Monday, October 27, 2014

Welcome Little Miss

The past week's been a bit busy around here. Not only is the kitchen still under "construction," but it's seems like my title Grandbitch...thanks to having a grandpuppy...has been superseded by Savta...Hebrew for grandmother. Last Tuesday afternoon, the first of our own next-gen came into the world weighing 8 lbs 4 oz, 21" long, and sporting a bodacious pair of lungs. 

Holding her for the first time, as my father said when holding the senior son for the first time, is like holding eternity. While my folks are counting the minutes until they get to hold her in their arms, I must admit to being sad that her Saba Ziggy is not here to tell her really bad jokes from the get-go, and that FIL just missed seeing her pretty little face by a couple of weeks. 

Chaya Zissel Braun (z"l)
At the same time we're celebrating, I cannot get out of my mind the image of tiny Chaya Zissel Braun (z"l) being held up in front of the Kotel in Jerusalem just moments away from being mowed down by a terrorist as her family waited for the light rail. Three months old, cradled snugly in her grandfather's arms, and murdered...not in a battle....not in a natural disaster...but in Jerusalem, a holy city for the three Abrahamic faiths. 

In some regard, this was no different from a homicide bomber blowing up a market in Baghdad or a shopping mall in Kabul or a mosque in Mosul. It was a man who believed that his faith required the murder of innocent bystanders and chose to kill in cold blood. What does it say about the world when large chunks of the population who share the same faith as the driver all too often share the same fate as the victims at the rail stop?

I can't help wondering about the world this shayna maideleh is going to inherit from us. Will she enter the kindergarten classroom by passing through metal detectors? Will there be clean water for her to drink and sweet air to breathe? Will she have to worry about carcinogens and pathogens in her food sources? The questions can be overwhelming and I have to admit, I didn't worry so much about them when the guys were born; I was too busy figuring out how to be a mother. But as grandmother? The enormity is stunning.

We are a week away from the midterm elections. I've stopped watching all commercial television because the ads make me want to vomit. All the ads. They are slick, stupid, and demeaning. They adopt the common parameter that Americans are too stupid to see beyond their slick-ass, sleight-o-facts, nose-growing, sound-bitten adverts to the real motivating factor....and I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that that's exactly the condition of We, the People: too stupid to see past the baloney.

How have We, the People, managed to allow a group of oligarchs to hijack our economy to a point were equal pay is not available for equal work, entry level jobs are not enough to keep a roof over one's head AND food on the table, the poorest of the poor are working multiple jobs without benefits or growth to keep body and soul together, and not see that this is an issue? How have We, the People, allowed every other first-world country on this planet to lap us in providing at least basic health care to our citizens? And how have We, the People, managed to put science on the back burner in favor of creationist nonsense and environmental deniers? 

And now, we're going to elect and re-elect these same guys who believe We, the People, are too stupid to live. We are going to send them back to Congress where they will lie, prevaricate, and steal from the American public. We will let them funnel cash from lobbyists while they vote to destroy our nation's water supply through fracking. We will elect them to represent us in those august chambers while they sell our jobs and our futures to the highest bidder to protect their own wealth. We will send them back to Washington where they will beat their chests about Ebola invading our shores while cutting funding to the CDC, trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and other national health initiatives. And We, the People will send back a raft of Congressclowns who refuse to pass sensible gun laws. 

So here's the thing. I'm a grandmother now. I have a vested interest in seeing this nation survive for another few hundred years at least. And I am not stupid....and neither are you.  Arm yourselves with the facts. Know who you are sending to Washington. Demand accountability from your elected representatives. Don't allow them to ignore or dismiss us. WE, the People, elected them, and they owe us. 

This video has been around, and while it's about gun laws, it really speaks to all the issues we face as a nation. Demand a plan. 

I posting this in honor of the birth of my granddaughter. 
I am demanding a plan. 
I am demanding accountability. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
I am We, the People. So are you.
Now behave that way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear Factor - The Pseudo Reality

In the days halcyon days of the cold war, before global warming, the DNC ran an ad now known as “The Daisy Ad.” Take a moment to watch it. Some of you, gentle readers, will remember the ad. I did. Vividly. Others of you probably don’t even know what the cold war was, and will need to better understand why this was terrifying when it was broadcast in 1964. The Cuban Missile Crisis was recent history. Countries were racing to develop their own nuclear arsenals. We were doing duck-and-cover drills along with fire drills at school.

Eventually, it became pretty clear that nuclear winter was a serious byproduct of actually using nuclear weapons and sane thought prevailed. Not that everyone is signed on to SALT and other arms treaties, but generally speaking, we have a clear idea of what constitutes fallout. Of course, when you have children like Kim Jong Il running a country, ll bets are off. 

Face it; fear sells. Even cartoonist James Gillray, back in 1802, was scaring people away from the new cowpox vaccine. And if you think that's just a bunch of silliness, there are a whole lotta people who aren't vaccinating their kids because they refuse to believe the science that goes with vaccination, and are relying on everyone else for herd immunity. But once again, I digress.

The following appeared in Congressclown Kline's email missive this weekend:
Conducting Oversight on the Ebola Epidemic
Nearly 9,000 people have been afflicted with Ebola since the outbreak began, and more than 4,000 have died as a result. My prayers go out to the health care professionals who have contracted Ebola here at home and those impacted by the virus around the globe. In an effort to address this crisis, the House of Representatives has been conducting hearings to assess the federal government’s response. As these oversight efforts progress, I will continue to monitor the situation and any relevant legislation that comes before the House.
This is the only reference to Ebola in the newsletter. Nowhere does he mention the outbreak is in Africa. He neglects to mention only 2 health care professionals have tested positive, and that the lack of protocol was unique to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the original carrier was initially released back into the population without being properly tested for the virus. The two nurses who have contracted the disease will, in all likelihood, be just fine. Mr. Duncan, the original patient from Liberia, was not treated in a timely manner and died. Hmmmmm. Who owns this one?

About 3000 Americans died from the flu last year. Is anyone blaming the President for their deaths? Over 40,000 Americans died last year from preventable diseases including diabetes, measles and whooping cough, so where are the politicians raving about that? Do you see Congressclown Kline or any of his co-clowns-in-crisis jumping up and down about AIDs which still kills thousands of people in this country each year? 

And lest we forget, more than 30,000 of We, the People died from gunshot wounds last year. Wanna talk about sensible gun laws?

This really isn't about Ebola, is it? Nope; it's about fear. It's just that simple. Not that Ebola isn't is....but not nearly as dire as the very real threat of influenza and guns. 

But fear sells papers and increases ratings. Half truths are easier to glom onto than real truth. Just ask the guy in the restaurant who called for an ambulance because he caught Ebola from a pilot:
911 Operator: Sir, sir, listen to me. There's an airline pilot there and he told you he had Ebola?

Caller: Yes, he has been exposed. He came out of West Africa.

911 Operator: He came from West Africa?

Caller: From a European environment. Yep he has.
911 Operator: You said you were exposed?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him. And he has been on a flight from European countries.
911 Operator: Is it just that you've been exposed, or are you having any of the symptoms?
Caller: I'm sitting next to him and having dinner. And he just revealed that he's been in the European countries, including west Africa.
911 Operator: Ok, and are you having any chills or sweats?
Caller: I am not exposed. I am not having any indications.   
Fort Worth, TX 911 call
Really? How did this guy come to this conclusion without help from the media? And how did the media manage to spin this into a giant rumor mill without politicians spouting off nonsense? 

Let's be real clear: travel bans are not going to stop the virus. And the odds of West Africans traveling to Mexico in order to cross the border into the US is also a rather far-fetched scenario. As is the one about the ISIS fighters who are going to infect themselves with Ebola and then come to this country to spread the disease. What are they going to do? Pee on people? Barf in subways and then throw it like monkeys throwing poo in zoos? 

So as a public service, here are some things you need to know about Ebola:
  1. Ebola is an RNA-type virus. It is extremely infectious, but not extremely contagious.
  2. Ebola is not airborne, like the flu or measles. 
  3. Ebola is not contracted through casual contact. Like AIDs, you can become infected by being in direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, or handling contaminated items like bedding or clothing.
  4. Ebola is treatable when caught in early stages. 
The endless barrage of nonsense about Ebola is here to scare you. The non-facts are repeated and repeated until you are tempted to believe the President and his administration are not doing their jobs when, in fact, they are allowing the experts to do theirs. Could they do more? Maybe. Would there be a massive change to contagion management if they instituted travel bans and temperature tests at the airport? No. 

So here's the bottom line: don't listen to anyone trying to scare you. They are after your vote, not your well-being. The talking heads and the political hacks are using this the same way they used the Affordable Care Act death panels, ISIL/ISIS, and immigration. It's the crisis du jour. Ignore them. They make up stuff. If you're reading this, you're already smarter than they are and shouldn't be taken in by their baloney.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Waiting for something exciting to happen can make a week feel like forever. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Candidate?

Well, I've survived the first week of being on my own. Now, on to matters of greater import.

Back in 2008, We, the People elected a fellow name Barack Hussein Obama to be the president of these here United States. He won rather handily, with 52.9% of the popular vote compared with 45.7% for John McCain. Those numbers are outside the statistical margin of error. 

In order to run for POTUS, Senator Obama had to provide proof of natural born citizenship. This was easy enough. His mother was unquestionably from Kansas. He could've been born on Mars...or in Panama like his opponent Senator McCain, and he still would've been a natural born citizen of these here United States by virtue that his mother was a citizen.

Senator Obama became the first black president of these here United States. With 52.9% of the vote, more than just black people voted for him. He had the numbers, he won, and he was declared the winner. 

And it's been downhill ever since. 

No Drama Obama is a smart guy and We, the People, elected him because President Bush II was neither of those things and that proved to be deadly for We, the People. We wanted a guy who wouldn't drag us back into war; in fact, we wanted to be pulled out of a war we had no business being in.  We wanted someone who could right the ship of economy in such a way that it would not be another half-baked-quick-slipshod-shady-bargain-in-the-shuk kinda of fix and we got exactly that: a slow steady recovery, not as fast as some would've liked, but steadily upward. And if it wasn't for this new pseudo-war into which the House would like to drag us, we might be okay.

But we're not. 

From the beginning, Fruit Loops like Donald Trump and the Tea Bags have continued this birther bullshit. The confederacy of GOP congressclowns have done everything possible to sabotage this government, including stopping the government. No other president, not even William Jefferson Clinton and his traveling penis extravaganza, has been subjected to the kind of derogatory and defamatory rhetoric that is currently being broadcast masquerading as campaign-speech....and it isn't even a presidential campaign.

Don't get me wrong; the Democrats are not exactly the poster children for clean campaiging. Both sides own a piece of this action.  But what is getting my knickers all twisted is the abject evil implication of this campaign season. Not that it's ever been clean, fair, or on point, but there is an undercurrent which began with the election of a black president and has escalated into something that shames this nation wholesale. Then venom with which the President's name is spit out in those ads is grotesque. Not President Obama...just Obama, as if he is not worthy of being President of the United States. 

And then it all spills into the local campaigns: they're not about ideas, they're about fear. The issue is not policy, the issue is how to hide croneyism. It's certainly about not about We, the People, it's about deep pockets. And it sure as hell isn't about electing a Congress that will work for the betterment of this nation.

The process has devolved into nothing more than fodder for the chat shows and the butt end of one-liners.

Our little Minnesota 2nd won Bill Maher's Flip-A-District Contest. I had hoped that this would give a bit of a boost to Oberbobermober...but he's functionally invisible. Kline now has ads running on television, but Oberbober has nothing. He couldn't even manage to parlay Maher's visit into anything. His people let Kline's mouthpiece run amok on Bill Maher rather than use the spotlight to get his message out. This isn't a campaign; this is that butt end of a joke. 

That's a shame. Kline, a guy who's never met a checkbook lobbyist he didn't like, will continue to suck up more oxygen in Congress where he does nothing. Says nothing. Accomplishes nothing. He's actually pretty dumb, and if you ever have the misfortune to listen to one of his town hall meetings, you'll know what I mean. Porch light is flickering and there ain't nobody home in there. Instead, he is a shill for the Tea Bags and the other neo-cons who fight to keep America in the dark ages. Kline has sold his soul, his conscience, and his vocal cords to the Koch brothers and my district is going to send that mindless marionette back to Washington without so much as a decent squawk. Makes me want to barf.

Just so you know...this is what set me off this week: images. The images used in a number of ads created by the National GOP election committee are right out of George Orwell and Nazi, Germany. They are dark, distorted, and subliminal. There is an image that keeps popping up and disappearing: the candidate (or I believe in one ad, it's POTUS) with his right arm outstretched waving at the crowd. But the way the ad is cut, it looks like a Nazi salute. There is a subtle intimation that these guys are Nazis. I thought it was me, and then someone else mentioned it, and then two other people mentioned it. It's no accident; nor is it all that subtle. It's fascism. And in case you don't remember what fascism actually means:
Fascists sought to unify their nation through an authoritarian state that promoted the mass mobilization of the national community and were characterized by having leadership that initiated a revolutionary political movement aiming to reorganize the nation along principles according to fascist ideology. Fascist movements shared certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism. Fascism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation, and it asserts that stronger nations have the right to expand their territory by displacing weaker nations.  [from Wikipedia]
This is the direction the GOP and the war mongers are pushing us...neo fascism. Without war, profiteers lose money. Spending our tax dollars on stuff like infrastructure, schools, and roads does not benefit them. Keeping the war machine churning out 2.5 million dollar toilet seats does.

Don't believe me? Listen to James Risen's talk about protecting his sources and his new book PAY ANY PRICE on PBS Newshour

Fasten your seat belts, people, we are in for a very bumpy ride. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When Jeb Bush runs for president....that's when to start really worrying.

Monday, October 6, 2014

FIL has left the building.....

Friday night at sundown began Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. And it's only fitting that a guy who only could remember holidays by what food was served, should take his leave on this day of fasting. That was my Father-In-Law in a nutshell. 

We had had a really good week. We took a ride to an apple orchard. He'd been feeling a bit better with an adjustment to his meds, and he was chattier and much more engaged. We laughed a lot. We made plans to take another ride on Sunday...maybe to see the new bridge in Hastings. He groused that there was no big Friday night dinner this week, and I pointed out it was the beginning of the fast, but a blintz-souffle holiday would start Wednesday night and that cheered him up. Friday right before I served our dinner, Senior Son called home to wish me an easy fast, and then talked to Grandpa about the new band van. Grandpa was so pleased that Senior Son, who is usually totally unconscious about such things,  knew the answers to all his questions like "what kind of tires do you have" and "what oil do you put in the van?"

At about 7:30 a.m., I heard the walker on tiles moving toward the bathroom, and then I listened to see if he would would head into the kitchen where the coffee auto-started at 7:15...which was one sound, or the walker would go back to the carpet of the living room where we had put the hospital bed for him, which was a different sound. Scrape-scrape-quiet told me he went back to bed, so I rolled over and did the same. At 9, I figured I should get up and get ready for shul, and I was already sitting up when I heard him cough...pretty normal...and since he had, just two days before, told me I was "irritating" when after every cough or sneeze I asked him if he was all right...I did not run down the stairs, but went to put a robe on. 

Lt. JG Siegfried
Doc Siegfried ~  DVM
There is a slender balance between doing the right and the wrong thing for aged parents. In Sieg's case, I was flying by the seat of my pants caring for a guy who came from another planet. He grew up on a hardscrabble farm during The Depression where they didn't have enough money to do more than raise enough food for 6 kids with a few extra eggs and some corn to sell in town. He was sent away from home to attend high school. He joined the Navy and went to OCS at Notre Dame never having seen an ocean until he arrived at his first commission. He was the first one to go to college...and he became a doctor. He was as strong as forged steel and as silent. For a kid who grew up near the city in a world with museums, theaters, and summers on the beach, his world could've been another planet. After Ziggy took his leave, it took us a while to find our footing and no, it was not always easy, but we managed. We came to an understanding. After all, he gave me a reason to get up in the morning when I thought I didn't have one. 

As for my own parents, they, too, are aged and I am far away. My elder brother masterminds their care, but I have not spent nearly enough time with them these last five years. I end up torn in half, wanting to be in both places at one. Now there will be a bit more time to get down there, but I know it will not be nearly enough to make them happy. And they're quite good at letting me know how they feel.

Somewhere in the middle, I get to figure out who I am. I went from grad school to wife to mother to widow. I've lived on my own for a total of 6 weeks...and that was only because Ziggy was in New Hampshire, the kids at my folks for tennis camp, and I was here trying to sell the house. I knew it was temporary so it was party city all the way. This will be different. This is real life. I have to learn how to say "yes" to invitations. I can go out at night. I can go to the movies, a play, a concert, a lecture without watching the clock. 

Great grandpuppy Bialy
The best laid plans are not always realized and Sieg's plans were not. His plan was to live long enough to hold his first great grandchild in his arms...and then check out. He was looking forward to that. 

There were but a few moments between the cough and my arrival in the living room, but it was long enough. He was lying on his on his bed, on his side, the covers kicked off his feet as they usually were in the morning. But this time, when I said, "G'morning! Whaddaya wanna eat?" there was no answer.

FIL had left the building. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
You cannot be in two places at once....
but I bet you already knew that.