Monday, June 25, 2018

A Lil' Dash of Ipecac'll Do Ya!

In the land of things that mean little to the world at large, I had a sad encounter yesterday on my way home from a funeral.

The funeral was for a fine lady I greatly admired, the widow of a man for whom I once worked. He died long ago, but his widow and I managed to stay in touch over the years, often meeting over the melon bin at Byerly's where we both shopped. She died after being unwell for a while, but not the kind of unwell that keeps you in bed, the kind of unwell that slows you down and then one day you just don't wake up. Her name was Eleanor but everyone called her Honey and the name certainly fit this tall, graceful,Viking princess who fell in love with a short, Jewish guy, joined the tribe, and raised a passel of Jewish kids. She was buried in a kosher casket, plain, unadorned, and amazing for a woman who was the epitome of elegance and class. everything looked great on Honey. I will miss her not just because she was my last link to a part of a long-gone world, but because every time I saw her it was an adventure.

And in that mood, I was not in much of a mood to go straight home. Instead, I drove through the old neighborhood, the one we first lived in when we came back to St. Paul. I loved living on Goodrich Avenue, on the top of a duplex, with a fireplace, built-in shelves, a real dining room, and a sun porch. I loved sitting on the stoop in summer with a book in my lap, planting a little flower garden, and greeting the world as it walked by. We outgrew the flat after senior son was born, but unbeknownst to us, something would travel forward with us, something we didn't know about, and now, Ziggy's gone 9 years and I stumble onto something I never thought I'd have the answer to.

Instead of a neatly tended duplex, there was a condemned/unfit for human habitation notice taped to the door. As I stood there in shock, a neighbor lady came out. I asked what happened, and she told me the owner had died, and that when the bank took possession, they discovered the house was consumed with mold. So much so, that it was unclear whether it will be re-habbed or demolished.

Mold. The thing that triggered the headaches. The thing that started in 1980, before Senior Son was born, and would plague Ziggy until the day he died. Mold. I can't tell you if the flat had mold when we lived there, but the basement sure did. But it was a basement and Ziggy could never be down there for more than a couple minutes. Was it already creeping up the walls 38 years ago, probably. We fought mold in the bathroom constantly. Was the exposure toxic for Ziggy, probably. He was already sensitive to mold. Did this exacerbate it? Probably. From 1980 until the day he died, we lived with the headaches, those painful, debilitating, life-altering, uncontrollable headaches, not migraines, not clusters, something else they could barely identify but ultimately were able to mitigate through a variety of drugs, bio-feedback, and facial positioning. Would having known and vacated immediately have changed our lives? I don't know, and I don't want to think about it. But it's there, a spectre in the back of my mind that, at the lowest moments, whispers, What if....

I could not be angry at or hate that flat that held our best-ever dinner parties, flying parakeets, my very first fireplace, the place we brought our teeny-tiny Senior Son home, or where he learned to walk and climb bookshelves. Truth be told, seeing that sign taped to the door kinda broke my heart a little. 

I think it must be my age. 

Lots of things are chipping away at my heart these days. Palestinian fire-kites destroying fields; children separated from their parents, some of whom have disappeared into "the system," never to be seen again; a sitting president advocating setting aside the due process portion of the Constitution; and farmers considering dumping milk because tariffs set by this administration make selling milk overseas virtually impossible. These things all rolled together represent the bedrock being chipped away. As the extremes of both parties become increasingly shrill, more and more people are turning away, beaten and defeated by the hate-speech on both sides. Congress has to change; we cannot go on at this pace; it's destructive.

And we cannot continue to be distracted by the red-herrings of Melania's coats. While the left was consumed with her message, the GOP passed their version of next year's budget. If you're old or poor, you're gonna get older and poorer. Massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security just slid right by. Granted, this is their proposal, but they are counting on the rest of us not paying attention to the trolls behind the curtain.

Thursday night, I attended a political fund-raiser for Angie Craig, candidate for Congress from MN-2. Yes, I am actively supporting her campaign. Okay, now that that's outta the way, let me say this about that: Angie is a remarkable woman; she grew up in a trailer park, worked her way through school, was a VP at St. Jude Medical, and a married lesbian. Doesn't get more left than that. She spoke well on Thursday, and I think she understands that we have to go after fence-sitting GOP folks big time. Angie is a practicalist, and that's a very Minnesotan trait. But what I worry about most in this election is that we need to be running FOR something, not running AGAINST. That's where the Democrats get into trouble. To get the vote tally we need, the voters have to know what we're fighting FOR. 

Interestingly, however, this is exactly what we are fighting AGAINST: that strange kind of furor when Sarah Hucka-Sanders was asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant after the staff told the owner serving her made them uncomfortable. I believe the owner's response should've been, "Unlike Ms. Sanders, we serve anyone who walks in the door. But I recognize this makes you all uncomfortable." 

Throwing her out, however polite and satisfying it was, lowers the bar to ground level. The staff at The Red Hen becomes the left version of the Colorado wedding-cake-bakers. Of course, after that speech, I probably would've been tempted to add a little more than a dash of syrup of ipecac to her salad dressing. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Silent is complicit.
Are you?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Save the Children, Save Ourselves.

The other day, the little Israeli glass spoon-rest that has been a constant presence in my kitchen for almost 40 years, took a flying header off the counter, sailed gracefully through the air and hit the cold, stone floor. I was not exactly Melissa Hayden as I leapt to catch it. As you can see, I missed.

The little spoon-rest, that last thing I put away at Pesach and that first thing to emerge, was given to me by a friend who had stood by my side at my wedding. We had, years ago, drifted apart, but I was compelled to reach out to her (via Facebook Messenger, of course) to tell her what happened. She responded kindly and that was that. Not that I expected anything more, but I just wanted her to know how precious the little glass dish was, and how I missed it already.

At just about the same time, We, the People of the World began to learn the saga of the children. Not in Germany. Not in Yemen. Not in Afghanistan. In this country. With mounting horror I read reports, saw video, and listened to sound clips. This is Germany in the 1930s unfurling before our eyes. 

And as I watched, I came to understand my little glass dish so dear to me was just stuff, and as much as I loved it, it's not alive and it felt no pain when it hit the floor. Not like kids being torn away from their parents' arms to be left in a sterile facility where the staff has been instructed not to comfort small children all alone. 
But the first child who caught the prominent pediatrician’s attention during a recent visit was anything but happy. Inside a room dedicated to toddlers was a little girl no older than 2, screaming and pounding her fists on a mat. One woman tried to give her toys and books to calm her down, but even that shelter worker seemed frustrated, Kraft told The Washington Post, because as much as she wanted to console the little girl, she couldn’t touch, hold or pick her up to let her know everything would be all right. That was the rule, Kraft said she was told: They’re not allowed to touch the children.                                                                                                   The Washington Post
I would love to say this is not who we are, but that wouldn't be true. America has a long, ugly history of dividing families. Slave-owners sold slave-children like animals, taking them away from their parents and families to toil under someone else's lash. The American government forced thousands of Indigenous children to attend "boarding schools" where their language and culture were beaten out of them. The American government rounded up Japanese American citizens for detention camps in the middle of the desert because they were of Japanese descent. The American government turned away thousands of Jews, many of whom had family and waiting sponsors in the United States leaving them to certain death in Europe because they were Jews. And let's not forget the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Syrians, and the Afghans left behind because the US did not keep its promise to protect those who aided our troops in wartime.

The difference at this moment is that a large swath of We, the People are rising up in anger over the inhuman treatment of human beings at the border. And for once, the president of the United States is being called out as a liar by politicians, journalists, and his own party. His blaming of the Democrats for his policies has started a furor we can only hope continues. For those of you who think anyone other than the president instigated this policy, here's a link that explains the laws as they were passed by Congress in great detail: SNOPES: Was the ‘Law to Separate Families’ Passed in 1997 or ‘by Democrats’?

In other words, it was not and the lie is getting bigger and bigger. 

Y'know, if I were a writer like Dan Brown, owner of the oft-believed Priory of Scion nonsense, I would be watching this stuff like a hawk. The bullshit is flying so fast and so furiously that it's getting more and more difficult to laser in on a single crazy notion. This is spectacularly speculative and the stuff of political thrillers...only this stuff is really happening.

Let's see: in less than a month of Sundays, our president has managed to 
  1. piss off the G-7, 
  2. embrace a ruthless dictator with lavish praise and generous friendship gestures while signing a deal with nothing in it, 
  3. turn that stalwart fantasy of good ol' Republican family values into a rational for child abuse,
  4. announce he wants We, the People to sit up and pay attention like the North Koreans do for Lil' Kim,
  5. establish a new military construct called Space Force that probably has a Space Academy full of Space Cadets. 

What if one of these things was not like the others? Which one? Which one? Which is the real deal, and which are the red herrings? Maybe #4 is the big clue? Maybe the baseline truth is that this guys really does expect to be president for life? What if this guy, together with his cabinet of thieving miscreants, is really setting the stage to wrest power from Congress? It's not that far-fetched any more. He discredits the press, the judiciary, the House and the Senate...even though the GOP controls both...and our long time allies. The bigger the lie, the more it's repeated....Great set-up. 

This isn't fiction, folks, and We, the People, don't have time to wait for the film version's big reveal. 

Texas detention center - 17JUN2018
At this moment, we have one, single fulcrum we can use to dislodge this stone-brain from our civic sandal: the children. 

The Children of Detention are poised to be the rallying cry that makes or breaks this government. If we are not holding the feet of Trump, the enablers Sessions and Nielsen, and the propaganda flacks Huckabee-Sanders and Conway to the fires of responsibility for this heinous crime against humanity, we are aiding and abetting war criminals. If we do not stand united against these so-called family values, we are no better than any other totalitarian/authoritarian regime that engages in wholesale detention.

It may be about illegal immigration right now, but ask any Hispanic-American citizen what he/she thinks. There are blueprints for detention camps in the archives. How long until Manzanar and Gila River are rebuilt?

Maybe a better question is: how long, GOP friends, are you going to be okay with these policies?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Quickly divest yourself of the notion that we're better than that or not like that. 
We are exactly like that.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Reunification Blues: The North Korean Shuffle

*******UPDATE: While We, the People were sleeping. our very own Dear Leader gave Kim Jong-Un exactly what he wanted: South Korea. Wait for it.  *******

By the time you read this, We, the People and the rest of the world will pretty much know, probably via that well-respected news organ Twitter, what has happened in Singapore. What we will probably not know is what Feckless Leader gave  to Dear Leader in return for whatever. 

The G-7 may or may not be a total disaster. We don't know yet, but one thing for sure, that picture of the G-7 folks at the table with Feckless is the most spin-able photo ever taken. It's like one of those lamp-n-faces drawings ... you can see a vase or two faces. The NY Times did a pretty good job of demonstrating how this scene can be manipulated...and it's worth looking at the series of pictures. On the side, the memes weren't too bad, either.

The whole summit was an exercise in erratic. Our president pretty much declared economic war on the allies who have, along with the United States, safe-guarded Western-style democracy for the last 7 years. And if that wasn't strange enough for you, he then un-signed the declaration drafted at the end of the part of the meeting he attended...on Twitter, of course, before he took off for Singapore for his on-again-off-again meeting with Dear Leader, Jr. He said he didn't need to prepare for this meeting, but he would know in less than a minute whether this guy was serious. Reminded me a lot of Dubya's meetings with Vlad-the-Malevolent-Despot:
'I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.''                                                                                                    George W Bush,  2001
Yeah, well, we all know how that worked out. Now, we have Vlad playing the man-behind-the curtain. Makes you kinda wonder how he managed to get Feckless to demand he be reinstated as a member of the G-7. At the post-coital press conference our president told the world:
This used to be the G-8, not the G-7. And something happened a while ago, where Russia is no longer in.   
Something happened? This must be like something happened when Canada burned down the White House. Something happened? He doesn't know why Russian isn't on the G-Team?  

Can you say Crimea, boys and girls? 

And then he blamed President Obama for the annexation of the Crimea. Really? 
Well, you know, you have to ask President Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away. That was during his administration. And he was the one that let Russia go and spend a lot of money on Crimea, because they've spent a lot of money on rebuilding it. I guess they have their submarine port there and such. 
But Crimea was let go during the Obama administration. And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude. So you'd really have to ask that question to President Obama, you know, why did he do that? Why did he do that? But with that being said, it's been done a long time.
Isn't this guy supposed to be the Leader of the Free World? What the hell is he doing trying to disband it? What is he doing?

But I digress. Back to the one-minute soul-search. From the transcript of his press conference on June 10th: 

Q: How long do you think that it will take you to figure out whether he's serious about denuclearization? 
TRUMP: That's a good question. How long will it take? I think within the first minute I'll know 
Q: How? 
TRUMP: Just my touch, my feel. That's what I do. How long will it take to figure out whether or not they're serious? I said maybe in the first minute. You know, the way — they say that you know if you're going to like somebody in the first five seconds. You ever hear that one? Well, I think that very quickly I'll know whether or not something good is going to happen.
Touch and feel? Is Michael Cohen around to pay Dear Leader for a little touchy-feely action?

The handshake between Feckless Leader and Dear Leader is its own brand of creepy. We know one of them is thinking about how long before Ivanka can open the Pyongyang Tower. I bet little buddy is pretty sure he can get what he wants if there's a cheap real estate deal to be made on the side.  

Like I said, by the time you read this, We, the People might know what Feckless gave Dear in exchange for the entire Korean peninsula because, folks, that's what Dear wants: he wants to be dictator for the whole thing. And he's looking to Feckless for validation. Whether or not Feckless gives it to him...along with the keys to a penthouse in Seoul remains to be seen. 

The short version is that Feckless, instead of aligning the U.S. with democratic allies, has cozied up to a long line of dictators waiting to shake his puny little hand: Putin, Kim, Duterte...I'm sure the list is longer than what's been made public. What does it say about the United States, our position in the world, and our elected officials in Washington that we have permitted a fascist to be POTUS? 

What is says is that we got the government we deserve because we allowed this guy to be elected...honestly or dishonestly. There's an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. This stage was set with the election of George W. Bush. And We, the People let it happen a second time. Who do you really think owns this debacle?

Well, at least Fox got something right: two dictators are meeting in Singapore. Of course, then they apologized...which was unfair.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
It's our only salvation.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Some Stuff Just Isn't Funny.

The Monday morning barrage of tweets from the oval outhouse were beyond reprehensible. I cannot begin to describe how mind-numbingly boring this has all become. So, in keeping with that theme, I'm going to skip the weekly revulsion in favor of the latest free-speech debacle. 

Frankly, I do not think either Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee is funny. In fact, I seriously dislike their ideas of what is funny. Both made statements this week that were horrible, mean, and downright disgusting. But as grotesque as those statements were, they are very different and require individual consideration.

Barr was canned from her own television show not because her character is a right-wing mouthpiece. Barr was canned because she, the actress and citizen of these here United States, stated Valerie Jarrett was an ape. However, what came out of her mouth came out of her mouth, not Roseanne-the-character's mouth and either you think it's okay or you don't. 

That was more than just a dog-whistle; that was a statement hearkening back to a era that should've been buried long ago. This was not Archie Bunker/Carroll O'Connor. Archie Bunker was written to reflect a changing environment; his foils were his family. And it worked. But no one would ever confuse the activist O'Connor for his on-screen personality.

ABC, the network that carried ROSEANNE, decided it's wasn't okay. In a decision that was more economic than politically correct, the network opted not to the carry the show. I am certain advertisers and the public addressed their concerns to the network, and the network responded accordingly. In other words, the folks up at the top of ABC's food chain realized the costs were greater than the benefits to keep Ms. Barr et al employed. 

Samantha Bee's departure from the realm of good taste was equally offensive but in context, was significantly different from Barr's tweet. Bee's explosive use of cunt was specifically in response to Ivanka Trump's photograph with her child published on the same day as her father's administration is being globally condemned for separating parents and children at the border. 
You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child. But let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt! He listens to you! Put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to fucking stop it!
One cannot condone the use of the one word, but when viewed in the context of the whole statement, it's insulting, but not class insulting. Yeah, feckless cunt was over the top and should have been changed in editing. The insult was directed at a single person, not a class of people. There is definitely a difference.  But the powers-that-be at FULL FRONTAL decided it was not economically necessary to can Samantha Bee. Had the public and the sponsors risen up as they did with ROSEANNE, it would be a different story. True, she lost some advertisers, but apparently not enough jumped ship to change the outcome. 

And I still don't think she's funny.

On the upside of things, this has been another great smokescreen for the administration. When we need to be talking seriously about children refugees, the front page is dominated by this garbage. When we need to be noticing our president is pandering to yet another dictator, he's talking about pardoning himself. 

How much information do you need to get before you see the seeds of authoritarianism taking root in our soil. If you're not sure, watch this. It might help clarify some things for you.

by Alex Cequea

We are paying attention to the wrong this. Just a thought.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Pay lots of attention to the man behind the curtain.