Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017: What Comes Next?

Monday, May 29th, 2017 marks the 564th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. It was also John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday. And it is also the 64th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norga reaching the summit of Everest. 

In this country, it also happens to be Memorial Day

One should never say, Happy Memorial Day. It is not a happy kinda day no matter what the local retail establishments are telling you about their sales and promotions. This is a day to remember those who have honored this nation with the ultimate sacrifice and by a natural extension, those who served but who no longer march beside us. 

On this particular Memorial Day, I recall with love, affection, and great respect the veterans of my family: my dad, my mother and father-in-law, my step-mother-in-law, and my uncles. All of them held the Constitution to be as sacred a document as any holy book. All of them believed those truths to be self-evident. And every one of them went to war knowing they might be putting their lives on the line for We, the People and our Constitution. It doesn't get more sacred than that. Those who died, from the American Revolution forward, died so we could be living in a place where all men (and women) are created equal. If we lower our expectations, if we lower the bar of what is and is not acceptable behavior, if we stand by and do nothing as the Constitution is under siege, we are not doing our collective job as We, the People; we are betraying those who died in defense of exactly that. 

Unless you're Ivanka....and then it's time to party:

I can't say I'm not worried about our country. I am. I worry about a guy who goes to Europe to visit our allies, embarrasses himself and the nation with his lack of knowledge, understanding, and basic diplomacy, then comes back heralding what a great success the trip was. Chancellor Angela Merkel, a scientist and politician all rolled into one Teutonic powerhouse, disagreed with that assessment. At a rally in Munich on Saturday, she said,
Die Zeiten, in denen wir uns auf andere völlig verlassen konnten, die sind ein Stück vorbei. Das habe ich in den letzten Tagen erlebt.Wir Europäer müssen unser Schicksal wirklich in die eigene Hand nehmen.
The times when we could completely rely on others are a bit over. I have experienced this in the last days. We Europeans really have to take our fate into their own hands. 
That was a not-so-veiled admonishment that America and Great Britain can no longer be counted upon to be reliable partners. She's not wrong, you know. The British have their own issues  with Brexit, and that takes up a whole lotta space right now, rightfully so. But what's America's excuse? A guy who sits on the throne at 3 a.m. sending out ridiculous tweets? Yep. That's the one. The least he could do is spell-check.

Whether or not he was entitled to be in the front row, shoving someone aside is just not done. Whether it's another child on the playground or a fellow head of state, we teach our children bullying is not acceptable in any form, and one would certainly expect his parents would have done the same. Thank goodness that Montenegro's Prime Minister, Duško Markovićwas the adult in the room, and said:
This was an inoffensive situation. I do not see it in any other way. I had the opportunity today to thank President Trump personally for his support, speedy ratification of the Accession Protocol in the U.S. Senate, the overall support for Montenegro’s Euro-Atlantic integration and of course the further development of our bilateral relations. But,when journalists are differently commenting this scene , I want to tell you that it is natural for the President of the United States to be in the first row.

If you think for one New York minute that the Prime Minister was even mildly not offended, well, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you. For all I know, Mr. Marković's the beast that ate Yugoslavia; who knows. In this time at this moment, he took the high road and, quite frankly, set the adult example for the toddler-in-chief. No matter what he thought at the exact moment he's being shoved aside, he declined to criticize of embarrass the head-of-state of another country. Not that the lesson will stick.

Say what you want about this president, but do not defend the streams-of-incontinence that come out of the oval potty in the middle of the night, and do not defend school yard bully behavior. 

New French president Emmanuel Macron took on the toddler directly with the simplest of gestures: the handshake.  As President Macron  told Le Journal du Dimanche:
 Ma poignée de main avec lui, ce n'est pas innocent, ce n'est pas l'alpha et l'oméga d'une politique mais un moment de vérité. Il faut montrer qu'on ne fera pas de petites concessions, même symboliques, mais ne rien surmédiatiser non plus.
My handshake with him is not innocent, it is not the alpha and omega of a policy but a moment of truth. We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but we must not over-mediate either. 
What an interesting tidbit of diplomacy! Old fashioned, yet so modern. So direct, so subtle, so French. As they say in France, "Yasher koach, Monsieur Le President!"

There were so many moments of monumental chagrin during this trip, it's hard to pick just one as my favorite. Certainly the "Having a great time, wish you were here," note in the guestbook at Yad Vashem would be amongst the top contenders. Wandering out of his meeting with Bibi, only to be led back in by his handlers was another fond memory. And who can forget his speech at NATO, when he completely misunderstood how the treaty organization is funded and works. Ever hear of Article 5?  Apparently, our feckless leader has not. This is kind of a key issue here. 

Best picture, however must go to the Vatican. You cannot possibly beat the family picture.  

The Addams family does Rome. 

The Wifely Person's tip o'the week comes from the Free Melania Movement:

Dress for the job you want.....

NOTE TO MY READERS: Thank you to all who wrote to say the first word was Sunday, not Monday. For reasons I cannot possibly explain, the final version of what I saw said MONDAY. When I started the episode, it was indeed Sunday, and therein lies the error. I thought I corrected the first line early on.  How it appeared corrected on my side, but not outside remains a mystery to me. That said, the appropriate Ziggyism is "99% of all computer issues can be isolated between the keyboard and the chair."  I will own the error. <sigh>

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lasting Peach At Last!

Over the weekend, We, the People learned that not only did the first daughter and her husband get a rabbinic indulgence (not authorized by their home Rabbi Haskel Lookstein who made that point very clear in his own statement) but the Saudis pledged $100,000,000 to an as-yet-unnamed foundation proposed and spearheaded by Ivanka for encouraging women entrepreneurs

Wait! Didn't her father rail and rail and rail and rail about the Clinton Foundation? And the guy who complained about President Obama bowing his head when he received an honor from the Saudi king not only bows but curtsies? Excuse me while I go barf into a bit bucket. 

And all I could think of was EVITA: (ACT II) And The Money Keeps Rolling In


    Forgive my intrusion, but fine as those sentiments sound
    Little has changed for us peasants down here on the ground
    I hate to sound childish, ungrateful, I don't like to moan
    But do you now represent anyone's cause but your own?
    Everything done will be justified by my foundation 

    Eva's pretty hands reached out and they reached wide
    Now you may feel it should have been a voluntary cause
    But that's not the point my friends
    When the money keeps rolling in, you don't ask how
    Think of all the people guaranteed a good time now
    Eva's called the hungry to her, open up the doors
    Never been a fund like the Foundation Eva Peron
If Ivanka starts wearing her hair in a chignon, standing on balconies with her arms raised, fingers together, it's too late. We're doomed. 

Getting back to flying on Shabbat for a moment...well, I'm not about to go down that road. Whatever the level of their observance, it's their business. If they want to fly on Shabbat, that's for them to decide. However, issuing a press release saying a rabbi said it's okay was really kind of specious. We used to call the guys one hunted up to get an agreeing position, Rent-a-Rabbis. Pay 'em enough and they'll tell you shrimp isn't shellfish. But unless you're the one seeking out the rent-a-rabbi to condone something you're doing, you don't get to comment because to do so would be lashon harah...evil tongue. You don't have to like, approve, condone, or even believe in what they do...but this little piece should be left alone. The only one who should be judging this behavior is G-d...and She ain't talking. 

Meanwhile, it's time for Amateur Hour! Somewhere on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean that's not the Middle East, the Toddler-in-Chief is, according to today's WH Press Release packet, promoting lasting peach:

This has got to be Ben and Jerry's newest flavor, dontacha think? Americans love anything peach. Including impeachment. [note: the above line was written before Colbert said it in the monologue. Obviously, great minds think alike.]

Come on, folks, you cannot make this stuff up. The text itself would fail a 5th grade grammar test. Doesn't anyone read this stuff before they hit the send button?????1  People! Do your jobs! You can write all the nonsense you want, but for heaven's sake, get a spell/grammar checker! You are embarrassing the rest of We, the People! 

There's no reason to do a blow-by-blow run of embarrassing moments from this Mideast Fiesta; what's the point? The toddler is already a global laughing stock. His instability really is starting to get to me. His staff works really hard to cover his ADD, but it's getting harder and harder to pretend everything is all right. 

"You see the mob takes the Fifth; if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"                                  candidate Trump ~ September 2016

While I was sitting here working on tonight's episode, I heard Flynn is pleading the Fifth. He called Hillary Clinton a "mob lady." Can't wait to see what he calls Flynn. 

His speeches have been ridiculous, childish, and downright dangerous. He told the Saudis he's gonna get them "a good deal" from American manufacturers. What's he gonna do? Give 'em coupons for bomb parts? I wanna know what the secret discount code is for bazookas.

And he's indicated he will ignore human rights issues with the Saudis. Sure. Let's just forget about that part of what We, the People are supposed to stand for.

This is all nothing but a smokescreen. The real fireworks are waiting the wings for his return. The whole Russia thing is seething beneath the surface and will explode shortly. A friend with contacts on the inside said this administration is so sloppy, so lazy, and so uniquely unqualified to be running a government of any size, that it actually requires much more work to make sure every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted. There is no room for error because ultimately, this guy is unable to control his impulses. 

The picture of 45 standing at the Kotel  bothered me more than I expected. I've been there, albeit a long time ago, and G-d willing, I'll be returning there next fall. But the Kotel is the last remnant of an aspect of Judaism, a physical space that, these days, is more profane than holy in the way the plaza and access to the wall is administered. There is a war being waged in that space, a war of faith, of belief, and of human rights. Because of his lack of commitment to human rights, his very presence desecrates that space. What he does in his private life is private, but when he openly brags about sexual molestation of women, brags about his extra-marital relations, then, without missing a beat, tells us how to be religious....well, that's the height of hypocrisy. His palm on that stone desecrates that which cannot be desecrated. 

So sit back and wait for it. It's coming and it's gonna be good. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The US is one of the longest lasting democracies on record.
It won't be pretty, but We, the People, will survive this this administration.

 1: Note to know who you are....not a peep about me and typos!

Monday, May 15, 2017

In The Original Klingon

I was sitting on my little mirpeset (kinda like a little balcony...there's no word for it in English)on Sunday, drinking a cup of coffee, working the NYT crossword, and thinking about what I was going to write this week. There was such a plethora of egregious behavior that it was hard to narrow it down to just one or two things. 

Earlier, I'd read The National Review's version on how the Clintons were to blame for Comey's rapid descent. I read the article because the headline intrigued me. I tried to follow the logic, but after a few graphs, I figured this guy must be high on something to have written this steaming mass of bull-oney. And then Bill Maher blamed Bill Clinton and the incident on the Loretta Lynch-plane stupidity. And that's stupidity on both Lynch and Clinton's part. But never mind that.

I got to thinking what would this be like if Hillary were president and behaving like this?

That just staggers imagination.

But back to Comey. As much as I hate to think about it, the toddler-in-chief may have done We, the People, a huge favor. He was not acting in the capacity of a lawyer, so unlike like Preet Baharara and Sally Yates, there is no attorney/client privilege invoked. This guy could be the best loose cannon on the face of the planet. Think about it. He can  talk and no one can stop him. He can decide to tell the truth and clean up at the same time. Someone telling the truth in Washington would certainly be novel. 

The Economist is a well respected, well-written British magazine that's been around since 1843. Yes folks, that's 174 years. They didn't get to be around that long because they were publishing alternative facts. Nope. The Economist is about as respected as you can get in magazine-land. So when they announced they were interviewing the toddler-in-chief, everyone was anxious to see how it was handled. And it was handled brilliantly. This is taken from the transcript of that interview:
The E: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit? 
45: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll…you understand the expression “prime the pump”? 
The E:Yes. 
45: We have to prime the pump. 
The E: It’s very Keynesian. 
45: We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event? 
The E: Priming the pump? 
45: Yeah, have you heard it? 
The E: Yes. 
45: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

Sorry, 45, you did not invent that expression. The reporter from The Economist got it in one. It's modern usage in economics is attributed to John Maynard Keynes in the early 20th century. Can you say utter embarrassment, boys and girls?

Meanwhile, in the Too Weird To Possibly Be True category, the meeting with the Russians was tremendous. Not only were no American photogs allowed in the room, turns out the Russians were tweeting away and sending photographs to the Kremlin for their website. Really? Really. 

Back in the old days, the joke was that the Russians always said they invented everything. Didn't matter what it was; it was invented in Russia. In some respects, the coverage of the meeting reminded me of the Klingons having dinner with Captain Kirk and his officers in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.                                                                                    Chancellor Gorkon

If Hillary's meeting had gone viral like that, Cecil the Turtle and Eddie Munster would be clamoring for her immediate resignation.


So once again, I ask my conservative and GOP readers two questions:
  1.  How is this okay
  2. When is it not okay?

Leave a comment. Inquiring minds want to know.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Take a moment to think about the people that mean the most to you:
how do you want to leave the world for them?

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Blessing For Your Favorite GOP Congressperson

That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who've done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.                                                           Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala                                                                                                                     
A Blessing for Your Favorite GOP Congressperson
by the Wifely Person

May you have a brief, manageable bout with cancer.
May you achieve remission.

May you lose your employer provided health insurance.

May you go to sign up for health insurance.
May you be told your cancer is a preexisting condition.
May you find yourself in a high risk pool.
May your premiums cost more than you earn,
And cover less than your daily meds.

May your child be found to have a small, correctable heart-valve defect
May you be told this is a congenital, preexisting condition.
May the simple surgery co-payment cost more than
a year of groceries and a year of heating utilities.

May your wife become pregnant quickly and easily,
And may that fetus be found to have the same heart defect as your other child
and may your insurance tell you this is a preexisting condition that,
 while fixable in utero,
is not covered.

May your parents live long and productive lives
until age related dementia sets in
and you find that is a preexisting condition.
May they be forced to sell their home to move in with you
because they cannot afford either 
care at home or assisted living.
As they decline, may you be faced with 
their bills as well as your own.
Since you already lost your job, 
may you become the kind, loving, stay-at-home caregiver,
paid nothing, but shelling out everything.

May you be faced with foreclosure 
because you cannot pay 
your mortgage,
your property taxes,
your medical bills,
or your insurance premiums 
that cover nothing.
May you be able to move everyone into your car…
until the repo people come to take that, too.

May you wonder how all this came to pass because
good people like you
don’t have preexisting conditions.

May you appreciate how the one-time constituents you threw beneath the bus
reach out to put hot food on your disposable plate.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Keep calling, keep writing, keep sending postcards to 
your personal Congressional clowns.
If you like what they're doing, tell 'em.
If you think the morons, tell 'em that, too. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Decline.....

When I was a kid, I couldn't read enough about history. I loved the lives that were. I wanted to know why Archduke Ferdinand was shot and how the slaves in Egypt really lived. The woman who would become my 5th grade teacher, upon hearing about me brought me a book to read over the summer.  "I hear you've already read GODS, GRAVES, and SCHOLARS," I assured her I had. Several times. "Then you will like this." And she gave me the second book that would change my life, TUTANKHAMEN: Life and Death of a Pharaoh.  I still have the copy Miss Myrus "lent" me, and my dad found a copy of G,G,&S for me years ago, and I still have (and treasure) both.

I won't bore you with a recitation of my years of studying archeology and anthropology and that protracted and difficult decision to let my college diploma read Bachelor of Science, Theater, not Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology. My love of history has never changed.

My dad had a complete set of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and we read it together. It's not exactly a light and fun read. But we talked a lot about leaders and what good leaders do. And what bad leaders do. Those conversations never left me, and as I got older and took to reading biographies over histories, Decline and Fall became the yardstick by which I measured other encounters on the page.
Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.                                                                                                                                                                                 Volume 1
Whilst Gibbon drew comparisons between guys like Diocletian and more contemporaneous monarchs like Charles V,  one cannot help but see how different eras yield different, yet fundamentally similar, comparisons. 

The short version is that if you don't pay attention to history you get to repeat it. See World War I and World War II for recent examples. 

It bothers the stuffings right outta me when people play fast and loose with history. Good history is not opinion. Sure, there might be opinions about what's important or reasons for occurrence, but you cannot say the South won the Civil War. Along those same lines, you cannot say the crowd standing outside at 45's inauguration was the biggest crowd ever because it wasn't. To say otherwise is delusional. 

To be the leader of a nation and not to know its history is deplorable. To stand at a microphone to talk on topics you know nothing about is foolhardy. 
I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart,
He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, "There's no reason for this."
People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

To say something completely and utterly moronic like President Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War, and that he, a slave owning individual, could've negotiated a solution is not merely despicable, it's completely, totally, and unquestionably without foundation...especially since Jackson had been dead 16 years when the war happened. To dig oneself in deeper by saying this is his opinion, is skating along the edge of an abyss. 

Then, there's the CBS interview from Face The Nation. Watching it was unsettling enough. Reading it almost pushed me over the edge:

On Kim Jong-un:
 I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, "Is he sane?" I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie. But we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue. And frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.

On Congress:
Just a system. It's just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you're forced to make deals that are not the deal you'd make. You'd make a much different kind of a deal.
You're forced into situations that you hate to be forced into. I also learned, and this is very sad, because we have a country that we have to take care of. The Democrats have been totally obstructionist. Chuck Schumer has turned out to be a bad leader. He's a bad leader for the country. And the Democrats are extremely obstructionist.
All they do is obstruct. All they do is delay. Even our Supreme Court justice, as you know, who I think is going to be outstanding, Justice Gorsuch. I think that it was disgraceful the way they handled that. But, you know, I still have people, I'm waiting for them to be approved. Our chief trade negotiator. We can't get these people through. 

Let's not even talk about health care and pre-existing conditions. My head would just simply explode. 

And now, he invites Rodreigo Duterte of the Philippines for an official visit to the White House. A guy who compares himself to Hitler, who is working to suspend civil rights, who orders wholesale murder of his people. And they're gonna throw him a dinner.

Are you seeing a pattern?

Power is the name of the game. Civil rights, human rights, those things don't matter. The only ones getting any cred in the White House are totalitarian-authoritarian-dictator-wannabes. These are the role models, people. Look and learn. 

The new affront is the desire to restructure how Congress operates. Now, we all know Congress is a slow moving behemoth, but it's a constitutional one and one that, when allowed to function, does an okay job of protecting We, the People from ourselves. That's what checks-and-balances are all about. 

They are in jeopardy.  

But here's the thing. 45 did not realize how hard this job really is. We, the People seem to be more okay with that than one might think. According to Gallup, 41% of voters approve of 45's job performance on May 1st, 2017.

The transparency we were hoping to get in this government not only isn't there, the veil has been drawn on things we have been used to tax returns. 

I know it's not possible for everyone to be activist, but everyone must do something to keep from being run over by this juggernaut of lies and misdirection. Pick up the phone. Call your representatives, state, local, or federal. Send postcards. They work. One postcard added to a pile does make the pile bigger. Find your voice. 

I keep hearing the phrase coup d'etat. The right keeps saying that's what the left wants. But that's stupid. The left doesn't want a coup....but the right does. And it will be subtle. A rule change here, a filibuster there. It will be subtle.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nice People don't protest. They don't picket. They do nothing. And they stand by when the government is disbanded. 

Don't be nice.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you missed Colbert going after 45 for being a jerk on CBS, 

It was brill.