the most incredible audio from these men.

Trump managed to suggest that women who get abortions should be punished, and when the backlash was immediate and fierce, he backtracked and suggested that doctors who perform abortions should be punished, not the women who undergo the procedure.

Even abortion foes reacted strongly against Trump’s comment. John Kasich tweeted: “Of course women shouldn’t be punished for having an abortion.” This from a staunch opponent of abortions. Really? Since when have women who are pro-choice, much less suffered through an abortion, not been punished? Granted, the punishment is not prison or a fine, but the endless shaming and aggression against those who are pro-choice has always trumped (pun intended) compassion or concern or even curiosity about alternatives.

Whether Trump’s latest belch will affect his polling remains to be seen. After all, he’s the man who sold the world. He says what some think. He’s a zillionaire, so he must be the most capable and smartest in the world. He wrote The Art of the Deal. He’s bought and sold so much, you won’t believe how much. He’s the man who sold the world.
As all the media, social and anti-social, were broadcasting and posting Trump’s comments—about punishing women or physicians, the media was also sharing a rebroadcast (you-tube) of Michael Stipe, former frontman for R.E.M., singing a haunting cover of “The Man Who Sold the World”, by David Bowie. He performed it on The Tonight Show the other night, in advance of his “Music of David Bowie” tribute concert. His haunting rendition hardly conjures The Donald, but captures the personal searching for ourselves that Bowie’s version, and Nirvana’s unplugged version, also evoke. Yet, Stipe puts his own stamp on it, as did Bowie and Nirvana (Kurt Cobain, especially).

Art speaks truth to the human experience, and individuals find their specific identifications with a work of art. The style of Bowie’s 1970 song, and Nirvana’s 1995 Unplugged cover, and Michael Stipe’s 2016 rendition are each artist specific, yet the song seems timeless.

Demagoguery and hate are also timeless. There are always those who would sell the world for power. I couldn’t help but consider this song that was being posted everywhere yesterday in the context of the events of the day—namely, Donald Trump’s latest. The interesting thing about “The Man Who Sold the World” is that it is both the demagogue and us.

If the original intent of the song was to meet and “shake hands” with our “other” (lesser) selves, its meaning extends to a societal level. We not only have tremendous economical, social, religious, educational, cultural differences among us in the U.S., but we somehow have to shake hands and meet. We can’t merely sell the world and think we will continue to be successful.

I know that the man who sells the world, i.e. Donald Trump, is far from the guy Michael Stipe, Kurt Cobain, or David Bowie were evoking, but there is something quite amazing about The Man Who Sold the World. It is fitting that Stipe’s affecting rendition was being played everywhere the same day that Trump’s “punishing” comments were everywhere.

We passed upon the stair,
We spoke of was and when,
Although I wasn’t there,
He said I was his friend,
Which came as some surprise.
I spoke into his eyes,
“I thought you died alone
A long long time ago.”

“Oh no, not me,
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world.”

I laughed and shook his hand
And made my way back home,
I searched for form and land,
For years and years I roamed.
I gazed a gazley stare
At all the millions here:
“We must have died alone,
A long long time ago.”

“Who knows? Not me,
We never lost control.
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world.”

“Who knows? Not me,
We never lost control.
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world. —David Bowie, first released in the US, Nov.1970


I just discovered Lulu (To Sir With Love)’s version of the song from 1974. Perhaps this version, albeit 1974 pop, is the most appropriate version. Women still feel face to face with The Man Who Sold the World. Of course, the more versions, the more we each recognize The Man Who Sold the World. We’re face to face with him.