Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Baseball Is The Perfect Game

My heart skips a beat every time I enter a ballpark and see the perfect symmetry of the infield diamond enveloped by the wide swath of green outfield grass.  I love the meandering pace of the game, the sport's connection to its own and this country's history, the contrasting forces of power and precision, the strategy and the statistics, and the fact that the game has room not only for the pure athleticism of Yoenis Cespedis but also for the phenomenon that is 43-year old, 285-pound Bartolo Colon. 

Part of the beauty of the game is how it has remained constant over time.  The basic rules are not much different from 100 years ago, the bases are still 90 feet apart, and the pitcher stands 60 feet, 6 inches from the hitter.  At the same time, each era has had its own unique issues and the game has changed to accommodate (sometimes at a criminally slow pace) social and technological changes -- often for good, sometimes for ill.

Instant replay was first used in Major League games in 2008, exclusively to review home runs.  New fangled ballparks with unusual angles and idiosyncratic seating made it much more difficult to discern with the naked eye when a ball was actually hit out of the park.  But the success of the original rule has led to the inevitable slippery slope -- expanded replay into many more areas of the game.   These rules which seek to eliminate human error are applied by human beings, resulting in ... plenty of human error.  More problematic is that exciting, close plays are immediately challenged, stopping play, upsetting the flow of the game at pivotal moments. 

Umpire Jim Joyce announced his retirement today.  He probably wished that instant replay was available on June 2, 2010, when he badly blew a call at first base, calling the runner safe on what should have been the third and final out of a perfect game pitched by Armando Galarraga.  Instant replay would have spared Joyce his place in infamy and would have elevated Galarraga to a place in history.

Still, I stand by my letter published in the New York Times on June 6, 2010:
It is unfortunate that Armando Galarraga was denied his moment in history because of a blown call.  But that is why it's called a "perfect game."  Such events are so rare because they rely not only on the pitcher's perfection, but also on the perfection from teammates, and yes, from umpires, too.  We should not lose sight of the fact that the imperfections are what make the game so perfect.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Resist Trump -- Play Ball!

As the talking orange turd that lurks in the White House seeks to delegitimize truth, justice and the American Way, it is critical that we #resist by protesting, mobilizing and organizing.  We must insist on truth and push relentlessly for justice, but we also can't forget to celebrate the American Way -- by which I mean reveling in those profoundly American institutions that cannot be tainted by that malevolent shit-gibbon who is befouling just about everything else.  For me those sacred institutions include jazzmovies and, of course, baseball. 

And so spring and Spring Training could not come too soon. 

Cue the Ken Burns music and read the next paragraph in a deep baritone voiceover.

Spring training, like spring itself, is a time of renewal and rebirth; a time when even the lowliest team has hope for the season ahead.  Critical trades over the winter have bolstered the team's weaknesses.  Players coming off injury-plagued seasons are returning in the best shape of their careers.  Hitters have corrected the flaws in their swing and pitchers have discovered devastating new pitches. 

It may be hackneyed and trite, but I buy it every year. 

As a Met fan, for most of the last decade or three, after enduring yet another dismal season filled with heartbreaking losses, underachieving performances, devastating injuries, and mind-boggling player moves or non-moves, I would nevertheless approach Spring Training with a na├»ve optimism that would endure at least until Opening Day. 

I would then delude myself through much of a hopeless baseball season that my team could pull it together and make a run for the playoffs down the stretch.  I refused to face reality until sometime in August, when forced to accept the inevitability of a losing season, I would be stuck watching a team play uninspiring baseball for the last month or so, with little to root for other than spoiling another team's playoff run and the individual achievements of favorite players.  With a team going nowhere, much of the luster and lyricism of the game was lost -- at least until the spring, when it all began again.

But the last couple of years have been different. I experienced how beautiful baseball can be when one's team is having a good year, when you get to revel in tension-filled, meaningful games in September, followed by the glorious excitement of the post-season.  In 2015, after seven straight years with a losing record, preceded by two historic collapses, which were themselves preceded by a heartbreaking playoff loss and countless other frustrating seasons, the New York Mets made it to the World Series, transforming what looked to be another dismal year of mediocrity into a joyful one filled with magical, unforgettable moments.  Last year, burdened with high expectations, the Mets came down to earth but they still managed to make it to the Wild Card game. 

The Mets return with pretty much the same team that didn't quite have it last year.  There is reason for skepticism but no room for it in springtime.   And so at least for now, the fragile arms of the hard-throwing corps of incredible young pitchers are healed.  Travis D'Arnaud, a promising catcher who lost his swing and knocked in an anemic 15 runs all year has a new batting stance.  Jay Bruce, the Reds slugger who was leading the league in RBIs when he was traded to the Mets in August only to fall victim to the all-too-common Mets Transition Disease is back (because the Mets couldn't find a trade partner) and ready to rumble.  David Wright, the all-time Met great, who missed most of the last two season to injury and has a chronic spinal condition, is in great shape.  And there's Yoenis Cespedes, literally a game-changer, who is sure to live up to the hype and the big money the Mets notoriously penny-wise owners uncharacteristically coughed up to sign him. 

If the younger players step up and the older players hang on, if the pitchers continue to blow away hitters and the manager doesn't blow a gasket, and if Yo plays like Yo can play, the Mets could have another magical year.

As for the fate of the country?  If we protest, organize and mobilize, and if we continue to protect our precious institutions, as the late, great Joaquin Andujar described both America and baseball "in one word:  you never know."

Friday, February 10, 2017

Lawyer Up

In Shakespeare's Henry VI, when the rogue, Dick the Butcher, says, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," what he is suggesting is not that lawyers are corrupt scoundrels that must be done away with.  Rather, Butcher, the henchman for the rebel leader, Jack Cade, was suggesting that Cade could become king if the lawyers -- and the rule of law -- could be swept away.

Trump, like Dick the Butcher, would like to get rid of the lawyers too -- the entire judiciary branch, if he could get away with it.  As the most litigious person ever to become president, Trump is quite familiar with the court of law -- whether suing or threatening to sue those who have had the temerity to cross him or being sued for his shady business operations.  Cases number in the thousands.  (This explains his knee-jerk tweet -- emphasis on the jerk -- after the Ninth Circuit's ruling:  "SEE YOU IN COURT")  But critically, the legal system for Trump is no longer merely a cost of doing business.  It has become an impediment to his quest for unfettered power.

Trump's puerile reaction to a federal judge's issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped what is euphemistically called a "travel ban" -- referring to him as a "so-called judge" and stating that he would be to blame for a terrorist attack -- showed an utter disregard for the independence of the judiciary.  This was borne out in the argument his counsel made before the Ninth Circuit in seeking a stay of the TRO -- that the president has virtually unlimited power when it came to national security decisions.  Thankfully, the court pushed back -- denying the request for a stay and rejecting the terrifying proposition that a president's “national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.”

With the craven Republican majority in Congress abdicating all responsibility to be a check on the executive branch, it is up to the courts -- and the lawyers bringing suits in the courts -- to confine a president who clearly has no boundaries.  And, so far, the lawyers have been heroic -- bringing over 50 lawsuits against Trump for his policies and his business practices.  There have been many challenges related to the travel ban, and others regarding the massive conflicts of interest stemming from Trump's refusal to divest himself from his business empire.  Trump has also been sued for directing the withholding of funds from sanctuary cities.  

As Trump tries to undermine every institution that gets in his way and tear down all dissent to his rule -- whether claiming that any critical news item or negative poll is fake news or trashing judges that don't rule in his favor, the Ninth Circuit's decision, refusing to reinstate the travel ban, was huge.  It was a reminder that Trump can be stopped, that there are judges with integrity who won't be bullied, and that lawyers, so often the butt of jokes -- as far back as Shakespeare -- have an essential role to play.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Democrats Must Not Normalize Trump By Opposing His Policies Only On Their Merits

Abby Something
As I argued here, the Democrats need to oppose everything Trump does in order to undermine his presidency.  Every political victory he claims bolsters his legitimacy and increases his power.  But in challenging his nominations, orders, directives and policies it is critical not only to attack them on their merits but to frame them in the context of three things:  (1) his conflicts of interest stemming from his un-divested business empire and his failure to release his federal tax returns; (2) his affinity for white supremacists including, but not limited to, his bff Steve Bannon; and (3) his relationship with his other bff, Vladimir Putin, and other Russian officials and oligarchs. 

For example, the fact that Trump will seek to roll back the protections of Dodd-Frank should certainly be challenged as an abdication of his campaign promise to protect the public against Wall Street -- and an outrageous gift to the financial industry.  But it must also be stressed that Trump is helping companies with which he has -- or may have -- a financial interest.  Democrats should be demanding disclosure of Trump's ties to every bank and investment firm that stands to benefit from Trump's proposed gutting of regulations so that the public can know whether he is acting in the best interest of the country or to line his own pockets.

The Muslim ban, limiting a federal program that counters violent extremism to only "radical Islamic extremism," and the proposal to abolish the Johnson Amendment that prevents tax-exempt religious organizations from campaigning for candidates must be opposed not only as bad policy, contrary to American values and in violation of civil rights and freedom of religion.  This must be seen in the context of Steve Bannon's stated goals that appear to include creating a White Christian Nation.  Democrats should demand that Trump explain whether he agrees with his chief strategist and, if not, why he continues to staff the White House with Bannon allies.

And Trump's belligerent conversations with foreign leaders and his disparagement of NATO and the European Union must be seen not just as foolhardy from the perspective of diplomacy and national security.  They raise serious questions about whether Trump's connections to Russia are influencing his moves on the international front -- questions that need to be raised over and over again.

Liberals and progressives have been indefatigable in taking on Trump these first couple of weeks as we are forced to play political whack-a-mole on a seemingly infinite range of issues.  It is having an impact and our leaders in Congress are definitely listening.  But it is critical that we don't end up in the usual partisan debates over policy -- debates that the media expects and that will serve to normalize the presidency.  We need to push the Democrats and the media to view Trump always through the prism of his financial self-dealing, his sympathy for white supremacy and as a Russian stooge. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Filibuster Or Bust

Well, the Orange Nightmare -- the nation's scourge and reality TV host who has tragically taken his horror show to the White House where he truly has a captive audience -- has chosen the next Supreme Court Justice.  Or maybe Steve Bannon has.  In any event, after some bizarre made-for-TV drama, the winner is . . . . definitely not women or workers or the planet.

Trump nominated 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch, whose mother -- Reagan's EPA chief -- would have fit right in with Trump's cabinet of deplorables.  The New York Times places Judge Gorsuch on its handy liberal-to-conservative chart to the right of Justice Alito and the late Justice Scalia, but to the left of Justice Thomas. Gorsuch worshipped Scalia, wept when he learned of Scalia's demise, and hews to a similar judicial philosophy, although he wields a less acerbic pen.

Anyone in the mold of Justice Scalia only more conservative can hardly be called mainstream.  Indeed, his right wing bona fides are solid.  He was in the majority in the lower court Hobby Lobby case which held that employers could refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to female workers on religious grounds.  And he took the rare step of calling for reconsideration by the entire 10th Circuit of a decision that restored funding to Planned Parenthood after the Governor cut off funding -- and dissented when the full Court declined. 

And while he wrote a book about assisted suicide and euthanasia which talked about the "intentional taking of human life" that also seems to presage his troubling views on abortion, he was not so troubled by the horribly "botched" execution of Clayton Lockett, which I wrote about here (See Devolving Standards of Decency) -- an execution where witnesses described an "agonizing scene" in which over the course of 43 minutes, Lockett writhed, convulsed and struggled to speak before his heart "essentially exploded."  Gorsuch joined the majority opinion that ruled against Lockett's estate, which had sued the state of Oklahoma.  The opinion characterized the horrific events as merely an "innocent misadventure" or "isolated mishap" that does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Gorsuch recently wrote an opinion criticizing what is called Chevron deference, a principle that courts should defer to federal agencies when it comes to interpreting ambiguous federal regulations.  As Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice, explained:  "Not requiring courts to defer to agency expertise when an act of Congress is ambiguous will make it much harder for federal agencies to effectively address a wide variety of critical matters, including labor rights, consumer and financial protections, and environmental law."

But even if Judge Gorsuch were a mainstream pick -- someone, I suppose closer to Justice Kennedy than Justice Scalia, Democrats should still fiercely oppose him, slow down the process as much as possible and then employ the filibuster.  The Republicans stole this seat and Democrats have to keep reminding the public that for almost a year, they stonewalled President Obama's nominee -- Merrick Garland -- who is as mainstream and unobjectionable as they come.  Republicans refused to even meet Garland, much less hold confirmation hearings or vote on his nomination.  They sure as hell should not be afforded any Senatorial courtesy now.  (See Republicans Can Go Bork Themselves)

There is absolutely no logical reason why Democrats should acquiesce to Donald Trump on anything -- to do anything to legitimize his presidency (see Just Say No) -- much less something as critical as a Supreme Court vacancy.   But some Democrats are saying that they shouldn't fight this one since replacing Scalia would not change the balance on the Court -- and that they should save the big confrontation for the next one.  With all due respect, this is fucking nuts. 

First, filling the seat with a conservative does change the balance of the court if you consider that it was a seat that should have been filled by Judge Garland.  Second, no one knows whether this will be Trump's only pick -- either because he implodes or because no other justice leaves the bench before the end of his term.  Third, the idea that if Democrats cave this time they will be in a better position next time is the kind of Democratic logic that makes me want to guzzle antifreeze.  Have they learned nothing from the last eight years?  (And, who knows?  Maybe if the Democrats stop treating the Trump presidency as normal and become a true opposition party they will win back the Senate in two years.)

And, finally, the notion that we need to keep the filibuster in place for next time is beyond idiotic.  What difference does it make if the Republicans are forced to do away with the filibuster this time to confirm Gorsuch or the next time to confirm a subsequent nominee?  The key is that Democrats need to fight for the seat that is rightfully theirs even if ultimately the Republicans will prevail.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley sets the exact right tone:
The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight’s announcement is that this is a stolen seat. This is the first time in American history that one party has blockaded a nominee for almost a year in order to deliver a seat to a President of their own party. If this tactic is rewarded rather than resisted, it will set a dangerous new precedent in American governance.
This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers’ right to organize, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans.
If President Trump were serious about healing the divisions in America and undoing the damage wrought by Senate Republicans last year, he could have named Merrick Garland to fill this seat. Garland is a centrist jurist who is respected on both sides of the aisle. Instead, he doubled down on division by picking an ideological and extreme nominee to satisfy the far right.
This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court.
More of this, please.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Democrats Must Become The Party Of No

Democrats need to delay, oppose and obstruct everything that Trump does.  Everything. 

Democrats need to oppose everything not because the Republicans did it.  Not because the Republicans repeatedly broke with all conventional norms in blocking much of Obama's agenda and thwarting his administrative and judicial appointments at an unprecedented rate.  Not because the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat.  And not because the Republicans reaped enormous political gain from their obstruction.  (Although these are pretty good reasons)

Democrats need to oppose everything because everything Trump does is connected. One can't separate Trump's massive business empire and financial entanglements of which we know so little from his policy proposals.  One can't separate the machinations of his anti-Semitic, racist chief strategist from his directives and executive orders. One can't separate his trampling on traditional norms and constitutional principles from his appointments and nominations.  One can't separate his rejection of objective facts, dismissal of science and incessant lying from his stated goals.  Or, one can't separate Jeff Sessions from Steve Bannon from the unconstitutional Muslim ban that does not include countries in which Trump has business interests and that will undermine, not enhance, national security.   

Democrats need to oppose everything because Trump is a petulant demagogue who feasts on "winning," and whose claim to legitimacy will be strengthened with every political victory he attains.  Trump sees everything as a zero sum game and, at least with regard to his political power, he is right.  Democrats gain nothing by attempting to find areas of compromise.  When Trump wins, we lose. When we win, he loses -- and then loses his shit.  We can't let him win.  At anything.

Democrats need to oppose everything because Republicans need to own Trump, his hateful agenda and his madness.  They need to own his unqualified, corrupt cabinet appointees who seek to undermine the agencies for which they were appointed.  They need to own his abhorrent policies, his erratic and legally dubious actions, his racism and xenophobia, his mendacity, his corruption and conflicts of interest, and even his petty tweets. 

Democrats need to oppose everything.  And they should use whatever tools they have to slow down the things they can't stop.

This shouldn't be up for debate.  We shouldn't have to spend our time pressuring Democratic leaders to vote against all of Trump's cabinet nominees, to obstruct Trump's nomination for the Supreme Court, to oppose his policy proposals.  We shouldn't have to keep explaining over and over that this is not normal, that this is not politics as usual, that Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy. 

But, unfortunately, we do.  Unfortunately, we can't take the resistance of our Democratic Senators and Representatives for granted. And, so far, we haven't. The massive grassroots mobilization of liberals and progressives at the Women's March, at the more spontaneous iteration opposing the Muslim ban over the weekend, and the phone calls, emails and demonstrations at lawmakers' offices are having an impact. We can't let up. We need to keep showing Democrats that we are enraged and engaged, and that if they don't oppose everything, we will oppose them too.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

America First In Hypocrisy And Hate

Of all the egregious acts that Trump committed this past week -- and there are too many to recount here -- nothing was more egregious, more despicable, more shameful than signing a racist-inspired (and probably authored) executive order banning Muslims from entering the country.

The order bans immigrants and nonimmigrants from at least seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days.  Those countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- are countries from which there have been absolutely ZERO fatal terror attacks in the United States. The order also bans all refugees from entering the U.S. for four months and those fleeing the brutal war in Syria indefinitely.  It also gives preference to Christians who claim they are being persecuted.

This perfectly encapsulates everything that Trump stands for.  It is xenophobic and anti-Islam, favoring Christianity over other religions and unashamedly promoting white nationalism.  It is inhumane and unnecessarily cruel, tearing apart families, blithely ignoring the suffering of tens of thousands of innocent people, and discarding those, such as Iraqi interpreters, who played an invaluable in supporting our military.  It exploits fear and ignorance without any basis in fact, discounting the "extreme vetting" process for refugees that is already in place and falsely citing a terrorist threat from a class of immigrants that is virtually non-existent.  It has a strong whiff of corruption and conflict of interest by not including Muslim-majority countries from which Trump has a business interest.  It is incompetently drafted and legally dubious, reportedly not having been reviewed by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the State Department or the Department of Homeland Security. 

Legal challenges have already been filed and temporary emergency stays have been imposed by at least four federal judges.  Indeed, while the president has broad discretion when it comes to national security matters, whether there is a legitimate national security basis for such restrictions is highly questionable at best. In addition, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, enacted to end quota systems that gave preferential treatment to immigrants from European nations, was designed to prevent immigrants from being discriminated against based upon national origin -- which is precisely what this order does.  And then there's a little thing called the establishment clause of the Constitution which prohibits favoring one religion over others.

This is the latest and most appalling action Trump has taken in his first week.  And, as with the others, we must contact our representatives in Congress -- we need to flood them with calls and emails to support those who are standing up to this unconscionable action and shame those who have remained silent -- a handful of Democrats and virtually all  the Republicans -- as moral cowards who will forever be tainted by not standing up to ignorance and mean-spirited bigotry.  We need to continue protesting.  And we need to donate generously to the heroic agencies that are and will continue to be on the front lines, including the National Immigration Law Center,  Muslim Advocates, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Arab American Institute, and, of course, the ACLU.

A lot of folks have been saying that this is not what our country is about.  But, frankly, a country that wiped out an indigenous population, was built on slavery with a long, troubled history of institutional racism, that put an entire population of people in internment camps, can hardly claim the moral high ground.  That's why we have to rigorously insist on maintaining the rule of law.  That's why we need to remain vigilant and use our collective outrage to demand that our representatives in Congress stand up to demagogues.  That's why we have to resist. 

And that's why we also need to hear from those Trump supporters who claim not to be ignorant, xenophobic, white supremacists.  The fact of the matter is they supported a man who is.  Trump is not my president, but he is theirs, and now they too have a responsibility to oppose his most shameful actions. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Week From Hell: Now What?

Has it only been one week?  Besides demonstrating that he is mentally deranged and wholly unfit for office, Trump has issued a dizzying array of tweets, statements, executive orders and policy positions that threaten to undermine the health of the planet, our economic and national security, the foundations of our democracy, and the safety and welfare of our most vulnerable populations. 

Trump has chosen insufficiently vetted, indubitably conflicted and corrupt cabinet nominees who are either wholly unqualified for the positions they were nominated for or whose views are anathema to their respective agencies, or both.  And he has already taken concrete actions that will be devastating to the environment, to women's health and reproductive rights, to press freedom, to immigrants and refugees, to human rights, to health care, to workers' rights, and to our international standing and global stability.

There is so much to digest and resist, and it is hard not to become overwhelmed and to get distracted by the latest shiny object of baffling nonsense -- by the daily outrages of a president who has already gone where no post-World War II western leader has gone before.  Did Trump's top aide and resident white supremacist really just tell the media to "shut up"?  Has Trump really installed an unapologetic white supremacist as his top aide?  Is Trump really going to keep his business empire intact, ignore conflicts of interest and continue to reap enormous profit from his presidency?  Is he going to continue to obsess about the size of his electoral victory and the size of the crowd at his inauguration while denigrating detractors, protestors and journalists who have the audacity to question his popularity?  This is not normal.  It isn't even abnormal.  It's fucking nuts.

We can be -- and should be -- shocked and appalled by the myriad craziness that emanates from Trump and his enablers every day, but we then need to shake off the dread and nausea, and focus on fighting back.  Every day we need to pressure our Congressional representatives to resist.  In particular, we must force the Democrats to stop treating Trump as a normal president who is capable of reason and compromise -- to stop calculating when to oppose Trump and when to keep their powder dry for a potentially more important confrontation.  They need to oppose everything. 

If we learned nothing else from the Obama years, we learned that nothing is to be gained by reason and compromise --  traditional norms are gone.  They fucking stole a Supreme Court seat for fuck sake.  Moreover, when the Trumpocalypse crashes and burns, Republicans must own it.  They must own the crazy and the corrupt all by themselves.  Enough of this bipartisan bullshit. 

The Republicans obstructed Obama and Democrats must now obstruct Trump.  That is how the Republicans were so successful and that is how we can be too --  although we can do it without the racism, the ignorance, the false and misleading facts, and the petty scare tactics. 

To get started, we all need to download, read and share the Indivisible Guide: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.  The Guide was written by former Congressional staffers who understand what motivates members of Congress ("MoCs") and it cogently explains how best to reach them.  It is a clear and not at all intimidating "step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents."  As the Guide says "it is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve."

There is a lot to do.  But if I may, I first want to take a moment to vent one more time about the election.  While Trump can't let go of the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost three million votes, he is still the fucking president.  We're the ones who should be pissed.  And I still am.  So, one more time:
  • To the Green Party and their candidate Jill Stein and those who voted for her who purportedly care so much about the environment --  fuck you
  • To all those other progressive-minded people who didn't vote at all because Hillary Clinton wasn't pure enough and they were too caught up in their own moral superiority to consider how monumentally catastrophic a Trump presidency would be -- fuck you
  • To the mainstream media that cared more about ratings than reporting; that equated Trump's malfeasance with the misguided but hardly criminal use of a private mail address; and that so lowered the bar for one candidate that its was acceptable for him to lie with impunity and speak in word salad as long as he didn't spontaneously combust -- fuck you
  • To James Comey and his conspirators at the FBI who single-handedly shifted the momentum and re-energized Trump's candidacy at a time it was flailing and who suspiciously used a double standard in determining what non-investigation to disclose and which major one not to -- a very big fuck you
  • To the moral cowards of the Republican Party who failed to stand up to the most dangerously unqualified candidate in modern times and won't stand up to him now --  fuck you
  • To the compliant, compromising Democrats who still don't get how the game is played and remain resistant to the notion of all out opposition and obstruction -- we'll get back to you
  • To the Clinton campaign for failing to figure out with all their fucking data analytics the states they needed to shore up and for not understanding and pushing back on the way the fucking email nonsense was being exploited -- fuck you
  • To the angry white men who could not vote for a woman or accept the fact that America does not belong to them -- fuck you
OK.  Now I'm ready.  Let's get to work.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's Medication Time

Every time Trump does a TV interview it's like an infomercial for the 25th Amendment. -- Andy Borowitz
The New York Times argues with itself about whether to call out Trump's blatant falsehoods as lies, but ends up patting itself on the back because it actually, finally used the L-word with regard to his assertion that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in the election.  Not so much NPR, whose reporters and executives were reluctant to label Trump a liar "without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head" and out of concern that "branding things with a word like ‘lie,’ you push people away from you" and would be seen as "taking sides."

I agree that peering into Trump's head would be a terrifying prospect, but when he repeatedly makes statements that are completely at odds with verifiably objective facts, he is either lying or he is delusional.  I'm not sure what is more dangerous or disqualifying -- a president that can't stop lying or one that doesn't know the difference between objective facts and alternative ones.

Then there's this gem from Trump's interview on ABC yesterday regarding his much criticized speech at the CIA:
That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I'll mention you -- we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and -- and they were all CIA. There was -- somebody was asking Sean -- "Well, were they Trump people that were put--" we don't have Trump people. They were CIA people.
That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take -- take out your tape -- you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. I could've . . .
People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won't put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.
That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn't. They were all CIA people. I would say I would've gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That's what the vote would've been. That speech was a big hit, a big success -- success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.  . . .
And they tried to demean. . . .  and they tried to demean the speech. And I know when things are good or bad. A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll.
Um.  "Right. Well, I have to -- I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth."

The 25th Amendment outlines a procedure to remove the president when he becomes disabled or incapacitated.  It states: "whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."

The 25th Amendment was invoked twice during the Bush Administration to temporarily transfer power to the Vice President when Bush underwent a colonoscopy.  It is time to use it permanently with regard to another asshole. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Democrats Need To Fight For The Supreme Court; Republicans Need To Bork Themselves

Republicans invariably attempt to excuse their obstruction on judicial appointments by claiming that the Democrats started it when President Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court thirty years ago.  They claim that the Democrats treatment of Bork initiated the partisan break from traditional norms that gave deference to presidents on their Supreme Court nominations.  The reality is that it was Reagan's choice of Bork -- a radical jurist whose views on the federal government's role in protecting civil rights, voting rights and reproductive rights were far outside the mainstream -- that was the problem. Even so, Democrats did not filibuster Bork's nomination; he was afforded a full, if incredibly contentious, confirmation hearing, after which six Republicans voted with the Democrats to reject him. 

Reagan's subsequent nominees -- Justices Kennedy (who was nominated after Bork's defeat) and Scalia -- were confirmed unanimously.  And even after the Democrats regained control of the Senate, the first President Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas (to replace Thurgood Marshall, no less) was confirmed despite Thomas's extreme conservatism, well-founded and disturbing allegations of sexual harassment and a thin judicial resume.  Thomas won by a painfully slim 52–48 vote, with the help of 11 Democrats.  And Samuel Alito, the choice of the second President Bush to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, and a justice probably farther to the right than Scalia and Thomas, was confirmed despite enough Democratic Senators voting against him to have successfully filibustered and prevented an "up or down" vote. 

You see, the Democrats compromise and operate within conventional norms -- even if it is to the detriment of their Party and in contravention of their political principles.  Republicans?  Not so much.

President Obama called the Republicans' bluff and nominated not a left-leaning progressive to the Supreme Court but, rather, Merrick Garland -- a centrist with a reputation for fairness, civility and following the rule of law.  Judge Garland was someone GOP leaders agreed would be acceptable until Obama nominated him.  Then this unassailable jurist was unable to muster even the traditional courtesy meetings with Republican Senators much less confirmation hearings or a vote. 

Ignoring the fact that Obama had almost a year left in his second term when Garland was nominated, Republicans contended that the next president should decide who should fill the Supreme Court vacancy created when Justice Scalia left the building, as it were.  This argument had no basis in history or logic or convention, but they stuck to it.  Well, they stuck to it until it appeared that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency, when such Republican hypocrites stalwarts as John McCain and Ted Cruz began arguing that the Court didn't really need a ninth justice after all.  Unwittingly or not, they revealed the Republican plan to refuse to allow Clinton -- or any Democrat for that matter -- to appoint the next justice. 

It seems that Republicans believe that the third, purportedly co-equal branch of government belongs to them.  For Republicans, this is apparently akin to the legal principle of adverse possession -- where one acquires title to property simply by virtue of being in possession of it for a certain number of years.  The Supreme Court has firmly been in conservative hands ever since President Nixon replaced members of the Warren Court with the likes of Warren Burger and William Rehnquist.  And they intend to keep it that way.

Republican ownership of the Court, of course, has now been made far easier not only by the election of Donald J. Trump, but also because the Republicans kept their majority in the Senate.  Thus, their unprecedented hostage taking of Justice Scalia's seat has paid off.  Not only will Trump get to nominate Scalia's successor, but he will likely get a chance to fill additional seats.  Justice Ginsburg is 82, Kennedy is 79 and Breyer is 78.  Trump, if not impeded, could have the opportunity not only to restore the 5-4 conservative majority that existed before Scalia's passing, with the occasionally reasonable Justice Kennedy swinging the other way, but to cement an unequivocal radical right wing majority on the Court for a generation or more.

With that in mind, it is being reported that Trump will announce his nominee next week and the young white men who comprise his short list are, contrary to Republican talking points, far from mainstream.  They range in judicial philosophy from the far right to the far, far right, i.e., from Scalia to Alito.

The consequences for civil rights, voting rights and LGBT rights, for women's reproductive health and health care reform, for environmental regulations and Wall Street regulations, for consumers and unions, for gun control and campaign finance reform, for criminal justice and social justice could not be more bleak.

Democrats must take the hard-line, but perfectly justifiable, position that by refusing to hold hearings and vote on the Garland nomination, Republicans have stolen a Supreme Court vacancy to which they are not entitled. Their bad faith is not only evidenced by the unprecedented nature of their obstruction but is proven by their comments suggesting they would never allow a Democratic president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that could tip the balance of the Court. 

In light of this unconscionable conduct, Democrats must use every procedural move in their arsenal to fight, delay, block, obstruct and oppose whoever Trump nominates to the Court. 

Republicans, of course, could -- and probably will -- vote to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in response, even though it is something they are loathe to do because it would give a Democratic president and Senate majority of the future the power to select -- God forbid -- liberal justices to the high court.

Whether or not Republicans do away with the filibuster, Democrats need to mount an aggressive, vigorous and well-coordinated attack on Trump's nomination(s).  They must use the confirmation hearings as a forum for a meaningful national discussion on what this Country is about.  Do a majority of Americans really prefer unfettered corporate power with minimal federal regulations, onerous restrictions on women's reproductive health, and fewer legal remedies for consumers, workers and victims of discrimination?  This was the discourse that should have dominated the presidential election but was lost in the muck of email servers, tweet storms and fake news. 

After the Republicans unabashedly stated they would obstruct the Garland nomination, I naively thought that the ideological balance of the Supreme Court would become a critical campaign issue that would greatly benefit Democrats running for Senate and for President.  As with so many assumptions (I thought climate change would be important too), I was wrong.  Democrats, for the most part, did not meaningfully focus on Supreme Court and, as a result, the only voters who seemed to care were the conservatives who want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and unrestricted gun rights affirmed. 

Now that the election is over, the fate of Supreme Court -- and the Constitution -- is no longer theoretical.  It is up to the Democrats to forcefully and cogently articulate what is at stake, e.g., everything.  And it is up to us to make sure that they do.

You know the drill by now.  Call your Senators and tell them to resist.  Donate to the organizations that are girding for the fight (e.g., Alliance for Justice).  Then call your Senators again.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Emoluments Clause But Were Afraid To Ask

Wholly apart from any quid pro quo arrangements of demonstrable bribes or payoffs, the Emoluments Clause will be violated whenever a foreign diplomat stays in a Trump hotel or hosts a reception in one; whenever foreign-owned banks offer loans to Mr. Trump’s businesses or pay rent for office space in his buildings; whenever projects are jump-started or expedited or licensed or otherwise advantaged because Mr. Trump is associated with them; whenever foreign prosecutors and regulators treat a Trump entity favorably; and whenever the Trump Organization makes a profit on a business transaction with any foreign state or foreign-owned entity. -- Eisen, Painter & Tribe, The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, and Application to Donald J. Trump.
Republicans, when it is convenient, favor an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.  They believe that the Constitution should be interpreted based on what the Founding Fathers intended -- or as the late Justice Scalia put it: "It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted."  This is helpful to them when they are trying to restrict rights that the Founders had likely not contemplated, like a woman's right to have an abortion or same sex marriage.  It is less helpful to them when determining whether the new resident of the White House is in violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, i.e., the “Emoluments Clause.”

The formerly obscure Emoluments Clause states:  “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Emoluments are defined as "the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites."  This Clause, importantly, it isn't limited to profit but is broadly construed (particularly given the phrase "of any kind whatever") to include
money, items of value, or services from a foreign state.

The Founders were obviously concerned with foreign influence on government officials.  As Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman explains, the reasoning behind the clause is obvious: "If federal officials can be compensated by foreign governments, they can be bought."  And we don't need to take Professor Feldman's word for it.  Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 22 made it pretty clear:
One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption....In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty. Hence it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments."
Trump refused to divest himself of a business empire that includes more than 500 companies that span the globe.  He failed to create a blind trust but has simply handed management of his businesses to members of his family.  He promised that the Trump Organization will not pursue any new deals but never explained what was meant by "new deals." For example, is expanding a current business a new deal or an addendum to an old deal?  In any event, he will continue to receive an unknown but presumably substantial amount of money from foreign governments and their representatives from ongoing deals. 

In fact, Trump's lawyer admitted that Trump will continue to accept payments from foreign governments while in office.  She claimed, however, that this did not violate the Emoluments Clause because Trump would donate the profits.  This is a creative but not very satisfactory interpretation, one rejected by most Constitutional scholars and ethics experts.

Particularly given that so many of Trump's business arrangements are cloaked in secrecy and complexity, the public will have no way of knowing when foreign governments are providing benefits to Trump's businesses and whether this will induce Trump in some way to compromise his loyalty to the United States and his duty to act in its best interest.  This is what the Emoluments Clause was designed to prevent.

Last month Norman Eisen (Obama's ethics adviser), Richard Painter (Bush's ethics adviser), and Laurence Tribe (Harvard University law professor) published “The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, and Application to Donald J. Trump.”  In their considered view, the Emoluments Clause " unquestionably applies to the President of the United States and covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships.

Their conclusions are damning as they are thorough:
Mr. Trump stands to benefit personally, in innumerable and largely hidden ways, from decisions made every day by foreign governments and their agents. Especially given Mr. Trump’s strong personal attachment to his business, it is easy to imagine situations in which he is affected—whether subtly or overtly—by perceptions of whether foreign nations have dealt fairly with the company that he built and still owns. In those circumstances, feelings of gratitude, affection, frustration, and anger inevitably bleed out in complex and hard-to-discern ways, muddling motives in respects that elude conscious awareness or public accountability. Foreign states, attuned to that basic truth of human psychology, will no doubt tread carefully around Mr. Trump’s private interests—seeking to avoid his wrath and induce his favor. The Emoluments Clause was put in place to avoid precisely that blending of public and private interest.
A lawsuit was filed today by Eisen, Painter, Tribe and other scholars and Supreme Court litigators on behalf of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics ("CREW"), seeking an order to stop Trump from taking payments from foreign governments.  As The New York Times describes, the suit alleges that such payments "include those from patrons at Trump hotels and golf courses; loans for his office buildings from certain banks controlled by foreign governments; and leases with tenants like the Abu Dhabi tourism office, a government enterprise." 

This is the first, but surely not the last legal action that is going to be brought against Trump while he is in office.  I would venture to predict that before he's through, Trump will engage in several "high crimes and misdemeanors" that will provide strong grounds -- not just for lawsuits -- but for impeachment.  While the Republicans control Congress and continue to be unperturbed by Trump's financial self-dealing and unfathomable lack of ethics, courts of law and of public opinion will have to suffice.  But it is clear that Trump's blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause is already enough to let the impeachment proceedings begin.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

March On -- This Is Patriotism

"And so we thought it was the right time to make a campaign that’s about diversity and inclusion, about people seeing the common bonds we have, and our connections as human beings. The idea was to take back a lot of this patriotic language in a way that we see is positive and progressive, and not let it be hijacked by people who want to say that the American flag or American concepts only represent one narrow way of thinking."  -- Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey captured the zeitgeist in 2008 with his iconic "Hope" poster.  That was then.  This is now.

The Women's March on Washington is expecting at least 200,000 people protesting the inauguration of Donald J. Trump.  (For a point of reference, roughly 60,000 people protested Richard Nixon's inauguration in 1973, in opposition to the Vietnam War.)   And there are over 600 sister marches going forward around the country and across the globe.

This is what patriotism looks like.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Platitudes Will Save Us

I sent President Obama a letter about a month ago.  It was the first time since I was about eight, when I wrote an impassioned letter to Santa Claus (probably asking for a new bike or a baseball glove), that I had attempted communication with such a high-placed personage. 

In my letter to Obama, I extolled his extraordinary decency but suggested that this unprecedented time called for fighting indecency.  I suggested that were more important principles at stake than ensuring a smooth transition of power.  I urged him to use the bully pulpit to call out Trump's unfitness for the office, the likelihood of his financial self-dealing, and his actions that suggested deep-seated racism, including appointing Steve Bannon as his close advisor and nominating Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General.  I urged him to request the Department of Justice to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Russia's interference with the election and Trump's possible collusion, and another to review the FBI and its Director's role.  And I urged him to use his recess powers to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Today, I received the highly anticipated response.  Shockingly, Obama did not follow my advice on any of these points.  He did appreciate "the feelings of uncertainty many Americans have had lately" but assured me that "America remains the greatest nation on earth" and that "one election does not change who we are as a people."  He pointed out that "progress doesn't come easily, and it hasn't always followed a straight line," but he "firmly believe[s] that history ultimate moves in the direction of justice, prosperity, freedom, and inclusion" because of people like me who "speak out and hold our country accountable to our highest ideals."

I sure feel better.  Just like I did when Santa wrote back to tell me that as long as I'm a good boy, I'll get that bike.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Annual Hall Of Fame Rant & Hypothetical Ballot

“Voting shall be based on the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, their contributions to the team on which the player played.” -- BWAA's Hall of Fame Rules
Racists and segregationists who conspired to keep African Americans out of baseball are in the Hall of Fame.  So are players who regularly used amphetamines to "enhance" their performance on the field and others who took illegal drugs off the field.  Cheaters are in the Hall, from spitballers to sign stealers.  The Hall includes adulterers, sexual assaulters, drunks and batterers.  But some of the greatest players of the past couple of decades, including some of the greatest in the game's history, are denied induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame because they allegedly used steroids, probably used steroids or simply looked like they used steroids.

This wholly arbitrary application of the so-called "character clause" argues for its elimination as a factor altogether.  This would help dampen the sanctimony of the current group of Hall of Fame voters and their misguided effort to prop up an idealized, idyllic view of the National Pastime that never was.  As S.F. sports columnist Ray Ratto put it:  The Hall of Fame is not a church; it is history, for good and for ill.

It is unquestionable that steroids were used by a large group of players --  hitters and pitchers -- particularly (but not exclusively) from about 1995 until 2005, when the baseball establishment, under pressure, finally began to crack down on the use of performance enhancing drugs.  During this time, when offensive numbers (and players’ heads) were suspiciously inflated, the fans cheered and the owners gleefully looked the other way.  For better or worse, steroids were part of the game and unless we are going to disqualify everyone who played during these years, we simply have to accept it.  Moreover, with the exception of the few players who have admitted steroid use or where the evidence appears overwhelming, we have no way of knowing with any hope of accuracy who juiced and who didn’t.

Then there is the utter hypocrisy of the prior induction of managers Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, who acquiesced while their star players used performance enhancing drugs -- not to mention former commissioner Bud Selig, who was recently voted in despite presiding over the whole debacle. 

Baseball writers who vote for Hall of Fame induction need to stop using their votes to impose their idiosyncratic view of morality on the game.  In the absence of any guidelines from the Hall on how to apply the character clause -- or a definitive ruling by the Hall itself with regard to certain players or practices (see, e.g., Pete Rose) -- voters should focus on the players' performances on the field.  Determining who deserves enshrinement is tricky enough without adding a whole other layer of subjectivity. 

And that goes beyond alleged steroid use but applies to other character issues such as offensive and hateful political speech.  Curt Schilling -- a borderline candidate in my view -- may be an intemperate and odious transphobic, anti-Islam, right wing clown, but that should have no bearing on his worthiness for the Hall.

In my view, the best and most dominant players of every era should be Hall of Famers, period. Without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the Hall of Fame's avowed goals of "preserving history and honoring excellence" will be greatly diminished. 

For what it's worth, my vote for the 2017 Hall of Fame class (without regard to real or imagined steroid use or other non-baseball issues) would include Clemens, Bonds and Jeff Bagwell.  I would also vote for Tim Raines, the greatest leadoff hitter east of Rickey Henderson. And I would vote for Edgar Martinez, who was without a doubt one of the best pure hitters of his day, despite the fact that his achievements came from being almost purely a designated hitter.

As for those appearing on the ballot for the first time, I would vote for Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, one of the greatest catchers of all time, as well as for Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez -- two of the most dangerous hitters of their era.

There are strong statistical arguments for other eligible players, but the numbers don't tell the whole story in assessing the career of a baseball player (see Damn Statistics) and ultimately the Hall of Fame vote is a gut call.  And using my gut, I would not add anyone else to my hypothetical  ballot this year.  The closest calls for me are Trevor Hoffman, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Gary Sheffield.  Hoffman was a relief pitcher with a devastating change up.  After Mariano Rivera, Hoffman has the most career saves -- a statistic, however, that I believe is way overvalued.  (See Save It)  In fact, Billy Wagner, also on the ballot this year, was arguably a more dominant closer.  Sheffield, like Guerrero and Ramirez, was a feared hitter for many years but he is not quite of their caliber, in my opinion.  Maybe next year.  Schilling and Mussina were both excellent pitchers with stellar careers for whom a reasonable case for the Hall could be made; just not by me.

 And finally, I'd like to say a word about Jeff Kent.  Sure, his offensive numbers are as good as just about any second baseman in the modern game. But when I watched him play, I never thought to myself, "there's a hall of famer."  He was a pretty average player for the first third of his career with the Blue Jays, Mets and Indians.  He benefited greatly when he was traded to the Giants from hitting behind the otherworldly Barry Bonds and from the era of inflated statistics in which he played.  More damning for Kent is that he was a terrible fielder while playing a key defensive position, and arguably gave up many of the runs he produced offensively.  (He couldn't run either)  All of the other great second basemen who are or should be in the Hall were excellent fielders in addition to being great hitters.  Kent simply doesn't compare to Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar or Rod Carew.  And, in my opinion, he was no Bobby Grich or Lou Whitaker either -- neither of whom made it to the Hall. Besides, he wasn't a very nice guy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Proud To Be Maladjusted

Originally posted on January 17, 2011

Over the weekend, I grabbed from my bookshelf A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., and literally dusted it off.  I flipped through it looking for something profound with which to pay tribute to the day.  There was so much eloquence to choose from, so many familiar, but nevertheless timeless speeches and essays defending the morality of non-violence and demanding racial justice, social justice and human rights. As I leafed through the book, I kept returning -- as Dr. King did -- to the theme of embracing "maladjustment;" refusing to be comfortable in an unjust world and insisting on action to achieve a better one.

In the summer of 1957, King addressed students at UC Berkeley, where he spoke of being maladjusted:
Now we all should seek to live a well adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities.  But there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon you to be maladjusted.  I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination.  I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule.  I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism.  I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things. . . . God grant that we will be so maladjusted that we will be able to go out and change the world and our civilization.  And then we will be able to move from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.
Dr. King reiterated this theme in 1958, in an article he wrote for a Christian publication.  The article criticizes churches for failing to be more vocal in denouncing racism.  He stated "it may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the flaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people . . . .  What we need is a restless determination to make the ideal of brotherhood a reality in this nation and all over the world."  King then reprised the notion of being maladjusted, almost verbatim from the speech he gave in Berkeley.

And then, in 1961, Martin Luther King gave the commencement address at Lincoln University, in which he talked about "The American Dream," "a dream where men of all races, of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together as brothers."  (I'm sure he meant sisters too.)  King urged the students to "not be detached spectators, but involved participants, in this great drama that is taking place in our nation and around the world."  He concluded this remarkable speech with many of the same words on being maladjusted that he used earlier: 
Every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature, and modern psychology has a word that is used, probably more than any other.  It is the word maladjusted.  This word is the ringing cry of modern child psychology.  Certainly all of us want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid the neurotic personality.  But I say to you, there are certain things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted.

If you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that I never did intend to adjust to the evils of segregation and discrimination.  I never did intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry.  I never did intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.  I never did intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.  And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted because it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.

So let us be maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across centuries, "Let justice run down like waters and righteousness like a might stream."  Let us be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half slave and half free.  Let us be as maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could look into the eyes of the men and women of his generation and cry out, "Love your enemies.  Blequss them that curse you.  Pray for them that despitefully use you."

I believe that it is through such maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.  That will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God almighty, we are free at last."