I Want You To Think….

I really have to stop reading newspapers. It is not only depressing but it changes the whole karma of a lazy and beautiful summer in Colorado. Might do the same for you who are ensconced at the beach. Couldn’t the world use a little respite from arguing, killing, raping, pillaging and of course the time honored practice of corruption.

Corruption is nothing new and will probably exist for long past what you and I might consider a lifetime. The heydays of Sparta, Rome and Alexandria were great until the mire became too thick and drowned everyone. No more, no less. The monarchies and fiefdoms of the Middle Ages? Slam dunk to qualify for disaster. Robber barons and mafiosa in the early 1900’s? It’s part of our heritage. That doesn’t make it stink any less.

We have a world economy today which just exacerbates the situation. It has brought untold riches to petty thieves and operatives in outlying places. Tribesman in Afghanistan and Libya can hold sway over the distribution of oil and opium throughout the world. You don’t think these guys revel in the power given to them by the consumers of varying types of drugs? Think again.

I met the inspector general of the Health and Human Services of these United States when on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago. We waxed eloquently about how we could change the waste and theft in the government and then he made an enlightening comment. He said that in his mind the true threat to our civilization was corruption. I thought it to be interesting but not life threatening until I really put Ted’s Head to the task.

Let’s assume there is this utopia of moral high ground that we all strive for. Nobody’s perfect but we try to act with some degree of decency. We are all faced daily with the conundrum of good taste with the slightest hint of impropriety. Now is it me or has the fine line of ethical or acceptable moved a tad from the center? It also seems the movement has picked up steam with more and more people not only able but willing to look the other way. As Jay Leno once said,”Of course 90% of the men love Bill Clinton when he says oral sex is not having sex!”

The first lie is the toughest. Then it becomes almost second nature. Cheating? Once you have crossed the line you can justify anything. Politicians convince themselves that the millions foisted on them are because they are genuinely lovable as opposed to being openly bought. Major financial institutions rigging LIBOR? You have to do it to remain competitive. This grade of concrete in the construction project is a little substandard but hey, who is going to notice? Did the lawyer or doc overbill? Of course my summer house should be painted on the company. As CEO it is important I have a place to relax from the pressures of corporate life.

Then there is the best excuse of all….everyone is doing it so it must be okay. I am not talking about minor things. I am also not talking about Elizabethan England. It is just a sense that we have gone too far. We push envelopes and then you come full circle by not having any at all. A country and even moreso a world is judged by how it views right and wrong. We become desensitized by seeing neighborhoods in Damascus, Gaza, Donetsk and Israel blasted to smithereens for the sake of some principle. In Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan anarchy reigns. Can we really look at Russian Ukrainians looting a downed aircraft of goods and credit cards and not feel sickened? These weren’t just soldiers but locals looking past rotting corpses to the booty to be plundered. I hope you were reviled? I was and it had nothing to do with which side I was on.

There have been many civilizations throughout millennia. Somewhere along the way they lose their way and crash and burn We always borrow from the previous eras and one would hope we would bring value from those pasts and not necessarily the dregs. We should be cognizant with all our windows into history of past mistakes and excesses. Do you really think the Roman Empire at its worst was something to be idealized and imitated? The Middle Ages were brilliant in their art and culture but not every aspect should be replicated. At least not in this poor author’s mind.

I am not trying to be a missionary or holy roller. I have far too much work to get done on this old fart’s routine to be looking for trouble elsewhere. I am not going to tell you how to live your life or what values you should hold true. You might think it is cool to have someone throw up on you onstage like Lady GaGa and call it art. Have at it. Padding bills? Major or minor? Cheating the government, your company or your spouse? I’ll let you and you alone be the judge.

I guess what I am really saying is we should all take a pause. Sit down and really think about what is right and wrong for each one of us. Not what the world says is okay but your own judgment. After careful scrutiny if you think it works, go for it. It seems to me we are just rushing forward because we are too busy to sit down and figure out where we really are. To figure out what we stand for. As a person,a country and a world. Gotta go. I have a lot of thinking to do.

As always
Ted The Great

Synonyms…..breakdown, decay, decomposition, festering, putrefaction, putrescence, rot, spoilage
morality, virtue

Disasters bring out the worst in people with both public officials, individuals and private companies at the trough during hurricanes, tornadoes, BP Oil spill etc. making false claims or billing for work never done.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted on 20 counts of conspiracy, bid rigging, bribery, wire fraud and income tax evasion.

The bids for the winning cities for the World Cup and Olympics are laced with gifts, entertainment, outright payments every time the decision comes around.

And finally from my good friend Neal Seibert comes the following:

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the
Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always
temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the
beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200
years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”

And that’s the truth!

Don’t Fence Me In…..

Like everything else controversial in the world there are at least two sides to every story. Since I am going to assume the mantle of investigative reporter I hope you will appreciate that this is not favoring either one of them. Or as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “the facts ma’am, just the facts.” I could take on plane downings or the current Israel-Palestinian bloodshed but I decided to stay in our own back yard. If we can’t figure this out how are we going to tell the rest of the world what to do?

We have two borders of our for spacious skies, Canada and Mexico. For a country of our size that in itself is quite remarkable. Let’s say the Canucks are very happy to stay in their own home so let’s head south. Depending on who you are talking to this is either the easiest or most difficult entry into the US of A. Let’s assume for the moment that 11-12 million are here illegally and a vast proportion of those came across from Mexico.

Now the good guys and girls come directly through 45 legal crossings with 330 ports of entry. Ports of entry can be airports, seaports etc. and thus the variance in numbers. Sit down for a moment because there are 350,000,000 legal border crossings annually. That’s workers, visitors, shippers whatever by the millions every year.

This southern border from California to Texas is just shy of 2000 miles long. For you easterners that don’t understand distances, San Diego to Seattle is a mere 1500 miles. Maine to the Florida Keys is around 1900. And if you went from San Diego to Chicago on a straight line you are talking the actual distance of 2000 miles. You are all very smart but I just can’t imagine building a humungous fence from the beaches of California to Lake Michigan. Not just a barbed wire one but let’s say about twenty feet high of concrete or steel with lights and sensors.

We tried. Dubya said let’s do just that. They got 600 miles finished at the cost of $1.7 billion or $2.8 million per mile. Just the fence. And the cost of keeping it up over its practical lifespan was an additional $50 billion. Boeing was under contract to put all the goodies in so it was more than an edifice and was so over budget that we dropped that idea. The current immigration bill under some sort of consideration has at its first requirement before further enactment a secure border. How would you and I define that? Are you ready to pay up? Can we ever accomplish it?

The tactic at hand is to actually build these ramparts close to any major metropolitan center of which there are several and man the hell out of them so that any furtive crossings are limited to the boonies. We have travelled to Mexico by car and you ain’t seen boonies till you see these. A combination of mountains, rivers, deserts and all sorts of nasty wildlife far from any road or civilization tells something of the desire of these people to make a better life. We currently have 20,000 agents patrolling and matching wits with the coyotes. The transgressors have paid $5-10,000 per to get led to the promised land. Moses coulda been rich.

For everyone that tries only about a third get through. Apprehensions are around 410,000. This is where it gets interesting. If you are from Mexico you get sent back when caught. Under a law signed by President Bush in 2008 any non border state children under the age 18 have to be detained and receive a hearing before a judge. This was actually put in to discourage and curtail human trafficking. Well the coyotes put this in their sales pitch to parents and they were off to the races so to speak.

Under the law, Health and Human Services has to come in and put the children in the least restrictive setting or they can be sent to family members already here until the hearing occurs. Due process probably requires a lawyer to be assigned. Speedy hearings are not the norm because there are 59 immigration courts of all sorts and they are manned by only 243 judges. Some of these are of dubious talent and work ethic but let’s not muddy the water. Sorry I couldn’t help it. Now divide the above into over 400,000 awaiting hearings and well…you get the picture. The best laid plans of mice and men.

The parents are happy to blow ten grand if it gets the kid out of harm’s way for anywhere from 1-5 years and they will roll the dice from there. Just so you don’t think we are the only Mecca, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and even Mexico have seen immigrants rise up to seven fold.

I bring up all this insanity to try to demonstrate just how difficult one of our many items on the National To Do list is to pull off. There are laws and regs that I hope were fashioned by some relatively decent people. They couldn’t foresee all the ramifications but they are there….and we are stuck with them. I hope the intransigence on both sides is as galling to you as it is to me. Imagine the cahones of Orrin Hatch to say.”there is no real appetite for immigration reform in Congress right now.” Are you really kidding me?

The sales pitch for reelection says we need experienced legislators. I for one say that rookies have an even chance of doing as good a job. Can’t do much worse. Pick one who does not speak with forked tongue and support the hell out of them. Most of all when the lead singer for the glee club from either side gets up before the mikes in DC and chants “we have had enough,” tell them to look in the mirror. They are not the fairest of them all.

As Always
Ted The Great

If I didn’t give you enough in the above I am at a loss. But there is actually one. A silver tongued devil I was playing golf with in Arizona some years ago was profound when he said,”Send all them bastards back.” I asked if he meant all 13 million at the time. He said “You are damned right”. When I asked how he would accomplish it he said “Put them in buses”. When I tried to point out that each bus has a maximum capacity of 50 people he opined,”I don’t give s__t, send them all back!” And that’s a fact.

Beauty Is In The Eye…….

A couple of weeks ago Kathy shot 90 on a rather difficult golf course for women. It occurred to me that for some that is a fabulous accomplishment. For others it was a lousy round.That night there was a stunning sunset and the day’s last rays lit up the sky with pastels and hues that would challenge Monet’s pallet. For some the day was partly sunny and for others it was cloudy with a chance of rain.

Now this all would cause one to wonder if an afternoon thunder burst is ruinous to your picnic or a welcome relief for parched fields? Is there shocking beauty in a tropical storm as it pounds a coast or a curse on Mother Nature for economically destroying one of those very lucrative weeks of the summer? Last week a fellow joined us for a scotch and cigar at Churchill’s and proclaimed this winter to be the best one yet for weather in Palm Springs. Sunny and gorgeous day after day. Somehow I think he missed the other side of the fence where drought threatened a way of life in the Imperial Valley.
I watched Frontline and I saw the strife in Ukraine and Syria. It was compelling and perplexing. Was it all that important whether or not you were a nationalist or ethnic Russian? For these people it was and they were willing to kill their neighbors to prove a point. To me it was insane but maybe they said the same in 1780’s about those whack job colonialists. From my easy chair they were bickering malcontents and to them it is their homeland and their heritage. How arrogant of me.

As I wander around my little spectrum I keep an ear to the ground as to what is going on around me. It gives me way too many ideas and that of course is the way Ted’s Head operates. Last week a young man was trying to differentiate between networks and communities and that seemed to be a good point to ponder. Today we have social networks but are they really social? We slip on and off anonymously. We may or not post but lying low is usually the norm. Now in community we interact. We see each other face to face. We have to be more responsible. You are right in front of me. It’s like small towns. You are my neighbor. I am responsible for you in every aspect of the word. I can’t leave you on the street bleeding any hurting. Big cities? Who gives a shit? Look at Chicago on Fourth of July weekend.

Many years ago I travelled through the World Trade Center as I went home from Wall Street. One night the rush hour was waning and I bounded down a flight of stairs trying to catch the 6:25 to my sweet little burgh of Chatham. At the foot of the walkway on the cold marble floor lay a man in a rapidly growing pool of blood. He had slit his wrist and the world was passing him by maybe even wishing good riddance to this poor bastard. I wrapped my handkerchief around his wrist and told a person to stay with him while I ran to get a Port Authority cop. After they took him away I couldn’t help but wonder how many had blown by him laying there? Network or community?

Good old Father Pat blasted me right between the eyes at 7:30 mass. He spoke of a thing called compassion. Webster calls it a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.That is pretty cool. I can do that. But wait a minute. He said we really don’t have true compassion. What? He said for most people it only goes so far. You can feel badly for family, friends and even coworkers. But that does not count for Blacks or Hispanics. You can feel that way for Americans but not Syrians, Iraqis, Jews or Palestinians. Thanks coach. I knew you wouldn’t make this easy. You mean I can’t pick and choose.

This whole social order thing is proving to be rather complex. Back in NJ for the wedding this weekend everything seemed to slow down. It was held at this idyllic church in a tiny town surrounded by large country estates. Fr. Paddy exemplifies everything Irish and as he finished the rite with his sung Irish Blessing there was nothing but good will toward men. The reception was replete with intelligent young people who were on their way up the corporate ladder but who had not acquired the airs of swells. The music was loud and raucous. Nothing but good times here. We stayed at Kathy’s sister’s house and the Morris County Record didn’t go beyond local fare. That was just fine.

On the way to the airport I took a wrong turn and wound up in a rather run down part of Newark. No tree lined streets here. At the Hudson Newsstand I picked up the New York Times. What did I do that for? Major portions of the world were fighting for turf and annihilating anything in their way. Citi was paying $7 billion to the feds and docs were cheating Medicare. Mexican border crises, drunk drivers in head on crashes and Midwest flooding rounded out the high points…or low points as it were. Sorry TTG this is life.

I am torn somewhere between this thing called acceptance and activism. I get networks but I so love community. I have not grown so cold that I can just look the other way. Your world is my world. I get all the legal ramifications but don’t you feel the slightest bit of remorse for a 12 year old Honduran who was just born in the wrong place? Then again I wonder if I am compassionate if I am equally pissed off at Palestinians and Israelis alike? I understand that things must change and with them our views on life. Yet somewhere there has to be love for one another that doesn’t have boundaries or limitations. Now that is a beauty I think we could all behold. Not easy but let’s keep looking.

As always
Ted The Great

Kathy Kenny was ready to give up golf and Lakewood Country Club a few weeks ago …..before her 90.
In 2010 there were 33,687 deaths resulting form car crashes. There were 38,364 people who decided to take their own lives. That number might actually be low because of the way local officials report causes of death.
There are more than twice as many Israelis as there are Palestinians in the war zone. At the same time 87% of the deaths since 2000 are Palestinian. But the majority of the Israeli deaths are to civilians. Try getting your arm around those figures and come up with a solution.
There are roughly 1200 people per square mile in New Jersey. 858 in Massachusetts. 417 in New York. In Montana there are 7 per square mile. 6 in Wyoming and 1.3 in Alaska.
There are 27,532 per square mile in New York City.11,884 in Chicago. 3922 in Denver. 2100 in Sioux Falls, SD.
You would think with all those people crammed together there would be community.


Life and Death….

Yours truly is supposed to be in two places at the same time this weekend. Even TTG can’t pull that off. Two incredibly different circumstances but then again not so far apart. One is the wedding of a beautiful woman in New Jersey. The other is the memorial service for a very brave young man in Arizona. Their connection is ironic.

Chris was a wonderful husband and dad. Cut down at 38 not by a assassin’s bullet but an even more sinister thing called cancer. He was a strapping fun loving guy. He left behind a devoted wife and two small children. He grew up in Genesee on the outskirts of Denver in my kid’s milieu. We went to their wedding. This is not supposed to happen.

I had coffee with his dad in Vail a few weeks ago. Chris had decided to forego any further treatment. As we talked I could see the pain of reality on his sad face. He said,” In my mind I get it and in my heart I just can’t.” The tragedy of burying your child is beyond sad. I wish I could reach out some way and maybe I am doing it now. Hang in there, Budster.

The wedding will be a glorious one. The lovely Leigh,Leigh Barushka, famous Russiain ballerina as her dad used to call her is a tribute to another couple I have known for so long. She is the daughter of my friends John and Muffin. John was cut down by that same evil monster called cancer in his early forties some twenty odd years ago. .

Some of you know the story but I hope I don’t bore you. John and I were best friends. He was my doubles partner and drinking buddy. Trim, athletic and with a smile that was as wide as Texas. He was also very smart which is of course why I hung around with him. He just couldn’t get the equation of death to prove out. He fought so very hard like Chris. And then one day said that is enough.

John changed my life and he is why I write these missives. He was the subject of the very first one which after 175 of them seems like a long time ago. We spent most every day of the last nine months of his life together. I owed him that. It’s what best friends do. We laughed a lot and yes every so often cried too.

One day we were driving home from New York City. He couldn’t ride the subways after so much chemo and I was the Uber of the day. As we drove along I started saying,”Cancer, Cancer, Cancer.” He had seen me do strange things many times before but this was nuts. I told him it was part of our friendship and didn’t bother me. It was like a door had opened and a huge weight was now being shared by two crazy guys.

That afternoon we talked and talked and he told me the sadness and heartbreak that he had kept inside to shield his wife and three little girls. Our friendship just got so much better. As the time grew close one day he startled me. He said “I will never see my girls grow up…and you,my friend will never see your kids grow up again.” Nine months later I quit Wall Street and just spent time getting to know my wife and kids. Thank you so very much.

I changed in a lot of ways. Some tough. I was diagnosed with clinical depression not long after. Not only because of John but probably a culmination of things. I worked hard at beating it and went on for several years speaking about mental illness. Some fools actually let me go on TV and radio to ramble on. I hope they don’t regret that.

In a very strange way all this has all come full circle. I work in hospice now. Last Thursday I went for my usual afternoon shift. You really don’t know what to expect. You can have a full house with our 18 beds or you can just have a handful. This day things were hopping.

I like to visit the patients and their families. Somehow I just feel comfortable doing it. I walked past a room where a family had been gathering. Ironically there were three daughters standing vigil and the man’s name was John. As the afternoon wore on the patient was in what is called transition but the girls decided to take a short break. You have to get rest sometime.

As I swung by the room a little later something didn’t seem quite right. His breaths were shallow so I decided to stop in for a moment. “Hey big guy, how’s it going?” No response. I knew that. I felt for a pulse and it was beyond weak. As I watched his chest heave one last time he let out his final breath. I didn’t know if he was religious but I said a prayer any way. Couldn’t hurt. I called the nurse and her cold stethoscope calmly confirmed the verdict.

I sat for a moment and just thought about the rite of passage I had been a small part of. It was beautiful and I felt blessed. I also realize some of you think I am crazy. Maybe so but things took on a different perspective for the rest of my day. Kind of the way my life has after my buddy John. Hopefully all these years have made me a little better man and a few people happier for what I do.

So I say to the dad and mom and wife and kids of Chris and others somehow things work out. I can’t make the hurt go away but maybe I can give you something to hang onto for the future. Thank you for sharing your life with me and thanks to all of you for reading this very special message.

As always
Ted The Great.

100 billion people have died since the beginning of time. No one has beaten the rap. Makes you feel insignificant doesn’t it?
When a person dies their sense of hearing is the last thing to go.
No one has died of old age since 1951. Since then the government has taken that classification off death certificates.
80% of the people die in hospitals
Every hour at least one person is killed by a drunk driver.

Culturally Speaking….

Culture is one of those words that can have numerous definitions or connotations as it were. The most obvious is the Arts and manifestations of human intellectual achievement. That being said it is also the cultivation of bacteria, tissue, cells…an artificial medium containing nutrients. How devilish are the implications of that ascription? It actually gives you a sad but true insight into a sickness known as Ted’s Head.

Now my son Scott and his wife and kids are moving to London in August for at least two to three years. It will be interesting to see if they undergo culture shock. That is the personal disorientation one undergoes by living in a new place and having to adapt or at least accept new ways of looking at life. Out of your comfort zone. Hmmm. That will probably be ameliorated somewhat by their understanding of the language but our first visit will be more than intriguing.

To wit they are selling their cars and will traipse around the city on the Tube, busses or taxis. They are going to rent an apartment rather than buying. No nice yard to play in but rather avail themselves of the numerous parks that abound. Their adopted country will have a queen but that just might prepare them for our future political state upon their return. Princes, earls and duchesses are a dime a dozen there. But then again don’t we have royalty on Park Avenue and Rodeo Drive? They think so.

Of course if things get out of hand we will have culture wars. This is actually quite serious and where we find ourselves right now. Over a period of time we develop tendencies and philosophies that if not challenged become more and more imbedded in our psyches. As we become more and more entrenched those isms, they cause us to cede any rational thought and the result is polarization.

The most obvious is the rift, chasm or gulf between traditionalists/conservatives and progressives/liberals. If it was purely relevant to pulling a lever in the voting booth that would be fine. But in recent decades fueled by political rhetoric and hate radio we clearly line up on one side or the other 24/7. Pat Buchanan put it best in a speech at the Republican convention in 1992 when he said “We are fighting for the soul of America”. Further on he chastised the base by saying “we can not tolerate the efforts of the Clintons to change our society.” Whether he is right or not, it doesn’t exactly leave wiggle room when trying to bring a country together.

Abortion, guns, privacy, drugs, same sex marriage, capital punishment, pornography, right to die, right to live, immigration, fracking, political correctness, global warming, the environment, Israel, the Middle East,Russia, China, Al Quaeda, drones, Guantanamo. Phew! That’s just the opening salvo from one side or the other. I dare you to tell me you don’t have some very strong feelings one way or the other on each of these. Now here is the interesting part. Can you say you are solid red or blue on each and every one of them?

The great equalizer is saying you are economically conservative and socially liberal. The pundits will tell you that is a copout. I say it is a beginning. Stats say that the country is becoming more and more centric or independent. The lunatic fringe is becoming more vocal but seems to be losing its way and ergo its supporters. I think or I should say I hope that the prospect of gridlock for many years to come is depressing for more and more of us. The inability to compromise is not necessarily cultural for most of us but rather institutional to serve the very few.

At its beginnings the Tea Party had merits. It was a group of interested citizens not political wing nuts. They wanted to cut the impact of government and give the country back to the people. I didn’t disagree yet. But then they hooked up with the Republican party. Politicians latched on to the band wagon and it became the vehicle for more maneuverings and less action. Another neat idea run amok in the cesspool of DC. Their innocent strivings fell prey to the realities of today’s political world and the far right. Too bad.

Whether it was Buchanan or Clinton who put polarization into the petri dish of the body politic doesn’t really matter. It’s there and its virility is going unchallenged. On this Fourth of July weekend I really take offense. I don’t like anyone telling me what to do as you well know. Let’s have our own petri dish and grow something without the powers that be. Let’s demonstrate that there is a middle to everything. I like that culture. Hope you do too.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids: None. I am going to have Vodka and Tonic and cook out. Cheers.