Monday, December 28, 2015

The Great American Delusion

There's this white stuff falling outta the sky at the moment. The weather pundits started out predicting 5-10" but it's bargain time of year, so they've reduced the prediction to 1-3". Meh. There will be minyan tomorrow morning. 

Tuesday will mark the 30th day since my Dad's burial. To those of you familiar with Jewish law, it's the end of Shloshim. No more torn ribbons. I can get a haircut. I can fully return to the world. Ready or not, here I come. 

Honestly, I am glad to see the back-end of 2015. It's not been a great year. Oh, yeah, I've weathered it all in my take-no-prisoners-Spartacus-kinda-way, but it's not been all that easy, and I am tired. Really, really tired. Okay, it might be the letrozole they've got me taking for this cancer thing, but whatever it is, I am bone weary and would like to sleep for a couple of days....or weeks. Not happening. 

On the flip side, this has been the first year I've lived on my own. Not in my childhood home, not in a dorm, not with my husband, kids, or father-in-law. Just me and the dog. And although she's lousy company, I find I rather like it. Which is a bit of a surprise. 

The blog has had a resurgence of late. For a while, readership had declined, but suddenly, it's back with a vengeance. Emails are up, and frankly, pretty interesting. I continue to be annoyed with the new commenting policy over at the NY Times. They no longer publish opinion at 10 or 11 p.m. Eastern time, which means I don't see the columns until the morning, and then I don't feel much like opining. I opine best late at night. And that they keep publishing Ross Donut remains an utter mystery. 

Meanwhile. back at the ranch, GOP Clown Cavalcade seems to have stalled. I keep waiting for a policy statement from someone, anyone, and all I hear is crap fluttering outta their mouths. This really pisses me off. Not because they are saying stupid stuff, which they are, but because they are expecting We, the People to be distracted from issues by their non-stop obfuscation. They keep lining up on the stage like game show contestants...the winner being the one who can get the most LIAR-LIAR-PANTS-ON-FIRE ratings from the fact-checker groups. 

I cannot wait for Iowa and New Hampshire. I want to see what people actually do when asked to make a decision about who should actually run. I want to see who is left standing at the end of those two events. Keep in mind who won Iowa in 2012. Just because you win in Iowa it doesn't mean you're gonna take the cake. And in New Hampshire, Romney took only 39% of the vote. 
As of Dec. 23rd-Huff Post

The best anyone can hope for is the winnowing of the field. These are the standings as of December 23th...a little old, but close enough for government work. Still, it's a field crowded with inconsequential would-be politicians who have, one and all, sold the electorate down some cockamamie river of no  economic return. 

Dr. Paul Krugman, in his NY Times column this morning, wrote:

You might think, then, that Bush-style tax cuts would be out of favor. In fact, however, establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are proposing much bigger tax cuts than W ever did. And independent analysis of Jeb’s proposal shows that it’s even more tilted toward the wealthy than anything his brother did.
Oddly enough, this is the key. What Krugman implies is that those who would support either of these two....or any of the Clown Cavalcade for that really supporting a FantasyLand kinda pipe dream. Why would someone who barely makes a subsistence living cast their vote for someone who is going to give more tax breaks to the superrich while cutting back basic human services? Well, the answer may be easier to discern than one might think. It's all about The Great American Dream, or, in this case, The Great American  Delusion. 

We, the People hear talk about how wealth has to be protected and that by ensuring the wealthy retain and increase their own incomes, benefits will trickle down to the masses because the wealthy will have more to spend. Baloney. There is a whole segment of the population that honestly and whole-heartedly believes that if they wish/pray/buy enough lottery tickets, magic will happen and they will be super-rich, and once that happens, they're gonna need that write off for their new personal Lear jet. It's not about hard work or start-ups in the garage; it's about money falling outta the sky....or out of the lotto kiosk at the local 7-Eleven. 

The Great American Delusion brings with it all manner of scary stuff. There is blame to assign, people to hate, and laws to repress. It's not about's about promulgating fear and making sure We, the People, have a target to hate. It's not about defending the Constitution, it's about defending our right to own a war-machine-type-rifle that we can shoot at will at anyone or anything. 

Nazi Germany did not begin with gas chambers. Nazi Germany began with a party that instilled fear of the other in its citizenry. They found an outsider to blame. They found a way to round up segments of their own population. And they found a way to manufacture death in a canister. Nazi Germany began with Adolf Hitler telling the people who to blame for whatever was wrong with their own lives. This is NOT American thinking.... least not yet. 

Bring on 2016. I am more than ready for the Clown Cavalcade to move on!

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Resolve to regularly read an actual print newspaper this year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What's Normal?

Did I ever mention that when I would call my folks and Dad answered the phone, he would shout, "Hey, Sue Alou!" which was really homage to Jesus Alou, the baseball player? 

Dad took his own time leaving the building; he was hanging on for Mom. Every time he would surface, he would tell whomever was standing there, "Thanks for coming. It's been a good ride. Glad to see you again." Quintessential Dad: unfailingly polite, kind, aware of the effort made by others...except for the potter at Sturbridge Village...ask me about that some other's family legend. Seemed to me that each time he surfaced, he was preparing us in case he did not surface again, and he wanted to exit this world with kindness on his lips. 

When he took his last breath, I was there, and admit to feeling some relief. It was finally over. The last couple of days had been everything he never wanted. But I know feeling relief isn't completely reasonable, and it comes off as selfish even when you know he must've been glad to see Grandpa and Ziggy waiting to take him to Aunt Ruth's. I can't shake that image. That's what I want to think happened. 

I've been so busy with everyone coming in and out, and making sure Mom has winter clothing...something she didn't really need in Flah-rida. I've allowed myself to be momentarily distracted by the Clown Cavalcade, the Demo-Debate, and Debbie-Gate. There is so much to write about that it's practically overwhelming....or should be. But I'm having trouble caring about the Presiduncy. Debbie Wasserwhatever-Shultz is ridiculous; I want her to go away. She's the Democratic answer to the Clown Cavalcade all by herself. Do we really have to sink to their level? But that's about where my brain stops. 

I don't have the sitzfleisch to write about the nonsense right now. 

Oh, I suppose I could've written, "No intro today," like Ziggy would've, but that doesn't seem right. Instead, I'll quote from a letter from Dad, dated June 5th, 1979, the week after his own father, my Grandpa Moishe, left the building:
I'm trying to get back to a normal day at the office--but it isn't easy--I still bear the wounds of the last few months--and they don't heal too quickly.
Just like my Dad, I go to morning minyan before I go to the office...and I can tell you with absolute certainty, he was right: the wounds don't heal too quickly. I will eventually have to come to terms with the space Dad has left behind. It's a really BIG space. 

Knowing I'll never get "Hey, Sue Alou!" on the phone again is a tough one. It does not mean, however, that I won't ever hear it again. I will hear it in my inner ear for the rest of my life, right as I dig into my pocket for a few extra commas. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Grieving is hard work; it's not instant and it doesn't happen on a schedule.
Do yourself a huge favor. Make the time. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

What I Wanna Know

Wanna know what I wanna know? I wanna know a bunch of stuff this week.

Part One:

Let's start with the mystery snail mail: I wanna know who sent a lovely, but unsigned card bearing a Saint Paul postmark that read, 
Enjoy! Because you survived Cancer and Radiation.

Tucked inside were two gift cards. I do not recognize the handwriting. I have no idea who sent them. But I am profoundly touched...and very grateful. If you, the generous person who did this, are reading this blog, I thank you. From the bottom of my soul. You are kind and I wish i could say "thank you" in person.

Deuxième Partie:

The next thing I wanna know is how come They, The Government of These Here United States, managed to push through new rules for drones that are more comprehensive than rules for guns. How do they do that? Three years after Sandy Hook and the Clowns on the Hill cannot manage to produce cogent gun legislation, but the FAA can compel everyone, including kids, to register their drones and give 'em all visible tail numbers. Can anyone explain this? 

Actually, my friend Morgan did. She said, "Drones don't have lobbyists.... yet." Duh. Why didn't I think of that. She's right, of course. As soon as they convene a gaggle of groupies to serve as a special interest group, they, too will spend billions of dollars to "convince" the GOP that registering drones is a threat to Amurikan freedom. They will prove that the Founding Fathers clearly included drones in the part about the right to bear arms. After all, any real Amurikan can see a drone should be outfitted with remote control firearms to protect themselves from other drones. In fact, a drone was shot right outta the sky this past summer for "peeping" at sunbathing kids because it didn't have its own gun.

Four guys came over to confront me about it, and I happened to be armed, so that changed their minds,” Merideth said. “They asked me, ‘Are you the S-O-B that shot my drone?’ and I said, ‘Yes I am. I had my 40 mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, "If you cross my sidewalk, there’s gonna be another shooting."
Great. Just great. Just what we need: more reasons to get more guns. 

Parte Terza:

From politicfact. com
I wanna know why Ted Cruz is the new front-runner on the Clown Cavalcade. This is the same lunatic who wants all fertilized eggs to be declared people so abortion would be murder. This guy doesn't tell the truth and the most wonky fact-checkers give him a terrible rating. Why would people want to vote for a guy who lies? Why would women want to vote for a guy who thinks we are too stupid to decide how our bodies are to be used. I wanna know why anyone would support a guy who believes not all citizens are equal before the law. This is unfathomable.

But then again, would Trump be a better candidate? Not bloody likely.

Cuarta parte:

What I wanna know about Donald Trump is how much his campaign is costing him and what is the net effect to his net worth. The longer Trump raves on, the more bombastic he becomes, and the less presidential. Now, all things considered, Trump is many things but last time I looked, stupid wasn't one of them. What I wanna know is why this campaign in continuing and, as long as it's going on, why is it getting increasingly strident and egregiously lunatic? 

What I also wanna know is if I'm the only one who suspects he is pushing some kind of reality production envelop and there is no real candidacy inside? Why do I think We, the People, are being taken on a steeplechase with this guy and it's not for our benefit one whit. He has us all hopped up for the ride and the media is letting him manage them right off a cliff....and for what? Bombast? Ridiculousness? Brinksmanship? .....Or ratings?

Which dovetails right into the next thing I wanna know. Recent reports indicate that for every hour+ the mainstream media give Trump, Sanders gets less than a minute. You don't have to be a TV addict to know Trump is bloviating at the airtime while Sanders gets virtually nothing. Hillary doesn't do that much better either. So I wanna know who benefits from the lopsided coverage. It sure as hell isn't We, the People. Just the opposite; We, the People are being denied serious information about all the candidates, not simply the Democrats. 

Parto Kvin:

What I wanna know is how is this okay with all of We, the People...Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist, Communist, Progressive, Libertarian, FSM.....did I leave anyone out? I am unwilling to believe everyone is that dumb as not to see through this charade. 

When the media is complicit, the only thing they accomplish is dumbing down the process. There is a reason they have turned this election into a string of bombastic one-liners courtesy of Mr. Trump: it sells advert time. Equal time rules may have been initially established to avoid this very problem, but when the candidate isn't really a candidate, is equal time really an issue? 

Ha! You bet your sweet bippy it is.

Truth, accuracy, fair reporting, issue coverage...none of that has anything whatsoever to do with this. Fair and balanced reporting does not sell soap. And that's what Amurika needs: more soap.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Be kind. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

And Today's Terrorist Is..........

On December 2nd, a man born in Chicago, Illinois walked into a holiday party with his foreign-born wife and killed 14 civilians and injured 21 others at the Inland Regional Center holiday party. Two police officers were injured during the subsequent gunfight. The wife, born in Pakistan, appears to have sworn allegiance to ISIS on a Facebook page; an initial reports credit her with radicalizing her husband. They were armed with two .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles and two 9 mm caliber semi-automatic pistols.

On November 27th, a man born in South Carolina walked into a mall and then a women's health care clinic with the intent to kill. Two civilians and one police officer were shot dead, five more officers and four  more civilians were injured in the subsequent standoff and shoot-out. The suspect was using a long gun. The alleged gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, Jr, was inspired to act by the Army of God, a Christian anti-abortion group that promotes violence against clinics and practitioners alike. 

On October 1st, a man born in Los Angeles walked into Umpqua Community College and systematically executed the assistant professor and eight students in a classroom. 9 others were injured. Documentation the shooter gave to a survivor identifies him as a virgin and filled with animosity toward Black men.  

On June 17th, a man born in Columbia, South Carolina walked into a prayer service at a predominantly Black church and killed the pastor and eight of his parishioners. He later told police he was trying to ignite a race war. 

Terrorists come in all shapes, sizes and gender. Hang on to that thought for a moment. 

These are but a very few highlights of US mass shootings this year. The top two were motivated by radical religion. The second two are racially motivated. With the exception of Farook's wife, all were American born and raised. 

All are acts of terrorism; all are acts intended to strike fear and terror into the hearts of all Americans. All of these are acts with a very intentional, specific point. 

So why is the only one labelled terrorism the one where Muslims are the shooters?

The truth is fingers are pointed at Muslims because they're not like "us." And I use the "us" with great trepidation because I'm not one of "us" either. I'm a Jew and right now, I am watching what happens with great alarm. What Clown Cavalcade is doing to Muslims is only an inch away from what they would like to do to my "us." Anti-Israel rhetoric is thriving on college campuses right now. But it's not anti-Israel; it's badly disguised antisemitic rhetoric. You have to be blind, deaf, and exceedingly dumb not to get that. And we're not that stupid. 

See the guy with the great mustache? He's our best man. He stood beside us 
under the chuppah. Ziggy was his best man. He's Muslim. Ask me if that matters.

If we want to have a conversation about terrorism and terrorists, let's have it. But let's call terrorism terrorism and stop limiting it to interaction with the Islamic community. Let's start by recognizing that people who blow up women's clinics are terrorists. A person who walks into a church and shoot the parishioners is a terrorist. A person who firebombs black churches is a terrorist. Muslim families fleeing war-torn Syria who have gone through two years of refugee screening are highly unlikely to be terrorists. 

It's time to get past the fantasy reaction, people. The enemies of this nation are not the families who come here seeking refuge and safety. Skin color, religion, national origin...these are NOT determining factors when it comes to figuring out who is or is not a terrorist. 

It's time to send that fascist Trump and his unbridled hate speech back to his unreality show. And it's time to demand that the GOP put up a candidate who is actually capable of being the leader of the free world, because right now, they have nothing. 

And that nothing is the most dangerous, destructive nothing imaginable. 

Wifely Person's Tip 'the Week

There is no room for hate speech in these here United States. 
And there is no room for terroristic threats against women, people of color, 
or anyone else for that matter. It's un-American.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dad Has Left the Bulding

My dad passed away on Thursday evening. That's right. On Thanksgiving. 

It was time. He had faded away and it was time to let go.

I sat with him the last couple of days, reading some of his favorite poems: Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. Gray's Elegy In A Country Churchyard. Millay's Renascence. Frost's The Road Not Taken. All kinda depressing poems...but the ones he always read or quoted from while we were growing up. He used to tell me a good poem inspires thought, a great poem makes you wanna go hang yourself. And then he would laugh and say that wasn't true, but he still liked the overly dramatic stuff best. I don't think too many people knew that the funniest guy on the planet really liked depressing literature. But that was the conundrum that was my dad. So I read him all those depressing poems until I couldn't stand it any more and switched over to Tehillim (Book of Psalms.) And those were not exactly uplifting either. I mean, I get why we read them, but lighthearted fare they are not.

On Thursday evening, just as Mom was being wheeled over to the dining room for a light supper, I went back to Dad. I saw him take a breath. No breath came out. It was over. I silently signaled the nurse to return. Then I went to tell Mom. 

This morning, Sunday, we had a service here in St. Paul for Mom's sake. We already knew she would be unable to make the trip home to the family plot, so Rabbi Allen and I figured out what we could do. I expected a few friends. The room was packed. And from what I hear, the little graveside service I thought would be attended by a few cousins will be more than that. My dad was always full of surprises. Even now.

Monday, I will stand at the family plot beside my big brother and the senior son. A large gathering of family and friends will support us, including Dad's sister, my 91-year old Tante who flew up from Florida. Just about all my cousins will be there. We will hug and hold hands....and tell Sidney stories. And we will laugh. A lot. That's what we do when we're together. Definitely Dad's fault that we laugh at everything. 

Meanwhile, junior son and our friend Arthur will be with Mom, manning the technology that will, if all goes well, allow her to see everything happening at the cemetery. We will lower the box, cover it, and walk away, but it really isn't goodbye for me. His voice will forever be in my head, telling me where I need an extra comma, or explaining how something should work. It will be the voice reminding me to do my due diligence. That voice is as much a part of me as me. I'm sure my brother will hear it in his head, and the kids will hear it in theirs. 

Judaism doesn't say much about the Olam ha'Bah, only that there is something beyond this world. I have no idea what it is, but for now, I am sure Dad is at Aunt Ruthie's, martini in hand, laughing with his best friend, his dad.... my Grandpa Moishe, and his two cohorts in crime, Uncle Marc and Uncle Lenny. Right now, I need to believe they are all together. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but it makes me feel better. 

Dad's memory will be forever a blessing not just for us who were privileged enough to call him Dad or Zayde, but by everyone who knew this honest, forthright, and morally centered man. 

Be of good cheer and all that jazz.

For a little more about my dad: Happy Pappy At 90

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving and Other Assorted Myths

Am I the only one who thinks that during the week leading up to Thanksgiving, We, the People need to be thinking about how thankful we should be for living in these here United States. You know....Home of the Brave, Land of the Free? The place where huddled masses yearning to breathe free managed to land at some checkpoint and make it through to the Goldeneh Medina?

The First Thanksgiving  J.L.G. Ferris - c.1932
the mythological version
Seems to me that unless you're a Native American, you arrived on these here shores seeking freedom from something. And when we arrived, we weren't nice to the people who were here. We brought little hostess gifts like influenza and small pox. Eventually, We, the People conquered, vanquished, humbled, belittled, segregated, and out-and-out killed the people who actually owned this land. I am certain had the Algonquins had a media outlet, they would've described these same "settlers" as religious terrorists come to impose their laws, customs, and mores upon people who had their own laws, customs and mores and saw no reason to change them. So, one might correctly conclude the only time refugees to the US really decimated the population was when they first arrived. See illustration above for revisionist, mythological depiction of the first Thanksgiving. 

We cannot go back and undo what the first settlers and subsequent generations did to the Native Americans, but there are certainly things that should be done, beginning with the systematic removal of ALL anti-Indigenous People acts throughout this country. A good place to begin would be recognizing the role of terror in the conquest of this nation. 

Terror? Did I say terror? Yes. As a matter of fact I did. We showed up with firesticks and scared the living daylights out of the locals. We told them BIG lies about how we were magic. We scared them first into submission, then we swooped in and destroyed them. I do believe that qualifies as guerrilla warfare. 

Meanwhile, back at the ol' homestead, another thing we should do is think about what role this mythological magic-feast holiday has in our lives. It's not religious. It is quintessentially American. It supposed to celebrate not who we are, but who we believe we have become. 

Try living up to that higher dream standard. Let's take a moment to remember where our ancestors came from and what life is like back there now. Do we want to go back, or do we want to stay in this great, imperfect manifest destiny that needs work?

There is a lot of work to do here, and we could sure use a few more hands attached to the arms attached to the shoulders and attached to the heads who want to believe in the American dream. We need those new refugees as much as they need us. It is not easy to get here. It takes about two very long, very probing years for refugee status to be conferred and that's even before America becomes the destination. There is no guarantee once you're declared a refugee that you're even gonna get in here, so let's all take a deep breath before jumping off the short pier. 

      Manzanar - Winter  1943-44       

Ansel Adams
This registration thing is Americanly abhorrent. The Nazis began  by requiring Jews to register as Jews. Once the data base was formed, it was easy to round them up. And we do know how to round people up already, don't we? We even know how to build concentration camps. Manzanar was not a myth or an imaginary exercise. Manzanar was very real. You may even know someone who was imprisoned there....and doesn't talk about it much. But they remember what it was like to be rounded up because of the shape of their eyes and the color of their skin....while their sons were in uniform fighting for the US. How American is that?

This year, when you sit down at the Thanksgiving table, maybe talk about where your people came from and how they got here. Which group would've been the one who wanted your group to register. Just don't think about it, talk about it. Talk about what you would do when then come to your door to register you. This Thanksgiving, begin a new conversation with your family and your friends. Your job is to learn who you are, who your family is, and who we are as a nation.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
May all those who are hungry come and eat. 
Our tables are laden with goodly bounty. 

c. 1950

Monday, November 16, 2015

Don't Bother With Your Tired, Your Poor, Or Your Huddled Masses

used by permission © 2015 Steven G. Artley
If Mary and Joseph showed up at the refugee table next week, they might be denied visas because a rather vocal segment of these here United States has decided that only Christians from Syria should be allowed refugee status. Problem is, Mary and Joseph weren't Christian. They were Jews and they were from the Middle East. Based on Jeb!'s statement, or Dr. Ben's rhetoric, they would not have been granted refugee status.  

Seems to me, Clown Cavalcade of GOP hopefuls, all your religiosity is nothing more than hot air. Where is the compassion? Where is the desire to help your fellow human? All the stuff your savior preached throughout his career is meaningless to you? 

You would rather wage war over a ridiculous red coffee cup then lift a damn finger to help with the humanitarian crisis raging in half the world. You talk about boots-on-the-ground and bombing Syria with not a single thought about what happens next. Like Iraq was such a screaming success, let's do it again.

Come to think of it, the GOP isn't all that far removed from radical Islam, is it? They talk about everlasting life when instead they broker death with their guns-for-everyone policies. They want to put prayer in schools just like the madrases. They want everyone to follow their particular brand of religion while demonizing everyone else. Gee, fellas, I would think you would welcome ISIS with open arms and boxes of ammo.

In his speech on Monday, November 16th, President Obama said:
When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution—that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
Apparently POTUS was wrong, because there are a whole lotta petitions going around saying that's exactly who we are. 

The governors who say they are closing their borders to refugees are morons. Unless you are checking all travel papers at the interstate toll booths, there is no restriction on travel within the US. These are the same clowns who talk about the importance of life, but do not give a damn about helping people survive. They talk about the sanctity of the family, yet they throw entire families to the wolves of war. Talk about hypocrites!

And for the record, you don't exactly walk up to the gangplank and say, "Hi, I'm a refugee; take me to America." The steps to even get refugee status are rigorous and begin with an appearance before the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who determines status based on the parameters established in 1951. Once refugee status is conferred, you will be referred to one of several countries who have opened the doors to certified refugees. No, the system isn't perfect, but it sure as hell beats people swimming across the Mediterranean and walking north from Greece. By the way, those aren't refugees....those are migrants. Apples and oranges. 

Syrian refugee family arrives in Canada
This is a big country. There is plenty of room for a few thousand broken families to find peace and security if only for a little while. Many expect to return to Syria when it is safe again, and view the US not as a permanent address, but as a place to heal. These are not radicals. These are not terrorists. These are people whose lives have been disrupted and destroyed by ISIS. We should be taking them in. We should be a safe haven. We should be everything we tell ourselves we are. Leaving them to die in a war zone is the most uncharitable act I can think of. That anyone can think of. 

If you consider yourself to be an American, if you consider yourself to be patriotic, if you consider yourself to be a believer in the Constitution of these here United States, and consider yourself of be a dues-paying member of We, the People, get off your collective butts and start acting like it. Tell your governors and your congressclowns that  we want to host and help the Syrian refugees. We want them to experience a free and productive society. We want to give them something to take home: the idea that freedom is worth the fight.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Now would be a good time to go through closets and drawers
to get clothing ready for donation. 
Keep in mind, furniture will also be needed. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

You Need An Appointment

Back when the junior son was a whippersnapper barely able to sign his name, he marched himself into the Naval Recruiting Station on Robert Street (next to the old Rainbow in the creepy strip mall,) clambered up onto a plastic chair and informed the rather startled officer behind the desk he wanted to attend to Annapolis... and it was time to get started. The man was very nice, asked the junior son a variety of very serious questions and received very serious answers. The recruiting officer told junior son he needed someone to nominate him, and explained who can do that. Making up a packet of information about the Naval Academy, he presented it to the kid in an official Navy folder. He then looked at me and said, "I think he could do it, y'know. I've never seen a kid this intense before." When the junior son presented the packet to his dad and told him what he'd done, Ziggy listened to him closely and told him this was a very good goal to have. Later, the Pappy-Unit turned to me and said, "Not a bad idea, hon. Service academies are tuition free."

Anyone who lives in this country and is even mildly aware of how officers get to be officers knows that the five service academies
  • The United States Military Academy (USMA) West Point, New York, est. 1802
  • The United States Naval Academy (USNA) Annapolis, Maryland, est. 1845
  • The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) New London, Connecticut, est. 1876
  • The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Kings Point, New York, est. 1943
  • The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Colorado Springs, Colorado, est. 1954

accept nominations, not applications, and admissions are called appointments. An appointment to a service academy means your tuition is paid by We, the People in order to insure our military has the best trained commanders in the world. 

Ben and his BFF Jesus
Dr. Carson, practitioner of psycho-ceramic surgery, clearly has no frickin' idea what he's talking about. It's not admission; it's an appointment, and no one offers to get you one, much less a scholarship. And if anyone had a serious conversation with you about pursuing a nomination for West Point or Kings Point or all points in between, I'm pretty sure you would remember that conversation for the rest of your life. "Hey, wanna go to West Point?" doesn't strike me as a serious conversation.

And therein lies the problem. This guy thinks casual chatter passes for serious conversation. He can't get his stories straight. Not about trying to stab someone, not about what classes he took in college. Not about the snake oil he's been selling à la Dr. Oz, another wacko who, based on Dr. Carson's success, is probably planning the launch of his campaign. 

What is wrong with these people? 

Bread and circus. That's what our elections have come down to. 

Photo by Arthur Levin
The last few days have been spent following the elections in Myanmar, the first free elections in that country in a quarter century, and people are putting selfies of their ink-stained voting fingers all over Facebook. These are people that have seriously gone to the polls to have a certifiable voice in the future of their nation. There are so many problems to tackle, so much damage to undo, but millions of Burmese are bound and determined to prove they have a voice. They are fighting for their very existence as a people. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, after years of house arrest, is leading the opposition party even though their constitution excludes her becoming president because she is married to a foreigner. (Her husband is British.) One of my friends happens to be there now.... I am  so envious that I cannot be there to watch history being made.

Elections are serious stuff and we treat it like a circus parade. How can we possibly put up for election someone who believes the pyramids were built by Joseph for grain storage? 

The common fodder these days is that Marco Rubio will be the nominee. I hope not. He's no better than any of the other lying, fear-mongers running for office. At least the Democrats have the good sense to keep the cadre of candidates down to a reasonable number. 

President Obama nailed it in a single line the other night, when, at a Democratic fund raiser in response to the GOP field whining about the CNBC moderators, he said:
“I mean let me tell you, if you can’t handle – if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you.”

If this is really the best field of candidates out of a whole country of 321,216,400+ people, We, the People are in deep and serious weeds. 

Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Think about the last time you were proud about voting.
Now, is there anyone reaching for the ballot 
who would inspire that same sense of pride?
If there isn't.....go out and find one.