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.

Dave

www.againreally.com

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?

DAVE

www.againreally.com

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.

 

Angry

 

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.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

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.

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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…

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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.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

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.

Dave

www.againreally.com

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.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – 2020 – David L Cunix

Two Depressing Reads

 

We’ve all spent way too much time at home this year.  And since we’ve been stuck at home, we have all seen a lot of TV and way too many commercials.  My vote for the worst commercials are the ones that feature people who owe tens of thousands of dollars in taxes.  They always claim that they owe the IRS money and the IRS is going to garnish their wages and take all of their nice stuff.  But “The Fresh Start Initiative” or some other program and the sponsor of the ad will make the IRS go away.   These tax cheats don’t owe the IRS money.  They owe the US Treasury money.  And the US Treasury is us, you and me.  Those tens of thousands of dollars are replaced by you and me.  I really wonder if other countries tolerate and reward tax cheats the way we do in the United States.

Too Much And Never Enough by Mary Trump and Disloyal by Michael Cohen are dystopic bookends, the making and facilitation of the private and public persona of Donald J. Trump.  Ms. Trump’s book deals principally with the family dynamics, the imposing cruel figure of her grandfather, Fred Trump, and the ultimate destruction of her late father Fred Trump, Jr., aka Freddy.  She details how Fred bullied and domineered his children, their spouses, ex-spouses, and grandchildren.  The pattern was set.  The cruelty was an end in itself.  Mr. Cohen picks up the story in 2006 and takes us behind the scenes of the Trump Organization and Trump’s personal dalliances.

Since Mary Trump is a Trump, the real start to her book isn’t about her need to expose her uncle as a charlatan or world-class grifter.  The core of her book is how her grandfather, in a final act of belligerence, cut her and her brother, the late Freddy’s children, from his will.  With the help of several reporters from the New York Times she learns that her uncle Donald, now President Trump, her Aunt Mary, the now disgraced former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, her uncle Robert Trump, and her aunt Elizabeth Trump Grau, her generation’s Tiffany Trump, conspired to cheat the federal government out of millions of dollars in inherence taxes.  They got away with a $30 million valuation of Fred Trump’s billion dollar estate.  As a bonus they were also able to cheat Mary and her brother, Fred Trump III, out of millions of dollars.  Lawsuits helped her and her brother get some of the money they had been due, but it wasn’t until the investigative reporters got involved did she fully grasp the extent of the deception.

Michael Cohen is an angry, angry man.  He spares no one in his detailed explanation of his downfall.  And he is clear that he, himself, is the one who deserves the most blame.  His goal was to be rich, famous, and powerful.  It was a drug and Donald Trump was his pusher.  Addicted, he willing lied, cheated, and stole to stay in the good graces of the man he called The Boss.  In the process he describes the lives he destroyed, the people and businesses he stiffed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the rules (legal and norms) he broke at the behest of Donald Trump as the day to day duties of his job.

Much of the publicity surrounding Disloyal has been about the way Cohen and David Pecker of the National Enquirer protected and promoted Donald Trump and his interests.  The salacious details involving the “Catch and Kill” of the Karen McDougal story and the payoff of Stormy Daniels have received a lot of attention.  I recall writing about the boilerplate nature of the non-disclosure statement Stormy Daniels signed after it became public.  But it is the detailed stories of how Trump and Company screwed businesses, some as large as the Benjamin Moore Paint Company, that got my attention.  What Cohen describes in the book is the same bullying, foot-stomping, and aggrieved whining that we see playing out post-election.  The current behavior is totally predictable.

Mary Trump’s and Michael Cohen’s books are depressing because Donald Trump, by himself, is a failure.  For 70+ years he has benefitted from a combination of his father’s money and good graces, and a surprising collection of enablers, sycophants, and weasels.  He is adept at taking and alert to weakness, whether it was the others on the stage with him during the Republican Debates or the guys like Portman, Cruz, and Rubio in the Senate.  It is depressing that Donald Trump got this far.  And it is depressing that our country revealed itself to be so vulnerable.

There will be pardons issued in the next weeks.  It has been predicted that Trump will pardon himself.  The US Treasury will have been cheated one more time.  For those looking for good news, there isn’t a “Fresh Start Initiative” for State of New York taxes.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – Bookends – David L Cunix

 

Be Careful Who You Sue

 

 

December 2, 2022

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for a FOX NEW ALERT – DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK.  In Washington, here’s Fox Contributor, former Vice-President, Mike Pence.  Mike, what’s happening?

Good afternoon, Geraldo.  Our democracy is under attack.  The states of New York and California have filed their case with the Supreme Court.   The suit seeks to overturn the recent Congressional elections in a number of states including Ohio, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and several others.  They allege that Gerrymandering and voter suppression have created an illegal process that resulted in an election that must be reversed.  I’m personally shocked at the idea of states suing states to change the results of an election.  Let’s join the New York / California press conference already in progress.

There is no argument that the named states have systematically disenfranchised

millions of voters.  This has cause the rest of our country great harm, which we are

prepared to argue before the Supreme Court.  Think about it, would a Ted Yoko of

Florida or a Jim Jordan of Ohio possibly get elected to any position of public trust

without Gerrymandering?

We will return to their press conference in a moment, but first we’re going to go to our reporter, En Ablur, who has caught up with Robert Lee, Alabama’s Attorney General.

Attorney General Lee, are you prepared to answer this suit?

En, this is terrible!  Fighting this law suit will be a burden on the taxpayers of Alabama.

We don’t have the money in our budget.  Sure, we were part of the Texas lawsuit in

2020, but that didn’t cost us a dime.  New York and California are serious and they

have some of the world’s best Jewish attorneys.  In 2020 all we had was Paxton from

Texas.  And who are New York or California to come and interfere with Alabama?  Our

people like our system.  You never hear them complain about standing in line to vote.

Back to you Mike. 

Thank you, En Ablur for that report.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is an affront to our democracy and everything we hold dear.  As I said to Mother last night, “These radicals with their leftist gay agenda will ruin our country by changing the natural order.  We must fight to make America great again”.   It is my hope that we keep our voting system the way it has been, the way it has always been, so that we can continue to elect the right people.  We’ll return to Geraldo after this message from My Pillow.

Be careful who you sue.  The counter-suit could be devastating.

DAVE

www.againreally.come

Picture – Revered and Ignored – David L Cunix

Lucky To Be In Ohio

The election is over in Ohio.  I guess we are lucky.  Since Trump won there won’t be a fight about our votes.  That appears to be how it works.  If Trump won, the election was fine.  If trump lost, not so much.  We won’t have Rudy and his cohorts camping out at our landscaping companies or courthouses casting aspersions on our voting process.  Sure we live in a state that has elevated gerrymandering to an art form, but out statewide elections weren’t really close.  So everything is copacetic.

The election process and results are under attack in Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.  Whether your guy won or lost, is this how you want this to end?  And if you get millions of votes tossed out this time and your guy magically wins, what happens next time.  And there will be a next time.

So we are lucky to live in Ohio.  I hope to be able to say that we are lucky to live in the United States of America.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – Fall In Ohio – David L Cunix

Time For A Cigar

 

 

I was going to write about the debate, but before I could there was other stuff to address.  And then another thing.  And another.  And, in truth I’m sick of Donald Trump.  And you are too.  In fact, even if you like Donald Trump, you have had enough.  So it is time for a cigar.

It was a beautiful fall day and Sally and I decided to take a walk in the park.  I felt that the day warranted a special cigar and I opened a new box from my office humidor, the AJ Fernandez New World.

What an attractive cigar.  Even Sally noticed the seven inch, dark brown, box-pressed beauty.  We talked about the difference between my cigars and her cigarettes during our walk.

The most important thing, of course, is the taste.  But smoking a cigar is an experience.  It begins with the visual.  The appearance, the shape, size, and wrapper, the tobacco that you see on the outside, is one of personal preference.  The size and shape also impact how the cigar feels in your hand and in your mouth.  Most of my cigars, like this one, are between 6” and 7” long and have a ring size, circumference, of 50 – 54.  I have friends who prefer cigars that look to be about the size of cigarettes and others who prefer “Gordos” with a 60 ring.  Inside that wrapper are a blend of tobaccos that produce the flavor profile.  And the construction of the cigar is what creates a beautiful grey ash, a smooth draw, and an even burn.  The nicotine fix should be the least important part of enjoying a cigar.

You won’t see someone furtively smoking a cigar outside of an office building in sub-zero weather.

This particular cigar was crafted in Estelí, Nicaragua.  AJ Fernandez is a well-known major cigar producer.  The New World is a complex blend that produced a unique flavor.  Connoisseurs will tell you that they find notes of certain fruits, etc. when they take a sip of wine.  Cigar experts will say the same.  I can’t tell you that I tasted nuts or cocoa, but darn it was a good a cigar.

The walk, all three miles of it, were incredibly peaceful.  The only interruptions were the occasional bike riders and joggers.  I had an hour with Sally, nature, and an incredible cigar.  And no Trump.  I Know.  You’re jealous.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – Fall In Cleveland – David L Cunix