This Fathers’ Day, Be Like A Golden Retriever, Like My Son.

(A Postcard of a Golden Retriever, from Paul Simon’s “Father And Daughter”, 2002)

The great singer/songwriter Paul Simon wrote a haunting song—a lyrical poem, really– the year after 9/11, entitled “Father And Daughter.”

In it, he is calming his daughter, jolted awake by a bad dream.  He tries comforting his terrified daughter by reminding her to:

“ follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star.”

Then, the father singing to his daughter, makes the wish that many of us fathers have for our children:

“I believe the light that shines on you
Will shine on you forever (forever)…

“And though I can’t guarantee
There’s nothing scary hiding under your bed,
I’m gonna stand guard
Like a postcard of a Golden Retriever

And never leave ‘til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head.”

For the last 14 years, my son has “stood guard “ over his three daughters  “like a postcard of a Golden Retriever.”  Most of that time, it hasn’t been dramatic like the feats of strength or agility performed on Survivor, or American Ninja Warrior—both television tests of performance which his daughters have enjoyed.  

No, his heroics are everyday things that fathers do without recognition or fanfare:  unclogging clogged toilets, soothing a daughter after a bee sting, making sure they wear their masks to stay safe from COVID, and shepherding his children to safety during an encroaching wildfire.

He is resourceful and resilient and able to rebound when things look like they might be spiraling out of control.    A few years back, we all headed out to dinner, to a favorite pizza and pasta place. The three girls were very excited. We arrived at the no-reservations place shortly after they started serving dinner, and there was an hour-long wait. Undeterred and still in high spirits, we walked up the block to another pizza/pasta place, and discovered there was no open table for 3 hours.

Upon hearing that news, the girls started to whine and moan about being hungry.  Keeping his cool, their father quickly ran through several strategies to overcome the latest obstacle thrown in our path.

We walked in the front door of his house, hunger pains growing louder, and this Golden Retriever of a father set a world record for sprinting to the stove and simultaneously whipping up a dinner of scrambled eggs, crescent rolls and pasta, saving the day.  He did this without the glare of TV cameras recording his every smooth move, nor the financial rewards of winning a commercial competition.  Another everyday test of his fortitude and patience and love, and he faced it head-on, and made it look effortless.

Now, this “postcard of a Golden Retriever” father, is facing bigger challenges each day, as he fiercely does battle with forces and institutions slow to serve the needs of his Neurodiverse daughter.  Every single day, often several times per day, he advocates for his child with a school system that struggles to properly accommodate an autistic student; a mental health system with too few mental health professionals skilled in the needs of the Neurodiverse; and a court system that views the best interests of a disabled person from an “ableist” perspective.

Sure, things are better today than they were as recently as 25 years ago for those of us with disabilities, when the knee-jerk response by a society uncomfortable with any differences it didn’t want to face, was to send the individual away to an institution; preferably, someplace out of sight.  A multi-million dollar “troubled- teen industry,” and an often-misused mantra of “mental health services,” have replaced those stark solutions, with softer, more subtle ways of trying to get Neurodiverse humans to conform to a pattern of behavior that’s more “normal.”  Fortunately, even Autism advocacy organizations have ceased talking about a “cure,” and are listening more to the articulate voices of the Neurodiverse themselves, as to what they need to thrive.

So each hour, of each day, my son fights for his daughter like “a postcard of a Golden Retriever,” fending off facile solutions that frequently serve the interests of the institutions, ahead of the interests of the child.

Some have chastised him for his “skepticism” about practices which he knows through his daily, direct observation of her, and the extensive research he’s done as a journalist, would be bad for his daughter.  Raised in the Jewish tradition of always carefully questioning things that pertain to the people you love, he has responded, “it’s not skepticism; it’s called fatherhood.”

So, each day, he stands guard, like “a postcard of a Golden Retriever,” sometimes watching his daughter sleep peacefully, sometimes helping her manage autistic meltdowns, and always demonstrating, through his unconditional love and constant affirmation of her existence, that   “as long as one and one is two, there could never be a father loves his daughter more than I love you.”


Ethel Rosenberg Wishes Trump Equal Justice for His 77th Birthday.

Ethel Rosenberg to Donald Trump: “Happy Birthday, Donald.  I only wish the same treatment for you as Julius & I received for violating the Espionage Act, taking nuclear secrets, and putting US lives in danger. Enjoy.”

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For Donald Trump’s 77th birthday this week, he was given the gift of a 37-count criminal indictment, with 31 of those charges pertaining to blatant violations of the Espionage Act, including spilling Nuclear secrets.

Next week, June 19, marks the 70th anniversary of the execution by electrocution of Ethel & Julius Rosenberg for violating the Espionage Act.  It’s seems so serendipitous, and certainly poetic, that, in the end, the lives of Trump and the Rosenbergs are so intertwined.

Last year, on the anniversary of the arrest of Ethel Rosenberg for allegedly providing valuable, top-secret information to the Russians about nuclear weapons designs, radar, sonar and jet propulsion engines, the WashingtonPost broke an explosive story headlined:  FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say.”

Now that we have physical evidence that boxes and boxes of highly classified US secrets—including Nuclear plans, and plans of how best to attack the US—were left in Trump’s bathroom, in a public ballroom and strewn about in closets and storage rooms, Trump’s illegal violations of the Espionage Acts are veering into Ethel and Julius territory. 

 The prospect of Trump selling highly classified nuclear documents to Vladimir Putin or the Saudis for billions of dollars—or of his recklessness of his mishandling top secret documents he should never have had–adds an entirely new, and dangerous, dimension to Trump’s reign of terror, including the possibility that Russian spies or foreign agents from anywhere, could have photographed these top secret military documents, while using the bathroom at Mar-A-Lago.

Like Trump’s friend, mentor, lawyer and Roy Cohn, I grew up thinking that only alleged “communists” or “communist sympathizers,” spilled nuclear secrets to the Russians, and our enemies, not Presidents.  After all, it was Roy Cohn who sent the Rosenbergs to the electric chair for violating the Espionage Act.  My faith in the US Justice system would be shaken if Trump isn’t treated exactly the same way as Ethel & Julius.   It would be so unfair, as Trump himself would say.   And if he’s not treated the same way the Rosenbergs were, it might be a bit Anti-Semitic.

 After I devoured the brilliantly researched and written 49-page criminal indictment of Trump which lays out not only his continuing theft of top secret classified documents over two years, but his willful obstruction of the Justice Department’s efforts to retrieve them, visions of Ethel Rosenberg, played by Meryl Streep in the HBO production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, began dancing on my brain. 

Quickly, I ran to get my printed and signed copy of Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.

I turned to the page where the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg shows up at Roy Cohn’s bedside, as he lay dying of AIDS.  Cohn, who was Donald Trump’s personal role-model and fellow Studio 54 partier, as well as his attorney, had hounded Ethel and her husband Julius into electric-chair executions three years after her arrest in 1950.

ETHEL:  They won, Roy.  You’re not a lawyer anymore.

ROY:  But am I dead?

ETHEL:  No.  They beat you.  You lost.



               I decided to come here so I could see if I could forgive you.   You who I have hated so terribly.  I have borne my hatred for you up into the heavens and made a needlesharp little star in the sky out of it.  It’s the star of Ethel Rosenberg’s Hatred, and it burns every year for one night only, June 19. (June 19, 1953, was the day Ethel and her husband Julius were executed.  Ethel had to be electrocuted three times before she finally died.)  It burns acid green.

            I came to forgive, but all I can do is take pleasure in your misery.  Hoping I’d get to see you die more terrible than I did.  And you are, ‘cause you’re dying in shit, Roy, defeated.  And you could kill me, but you could never defeat me. You never won.  And when you die all anyone will say is:  better he had never lived at all.”

Will the same thing be said of Trump?  Is Trump destined to become his own Roy Cohn?  Will he die defeated again, in his own shit, and stripped of everything he ever knew?    

The only President in all of American history to be twice impeached, and twice indicted of crimes (so far), Trump’s recklessness, and flagrant disregard for any and all laws, have surprised even those of us who have long pegged him as a criminal cipher, a con, a fraud, a liar, and a mob-boss wannabe.  Is he capable of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians or the Saudis?  Were the Rosenbergs Jewish?

Now, a calm, fearless Attorney General who brought the Oklahoma City Bomber to justice a generation ago, and lost family members to the lawlessness of Nazi Germany, and a low-key, straight shooting Special Prosecutor who has sent corrupt politicians and war criminals to prison, have shown the world, that another crapulent, totalitarian emperor has no clothes, and nothing left to hide behind, not even his hollow bluster.

Maybe, the only eulogy that could be given for Trump’s lawless, 50-year temper tantrum and his unending drag show of distraction in public, is a variation on the theme expressed by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg—thrice electrocuted– over Roy Cohn’s deathbed:  “Better he never had never lived a public life at all.”

Dance, Donald, Dance.

(In the land of utter corruption, mendacity, inhumanity, and human rights atrocities, where they repress women, criminalize being gay, kill their own family, and dismember members of the Press, Trump will feel like he’s found the perfect home to live out his days in splendor.)

Dance, Donald, Dance;

48 hours ‘til your Writ of Habea…

The time is NOW–to flee

To Saudi Arabia.

Sunny Miami, suddenly grey;

Time to run to where

They taught you, & Jared,

To sway for pay.

Why subject yourself to US law?

Endless prison awaits, nothing more.

MBS is your Savior;

Money drives his, and your, behavior.

Who else would pay

For our Nuclear Plans?

Or the very best maps

For invading Iran?

You’ve sold the Saudis yachts and condos,

 And danced with their ossified;

Why not a few pieces of paper

Marked highly classified?

Throw in Trump Tower,

Bedminster & Scotland;

Who cares if Riyadh

Has so much fucking hot sand?

You’ll live like a Sultan,

With toilet seats of gold.

The press gets Kashoggied,

You crimes will grow cold.

So dance, Donald, dance,

To the Sword of the Saudis,

Where money and secrets

Wipe out what’s naughty.

Madoff’s cell will miss you,

Your MAGA-otts  be smilin’;

Knowing that you sold them out,

For a lifetime of asylum.

Put aside your narcissism,

Your delusions, too;

You’ve screwed yourself so thoroughly,

Your life-long scam is through.

So, dance, Donald, dance

48 hours  ‘til your done,

Time for one last desperate leap,

Into the scorching Saudi sun.

This Time, 55 Years Later, Robert F. Kennedy’s Assassin Is His Own Son.

(RFK, Jr. surrounded by federal felons Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. The son of Robert Kennedy is pursuing a crazed, chaotic campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in 2024, at the urging of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and other extreme-Right Wing operatives.)

The incredibly incendiary news that Instagram–Mark Zuckerberg’s bastard child–is no longer blocking RFK Jr. from posting lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines now that he’s an announced Presidential candidate, turned out to be the second assassination of Kennedy’s father coming on the same day in June, 55 years after he was murdered the first time.

For nearly two decades, before RFK’s massive disinformation bombardment against the COVID-19 vaccine—applauded by every extreme Right Wing anti-vaccine, anti-science group of fanatics, including Q-Anon, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Christian Nationalists and the John Birch Society—the son of Robert F. Kennedy did enormous damage to millions of Neurodiverse individuals, by crusading on the long-discredited lie that vaccines were the cause of Autism.

Those bold-face lies—disproved by dozens of medical studies—resulted in the loss of the medical license by Andrew Wakefield,  the British researcher who originated and propagated the destructive anti-vaxxer propaganda.   RFK, Jr., despite knowing better, picked up where that disgraced charlatan left off.

Kennedy, Jr., knowingly disseminated and profited from peddling such widely disproven, and damaging, lies about a non-existent link between standard, childhood MMR vaccines and autism, blocking legitimate research and treatment for autism for many years.  His intentional spreading of ignorance caused direct harm to many of the same marginalized communities—communities of color, the poor, and the disabled—his father championed during his own public career.

Now, the cookoo candidacy for Presidency by the oldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, is cause for grave concern, not just from virtually every member of the Kennedy family, but from thinking Americans everywhere.  Lining up behind RFK, Jr.’s candidacy are federal felons Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone who want him in the race to sow chaos, spread more anti-vaxxer lies, and be a possible running-mate for Donald Trump.

 For those of us who supported his father and his uncles for public office as strong advocates of democracy, it’s particularly painful to see RFK, Jr., trashing all the good work his family did.  What’s also painful to me, personally, is that the first time I saw Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, was in June, 1968, standing in front of his father’s coffin.  He was 14 years old.

I waited in line for 3 hours to pay my respects to his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, whose body lay in state inside NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

I had campaigned for his father for US Senator from New York in 1964, and again for President in 1968, before RFK was shot in the head and murdered by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. 

 As I slowly inched forward on the mourners’ line inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, less than 10 feet away from me stood a young, teenaged boy.   His facial muscles quivered, fighting back tears; hands clasped tightly in front of his body. The sight of RFK’s son, so fragile and alone, and only five years younger than I, overwhelmed me with grief.

He had just lost his father–his hero and mine—and, on that warm June day in 1968,  I worried what might become of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., following such a terrible trauma.

Never for a moment—then, nor years later– did I think he’d lose his mind over vaccines, become a conspiracy crackpot, and get co-opted by the John Birch Society and other lunatic fringe groups which his father battled for most of his public life.

Never did I imagine that RFK, Jr.’s junk-science and massive public disinformation campaigns over two decades would set back services for autistic children, and put tens of thousands of lives at risk–lives of the very vulnerable people his father fought to help.

The depth of RFK’ Jr.’s derangement over vaccines can be seen in a cringe-worthy book for which he wrote the forward, entitled, “The Real Anthony Fauci.”  The book was widely promoted all over social media by the John Birch Society, Q-Anon, and other anti-government wackos.  The Birch Society shrieks that “Fauci and Bill Gates are using the COVID Pandemic to put humanity under totalitarian rule,” and it quotes Kennedy as saying they “must be stopped.”   

So, this week—on the anniversary of his father’s assassination—we learn that the way RFK, Jr., wants to “stop” Fauci, Bill Gates and vaccines, is to run as a Democrat against Joe Biden, who has a bronze bust of Robert F. Kennedy in the Oval Office. 

Following Kennedy’s crazed canards, Bill Gates spoke to CNBC and told the network that such scurrilous rumors and mountains of intentional misinformation are “keeping many Americans from getting vaccinated against COVID, and delaying the end of the pandemic by doing so.”   More than 1.2 million Americans have died from COVID, and COVID-related diseases.

Far worse, RFK, Jr, who crusades for “transparency,” intentionally deceived Americans by founding a fraudulent public health group called the “Children’s Health Defense,” to purposely sow confusion with the highly respected Children’s Health Fund ( headed for years by Dr. Irwin Redlener—one of President Biden’s COVID-19 advisors, and a strong and consistent proponent of the COVID vaccine.

Such sleights-of-hand and flights-from-reality are nothing new for RFK,Jr, who has devoted the last two decades to disseminating the scientifically discredited fabrications that vaccines caused autism—most of it after Andrew Wakefield, who first advanced the falsehoods linking autism to vaccines, was stripped of his medical license. 

The medical publication  Lancet retracted Wakefield’s article that it had printed, and the British Medical Journal in 2011 denounced Wakefield’s “studies” as an “elaborate fraud.” 

None of that mattered to RFK, Jr.   Unconscionably, he continues to push, and profit politically from promoting Wakefield’s fraud that vaccines cause autism, and has done so relentlessly, despite knowing that Wakefield and his research were frauds. 

 The Craig Newmark Center’s Poynter Institute reported that “RFK, Jr. said the COVID-19 vaccine was the deadliest vaccine ever made.”  His litany of flat-out falsehoods has earned Kennedy the title of  “one of the biggest sources of anti-vaccine rhetoric today,” from the Poynter Institute

McGill University’s Office of Science & Society has been even more specific about the real, human injury caused by RFK, Jr.   McGill researchers noted that Kennedy’s “Children’s Health Defense” front-group purchased some 54% of the anti-vaccine advertising on Facebook during the first full-year of the pandemic, a material fact ignored in  the news of InstaGram’s lifting of the ban of RFK’s lies this week. 

 In an article entitled the “Anti-Vaccine Propaganda of RFK,Jr,” McGill—one of Canada’s leading Medical university’s—called Kennedy “one of the princes of the anti-vaccine movement, if not its king.”

It’s no wonder than, that RFK, Jr., was welcomed like a conquering hero by anti-vaxxers in Louisiana during the COVID Pandemic, when he testified before the Louisiana House Oversight Committee, opposing a proposal requiring public school students to be vaccinated.  Think about that:  the son of Robert F. Kennedy crusading against a proven public-health measure that protected people of color.  Astonishing.

Kennedy’s anti-vaccine screed led to the full Louisiana’s House Committee on Health and Welfare rejecting vaccine mandates for public school students by a 13-2 vote.

What makes that specific, damaging, demagogic action by RFK, Jr., especially chilling, and a stab in the heart of his fathers’ legacy of helping underserved communities, is that more than 50% of the public school students in Louisiana are students of color—precisely the demographic with the highest rates of COVID infections, and death.  In fact, since the Pandemic began, Louisiana’s public school population of 720,000 students, has decreased by two-percent.  White Supremacist groups like the John Birch Society, Q-Anon, or the KKK, could have hardly conducted a more effective campaign of racial genocide—only this time, it’s whitewashed with the Kennedy name attached to it.

Kennedy’s,  “scientifically inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible lies,” as the CDC  called his dangerous misuse of the agency’s data, not only gave cover to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-science, anti-vaxxer campaign,  it reinforced vaccine hesitancy among the poorest populations, which have, historically, had higher rates of death from ALL major diseases, because of poverty, pre-existing conditions, and lack of access to affordable healthcare.  

Having worked at two public Academic Medical Centers in New York—SUNY Stony Brook Medical Center, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn— our priorities were to improve community health outcomes in our most underserved communities, in the areas of prostate and breast cancer, cardiac disease, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure & diabetes. 

We struggled mightily to build trust–along with clinics, dialysis centers and emergency rooms– among those very communities to save lives with early mammograms, PSA exams, blood pressure tests, HIV tests, and vaccines, when appropriate.

Now, RFK, Jr. and the rabid right-wing groups who have always opposed more funding for health care for the poor, working families and the disabled are harming the progress made in public health, and are costing lives. This Kennedy’s  candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President—a pursuit which cost his father his life—is a full-frontal assault on the facts, history, human decency and his father’s legacy.

By willingly becoming a tool of Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and extreme right-wing conspiracy cabals—which may, in fact, have had a hand in the assassinations of President Kennedy in 1963 and of Robert Kennedy in  1968– RFK, Jr. is destroying the solid  accomplishments of his uncles JFK and Teddy Kennedy, and of his own father.

His crazed, decades-long crusade linking vaccines to autism—despite clear evidence to the contrary– and his outright lies about the COVID vaccine, have poisoned peoples minds, and set back vaccine research and trust in public health initiatives for decades.  RFK’s cookoo conspiracy theories have created a hard-core cadre of unvaccinated human petri dishes in which more mutant viruses can multiply, and disproportionately kill the very underserved populations his father and uncles dedicated their lives to protect.

Not even Sirhan Sirhan could wipe out everything Robert F. Kennedy sacrificied his life to accomplish, as completely as RFK, Jr., is doing, driven perhaps by Oedipal rage, in the tragic, final act of assassinating his own father.