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Does The World Really Need Another Blog?





                                                        Poems are made by fools like me,
                                                       But only God can make a tree.
                                                               - Joyce Kilmer

     My wife loves trees.

     Oddly enough, she loves them most especially in the winter, when others take them for granted, thinking they're mere dark, empty shells of their best selves.

     It's not that she ignores their beauty throughout the other seasons. She appreciates them during those months as well.

     In the Spring, when their branches are full of small, bright green or red buds, each one is a promise that, after a long, harsh, Western New York winter, summer is on its way, if only we be patient.

     And Summer? That's when, fully leafed out, the trees in our neighborhood create a palette of changing tones of green that sway in the wind and shade our house, keeping the heat of the day at bay.

     Fall, of course, is when most people notice the trees around them. That's when shorter days and cool nights call on trees to dress in their best finery. This is the season when people ("leaf peepers") drive for miles to see them at their peak of color. We did that ourselves a few years back—a drive up and down New England's mountains that made the wife carsick, but led to some amazing sights.

     But, in the end, it's the winter version of trees that she prefers. As she explains it, it's because this is when they truly reveal themselves.


     In winter they stand naked, shivering in the wind, shorn of their cloak of leaves, and showing us their bones, their complex shapes. It's then that each tree stands alone, no longer lost in the crowd, its bare branches reaching up and out to the sky. 

     I share her love of trees, to the extent that, when asked what I wanted for my birthday, I didn't hesitate to say, "A tree!".


     It was because at the time I was housebound due to a serious illness, and spent much of my time staring out into our yard, where birds gathered at the feeder and squirrels and chipmunks fought over the spilled seed beneath it.

     And, so, she bought me one.

     It was a swamp white oak, recommended by Josh Davis, our local tree whisperer, who said because of the wet, clay soil in our side yard, it was the best species to thrive in the place we chose. I watched from a chair as his crew dug a deep hole, and he used a large handcart to set the young, 8 foot tall tree into its new home.

     As we watched them work my wife and I could only imagine what our neighbors must be thinking. What in hell were the Henrys doing bringing another tree into a yard already full of them? 


     And it's true, not only is our house surrounded on three sides by dozens of trees, it's situated on "Scattertree Lane"!  

     I told her I suspected some might think we were crazy, that we were, in effect, "Carrying Coals to Newcastle." 


     When I mentioned this to a friend he claimed not to have heard of the expression. I explained that Newcastle was once the center of England's coal mining industry, so it would have been a fool's errand for anyone to carry coal there.

     Now, if that makes fools of us, so be it because that young oak tree? It has tripled in size and even now, in winter, is a thing of beauty.

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     Tom Hanks'character in the movie, A League of Their Own, famously said, "There's no crying in baseball!"


     Au contraire, Tom.
     Every NY Met fan remembers the night when, in the middle of a game, shortstop Wilmer Flores heard a rumor that he'd been traded. Having been with the organization since the age of 16, he was devastated at the thought of leaving the Mets. The rumor turned out to be false, but Wilmer didn't know that. He gamely played on, while the camera repeatedly zoomed in to catch him wiping tears from his eyes.


     So, clearly there is crying in baseball.
     But what about politics?
      Well, think about 1972, when Presidential candidate Edmund Muskie was allegedly brought to tears by a newspaper report based on a forged document from the Nixon campaign, and because of the paper's editor's scurrilous remarks about his wife.


     Muskie's aides claimed it was melted snow on his cheeks, not tears, but media accounts said he had cried, causing some voters to wonder if he had the strength and composure to run the nation. George McGovern went on to defeat Muskie for the Democratic nomination, only to lose to more of Nixon's dirty tricks. I supported McGovern, the anti-war candidate, but his loss, while devastating, never resulted in any tears from me.  
     I can, however, cite three political events involving the names Kennedy, Obama and Gorman that did bring me to tears.  (That last name may be unfamiliar to you, so read on.)
     On the morning of June 6, 1968, I awoke and headed out to grab a morning paper and a coffee. I sat on my front stoop, opened the paper, and there it was, blasted across the front page: Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated the night before, right after winning the California Presidential Primary. I was stunned.


     I hadn't supported Kennedy in the beginning because I was a volunteer for Eugene McCarthy's campaign. McCarthy came within 7 points of defeating Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire Primary, an unheard of blow to a sitting President's campaign. Five days later, Kennedy got into the race.


     We McCarthy supporters cried foul, accusing Kennedy of being opportunistic. He had, after all, repeatedly declined to run, but after seeing how McCarthy's near miss in New Hampshire revealed Johnson's vulnerability, Kennedy jumped in.


     Initially angry about his Johnny-come-lately move, by the time of his death I'd become a believer. It was clear, especially after winning California, that the Democratic nomination was now Kennedy's to lose. And the common wisdom was that, once nominated, he would defeat Nixon in the fall, and keep his promise to end the Viet Nam war. Reading of his death that morning, and realizing what it meant to our hopes for a quick end to that immoral war, brought tears to my eyes.  


     Those tears were shed for good reason. After Nixon won, he continued the war, even expanding it into Cambodia and Thailand, which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of more than 21,000 Americans, and untold thousands of Vietnamese.

     The second instance in which a political event brought me to tears was on November 4, 2008 when, toward the midnight hour, it became clear that Barak Obama was about to be elected President. An Obama supporter, my greatest fear had been, not that he would lose the election, but that he wouldn't survive the campaign. I was sure that at some point a racist, white nationalist (redundant, I know) would take him out. With his victory now a certainty, my eyes brimmed with tears at the realization that, not only had he survived, he also was about to create history by becoming the first man or woman of color to be elected President.

     The third and final event that made these watery old eyes even wetter was the Inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2019. 

     Jill Biden had discovered a young, twenty-something African American poet named Amanda Gorman, and successfully lobbied her husband to invite Gorman to write and perform a poem at the Inauguration. She would be the youngest person ever to do so.


     Not only did this young woman have to perform in front of the nation and a TV audience of a billion or so, she had to create a poem that, a mere two weeks after the attack on the Capital, recognized the enormity of that tragedy while somehow bringing a sense of hope about who and what America is, and who we need to become.


     The challenge was enormous, and she absolutely nailed it.


     This young woman, standing before Presidents, Senators and Justices of the Supreme Court, flawlessly recited a poem that still brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.


     The Inauguration is saved on my DVR, and I listen to Gorman's poem every once in a while to remind myself that perhaps someday America will come to its senses, and elect public servants who care more about our country than for their own, fleeting, fifteen minutes of Twitter fame.
     If you're not familiar with Amanda's poem, I could quote a few lines, but you need to see and hear it for yourself. If you copy and paste this link into your browser you can watch her performance and read the text of her poem:
     Or, you can simply go to You Tube and search under "Amanda Gorman The hill we climb".
     One more note: on a recent episode of David Axelrod's podcast, "The Axe Files", he interviews Gorman, and you can learn more about what the experience was like from her perch up there on the steps of the Capitol. His podcast can be found wherever podcasts are available.
As always, thanks for reading this far.

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   As the Republican party implodes while attempting to name a Speaker of the House, we hear the word "schadenfreude" being thrown about in the media. 


   Schadenfreude, a German word meaning, "Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others," is an apt description for what anyone not wearing a MAGA hat is feeling right about now.  Watching the Republican party flail about in its effort to come to some consensus on who should lead them would be pretty amusing if it weren't so serious.


   Their inability to agree on the most basic task a ruling party needs to complete in order to create the 118th Congress—naming a Speaker—doesn't bode well for what they'll be able to accomplish over the next two years.


   Naming a Speaker should be the easy part. Things like passing a budget and keeping the country from defaulting on its legal debts are a lot harder, and Republicans aren't making us feel very confident that they'll be up to those tasks.


   In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy their collective embarrassment, with appreciation for their having taught our children a new, very useful German word.

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Christmas Eve, 10:15 AM
     Buffalo's "Merry Christmas Blizzard" is raging, but here in Orchard Park, well south of the city, we've not seen the worst of it yet. Forecasters say our turn will come later this afternoon, when the lake effect band sinks down here.

     (For those not familiar with the term, "lake effect snow" it's when cold winds cross a warmer lake, creating snow that can fall at 2 – 4 inches per hour.)

     People in the city and the north and east suburbs are seeing snowfall totals measured in feet, with higher amounts in drifts caused by winds in the 40 – 60 mph range, and wind chills of minus 15 or more. 

     At this point there are NO emergency services in those areas—it's too dangerous for fire trucks and ambulances to venture out. And thousands remain without power because crews can't get out to make repairs for the same reason.

     On TV there was a picture that said the proverbial thousand words—a huge snowplow stuck in a drift, unable to move.

     I can see the sun peeking through the trees outside my window, but know it's only temporary.  By dinner time it's likely to be impossible to see my next door neighbor's house.

     We're fortunate in that we are well provisioned and have a generator which will keep the furnace running and the house warm if power does go out. It was installed back in 2013, when I was relying on an oxygen machine running 24/7 to keep breathing.

    Winter's "Christmas Gift" will end eventually, but it's hard not to think of the Ukrainian people, many of whom are struggling to get by without power or heat, with no end in sight.

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Unbreaking America

     For those of us who are feeling powerless to get the Federal Government to act in our best interests (...um, that would be everyone), despite overwhelming support for things like gun control, expanded voting rights, LGBQ rights, etc., there may be an answer.

     Someone on the Authors Guild Message Board recommended this 12 minute you tube video with Jennifer Lawerence that describes how grass roots activity at the local level can lead to change at the Federal level.

     I strongly recommend you watch, and then go to the website: represent.us  to learn more about what she has to say.


     Just copy and paste this link into your web browser:


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Rats Rapidly Disembarking From Trump’s Ship of Fools

     I'm well aware that The Donald's political obituary has been written more than once, only to find that, like Carrie, his little orange hand breaks through the sod to scare the bejesus out of us over and over again.  Still, somehow, this time feels different.

     The thing that made me think this time might be for real came from a Buffalo radio shock jock by the name of Tom Bauerle.  Although not a fan, I do tune in occasionally to hear what crazy, far right conspiracy he's promoting at the moment, so I know that he's been a Trumper since day one. But this week he suddenly jumped off the Trump Train (I know, I'm mixing my transportation metaphors here), and he did it for a reason that was hard to believe.

     He claimed (With a straight face, I presume. It is radio, after all.) that he's been just fine with Trump's behavior for the past six years, but when Trump dared to insult Ron DeSantis, that was a step too far.


      Apparently, it didn't bother Bauerle that the former President has repeatedly insulted women, war heroes, the parents of a dead soldier, the Speaker of The House, the Senate Majority Leader (of his own party) and pretty much any living being who failed to kiss his ass, but this last insult, which was actually pretty creative ("Ron DeSanctimonious") was a deal breaker.

     Bauerle claimed it was this silly insult that convinced him Trump had become, and I quote, an "asshole" and a "whiny little bitch".


    One has to wonder where Bauerle's been for the past six year to suddenly realize who this man is.  Perhaps under the same rock that Trump crawled out from under before stepping on to that golden escalator and descending into his adoring (and well paid) crowd of admirers.

     Clearly, it's the disappointing midterm election results, not a single insult, that are driving rats like Bauerle to jump ship but, whatever the reason, one can only hope that the Republicans daring to write the former President's obituary are actually right this time.

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     When I was barely a teenager and had just started smoking, I'd keep a cigarette in my coat pocket.  That may not seem odd, except for one thing—it was lit.  My late parents share some blame for this strange situation, something I'll get to later.

     My initial attempt at smoking didn't go well. The other 13-year old boys I hung out with in the alleys of Columbus Ohio, were ahead of me in this, and I was anxious to become one of the guys.  Tom McQuaid, my best friend at the time, tried to teach me to inhale, but it wasn't taking.
     "Suck the smoke into your mouth, and then…kind of…um…swallow it," he'd tell me.  I would try, but all I did was choke, with eyes watering, smoke spitting out of my mouth, and spittle creeping down my chin. 
     "I'll never get this," I told him, feeling despondent.
     "Try this instead," Tom said. "Take some smoke in—not too much—and then take a deep breath. That's how you inhale."
     More choking followed, with coughing and sneezing mingled in. But then, on the third try, with less smoke, it seemed to work. I didn't gag, and a thin wisp of smoke came back up, curling out of my nose. Suddenly, there was a feeling of lightness, as if a hole had opened up inside my brain, and I became slightly dizzy. More confident now, I took another small drag, inhaled, and slowly let it out of my mouth.  The feeling of lightness grew stronger, and my head felt like it was about to float away. Then I hit the ground, hard.
     We'd been standing on the side of a hill, so when I landed, I rolled sideways, not stopping until I was in the middle of the alley. There was a pickup truck fast approaching, but I was so out of it I couldn't move. Tom and another boy grabbed me by the arms and feet, and tossed me aside as the truck passed, the driver blasting his horn and cursing us through the open window. Just then I came to, looking up at the circle of faces surrounding me.
     "That was great!" I said, smiling like the fool I certainly was.  Little did I realize that this was the beginning of a 30 year love affair with 'ol devil nicotine, and that I wouldn't break up with her until I couldn't climb a flight of stairs without stopping to catch my breath.
     But oh, what a wonderful affair it was!

     Many have written extensively about the cigarette addiction, how it's harder to break even than heroin, but the main ingredient—nicotine—is an awfully good drug, as drugs go.
     Nicotine is a mild euphoric, and has been shown to enhance concentration and help stave off sleep. And the cigarette itself is a bit of a marvel, insofar as it allows you to control your dose of the drug quite easily.  All you need do is draw more or less smoke into your lungs to determine how much nicotine you consume. Unfortunately, it's not the nicotine, but the delivery system that gets you in the end. The repeated intake of hot gases, often adulterated with other chemicals to make the cigarette stay lit, is hell on the lungs. Just ask mine.
     Beyond the delightful drug that nicotine is, the act of smoking itself, and the rituals surrounding it, are a big part of the attraction.
     Opening a fresh pack (only after tapping it top down against your palm to make the tobacco compress inside the ciggies, of course), then pulling the thin strip of cellophane around the top, and tearing a small corner of foil to reveal those neat rows of round, paper banded tobacco, was like the beginning of a new journey. Now you held twenty of these beauties in your hand, each one waiting for the caress of your lips and the heat from a match to bring that affable small rush of nicotine coursing through your body.
     And the best part was that, even when I wasn't doing anything in particular, maybe just standing around staring into space, smoking a cigarette meant that I was, in fact, doing something. I was "having a smoke"—i.e., enjoying seven to eight minutes of manipulating that little paper stick and watching the smoke leave my mouth and nose, maybe even blowing a smoke ring or two.  No, I wasn't being indolent, I was doing something.

     Almost killing myself, as it turned out…

     As to why I stayed with the habit long past the point where I knew it was damaging my lungs, maybe my parents are to blame, or adults in general, or advertising, or peer pressure, or…?
     In the mid-1950s it seemed that everyone smoked, or at least every adult I knew, and most everyone you saw on TV or in the movies. The lover lighting two cigarettes and handing one to his paramour became a trope, an intimate act that spoke of their connection.
     Watching my parents and their friends taught me that adults did four basic things for fun: you smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, played cards and harmonized to the latest songs on TV's Hit Parade.

     But back to that lit cigarette in my pocket. Some of the blame (credit?) goes to my late father, and a trick he was famous for.
     On Sundays we'd climb into Dad's 54' Plymouth and drive to Buckeye Lake, a rough, public swimming "resort" a few miles south of Columbus.  It was a place where people who couldn't afford the fancier swimming clubs in the city could spend the day on its small, sand beach and picnic, swim and enjoy the sun and fresh air. That's where Dad displayed his spectacular trick for me and my two brothers.
     He'd light a cigarette (always a Pall Mall), smoke it halfway down, and walk out into the lake until the water was up to his waist.  Then he'd turned to face us, the cigarette in his mouth, take a puff or two and turn his back to us.  He'd dive in and swim underwater for twenty or thirty feet, stand up, and turn back around to face us again.
     Not only was that cigarette still in his mouth, it was still burning!
     He'd take a few more puffs to prove that somehow, impossibly, he'd just gone under the water with it in his mouth and it never went out!
     My brothers and I pleaded with Dad until finally, at the end of the summer, he agreed to show us how he'd done it.  He walked back out into the water, turned and faced us again with the cigarette in his lips.  He stuck out his tongue, used it to grip the non-lit end of the cigarette, curled his tongue, and pulled it into his mouth, keeping the lit end safely away from his cheek. He dove under, came back up, opened his mouth to show us the cigarette still stuck to the tip of his tongue, put his lips around it and puffed away, while we cheered and applauded.

     We'd never imagined that our own, very ordinary father was, in fact, a fire-eater!
     Although I lacked the nerve to duplicate his trick, a time came when, walking down the street with a lit cigarette in my hand, a variation of it came in handy.

     A fanatic about baseball, I always feared that Mr. Little, my coach, would catch me smoking. His rule was clear—you smoke, you're off the team. One day in early spring, with snow still on the ground, it happened. I'm walking down the sidewalk smoking when I see his car coming from the opposite direction. In a panic, I cupped my hand around the cigarette to keep it from burning my skin and stuck in in the pocket of my winter jacket. Coach Little saw me, slowed to a stop and rolled down his window. As we made small talk, I could feel heat from the cigarette growing.  I glanced down to see wisps of smoke rising from my pocket and realized that it wasn't only from the cigarette.  My pocket was on fire!
     "Coach," I blurted out as I started to walk away, "I gotta get home. I can hear my mom calling me."
     "I don't hear anything, Pat," he said, "But you know how bad my hearing is so, sure, so you better run along."
     As he drove away, I took my hand out of my pocket and tossed the cigarette into the snow. I pulled the lining of the pocket out and saw that it was glowing red. I grabbed a handful of snow to put out the fire and relieve the pain in my palm.
     One might imagine that this pocket-sized brush with disaster would have taught me a lesson, but teenagers are notoriously slow on the uptake. I not only continued to smoke, I also kept using that version of my Dad's trick to hide my habit from the prying eyes of adults.
     From the age of thirteen through adulthood and into early middle-age, the love affair between me and nicotine blew hot and cold (pun intended). I tried to quit more than once. As Mark Twain noted, it's easy to do (he'd done it dozens of times), but it wasn't until the age of 44 that it finally took.

     Three major events took place on August 12, 1992:
          -  Canada, Mexico and the United States finalized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
          - John Cage, composer and pioneer of the avant-garde movement in music, died of a stroke at age 79.
          -  At 11:00 AM I smoked my last cigarette.
     Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of my affair with 'ol devil nicotine. Oh, I saw big improvements in my breathing almost immediately, and soon was running three miles a few days each week, but she got me in the end.
     By my early 60s my lungs were beginning to fail from the long term effects of smoking: COPD and emphysema. By my 66th birthday it was a struggle to simply walk to the end of my driveway to pick up the morning paper. Then the miracle happened. I got a single lung transplant, and though the recovery took nearly half a year, soon I was not only walking to the end of that driveway, I was shoveling it!
   I found that, to my relief, my life, a life that once had seemed so tenuous, would now go on, and I could look forward to many more years.  I declared then and there that I would, as Shakespeare once said, "With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come."
     Oh, and of course, "All's well that ends well!"

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     There are many groups of displaced persons in the world in need of help, and I'd like to highlight two of them.
Vive Refugee Shelter
     When, more than 30 years ago, the U.S. tightened its rules on granting asylum, Buffalo began attracting refugees seeking to enter Canada, which was more welcoming to those fleeing war, crime and poverty. However, the process required that they wait in Buffalo for extended periods before being allowed to cross the border.

     As their numbers grew, Women Religious communities converted one of their convents in Lackawanna, NY into a housing facility called "Vive La Casa". It provided shelter to the refugees as they waited to be accepted into Canada. Vive La Casa eventually moved into a former school building at 50 Wyoming Avenue, in Buffalo, where it still operates today.

     In March 2015, Jericho Road Community Health Center assumed operations of Vive La Casa, and it became known simply as "Vive". It became clear that the facility on Wyoming Ave. lacked space to meet the needs of the residents—which include medical, educational, vocational, mental health and many other services—so Jericho Road began a capital campaign to complete the purchase and renovation of a larger property.

     Thus far, with the support of the Scott Bieler Foundation, the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, the Rich Family Foundation and other major donors they have raised more than half of their $6 million dollar goal.

     Now is the time for the Buffalo community, which calls itself  the "City of Good Neighbors", to step up and contribute to the effort.  Donations of $10, $25, $50 or more can truly make a difference.

     On the right side of this page you can find links both to Jericho Road and to their Vive Capital Campaign. Click on either of these to learn more about the work they do, and how you  can contribute to their efforts.
     I've written in the past about the need to help Ukrainian citizens who have been displaced by the war.  That war is now entering a critical stage, one in which the possibility of a Ukraine victory seems to grow each day. Their success on the battlefield owes much to the leadership of Zalensky, the character of the Ukrainian people, and the contribution of arms from the U.S. and European governments.

     Still, the needs of the millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war, or who chose to remain in war zones, remain critical, and it's primarily up to us—private citizens—to fund these efforts.

     When the war first broke out there was a flood of donations to help the Ukrainians charities, but now, as time has passed, many (and I'll be the first to admit it I'm one) forgot about their needs.

     On the right side of the page you'll find a link to "Charity Navigator", which provides a list of fully vetted charities who are working on this problem, all of whom would appreciate your help.
As always, thanks for reading this far.

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LIV is the name of a new golf tour created by the Saudi government, one that is attracting a few of the best known players in the world.
It's eerily ironic that the Saudis picked the name "LIV", because if you pronounce it with either the short or long "i" sound, it becomes the word, "live".
Ironic in that this new tournament is one more blatant attempt by the Saudis to "sportswash" blood from their hands, blood left there by the murder and dismemberment of an American journalist, a crime directly ordered by MBS, the Saudi Crown Prince. 
But, in fact, it's more mundane. "LIV" represents the Roman Numerals for the number "54", which is the number of holes played in the Saudi tournaments, as opposed to the 72 holes which make up every other professional golf tournament.
So, how did the LIV Tour come about?
The Saudis paid millions to Greg Norman, a former star player, to create a new tour that they hoped would soon be stocked with major stars, all part of their ongoing efforts to whitewash ("sportswash") their reputation in the international community.  The hope was that sports fans would overlook the repressive, barbaric nature of the Crown Prince's rule.


The Saudi's have spent billions on soccer, tennis and other international sporting events trying to distract us from a regime that murders its critics, imprisons homosexuals, and denies women the right to live lives outside of the government and their husband's control.
 The LIV Tour differs from other professional golf tours, and was designed to entice professionals to join it in significant ways, including:
-       Each tournament consists of 54 holes and lasts only three days, not 72 holes played over four days like other professional tournaments.
-       The winners receive $4+ million dollars, compared to the $1 – $2 million typical of PGA events.

-       The LIV field consists of only 48 players, compared to the typical PGA event, which has three times as many competitors, making the LIV tournament much easier to win.

-       Unlike other tours, the LIV event has no "cut"—i.e., after the initial rounds no low ranking players are eliminated from the tournament's final days.

-       Every player gets paid something, even the last place finisher, who "wins" $120,000.  In PGA events those who don't make the cut receive nothing, and last place finishers typically receive $10 – 20,000.

In addition to larger payouts for tournament competitors, more famous players—like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau—were paid anywhere from $50 to 200 million dollars each simply to join the  LIV tour. So, regardless of how well they play, or where they finish, they're paid even more.  
Pretty good money, eh?
Blood money, most would call it.
The LIV Tour's strategy of overpaying players is a faulty one. They assume that golf fans care more about watching events full of big name players, even though they are nothing more than exhibitions.  When some players have already banked millions just for showing up, and everyone is guaranteed to win at least $120,000, regardless of how well or poorly they play, where's the competition?  Where's the excitement in that?
Of course, money doesn't matter to Greg Norman or the Saudis who created the LIV tour. They're not in it to make a profit. And there's no way that they can, because no reputable broadcast or cable TV network would touch them with a ten foot pole, and TV money is what pays the freight in professional golf.
Nope, their only goal is to divert us from thinking about their crimes against humanity.
I can only speak for myself, but I find it much more compelling to watch a PGA or LPGA tournament in which young, unknown players are competing against the best in the game, fighting to win for the first time, knowing that a win will change his or her life or forever.  Winning that first one assures the player of eligibility for two more years on tour, and access to the highest paid and most visible events—like The Masters, the US Open, and others.
It's even exciting to watch one of your favorite players struggle on Friday to make a birdie putt that gets them over the cut line and into the last two days of the tournament.  More than once we've seen that same player shoot low scores on Saturday and Sunday and go on to win the tournament.

THAT'S competition, exciting, and something you'll never see in one of the LIV Tour's exhibitions, where there is no cut, and everyone's a winner.
Everyone but MBS, that is.
There's no amount of sportswashing that will ever redeem the reputation of that murderous thug.


As always, thanks for reading this far.

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Pro Choice AND Anti-abortion?

     Well, I thought I could ignore this issue, one so heavily laden with emotion that it makes rational discussion difficult, but Friday's decision by the Trump/McConnell-packed Supreme Court has forced my hand.
     The title of the post poses the question: is it possible to be both pro-choice and anti-abortion at the same time?
     The answer from this corner is "yes".
     I believe it's a reasonable stance—i.e., we as a people don't have an unlimited right to tell women what to do with their bodies, but as individuals we can choose not to have, or to be an active participant in an abortion.
     When I use the phrase "unlimited right", I'm positing that we the people do have some rights in the matter—specifically, to limit the right to abortion at the point the fetus is able to survive outside the womb—the so-called "viability" standard that was correctly used in the original Roe decision.
     The point of viability, in my and other's opinion, is also the point at which a fetus gains "personhood", with the resulting legal right to be protected from harm.
     Abortion opponents argue that human life begins at the point of conception—when a sperm successfully joins with an egg. The result is a zygote—a single celled organism.  While one may rightly claim that a zygote is a "form of human life", it's difficult for me to understand how a single celled organism can ever be thought of as a person.
     Webster (not that a dictionary should be the final arbiter in the matter) defines person as "- the body of a human being…also…the personality of a human being". 
     It seems to me that a single celled organism, even if appropriately categorized as a "form of human life", in no way meets this definition.  But a fetus that, after 20 – 24 weeks, has matured into a complex, bodily form that can survive outside the womb, does. That is the point at which the state acquires a reasonable right to intervene to protect the life of this "person" from harm.
     Conversely, before the point of viability, before the zygote/fetus has reached "personhood", it's clear that the only one who should have the right to decide what happens to this immature form of life is the woman within whose body it resides. It is her decision, and her decision alone.
    This past Friday four men, and a woman who belongs to a cult-like, Catholic religious community, cherry-picked a series of historical references to justify overturning what had been the law of the land for nearly 50 years—and take away the right of a woman to decide what happens inside her own body.
    And it won't stop here.
     One of these men boldly stated that this ill-formed opinion is only the beginning. He announced that, if he has his way, all the rights to privacy in our sexual lives will be the next to fall. Your right to marry someone of your choosing, married couples' right to use birth control to decide when or if to have children, and the right to have private, consensual sexual relations with anyone you choose, may soon be gone. 


     And all because of a far right Supreme Court that is woefully out of step with the majority of citizens of these United States.

   As always, thanks for reading this far. 

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