Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

A Weekend Potpourri Of Things You Might Have Missed

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

Life expectancy from another angle

Earlier in the week I wrote about life expectancy in the U.S. and how our woeful public health system negatively impacts it.

Another under-the-radar issue affecting how long we live is where we live. That is, living in a blue or red state can either add years to your life, or deprive you of a few. Significant research is bearing this out.

A report from the Population Reference Bureau, with funding support from the National Institute on Aging, concludes that life expectancy is influenced by policymaker decisions at the state level. According to the report:

Life expectancy differences among states have widened in recent years, as state policies have become more polarized. In general, states where policies have become more liberal have added years to their residents’ lives more quickly, while states where policies have veered conservative have seen slower gains in life expectancy.

This study builds on research published by Jennifer Karas Montez, et al., in the Millbank Quarterly in August 2020. Their paper, US State Policies, Politics, and Life Expectancy, found that states with more conservative marijuana policies and more liberal policies on the environment, gun safety, labor rights, economic taxes, and tobacco taxes were related to lower mortality in working-age Americans between 1999 and 2019. In particular, gun safety laws were associated with a lower suicide risk among men; labor protections like minimum wage and paid leave were tied to a lower risk of alcohol-related death; and tobacco taxes and economic taxes were linked to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The authors estimate if all states enacted the most liberal policies, 171,030 lives might have been saved in 2019. On the other hand, enacting the most conservative policies might have cost 217,635 lives. Looking at it from another perspective, they concluded that US life expectancy would be 2.8 years longer among women and 2.1 years longer among men if all states enjoyed the health advantages of states with more liberal policies.

It would be nice if research like this persuaded politicians in red states to consider liberalizing some of their policies with an eye to making life better for their constituents. At the very least, they could read the studies (I did) and invite the researchers to discuss their findings.

Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Texas

You probably don’t know this if you don’t live there, but for months, top Republicans in the Lone Star State have coalesced into two warring camps. On one side are State Attorney General Ken Paxton and his followers. Facing off against them are Speaker of the House Dade Phelan and the House Committee on General Investigating. The Texas House has long been seen as far less far rightish than the Senate and Paxton’s base. The result is that though they have total control over the Legislature and every statewide office, Republicans have not always agreed on what to do with their power.

For some time it has been apparent the two sides don’t like each other very much.

A bit of history is in order.

There has been a cloud of scandal hovering over Attorney General Paxton for years. The ever-darkening cloud includes an extramarital affair and actions taken to benefit an Austin real estate developer who donated to Paxton’s campaign and renovated his home. Despite the scandal, and an indictment in state court for securities fraud dating back to 2015 (he has repeatedly succeeded in delaying his trial), he won re-election to a third term last year, largely by closely aligning himself with Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters.

The barely concealed disdain of the two factions for each other, brewing for months, burst into public view this past week when the Attorney General accused Speaker Phelan of performing his duties while drunk and called for the speaker’s resignation.¹

That accusation last Tuesday sent a shock wave through Austin. Then, less than an hour later, word came that Paxton might have had a personal motive for attacking the speaker: The aforementioned House Committee on General Investigating had subpoenaed records from his office, as part of an inquiry into the Attorney General’s request for $3.3 million in state money to settle corruption allegations brought against him by his own former high-ranking aides.

The House Committee met the next day, Wednesday, for several hours to discuss accusations against Paxton brought by those former aides in 2020, as well as allegations of retaliation from the same former aides.

The four top aides — turned whistleblowers — had taken their concerns about his activities to the F.B.I. and the Texas Rangers. Paxton then fired all four.

The aides — Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley, James Blake Brickman and David Maxwell — are all former Deputy Attorneys General, and Maxwell is a former director of the office’s law enforcement division. They told investigators that the Texas AG may have committed crimes including bribery and abuse of office. They have also sued Paxton.

This is where the $3.3 million comes in. Paxton wanted the state to pay that amount to settle the lawsuit brought by the former aides. Speaker Phelan has said that he did not believe there were the votes in the House needed to approve the payment; he also has said that he did not himself support doing so. If the state paid the aides the $3.3 million settlement it would be like giving Paxton a very expensive Get Out Of Jail Free card.

After hours of testimony on Wednesday from five House investigators who outlined the evidence they had collected against Paxton, the attorney general suggested on Twitter that he believed the Texas House was preparing a case to impeach him.

“It is not surprising that a committee appointed by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan would seek to disenfranchise Texas voters and sabotage my work as attorney general,” Paxton said in a statement aimed at his base of supporters, many of whom view the Speaker as aligned with Democrats.

Thursday evening, the Committee on General Investigating unanimously filed 20 articles of impeachment against the Texas AG. The Committee is composed of two Democrats and three Republicans.

And last night, despite a last minute appeal by Donald Trump, the Texas House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Attorney General Paxton, temporarily removing him from office while he undergoes trial in the Senate. The vote was 121-23. He is the first statewide office holder to be impeached in Texas since 1917.

Regardless of the lopsided impeachment vote, one can be forgiven for thinking a conviction in the Texas Senate will be about as difficult to achieve as a conviction in the US Senate was, twice, for Donald Trump.


¹ After a 12 hour day of pushing through bills as the House’s term was approaching year-end, 57-year-old Speaker Phelan appeared to slur a few words in one sentence. This was recorded on video. It went unnoticed by most. But apparently not by Paxton.

Medicaid work requirements — raw meat to the Republican base

Late yesterday, President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, announced yesterday that they had reached a deal to increase the amount of money the government can borrow. The deal includes additional work requirements for food stamps and welfare.

Getting tougher with Medicaid work requirements was one of the sticking points in resolving the ridiculous debt ceiling crisis. It is something the more conservative, that would be most, elements of the Republican Party have demanded for at least the last two decades.

But what would that achieve in terms of reducing the national debt and helping people get healthier so they can escape poverty?

I have written before about the resource-rich, a product of the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Econofact, created by eminent economist Michael Klein, is a network of economists and public policy specialists from all over the country who contribute to the non-partisan publication designed to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies. Unlike most things on the internet these days, Econofact is free to readers. It is well worth subscribing.

Regarding the work requirements continuing dispute, I would like to show you three charts produced by Econofact thought leaders² to put the issue in perhaps a better perspective. Basically, the data show adding to work requirements already in place won’t reduce US spending and, besides being not worth the administrative and bureaucratic effort, would negatively impact many children currently living in poverty and make it more difficult for them to rise out of it.

First, what is the size of the population we’re actually talking about?

It’s the bottom four bars, totaling 11.57 percent of the population, we’re talking about.

Now, how is that 11.57 percent spending its time?

Less than six percent are unemployed, but looking for work.

Finally, to what extent does expanding access to Medicaid increase the probability of rising out of poverty?

This Letter began with research showing that states more liberal in their constituent services experience greater life expectancy. Medicaid is one of those services. The Econofact charts show  most people on Medicaid who can work, already are. They also show, in addition to greater life expectancy, enhancing Medicaid benefits is the best way to achieve what should be the desired goal of Medicaid in the first place: getting people healthy, so they can raise themselves out of poverty into productive lives.

This debt ceiling deal, while possibly ending the crisis (if it can actually pass in the Congress), will not help to achieve that goal.


² The first chart was produced by Econofact contributors  and , of
the University of Maryland, Aspen Economic Strategy Group, and Gusto; the second, by , of UC Davis and the Center for Poverty Research; and the third by , of Georgetown University.

Fifty-one Years Of Stuff

Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

The story of the stuff.

Friends, I’m exhausted.

I’ve been away from this beloved keyboard for six weeks, and, because I’m addicted to Mr. QUERTY, the withdrawal has been painful. But have I been slacking off, ignoring my responsibility to do my best to afflict the comfortable? Not a bit. Why? Let me tell you a story about the stuff, the dumpsters, a painful ending, and a bright beginning.

Fifty one years ago, after spending a few years in the U.S. Army, two of which on an all-expenses-paid trip to Southeast Asia, property of the 101st Airborne Division, my late wife Marilyn and the two-year-old daughter I was just beginning to know left the red clay of Fort Benning Georgia, returned to Massachusetts and, after some time getting reacquainted with parents and friends, bought a house in Central Massachusetts.

Thus began the Great Accumulation.

A few years later we enlarged the house to accommodate Marilyn’s parents who had sold their spacious  home and were entering the period in life my wife Karen calls the “smallening down phase.” A few years after that, having achieved some professional success, we enlarged the house further—a lot.

We now had 13 rooms, a great big attic, an even bigger basement, and a large garage with storage area above.

I’m sure you will recall the old adage, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I’m living proof.

Over the succeeding years, the family managed to accumulate an immense amount of what George Carlin famously called “stuff.”¹

The trouble is, we never knew we were bringing so much stuff into the house, because, after using it, we always packed it away in the cavernous attic, basement or garage. Oh, and don’t let me forget the closets—they can hold more than you think, and we had a lot of them, big ones, too.

And then, of course, there was the storage unit.

Why didn’t we have the occasional purge of stuff? My excuse is it seemed like a big job (I was right), and we were busy all the time, and, besides, we couldn’t see it; it was all hidden away. So the stuff kept growing, sort of like the carnivorous monster alien from outer space in the 1958 horror movie, The Blob, that kept growing by eating everything in its path.²

Since the pandemic began, we’ve been living at our place in the Berkshires, the place where I write these Letters. About six months ago we concluded it didn’t make a lot of sense anymore to have two big homes, so we decided one of them had to go, and Central Mass drew the short straw.

Thus began the Great Disaccumulation.

Little did we know what we were in for. But this will sum it up. One 17 Yard dumpster and three (yup, three) 1-800-Got-Junk full dumpster trucks later (with one more still to go when we get rid of the last humongous pile in the garage), we have emptied the house of 51 years of stuff, and the Central Mass beauty went on the market today. If you’re interested in a house in Central Massachusetts with a great big basement, attic, garage, and closets, the place can be yours.

After six weeks of travail, I cannot tell you how good it feels to sit at this keyboard and not be lugging boxes.

By the way, about that place in the Berkshires? It doesn’t have an attic, the basement is fully furnished (it’s where the pool table is), and the closets are normal. Not much chance of another Great Accumulation. Moreover, although I find it hard to believe, odds are we won’t be here for 51 years.


¹ Watch the video—it’s hilarious.

² Trivia moment—The Blob was Steve McQueen’s movie debut. He played the teenage hero.





A Sad Update And One Sweet Diversion

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

Once again, into the darkness

So, here we are again.

In Nashville two days ago, the U.S. suffered its 131st Mass Shooting of 2023. That’s 131 in 86 days, for a rate of 1.52 a day — thus far.

This was also another Mass Murder, the 13th of the year. What’s the difference?

The Gun Violence Archive, which began documenting gun violence in the U.S. in 2013, defines a mass shooting as a gun violence incident in which four or more people are killed or injured, excluding the suspect or perpetrator.¹

The FBI does not have a definition for mass shootings; rather, it tracks mass murders, which it defines as an incident in which four or more people are killed.  It includes gun violence, bombings or any other incident where four or more are killed. Mass Murder would statistically be a subset of Mass Shooting.

Consequently, in the first 86 days of 2023, there have been 131 mass shootings and 13 mass murders. The event in Nashville added to both categories.

Regardless of definitions, what really matters is that in the first 86 days of 2023, 10,009 people who were alive to welcome in 2023 on New Year’s Eve are now dead by gun violence, 4,267 by homicide; 5,742 by suicide.

Gun violence incidents rocketed to another level in America in 2020 as the Coronavirus gripped the country, and since then they have not slackened at all.

I have periodically been writing about gun violence since 2005, and most recently just two months ago in January of this year.

I’m not going to rehash what I’ve written previously. I urge you to read the column from this past January. It says it all — except for one thing. It doesn’t discuss the children. In yesterday’s obscene brutality, the obviously deranged shooter killed three nine-year-old children. They were Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs. Also killed were Mike Hill, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Cynthia Peak, 61.

This is how bad things have become: guns kill more children than any other cause.

As I reported in May of 2022, the US dwarfs the 28 most economically developed countries in the 38-member OECD in deaths by firearms. Not only is our firearm death rate nearly 25 times higher than our OECD companions, our total homicide rate is eight times higher. In America, 98 people die by firearms every single day. In those other 28 OECD countries, with a combined population more than twice that of ours (712 million vs. 331 million), that number is 19.

I have found people to be mostly the same the world over. Many are smart; some are not. Many are wealthy; most are not. But we in America have two things other countries do not have: more guns than people and sky-high homicide rates.  The first leads to the second. Why? Because guns can kill fast and from a distance. It’s hard to outrun a bullet. Other methods often take some time during which a victim has a chance to run away. Countries with far fewer guns have far fewer homicides. Simple as that.

Rather than doing something about the root problem — 393.3 million guns — we’ll continue to nibble around the edges mistaking movement for progress. And more nine-year-old children will die.

What kind of allegedly enlightened society allows this to happen?

Only ours.

And now for a sweet diversion

Do you know what rheology is?

To save you the trouble of looking up the answer, I’ll tell you.

Rheology is the branch of physics that deals with the deformation and flow of matter, especially the non-Newtonian flow of liquids and the plastic flow of solids.

There. Now you know.

This is a story of rheology, an Oreo cookie, and how a couple of MIT kids may have too much time on their hands.

Graduate student Crystal Owens and undergraduate Max Fan set out to solve a cookie conundrum that I’m sure has baffled you forever: whether there is a way to twist apart an Oreo and have the filling stick to both wafers. For Owens, the research “was a fun, easy way to make my regular physics and engineering work more accessible to the general public.”

According to Fan, “There’s a fascinating problem of trying to get the cream to distribute evenly between the two wafers, which turns out to be really hard.”

In fact, they couldn’t do it. PhD candidate Owens, who studies the properties of complex fluids, said, “Videos of the manufacturing process show that they put the first wafer down, then dispense a ball of cream onto that wafer before putting the second wafer on top. Apparently that little time delay may make the cream stick better to the first wafer.”

In the lab, the research team subjected Oreo cookies to standard rheology tests (whatever they are) and found that no matter the flavor or amount of stuffing, the cream at the center of an Oreo almost always sticks to one wafer when twisted open. I have no idea how many of the failures were eventually consumed, but I think it would have been a shame to waste any of them. Maybe they had after work Oreo and Gator Aid² parties.

And to show you how MIT students go to lengths you’ve probably never dreamed of to solve a problem, Owens and Fan designed a 3D-printable “Oreometer” — a simple device that firmly grasps an Oreo cookie and uses pennies and rubber bands to control the twisting force that progressively twists the cookie open. Instructions for the tabletop device can be found here. They are marvelous, and I include them, because, you never know, you might want to try this at home.

So, what do you do after you’ve done a research study on Oreo cookies and built a 3D-printable Oreometer, to boot? Why, you publish a paper detailing your research.  On Oreology, the fracture and flow of ‘milk’s favorite cookie appears today in Kitchen Flows, a special issue of the journal Physics of Fluids.

Get your copy now.


¹ Two other reputable non-profit organizations track gun violence in the U.S.: Everytown Research & Policy and the Giffords Law Center.

² Gator Aid is another wonderful creation invented in a University lab, in this case the University of Florida’s.




The Calendar, The Nuts, And A Long-Ago Time In A Faraway Place

Monday, March 20th, 2023

No political punching today. This year’s terrific NCAA tournament (my bracket was busted in about a minute and a half) has put me in a good frame of mind.

So, let me tell you a story.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a 23-year-old, newly minted, Infantry 2nd Lieutenant Airborne Ranger with my name spent a fair amount of time in a little woebegone country in Southeast Asia called Vietnam.

In Vietnam, I took command of a platoon of about 30 draftee soldiers, none of whom wanted to be there and all of whom never understood why they were. There were no college graduates among that lot, and a few never finished high school. They were America’s flotsam and jetsam, and they all knew it. I would grow to love every one of them.

Month after month, my guys and I patrolled the mountains in the north of South Vietnam, occasionally encountering North Vietnamese Regulars who were doing the same thing. Those were interesting meetings. We didn’t talk much when we met, but we did frequently have a somewhat frank exchange of views.

Our Platoon had some memorable moments in Vietnam, such as The March to the Sea, The Rescue, The Whistling Mortar Round, The Search for the Body That Turned Out to Be a Piece of Wood, and The Flying Flywheel. But those are stories for another day. For right now, for today, we’re telling the story of The Calendar and the Nuts.

Four months before the end of my first Vietnam tour, the Army promoted me to 1st Lieutenant, made me say “goodbye” to my guys, sent a Huey chopper to fly me out of the jungle, and gave me a staff job on Firebase Vegel in northern South Vietnam. A firebase was a temporary army camp built by the Corps of Engineers on top of a mountain. It supplied the troops in its area both logistically and militarily. And by “militarily” I mean weapons, ammunition, and helicopter gunship support and transportation. Firebases were cushier than the jungle, but often more dangerous, because they were stationery targets. That was made apparent to me a number of times in vivid ways.

My job on Vegel was to dream up crazy search and destroy operations for the “grunts” in the jungle, the crazier the better. I did my best to make them crazy enough to satisfy the Commanders, but not crazy enough to get our folks killed. It was not easy.

The Army of North Vietnam and their comrades in the south, the Viet Cong, were a determined foe. They were fighting with biblical devotion for a purpose they believed in — their country. They weren’t going anywhere until the war was over and they had won. We, on the other hand, were the political pawns, the shmucks who were there because we had to be, and none of us liked it all that much. Wasn’t our country. And all of us knew, with a fair degree of certainty, the date we were scheduled to go home — if we could stay alive long enough.

With two months to go in the country with the biggest mosquitos on earth, I began to get a bit anxious. I knew guys who had come to untimely ends with only a few days left, one, a good friend, within three hours of leaving. So, realizing I needed a diversion to take my mind off things, I decided to create one — my very own 60 day, Short-Timer’s Calendar.

I confess while deep in the jungle in the 1960s my admiration for and envy of Hugh Heffner knew no bounds. Consequently, my Short-Timer’s Calendar was the centerfold of the June 1970 Playboy magazine. To build the Calendar, I enlisted the aid of my Battalion Commander Bulldog Carter (that’s right, Bulldog), and Buck Kernan, my partner who went on to become a Lieutenant General, like his father before him. The three of us divided the luscious photo into 60 puzzle-like areas counting down from 60 to one. The trajectory of the progression became increasingly lascivious.

Thereafter, we held a nightly, candle-lit ceremony in the bunker occupied by Buck and me.


But before I describe the ceremony, I have to tell you about the Macadamia nuts.

During Vietnam, soldiers who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in that hellhole were allowed a ten-day R&R (Rest and Relaxation) vacation, usually a little after the mid-point of their tour. Unmarried soldiers usually went either to Bangkok, Thailand, or Australia.

Most of the time the married folks went to Hawaii to meet their wives. So, when my turn came, I hopped a plane at Da Nang airbase halfway up the coast of the South China Sea and flew off to meet my wife, Marilyn, in Honolulu.

When we first checked into our hotel and got to our room, we discovered the hotel had left a small jar of macadamia nuts for us. Up until then I had never tasted a macadamia nut in my life, but once I tossed the first one down the gullet, I was hooked. I subsequently learned Hawaii is noted for its macadamia nuts. There’s even a Macadamia Nut Visitor Center somewhere on Oahu.

You may forgive me for saying with the exception of the inside of our hotel room and the balcony outside it on Waikiki Beach, the one with a beautiful view of Diamond Head up the coast, we never did see much of Hawaii for the first four or five days.

But toward the end of the R&R, after we’d come up for air, seen the sights, sampled the beach, and done the obligatory Don Ho nightclub show, we went to the PX (Post Exchange) at Scofield Army Barracks and bought a large jar of Macadamia nuts for me to take back to Vietnam. In Vietnam, little things became luxurious delicacies.

The next day, Marilyn and I boarded our separate planes, she to return to the civilized world of Massachusetts, and me to head back to something completely different.


Back to the ceremony.

The bunker assigned to Buck and me had a single bunk bed. There was only one bed, because Buck and I took 12-hour shifts in the Operations Center, where we prevented the dominos from falling and kept the world safe for democracy. One of us would end his shift, head to the bunker, wave as he passed the other guy, and crash into the bed.

Every night, at 2000 hours — 8 p.m. to you — the three of us, Bulldog, Buck and I, would gather in the bunker. I had scrounged a small table which I had placed against the wall to the side of the bed. I had lovingly pinned Miss June to the wall above the table. At the appointed hour, I would light the two candles I had placed on each side of the table under the pin-up. I would open the jar of Macadamia nuts, which occupied a special spot in the center of the table, and hand each of my comrades one nut, taking one for myself. We would then spend a moment in quiet reflection, meditating on the bounty before us, after which I would, with a red marker purloined from the Ops Center, X-out that day’s descending number on Miss June’s tantalizing body.

We would then eat the nuts.

We did that for 59 consecutive nights. Fifty-nine red Xs covered Miss June. We were down to ONE! On the final night, we held a special ceremony, inviting the Battalion XO, the other six staff officers, the Battalion Sgt. Major, and the Chaplain, Father McBride, into the bunker, which became almost as crowded as the stateroom scene in “Night at the Opera.” We gave everyone a Macadamia nut that night, and, to great applause, I placed the last red X on Miss June’. Even Father McBride smiled.

Then, in a service worthy of priestly ordination, I passed the jar of Macadamia nuts to Buck — who, because he still had six weeks to go, later on would replace my centerfold with his centerfold and continue the tradition. We retired my centerfold to a place of prominence on the side wall of the Ops Center, where it looked down on all the guys, and where Bulldog could see it every day, its 60 red Xs pointing the way to his bit of heaven back in the U.S. Six weeks later, Buck’s would hang his beside it.

The next day, I choppered south, boarded a chartered Pan Am plane with about three hundred other happy survivors, and flew home to what we called “the world.”

Since then, Macadamia nuts have occupied a special place in my heart.

Mississippi: Continuing To Lead From The Rear

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Tonight, President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union Address to the nation and a packed Congress. It will be performative, with Democrats applauding and Republicans sitting on their hands. It always makes for a pretty good show. One of the things Biden will ask this Congress for is greater expansion of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid provision.

A week ago and a world away, Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves stood on the steps of the state capital in Jackson and delivered his State of the State address. Like Biden will tonight, he talked about the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision—and his rigid determination to have nothing to do with it.

Since Congress passed the ACA and President Obama signed it into law on 23 March 2010, 39 states and the District of Columbia have taken advantage of the Medicaid expansion provision. And last November, South Dakota became the seventh state to do so through ballot initiative. The state now has until 1 July to set up a system that would be ready to enroll the estimated 42,500 people who will then become eligible for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid expansion as of 2023

The one argument Governors and state legislators make in states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion, and the one South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) made before the ballot initiative, is that it is unaffordable and will put untenable strain on states’ budgets.

Nearly 13 years of research has proven this to be untrue. As my dear father would say when presented with a similarly specious claim, “That is an argument full of what makes the grass grow green and tall.”

Of course, there is another argument, the purely political one, and Governor Reeves made it in his State of the State address as reported by the Mississippi Free Press:

During his State of the State address on Monday, Gov. Reeves told Republican lawmakers not to “cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare and socialized medicine.” (The governor often invokes “socialism” when criticizing ideas or opponents, including his 2019 Democratic and Republican  challengers).

In reiterating his opposition to expanding Medicaid, Reeves said, “Instead, seek innovative free-market solutions that disrupt traditional health-care delivery models, increase competition and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians. Do not settle for something that won’t solve the problem because it could potentially and only temporarily remove the liberal media’s target on your back.”

That statement has the intellectual weight of a soap bubble. The Governor refuses to focus on the real and terrible problems of Mississippi’s health care system.

In May, 2022, the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides objective information to inform health policy decisions, published its 56-page analysis entitled, Healthcare System Performance – Mississippi Indicators & Healthcare Infrastructure: Opportunities for Improvement. 

The very first sentence in the report’s Executive Summary says, “The performance of Mississippi’s healthcare system is consistently ranked as one of the lowest in the nation.” In four other places it hammers this home:

“Over the past decade,…Mississippi’s healthcare system has continued to rank as the poorest performing state healthcare system of the United States and the District of Columbia.” (page 5)

“Despite diligent efforts, Mississippi continues to maintain the worst performing state healthcare system in the United States.” (page 7)

“Since 2009, Mississippi has ranked last on overall health system performance every year.” (page 8)

“Mississippi has the highest rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations for chronic conditions in the United States.” (page 12)

On every level, in every category, the Center for Mississippi Health Policy’s report is a ringing indictment of health care in the Magnolia State.

Could it look any worse for Mississippi’s health care performance? Well, yes, it could.

Consider deaths from COVID 19.

From the beginning of the pandemic Mississippi experienced the third highest rate of deaths in the nation at 444 per 100,000 people, trailing only Arizona and Oklahoma (but not by much). And in the number of deaths in excess of what would have been expected based on historic mortality patterns, Mississippi led the nation.

The Commonwealth Fund is another organization that analyzes health care performance, both in the US and globally. For the US It publishes annually a Scorecard on State Health System Performance. Last June, it released its 2022 Scorecard.

This is even more damning when one considers that the Commonwealth Fund’s analysis of  US health care performance with respect to its global peers is nothing short of woeful. The Fund’s 2023 report, U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2022: Accelerating Spending, Worsening Outcomes, paints a picture that should disgust any American who reads it. In nearly every metric measured, our country lags behind its global competitors.

To put it bluntly, in a country that spends far more than any other developed nation, close to 2 to 1 on the average, yet trails its peers in nearly every health care category, in a country where life expectancy at birth is three years less than the OECD average, in a country with the highest maternal and infant mortality, in a country obviously in desperate need of serious health care improvement, Mississippi is dead last.

With all this as background, I now sincerely ask: Why has Mississippi chosen for 12 years in a row to reject availing itself of the proven benefits coming out of the Affordable Care Act?

Accepting Medicaid expansion has nearly eliminated people going uninsured in expansion states, and, because of the federal matching payments of 90% has made it economically neutral, at worst. It has lowered costs and improved health care.

A recent white paper by Manatt Health, prepared in partnership with the Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, estimated the fiscal impact of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi. It demonstrated that Medicaid expansion is a better fiscal deal than ever before, especially when you consider that under the American Rescue Plan Act the federal government will increase its portion of payments by 6.2%. In addition to significantly increasing insurance coverage, the paper projects that expansion in Mississippi would cover more than 220,000 adults and, along with significant ongoing savings, would result in zero net cost to the state for more than six years. Yet for 12 years in a row Mississippi has chosen to throw nearly a quarter of a million of its citizens into the land of the uninsured, where hospital emergency rooms become primary care providers.

Which brings us to Uncompensated Care. Right now, at this very moment, 54% of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are on the cusp of closing—38 of them, because they don’t get paid enough for taking care of poor rural people, most of them uninsured. Yet states that have adopted the Affordable Care Act have seen substantial drops in their uncompensated care costs. Between 2013 and 2015, states that were early adopters of the ACA saw Uncompensated Care decline by $8.6 billion, or 23%. But Mississippi doesn’t seem to care. This is a slap in the face and a punch to the gut for the state’s rural communities, which make up 79.3% of the state’s 82 counties.

You won’t find peer reviewed, published studies demonstrating that states have been harmed by ACA expansion. We’ve had more than ten years of research with solid findings in many areas, including expansion’s positive effects on health outcomes, access to services and medications for behavioral health and other needs, providers’ financial stability, and employment. Some recent analyses that include outcomes beyond those typically examined in Medicaid expansion research show that expansion is associated with decreased mortality overall and for certain specific conditions; reductions in rates of food insecurity, poverty, and home evictions; and improvements in measures of self-reported health and healthy behaviors.

There are smart people in Mississippi, a lot of them, and they know the research. They know what expansion would do for their poor neighbors, for their state, for themselves and their families. But there are also modern day troglodytes in Mississippi, and it seems the troglodytes are in charge.





Big Oil’s 50-Year Deception Revealed. It Is “Breathtaking.”

Friday, January 13th, 2023

On 4 February 1996, Mike Wallace’s whistleblower interview of Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, former Director of Research for tobacco company Brown & Williamson, aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes. That interview began the destruction of what had been the myth of the invincibility of big tobacco’s power. Out of its fear of the epic lawsuit big tobacco could bring, CBS  refused to air the interview for several months. When it did air in February, the House of Tobacco began to crumble. Three years later, Russell Crowe, Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer would star in the Academy Award-winning movie that told the tale, The Insider, with Crowe, as Wigand, winning Best Actor.

Wigand suffered mightily  for his outing of big tobacco’s big secret: That nicotine is addictive, and a cigarette is, in his words, “a nicotine delivery device.” Of course, many people were decrying the evils of cigarettes during the 1990s, but they did not have Dr. Wigand’s inside knowledge. At the time of his 60 Minutes interview, 45.8 million Americans, nearly 26% of the US population, smoked, according to the CDC; today, the percentage has dropped to 12.5%.  Between 10% and 20% of smokers develop lung cancer. Jeffrey Wigand’s heroism has saved a lot of lives.

The current big worldwide battle is over Climate Change, and the science is finally winning. But, although scientists have been working in a Herculean effort to educate the countries of the world to get them to move collectively before time runs out on reversing the warming, there’s no Jeffrey Wigand in this fight.  This battle is not with Big Tobacco, but rather with Big Oil, and today, researchers from Harvard University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, writing in Science, catalogue in exquisite detail oil giant Exxon Mobile’s monumental 50-year coverup of its knowledge that human-induced climate change has been making the world warmer all along.

The new research has found Exxon privately “predicted global warming correctly and skilfully” only to then spend decades publicly attacking such science in order to protect its core business.

This story comes in three parts. First, in 2015, investigative journalists discovered internal company documents and research papers that established Exxon knew of the dangers of global warming from at least the 1970s. Additional documents then emerged showing that the industry’s largest trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, along with other oil industry companies knew of the risk even earlier, from around the 1950s. However, the industry forcefully and with great skill mobilized to attack the science to prevent action to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

But today’s publication in Science discloses and makes clear that Exxon’s scientists, not only knew about their industry’s contributions to global warming, but also were uncannily accurate in their projections from the 1970s onwards, predicting an upward curve of global temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions that is close to matching what actually occurred as the world heated up at a pace not seen in millions of years.

Lest you doubt the thoroughness of the researchers, here’s how they did it:

We analyzed 32 internal documents produced in-house by ExxonMobil scientists and managers between 1977 and 2002, and 72 peer-reviewed scientific publications authored or coauthored by ExxonMobil scientists between 1982 and 2014. The internal documents were collated from public archives provided by ExxonMobil Corp (28), InsideClimate News (29), and Climate Investigations Center (30). The peer-reviewed publications were obtained by identifying all peer-reviewed documents among ExxonMobil Corp’s lists of “Contributed Publications,” except for three articles discovered independently during our research (31) [see supplementary materials (SM) section S2 for details on the assembly of the corpus]. These constitute all publicly available internal ExxonMobil documents concerning anthropogenic global warming of which we are aware, and all ExxonMobil peer-reviewed publications concerning global warming disclosed by the company.

Lead author Geoffrey Supran, who characterized the team’s findings as “breathtaking,” said, “This really does sum up what Exxon knew, years before many of us were born.”

Chapter three of this saga began relatively recently and is ongoing. In it, the fossil fuel industry acknowledges publicly the now undeniable (even by it) dangers of global warming and vows to do all in its power to reverse what is rapidly becoming irreversible.

Here are three pieces of data to show the depth of the hole we’ve dug:

  • Burning fossil fuels accounted for 74 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.
  • The fossil fuel industry receives at least $20 billion in direct federal subsidies.
  • In 2020, renewable energy accounted for about 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and that share is expected to continue to grow. Seventy-four percent versus 20%. We have a long way to go.

In a telling irony, a gentleman by the name of Rex Tillerson was Exxon Mobil’s CEO from 2006 until 2017, when he retired to become Donald Trump’s first Secretary of State. I doubt we’ll have an academy award-winning film showing Tillerson’s heroic efforts to unleash the truth of global warming.

But suppose someone had done that, say one of the scientists who correctly predicted the coming debacle. Imagine what would have happened if Big Oils’ Big Lie had been outed a la Wigand 30 years earlier. Imagine if the US and the rest of the world had had a chance to begin reducing fossil fuels and going green so much earlier. Imagine if we heeded Carl Sagan’s warning in his 1985 testimony to the US Congress that climate change and human-induced global warming was a “real phenomenon.” And he had data to prove it.

If that had happened, poor Kermit the Frog would never have had to sing, “It’s not easy being green.” 


For those interested in diving into the weeds, here are three graphs from the Science paper illustrating how closely Exxon’s predictions matched reality. In the third one, global temperatures are charted over the last 150,000 years. I’ve highlighted where we are today.

Historically observed temperature change (red) and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (blue) over time, compared against global warming projections reported by ExxonMobil

(A) “Proprietary” 1982 Exxon-modeled projections.
(B) Summary of projections in seven internal company memos and five peer-reviewed publications between 1977 and 2003 (gray lines).
(C) A 1977 internally reported graph of the global warming “effect of CO2 on an interglacial scale.” (A) and (B) display averaged historical temperature observations, whereas the historical temperature record in (C) is a smoothed-Earth system model simulation of the last 150,000 years.

Once More Unto The Mayhem

Monday, January 9th, 2023

I don’t know how you welcomed in the month of December, 2022, the month ending a year most were happy to put behind them, but I spent the early morning hours of the 1st of December undergoing a total anatomical replacement of my right shoulder. Since then, I’ve been living 24/7 in the Donjoy super-duper Ultra-Pro Sling (except for showering, thank you very much). Tennis did this to me. Specifically, hitting nearly one million various forms of overheads. Serves, put-aways, you name it. Then there’s the Rafael Nadal buggy-whip topspin forehand. That certainly didn’t help. What we sow, we reap.

But now, nearly six weeks later, although I’m still not allowed to lift even a coffee cup, I do seem able to traverse a computer keyboard (as long as it’s in my lap). So, time to return to the fray.

And what a fray it’s been, culminating in House Republicans sending white smoke up the chimney early Saturday morning after 15 Freedom Caucus-driven votes over four tumultuous days to elect a Speaker for the 118th Congress. Let’s begin there.

Habemus Ducem! Sed infirmus est.
We have a Leader, but he’s wounded.

Throughout history, Populist political movements have appeared with regularity, most often in times of economic hardship when, at the instigation of fire and brimstone rabble rousers, people perceive their government working against them rather than for them.  America has been no exception. Consider the proto-populist Greenback and Granger movements in the 1860s and ’70s, William Jennings Bryan’s Populist Party in the 1890s and Louisiana politician Huey Long’s Share Our Wealth program during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then there were the Anarchist and Socialist movements of the late 19th and early 20th century. Historically, there’s nothing new about the Freedom Caucus; it’s just new to us.

That said, how did we get to this political moment, the ascendency of the Republican Party’s Freedom Caucus, a 54-member disruptive group within the House of Representatives? Did it begin in the early 1970s with the corruption of the Nixon Administration’s Watergate scandal? Or maybe it began in 1992 with Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America? Or perhaps they spawned on 19 February 2009, when Rick Santelli, a commentator on the business-news network CNBC, referenced the Boston Tea Party (1773) in his response to President Barack Obama’s mortgage relief plan during the Great Recession?

More likely, the Freedom Caucus gradually grew out of all those things and found its apotheosis in the bile falling from the mouth of Donald Trump, who continues to cling, as skin clings to a grape, to his hatred for anything or anyone not sufficiently worshipful.

However it began, they’re here now, and 20 of them held government hostage last week while they extorted concession after concession from now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who ultimately prevailed when he had nothing more to give. After it was all over, one of their ringleaders, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, told the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, “I ran out of things I could even imagine to ask for.”

Speaker McCarthy, after he had finished selling what remained of his soul, took the gavel from Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffreys, and proudly announced to the world he had proven he would “never give up.” Maybe not give up, but sure as shootin’ give in. He’s now the quintessential hollow man.

And what about these House Disruptors? What they seem to want, crave even, is power, but to what end? They’re long on cutting spending, but short on good governance.  It looks as if they’ve come to Washington, a place they deride, for the sole purpose of feeding red meat to their base back in Wherever, USA. The Republican Party created the Freedom Caucus, an animal with four back feet, each pointed in a different direction. What we sow, we reap.

Look closely at the Freedom Caucus. Try to find one coherent, let alone intelligent, proposal to do anything vaguely related to public service. You’ll be looking a long time. Every one of these characters is a one-trick pony, and the pony limps. They deftly avoid offering up their own proposals, as a helmsman avoids rocks. Why? Because if they did, they’d have to defend them.

They’re Kevin McCarthy’s problem now. Will he still wield the gavel six months from now? Or will the US House more closely resemble Animal House, food fights and all? Tonight’s vote on the Rules Package McCarthy and this Mephistopheles agreed to will provide the first opportunity to see whether adults have entered the room.

Government will certainly be difficult for a while, but, as has happened so many times in our nation’s journey, these people and their corrosive vitriol will someday fade into history’s dust when better people with good ideas emerge, as surely they will.

However, it’s hard to imagine that happening in this 118th Congress.

What we sow, we reap.


For Something Different, “What Are They Breeding In Snohomish, Washington”?

Friday, October 21st, 2022

Recently, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I did what so many others do when they find themselves in that situation. I went online  devouring dumb and dumber stories from the internet. I found a doozy, the weirdest of the weird, and I’m going to pass it on to you as we enter what promises to be a wonderful weekend here in the Berkshires. You can thank me later.

I came away from my internet surfing asking, “What are they breeding in Snohomish, Washington?” For reference, Snohomish is a lovely town of about 9,000 residents and is known as “the antique capital of the Northwest.” Now you know all you need to know. Except for this: Danny Calhon lives there.

Danny Calhon is a 19-year-old, who achieved his 15 minutes of fame in a way I defy you to imagine in your wildest of wild dreams.

Regardless of Danny’s story, for some reason it made me think of my own when I was his age. So, please permit me a small digression of history, which I promise will segue into the tale of Danny, his thumb, and the 1990 Toyota Camry.

I grew up in Massachusetts in the idyllic Leave It To Beaver and Dobie Gillis era. Maynard G. Krebs was the closest thing to weird one could encounter, and he was tame fiction. True, we had our share of “Geez, Billy and Betsy have to get married” moments, but that was about as far as anyone my friends and I knew strayed from the beaten path, and that wasn’t often. Just often enough to make you sincerely grateful you weren’t Billy.

In those days, 1963, the closest one came to technology was the party line rotary dial phone sitting on the bench near the kitchen and the black and white, 15-inch television resting in the living room, gathered around which, every night at 6:30, the entire family would take in The CBS Evening News, with Walter Cronkite. Thirty minutes of all the news in the world ending with Walter’s iconic sign-off, “And that’s the way it was.”

There was no internet. There weren’t even area codes. Calculators were “adding machines,” and they were hand-cranked. People hand-wrote letters. The postal service was a marvel of efficiency (No Louis Dejoy back then). If someone mailed you a letter, within three days it would be delivered by hand through the mail slot in your front door by your own, personal, smiling, friendly (except when there were dogs around—no leash laws then) mailman. Sorry, no women. Feminism and women’s rights hadn’t hit the post office yet, or anywhere else for that matter. But it was in that year of 1963 that Gloria Steinem went undercover for about a month as a Playboy Bunny in Hugh Heffner’s New York Playboy Club. She later published a two-part exposé detailing her sordid experience in Show Magazine.

That world blew up, and this may surprise you, in 1975 with the appearance of the Texas Instruments hand-held calculator, which added, subtracted, multiplied and divided. That was it. In that year, I bought one for our office. It cost $479, which, in today’s dollars would be  $2,642.58. For those four functions.

After that, there was no stopping the communications bullet train (which didn’t exist back then, either). Pretty soon, Al Gore invented the internet, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and, eventually, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey dragged everyone kicking and screaming into the galaxy we now inhabit. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, you name it. Everyone’s a reporter and everything gets reported.

If a Bumble Bee burps in Boston,
In a minute they know it in Austin.

One of the fun games my friends and I used to play when we were 11 or 12 was to take a deep breath and hold it while blowing really hard on our thumb, which we had stuck in our mouth. We’d then pass out for a few seconds, and a friend would catch us before we hit the ground. Seems childish, but, well, we were children.

Which brings me back to Danny Calhon. Remember him? Danny—he’s going to put Snohomish on the map—Calhon? Danny made it into the local newspaper, and eventually all over the country, maybe the world, for—get ready now—causing a three-car crash after fainting due to intentionally holding his breath with his thumb in his mouth while driving through the 772 foot long Dennis L. Edwards Sunset Tunnel near Manning, Oregon.

You can be forgiven right about now for asking yourself if you read that last bit correctly. Trust me. You did.

There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news (my wife always wants the bad news first—seems counterintuitive, but there you are) is that after he fainted, Danny’s 1990 Toyota Camry, which was carrying him and his friend, 19-year-old Bradley Meyring, drifted across the center line and crashed, head-on, into a Ford Explorer being driven without a care in the world just before the roof caved in—literally—by 67-year-old Thomas Hatch. His wife Candace, 61, was in the front passenger seat. The good news is there were no life-threatening injuries and both Hatches are still with us.

Young Mister Calhon faced a laundry list of charges. We don’t know why in the world he was holding his breath enough to faint while driving through the tunnel. Neither does Lt. Gregg Hastings, with the Oregon State Police, who drew the short straw to investigate. Maybe Danny doesn’t even know, himself.

Back in Leave It To Beaver country, we would never have known about this. Think of all we were missing.

A Potpourri To Begin Your Week

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Ukraine changing history on the move.

It is 15 December 1937. Today’s international news section of the New York Times is dripping with stories that, nineteen years after World War I, are lighting the way to the next global conflagration. In two years it will begin and happen all over again. On this day we see reports of marches, riots, assassinations, street brawls, and arson. Political warfare. An overture to the real war coming.

In Spain, political warfare has flared into civil war, and, the Times reported, the Army of the Republic has attacked General Franco’s fascist forces at the Aragonese town of Teruel. In three months, Franco will counterattack, rout the Republican forces and capture most of Catalonia and the Levante. He will succeed with troops and warplanes provided by Germany and Italy.

Turn the page and find Hitler’s Nazi Germany issuing new  restrictions on the Jews, slowly squeezing the life out of them. On the facing page, a photograph of Benito Mussolini in his personal railcar giving  the stiff-armed fascist salute. Beneath, a photo of Stalin reviewing a parade of tank columns.

Is there anything that could be done, could have been done, to avert the coming catastrophe? Of course there was, but nobody did it. Mussolini? The Italians loved him; he resurrected the former glory of Rome, and Franco showed Spaniards what nationalistic power looked like. Hitler’s hate fueled the country’s hate. The Jews? Germany, with Hitler’s face, wanted them gone—forever. And Stalin, the man who killed millions of Ukrainians by intentionally starving them with a smile on his face? The Russians never blinked. Neither did the Americans. The Times’s Walter Durante defended him and won a Pulitzer for his efforts.

And so it went. The world stumbled into six years of hell, with millions dead.

Today, in 2022, although it has taken much time, we have made progress. Inhumanity, still glowing bright in many places, is, nonetheless, dimmer than 80 years ago. Today, the Ukraine that Stalin starved is squeezing the Stalin wannabe Vladimir Putin into a box of his own making. The Ukrainian Army is moving ahead and, with tremendous help from a unified NATO, is forcing the Russian Army to retreat, although the Russians call it “regrouping.”

No one knows where this ends, or how, but it seems to me that at some point the people of Russian are going to wake up and see all the body bags coming home. What then?

The race to curb racism in the American Century: The mission of W. E. B. Du Bois.

This month’s edition of the journal Foreign Affairs contains a fascinating and illuminating essay on the charismatic and complicated life of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Written by Zachariah Mampilly, the Marxe Endowed Chair of International Affairs at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, this long-form piece details Du Bois’s lifelong, uncompromising mission to eradicate racism.

A sociologist by training, he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. During the Jim Crow era, he became known for an uncompromising stance, demanding equal rights for Black Americans through his journalism and advocacy work while also making seminal contributions to various academic debates.

Du Bois was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, about 20 miles from where I sit, and his lifespan overlaps almost exactly with the Jim Crow era, a period of persecution during which Black Americans faced severe restrictions on their ability to participate in political, economic, and social life.

Between the two World Wars, he focused more and more on international affairs, arguing that the colonial projects  European countries were pursuing in Asia and Africa had galvanized an envious United States to carve out its own colonies. In 1898, a year before Du Bois published his first major sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro, the United States’ imperial ambitions produced the annexation of Hawaii and the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines as spoils of the Spanish-American War. Du Bois thought America’s imperialistic ambitions and actions fed into and enhanced the country’s racism at home. Consequently, his writings and lectures veered increasingly to the left.

In observing anticolonial struggles in India and elsewhere, Du Bois saw clearly how occupation of foreign lands would breed resistance in the colonized people. From this he concluded that colonial domination abroad often required the sacrifice of democracy at home. In his eyes, Zampilly writes:

Imperialism inevitably led to increased racial and economic inequality at home: military adventures and opportunities for extracting natural resources empowered the capitalist class (and its favored segments of the underclass) and stoked racial prejudice that justified further interventions in foreign lands.

Thus, Du Bois saw domestic racism as the tail of the internationally racist dog.

It was natural that as time went on Du Bois’s views evolved. He became more radical in his writings. He saw international capitalism as the cause of black exploitation. In his middle years he went from believing in “democratic socialism” to embracing communism.  As a result, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI began investigating him in 1942 and, despite concluding  there was “no evidence of subversive activity,” continued to investigate him for the rest of his life. In 1952, the State Department revoked his passport. The next year, the Supreme Court declared the policy of denying passports to suspected communists unconstitutional.

His wholehearted support of Joseph Stalin, while inconsistent with his lifelong support for democracy, demonstrated his belief that democracy and Western liberalism were incompatible with racial and economic equality.

Zampilly concludes his essay about Du Bois with this insightful observation:

His work upends the liberal fantasy of the United States’ inevitable progress toward a “more perfect union” that would inspire a just global order and gives the lie to the realist fantasy that how the country behaves internationally can be separated from domestic politics.

My own conclusion is this: During his life, Du Bois made seminal contributions to academia, which, over time, cost him dearly. He was arguably black America’s leading intellectual of the 20th century. If that is at least close to being true, then here is a question for today: Why are so many people, for example governors of red states, fearful of allowing his story and teachings, as well as those of other Black intellectuals, to be taught in America’s classrooms?

The US Open Tennis Championship: In a word, Glorious.

Speaking of Race, I cannot end this Letter without a shout out to this year’s championship.

The three-week US Open is played at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center. The main events happen at the Arthur Ashe Center Court Stadium. Ashe, an inspirational Black American, and King, an inspirational Lesbian American, embody inclusive diversity and are the best kind of examples we have for sincere and devoted yearnings for equality. It is more than fitting that Friday night Frances Tiafoe, a young 24 year old Black American, played 19-year-old Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling five-set, five-hour semi-final match on the Arthur Ashe Center Court. Tiafoe is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone and spent much of his childhood at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., where his father worked as a custodian. Sometimes he spent the night there, because his mother worked nights in a hospital. The stadium was full and loud, and, although he lost, Tiafoe had the crowd, had all of us, in the palm of his hand. He’ll be back.

Yes, we have a long way to go. But the US Open shows us how far we’ve come. Tennis now looks like America looks.


A Remembrance

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

We should never forget.

Today is the 21st anniversary of the attack on our country known as 9/11. To mark the occasion I offer the tribute song I wrote shortly after the monstrous event to help raise funds for New York’s firefighters. I recorded the song at Worcester’s famed Mechanics Hall with Peter Clemente on guitar.

I hope it brings you comfort.