Monday, July 31, 2017

Fast, Faster, Fasting With a Side of Razzle-Dazzle

7 years ago tonight....on the Jewish calendar, I wrote the first episode of The WP Speaks. Right now, right at this moment, when the sun it just setting and people are gathering to usher in the most solemn and sad day, I am not there. I am facing west, can just about see the shul from my study window, but I am not going over. I will read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations by myself tonight, but I will hear it tomorrow morning at minyan because I do still go. If my presence helps to ensure someone else will be able to say kaddish, blah, blah doesn't matter. I do it as much for me because that little, daily island of time helps to center me and frame my day. 

None of it does squat to relieve my concerns regarding Jerusalem, and, by extension, Israel. I am more conflicted than ever, and I see no easy path to resolve my own conflict, let alone the one raging there. So I will go to Israel in the fall. I did the tourist thing a long time ago; this time, I'm going to do the hanging out thing. I'll be visiting a dear friend and her family, drinking a lot of coffee, and, G-d willing, walking on a beach. The whole point is to just be there. To breathe the air, smell the sea, savor some halvah. Oh. And eat falafel. 

Just so you all know...Midweek, I had a meeting with Angie Craig, the recipient of that open letter from two weeks ago. It was a blunt and productive meeting. And I would like to see her in Congress. Now, We, the People of MN2, need to work on getting her to Washington. 

Right now, however, the news of the day is sucking the air outta my lungs. Between the Scout Jamboree and Reince Priebus getting canned, I was having trouble not throwing up in my mouth. But then, Mooch comes along and suddenly we're in a whole new alternative universe. Then Mooch's wife leaves him and gives birth to his son....and then Mooch is canned by the new Chief of Staff, General Kelly.

Now, I understand we're supposed to think the installation of a growed-up in the White House is supposed to be calming. Sorta, kinda...mebbe not at all. In more than one location, the number of generals now in place in the White House is troubling. More than one non-conspiracy theorist has pointed out this is how coups are arranged. And then there's that blip about some right wing political action group trying to set forth a constitutional amendment that would give governors/state legislatures the right to appoint senators, in place of electing them. Really. 

And now, General Kelly kicks Mooch's butt right back into the swamp from whence he came. 

And if you believe this is your run o'the mill tohu v'vohu chaos, guess again. This couldn't be better choreographed if it had been done on Broadway...and golly gee! It already was! Dare I post this yet again? Absolutely! It's life imitating art!

Nothing beats Charles Durning doin' the Sidestep. Frickin' brilliant.

But that's what happened. While Mooch was blowing his own whatever, we were diverted momentarily from the real show....and it went on without much fanfare. Thank G-d for the Brits. They didn't fall for it. Nope. They caught it and got the word out while We, the People were acting like headless chickens. 

Bill Browder, a well-wired financier, was testifying before the Judiciary Committee about
Bill Browder in Moscow
the Foreign Agents Registration Act enforcement; in other wordshow Russian operatives actually work. This is his area of expertise. If you have not yet read his remarks, The Atlantic has published them in full. It is long, difficult to read, but crucial if you want to understand why the White House is doing everything possible to stop this investigation. Once you understand, at least a little bit, about the milieu in which these guys are moving, you will develop a deeper appreciation of the difficulty the various committees are facing. What they don't need is a little Sidestep from the White House. And neither do We, the People.

Do I think there is a coup in the offing? Well, it's like this: maybe.

This is not scientific; this is purely subjective but it comes from a whole lotta training as a director, so hear me out.

Waiting for Godot
at theMark Taper Forum.
Photo by Craig Schwartz.
There is a great deal of stagecraft in politics. Since Nixon debated Kennedy on TV, we are a visual nation. We vote no according to what we hear or know, we vote according to what we see. Perception is EVERYTHING. And it's not just the people, it's the setting.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, my professor, a guy named Wesley Balk, drilled it into my head that less is more. The less complicated something is, the more riveting. If you want an audience to concentrate on what's happened on the stage ONLY, the best set you can have is nothing with a single light on a pole and maybe a chair or two. The eyes of the audience will never wander, never leave whatever is happening under that single light. But if you want to fool your audience, give 'em the ol' razzle-dazzle, and they'll never catch on. 

And the production crew at the White House is using this to the max. 

While the toddler-in-chief doing the shitter-twitter thing, no one is paying attention to what's going on outside the bathroom. It's much easier to pay attention to the crazies than it is to watch a chess match. And that is exactly what this is.

Through the use of misdirection and misinformation, no one was paying much attention to the maneuvering of the chess pieces around the board. There's a method to the madness, although I'm not convinced we all know what it is. Putting amateurs into place, then firing them one by one, only to replace them with people with evermore bizarre credentials is not chaos; this is well thought and purposefully executed. I am convinced Scaramucci knew he was only temporary and would be, in effect, some kind of sacrifice. He runs on stage, bloviates all over the place, then disappears....but while he's on stage, no one notices the stage hands moving props and set pieces in and out. Moving General Kelly to Chief-of-Staff was not arbitrary nor sudden; it was well planned just as the timing of the tweet of the announcement regarding transgender status in the military was a not a whim at all, but intentionally done with General Mattis was on vacation. 

Moscow throwing out half of the US diplomatic corp is a show. This is orchestrated between oh, Bannon, maybe, and his counterpart at the Kremlin. This is designed to make it look like Putin is displeased. Bull-oney. Stagecraft.

North Korea's expedited testing of new ICBMs, however,  is literally a warning shot. This is where the real danger lies. However, if they launch one and it hits ...oh, Chicago... well, there's your excuse for a hot war. How convenient that is!

The changes are not magic. They are calculated and designed to move their end game forward. There are lots of ifs in the strategy, but every one of them is a well calculated risk with redundancy. I believe that the primary end goal is to call a Constitutional Convention to replace what we have now. I believe there will be an attempt made to end the system of checks and balances. I believe there is a two-pronged attack being formed, the first inside the executive wing, the second in the Justice Department and Supreme Court. 

Right now, there is so much happening on the stage it's impossible to sort it, much less separate the parts. But we must do exactly that. 

If you are unwilling to allow a coup d'etat to be attempted, now is the time to begin watching who does what to whom. Get them all center stage. Light the single light. Keep 'em all where you can see 'em

Knowledge is light...and light is the enemy of this White House. Keep those lights turned toward Washington. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
August 1st is the day of Tisha B'Av.
Fast, don't fast. Think about how you want the world to be...
and how you're going to make it happen. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blood Everywhere

Two tragedies, a few days apart, with very different levels of outrage and very different reactions happened last week. One happened here in the US, the other in the Middle East.

A woman who had called the police to report what sounded like a rape was shot by a police officer.

A family sitting around a dinner table was attacked by a knife wielding terrorist who killed three in the dining room while a woman shielded her young children in another room and was overlooked. 

There was outrage and anger on two continents for Justine Damond, a woman in her pajamas trying to do her civic duty. There was little outrage on two continents for this family who had gathered to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.

Is Justin Damond's death any less tragic because she is white? Does being Israeli Jews diminish in any way the horror of the attack on them? 

From the UK Daily Mail

There was a rather harsh discussion about a story in the UK Guardianshared on Facebook, about how Ms Damond saved some stranded ducklings. Photojournalist Angela Jimenez happened to live at the site of the rescue and caught it on camera. But it wasn't until after Ms. Damond was killed that Jimenez realized that Damond was the "duck lady." 

Yet, one commenter saw fit to write: 
Person 1: Philandos death was more tragic. but the media and the dominant society demonized him.
this article is BS.

Person 2: I read many articles that did not demonize him. And I don't know if it is fair for us to say one person's death was more tragic than another's.

Person 1: i dont think its fair for the media and people like you who want to justify this nonsense article.
police brutality has been happing to POC for far too long and now a bunch of white people care cause its a white woman wgo [sic] saved ducks.... WTF.
Ima [sic] done here.
One line really smacked me right across the face: 
Philandos death was more tragic.   
How can one unnecessary death at the hands of police be more tragic than other? 

The Salomon's kitchen (photo credit: IDF)
On the other side of the world, the Salomon family and their friends were celebrating the birth of a new grandson when there was a knock at the door. They opened the door to welcome the newcomer, but instead of a guest, Omar al-Abed, a 19 year old from a neighboring village, came in slashing. Before he was done, Yosef Salomon was dead, his son Elad and daughter Chaya were dead, his wife, Tovah, was gravely injured. Elad's wife was able to get the children into a back bedroom and call the police. 

Where is the outrage? Hamas called him a hero. UN Secretary General António Guterres issues a statement condemning the terrorist attacks, but no one seems to pick it up. 
The Secretary-General strongly condemns this evening’s stabbing attack by a Palestinian perpetrator, which resulted in the death of three members of an Israeli family in the Halamish settlement in the occupied West Bank. 
He conveys his condolences to the bereaved and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The Secretary-General again calls on all to refrain from any actions or words that could further escalate an already volatile situation.
Same guy, regarding the violence in Jerusalem, was on every front page:
The Secretary-General deeply deplores the death of three Palestinians in clashes today with the Israeli security forces and calls for these incidents to be fully investigated. His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General is concerned by the unfolding violence in the Old City of Jerusalem. He urges Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation and calls on all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension.
The Secretary-General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence.
Is "victim" the right word here? If you are part of clashes instigated against the police, are you a victim? Or, are you collateral damage? And why would you be protesting metal detectors? Wouldn't you welcome a safety measure to protect you from crazy people? I don't know. Muslim holy sites all over the world have metal detectors at the entrances. I would think if you're not bringing contraband up the road, you wouldn't care if there were metal detectors. On the other hand...

That said, if, after publishing a hate manifesto on Facebook, a knife wielding maniac climbed over the back fence in London or Paris or Chicago and murdered three members of a family, there would be non-stop coverage. If a terrorist was throwing rocks at the British Police or the Gendarmes of Paris, swift police action would be praised.  Where is the outrage for the civilians gathered at the Kotel plaza or the Salomon family?

Life is not fair, and news is not exactly an exercise in equitable reporting. 

Color does matter. Ethnicity does matter. Religion does matter. We may not want to admit it or believe it or accept it as reality, but it does matter. We see that again and again.

We cannot divorce Philando Castile from his role as beloved caregiver and provider for children. That's who he was and how he will be forever remembered no matter what eyewitless news wants to say about him. Justine Damond may be remember by her friends for saving the ducklings, but the rest of the world will remember her as the woman in pajamas who was shot by a cop while doing her civic duty. The Salomon family, however, will sink into relative obscurity because a terrorist attack on an Israeli family is not readily recognized as an act of terror. It's just more dead Jews. 

We cannot pretend we don't see color/ethnicity/religion in our daily dealings. We do and we make judgments accordingly. We are prejudiced by our own life experience. We view life and events through whatever prism we were handed early in our childhood. Going from one extreme to another is not helpful. This is not some sort of Muppet newsflash, folks, it's reality.

In the end, we choose our battles. Same here. 

If you are outraged at the behavior of our police, color be damned; get out there and get your voice heard. 

If you are outraged by the world's silence on terror against Jews, act like a Jew. Raise your kids as Jews. Stand up and be counted as a Jew. Live your life as a Jew. Don't back down, don't hide, and don't be silent. Not here. Not in Israel. 

If you breathe, you get to have an opinion. Exercise your rights as a human. Don't settle for being a silent accessory after the fact. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Silence is not golden.
Silence breeds contempt.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dear Angie: An Open Letter To A Congressional Candidate for MN-2

Dear Angie Craig, 

Angie Craig
I cannot say I was surprised to hear you will take another run at MN-2's congressional seat. In a perfect world, you would be an ideal candidate: you're sharp, erudite, and, dare I say it? funny. You've been a corporate executive, a leader in your field, and active in social justice. These are the attributes we want in the person who represents us in Washington. But this is not a perfect world.

In the letter you sent, you wrote the following:

As Democrats, we must understand better why we have lost these past elections. As I talk with voters, already it has become clearer that we must talk more about how we are going to bring back jobs to the United States and create economic opportunity for more hard-working Americans. We have to be clearer about how we will fix healthcare and acknowledge the problems with out of control costs for many families. I grew up without healthcare. There is no one who knows better if you can’t afford insurance, healthcare doesn’t exist.
If this is how you are planning to run, then we will have 2 more years of that buffoon, Jason Lewis. Your statement is a recipe for defeat. Let me explain why.

You lost by a narrow margin because you could not convince enough moderate Republican voters that you were the better choice. Not DFL'ers....but IR voters. This seat was a bronze statue to John Kline's butt. You did nothing to reach out to the fence-sitting voters that would bring them over to the side that would actually address their looming problems. Instead, the DFL ran you like you were the Anti-Republican and that was a total turn-off to those on-the-fence voters. 

If you are serious about winning the election, you need to form a non-partisan cadre to create non-political town-hall meetings to talk to the voters before you go on a listening tour. They need to talk about the different approaches to health care explaining BOTH the good and the bad on each side...and you know each side has both. To talk about the commercialization of the National Park System and how it impacts their lands. To talk about the EPA, FDA, and associated departments all of which have direct impacts on agriculture. Say what can work, and say what is less likely to work. Again, stress being fair, not black-or-white, liberal-or-conservative, right-or wrong. This is not a lecture; you need to learn as much from those voters as much as they need to learn what is at stake. Educate...don't indoctrinate....voters. 

And then, come into the room already knowing what they want.

You know exactly what I mean. The truth will set us all free.

The DFL has a golden opportunity to get real information out to the voters explaining what will happen next. Don't squander it with partisan poison.

Be fact based. No hyperbole. No dirt slinging, casting aspersions, denigrating, or anything that even hints of dirty tricks. Speakers can compare and contrast; present differences without politicizing. Tell the truth. I know that's a new concept for some. 

Questions must be answered in a blunt factual manner. Even if two people show up and get their questions answered, that's a victory because they will tell their families, "Hey, I went to this town meeting and this is what I found out." 

Whatever it takes to get the information out the door and into the houses.

Then you can go campaign all over the district to talk about differences in practical, fact-based terms. That's when you tell 'em what you think.
If you go after those IR people sitting on the fence in a way that does not mock, threaten, or otherwise belittle their political leanings, you will win. This is a Republican district and has been for many years, but the voters are not stupid. You need to change the mind of one voter at a time. Sling one single piece of mud, and it's over. 

Basics, Angie, the basics. Go back to the basic, bottom-line, unexciting truth. Don't whip 'em into a frenzy...that's transitory and useless. Educate the rural voters on stuff that impacts them directly: water, land, productivity, and food chain. 

Go back and rethink that web page; it's everything your potential new base will find condescending and a turn off. The cartoons/icons on the crowdpac issues page are insulting to the very people you need. 

You already have the Democratic votes in this district; it's time to go after the Republicans in a way that comforts and assures them their voices and concerns are not simply being heard, but they are being acted upon on their behalf. 

I really want you to win, Angie. Truly, I do.  But you have to want to win the minds...and hearts....of those Republican voters who are beginning to understand what Jason Lewis means to the health and well-being of the district. 

Run, Angie, run....but run with truth and honor. We, the People of MN-2 really need that right now.

Thanks for listening,
The WP

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your House of Representatives seat needs changing,
focus on the moderate Republicans. 
Give them an honest chance to not be embarrassed. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Time To Wake Up And Smell The Manure

When I was a kid, someone gave us an LP record of The Red Army Ensemble singing patriotic songs. Of course, they were Russian patriotic songs. Mostly the songs were from the Bolshevik hit parade. Grandma Bessie used to ask me to play it for her every once in a while. Her perennial favorite was The Red Army Anthem, the kind that makes you wanna stand up and salute. This weird look would come over her face. Invariably, I would ask her why she listened to Russian propaganda when she vociferously hated Russia. She would patiently remind me (for the millionth time) that her family was socialist and they dreamed of a Russia free from the czarist regime. These were songs she and a brother used to sing in secret. 
These songs remind me there used to be a dream. Even if all the crazy people destroyed the dream, the dream should always be remembered.
It always sounds better with her Odessa hek'cent.  

This offering from the White House, however, doesn't make you want to stand up and salute; it makes your wanna barf in your mouth. Make America Great Again sounds like the latest version of Leni Riefenstahl does The Young Americans

Not only is it musically banal, it lacks any modicum of truth in the lyrics. It's vile, grotesque, morally and intellectually bankrupt. The creators of this piece of drivel have shown their hand: they think We, the People, are blind, ignorant, and stupid. 

We, the People, are none of those things.

We, the People, fully understand that the G20 made the United States an international laughing stock.

We, the People, totally understand that our president was so unprepared for the summit his team forgot to book rooms. 

We, the People, are fully aware that Amateur Hour at the White House mistook the President of China for the President of Taiwan. You know...they all look alike anyway, right?
China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou

We, the People, also noticed all the participants in the chorus look alike. Coincidence? I think not.

This is a new low in propaganda. This is worthy of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. This video is everything we laughed at in the 50s, mocked in the 60s, and stomped on in the 70s. By the 80s, we were dancing to disco so we didn't care any more. 

We, the People are a diverse, multi-colored, multi-creed, multi-orientation, and multi-faceted collection of people who, when joined together make up a gloriously diverse national body. This video, on the other hand, is the ultimate insult to the American identity. It is the slap-in-the-face heard 'round the world....if/when the world stops laughing at us. 

If you are still buying into the bullshit, you're being played on a grand scale. 

Time to wake up and smell the manure, people. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Social Security is NOT an entitlement; We, the People, pay for it ourselves. 
Every week. Every paycheck. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Course of Human Events v. Tiny Hands


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America 
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Read the above again, very carefully this time. You will see it is a call for insurrection. No two ways about it. This document calls us to arms against a tyrant king living across the water. The first sentence says it all. The rest is commentary. 

We, the People, take for granted that the Declaration of Independence was written for and about something that happened over 200 year ago, and not about something happening now. This Declaration is the very foundation of our national identity. We look to the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution to be the most basic layer upon which our bi-cameral system of checks and balances is built. 

I doubt the drafters of the Declaration ever envisioned a government gone mad like our current one. Surely, they believed they were leaving their fledgling nation of men like themselves, who spoke of grave responsibility...between demands for pins and sugar...with the expectation that those who participate in such discussions would be men of wisdom and intellect. No, women were not included in that initial conversation, although I daresay the wives had ample opportunity for input. 

And that's where we are heading back to now. There are precious few women in the cabinet, few people of any color. And no intellect to be found anywhere. This is by design, not some oversight. This is the condition of our current administration. Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos did not simply wander into the room. Teamed with the likes of Rick Perry and Jeff Sessions, you have a recipe for disaster. In the group convened to put the health care package together, not a single vagina was present. It was a room full of old white men stripping women of reproductive rights.

Our sitting president has requested voter rolls be turned over to his committee. While most of the information on the voter rolls is available in the public domain, not everything is. What exactly are the looking for? And to what use are they going to put our affiliations? Voter fraud is not nearly the sizable issue that is voter suppression. 

While you are sitting on the curb watching the patriotic floats go  by, ask yourself what you are celebrating on this July 4th. When the sky lights up with fire works, take a moment to remember that "the rockets' red glare" was not caused by Roman candles and Tiger Packs, they were bombs exploding as the battle raged. If that was the price of freedom then, are We, the People, prepared to pay the price now?

There has been much written of late about the mental status of this toddler-in-chief. Even his own party questions his ability to lead. And now he's going over seas for the G-20 and a meeting with Putin. Oh, to be a fly on that wall as Putin gives him his next set of marching orders. Regardless, one thing is increasingly clear: the man is a textbook case of narcissistic behaviors. His constant attacks on Hillary Clinton along with any other woman who has disagreed with him show him to be seriously unhinged. We're not talking about political discourse or an exchange of differing ideas; this is third-grade-bully behavior. And if that was not enough to make you wonder about his ability to have a relationship with anyone, much less a woman, his wife...whose cause is supposed to be anti-bullying, defends his wacko behavior, saying through spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 
"...when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Is that why we don't see much of Mrs. Trump.....because he punches back 10 times harder?

Regardless, great psycho-pundits seem to agree the kind of behavior 45 exhibits on a routine and regular basis is, in fact, due to inadequate ...hand size. His lack of ....finger length and thickness... causes him to lash out in a manner that would seem to express a desire to enhance or enlarge manliness, when, in fact, it does the exact opposite. His constant denigration of women, of intellect, of scientific achievement, of simple facts, of We, the People...speaks of a man who believes himself to be so inferior that he must tear down anything and everything in order to make himself appear grander. This methodology fails. 

Which brings me back to the Declaration of Independence. 

Our current administration has set the nation on a course designed to undermine our Constitution, and that includes the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Amendments. The Cabinet is populated itself with know-nothings, fools, and charlatans. The leadership of Congress has demonstrated its desire to pander to the 1% with a healthcare sham that would leave millions uninsured and without access to medical care. This is not "libtard" propaganda, this is every accounting office in government as well as most health care organizations. This is the same administration that today moved to cut off heating subsidies to low income households "claiming it’s no longer necessary and rife with fraud. People needn’t worry about being left in the cold, he says, because utilities cannot cut off customers in the dead of winter." (From the Associated Press, July 3, 2017) This is patently false. 

We have a government that harms its own people. We can either continue to bend over and take it, or we can just say NO. 

That call to insurrection I mentioned earlier? It works both ways. And that ad put out by the NRA?  

Same thing.  Just so you know. We are getting the same message. And we get it. 

All this because the guy has ....tiny hands. 

By the way...share this blog. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Grownups don't let kids play with fireworks and explosives.
We want them to remain intact.