What’s Important To You?

The client called my office while I was on vacation.  He left a message that he wanted to verify that he was “getting all of the Medicare benefits he was entitled to”. (Yes, he used the words from the awful TV commercials that feature washed up sports figures and aged television personalities.)  If everything was OK, I didn’t need to return his call.  I called Don (name changed) my first day back.  I reminded him of what he has and why.  He thanked me and let me know that the commercials, the phone calls, and all the crap he gets in the mail was driving him crazy.  I told him that I understood.   I also explained why I had to call him.  If I didn’t, he wouldn’t know if he was OK, or whether or not I got his message, or worse, if I had chosen to ignore him.

I would never want someone to think that I wasn’t paying attention, because I hate to be ignored.

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital both have online systems for the patients to access their medical records and for communication.  They pride themselves in their ability to connect their doctors with their patients.  And this would be great, if the doctors read their emails and responded to questions and concerns.  The jury is still out for me.  Two different doctors have failed to respond to me.  I don’t know if they simply don’t read their emails or if they have chosen to ignore my questions.  If I was too busy to check my emails I would delegate this task to one of my employees.  Otherwise why have the tool if you can not or will not use it?

I hate to be ignored.  What is important to you?



Picture – Waiting For The Call That Never Comes – David L Cunix

Held Captive

I couldn’t move.  Stuck.  Captive.  There wasn’t a gun or restraints involved.  Think more like being in a dentist’s or a barber’s chair.  I was a captive audience, unable to move.  The conversation started with the seemingly benign comment from Rueben (name changed for obvious reasons) that he was no longer a Democrat.  No stranger to political conversations and unable to leave, I figured “What the Hell” and bit.  “Gee, why not?”

His first issue, seemingly the most important grievance in his life at that moment, was transgendered Americans demanding acceptance.  Actually, he was agitated about gays, Lesbians, and the transgendered almost equally.  I asked how any of this had any impact on him.  We both confirmed that we had professional relationships with people who identified as G, L, and T.  He even admitted that he personally liked some of them.  But, he wanted me to know that none of this was natural.  I reminded him that the definition of natural is fluid.  At one point not so long ago, marriage between Jews and Christians wasn’t considered natural and interracial marriages were illegal.  At that point he moved on to COVID and the overblown coverage of January 6th.   Though he supposedly doesn’t watch television, he was surprisingly fluent in the most common conspiracy theories.  I’ll spare you the details.

It seemed twice as long as the half an hour I was there.  Reuben is really good at what he does, which has nothing to do with his politics or his opinions.  I just don’t know that I need to subject myself to another visit.  And if I don’t return, he will just complain that he is another victim of the cancel culture.

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“Mr. Cunix, I will need to get my supervisor involved. May I put you on hold?  This may take between 5 and 10 minutes.  I am very sorry.”

I had already invested 20 minutes on this call to this insurance company’s agent helpline.  This was the only way to solve a big problem.  Now I was stuck.  Captive.  I couldn’t move.  I had to be available whenever the service rep or her supervisor returned.  That could be in a few minutes or I might be bounced around, like I was a couple of weeks ago, for the next hour.

With time to kill I clicked on Facebook.  My longtime Facebook page was hacked last September.  Through a combination of errors and Facebook’s decision to not have human tech support, I’m locked out of my page.  I may never get it back.  So I created an access page, a mere shadow of my former one.  The first posts I saw involved food.  I like food.  One friend/client is a well-known foodie who posts both pictures and recipes!  There were other posts about dogs and grandchildren.  I was five minutes into my wait.  The next posts were neither calming nor entertaining.

Since this new site has so few friends, I see everything each of them posts or even the comments they make on others.  One of my friends is somehow, unexplainably, connected to Congressman Jim Jordan, someone she truly despises.  Every one of his self-serving posts demands a response from her.  She comments and others agree, or more commonly since it is his followers, others disagree and then attack her.  She, of course, responds.  This may go on for hundreds of posts.  This was one of the first threads I encountered.  The second thread was just as long and contentious.  Somehow this other friend routinely accesses posts from his liberal or Democratic friends.  He can’t ignore these posts.  He must share his personal, religion-inspired opinions.  Subtlety and nuance are not part of his vocabulary.  He attacks and is quickly counter-attacked.  He doesn’t comprehend why everyone in the thread doesn’t immediately renounce his/her previously mistaken beliefs and quickly accept his!  Surely it is a moral failure or an unwillingness to accept Truth that is blocking their conversions.

You might view one of them, possibly both of them, as trolls.  Don’t judge so harshly.  In truth, they are captive, unable to escape.  Social media has chained them to their computers, addicted to the conflict.

The service rep only had me on hold for 15 minutes or so. The problem was solved.  And I was no longer captive.  For now.



Picture – Held Captive – David L Cunix

For Better Or For Worse

The challenge of any marriage is to withstand all adversity, to persevere through both the best of times and the worst of times.  Some marriages survive.  Some do not.

A large percentage of our country is in the middle of a difficult marriage, one that is being challenged, one that is not at the precipice of what could be considered the worst of possible situations, but close enough to give many of us pause.  That conflict, that issue that could force so many of us to affirm our commitment to For Better Or For Worse, is between the Democrats of the US Senate and two of their own, Joe Manchin (D-W VA) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ).

We once had liberal and conservative elected Republicans as well as both liberal and conservative elected Democrats.  Some of our elected representatives defied even those two recognizable labels.  Each issue merited deliberation and consideration prior to a vote.  Those days are pretty much over.  The “country-club” Republicans  are gone.  The two Republicans known to cross the aisle and explore opportunities for bipartisan action are Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME).  Congress once had a large Blue Dog Caucus, a number of conservative and centrist Democrats in the House and Senate.  Now we have Manchin and Sinema in a 50 / 50 Senate where every vote counts.

The last eight years have been difficult for the Democrats.  They watched Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans obstruct President Obama’s agenda.  The sat powerlessly as McConnell blocked the appointment of District Court Justices and then refused to consider the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  And they could not stop the appointment of countless marginal appointees to the Courts and three, three, Justices to the Supreme Court.  Now that Democrats are in the majority of the House, control the Senate, and enjoy the Presidency of Joe Biden, they are ready to move.  What could possibly keep the Dems from fulfilling their campaign promises?  Right now the answer is the current version of the Senate filibuster, Mitch McConnell, and two Senators unprepared to go to the mat for the Democrat’s agenda.

Divorce is not an option.  Push too hard on the centrists and you run the risk of them simply moving to the other side.  If that happens now the Dems get nothing, literally nothing.  The Republicans successfully convinced Collins and Murkowski to go along with most of their agenda and all of the judges.  The Democrats now have that same challenge with Manchin and Sinema.  There will be hurt feelings and pressure both private and public.  Deals will be made, some that will never be made public.

The marriage between the Democratic Party and Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema is for better or for worse.  The next month or so will include plenty of both.



Picture – An Imperfect Union – David L Cunix

One Week Post Shot One

My inner introvert was having a knock-down drag out fight with my innate contrarian.  Their only points of agreement seemed to be their disdain for their host and their displeasure with the turkey pastrami sandwich passing as lunch.

We are a full year into this pandemic.  I consider myself lucky.  We are healthy as are our children.  We have had friends and clients touched by COVID, some were hospitalized, and a couple who succumbed to the illness.  But my innermost circle has remained healthy, at least physically.  Who amongst us has not been impacted emotionally by the threat of illness or the forced isolation of the last twelve months?

I had lunch with my friend Larry yesterday.  We were socially distanced, safely apart, at the local POKE restaurant.  It had been six months since I had seen him.  We had eaten lunch outdoors at Aladdin’s at the end of August.  I don’t know what was stranger, sitting inside a restaurant or visiting with a non-family member.  Thank G-d I’ve known Larry for over 30 years.  It took a while to get into the flow of a normal conversation.  We have regressed, socially, in this year of relative isolation.  Our connections to the world have been the television and (anti)social media.  We will have to unlearn the tendency to either vehemently agree or aggressively disagree with our fellow human beings now that we are getting back to seeing them in person.

My friend David came by today for a walk in the park.  Three miles!  Sally got me a Fitbit like device for my birthday so I got to measure the distance.  I treated us with a couple of Liranja cigars from my humidor.  They had been patiently waiting for the right moment since I got them in October.  Sixty degrees and sunny, March in Cleveland can be such a tease.  We all know that there is still at least one more big snowstorm coming, but for the moment it feels like spring.  And for the moment, it feels like normal.

I could get used to normal.



Picture – Tuesday In The Park – David L Cunix

Thank G-d for the man who put the white lines on the highway.”  Michael Stanley 1948 – 2021

Accepting Reality


Reality sometimes interferes with our self-image.  And vanity only complicates the problem.   I understand this.  I should have written this post two weeks ago, but I couldn’t.

Clients, especially Medicare clients, bring their lists of medications with them to review when we discuss their health insurance.  Their prescriptions may also come up when we are talking about life insurance.   Some are on only a couple of prescriptions.   Some bring in laundry lists.  Inevitably they inquire about my meds.  Many know about my little health adventure in 2016.  And my answer has always been the same.  I point to my humidor and say that I am on “a stick a day”.  That’s it.  The only prescription I take is a cigar each evening.  Well that ended two weeks ago.  I am now on a blood pressure medication.

My doctor noted that my blood pressure was elevated in 2003.  By changing to a low-carb diet and with a lot of focus, I lost over seventy pounds and got my blood pressure under control.  Now, eighteen years later, I could stand to lose a few pounds but not enough to make a difference.  And though I personally blamed Trump, at 66 it is time for me to get some medical assistance.  Let’s hope the Rx works.  I am looking forward to my next appointment at the end of April.

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Here is something you didn’t ask for – Josh Mandel is back.  Did you miss him?  Probably not.  Ohio will have an open Senate seat in 2022.  Rob Portman may retire early so that Governor DeWine can appoint a replacement.  Regardless, 2022 will be so wide open that even Mandel could be a contender.  It is important to remember the last time he ran in 2012.  This is what I wrote after that election:

Thanks to Nikki Ferrell of the Beachwood Patch, we now know that Mitt Romney lost nine of the ten Beachwood precincts.  Some people find that unsurprising.  After all, Beachwood is a highly educated, traditionally Democratic leaning city.  The shock was that Josh Mandel, a Beachwood High School alumnus, underperformed Governor Romney.  Not only didn’t Mandel carry any precincts, but his opponent, Sherrod Brown, actually received more votes than the President. It only took two reprehensible campaigns for Josh Mandel to wear out his welcome.  It will be interesting to see what kind of campaign he mounts two years from now.

Josh Mandel looked in the mirror while he was still a suburban city councilman and saw a US president.  His mirror lied to him.

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My time as a Rabbi has ended.   I volunteered weekly at an Alzheimer facility for the better part of twelve years.  I created a Friday evening service for the residents and their families.  I mixed the pronunciations and tunes of forty / fifty years ago with a little humor and an occasional sermon that was geared to triggering long lost memories.  It worked.  Families were often surprised that grandma knew Hebrew.  Many of the residents enthusiastically participated in the service.  Some only attended for the challah and grape juice.  One woman had a beautiful voice that really added to our Sabbath prayers.  I used to joke that she hit every note while I just assaulted them.  But COVID ended my access to the facility.  It has been a year since I’ve been there.  Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness.  The last of my congregation has passed away.  Even if / when I could return I would be starting all over.

I never intended to make my Friday afternoon service a permanent activity.  But I formed a bond with the residents and their families.  My congregants died but there were always new ones and new families, spouses, children, and grandchildren to serve.  And now that is over.  I remember the first time I conducted a Sabbath service at the facility.  As I was about to start one of the residents turned to the woman next to her, and in a stage whisper that could be heard in the next county, asked if I was the new Rabbi.  I looked her in the eyes and said, “No Ma’am. I’m not a Rabbi.  I’m the next best thing, an insurance agent.”

My congregation is another COVID casualty.  My Fridays will never be the same.



Picture – The Dispensary – David L Cunix





Rob Portman Saw His Shadow


Rob Portman saw his shadow and he has six more months of being a US Senator.  I have not bothered to hide my disdain for Ohio’s junior Senator.  Last February I imagined Portman on a balcony, Evita-like, singing Don’t Cry For Me Ashtabula.  I first predicted late last summer that Mr. Portman would not run in 2022 and probably not even finish his term.  Some in the press expressed surprise when he finally announced last month that he wouldn’t seek reelection.  Those of us who have been paying attention were just waiting for him to speak.

Mr. Portman’s greatest asset was his anonymity.  Sure, he had a cameo in the first Trump impeachment as a co-chair of the bipartisan Ukrainian Caucus.  Of course, he failed to stand up and do his job at that time, but his feckless behavior was quickly lost in the historic moment of the trial.  It took the Washington Post’s Max Boot to note the damage that Portman, one of Trump’s most consistent enablers, has done to this country.

This second impeachment has put Rob Portman in a no win position.  His easy vote is to acquit the former president.  It doesn’t really matter what excuse he uses – jurisdiction, due process, a day ending with a “y” – he stays on the official Republican side and slinks back to the back bench.  But this vote, especially after more and more information comes out about Trump’s actions and inactions on January 6th become public, ties Portman to the Ted Cruz / Rand Paul / Ron Johnson part of the Republican Party.  Portman, who fashions himself as a “Country Club Republican” doesn’t want to be linked with Cruz.  But, a vote to convict would unleash the dogs of war at home.

Of equal importance to a longtime politician like Portman is how he will be remembered which will, in part, be determined by who replaces him.  A vote to convict will energize the Trump acolytes such as Josh Mandel and Jane Timken.  A vote to acquit will nationalize the race in 2022 and he will be used in countless television ads as the proverbial punching bag.  His solution, regardless of his vote, would be to retire early and allow Governor DeWine to appoint his replacement.  Governor DeWine could name a center-right replacement, someone strong enough to stand up to the Trumpers in a primary but not so extreme that the Democrats would be handed the seat.

A groundhog is a rodent that achieves national relevance once a year in February.  How odd is it that Senator Portman only achieves national relevance at about the same time each year?



Picture – February 2021 – David L Cunix

It is 3:50 PM and the vote has been taken.  57 to 43 an insufficient number of Senators voted to convict.  It was no surprise that Portman voted to acquit.  He is now on short-time.




You were angry.  Gosh you were angry.  I remember.  I saw your posts on Facebook and Linked In.  You forwarded news clips to me by email last summer.  You were incensed that that a mob attacked and sacked a store you would never shop in, in a city you would never visit.  And you were right.  Violence is wrong.  Damaging stores is wrong.  Looting is wrong.  You spoke out, loudly. That is why your current silence is deafening.

An angry mob, incited by the then President of the United States, attached and ransacked our Capitol.  And you turned away.  You have nothing to say.  And when confronted, when forced to acknowledge the damage to both the building and society, you attempt to divert our attention.  Or worse, some of you claim that this is all an exaggeration or that the insurrectionists, Trump’s irregulars, were really Democrats or some kind of false flag action.  One by one, as each of these dangerously duped people are arrested, they attest their allegiance and devotion to Donald Trump.  Your answer is to turn on the CAVS game and hope that this will all go away.

The difference between the people who attacked and beat policemen and Trump’s enablers, both in Congress and you at home, is effort.  The difference between the people who ransacked the Capitol in an effort to do bodily harm to Vice-president Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other members of Congress and Trump’s enablers, both in Congress and you at home, is commitment.

The cover you provide for Donald Trump, your escape to “Whataboutism”, and your passive acceptance of a violent attempt to overthrow our form of government eliminate your claim of being just an innocent bystander.  You helped.  You stood by and did nothing.  You never said a word.

Please know that I don’t care if you are offended, Rob Portman.  Please know that we expected better, Dave Joyce.  And to the rest of you enablers who neither hold office nor a position of public trust, now might be a good time to reassess your view of the last ten years.  The tyrant who grants your wish today is still a tyrant.

Donald Trump never changed.  He was always a danger to democracy.  And you were an accomplice.



Sorry, No Pictures.  No Music.


He Broke The Glass


Tradition!  I am a sucker for tradition.  The inauguration looked a lot like previous inaugurations, if you kept your eyes on the speakers and ignored their masks.  The young and talented Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, spoke last and the ceremony moved to the Rotunda.  There President Biden and Vice-president Harris were each presented with special Lennox crystal vases created for the event.  It occurred to me that I should create a special “Go Fund Me”. Perhaps, if we raised enough money, we could buy special Lennox punchbowls for Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to encourage them to just go away.


After four tumultuous years, I long for radical normalcy.  Daily press briefings, the usual give and take of Congress, even the absence of government pronouncements through Twitter, seem familiar and comforting.  I heard MINORITY Leader McConnell on TV this morning.  He was employing his Foghorn Leghorn voice as he implored Majority Leader Schumer to do what he would never do while in control.  It was as if the last six years had never taken place and, in a strange sort of way, just another reminder of how are system of government works.  Now, if we can only restore our mail service to the way it once was…


It was the night before their inauguration.  Soon-to-be President Biden, VP-elect Harris, and their spouses held a dignified memorial for the four hundred thousand Americans lost to the coronavirus.  They spoke briefly.  The entire event was about the dead, not them.  And then they turned around and watched four hundred lights, one for each thousand, illuminated the Reflecting Pool.  It was beautiful.  It was subtle.  I turned to Sally and said, “He broke the glass!”  Here, in what should be one of the happiest days of his life, Joe Biden stopped and remembered.  I could not have been prouder to be an American than I was at that moment.



Picture – Mazel Tov! – David L Cunix

The Day The Music Died


The age of cynicism has reached its illogical conclusion.  We have watched ten plus years of unbridled cynicism bring us to yesterday’s unthinkable event, the siege of the US Capitol.

I haven’t been this agitated since 9/11.  And though the death toll of that fateful day was significantly higher, the impact on our country and our democracy may pale in comparison to a president urging his irregulars to march to the Capitol to fight for his right to overturn an election.

To all of the enablers, to all who said that Donald Trump was just saying what “everybody” was thinking or, when convenient, that one shouldn’t take what he said literally, what now?  You knew, or at least I hope you knew, that Trump never had investigators in Hawaii looking for President Obama’s birth certificate.  You knew, or at least I hope you knew, that Mexico wasn’t going to pay for some wall.  And there are so many other lies and Bull Shit over the last ten years about his taxes, his finances, his non-existing health plan, etc., but through it all you kept on aiding and abetting him.  And what did you get?   Were the judges, a tax cut primarily for the rich, and an invasion of the Capitol worth it?

I watched in horror as the insurrection unfolded, livestreamed on my computer.  I recognized these people.  I have stood guard outside my synagogue watching for these people to pull into our parking lot.  They are the people who attacked Black churches, Mosques, and synagogues in the US and around the world.   They posted selfies in the People’s House as they vandalized the office of the Speaker of the House and the rotunda.  They knew that there would be no consequences.  They expressed shock when they encountered any resistance.  Why would they?   Rudy Giuliani called for “Trial by Combat”.  Don Jr. echoed the words on social media to “Fight for Trump”.   Donald Trump then sent the mob to the Capitol and told them that he would be with them.

We have a new administration in less than two weeks.  As we now know, a lot can happen in two weeks.



Sorry, no pictures and no links to music.

2020 In Hindsight


The year that you thought would never end has finally drawn its last breath.  Good bye 2020.  There are some who will say that 2020 won’t officially end until January 20, 2021 at noon.  Others will mark the end of 2020 as they receive their vaccination.  This post is about my quadrennial contest, 2020 Hindsight – Calling All Geniuses.

The next contest will have one more question, “What will be the big story of 2024?”  Without that question, no one had the opportunity to predict COVID 19 and the ensuing havoc.  And who among us could have predicted an hour long whiny, bullying phone call to the Secretary of State of Georgia?   Instead twenty brave souls joined me in guessing the outcomes of last year’s major competitions. Twenty!   You could find more “experts” in just a few minutes on Facebook or Linked In.

  1.     The President of the United States December 30, 2020 _______________________.
    2. The Democratic nominee will be__________________________________.
    3. The winner of the 2020 Presidential election will be________________________.
    4. There will be ____ justices on the US Supreme Court on December 31, 2020.
    5. The winner of the February 2, 2020 Super Bowl will be _______________________.
    6. The Cleveland Indians will win ______ regular season games.
    7. The Cleveland Browns will win _____ regular season games.
    8. The Academy Award for best picture will go to _____________________________.
    9. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will close December 31, 2020 at _____________.
    10. A gallon of milk will be $_____ at Heinen’s Mayfield Village on June 30, 2020.

Most of the participants had Donald Trump still the President on December 30th.  Half of the contestants had Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee.  Six of them also had Biden winning in November.  I did have one entry that had Biden as the nominee but Sanders the winner.  She was hedging her bet.  Almost everyone predicted that there would be nine Supreme Court Justices, though many people have already forgotten that it could have been eight.

It is important to note that one person, Dr. Greg of Wisconsin, correctly predicted the results of the first three contests and the Supreme Court on his way to winning the competition with FIVE correct answers.  He and Angela of Lake County, correctly named Parasite as the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.

A testament to the unpredictability of the NFL, none of us guessed the winner of the Super Bowl (Kansas City).  Eight was a popular number, but only “Cantor Lenny” and second place winner, Irene the Librarian had the Browns winning 10 games.

Jeff was almost perfect in his Dow Jones guess of 31,051.  The actual number was 30,606.  He just barely beat Angela’s 30,120.  A gallon of milk was $2.49.  Alec, Lianesha, and Jeff in Kentucky scored a point for that question.

I published my answers back in January.  My Supreme Court answer was correct, again, but that was it this time.  I promise to do better next time.  I hope that those who played (whether or not you submitted an entry) had fun and that more of you will consider participating three years from now.

As for the tie breaker, who was that decent model citizen who was transformed by lust and thirst?  Most of us know him as that Skinny Little Boy from Cleveland Ohio, Alex Bevan.



Picture – 2020 – David L Cunix