Monday, September 15, 2014

Caution! Morons at Work!

About two weeks ago, someone from Oberbobermober's congressional campaign called. I assured the fellow the candidate had my vote no matter what his name was because I thought CongressClown Kline wasn't fit to be elected eraser monitor, much less to misrepresent us in Washington. I went on to explain that in the last go 'round, I'd tried to volunteer my services to the cause but had a dickens of a time contacting anyone....and then no one ever contacted me back. I also said I'd asked for a lawn sign, but never got one of those either. He got all excited. I told him what I could do. I gave him my email address. He said, "There will be  sign on your lawn by Monday the latest!"

He just didn't say which Monday.

I'd just about given up when lo! and behold! The lawn sign has appeared on my lawn! The first on my block!

It's a miracle!  

Now, to make mine happiness complete, Congressclown Kline just won Bill Maher's Flip-A-District contest. His flunky-in-charge, Troy Young, responded to the news:
“Minnesotans are tired of sleazy and slimy politics, but DFL candidate Mike Obermueller certainly isn’t. Maher saluted 9/11 terrorists and called our troops ‘cowardly,’ he repeatedly has degraded Christians and calls them ‘schizophrenic,’ and he repugnantly compared special-needs children to ‘dogs,’ yet Mike Obermueller promotes this behavior essentially naming Maher as his campaign manager.”
Well, I'm okay with that. I hope Bill comes to visit our little district because Lord knows, we could use the excitement. It sure isn't coming from Kline. The guy is silent. Completely, utterly silent. When he talks, sure, words come out of his mouth, but they are pasty, wan, and devoid of position or meaning. If you want to distill his message into three simple principles, this might help:
  1. Don 't require equal pay for equal work. 
  2. Don't let women control their own bodies. 
  3. Charge women more for health insurance.
And never, ever let them speak aloud in the public forum. 

I can attest to the third one personally. I once tried to ask a question at one of his phone-in forums, and he kept interrupting me...and then didn't answer the question. I asked about health care, he responded with his theories on gun control.  I thought I was having some kind of episode, but I had written out my question and it had nothing to do with guns.....

...which, according to the congressclown, don't need any more legislation since it's a state issue and the Feds have enough laws on the books for "this sort of thing." Maybe he should ask his colleague and fellow House member Gabby Giffords how she feels about this sort of thing.  

Now, I will give him credit where credit is due: he did say something sane about ISIL and ISIS: 
It’s not the place of Congress … to sit and develop policy strategy and tactics to implement that. I can’t imagine a strategy that doesn’t include more American air power. … He needs to lay out the strategy so that we can implement something in a meaningful way

September 8th, 2014
Of course, the sane part was short-lived; he changed his mind the next day. Seems he thinks the President has overstepped his "bounds" and should not even think about doing anything at all until he's discussed it with Congress. But he should telegraph to ISIS or ISIL what he is not going to do even if he has to discuss it openly with The Hill.  I guess as long as POTUS wasn't outlining a strategy, he was wrong, and now that he is, he is still wrong. What's a President to do?

Oh, well. Let the wild rumpus start!

Meanwhile, from the TSTL* department: Urban Outfitters offered a one-of-a-kind vintage sweatshirt for sale on their website.

Now, I was a sentient human being on May 4th, 1970; a very sentient senior in high school. I remember vividly what happened that day. I vaguely knew Jeffrey Miller, the one lying on the pavement in the famous picture. He was the neighbor of a friend from camp. I thought he was cute. And then he was dead on the front page of all the newspapers. 

Kent State, for a lot of us, was the day we lost our political cherry. We didn't believe something like that could happen here. Jeff Miller's death didn't make us afraid; it radicalized us. It made us march more, harder, with greater determination so our voices would be heard. 

Urban Outfitters was betting we wouldn't notice or, if we did, we'd just cluck our collective tongues and let it go at that. 

Uh.....guess again, little retailer. 

In multi-parts, Urban Outfitters tweeted the following statement today:
Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.
Come on, folks, no one is that stupid. You don't even have to have an imagination to get the subtext here. By the way, did you happen to notice that the sweatshirt was similar in color to Jackie Kennedy's Dallas suit?

Which really makes me wonder about the following:

  1. The person who designed it.
  2. The person who decided to offer it as part of a collection.
  3. The person who designed the marketing of this one-of-a-kind sweatshirt.
  4. The photographer who shot it (no pun intended....or not.)
  5. The person who did the print layout.
  6. The person who did the line editing.
  7. The person who sits in the big office who shoulda been looking at this stuff.
Those are at least 7 people who did not notice the resemblance to blood and gore. At least 7 people who have knowledge of iconic historical images in this nation's history. And you mean to tell me not one of those 7 people looked at that sweatshirt and shuddered? If that was true, there are at least 7 people over at Urban Outfitters who are just too stupid to have their jobs. 

Folks, if we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it. We need to be teaching this stuff. Our kids need to see the images. If they can play DOOM, the can see this stuff. And we cannot afford to be silent about companies like Urban Outfitters who would turn the scant sacred we have into a profane marketing opportunity. 


*TSTL: Too Stupid To Live

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The key to doing hospice at home is dignity. 
At the end of the road, it's the only thing that matters

Monday, September 8, 2014

Death, Destruction, and the Summer of '14

There must be one heck of a production company in the olam ha'ba these days. Looks like there's open casting call, and this company is rapidly being filled up with some pretty heavy hitters. It started with Sid Caesar during the winter, then Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ruby Dee, Bob Hoskins, Eli Wallach, James Garner, and Lauren Bacall. The writers aren't too shabby either: Harold Ramis and Maya Angelou. But it's the trio of comedians that really gets me: Elaine Stritch, Robin Williams, and Joan Rivers. I am afraid to ask who the director is....It's reminds me of #76... that old punchline:  "and you're pitching on Tuesday."

Hoffman and Williams aside, the others on the list did not leave this earth of their own volition. They pretty much died in bed, some with family and friends nearby. They probably would've opted for a longer contract if they could've, but they didn't; they shuffled off their mortal coils and hopefully have gone on to the next level. (See DEFENDING YOUR LIFE for my take on what happens next.) But while they're hangin' out in Judgement City, there's a terrific show in rehearsal. 

James Foley and Steven Sotloff
Two writers, however, not of the theatrical traditional, shuffled off their mortal coils along with their heads. James Wright Foley and two weeks later, Steven Sotloff were behead by an ISIS executioner and the acts were filmed for the world to see. Snuff films...real ones...the kind that make you want to throw up your guts.

These were not just executions: these were statements being made about who ISIS and ISIL really are. This is a rejection of modernity and about plunging the world back to the 7th century C.E. They wage war in a way commensurate with pre-technology thinking, certain that the world at large believes we have progressed past ruthless bloodletting. ISIS and ISIL know "modern" warfare is not waged on so personal a plane; they rely on this to stop a western response out of sheer disgust. After all, how do you combat those who behead journalists and kidnap school girls for sex slaves? They betting
 it's beyond modern comprehension.

But it shouldn't be. 

We've already seen what they are capable of in Somalia and Sudan. We've seen them test the waters in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This past weekend, a branch of al-Qaeda announced they were bringing jihad to India....a densely populated and fairly under-developed other words: easy prey with no defenses whatsoever. Never mind that India has a nuclear bomb. All the better to demonstrate how toothless that tiger is because that weapon will never be least by a civilized nation. 

Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, and Hamas all work under the same pretense: civil war is the way to divide, destroy, and ultimately conquer. The whole function of terror is to force a population to over-react in fear. If you want to know how to deal with them take a page from the IDF playbook: defend the population first, then take out the bastards. Israel has been dealing with terrorists for some 66 years...they know what to do. 

Clearly, Congress does not.

In his September 2nd column, Ready, Aim, Fire. Not Fire, Ready, Aim in the NY TIMES, Thomas Friedman wrote: 
When you have a region beset by that many civil wars at once, it means there is no center, only sides. And when you intervene in the middle of a region with no center, you very quickly become a side.

No, actually, you become a giant sitting duck smack dab in the middle of the fight. You no longer have allies, you have all sides firing at you. You become a grand distraction, giving lots of little sides reasons to band together against the BIG BAD WEST. 

The US cannot and should not enter this arena. If we have not learned the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, we should try to at least remember how Vietnam ended. 

President Obama is spot on when he says, "Don't do stupid stuff," and when he states the obvious, "We don't have a strategy yet." If he already had a strategy here, I would be much more worried.

Amazing how the same congressclowns jumping up and down about spending money we don't have seem to think it grows on trees when it comes to war. As for a strategy, the US cannot possibly have one until we find out exactly what the Arab nations are going to do first. 

Talk softly... and carry that big stick right behind your back. Let the M.E. heads of state come to a conclusion about what they are going to do before we decide what, if anything We, the People, are going to do to support their decision. 

Those governments all have nifty war toys we sold 'em. Maybe it's time for their militaries to finally try out all that cool stuff. 

Meanwhile, US and the western allies have a choice to make...either force the Islamic governments who wish to be part of the global economy to step up to the line and deal with this....or cut them all off completely. No trade. No euros, no dollars. No aid. No arms. No technology. No meds. No flights in or out. Treat them the same way they are allowing these roving bands of miscreants to treat their own populations and rest of the world....à la the 7th century. The time has come to stop fighting their battles. Either they are of this century and take responsibility for their compatriots, or they will be given the accords of whatever century in which they choose to live. 

Let's see what happens when the air conditioning is turned off. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you have aging parents, don't put off having 'the conversation.' 
Knowing what they want preserves their dignity and 
eases the inevitable moments of transition. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hop On Board The Loonyville Trolley

I love the smell of crayons. And freshly sharpened pencils. I like the crackle a composition notebook makes the first time you open it. As much as I hated the end of summer (I am such a summer person to begin with,) fall was the opening of curiosity season. There was always new stuff to learn when the weather turned the corner and the air took on that distinctive smell of leaves beginning to decay. Today is Labor Day and even though it's still pretty warm, the season stands poised on that corner. Here and there you see yellow leaves, and some are even on the grass beneath the silver birch in the back yard. It's always an early "turner," so while this is no surprise, I do sigh just a little as I mow over them.

Well, it's that time of year. The Loonyville Trolley is all kitted out and ready to go. All aboard! You're just in time for all the fun. 

We are heading down the tracks into a new election cycle, and some of the races are going to be pretty darn interesting, even here in Minnesota. Governor Dayton's done a respectable job of salvaging the state after the reign of Tim 'TSTL' Pawlenty who, despite his slash-and-burn tax policies, managed to depress our local economy into a coma while raiding the state education fund for cash. At least the Governor paid back the schools...which is a big plus in my book. He may not be a total shoo-in, but I think he's gonna be just fine. St. Amy of Klobuchar doesn't have a race this year, so she can continue her good works for the state unimpeded by electoral moronics. Which leaves three races I'm following and which you, gentle readers, are going to follow by default. 
  1. Democrat Senator Al Franken v. Mike "Lemme Take Them Stitches Out Myself" McFadden
  2. Republiclown Representative John "Do You Like Me Yet, Koch Boys?" Kline v. some sacrificial cow whose name I can't remember....Obermober-something....redoux.
  3. Mendota Heights Mayor Sandy 'I just love roundabouts' Krebsbach v. Neil Garlock
Two of the three races are going to get lots of national scrutiny.....I won't spoil your fun guessing and tell you which, but let's just say CongressClown Kline is one of the Flippable Final Four in Bill Maher's Flip-A-District

To bring everyone up to speed on Exciting Minnesota, let's start with Al Franken.

Now, Al's been pretty good over in that thar Senate place. He's a smart guy, Harvard grad, can think on his feet, all that good stuff. He's turned out to be a quiet but good senator, not the buffoon everyone predicted considering his books and SNL run. His emails are a PITA, but hey, at least he's not flooding my snailmail box with paper. Electrons are easily dispatched back into the bit bucket in the sky with no ill effects. Where I am getting into trouble with Al is his position on gun control....or rather his lack of a position.

This is no small matter. Gun control is, in my view, the top of the domestic policy list. Senator Franken, on his website, has this to say about gun control:
Minnesota has a long tradition of gun ownership, and I support Minnesotans' right to own a gun for collection, protection, and sport. I also believe that the Second Amendment protects that right against both the federal government and the states.
But the right to own a firearm is not one to be taken lightly. I believe Minnesota has struck the proper balance, for example, by requiring background checks and live firearms training for carry permits.
This is about as big a non-statement as I've ever read. I looked at his voting record, and he's got a 100% from the Jim Brady gang, but his lack of a proactive statement on his website is least to me. I guess I want to hear...and read...more from him on his support/lack of support for sensible gun laws.  In August alone, we have had more than a dozen shooting deaths in the Twin Cities area. It's time to decide what exactly a "well regulated militia" means in this century, and figure out a way to get guns treated the same way as cars: License with photo ID and insurance. If you want to own a gun, be prepared to take full responsibility for it. 

Meanwhile, the guy running against Al must be an escapee from Bedlam. McFadden has an ad running where his kid tells us how his dad is so cheap that when he heard the doc was gonna charge $100 for stitch removal, Dad grabbed a scissors and took the stitches out himself. This is the same guy that wants to waste more taxpayer dollars to repeal Obamacare. This would be the last person I'd want in Washington. He's not only cheap with his family, he doesn't think people in general should have access to health care. This is loony talk, and his family seems to think that's just fine.  Ummm. I'm not sure this is something to be proud of. 

Well, if this is the caliber of what we are to expect this fall, bring it on. At least we can get a few laughs outta the deal. 

And if all this off-year kamikazi kampaigning is just too weird for you, take heart; it's September 1st and it can only go on for 8 weeks...until Tuesday, November 4th

And if it's not weird enough for you, not to worry. The race for the White House begins in earnest on November 5th. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
 Treat yourself to new crayons, some pencils, and a lunchbox.
Take them to work.
You'll feel refreshed, young, and prepared. 
It doesn't get any better 'en that. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

That Time of Year

Seems that about once a year, usually around this time. I run outta steam. If I were Ziggy, this would be a "No intro today" kinda entry, and then there would be a joke....or even the Superman how-to-tell-a-joke kinda thing. 

This past week has been another week of changes, neither all good nor all bad, but something somewhere in the middle. A new rhythm is developing over at Chez Wifely, and it will take some getting used to. Various medical support personnel are beginning to make appearances....the visiting nurse, the PT lady, the bath guy.....and I am grateful for that support. FIL seems more relaxed now that the daily stair climb is over.  More and more, his age is catching up with him, and as  much as he claims he's ready whenever, it's pretty clear he's not.  The speech is a little slurred, the thoughts are getting caught somewhere between the brain and the mouth and not turning into words as quickly as he wants. He gets frustrated, and there is nothing I can do to fix this. He's laughing a bit more, though,...but sleeping more.

And I am sleeping less. Between worrying about FIL and the heart-wrenching news of the week, it's hard to close my eyes and not feel sad. It must be the summer heat. People are just behaving badly world-wide. I read the paper and I wonder how stupid the masses must be to participate in this moral degradation... much less believe what they read even in the New York Times. What's wrong with just telling the truth every once in a while:
Charlie Rose of CBS interviews Khalid Meshaal of Hamas 

Hamas' charter calls for destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews. Citizens of the State of Israel disagree with that assessment. By the way, not all Israelis are Jews, and not all Jews are Zionists. 

A cop stopped a couple of kids walking down the street. There was some kind of exchange. The cop shot one of the kids. Details to follow.

Senator McCain meeting with Syrian rebels.
The circle is around the man thought to be

 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadithe head of ISIS 

McCain attempts to influence foreign policy. He doesn't always do enough homework. His intentions may be good and sincere, but sometimes, he does more harm than good

These are three true statements. They are by no means meant to completely define or delineate the issue involved, yet each one is precise enough to at least identify a specific issue. Why can't journalists just say stuff like this without the spin and the slant and the baloney attached? Don't get me started on this nonsense!

Therefore, this is where I am going to stop for tonight. I am tired. My brains are running like hamsters on a wheel. There are so many topics on which I would like to rant, yet I cannot pick just one. 

So let's call it a week. Next week, I should be back in fine fettle and form. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
For the record, GE may use some foreign made parts, 
but their fridges are pretty much all made in the US.
This should be a HUGE selling point for them. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Long Day's Journey...

Dr. Michael Baden's diagram
I cannot stop thinking about the autopsy diagram that was released today. This wasn't close range; this was a guy shooting at someone from a distance. And I can't stop wondering what this cop was thinking as he fired at a clearly unarmed person. This was not Trayvon Martin struggling on the ground with cop-wannabe George Zimmerman. There was no struggle for a gun that precipitated an accidental shooting at that moment. This was someone pointing, aiming, and shooting directly at someone else. How much rage, anger, and fear was pumping through this guy's system when he, a peace officer, emptied his service revolver into this kid? 

Of course, this is the heat of August, prime riot time, when the tempers soar like the mercury in a thermometer. Heat, humidity, stupidity, and swat teams are fissionable ingredients in a chain reaction. It's not like the cops didn't have other "situations" from which they could learn to gauge what happens when stuff like this goes down. But they either weren't paying attention, or they wanted to play with all their new Iraq-leftover para-military toys.

Must we be like all the other kids and use our water cannon on civilians? Hey, Missouri! Are you trying to out-Tahrir Tahrir? Sure looks that way from the video tape.

Face it, there is a pervasive gun culture out there, and if you're not quite sure about that, then why was the cop behaving like one of the James Gang instead of Marshall Dillon? We have created a perception monster that is morphing from fantasy to reality with the help of video-games' I'm-more-macho-than-my-Kevlar-shirt-shoot-first mentality that permeates the air like tear gas. 

That cop shot that kid and all hell broke loose. Surprise! It's a racial thing and everyone in America knows this...even the good ol' folks in Missouri...who are insisting "this is not a race issue."  Yes, it is a human issue, but one cannot dismiss the aspect of race from this conversation.

And in not dismissing the aspect of race in this conversation, maybe someone will finally stand up and say in some official capacity that race is still an issue in this country. The despicable behavior of the House of Representatives for the last 6 years should be proof enough that race is still an issue in this country.

We are heading into the presidential election cycle. You better be damn well prepared for race, racism, sex, sexism, and plenty o' homophobia being issues in this country. 

But right now, at this moment, I have other things on my mind.

The natural end of life has begun its leisurely descent into this house. There is no illness, no cataclysmic event, only the slow, relatively peaceful "wind-down" (or so my father-in-law calls it) of nine+ decades of living. His body is tired. He's achy. He has the tiny appetite of an old guy....which really does mean two bites of whatever and a giant bowl of ice cream. The stairs have now gotten the better of him, and we've moved the senior son's childhood captain's bed into what had been once the living room, then Ziggy's study, and now, a bedroom. I hung lined drapes in the two open arches, and even installed (yes, I used power tools) hold-backs so they're not in the way during the day. I've brought down the Bose wave radio and the assorted accouterments he likes having around.  The coat closet beside the living room now has his shirts and polar-fleece jacket collection. We're getting a health aide to assist with bathing et al for he is a modest man and is not comfortable with the idea of me doing this. Meanwhile, he remains fiercely independent and insists he doesn't want anyone hanging around here all day.

At 93, FIL's still pretty sharp, enjoys a good laugh, but he's napping more and more. He's in relatively good shape, the pacemaker having helped his quality of life tremendously, but he's slowing down perceptibly now. He's okay with the process moving at a natural pace, and I am trying to be okay with him being okay with it.  I encourage him to listen to MPR* more and he makes jokes about forgetting things...only I know that really bothers him a lot when he can't remember the word for lemonade which he loves. I know he's looking forward to being a great-grandfather (yes....that would mean I am going to be a grandmother) and says he will hang out until he sees that baby...but then all bets are off.  

So for now, my job is to continue making sure he's okay, that he gets all the yogurt and ice cream he wants, and that he's engaged in something mentally kitchen updating. You see, I told him he's supervisor-in-charge. He liked that idea. He told me to make all the decisions and he'll supervise the workmen. More likely, he'll get their life stories and repeat them all to me at dinner. 

And I'm okay with that. 

Wifely Person' Tip o'the Week
Being born is fatal; we all die eventually.
No one gets out alive. 

*Minnesota Public Radio - home of The Prairie Home Companion and all things newsworthy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kurdish Katch-22

Just the other day, I received the following email:
I don’t actually read your blog, but here’s a good topic if you’re willing to take a break from Hamas and Israel.
from the NY Times: U.S. Jets and Drones Attack Militants in Iraq, Hoping to Stop Advance
So we dropped some more bombs in Iraq last night.. the article itself isn’t anything you haven’t heard on the radio already. The Times picks comments make me sad though – very split between doing nothing and doing more.  Do we let the IS run amuck in the region and keep killing everyone or start in with our forces again?  There’s no real good answer here.
My correspondent is correct, of course. There is no real good answer here. A whole lotta new questions, but not one comes with an answer. 

Caught in the middle of the Middle East, and with much too much exposure in this game of drones, the Kurds are getting it from all sides. They are not their own masters. There never was a single country called Kurdistan…it started with a bunch of small principalities, grew into an amalgam of emirates usually under the “influence” of a caliph-type overlord, and eventually a few bigger states. But endless war took its toll, and by the end of the 16th century, the country was divided up and taken over by the Safavids (Persians) and the Ottomans (Turkey.) Now, that area straddles Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia. Despite their regional, religious, and cultural differences, the Kurds considered themselves Kurds and dreamed of being in charge of their own land. 

The jihadists fight under the banner of ISIS/ISIL:The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq / The Islamic State of Syria, Iraq, and the Levant. The group goes after the smaller, more diverse ethnic populations with a convert-or-die position. One group, the Yezidi, are clinging to the top of a mountain trying to escape. Some who remained in hiding below have been airlifted out, but the ones on the mountain are dying from hunger, thirst, and exposure.

While the attention of the world was focused on other battles in the Middle East, ISIS/ISIL were marking the doors of non-Sunnis and targeting them for death. There is substantial photographic evidence of crucifixions, beheadings, point- blank executions, and other barbaric practices that are impossible to fathom in the 21st century.

My mind keeps cycling back to gas chambers. And ovens. And mass graves. And silence. The world was very silent when news of the Final Solution emerged from Germany. There was no outcry protesting the murder of Jews at the beginning…or the middle, for that matter…except from other Jews. In America, we have  louder voice, but not loud enough to get President Roosevelt to let the passengers of the St. Louis disembark in the United States. On June 6th, 1939, the St. Louis sailed back to Germany.

Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor and outspoken foe of Hitler, is best remembered for a little poem he wrote. That poem has morphed into a thousand memes, but the original is quite succinct and sufficient:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Folks, I get the part about not getting in the middle of a civil war. I get the part about Muslim v. Muslim violence is a whole ‘nother bag of crazy. And I get the part about not getting in the middle of another Middle East debacle. I get all that and I pretty much agree with the “no boots on the ground” thinking. But how do we sit here in silence and let the Kurds die the same way the world let us die? How do we not get involved? We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

My correspondent was spot on when he said, “There’s no good answer here.” There isn’t. As the governments try to navigate the morass, the one thing we can do is NOT be silent. 

6,000,000 Jews died because the world was silent when people were needed to stand up to genocide. Now, it’s our turn to stand up to be counted in the quest to get the would-be victims out of harm’s way. 

NEVER AGAIN applies to everybody.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your neighbor refuses to stand up to genocide, make sure you do enough standing up for three people. A little extra never hurt. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

When History Is In The Balance

Had this great weekend planned: my college friend Wendy was here for a family wedding, so we had an exciting Saturday planned....until FIL had a little episode and I spent a less-than-thrilling Saturday with the ambulance corps and the ER folks at St. Joe's. Wendy is the ultimate good sport and I am thankful she was supportive, kind, and full of funny stories to tell. She also delivered the best line of the weekend when, upon arrival at Chez Wifely, she spied good ol' John Deere in the garage and cried, "Oh my God! It's the tractor!" That just tickled me to pieces! 

Now, if all goes according to plan, I'm springing FIL tomorrow afternoon......

Meanwhile, back in the real world: for those of you who understand the vagaries of the Jewish lunar calendar, tonight happens to be the exact 4th anniversary of the blog. The very first one, WELCOME TO MY WORLD was written on Erev Tisha b'Av, and tonight is Erev Tisha b'Av.  At that time, it was the Haredi, the ultra-orthodox, who were tearing the country apart. This time, it's the world at large. 

There is a little piece floating about the net these days by a fellow named Yashiko Sagamori which may or may not be a pseudonym but regardless of who or what he is, I think is a brilliant questionnaire for any one claiming sovereignty over anything. When confronted about restoring Palestine to its former glory, express interest in that storied past. Here are 12 very serious questions you want to ask:

1.    When was it founded and by whom?
2.    What were its borders?
3.    What was its capital?
4.    What were its major cities?
5.    What constituted the basis of its economy?
6.    What was its form of government?
7.    Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8.    Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9.    What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

The same set of questions can be asked about any country, including Israel, and if you know history, you know the First and Second Kingdoms meet the criteria.

The point is that history must be addressed alongside the hopes and dreams of a state to be created as Palestine. And that state must be that is a brand new entity in the truest sense of the word.

Sitting here on Erev Tisha b’Av wishing I was sitting in Jerusalem…or Herzliya for that matter, I am so saddened by the growing hate and venom in the streets of London, Paris, Antwerp, Hamburg, and now, New York City. The most cosmopolitan cities of the world….festooned with banners of hate and destruction. Calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews, there is no way to say this is anti-Zionist; let’s just call it what it is: anti-Semitic hate speech.

Israel is not perfect and there are actions by the IDF which could have been better planned or executed and no, they are not off the hook, but you cannot fault Israel or the IDF for defending the people of Israel. ALL the people of Israel. That includes the enemy combatants who find themselves being treated in Israeli hospitals. It includes the injured from Syria who are being treated secretly in field hospitals near the northern border. No one asks for an identity card or the politics of their families….they are provided with the best possible medical care.

When the King of Saudi Arabia issues a statement that says, in part,
This [international] community, which has observed silently what is happening in the whole region, was indifferent to what is happening as if what is happening is not its concern…. It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this….They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes.

you have to wonder how much weight his words carry.  He called what’s happening in Gaza a crime against humanity, and he pretty much lays the blame on Hamas. But at least he stood up and said something.

When we sit on the floor to read the Book of Lamentations, it is as if we all sit on the side of the road watching the destruction of Jerusalem. We do this every year lest we forget that we have lost Jerusalem before this, and now there are those who would see us lose this, our chiefest jewel, once again. And this is what Hamas just hasn’t figured out: this is our home. We built it, once, twice, three time's a charm, and we will defend it, whether we wear the uniform of the IDF, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or maybe even a long skirt and a tichel.

It’s just that simple.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week

Looking for something fun to do? Go see DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE on the Centennial Showboat. It’s so worth the price of a ticket!