Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween! I'm here to scare ya.

There are so many perfectly awful stories about which to write, it's hard to choose just one. So I won't.

The arrest of Paul Manafort should come as no surprise. Click here to read the full indictment for yourself. Frankly, I think this is the phrase that pays:
Statutory Allegations


(Conspiracy Against The United States)

37. Paragraphs 1 through 30 and 32 through 36 are incorporated here.

38. From in or about and between 2006 and 2017, both dates being approximate and inclusive, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendants PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., and RICHARD W. GATES III, together with others, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury, and to commit offenses against the United States, to wit, the violations of law charged in Counts Three through Six and Ten through Twelve.

39. In furtherance of the conspiracy and to effect its illegal object, MANAFORT and GATES committed the overt acts noted in Count Eleven and the overt acts, among others, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere as set forth in paragraphs 9, 16, 17, 20-25, 32, and 34-36, which are incorporated herein.
The other charges are well documented and easily proved, mostly thought tax and bank records. Conspiracy against the United States is a bucket charge, one that would have been called Treason in a time of war. However, we're not officially at war, so conspiracy it must be. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the IMPEACH TRUMP movement is gaining momentum. Please stop. You don't know what you're doing...unless you are trying to put even more right-wing true-believer conservatives into the oval office. Remember, Vice President Pence is a man with issues regarding availability of birth control. Unlike the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this one actually believes the rhetoric. And you want that behind the desk?

Not to be outdone by the crazy brigade, Sarah Huckabee Sanders insists these charges have nothing to do with the campaign or the White House. Is this woman on the same planet as the rest of us mere mortals? Does she think she is Chicolini?

How stupid does that woman think We, the People are? Wait. Don't answer that.  Here's the proof they all think we're too stupid to live. 

Feckless Leader has made the war on opioids his latest target:
The fact is, if we can teach young people — and people, generally – not to start, it’s really, really easy not to take them,...Really tough, really big, really great advertising, so we get to people before they start, so they don’t have to go through the problems of what people are going through.                                                                                                                    Oct. 26, 2017
Just say no? Been there, done that, got the D.A.R.E. t-shirts. Not only does this guy not understand the fundamental problem of over-prescription of opioids, he seems to think you can talk people outta taking pain-killers. He should hire Michele Bachmann's husband to spearhead this one. He thinks you can talk people outta being gay. 

Sometimes, I think all this sleight of hand, mouth, and brain is more than just intentional. It really is a conspiracy theory that preys on the idea that we will become inured to the outrageous and will choose to ignore it. And to some extent that might be spot on. We, the People, think of ourselves as too smart to fall for this, yet we are giving the fruit-loop contingent exactly what they want: free publicity ...and divisiveness. As long as they keep throwing Hillary Clinton over the wall, we keep batting right back at them with the DNC leading the charge. All this does is to divert us from reality. That is not useful. 

Last week, I promised an update on the aftermath of my sojourn in Israel. This is it:

I have a better appreciation for how Israelis become totally secular. I also have a greater appreciation for why I remain a practicing Jew. Observance frames my life in a way that gives me a point of reference for moral and ethical decision-making. 

Does this mean I think God has anything whatsoever to do with my place in Judaism or  my personal practice? No. (But that's another story for another time.)

Being in Israel, however, in an entirely separate matter. 

48 years ago, I was a 17-year-old kid in Jerusalem watching men walking on the moon on a teeny-tiny black and white television. A week later, I was observing Tisha'b'Av...the date that commemorates the destruction of both Temples, sitting on a hillside overlooking the Old City. I recorded the following:
never in my life have i felt like i belonged the way i feel like i belong here. it's knowing this is our beginning point. i wonder if the shinnecock feel the same way about long island. i bet they do.                                  July 23, 1969
[note to older self - lack of caps is the hallmark of a 17 year old brain.]

When I stood at the Kotel the first time, there was no viciousness, no hatred; everyone was still in that euphoric state of the new, golden period for a reunited Jerusalem. 

That was then.  This is now.

Jews come in all levels of belief and practice. My Judaism is rabbinic Judaism, not the frozen-in-the-17th-Century variety of the ultra-orthodox rabbanut. I do not believe the rabbanut has the right to dictate how all Jews are to be Jews.

Robinson's Arch prayer platform
Netanyhu's coalition, however, supports the stranglehold the rabbanut retains on Jewish life in Israel. Today, the Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told leaders of the Jewish Agency that the government will not fully implement the agreement for an egalitarian prayer space at Robinson's Arch away from the main plaza despite orders from the Israeli Supreme Court that they must do so. 

This was not warmly received. You see, even though Robinson's Arch is a second-rate location for second-rate Jews, away from the Kotel, We, the Diaspora, were willing to take this crumb because it was better than nothing. 

But here's the thing:

We, the Jewish People, are the indigenous people of that small strip of land called Israel. We, the Jewish people, built the cities. We, the Jewish people, have never left the land despite centuries of conquest, exile, and brutality. We are the indigenous people and we have the written and physical history to back up that claim. 

modern toes on an ancient road.
(photo by J. Tocker)

That said, we are not all the same. We are Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern. We come from all continents in all colors these days thanks to 2000 years of Diaspora. We have a global range of cultural habits. We may say the same prayers, but we say them differently. We are not one-size-fits-all. And We, the Jewish People, all belong in Israel, not just the ones with stremls, payess, and silk knickers. 

We, ALL the Jewish People, will never abandon Israel. It is our homeland. It is where we began over 3000 years ago. 

Jerusalem, however, has abandoned me...and for the moment, I can live with that. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

If Stonehenge belongs to the Brits, the Parthenon to the Greeks, 
and the Colosseum to the Italians, 
then Israel is ours. 
No conquering army, no revisionist historian, 
no Johnny-come-lately crusader 
can change that 

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