Monday, October 31, 2016

A Little Happiness Never Hurt Anyone

There's an old joke that's always been a favorite in our family: a priest, a minister, and a rabbi are all asked, "when does life begin?" The priest immediately says, "At the moment of conception." The minister answers, "When the fetus is viable outside the womb." And the rabbi thinks for a moment before he says, "When the kids are safely married and the dog dies." 

The Senior Son is now a married man. Without a doubt, I am the big winner in the daughters-in-law jackpot. Two exceptionally fine women have opted to love my guys enough to marry 'em, and let me tell you, I could not be happier. Looks to me (and the rest of the world) that both my guys had the good sense to marry their best friends. This is a sensible thing to do. I did it, and more than once remembering that once upon a time, we were besties, pulled Ziggy and me back from the brink. I think that because this was such a horrendous year for our family, it was especially important to gather for a simcha, a happy occasion. 

Of course, with the election a scant week away, there was political conversation, but it wasn't quite what I expected. People are concerned about what happens after Hillary Clinton wins. The acquittal of the Bundy Brigade in Oregon last week sets a dangerous precedent. The acquittal seemed to be based on the idea that the government did not prove its case. 
Defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, who served as a hybrid counsel with defendant Medenbach, said the use of firearms allowed the occupiers to garner the attention of the world for their cause. “For these defendants and these people, having a firearm has nothing to do with a threat or anything else,” he said. “It’s as much a statement of their rural culture as a cowboy hat or a pair of jeans. I think the jury believed at the end of the day that that’s why the guns were there.”     The Washington Post - October 27th, 2016
So let me get this straight: they didn't have guns because they were going to actually use them on Federal officials; they had guns because they are a fashion statement. Why not just walk around nude? That would've "garnered" the attention of the media. 

Meanwhile, just down the block a'ways, over at Standing Rock in North Dakota, peaceful protesters are facing police guns, sound cannon, and arrest.  Unlike an armed take-over of federal lands, the Standing Rock Sioux are out there trying to protect their homeland, sacred space...and water. It's not just about the pipeline. Unlike the Bundys, they happen to have rights to the land they are trying to protect. 

But let's not talk about that. Instead, let's all agree to recognize that Standing Rock Sioux have indigenous rights to the land. Indigenous groups from all over the globe are arriving to support their fight to save the land. These people aren't wearing costumes for Halloween; they are wearing their own native dress and joining their voices to those of Standing Rock tribe. 

But we're not talking about that either. We are focused on bashing to a woman who has devoted her adult life to public service. FBI director Comey, in what appears to be a total violation of the Hatch Act. Was it an attempt to be transparent, or an attempt to intentionally obfuscate an already dicey situation? 

With his limited vocabulary consisting of tremendous words like "tremendous," "greatest," and "sue," Mr. Trump has managed to divert attention away from his own mounting troubles, not the least of which is a law suit directed at him for the rape of a minor. Originally filed in California, it has been moved to New York. A status conference is scheduled for December 16, 2016. 

At this writing, not one of my Republican family or friends is voting for Donald Trump. Most are voting for Hillary, some are writing in Mickey Mouse. Be that as it may, it does NOT mean Ms. Clinton will find a coalition in Congress. They are already pledging to just vote down any nomination for SCOTUS. Great. They just announced they are not going to do their jobs. And we are paying them exorbitant salaries because........

So back to the Bundy Brigade for a moment. Since armed insurrection is not a prosecutable offence in Oregon, do we have to worry about the message that sent? In rendering that decision, did that jury just change the course of American history? Honestly? I'm not at all certain.

I think I'll go vote tomorrow after work. I am ready for this to be over. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If invited to a family wedding, go.
Supporting the joy is always a good thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nasty Woman...and One Ring To Rule Them All

I really don't want to write about either candidate. I'm sick of it. I'm so sick of it that I bailed after 45 minutes of the last debate to watch A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, a movie I can probably recite from memory. As soon as I posted I was gonna stop my running-commentary in favor of a great movie, my friend Mojo immediately posted, "There's no crying in baseball." 

That's everyone's favorite line. Mine is in the exchange with the umpire that immediately follows: "Did anyone ever tell you, you look like a penis with that little hat on?" 

Speaking of penises......

Watching LEAGUE was a far better use of time than watching Donald Trump dive deeper and deeper into the deep end of the dead pool. I think what sent me over the edge was the "Nasty Woman" comment. It wasn't the actual interruption, it was the finger and the tone. He looked and sounded like Gollum in LORD OF THE RINGS. His disdain was (and usually is) palpable; this time, at least for me, it was particularly offensive. His body language is so overt, so obvious, and so anachronistic. He is a dinosaur, but one that seems to give hope to millions of troglodytes that a return of olden times is not merely's just in reach. 

Really? What's next? Leviathans in the Mediterranean and one Ring to rule them all?

Interesting side note, though: Hillary was clearly watching her facts and figures. She was definitely more cautious in her citations this time around, whereas, Trump seemed unable to control his hyperbole. Didja ever happen to notice when he's going off the rails, it's all in third-person? He attributes baloney to "reports" he's read, or "many people" telling him something; he doesn't cites sources. Hillary does a better job of citation, and that gives some gravitas to her statements. Even if she gets it wrong, there's something to go check. This is the homework job of not merely being a candidate, but of being an elected leader. I don't think Trump groks that part. He seems to think he can have assorted flunkies do the work. That he cannot retain campaign staff should be sending out HUGE signals... but so far, it's glossed over. 

Be that as it may, the debate was far from the debacle the Al Smith Dinner was. Although Trump started brilliantly, he ended in a morass of hate speech that actually drew boos at some point. It was pretty obvious he did not understand the nature of the event, and he pretty much embarrassed himself and his party. 

If you have not listened to the two candidates at that dinner, you must. Begin at 5:45 minutes in and go from there. 

Draw your own conclusions.

This week, I will focusing on more joyous events. After celebrating my second anniversary of being Savta this past Friday, my thoughts turn to the last three days of this Jewish holiday season and beyond. I've done more sitting in a succah than I have in years, and I have enjoyed every moment...especially the part where I got to have a bagel, cream cheese, and homemade gravlox every morning for breakfast....quite the treat. All this merry-making is setting the stage for more than just Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, there an even bigger event in the making.

Next Sunday night, instead of writing the blog, I will be dancing the night away at the Senior Son's wedding. This event, long in the making, is commencement: it's the beginning of a new chapter for him and his lovely bride. Family and friends are heading to the festivities from all over the country. After this past year of grieving for my folks, we are ALL ready for a simcha, a most joyous occasion. I've even gotten myself a new pair of dancing shoes. I can go down the aisle in high heels, but for dancing, tribal or otherwise, this girl just wants to have fun.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day

Never send your mother a picture of you and your date celebrating Halloween.
She just might tell you it's her most favorite picture of you both.

[PS- the cigarettes are long gone. Thank G-d!]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sex Lies and Audio Tape

Well, it's that time of year....deep in the hoopla of Jewish holidays. The big two, Rosh ha'Shana and Yom Kippur are over, leaving the week of Sukkot to survive. I kinda like Sukkot; it's fall, the air is crisp, the apples are crisp, the leaves underfoot are crisp. It's the whole fall-colors-changing thing. Unlike secular New Year that starts in the dead of winter when nothing is new, this one is like school....the seasons are going around and the scent of adventure is in the air. Even though everything is dying, the brilliance of the season promises something exciting and maybe even a little unexpected. 

This year, being full of new beginnings for me, added one more I'd not considered: building a little, tiny sukkah on my deck. Ziggy and I had always talked about having one, but never got it together to do it. But standing in the kitchen right before Shabbat, looking at my deck through the screen door at the remains of my herb pots, I realized this just might be do-able. Hmmmm. Some serious consideration will take place over the winter. 

Of course, having a sukkah is dependent on my being around to have one. This week was not exactly a stellar turn at politics. The muck, the lies, the level of debate all serve to make me wonder if I did not go to sleep in 2015 and awakened in some alternative universe. 

I get that there are political, philosophical, and ideological differences. I get that there are some serious religious schisms out there. I get that people wrap their collective heads around half-truths and spin because that's all they are seeing. But what I don't get is how anyone can say treating 51% of the population like so much meat is a qualification for being the leader of the free world.  

Some 40% of We, the People, believing that the kinds of behavior exhibited by Donald Trump are a) okay, b) explainable, c) justifiable, or d) a plot to discredit him is a really scary number. You can listen to a series of clips from the interview aired on the Howard Stern show in 2008 on CNN. If you don't throw up in your mouth, you have either a really strong stomach or some latent misogynistic issues. Trump says these things are not true, and in some cases, that he never said them. Why on earth would he say that when it is so well documented? His whole mien is sexual and not exactly innuendo. It's right out there, naked beauty queens and all. Come on, Donald; it's hard to argue with interviews in the public record. 

But that's not what scares me the most. 

Donald Trump is not going to win this election. That's pretty clear, and becomes clearer with each debate and series of late-night tweets. Hillary Clinton will be POTUS and Bill will be the first First Gentleman. With luck, Congress will wake up and figure out most of the nation is pretty  disgusted with their behavior, and if they've managed to survive this election cycle, perhaps they will trade in obstructionism for something less seeking common ground. 

Okay, that last one was a long shot.

What may not be a long shot, however, is the attempt to provoke a coup d'état for after the election. There is no small amount of this kind of talk happening in places we usually prefer to forget about. As Trump keeps railing on about how if he loses, it means this election has been fixed, We, the People had better come to grips with the idea that his supporters are not going away. They will be out there, and they may be looking for a fight.

There has never been a successful national coup d'état although there have been localized attempts, the most notable being the one on November 10th, 1898. That does not mean that there cannot be one here. Remember names like Posse Comitatus or the Bundy family standoff? Groups like these are out there, and they are supporters of the Trump movement. 

This is not meant to instigate a counter movement. This is a warning shot: we are neither as safe nor as invincible as we like to think we are. And yeah, this sounds a lot like the dire warnings before Hitler took over. We all know how many people paid attention to that...and how that turned out. Wasn't good for the Jews, and this time, it won't beegood for the African Americans, Muslim Americans, or the Jewish Americans. 

I do not believe for one New York minute that 40% of We, the People want a coup d'état. I believe that most of We, the People who are supporting Trump will accept defeat of their candidate and begin working toward whatever is next. 

America got to be America because We ARE the People. 

So what's the point? Easy. Be aware. Be very aware. Do not be complacent, and do wait for others to stand up for you. Make sure your representatives in Congress now know your expectations, and when the new crop comes in, make sure you are just as specific with them. Make your voices heard. 

Bryant Park Sukkah
There is a custom during Sukkot called Ushpizin, when we invite exalted guests into your sukkah. Traditionally, they are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David... biblical figures. Even if you aren't Jewish or don't observe the full measure of Sukkot, take a moment to put together your own table of exalted guests and ask them about this election cycle. In playing out those roles, you might learn something about yourself. It can't hurt. It might help. 

The Wifely Person Tip o'the Week

October is a good month to do stuff...get married, have babies...
throw really good parties. 
The air is pretty.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pussy, Yankees, Rockettes, and the Czar

The intent was never to be president.

Let me say that again so I'm perfectly clear: the intent was never to be president. 

Long ago, in a comment far, far away, I said to watch for the GOP vice-presidential pick. That was the one that counted, because that was the one who is earmarked to be president. Trump would eventually figure out a president has little power without congressional support, and the odds of him having that support would be slim to none. Frustrated, Tangerine Guy would just take his baseball bat and go home. After this week's debacle, it's pretty clear Mr. Trump is becoming persona non grata in the GOP and any support is evaporating quickly.

As for pussy grabbing, well, let me say this about that:

Hey! that's an original WP meme!

I don't care if he screws an entire Yankee lineup or the Rockettes. No one gives a damn. But grabbing anyone's genitalia when uninvited is sexual assault,  abuse, not to mention a felony. Bragging about it is an open invitation to go to jail. It doesn't get more disgusting than that. And you expect Queen Elizabeth to invite him to tea? Not unless she stashes the Duchess of Cambridge first. 


I am watching the debate. That's a misnomer. I am watching the debacle while I attempt to write.

This is being watched all over the world. The process of selecting our president has become a global joke. 

I think I want to throw up.

Why is Trump constantly hocking about Bill Clinton's peccadilloes? What does that have to do with Hillary's ability to be president? I really wanted her to just finally say, "I'm not Bill Clinton." I really wish she would. Last time I looked, staunch Christians, like the kind Mr. Trump insists he is, are supposed to fight for their marriages...they're supposed to stay in them....not exactly Mr. Trump's strong suit. While he was bragging about being a serial philanderer, his THIRD wife was pregnant.

Pot. Kettle. Glass houses. STFU.

I really wanted Donald to have at least one coherent sentence. Nope. Nada. Not ONE SINGLE COHERENT SENTENCE fell outta his mouth. Fighting with him is not a fair fight. The man is impaired. He needs a therapist. He needs a collar, a leash, and a straitjacket. Stalking Hillary while she was talking? That moved out of just plain creepy and right into get an injunction.

A certain Rabbi I know posted: "Need to get to the mikvah The debate is over." Yeah, the mikvah with a bottle of scotch. Oh, yuck.  Hillary had to touch that man. SHE needs a mikvah....or at least a shower. 



In the cold light of morning, I remain repulsed by last night's whatever-you-want-to-call-it. But in a more pragmatic mood, the really bothersome part is the lack of substance. Instead of talking about plans, expectations, and solutions, Trump remained a diversionary tactic. He does not have policy plans, he does not have economic plans, he does not have health plans. He has grandiose amorphous ideas that have no roots in the real world. He talks about cutting taxes, fixing infrastructure and getting jobs back from China, but who is paying for this? Where is the money coming from? I'm afraid to ask. 

If he runs the government as well as he has run his businesses, we are in deep doo-doo. By the turn of this century, the only marketable thing he had was his name. He didn't own anything, because the banks had him on a leash. Don't believe me? Try this over at the Wall Street Journal; they don't get any more GOP-friendly than that. If I were a bank, I would hesitate to lend this man any money. As a fiscally responsible citizen, I find his business practices to be questionable at best. This does not even address his personal behavior, which has proven to be anything but professional. 

PBS's Frontline did an especially good job on both candidates: blunt, vetted, and pretty spin-free. If you haven't seen it, it is definitely worth watching. You might get a better, more rounded view on them both.

But then, there he goes again. During the debacle,The Donald made two statements so ridiculous you have to wonder about his fitness to even cross the street:
I didn’t think I’d say this and I’m going to say it and I hate to say it. … If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception
And a little later, when Ms. Clinton said: “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country," Mr Trump shot back,
Because you’d be in jail.
For what??????

Maybe I really am Pollyanna when I say I can't figure out what "situation" Hillary Clinton has committed. The email thing was rehashed again and again, and other than bad judgement, there was no chargeable offense committed. Period. End of discussion. Several times.

How much more money does Trump want to flush down the toilet on trumped up charges of what? 

Benghazi? When the Senate and the House cut diplomatic spending to the bone, how does one allocate money one does not have? The reality was Congress cut funding beginning in 2009:
[Paul] Ryan, [Rep. Darrell] Issa and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. Under Ryan’s budget, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security................................... Washington Post - 10/09/2012
GOP Representative Jason Chaffetz, soon after the Benghazi attack, admitted Benghazi was not a priority:
Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have… 150,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in touchy economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.... 
When you’re in Libya, after a revolution… you [have to] prioritize things. And what clearly didn’t happen is Libya was not a priority. I believe what I heard is that it’s because they wanted the appearance of normalization. That’s what they wanted. And that fit with Obama narrative moving forward.                                                                                        CNN - 10/10/2012

So there is my disconnect on that one. There is more than enough responsibility to spread around for Benghazi. This was not the first embassy bombing, nor is it likely to be the last. Who did they blame for August 7th, 1998's double embassy bombing in Dar el Salaam and Nairobi? I don't recall anyone trying to indict then-President Bill Clinton or Madeleine Albright for those. There were 13 embassies attacked between 2001 and 2009 while Bush II was president. Wanna compare notes?

Enabling Bill Clinton to be a bad husband? Since when is that a misdemeanor, much less a felony with a mandatory jail sentence? 

Being a lawyer who did pro bono work as a public defender? 

Ok, let's talk about Kathy Shelton, shall we? She was raped when she was 12. This is a fact not in contention. Hillary Rodham was asked by both prosecutor as well as the presiding judge to be defense counsel. You do not say no to a judge asking you to perform your civic duty:

Counsel is a constitutional right guaranteed in the 6th Amendment. 
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
As per Ms. Clinton's book, LIVING HISTORY, with substantiation from the parties involved:
[Prosecuting attorney Mahlon Gibson] called me to tell me an indigent prisoner accused of raping a twelve-year-old girl wanted a woman lawyer. [Prosecutor Mahlon] Gibson had recommended that the criminal court judge, Maupin Cummings, appoint me. I told Mahlon I really didn’t feel comfortable taking on such a client, but Mahlon gently reminded me that I couldn’t very well refuse the judge’s request.

Read the story; get your facts straight.

Oh, wait. Did I just mention facts? Silly me!

The troll is better looking. 
Y'know, they can all lie through their teeth for all any reasonable person should care because that is what politicians do, even the best of them.  What we should be up-in-arms over is the monumental waste of our tax dollars and government resources wasted, and I mean WASTED on this narishkeit. It even gets better: Trump says when he's president he's gonna waste even more money trying to prosecute Hillary and send her to jail. 

Really? Nope. He's just gonna arrest her.

Is this the USSR? Argentina? Saudi Arabia? Afghanistan? No, people! It's the Fourth Reich! He encourages his minions to beat up protesters. He murmurs veiled threats that an NRA operative might be inclined to take out Ms. Clinton. 
Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.                                                   Donald Trump at a rally in Wilmington, NC - 08/09/2016
Someone who chooses to support that little-dick-pussy-groping-fascist-bully-who's-gonna-turn-the-US-home-of-We-the-People-into-a-totalitarian-state deserves to live in that Trumpian dystopia. He is not shy about telling We, the People how he is going to run our world.The comments, the innuendos, the not-so-veiled's all there....listen up people. This has gone beyond keeping assault rifles and bazookas in bedroom closets...this is about freedom or speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to be American.

You who are supporting Trump are supporting the male version of Evita, Putin, and Idi Amin all rolled into a tangerine-head with troll hair. I'd mention Stalin, but he had worse hair. 

As for you, Donald, let me give you a little free advice: if this country is such a disaster, move to Canada or New Zealand or someplace else you think is better. Maybe we should start a GO-FUND-ME page since you're probably broke. I would be happy to contribute to anything that would help defray your expenses. You should be more like the Czar: you should live and be well far away from Us, the People.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
May you be sealed in the Book of Life 
for a good and joyous year. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thank G-d It's 5777

Surprised to be finding this in your email box today?  Some of you won't even see it until Monday….or Wednesday depending on how you observe the holy days. But Monday, there can be no episode on accounta it's yom tov. Besides, my Big Brother is here. And for these few days, my mind is elsewhere. 

I do want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. I am not sorry to see 5776 depart for the history books. As my close, personal friend Liz Mountbatten might say, it was "an annus horribilus." The start of 5776 coincided with the beginning of my battle with breast cancer. Just a few days before, I had the surgery needed to make sure I did not have a recurrence. In the days and weeks that followed, I learned about just how strong I was, and just how weak my towering parents were becoming. For me, it was a clash of realities: the old with the new and I was not completely positive I would survive the change intact...physically, mentally, or spiritually. Last year at this time, I said I had cancer, but the blogs do not fully reflect the roller-coaster I was on. Part of me weathered the storm just fine... but another part knew I was moving forward into what would be a difficult year. It was. 

This past year, my Big Brother and I buried both our parents.

However, life does not stop and forward we go. Newly minted orphans even at our advanced ages, we are navigating a holiday cycle without the ‘rents. We are figuring out what that looks like, what that feels like.

My Big Brother always went to the folks for Rosh ha'Shana. Last year, he came here because they were here. This year, my Big Brother is here so we can figure this out together, and, G-d willing, forge new traditions that keep our ties strong.  

Despite the complexities and pain of the 5776, I am grateful for the year I had. I got to be a daughter on daily basis for the first time in almost 40 years. I was able to be there for both my folks, and I continue to be able to say kaddish for them. The cancer is in remission and hopefully gone. I moved out of the house Ziggy and I built, and moved into what is really my very first own home. It's my house and the senior son says it looks like me. I get to say what goes where and I get to change it if I want. No need to ask anyone else for an opinion. I published my first novel and it is actually selling; my first royalty check will arrive this month.

5777 promises to be an strong and good year. It begins with the senior son's wedding. I can only look forward to that, to another novel coming out in December, to adventures yet to be imagined. As I learned from last year, I will learn from this one. I'm okay with that.

May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy and healthy new year. May 5777 bring only good times, good learning, and good outcomes. 

לשנה טובה ומתוקה