Monday, December 5, 2022

I'm Not Gonna Say It

Back in early April 2016, as my mother lay dying, she glanced up at the news on the TV and saw Feckless Candidate ranting away and said, "Isn't he dead yet? Why hasn't anyone put us out of our misery?"

I chuckled, thanked G-d Dad wasn't alive to see this, and said, thinking of Thomas à Becket,  "Who are you? Henry the Second?" 

She turned toward me and deadpanned, "No, Eleanor of Aquitaine," then smiled that beatific smile she used for sarcasm. Think THE LION IN WINTER here. 

Jeez. I miss my mom, But I digress. 

One might have thought We, the People, woulda caught on to Feckless Loser's machinations and ignored him into invisibility. Would that actually happened, but it has not. Back in the days of the first campaign, I wrote about what I saw as the dangers of Feckless in office. Lots of people poo-pooed me, saying I was an alarmist and that time would prove me wrong. I would answer by saying, "Your mouth to G-d's ear." Clearly, no one had Her ear. 

In 2017, I wrote an episode called Fast, Faster, Fasting With A Side of Razzle-Dazzle. You don't have to read the whole thing, just being at the point where I talk about Wesley Balk and the concept of less is more. Presciently, I think I nailed it when I wrote:

If you are unwilling to allow a coup d'etat to be attempted, now is the time to begin watching who does what to whom. Get them all center stage. Light the single light. Keep 'em all where you can see 'em.  
 
Knowledge is light...and light is the enemy of this White House. Keep those lights turned toward Washington.
And some of that light sorta, kinda stayed focused on D.C., but not enough. On December 7th, 2020, all the signs were there, and I duly reported this:

I am really tired of writing about this stuff, but you, readers, urge me to continue to blow the whistle, sound the horn, and keep calling the emperor naked. I am preaching to the choir. On the other hand, if people keep saying, "this is real, this is a possibility," then perhaps we will be better prepared to fight back. 

I do not know if a coup d'etat will eventually take place. All the signs are there. People who have lived through them in other countries are screaming that this is a warning and we cannot ignore it. We must prepare ourselves for the possibility of civil unrest if not a full blown civil war. 

Make no mistake: the lack of measures to stem the pandemic are NOT unrelated to this. And to that end, we can only hope and pray for evolution in action: the demise of the galactically stupid who refuse to mask up and practice safe socializing.

Meanwhile. continue to follow the rules. Don't think it can't happen to you, and don't think it can't happen here. BOTH can.  You've been apprised.

Okay, so it was an attempted coup. In practice, it failed, but did it fail in theory? I don't think so. In fact, I think it shored up the whole mechanism like tech rehearsal. There's a great superstition about dress/tech rehearsals: when they go well, things are gonna get ugly when the real audience shows up. 

Meanwhile, back at his new platform, TRUTH SOCIAL,  Feckless Loser posted this on Saturday, December 3rd, 2022:
and for the record, there were over 10,000 comments
unreadable unless you join TRUTH. And I wasn't doing that.
 

Granted, the post is seditious at best, treason at worst, but that's not what necessarily concerns me; it's the number of reposts, likes, and comments. In the scheme of mass media, these are not really significant numbers when many Insta influencers have over a million followers. But if you manage to visit the public face of the website (and be aware, there are lots of cookies you can't turn off,) what's posted there is scary even if you can't see the comments.

No matter how you want to look at it, storm clouds are gathering. Mock me some more if you want, but I am not alone in believing there is a civil war fomenting on the sidelines. No longer content behind the scenes, these guys are openly advocating for the overthrow of the Constitution and, subsequently, the government of these here United States. 

Back in January of 2021, Dan Simon wrote an article for The NationWho Voted For Hitler  where he discussed the book of the same name written by Richard Hamilton in the 1982. Simon lays out the progression of the Nazi Party:
In 1928, the National Socialists—the Nazis—were a negligible, declining splinter party. Out of his disappointment with his party’s electoral ineffectualness that year, Hitler defied conventional wisdom and changed direction, throwing his organizational muscle to the countryside instead of the cities. Two years later, in the parliamentary elections of 1930, the Nazis suddenly emerged as a force with just over 18 percent of the vote. And in 1932 they reached just over 37 percent of the vote nationally, their high-water mark, prompting Hitler to call on President Hindenburg to name him chancellor.

Instead, Hindenburg called for another election; this time, the Nazis were soundly defeated. Still, believing the Nazis were now declawed, Hindenburg named Hitler as Chancellor anyway. In February of 1933, the Reichstag was burned. Whether the Nazis set the fire or the Communists who were then rounded up and blamed actually did is unimportant. 

What followed with almost blinding speed was the consolidation of power by Hitler, the building of a war machine, and then the start of [the] Second World War itself. Within just a few months, the Nazis had asserted complete control over industrial output, finance, labor, the military, and politics in Germany. 

One cannot lose sight of the fact that when the 1932 election was held, the National Socialist Party received only 37% of the vote.

37% is a whole lot less than Feckless Loser got in 2020. 

This episode will post before we know whether or not Georgia's run-off election...or is that erection...is really for the people. We can hope the sane people of that state won't send a concussed idiot to the highest legislative chamber of the land, but then again, they just might fool us all and send that lame excuse for a human being to congress. 

Wanna know what I wanna know? Whatever happened to all those family values the GOP touted as important to their party? Oh, wait. This is the party that places the emphasis on automatic weapon ownership, denying healthcare to those below the poverty line, and defunding public schools instead of investing in the health and safety of their constituency. 

Never mind. Silly me. And no, I'm not gonna say I told you so. So there. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Must give this one to playwright/author/blogger Jenna Zark. 
This insightful book is for anyone navigating the waters 
of both traditional and non-traditional single parenting. 
Jenna's challenges are universal.
And this is especially good for the grandparents. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Break time is over… back on your head



The bridge at Anacapa Island
I am sitting in SoCal…Southern California, really close to the Pacific Ocean, as in right across the street. Salt water is always a balm for my soul and spirit. Salt air is something I miss every day living in Flyover Land. Seriously. So spending this past week walking near the water, being on the water, or even thinking about the closeness of the water has been a real treat.

Assiduously avoiding the news, I focused on the adventure at hand, blissfully unaware of three mass shootings in the days before the holiday. Then I made the mistake of glancing at the Washington Post homepage. 

What is wrong with a country that sits down for a meal based in some fantasy feast that never occurred while the colonists were already bent on the destruction of the Indigenous People of the east coast and then marks that day by allowing (and I do mean allowing) people to arm themselves so they can shoot up clubs and stores? Oh, wait. Shooting up stuff fits right into the first Thanksgiving, doesn’t it?

What does it say about this country other than We, the People seem to love guns more than we love our kids and our families?

According to the Washington Post, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the US this year, 50 in November. How is it that a large segment of our population continues to believe  guns coupled with the ease of access to automatic and semi-automatic weaponry is NOT a problem. That absolutely nothing has changed in the decade since first graders and their teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook. 

So while I stand on a beach and watch surfers, I have no doubt in my mind that someone else is standing at a counter buying an AR-15-style weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammo before he goes off to shoot up a shopping mall decked out for Christmas. Kinda like one of them shooting galleries at the local fair, dontcha think? I don’t think too many of us have to wonder real hard about the prize.

Meanwhile, a variety of sources claim the GOP-led House of Representatives will be focused on investigating Hunter Biden and proving President Biden is an influence peddler. Compared to Feckless Loser, he’s not even a piker,  but anything the GOP can do to stop Congress from functioning appears to be open game. Which really begs the question: who are these people working for if not We, the People, and why are they totally disinterested in anything that benefits real working folk? 

One might want to understand why the GOP is bent on the absolute deconstruction of the American economy. One would think their constituency is concerned about what’s gonna happen to Grandma if they repeal/cut back Social Security. Or how they’re gonna pay for doctor bills if the ACA is repealed since the GOP has yet to provide any clues about substitute plans. Let’s not even talk about planes, trains, or trucks if the roads, rails, and airports continue to degrade with use and no maintenance. Or maybe that’s just me.

And lest we forget, Feckless Candidate had a dinner party with fine people Kanye West and Rick Fuentes the other night. Of course, Fuentes has already turned on FC, calling for a more right-wing candidate to “outflank” the man he most recently embraced. In case you’re wondering why this shit matters, it’s because he’s one of the guys who is warning Jews to leave the US. Do not, for one New York minute, think he is alone in his hatred. 

Rumor has it it’s gonna snow on Tuesday as I am winging my way homeward. Not thrilled by that concept at all. 


The WP's Tip o'the Week

An iPad is handy, but it ain't perfect.

Monday, November 21, 2022

You Gotta Sing Loud

Well, it's comin' up on Thanksgiving and in my world, no Thanksgiving is complete without a rendition of ALICE'S RESTAURANT. Ziggy and I always sang it in the kitchen...whether it was at the Rodney in Surfside or our house. And I had the great pleasure of introducing him to Arlo when he played in town. You see, I'd known him in another life, the one where I was occasionally waiting tables at Cafe Lena (very badly) and even more occasionally singing (before the face break.) The year we lived in Poughkeepsie, we meant to make the pilgrimage to Stockbridge but didn't get around to it. I remedied that this summer when I was in Connecticut.

I'd like to say that I'm not flooded with memories of Arlo and Jackie (z"l) or dancing in the kitchen with Ziggy while I prepped a turkey. But I am. Thanksgiving here is hard without him.  Instead, I'm masking up and heading to SoCal to soak up some Pacific rays and visit one of my oldest (since the day I was born) friends. I'm so looking forward to a break from the cold weather. 

Shabbat at the Rodney
It kinda reminds me of the old days, when we would all schlep to Flah-rida for the annual Schwaidelson Thanksgiving Beach-a-Ganza. Those were exceptionally fine times as we occupied a row of apartments and shared a progressive Thanksgiving...when we weren't playing Scrabble on the beach or having French Toast Cook-offs. There are so many hysterical stories that go with those trips...like the Senior Son was a souvenir of the first one, and that the Junior Son gave up diapers upon arrival one year so he could get the BIG, BIG, BIG PESENT. (Yes, that is spelled correctly.) And, sweetest of all, beach-shabbat with the fam. 

But that was then and this is now. The war eventually ended, but there are new battles to fight. Even though there wasn't a red wave, there wasn't a blue one either. So, as Arlo says: if you wanna end the war and stuff, you gotta sing loud. 

Tomorrow morning I will head to my happy place...MSP...to board a flight to LAX. I'm hoping for a devilishly handsome man to sit beside in first class and NOT call me Grandma!

Wishing you all a truly happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

The WP's Tip o'the Week

Be thankful for what you have,
share what you can with others,
and never forget
Indigenous Peoples of North America
were here first. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Now That The Party Is Over...Sorta...Kinda...Not Really

Well, in an odd turn of events, MAGA Secretaries of State candidates in all but one state, Indiana, were defeated. There was no red wave, no resounding shofar call for the crazies who think a shofar will herald certain victory [see Pennsylvania GOP,] and no real opportunity...for the moment...to upend the democratic process. The election deniers will not have a chance to deny the election outcomes for the next cycle. That does not mean, however, that attempt to hijack the democratic process is over. Not by any stretch of the imagination. 

It's also pretty safe to say that a woman's right to reproductive autonomy drove the voting this year. Several states had abortion on the ballot itself. The New York Times reported the following:

California, Michigan and Vermont will ask voters whether to add explicit protections to bolster abortion access, especially in Michigan, where a ban on the procedure is blocked in court. Kentucky will ask voters whether to reject protections, opening the door to further restrictions.  
Montana’s ballot measure is unlike the others. If approved, it would criminalize health care providers who do not attempt life-saving care when an abortion results in a live birth, a very rare circumstance.
The voters of California (the State Constitution would be amended to protect a person’s reproductive freedom “in their most intimate decisions,” including the right to abortion and contraceptives,) Michigan (the proposal would create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, including decisions “about all matters relating to pregnancy,” such as abortion and contraception,) and Vermont (the proposal would create a constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy) all passed with significant margins. 

Montana's referendum was complicated but was soundly defeated.
the measure would enact a law making any infant “born alive” at any gestational age a legal person, a protection that already exists under a federal law passed 20 years ago. It would criminalize health care providers who do not make every effort to save the life of an infant “born during an attempted abortion” or after labor or C-section. Doctors say they are concerned that the law will limit palliative care for infants who are born but will not survive. 

But my favorite brain-twisting language came from Kentucky, and all things considered this should surprise no one:
An amendment would state there is no right to abortion, or any requirement to fund abortion, in the State Constitution.

I had to think this one through a bit. Voting YES means there is no right to an abortion but voting NO means there is. Language like this is purposefully meant to deceive voters. But hey! This is Kentucky, the state that brings you Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. Deceiving voters is their stock-in-trade. It's just what they do.

But here's the thing: MAGA unleashed a wave of hate in the US that in our naïveté We, the People, did not believe could or would happen here. But it did. And it will continue to writhe between the sheets of this comfy little bed we've created for ourselves. That's because we are, to be blunt, a nation of ostriches; our heads remain firmly in the sand. Just like the nice Germans who drew the drapes, we think if we can't see it it can't hurt us, but it can and it will. Pretending the bullet we dodged in this midterm election will last is just plain poppycock. If you believe it's all over, well, it's not. 

Of course, we will have to wait a few days to see what Feckless Toddler decides to do. There was no small amount of repudiation last week, but was it enough to make him go away? Probably not. The right wing loyalists will continue to gather in dive bars and elegant halls to whisper plans. Hey! Not all of this cabal hangs out in seedy pubs; we know a fair number of them drift through the halls of the capitals of every state. There isn't a city without a hidden cadre waiting for orders from somewhere up that food chain. Face it, they had a dry run with the insurrection. They now have a better understanding of the weakness and pressure points of the Capitol itself. Trust me; notes were taken and passed along. These things don't wither and die; they hunker down, self-nourishing and waiting for the right moment to emerge. And it will be a slow process, so slow you might not even notice it in your neighborhood. But it's there.

While the GOP party scoopers are congratulating themselves on their teeny-tiny victories and whispering that it might be time to sidle away from their current position, I don't see them making any moves toward an interest in We, the People. In all the years since the 2016 election, I've yet to see one viable health care proposal offered. In this last cycle, they bitched about inflation, but did anyone see anything that looked like a sane counter proposal from them about how to repair the problem without enriching their own pockets? The real problem is not just the oligarchical puppeteers hovering in the background...it's that the rest of the GOP has yet to devise or present a program that positively impacts all of America, including the stewardship of the planet. Their continued ability to place the entire human race in harm's way is rather alarming. 

The short story is that they have lost the ability to govern a country. The GOP no longer sees itself as for the people, it's more like buy the people. And evidenced by the Georgia run-off between Warnock and that paragon of intelligence and manhood, Herschel Walker, it's clear they want no dissent from within, no thinking human who might put the good and welfare of Americans ahead of their self-interest. 

As Arne Carlson, former Republican governor of Minnesota, posted Monday on his Facebook page:

They do not have an agenda that goes beyond self service. Have they moved away from supporting tax cuts to the rich or imposing laws designed to suppress the vote of minorities? Have they suddenly decided to respect the rights of women or adopt policies that will expand the middle class?  
No, their love of self is far greater than service to the general good.

Yet, I do want to admit to rooting for one Republican in this year's fiesta: Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. The guy is a hero in my view. He stood up for free and fair elections when he was pressured directly by the Toddler in Chief and his cabal to "find" 11,000 votes. Yeah, I know he's anti-choice and supported Georgia's more restrictive voting laws, but there will always be disagreement on some issues. That's why we have a democracy. But the guy stood up for the election and that was, at the moment, a brave thing to do. The Torah tells us Noah was a good guy in his time....implying that had he lived in the time of guys like Abraham or Moses, maybe not so good. In the moment that mattered, Raffensperger stood up for America, and I will always be thankful that he did. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

In case you didn't know, THE POMEGRANATE is getting great reviews and doing well on Amazon Kindle's best sellers list in Jewish Historical Fiction. Plus, there is a pitch deck in progress with an eye toward a limited series. Yeah, it's a long shot, I know, but I'm getting a lot of encouragement from knowledgeable sources to do this. If you haven't read the book, you should. If you know someone in the industry, please send me an email.



The WP's Tip o'the Week

Looking for books as gifts? 
You can't go wrong with books about 
strong women in tough circumstances:
(my sentimental favorite.)

Monday, November 7, 2022

The Only Election That Matters

Grandma, dat boy, & me
My maternal grandmother was neither an educated nor an erudite woman. She had a knack for saying stuff from far left field. She was great at sage advice, some of which still holds up today...like never believe a butcher when he tells you it's a glatt kosher chicken...there is no such thing. Her best statement outta the blue ever was, "You're gonna marry dat boy." (I did.)

Her own world view came from surviving pogroms in Odessa and young widowhood. She was a practicalist of the first order. Over the years, she imparted some pretty strange and some pretty sage wisdom, and one of the best things she ever told me was something along the lines of never believe what the politicians tell you; they have a secret plan and they're not gonna tell you what it is. They talk out of three sides of their mouths.

The healthy dose of skepticism she instilled in me has served me well, and right now, it's like she handed me the key to understanding the 2022 midterm elections. I'd been dancing around the feeling that I was missing something in the big pictures. Lying in bed before dawn this morning, I was thinking about the arc of the elections and what really mattered. Since the GOP has declared their only goal is to stop anything the Biden administration wants, whether or not it is good for We, the People and the country, what difference is there if Congress is blue or red? Some Democrats act like Republicans anyway, so there's never a winner, only some form of stalemate. 

Governors are the same thing. Their legislators are going to play games with any agenda because there is no super-majority to get anything done. This midterm is a waste of money. It doesn't matter who wins or who loses. 

Or does it?

There is only one office that will make a difference. In 27 states, the office of Secretary of State is on the ballot. In at least 13 of those states, an avowed election denier is running for office. 

These are the only elections that matter at this moment in time. 

In case you don't understand this low-level, seemingly insignificant officer, let me explain what the Secretary of State does on the state level: this office serves as the state's Chief Elections Officer; implementing electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information. Maintaining business filings.

That means the Secretary of State controls how the election is run. It means the secretary of state has great influence in the matter of how balloting is executed, what ballots are accepted, and how financial information is disclosed to the public. 

If the Secretary of State is an election denier, there is a chance they can refuse to certify an election with an outcome that does not jive with their political beliefs. 

Kim Crockett is running for Secretary of State here in Minnesota. She is a 2020 election denier. When asked if she accepted the 2020 outcome, her reply was:
I don't think we'll ever know precisely what happened. What I can tell you is that Minnesota laws were not followed.
That has repeatedly been proven to be untrue, yet, she still has refused to say whether or not she would accept election outcomes. During a debate with incumbent Steve Simon hosted by CBS affiliate, WCCO Radio, she was asked by moderator Blois Olson if she would accept the results of the election. Her reply was a little terrifying:
I think that's kind of an odd question. We aren't there yet. We're weeks out. And we'll just have to see what happens between now and the certification of the election.
Magnify Kim Crockett with 27 states, and suddenly you have more than half the states in the US with election certifiers who may be unwilling to uphold the law and the Constitution. 

The following states are voting for Secretary of State:

AlabamaIndianaNorth Dakota
ArizonaIowaOhio
ArkansasKansasRhode Island
CaliforniaMassachusettsSouth Carolina
ColoradoMichiganSouth Dakota
ConnecticutMinnesotaVermont
GeorgiaNebraskaWashington
IdahoNevadaWisconsin
IllinoisNew MexicoWyoming

Watch these states for the lower level results. Secretary of State is the lynchpin. The other one you want to keep an eye on is Attorney General. Working in concert, those two offices on the state level can change the trajectory of a nation.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Tomorrow, while you're watching the election results come in, 
keep in mind that this may be the last time We, The People, 
have anything close to a free and fair election. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

When The Music Stops

ADL CEO
Jonathan Greenblatt
Dana Milbank had an essay in the Washington Post this past week. One line jumped off the screen, immediately burning itself into my mind:

As Jews, we know at some point the music stops," Greenblatt said. "This is burned into the collective consciousness of every Jewish person."

 At some point, the music stops. 

The music stops.

Are We, the Jewish People, back to musical counties? Who will take us? Who will bar our entry? Where will our children be safe? Will we be able to start all over again?

If we learned nothing else from Germany in the 1930s, we learned nice neighbors draw the drapes so they can say they didn't know about the atrocities. 

Or did we?

On 60 MINUTES last night Scott Pelly of 60 minutes did a segment (beginning at minute 2:00) on the ballot and voting. Watching was enough to make me want to move abroad.  Pelly  opened with the following statement:

It's the vote. It's the vote that holds America together; belief that with a ballot voices are heard, disputes are addressed, and there's always another chance. Countries without this belief, tend to be in bondage, or at war.

Watch it. It's possibly the scariest thing you can see because it is all true.

Since they can no longer win elections by telling the truth, the GOP is using grass roots, lower level elections to spread the BIG lie... the one where Feckless Asshole won the last presidential election. Instead of having just the big offices out there, they are going after other state offices to move their agenda forward. This is absolutely the case in Minnesota, but we're not alone. Just like Minnesota, election deniers are running for governor in 19 states,  attorney general in 10 states, and secretary of state in 12 states. Pelly goes on to point out that although no fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election has ever been found, getting an endorsement from Feckless is dependent on a candidate's ability to spread doubt. 

So, how does this dovetail into the upswing of antisemitism? 

It's all about spreading doubt. Plant the seed, water it with rhetoric, then sit back to watch it sprout. That said, it's not as direct or obvious as one might think. Follow my thought train for a moment. 

As the Big Lie dominates the airwaves in the form of political ads for election denier candidates, we become inured to the rhetoric. As tired as We, the People, are of the lies, we've stopped calling them out. At the same time, slurs and hate speech on social media platforms have expanded exponentially according to a variety of sources, including LeBron James:

I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.
Yoel Roth, Twitter's chief "integrity" officer, responded thusly:
Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.
Doesn't matter; the damage is done. 

The electronic banner reading Kanye is right about the jews that scrolled across TIAA Bank Field at the end of the University of Florida v. Georgia football game was not, according to an email released by Jacksonville's sheriff's office, a hate crime. 
At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any crimes having been committed; the comments displayed do not include any type of threat and are protected by the First Amendment. We will continue to monitor any reports of this nature to determine if they rise to level of a criminal nature.

I tend to be a free-speech advocate, but I'm not certain, considering the context, that this is not a dog-whistle threat. The FBI and other agencies are looking into it, but what does the sheriff's office imply with that statement? I'm just not sure. 

On Friday, Banners appeared over interstates reading "End Jewish Supremacy in America" and "Honk if you know it's the Jews."

This is not isolated; these banners are not unlike the ones hanging in Los Angeles last week. The upswing in incidents indicates this is a growing trend. The real question, the one that addresses how to stop it, has yet to be answered. 

German Jews believed they were safe in liberal, intellectual Germany. They were not. When the music stopped there, too many Jews waited for it to start up again. The scene was repeated in a domino chain of countries, even the US. We, the People, rounded up those of Japanese ancestry and origin at the same time we were turning away Jewish refugees. Ergo, this isn't exactly an aberration. 

I was thinking about Sukkot (being thankful it was finally over) and remembering some happier times when we would sit around a table in someone's sukkah and argue about Ushpizin...the 7 honored guests. Who would we invite? Who would we omit? But I also remember one sukkot, a more somber one, when we talked about where we would go when the curtain fell on free America. I think I prefer the image of the music stopping better than the curtain falling.

I don't think there is a Jew in America who has not had this conversation with someone. How sad is that?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Do be a good scout. 
Be prepared.