Monday, August 24, 2015

Matisyahu, Mayhem, and Market Basket.

This year, the reggae artist know as Matisyahu was invited to perform at Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain. I won't rehash the details, but the week before the festival a group approached the festival coordinators to demand Matisyahu sign a statement in favor of Palestinian statehood. 

Matisyahu used to belong to Chabad-Lubavitch, an orthodox Hassidic group with headquarters in Brooklyn. He was very observant. He was a religious Jew. But he left the movement in 2011, but that's not really the issue.

The issue is that the BDS movement that claims not to be antisemitic went after an American Jewish musician and demanded he sign a document. 

Boycott, Divest, Sanction is a front of Jew hating. I suppose they are entitled to think or feel whatever they want to think or feel, but lying about it? Do they think the entire world is stupid? Or just a select section of it?

BDS is a hate organization. They spread hatred with rhetoric that is meant to destroy. If they wanted to help Palestinians, would they demand the closure of one of the main sources of income for hundreds of Palestinian families...Soda Stream? Shouldn't they be holding that company up as an example of what cooperation can do? Not if their root purpose has nothing to do with Palestinians and everything to do with sending Jews into the sea. 

Hate. They are about hate. They aren't there for building up; they are only tearing down. And the Spanish came off as a whole lot smarter than quite a few American academic institutions. They called BDS out for what it was, embarrassed the hell out of Rototom Sunsplash organizers, and Matisyahu performed. 

There's a parallel going on here. 

I listen to speechifying by the GOP Clown Cavalcade, and I think the same thing. These guys aren't about building a country, a nation made of a crazy quilt of people; they are about hating someone else.... beginning with POTUS. They present no plans, no alternatives, no nothing that would make anyone in his/her right mind think that voting for a GOP candidate would be a vote for reunification of our own American lives. Does their fear mongering somehow justify the institutionalization the battle flag of the Confederacy and calling it patriotic ephemera? No. It's a blatant attempt to legitimize hate. Guys like Walker and Cruz are trying to scare you. They are trying to make you fear that which you should be facing head on. These guys want your lights out. They don't want to you listen to anything but the sound bite.

So there's this store called Market Basket out east. They had a really good CEO who was beloved by his employees and customers alike,  and shared ownership of the company with other family members. A year ago, the guy got forced out. 

Well, the people didn't like that, and they mobilized. The Market Basket  work force and community made their displeasure known. Using classic civil disobedience tactics, the public not just voted with their feet, they pasted their competitor receipts on the store windows. The beloved CEO is back.

The patrons and staff of Market Basket took the store to the brink of disaster. But the movement made very clear what it wanted....their CEO back.....and it made sure the management of Market Basket was clear about what had to happen. 

And it did. And Market Basket is recovering. The clientele is back. The employees are back. 

The only question that remains is "did anyone learn anything?"

Yeah, I did. Laughing at Donald Trump is not going to fix what's wrong. More than just a couple of people demanding someone tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth would be a good place to start.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Take nothing for granted. Really.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dishonorable Intent

Several of my more irate correspondents found my recent statements regarding the condition of Native Americans impossible to believe. One wrote intimating that I was using this as a clever foil to be racist, another just flat out stated that the situation in which many Native Americans find themselves is of their own doing. 

Yeah. Just like Africans volunteered to be slaves in the 17th and 18th....and 19th and 20th...and 21st centuries. Sure they did. They just lined the coast of African shouting at any passing ship, "Take me! Take me!" 

No one volunteers to be an oppressed people. No one raises a hand to say, "Choose me!" 

White Earth Reservation
Civil rights for Native Americans is a complex and complicated issue. As of 2015, 567 separate Native American tribes are recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In case you didn't know, the BIA holds approximately 55,700,000 acres, about  87,800 square miles  in trust for Native American tribes, Native Americans, and the Native Americans of Alaska. IN TRUST. Kinda like what your mother does with your first savings account. This means you don't have direct access to it, but your executors do, and that's what the BIA is supposed to do. 

The BIA, established in 1824, used to have three sections: Indian Affairs, Indian Education, and Indian Health. The health part has been moved to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, but the other two parts remain intact. History of the agency demonstrates they are not always the friend of the indigenous peoples. In fact, quite the opposite. The BIA was known to aid and abet the government in the confiscation of lands already guaranteed to Native Americans.

Even though most Native Americans don’t live on the "res," it does not mean that the concept no longer plays a role in the life and times of all Native Americans. It does. There are still laws on the books in a variety of locales that, while completely ignored, remain a part of the legal system. Can you imagine if language restricting African Americans to certain segments of a municipality remained as silent law? Can you imagine what would have happened had former slaves been told "Well, technically you're free, but you have to live in assigned areas only that are reserved for you."

If the original treaties "reserved" segments of native lands for use by specific tribal nations, that reservation did not stick. The reservations did not stop the US government from subsequently forcing tribal nations to relocate to lands that were not historically or culturally connected to a particular tribe. As soon as the government had a use for the land, the tribes were moved again. Not sure? Read about the Trail of Broken Treaties.

Are you beginning to see where I'm going here? If not, let me be real specific: very little has changed. In fact, it's being done right now, right here in Minnesota. 

Yes. Right now. 

Looking out over the rice fields.                        Jolene Yazzie for Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera (yes, that Al Jazeera) published a story on June 24th about Enbridge, the owners of the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline, considering a law suit for eminent domain along Lower Rice Lake, not only putting the environment at risk, but creating a huge risk for the wild rice harvesters. The pipeline would run square thought some of the most productive wild rice fields in the state. These fields are hand harvested by White Earth Nation, and they are invoking their treaty rights to stop the progress of this pipeline.

Before you get all huffy, here's the straight skinny on this. In 1837, the Chippewa of the White Earth Nation....known to themselves as the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe, signed a treaty that, in exchange for land concessions, they would retain usufructuary rights. This was important stuff: it meant they would retain the rights to hunt, fish, and gather rice on ceded lands. When a case contesting these rights reached SCOTUS in 1999, the Supremes decided in favor of the White Earth Nation. Although Minnesota claimed the treaty protecting usufructuary rights was vacated when a new treaty was signed in 1895, SCOTUS said, "No," and upheld the rights on behalf of the tribe. 

Wild rice is a crop pretty unique to Minnesota. Yeah, they try to grow it in other places, but everyone on this immediate planet knows there is no rice like our wild rice. 

That, and the rice harvest is a major component of the  income and stability of the White Earth Ojibwe. To damage the lakes involved is not simply a matter of temporary inconvenience. This pipeline is destructive to the rice fields, the environment, and the entire economy of the region. 

The greatest part of this tragedy is not necessarily the broken treaties or the attempt at stealing more land from the Ojibwe. The real tragedy is the one at the bottom of this morass: no one is talking about it.

I want a candidate to talk about Native American rights....and their continued treatment by corporate and governmental America. I want this to be seen as an unresolved problem in this country. 

This is an ongoing national disgrace. We should be ashamed.    

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Circus is Coming to Your Town!

Photo credit - Donkey Hotey via Flicks
I think the thing I am going to like most about this election cycle is the art. By art, I don't mean Van Gogh and Da Vinci, I mean the images that make their way into our collective consciousness. I started referring to the GOP parade as the Clown Cavalcade a while ago...in the June 15th episode, and my first mention of this season's clown car was before that. Not like I'm a trailblazer, but I think I may be the only who, in NY Times comments, konsistently refers to members of the US House of Representatives as Kongress Klowns. Now, it's positively illustrated everywhere!

The images are rather amazing. You have to figure the accessibility of Photo Shop and similar programs are at the bottom, but whatever it is, the result is amazing. What started me on this was a Facebook post of Cruz and Grandpa Munster. The caption by Alice Melott, the lady who posted the mashup, was simply brilliant: "Too late. You can't unsee this."

This, in turn, immediately snapped me over to Carly Fiorina and the Church Lady. Sorry. It was something about the way she pursed her lips. It wasn't the pursing of the lips à la Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, this was total condescension and disapproval. And that was bolstered by listening to her talk down John Dickerson on Face the Nation. Sunday morning, I just wanted to lob a grapefruit at her. It wasn't the message, which made a certain amount of sense, it was the delivery. I can just see this woman talking to Angela Merkel. Angela would eat her for breakfast and spit out the bones. Yeah, like I want that for POTUS. 

And that led to finding the morph of Chris "I never saw a kickback I didn't like" Christie into Tony Soprano, brilliantly done  by the NY Daily News, which is not exactly know for brilliance in matters political. Basically, the meme asks which is the fiction? The scary part, I suppose, is that it's not exactly clear which one is which. 

Of course, if one wonders about cartoon characters, go no further than the Donald. I thought using his face for the gremlin in The Twilight Zone's Nightmare At  20,000 Feet, was spot on. There are no words to adequately describe the hubris and utter stupidity of this man. Or not. Two deviant thoughts linger at the edges of my brain: 1) is this man Hillary's stealth weapon to bring down the GOP? 2) Is he much smarter than we're giving him credit for, and this is being secretly taped as "The Candidate," his new reality scheme? Either one has a certain essence of credibility.

On the less funny side, were some of the things that came out of the "debaters'" mouths. I use the quotes here because what we saw Thursday night was not a debate, it was a bloviation. No substance, no facts, just theme and variation on what/whom we should hate. Is this what we are reduced to?  Apparently so. There were times during this so-called debate where everyone was talking at once. First graders know better than that.

The lack of civil discourse and discussion made me just plain angry. I wanted to hear what ideas they had...what did they want to accomplish, not just what they wanted to destroy. I wanted them to talk about the crumbling infra-structure and they talked about who hugged whom. The Donald went on a misogynistic rampage that still hasn't stopped. Mike Huckabee informed us that "The military is not a social experience.The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things." Really? That's all they're good for? The debate over at the kid's table wasn't much more enlightening.

It's really sad. What should've been a great opportunity for the GOP clown pool to show off their differences, was, instead, circus maximus for all of viewerdom, domestic and international, proving they are are nothing more than a bunch of sad-faced, empty-headed, know-nothing clowns. 

Not that I expect the other side to be much better.  For the moment, the only one who is talking about real issues facing America at home is Bernie Sanders. That has to count for something. With any luck, his success will ultimately help shape the real conversation.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week   
If you're getting a good soaking rain once a week and the air is not bone dry,
check your soil before watering. You may not have to.
                  
       













Monday, August 3, 2015

General Disgust

Between the stabbings at the Pride Parade in Jerusalem, the firebombing of a Palestinian home with the residents asleep inside, and the garbage spewing out of the mouth of the Clown Candidate Cavalcade, I cannot just pick a topic and go with it. Quite the opposite. I have four opening lines, and I don't feel like writing about any of it.

It's a pretty well established fact that I'm disgusted with the viciousness and hatred coming from the religious right in Israel. And the PA foreign minister has traveled to the Hague to file a report with the ICC? Really? Oh, yeah. I forgot. Blowing up bus stops, restaurants and hotel lobbies don't count because the bodies are Jewish. 

Look, I do not for one New York minute think the right wing lunatic brigade should go unpunished. Just the opposite. Lock 'em all up. Terrorists are terrorists and there is no excuse and no reason on the planet to defend what they did. It's so against halacha that there aren't even laws to describe how to respond to such heinous actions. And if they don't start zero tolerance for acts of baseless hatred against ANY people as perpetrated by the black hat crazies, just kiss the State of Israel goodbye. We will do to ourselves what we did at the time of the Second Temple: we will be responsible for our own downfall. 

We. That's a BIG word.
כל ישראל ערבית זה בזה 
All Israel is responsible one for another. 

If we are silent, we are to blame the next time it happens. If the Israeli government continues to turn a blind eye to far-right's hatred of others, then we have not done our jobs as Jews. Either we state unequivocally that is not an acceptable position, or we are contributing to the downfall of the State of Israel. Here is the place where We, the Diaspora Jews, get to have an opinion. We get to say we cannot support a place where Jews commit terrorist acts against Arabs and other Jews, while the government does little to stop it. We cannot support a place that discriminates against other religions, including our own. And we get to say we will not support a place where Torah is violated intentionally, with malice and forethought. A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. The color of the flag does not matter; the act of hatred does. 

For those of you who will condemn me out of hand for saying this, and countering, "Do not Jewish lives and children matter?" the answer is resoundingly YES. Jewish lives matter. Arab lives matter. All lives matter. But what matters most here is that Jews not sink to the base level of Hamas and Hezbollah. Two wrongs do not ever make a right, and countering the heinous crimes executed against the Israeli civilian population with homicide terrorism is not right at any time. Firebombing a house is not fighting in a war; it's the cowards' way. Just as we expect the world not to tolerate Palestinian terrorist actions committed in Israel We, Am Yisrael, cannot tolerate any of our own behaving the same way. 

If we do not stand up against Jewish terrorism coming from the lunatic fringe then we are culpable for anything and everything that happens. Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition cannot continue to believe this is okay and something to be swept under Haredi rug. It is not okay. 

As for the Clown Cavalcade on our own shores, Mike Huckabee's idea that negotiating with Iran was tantamount to delivering the Jews to the gas chamber, I would point out that there is no legitimate comparison to be made here. Huckabee is being a provocateur and needs to stop immediately. And in the too-stupid-to-live department, Marco Rubio sunk to a brand new level of utter inanity when he said:
The next president of the United States must nominate Supreme Court justices that believe in the original intent of the Constitution and apply that. We need more Scalias and less Sotomayors.
Great. Just what we need. More justices who want to stand guard in our bedrooms to supervise what we are doing with whom and when. Really? This guy claims he's for smaller government and less regulation...except when it comes to our sex lives? Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Wrong Answer! 

Truth is, gentle readers, this stuff is all depressing. And scary. And I have no idea where to go with any of it, but it is keeping me up at night. Really.

At this point, Ziggy would say, "And then they all stepped off the curb and got hit by a bus. Now go to bed."

And if that's not enough, I hear the neighbor kids are reading the blog now. Uh oh. 


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Parental Guidance Is Advised.
If your kids are gonna read this, you should probably be prepared to discuss it. 

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.