Monday, June 27, 2016

The Search For Normal

Possibly the stupidest thing I saw/heard this weekend was a twit from the Big Twit himself:

I like Lily Allen anyway, but this just endeared her to me. Short, sweet, and right to the succinct point. 

The second stupidest thing I heard was the one about the political Brexit Bus:

Followed by this admission:
AFTER Leave leaders, including Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party, and Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith of the Conservative Party, maintained that they had never promised that £350 million a week would be given to the N.H.S. Mr. Duncan Smith called the figure “an extrapolation.” Mr. Farage said that the £350 million claim was “one of the mistakes that, I think, the Leave campaign has made” and that anyone who voted to leave because of the promise “made a mistake doing that.”  (The New York Times: What Leaders Said Before 'Brexit," And What They Say Now)
Gee, pols that lie through their teeth and paint it on the side of a big red bus? Now, there's a new concept. Somehow, the Brexit debacle, no matter what side one is on, made our Cavalcade of Clowns look good. And that's really saying something. Which is a little bit scary, if you ask me.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I would be interested in doing another election thing for the New York Times. Of course, I said I was interested, and gave them the info and the permissions they requested. The only thing I've heard since is that they've delayed the selection process. Whatever that means. But I wondered about what I could offer to this convocation of opinionated humans. I am so tired of being outraged by what I hear with my own ears. I am tired of being stunned by what I read. I'm tired of the lies and the innuendo and the news spun so finely that it's more cotton candy than news. I find I watch the local stuff, pay scant attention to network news (I'm an NBC watcher for that) and then immediately turn to PBS when Lester Holt stops talking. I like Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. I like Margaret Warner and Hari Sreenivasan. And I really like when the legal lady, Marcia Coyle, explains SCOTUS. I like the lack of spin, the no-nonsense, hyperbole-free reporting. "It's the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual." (Apologies to Uncle Remus.)  And that's about all the news I can take these days.

Instead, I am finally turning my attention to my own changes. Change of status (now widow AND orphan.) Change of venue (now living in my townhouse and dealing with the aftermath of a move.) Change of relationship with the rest of the world. I am tired of drama. I wrote drama for 30+ years as a playwright, I have no desire to live it.

I married right out of grad school. We had kids. Our year of empty nest was a screaming good time, then FIL moved in. Care-taking roared back into my life. And then, Ziggy had the poor form to shuffle off this mortal coil. For seven more years, I was caretaker for FIL, and then my own folks. 


Is that clear enough? I did what had to be done, and I am glad of it. I got to know FIL in ways his son never did and I got to coax him into having relationships with his grandsons he never dreamed he would have. He took his leave, and seven months later, I was a daughter again! Fraught, difficult, challenging, sometimes even painful, but worth every version of emotion. I'd not lived near my folks for some 40 years, but this last year, I was on site when they needed me...and if the truth be told, I needed them. I had my mom as I went through breast cancer. I told them the truth from day one, and she was my staunch support as I went through it all. Having them here was a blessing. 

And now, they are all gone. 

For the first time in my life, I am the boss of me. My decisions are my own. My choices are my own. And even the act of picking out a couch is my own. This is scary. Really. But it's also invigorating. And fun. Sorta. It's an adventure. I feel more 22 than on the edge of 64. (Yes, I'm pushing 64 and no one is gonna sing that song to me.) 

So what is it I really want?

I want normal. The kiddies came over for Shabbos dinner on Friday night. While I cooked they took Little Miss to our little community pool for a swim. When they were ready to eat, they came back; dinner was ready. We ate, we sat. When Little Miss ran out of day, they went home. It was nice. It was lovely. It was nothing special. It was normal. 

Normal is different for everyone. Normal is a barometer for life. Normal isn't always good, but it's not always bad. Sometimes, normal is that place in between the two where stuff just goes on without fanfare. At other times, normal is crazy and hectic and frenetic. But for me, right now, in this moment, the normal I'm embracing is quiet, peaceful, and gentle. For me, right now, it's calm and welcoming. Of course, there's every possibility I will be bored outta my mind in  a couple of months, and I'll go in search of crazy. 

Who knows?

The last thing anyone should want is a 7/24 news cycle from Nutty Land. I am working really hard to conquer my inner rage at the bigot Trump. He makes me want to vomit. He disturbs my chi...or qi if you're Chinese. He's a narcissist, a braggart, a racist, a misogynist, and a general all 'round asshole. And he thinks once he's POTUS, he can executive order his cockamamie policies into law. The man is delusional. He wants to be god. This is not normal.

People who think they are god do a lot of weird stuff. Just take a listen to his rebuttal against Elizabeth Warren today. 

But only moments later, Trump reportedly called NBC News reporter Hallie Jackson and personally unleashed on Warren, repeating his attacks on her claims of Native American heritage. (More on this particular line of attack here.)

“Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it,” Trump told Jackson. “She made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she is a racist, actually because what she did was very racist.”

“We call her Pocahontas for a reason,” Trump insisted.

This is not a grown up. This is not someone I want standing behind the podium at the UN. This is not a person I want making decisions about war and peace. We, the People deserve a reasonably normal human being in the White House. Or, at the very least, one who doesn't paint himself orange like Garfield the Cat. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

There's no place like home. 

The search for normal...sitting on the deck.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Well, the Junior Son and family are now fully ensconced in their new digs. Mrs. Junior Son is back from a graduate school field trip to Stockholm. Little Miss has discovered the ongoing excitement of having her own personal swing, and Bialy, the hyperactive GSP, is loving the ginormous back yard. And I got to mow a little this week, so I'm happy. There ain't nothin' like a few turns around the yard on the tractor. 

I also got a call on Friday that the Rx-7 is up and running. At some point, I will go over to drive it; then I will be able to step away for good. 

Father's Day was, admittedly, tougher than I anticipated. This was the first one without my own dad. Although there was no mad scramble for the annual Father's Day poem, I must confess, I sat at my desk thinking about all the things I could've or might've or should've said. I was missing more the unstoppable guy and not the guy who was fading away last year. It wasn't as if I loved him any less because he'd stopped being the force of nature he had been, but I realize the camaraderie is what I missed most.  Oddly, my guys having already gone through this, were no help whatsoever. 

So why am I writing about this? 

Because this is real life. These are the gains and losses, and not all are measured in terms of money or property. Real life is about the people with whom we associate, and those choices we make in those associations. We can choose to include, or we can choose to exclude. Conversation becomes overly dull with a single cast of characters, so we invite new people to the table, to the event, to the....whatever. We tell ourselves we are open minded, open hearted, open mouthed. 


We yammer constantly about diversity and inclusion, but do we know what it means? I'm not so sure. 

Let's begin with a definition from Merriam Webster:

Full Definition of diversityplural diversities
 1:  the condition of having or being composed of differing elements :  variety; especially :  the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization <programs intended to promote diversity in schools>
  an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities :  an instance of being diverse <a diversity of opinion>

Nowhere in that definition does it say anything about race, creed, political persuasion, or sexual orientation. It says, "different types." Homogeneity is the enemy of diversity. The goal of diversity is to have lots of ideas, lots of elements, lots of other thoughts going around. This is the stuff that makes for invention, for development, for interesting conversation, for learning, for growing, for everything except being the same. 

Diversity is exactly what it says it is. Different people sharing different ideas. Spouting different philosophies. Debating and discussing. Anything else is boring. 

If you decide to accept diversity as what it's supposed to be, it means you're going to stop throwing brickbats at people. You're going to be more willing to listen, to understand, and perhaps even to grow intellectually. Most of all, you will be exposed to something other than the noise between your own ears. 

We read Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat...all sorts of media that brings up instant news all too often tailored to our own tastes by some algorithm that shows us what we want to see, not what we should see. We are becoming the humans of WALL-E, confined to our recliners watching only what we want to see. 

That is not how real-life should be. Homogenization is for milk. Homogenized society is a doomed society. It will stagnate and die. And it's boring. 

Personally, I'm sick of boring. I want to hear what the opposition has to say. I want to understand why some people think Trump is presidential material. I want to listen to someone better explain how jihadism isn't representative of all Islam. This doesn't mean I'm going to become a Republican or join a mosque. It means there are lessons to be learned from any position and/or opinion. 

So here's the deal: if the places you go are only interested in promulgating the same stuff over and over, move quickly to the nearest exit and get out. Your brains are in imminent danger of becoming mush. 

Instead, find someplace where people talk, a place were ideas run wild but browbeating, bullying, or marginalizing are verboten. Learn to stand your own ground in a debate, but learn to listen. Knowledge is not dangerous, but ignorance is. That's the most dangerous part of all. 

If America is to be the Land of the Free, if we are to preserve the Bill of Rights, we need to hear it all. Hearing is not agreeing, and agreeing is not required. Exercise your right of free assembly. Exercise your right of free speech. And most of all exercise your freedom to think for yourself. 

And then, on the first Tuesday of November, try to remember this is a democracy. G-d willing, it will stay that way.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Buy only local strawberries. 
The ones from far away have no flavor whatsoever. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Where is the GOP?

There is a magic moment for every writer when the characters become real; they talk to you, they tell you their secrets, and for a little while, you get to inhabit this netherworld. One may tarry, linger, shilly-shally, dilly-dally, dawdle, or just plain procrastinate, but one cannot remain there. 

I had that feeling, almost, earlier today when I read Donald Trump's statements about President Obama and the Orlando shooting. I was positive I was in an alternative world. I was not. I thought this was some kind of Andy Borowitz column. It was not. I thought the wheels just came off the United States. I'm not sure. 

Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind—you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.
Am I having an episode of some kind, or did the nominee presumptive of the Republican Party just call The President Of The United States a Manchurian candidate? Coming on the heels of his self-congratulatory twits about the Orlando massacre, I concluded I was not in an alternative universe, but in this one where a full-blown nut-job is about to stand for election to the highest office of the land as a major party candidate.  

Where is the GOP?

This is not, nor will it be, the last, hotly contested election in the US. And the rhetoric in the past has been pretty wretched from day one of the idea of running for POTUS. But this is now and not then, when mass media didn't exist in the instant-news-cycle-format we have now, and there was ample opportunity to vet information. We have those things now. We can tell in an instant if the statistics are lies or the liars are ones making up statistics. 

In concert, the disrespect afforded the office of President of the United States by the entire GOP, not simply their presumptive candidate is an abomination. But Trump is running for just that office. And what will he do with it?

Well, for starters, giving us a little hint of the future, he has revoked press-pass privileges for campaign events for the Washington Post. 


This is not how freedom of the press works; it is the birth of censorship. Earlier this year, he threatened to repeal part of the First Amendment to make it easier to sue newspaper for libel.

Where is the GOP?

Trump's responses to the massacre were out of sync with reality. The shooter was American, but that seems not to make a difference since he was Muslim. He verbal attacks are racist. They dance along the edge of the creation of DP camps but refuse to recognize  that the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons plays a role in this horror.

Where is the GOP?

Trump really is a full-blown nut-job. The man has delusions of grandeur. His narcissistic tendencies should be one giant, shrieking siren. His non-stop lies about himself, his businesses, and his so-called university are worthy of Pinocchio. His oft-stated expectations of what he thinks he can do as president are, at the moment, crazy. But here's the thing: put him in office, and he will systematically chip away at the Bill of Rights. The Wash Post tweet was the real deal in the making. 

Where is the GOP?

The power vacuum in the GOP has created its own black hole where all reasonable members seem to have been sucked in, thereby creating its own vacuum. A veritable vacuum within a vacuum. From somewhere in that negative space comes the idea birthed that fear is an okay answer to terror which, by the way, is when the terrorists win. Instead of coalescing in a way that highlights the strength we derive from being a free nation with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the presumptive nominee has taken the stand that these things are to be feared and ultimately repressed. 

Where is the GOP?

The GOP does not know what to do next. They are afraid of Trump, and they are even more afraid of his supporters. These are violent people who have proven over and over that they are willing to do whatever it takes to push their agenda forward. Whatever it takes: this is the operative phrase here. They haven't started wearing matching shirts yet. Wait for it; it's coming. 

And where will the GOP be?

Wake up, folks. This is not about Trump; it's about us. It's about who we are as a nation, what We, the People want as a nation, and what We, the People are ready to sacrifice for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

What are you willing to do to remain We, the People?

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
A week of years = seven years. 
Kind of a mile-marker, it's deserving of a pause, but that's all. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

The 33% Dissolution

The WP is sad to report she has lost her BFF. Without a yard to mow, it seemed silly to keep Mr. Deere idle in my new garage; so off he went to the Junior Son's new house. I knew this might happen, and to tell the truth, I felt better about it than using him as a carrot to dangle in front of a potential buyer for the family manse. I’m sure Ziggy and FIL were smiling down as the Junior Son mowed his yard for the first time. And for the record, the JS said I could come over and mow any time I want. I just may take him up on that. 

On a lighter note, today, June 6th, happens to be the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. Talk about doomed to repeat history.

Only this time, We, the People, may not be on the right in humanity's side. Clinton and Sanders can battle it out all they want, but the real danger lies in Donald Trump. This is not news. This is olds. Instead of speaking out and presenting a viable alternative to running a misogynistic, neo-Nazi for President of the United States, the GOP has chosen to endorse this lunatic.  So has Kim Jung Un.  Really?  Yep.

This past weekend, Trump doubled down on his less-than-veiled threats against Indiana-born Federal judge Gonzalo Curiel. He referred to the gentleman as "that Mexican judge," and called him, "a hater," and insisted he recuse himself from sitting on the bench for the Trump University fraud suits. Why? Judge Curiel is of Mexican descent and therefore cannot render a fair decision because Trump wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico. The double down part? Trump said he would insist a Muslim judge also be recused because as a Muslim, he would be automatically prejudiced against him because the Donald wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

Translation: "I think, therefore I am prejudiced against Donald Trump."

Trump’s bellicosity aside, let’s look at the real issue: the ramifications of this nascent shift in policy.

If Judge Curiel is unfit to hear this case, does it mean that only certain surnames can hear certain cases? Is this to be a new litmus test for the courts? By extension, must the five Catholic justices of the Supreme Court recuse themselves from hearing any case on abortion rights or pedophilia, since both issues are considered “Catholic” issues? Can a black judge hear a criminal drug case with a black defendant? Or, if  Jews control both the media and banking, can a judge with a Jewish-sounding surname sit on the bench for a case involving one of those?

What if we just dump the entire judiciary and repopulate it with old white guys?

You're probably all thinking that can't happen in a government structured on a system of checks and balances; the odds of any one group dominating the judiciary is highly unlikely. Guess again. Get a Congress elected on the shirttails of the Demagogue du Jour, and all bets are off...and suddenly you have a Congress that will support whatever cockamamie position is out there, when not so suddenly it's a giant power play for all the participants/sycophants on the voting floor.

If you're not worried yet, let's take a quick peek at Paul "Oh, I Can Never Be Your Speaker" Ryan. He became the speaker, all right, and then was Paul "Oh, I Can Never Support Trump For President" Ryan until he came to a point where I suspect in those sit down meetings he thought he explained to The Donald that POTUS is pretty much toothless without Congressional backing, and figured he would ultimately pull some of the strings, possibly those around Trump's mouth. And he became, Paul "Oh, I'm Doing This For The Good Of The Party And To Keep Hillary Out" Ryan...and Trump opened his mouth about Judge Curiel. Just a scant day after he swore his oath of allegiance Ryan said:
Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind…It's reasoning I don't relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that....So he clearly says and does things I don't agree with and I've had to speak up on time to time when that has occurred and I'll continue to do that if that's necessary -- I hope it's not
Trump had gone too far and not one of his recent new BFs came out to say this is okay.

That's because it's not okay, even in LoonyLand. It's not okay to use Mexican as a pejorative. It's not okay to say someone's ethnicity disqualifies her/him from performing one's job. It's not okay to allow your supporters to target individuals and entire ethnic groups with hate speech, hate mail, and Jew-tracker apps. And it is not okay to say you know nothing about it. (By the way, Mr. Trump, did you happen to notice they were targeting your son-in-law?)

Trump supporters are scary for all those reasons, and We, the People, have every right to be worried about the depth and breadth of their numbers. This relatively small group has hijacked the GOP in a way not dissimilar to what the Tea Party did in the last two rounds of presidential elections...but with more violence and viciousness.

But the operative thought is to remember how small their support base it. Sure, it may be a statistically significant part of the GOP, but the GOP is not the entire voting population of this country. 

The radical right took its toll on the central voters in the party. Lord knows who or what they voted for, but it sure wasn't the GOP slate. That slate was put there by a bunch of loud-mouthed Know-Very-Littles. The party machine had no idea what was happening in the middle, and chose to ignore lots and lots of warning signs. Twice. And now, they are headed for the trifecta.

Three doomed-to-repeat scenarios come to mind at this juncture:

1) John McCain's selection Sarah Palin as his running mate: The GOP didn't quite figure this one out, but a whole lot of the rest of the country did - radical, hateful speech does not play well in America. Senator McCain was an excellent candidate, but he shot his own plane outta the sky with that moronic governor of Alaska. She wasn't merely stupid; she was ignorant and ultimately her own mouth did her and Senator McCain in. The GOP still hasn't psyched out stupid....and I'm not talking about their presumptive nominee. I'm talking about the Clown Cavalcade. Draw your own conclusions on that one. 

2) Mitt Romney and Paul "Oh, No, I Can't" Ryan: Romney was a loaf of overpriced, fancy-schmancy white bread with Eddie Munster as his sidekick. They did a fine job of alienating women AND minorities. You would think the GOP might have taken away one lesson or another after that debacle, but nooooo; Mitt tried to offer himself up as possible antidote (or was that anecdote) to Trump's growing horde. The sad part was it almost sounded like a good idea. At least he seems to have maintained his refusal to support the guy. Paul Ryan, however, has morphed from Eddie Munster into Eddie Haskell.

3) From the United States Holocaust Museum webpage: 

Hitler was a powerful and spellbinding speaker who attracted a wide following of Germans desperate for change. He promised the disenchanted a better life and a new and glorious Germany. The Nazis appealed especially to the unemployed, young people, and members of the lower middle class (small store owners, office employees, craftsmen, and farmers).... 
In the Reichstag (German parliament) elections of November 1932, the Nazis lose almost two million votes from the previous elections of July. They win only 33 percent of the vote. It seems clear that the Nazis will not gain a majority in democratic elections, and Adolf Hitler agrees to a coalition with conservatives. After months of negotiations, the president of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg, will appoint Hitler chancellor of Germany in a government seemingly dominated by conservatives on January 30, 1933.
33% of the vote. That's not that much. It's a third. A third of the electorate scared von Hindenburg enough to bring the wretched little paper-hanger into the top echelon of government. And that was when the dominos really started to fall. Hindenburg's mistake would plunge Europe into a darkness no one could fathom. Hitler's henchmen didn't start as monsters; they were created by their feckless leader and their surroundings. They had mothers who loved them, friends they played with, lovers and wives and children. None of that mattered. What they became under the tutelage of Adolph Hitler changed the world in the worst possible way. 

Which brings me all the way back to Judge Curiel of the District Court. He is now a lynch-pin, a coal-mine canary, a potential first domino in this twisted reality show we're all watching. By singling out Judge Curiel, Donald Trump has changed the game. 

33% of the vote was all it took to bring Hitler to power. 

Just sayin', folks. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Always be prepared to discuss what kind of oil you put in the car.