Monday, July 27, 2015

Poisoning the Well

My very first blog entry was about Tisha b'Av, Israel, and me. You can go back and read it if you want, but it's pretty straight forward. I was angry. 

Five years later, I have moved away from angry. Now, I am disgusted, disappointed, and incensed by the State of Israel. Yeah, I know we were all fed the fantasy line when we were growing up, but there was an element of truth in the tales. People who had nothing left came back to the land, rented, purchased, gardened, farmed, and ultimately built stuff on what had been little more than rocky nothings. The Ottomans were more than happy to have productive, tax paying tenants on the land. And in that beginning, the modern State of Israel took root. It was supposed to be the homeland to which all Jews could return. It was supposed to a place shared by modern socialists and ultra-Orthodox alike. It was supposed to be a modern state in the modern world, with hospitals, schools, towns, farms, industry, and civil rights for all the residents. It was supposed to be an example of living together and thriving together. Jews, Arabs, Christians, Baha'i, Druse, everyone working together for a living, breathing State of Israel. And for a little while, it was almost like it was happening. 

I'm not talking about the wars. I'm not talking about Gaza, Palestine, the Territories, the Golan, or stuff like that. I'm talking about what we do to ourselves. 

From inside Israel, the right wing rabbinate has become the Religious Wrong, busy destroying the diaspora with deliberate, pointed slices into our very existence.  To them, anyone outside their sphere is not a Jew. The various rabbis pretty much tell non-Orthodox Jews to donate their US dollars to obscure kollels and yeshivas in Israel, but don't try to live here because you're not Jewish enough for us. Sounds more like the Malfoys and the Death Eaters than a welcoming committee. We, the Jews of the diaspora, are nothing more than mudbloods to them. It's offensive in the Harry Potter books and it's offensive in the real world. 

Chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Arye Stern .
 (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The rabbinate holds lock and key on all Jewish life cycle events in Israel...which is why some Israelis cannot be married there....they go elsewhere for a civil ceremony. It's been estimated approximately 30% of Israelis cannot provide the sufficient documentation to prove they are Jews. And if you have a Jew-by-Choice in your lineage, forget it. Odds are even if the conversion was stringently Orthodox, the Haredi will declare your rabbi a heretic and make you re-convert. And then, you have to follow their rules, not the rules of whatever form of Judaism you practice. Not sure about how bad this is? Read Jessica Fishman's story: She Doesn't Live Here Anymore (May 4, 2010.)  This story is not abstract to me; this is the daughter of friends, someone my kids grew up with. And she is not alone in this horror. 

Last May, the mayor of Rehovot banned the b'nai mitvza of kids with disabilities, an annual event for these kids, because it was taking place in a Masorti (Conservative movement) synagogue, effectively stating that a non-Orthodox synagogue is not a valid house of Jewish prayer. Is he telling us we're not Jews....or just not Jewish enough for him? 

And let's not even talk about what happens in Jerusalem. The Women of the Wall are victimized, abused, spat upon, and degraded not just by the ultra-Orthodox, but  by the Wall Police...the ones who are supposed to be making sure everyone has access to the Western Wall. Women reading Torah????? G-d forbid!!!!! The world will end this minute!

And you thought the Taliban was limited to Islam?

But it's what happened on Tisha b'Av, in the town of Modi'im, this year that makes my blood run cold. It made me rethink any fantasy hopes I harbored that Israel may come around to plural Judaism. It's not merely not happening; it's getting worse. 

Masorti shul Yedid Nefesh in Modi'im
While the Conservative and Reform Jews of Modi'im, a city that has, in the past, welcomed a diverse population of Jewish practices, were at prayer on Saturday night, remembering the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, someone came to their synagogue and tied the doors shut. Potted plants and other obstacles were then put in front of the doors so if the ropes broke, the people would fall as they exited the building. 

To some, this might seem to be a small thing, but to me, it is huge. It's what they did to Jews before torching the shuls with everyone inside. This is hate. This is the face of hate. Whoever did this knew the message being sent. And it was intentional. This was the most egregious act of terrorism because of when it was done.

If, as the sages tell, us the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred why would any of the Haredi believe that there will ever be a Third Temple? They can't even agree amongst themselves what is halacha (law) and what is minhag (custom.) The chief rabbis hurl epithets at each others' doctrines and dogma, and then have the unmitigated gall to sit on the ground to bemoan the fate of the Jewish people on Tisha b'Av when they themselves set the textbook example for evil acts and evil tongue.

And Bibi Netanyahu allows the Religious Wrong to run his government. With their iron grip on Jewish life and law,  they are showing themselves to be no better, if not worse than the mullahs of Iran or Saudi Arabia. Sure, they may not behead people, or lop off limbs, but they do something far worse: they deny Jews the right to live as Jews. 

I am pro-Israel. I will always be pro-Israel. I will always keep the dream that someday I might live there. But for the moment, it is nothing but a dream. I could not live in a place where women are second class citizens even when they serve in the army and hold down every possible job. I could not live in the place that would consider me a second class citizen because I am a Masorti Jew. 

And most importantly, I could not live in a place where my children and my granddaughter might not be even be considered Jews because members of my family are proudly Jews-by-Choice. The Religious Wrong would also turn away Tzipporah, Naomi, and Ruth. They would deny them their place in our history if those remarkable ladies were here today. 

That's not my Judaism. That's not how I was taught to be a Jew. And that is not how I taught my children to be Jews. And that sure is hell not going to be how I teach my granddaughter to be a Jew. 

Israel will stand or fall on its own merit, but the Religious Wrong are poisoning our own well. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Donate your time, your effort, and your money to causes t
that do what you believe they should do. 




Monday, July 20, 2015

ALL LIVES MATTER

For those of you who keep count of this sort of thing, yesterday (July 19th) was the 5th anniversary of The Wifely Person Speaks. In five years, I’ve not missed a week…well, there were a couple of abbreviated episodes, but that’s still more than 260 of these things that I’ve done….and that many of you have actually read.

In honor of 5 diligent years in the blogosphere, I’ve opted to opine rather bluntly about a subject that is beginning to make me seethe.

ALL LIVES ARE MATTER.

I am sick to death of the ridiculous rhetoric coming out of what should be a profoundly serious subject. I am sick to death of people who heckle and interrupt anyone who is trying to talk about lives that matter. I am sick to death of people shouting with nary a constructive word in sight. And I am sick to death of this being a one-group issue.

IT IS NOT.

Wounded Knee - 1890
If anyone should be first in line to take on the egregiously bad behavior of the white man, it must be the native population of this nation. Not only were ALL their lands stolen, they were mass slaughtered again and again and again. When they tried to defend themselves, the women and children were slaughtered. They were herded onto reservations, given smallpox-infested blankets, and treated far worse than the slave population. Their religions, their languages, and the essences of their cultural history were stripped from them and made outlaw. The white man then went on to utterly destroy their food sources with over-hunting and total disrespect for the land the native population didn’t just cherish, but protected and defended. Native Americans of all tribes were sent to die off in remote, hostile portions of this country. Most have not come back.

Red Lake Reservation - MinnPost photo by Steve Date
There has yet to be an emancipation proclamation for those indigenous people still inhabiting “the res.” You wanna talk about second class citizens?  In 1675, the Indian Imprisonment Act was passed making any Native American found within the city limits of Boston subject to incarceration. That law was repealed by then Governor Mitt Romney in 2005. TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE, folks. That means for 330 years it was against the law for a Native American to be in the city of Boston.

[UPDATE: SELLING OFF APACHE HOLY LAND: For those of you who commented about the difference between African Americans and Native Americans, this just happened. This week. Right now. For the indigenous people of the North American continent, the oppression has not stopped. Thought I'd mention that.]

Egregious white behavior did not stop after slavery. Oh, we have whole history books on how the white population of this country treated the Asian immigrants. It wasn’t good enough to import them to work on the railroad in conditions that echoed slavery on the plantation. The whites of this county went one better: the government rounded up most of the Japanese Americans during World War II and stuck them in concentration camps. 62% of those incarcerated were American citizens, their only crime being of Japanese ancestry.

This is nothing new. Whites have also behaved badly towards whites: No Jews or dogs permitted was not an uncommon sign around certain parts of America. There were also NINA signs in Boston: No Irish need apply.

The Draft Riots - 1863
Police brutality was not limited to African Americans. 152 years ago last week, President Lincoln diverted troops right after the Battle at Gettysburg to New York to quell the Draft Riots. The official death toll was 119, but that may or may not be accurate. Most of the rioters were Irish protesting wealthy men being able to hire working class men to stand in for them in the army. There were lots of free black men in the crowd as well.

The history is there. Most people know this, and understand that the under classes are getting a raw deal. But it is not limited to African Americans even today. Yes, we have to acknowledge White Privilege, but in recognizing this issue we take a baby step to changing it. Yelling at people, tossing blame around like confetti, shouting slogans, and interrupting debates and discourse is not getting this fixed. If anything, it’s making white America think that the rest of the country prefers playing the victim to figuring out how to fix what is wrong.

So everyone needs to shut up and sit down. We, the People, in order to form a more perfect union, had better start by getting everyone to the table. Kinda like Iran. You don’t have to like ‘em, trust ‘em, or have ‘em over to dinner, but the conversation has to start someplace.

We watch out for each other. ALL OF EACH OTHER. The faster we can convince cops we are ALL watching, the faster we can start to get police brutality reined in. The faster we begin listening instead or talking/shouting over each other, the faster we are going to make some progress. We need to talk about WHAT to do that will change the status quo. Shouting is not the answer. It doesn't even ask the right question.

There is no easy fix, no shortcut. But somewhere someone has to say, “Okay, we get the message. Now let’s figure out what to do first.”


Black lives matter. Native American lives matter. 
Asian lives matter. White lives matter. 
All lives matter


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If someone invites you to visit their vine hut, go.
Everyone could use a few lovely minutes in fairy land.


Minneapolis watercolor artist Anita White 
in her vine hut. 
It was heaven
.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Real Family Values

My big brother is coming tomorrow (probably today when you're reading this.) I am really looking forward to seeing him. The folks have had a bit of a rough start here in Minnesota, and this visit will be great medicine for them. And for me. I need face time with my partner in care-taking. 

My bro and I are vastly different people, and we have led completely different lives. My guys have always adored their uncle, and in truth, I love my brother; I just didn't know him very well. I know him much better now.

When Ziggy had the poor form to die, my bro decided something needed to be done about "us," and he instituted the weekly call. They were kinda weird at first; I think we were both trying to get to know each other after 50+ years. Slowly, we found common interests, a middle ground. It’s just not Sunday if I don’t talk to my Big Bro. 

We were of one mind when we decided that the folks could no longer be on their own. We talked about a number of options, we each did some looking around, but it was pretty clear the best thing was to bring them to Minnesota. So we did. And if anyone had told me that I would find the best possible partner for making this happen in my very own big brother, I woulda laughed. Turns out, our own family values were at the center of the decision making process…even if we did not realize it.

See, here's the thing: lots of people talk about family values. They talk about two-parent households, what kind of parents make up two-parent households. They talk about what other people do in their own bedrooms as if it's anyone else's business. They talk about lots of stuff that they think comprise family values, when the truth is, they just don't get it.

I'm sick to death of the GOP Clown Cavalcade talking about families as if they exist in a vacuum, sustainable by wishes and fantasy. They never talk about the work it takes to keep a family up and running. Jeb! had the unmitigated gall to suggest lower-income people had to work longer hours to earn more money. How about paying them a living wage that would allow them to have one job AND spend time with their families?

Family values are when a family decides how a family is going to be put together. Family values begin with families loving each other. Please notice I said loving....not liking, they are not the same thing, and you don't always like everyone in the clan even when you love 'em. Family values are when the family pulls together when faced with a crisis and members of the family view themselves as one cohesive unit.

Family values are not based on gender, sexual orientation, dogma, or totalitarianism. Family values do not shun, discard, or diminish family members. Family values are not exclusionary. 

The Clown Cavalcade is only here to tell you who to hate and how to hate them. They are telling you who to exclude and who to revile. They talk about loving their neighbor, but most of the time they are busy trying to make sure their neighbor has no health insurance. They talk about wanting small government, but I think that means small enough to have a fiber-optic camera poking out of the light fixture in your bedroom. Their version of family values may have more to do with family jewels, and not all of those are in the safe deposit box in the vault.

If these guys want to talk about family values, how about respecting the family unit, not dictating who can and cannot be a member of your family. They need to be talking about how families can function without fear of economic disaster. They need to grok the reality that having kids is expensive, and forcing families to have more of them isn't a value, it's a death sentence. 

What makes family values possible is the sense of safety when the family unit pulls together. 

In the end, it really is about safety. 

When Ziggy was dying, I was thankful that we seemed to have a pretty solid family safety net. As the weeks and years went by, the values represented by that safety net became a touchstone for FIL. He saw a family care about each other, even him. He didn't understand it, but he came to appreciate that the system worked, and that it included him despite his skepticism. Our family values in bringing my folks here is more than the right thing to do; it's the only thing to do. To leave the folks in Florida would have been to abandon them even with all the other family and friends there. Our family values would not permit that. It’s not just me, my brother, and my sister-in-law who are pulling this all together, the two grandsons….Senior and his significant other and Junior and his wife….have played crucial roles in making this happen. Their understanding of what constitutes a family. And when we all look at Little Miss, we know why.

So the next time some GOP jerk starts talking about family values, see if you can ask what his/hers are. Does he care for aged parents? Ask the spouse and kids,  "is the candidate kind and loving, or aloof and distant?" And ask the candidate, "Do you believe families have the right to self-determination, or should the government decide how many kids you should have?"

In the meantime, figure out what you think your family values are. You might be surprised at what you think is important. 

We are one very lucky family. Our family values work for us. And I am damn glad they do.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day 
NFF: Not For Family
when a dish on the table is more popular than anticipated...
and we're running low. 
NFF never has to be said. A family just knows. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

We Are What We Wave

I really love July 4th. It happens to be my favorite American holiday for lots of reasons. It's summer, it's hot, there's ice cream, there's lemonade, there's immolated chicken, there's watermelon and blueberry cobbler, there are parades with marching bands, there are sparklers, and to top it all off, there are fireworks. Bang, boom, crash right in your ears and a dazzlement in the sky. I love it all.

One of the things I adore about July 4th is bunting. I love when the fire trucks in the parade have red, white and blue bunting. I love when people put red, white, and blue bunting on their porches. I love little kids waving flags. I love the myth and the magic that made America America on July 4th, 1776. The ol' red, white, and blue just sets a very patriotic tone and I love it. It says AMERICA! with all the swags you can hang. It's just lovely.

But I didn't like seeing a Confederate flag hanging off the back of a Minnesota fire truck in Albert Lea. It made all the media outlets and the firefighter who hung it was suspended, but he managed to be interviewed by every cub reporter within a zillion mile radius, and he easily validated the original idea that he is a moron. 
"I'm sick of the politically correctness, because they are trying to change too much in the United States...Me raising that flag had nothing to do with slavery. It had nothing to do with disrespect towards our vets. It was more of a statement against the PC."                                                   Brian Nielsen, Heartland Fire Department 
The PC? Is that something akin to the VC? (I'm not sure I want to hear the answer.) There is no need to comment further on this. Mr. Nielsen does a fine job of giving credence to the idea that schools are failing to educate children, because it's pretty clear he is an ignoramus.  

What really surprised me, however, was my own visceral reaction to seeing the Confederate flag snapping happily in Minnesota. Visceral is a good word here. It was pure gut reaction and it wasn't a good one. 

That's kinda the problem with flags. They are the ultimate symbol. Flying them, waving them, even burning them. When you present a flag, you are making a HUGE statement. And flags are designed to be distinctive, to evoke a feeling. The colors have meaning, the symbols have meaning. There is no part of a flag that is gratis. 

Union Jack...........Stars and Stripe..............Tricolor
Union Jack: dating from 1606, the flag represents the union of England and Scotland - thflag of England (a red cross on a white background, known as St George's Cross), and the flag of Scotland (a white saltire on a blue background, known as St Andrew's Cross), would be joined together. (Wikipedia)
Stars and Stripes: Red means hardiness and valor, white means purity and innocence, blue means vigilance, perseverance, and justice (originally adopted in 1777 and altered as states - stars- were added)  
The Tricolor: a simple: blue for liberté, white for égalité, and red for fraternité. The colors also represent the three estates of French society... blue of the bourgeoisie, white for the clergy, and red for the nobility. Adopted in 1794 during the Revolution.
Other flags say other things, and not all are happy associations. When is a flag not okay to fly? Can a flag whipping in the wind send such a powerfully wrong message that flying it is not okay?

Okay, let's go a step further. What about this group. One of these we Americans would be fine with. But as a group? Is there a message that emerges when viewed in a line?


Jolly Roger c. 1710...........MIA-POW flag c. 1982.................ISIS c. 2010.
The first was a flag designed to terrify other ships at sea. Okay, it's become a bit of a joke, but the Jolly Roger didn't start out that way in the 18th century.

The middle is a flag that happens to hang in my neighborhood, a constant reminder that a family member never came home from Vietnam. And the third? Instant media has made sure we don't need a translation to know this is a flag of hate and violence. 

The plain black banner was flown by Muhammad in Islamic tradition, but it is also attributed to Abu Muslim in his uprising leading to the Abbasid Revolution in 747 C.E. and and the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate. The text above the circle says, There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God. The center circle is supposed to be a seal which says Muhammad is the Messenger of God. If the black banner is traditional in Islamic countries, it is not here and sends a very different visual message, one which may more accurately portray the intent of the flag....which is to strike fear into the hearts of its enemies. 

What about this set? 


                             

The Union Jack had been the flag of the Motherland as well as the Colonies. We rebelled and got the Stars and Stripes, then the South rebelled and suddenly, there was the Confederate battle flag...a bit of an amalgam of the two. When was the last time you saw someone fly the Union Jack in protest of independence on July 4th? If you saw the Union Jack flying on a fire truck,  would there be some kind of message about loyalty...divided or otherwise? 

Now, hop across the pond to the Mediterranean, and get a load of this trio:

                   Greek flag.......Golden Party flag...Golden Party Rally Banner

Does number 3 look familiar? You bet your sweet bippy it does:



If you are thinking for one Athenian minute that the flag for the Gold Dawn Party isn't a throw back to some other European event, guess again. Their rhetoric is equally familiar. Racist and xenophobic, they make no secret that they are going after the few remaining Jews of Greece. Their campaign slogan, "So we can rid this land of filth." 

Folks, I wrote about London last week. This week, it's Greece. Who knows where it will be next week. We just celebrated July 4th with renewed vigor because the Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal rights for the LGBT community. Not everyone on the face of this planet gets equal rights. Not in Greece, not Pakistan, not in France, not in China, not in Nigeria, not in Saudi Arabia, not in Israel, not in a lot of places.  

If We, the People truly believe in equal rights and equal justice, then we had better believe in flying flags that represent those ideas and ideals. 

Truth is, we are what we wave. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Listen to Bernie Sanders.
You don't have to agree with him, but you have to admit 
he's changing the conversation.
This is not a bad thing. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Protecting the First on the Fourth

Well, this has certainly been one outstanding news week. President Obama lived long enough to see one of those transient moments when SCOTUS actually behaved like it was there to protect ALL the citizens of the United States instead of the designated corporate entities that have standing as citizens. The aftermath of both ACA and the same-sex marriage decisions served to remind all of us how just truly evil some segments of the political machines have become.

The aftermath made abundantly clear that the GOP has no plan to replace the ACA with anything at all. At the moment of truth, when they should've been showing up with plan-B, all we got was Killer Klowns from Kongress yammering about how they were going to repeal health care. NOT ONE of these morons mentioned with what....which should tell you everything you need to know about their secret plan: it's secret even to them. The only part they have revealed to the nation is the part about how people who now have insurance won't have it when they take control of the White House. 

And as if that weren't enough hot air polluting the atmosphere, it was immediately followed by the court ruling on same-sex marriage. As Stephen Colbert astutely observed,
Wow, history moves fast. It’s hard to believes that gays achieved full constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did.
This was followed by incredibly supportive statements from various GOP kandidates:
Bobby JindalThis decision will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty. 
Rick Santorum: The Court is one of three coequal branches of government and they have an imperfect record. Stakes are too high to cede marriage to unelected judges.
Mike HuckabeeWe must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat. The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity.
Y'know, according to Klown Kavalcade, G-d made everything to perfection. If that's the case, who are they to tell G-d that She made a mistake. Know what I mean there?

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about Loving v. the Commonwealth of Virginia. That was the case that removed the ban on interracial marriage. I would guess the vituperative rhetoric following that decision was similar to what we're hearing now, and I gotta figure that this is probably no worse than that, and now no one thinks twice about interracial marriages. I think more people are concerned about religious intermarriage that the racial kind. Whatever. These comments will fade away because this is not going to change. People have the right to choose their partners. The government does not have the right to tell  us who to not to love. 

On an even less pleasant side note, the Confederate flag debate rages on. One of my regular critics emailed me privately (as he is wont to do) to ask, "If we were talking about a swastika on a red field hanging over the MN state house, would you be as blasé?"

And then came the events unfolding at Golders Green in London. 

Golders Green is an area of London that happens to be a bit of a melting pot, a place where ethnic diversity is the rule, not the exception.  Lots of ethnic restaurants, including kosher ones, lots of different kinds of community centers. And about 40% of the population is Jewish, with a high percentage of those being the orthodox/ultra-orthodox variety. These are not people who normally mix it up with or in gangs.

On Saturday, the Sabbath, there is an anti-Jewification rally planned for Golders Green. It includes activities like burning selected "anti-White" pages of the Talmud, burning Israeli flags, and marching with "Jew Go Home" protest signs.

But if you ask a British Jew about what's happening in the UK these days, they will pretty much tell you that Joshua Bonehill-Paine and his cadre are not the anomalies they once were. Antisemitism is on the rise there just as it is in other places. But in this case, it's not Islamic radicals burning Bibi in effigy; Bonehill-Paine is a white Brit preaching white supremacy. 


When I first saw the poster, I thought it was a hoax. I checked Snopes. I checked The Telegraph. And I found out this guy has been around for a while. And he's known by various intelligence agencies. And apparently this was not exactly a surprise. And now, he's been arrested. 

A London Police spokesperson said,
Officers continue to assess all information and intelligence available in relation to the proposed demonstration and speak with the organisers to ensure we have an appropriate policing response in place.

We are aware of concerns in the local community about the negative impact this proposed demonstration may have on them and are working with residents to ensure that people can exercise their rights in a way that is lawful, while minimising this impact.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: 6/30/2015

Now, the Ku Klux Klan is planning a Confederate flag rally outside the South Caroline State House on Saturday, July 18th. Granted, they say they are demonstrating to preserve their Southern heritage, but doesn't that sound a bit benign for the KKK?

Hate has taken to the streets. As a society with protections in place for freedom of expression, do either of these cross that invisible boundary? Since we cannot speak for the UK, the question here becomes, do we silence this or allow it to happen?


Here's where I haul out my favorite Aaron Sorkin speech, my version of the Superman joke, except this is something Sorkin nailed to perfection:
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.                                                                                                 Andrew Shepherd; The American President
If the Klown Kavalcade can lie with impunity, do we have the right to silence KKK? Yes, folks, it is rooted in the same argument. Maybe the question is not where is the line...but rather is there a line?



The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Just because it's 4th of July, you are not required to be 
totally stupid about fireworks. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Scary Questions, Not Enough Answers

As I write this, there is a body draped across the sofa in the den. The television is on, but from my vantage point on the sun porch, I suspect TRUE DETECTIVE is playing to a snored-out crowd. The senior son is in residence for a couple of days. What was meant to be a surprise for Zayde has turned into a huge help for me. Happy to have the pitter-patter of size 10 and half sneakers on the stairs. 

Beyond that, I am in a perennial state of pissed off over the last week's news cycle. The incipient political circus has come to town, and by town I mean from sea-to-shining-sea....and then some. Which is pretty annoying all by itself, but when you couple it with a mass murder in a southern state, you really have to wonder about this country.

Question #1:

So this guy posts a manifesto on a website called THE LAST RHODESIAN. It's interesting reading in the worst possible sense of the word. It's not nutty, which makes it even more heinous. On the surface, it is well thought out and structured. It says exactly what Dylann Storm Roof wants to tell the world. It is a cold essay, devoid of emotion or rage or anything else. It's practical and matter-of-fact, and that's what makes it so scary. He deeply believes in what he is writing. Almost cogent, it lacks the "depth" of Ted Kaczynski's Unibomber Manifesto; that doesn't make it any less compelling.

Don't get me wrong, this is not in praise of Roof's Manifesto; just the opposite. This is about the clarity of this thinking that created his outline of destruction. It's didn't just happen. It didn't just fall off a bookshelf and crack him in the head. No. Dylann Roof had to be thinking about this for a long while. How was he educated to this point?

That is not a specious question; it's a real one. Who educated this kid? Who becomes responsible for feeding and sustaining this kind of thinking? Someone besides the kid has to own a piece of this.

Question #2:

So a candidate for president of these here United States refers to the events in Charleston as "an accident."
This is the M.O. of this administration anytime there is a accident like this, y’know…I…ummm...you know, The president's clear. He doesn't like for Americans to have guns, and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message. [transcript of the NewsWatch interview 1:40]
Perry went on to say that although he didn't have all the facts, he knew "these people" are medicated. According to Rick Perry, people commit mass murder because they taking meds....not illegal or illicit drugs. [2:36] Excuse me? 

Rick Perry's campaign flubbered a bit and backtracked, saying he meant to say "incident," not accident. Okay. Sure.  But how do they explain the rest of that absurd interview? Surely, Rick Perry's campaign cannot possibly apologize for the entire content? Or can they?

Question #3

Everyone is talking about the Confederate flag these days. People are demanding that it be taken down and removed from government offices et al all over the South. I've heard it compared to having the Nazi banner raised over German government buildings, and yes, I get the comparison. So when the EKG tech doing Mom's emergency EKG on Saturday afternoon (and yes, Mom's doing just fine, thank you) said she had grown up in Mississippi, I asked the exceptionally lovely young African-American woman what she thought of the controversy and her answer damn near knocked me to the ground.


Me: Should they take down the Confederate flags in the South                     
Her: NO! Definitely not.
Me: [astounded] Really?
Her: You don’t accomplish anything by taking them down besides making people angry.

She went on to explain that flag is a part of that history, and that you can’t rewrite history without doing more damage. She said they have to leave it alone because those people who support that stuff are dying out. Why get them angry so you can start all over again trying to fix it? No point in alienating everyone.

Her answer made me really wonder if the greater African America community has the same or similar response to the question. After all, it's about perception and I imagine the African American community has no more unity than the Caucasians around here. Does one call this a terrorist act by a single person, or is it the culmination of years of subliminal suggestion fostered by the reverence to a lost cause by a crazy person? Is the flag issue just being used as a convenient excuse so more African Americans believe the GOP has their best interest of that community at heart?

The murders in Charleston were heinous. There is nothing one can say, no explanation one can offer, that can explain why Dylann Storm Roof did whatever it was he did. 

The one thing we do know is that he was able to purchase a gun. And bullets.  We do not live in the Wild West. We do not live in a war zone. We do not live in a place where we are under constant threat of attack by roving armed militias. 

If We, the People continue to refuse to allow the development and implementation of sane gun laws, massacres like Charleston, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Centennial, and Fort Hood will continue to happen. When compared to other countries, the statistics are startling.
Schildkraut and Elsass: Mass Shootings between 2000-2014
Someone has to ask the question. We, the People must demand that the conversation begin now, not later. If We, the People go into this election cycle as slaves to instant media and the 1-second-sound-bite cycle, we are opening ourselves to more violence, more mass shootings, and a greater racial divide.

Shouldn't we be past this already?


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Never call GE's Customer Care line expecting anyone who cares. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why I Am Not A Scientist

Man in serious need of nose hair trim.
Last week, much to my chagrin and embarrassment, I was outed by Dr. Timothy Hunt, British biochemist and Nobel laureate. He spoke the unspeakable. He said out loud what scientists have been saying behind closed doors for all eternity: women are too attractive to be in the lab. 

I knew early on, I was going to be a frail flower who wept copiously with every criticism, who fell in and out of love at the drop of a beaker. I was so distracted by the handsome science teachers in junior high (including that handsome devil and poster boy for the Aryan master-race, Mr. Zopf) that I submerged my overwhelming ambition to be a nuclear scientist. It was a terrible struggle, I tell you. 

Not. 

Now, all things considered, Dr. Hunt didn't say anything we didn't already know some guys think. We know this because this is a plank of the Repubiclown platform. You know...the one where gender equality in things like equal pay and equal access to medical care is your basic non-starter. Back in 1994, when the Jebster postulated on the plight of poor women, he said 
…women on welfare should be able to get their life together and find a husband.
In the same speech he also felt we had enough "victims," and there was no need for gays and lesbians to seek added protection under the law. More recently, Rick Perry has called equal pay "nonsense," and Ted Cruz has referred to birth control as "abortifacients." Beginning to see a pattern here?

The GOP Cavalcade of Clowns might not be slamming women scientists in the same cockamamie way as Dr. Hunt, but their position on women is clearly man on top. Really, people; is there some viable reason you are hell bent on careening right into the 19th century?  

How about what Mike Huckabee of the religious nutter wing told the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention:
Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I'm pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, 'Coach, I think I'd rather shower with the girls today.' You're laughing because it sounds so ridiculous doesn't it?
Back in 2014, Rand Paul, on NBC's Meet The Press, commented
You know, I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things. And, in fact, I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women really are out-competing the men in our world.
source: New York Times
Laugh about this all you will, but it's so perverse it's losing its sheen of ridiculousness. There are people in state legislatures that are pushing laws that reduce women back to chattel. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas law that would require any clinic providing abortions to meet the same building, staffing, and equipment standards as a surgical hospital. It may sound okay on the surface, but what it really does is force women's clinics to close their doors. There were 41 women's health clinics offering complete services in 2012; after the law takes effect, there will be fewer than 10 clinics in the entire state of Texas. This means large swaths of Texas women will not have access to any reproductive health clinic.

So, I bet you're thinking, "What does that have to do with Tim Hunt?" A lot. Granted, he's British, but he is very much a part of this series of dominoes. When guys of Dr. Hunt's academic stature put voice to these absurd ideas, it gives those ideas "legs." It means that the morons who are out there will now attribute this to wisdom. It will provide them with a twisted proof that they are not alone in this thinking. That, in turn, will give leverage to the GOP Clown Cavalcade as they roam the country preaching misogynistic claptrap. Which in turn, will encourage an environment that tacitly allows much of the progress we have made to be undone. 

What really needs to happen here is for women to begin asking the question, "Why are you so afraid of a uterus?" Are you so terrified that once women are educated and fully vested in the work force that you will be unable to compete with a person with breasts? Or does having women in the workforce just mean you'll actually have to work harder to do your job....and that isn't macho enough for you?

The real reason I'm not a scientist is because when I was an archaeology major back at the beginning of college, a prominent woman archaeologist told me that the area in which I wanted to study was closed to women. I left archaeology for that lunatic asylum called theater, where I was once asked who I was planning to sleep with to get my graduate internship. Big difference. 

Not.

I hope that has changed over the last 40 years. I'm not convinced it has, but I'm hopeful. And let's all hope Dr. Timothy Hunt is pegged for being the asshole that he is. His mother, I am certain, is none too proud of his last set of statements.


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
If your 90-year-old wants to eat ice cream for breakfast, it's okay.