Monday, December 30, 2019

Welcome To The New 20s. Let's Hope The Bathtub Gin Is Better This Time 'Round

The thought of doing a year-in-review episode is not particularly stimulating. In fact, it sounds damn dull to me. Nope, I'm definitely not in the mood for that.

But what am I in the mood to write about? 

At this very moment, I am in the final stages of not one, but two new novels. Both have strong women protagonists. Both are about women who take charge of their own lives as best they can, given one lives at the end of the 12th century and the other lives in the beginning of the 21st century. Two radically different characters facing radically different circumstances, yet they are, in so many ways, sisters under the skin. The really nice part about creating characters is that they can give voice and life to things I think and feel but may never say out loud myself. I am constantly aware of the world in which each lives, but people have not changed in basic, fundamental ways since the beginning of humanoid history. To that end, I would say the woman of 1189 is not nearly as different from the one in 2009 as one might think. Obviously, they are the products of very different societal worlds, yet, if you prick them, they will both bleed the same red blood.

Why talk about this now?

Clara Bow in RED HAIR (1928)
As we skid into a new decade, we of modern times have photos, films,  recordings, and a whole lotta ephemera to remember the Roaring 20s of the 20th Century, a time of speakeasies and silk stockings, flappers and flamboyance, champagne and the Charleston. This was also a time of massive immigration, crushing poverty, and the birth of organized crime. Idyllic, it was not, although most people remember the novels and the movies of that epoch rather than the reality. Fantasy is like that. 

Reality, however, has its own place in the conversation. One cannot forget that out of the maelstrom of that roar came the crash of 1929, followed by the Great Depression here and the rise of Nazism in Germany. As Isaac Newton used to say, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think that's true across the board. There is always a response, a "re-action" to counter the initial action. And I don't think the last few years will go unanswered. 

In and around St. Albans, Vermont, a sign was seen posted on telephone poles around the town. 

Really? Is it okay?

One might think this is the perfect place to have one of those equal but opposite reactions discussions right? 

Only, I don't think there is going to be one any time soon. See, there are lots of people who think this is nothing more than a passing phase, the real antisemitism isn't happening. These are the same people who think a 60%+ increase in hate crimes directed specifically at Jews is not a real problem. Yet. They think Muslims are more likely to experience discrimination than Jews. Or central Asian immigrants. Or central African immigrants. But Jews aren't a major classification of immigrant these days. Jew-hatred is directed toward people who have been here legally for a long time. 

Jew-hating is safe. Just ask Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib....if you can get past all the people protesting the rounding up of Uyghur Muslims in China or the sexual slavery and trafficking of women taken by ISIS. Or the murder of Rohingya of Myanmar. 

Wait? You've not seen those massive protests against the mistreatment and abuse of fellow Muslims? 

Neither have I. Going after mass murderers of Muslims isn't nearly as unifying as hating Jews. Besides, you can get so many more people, not just Muslims, to hate Jews that it makes it all worth while. 

Honestly, I don't know what to do with the signs and the attacks and the rest of it. I just have trouble grokking that in the 21st century people have not progressed past scapegoating. How is that possible ? One would think with our increased knowledge and sophistication We, the People of Earth woulda already learned that demographic hatred is not only stupid, it's pointless. Making Jews go away isn't going to make you instantly rich. It's not going to make you appear smart. And it's not going to get you a Nobel Prize in Physics.  

Is there a safe place left in the world to go? Israel is not terribly safe, European Jews are leaving in droves for other parts. New Zealand? South Africa? Canada? The moon? Mars? Yeah, running away isn't much of an answer, but when does running away become escaping? There is a difference between the two.

What do I tell Little Miss and Young Sir about people who hate us because we are us?

For the moment, they are too young to understand any of this. But having them has certainly changed how I look at the world these days. Yes, I want to leave a cleaner, cooler planet. Yes, I want to leave a place where there is art and music. Yes, I want them to inherit a space where it's okay to sing and dance, whether it's in Hebrew, English, Vulcan, or Klingon. I just want them to sing with freedom in their voices and joy in their hearts.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, once said
1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty. 
27 years later, I can say I truly understand her intent, if not in 1992 terms, in light of this past year. This has been a year when hatred and violence was in, civility and respect was out. Not exactly statesman-like behavior.

While I don't think either side of the political divide is blameless in this reduction of common good, having a president who mocks the disabled, lies brashly, and sucks up to tyrants is not helping the cause. Once upon a time, we looked to our imperfect leaders to be at least some sort of role model. That status quo may be gone for the moment, but it is not forgotten. I can only hope this year will bring some movement toward a restoration of humanity and civility. I can only hope We, the People take the necessary steps to preserve and protect the Constitution of these here United States. When we allow hatred to thrive, it's not a reflection of the haters, it's a reflection of our values, our ethics, our morals, our mores, our behavior, our expectations. It's a reflection of us.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the New Year
Wishing everyone a peaceful and dignity-filled new year. 
May 2020 be a turning point.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Whatever To All

I read this statement first thing this morning. I don't know why, but I did. It sorta set the tone for the day:
We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody. I know it’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right? So they make these things and then they put them up.                                                                     Feckless Leader December 21st 2019 
There is a interesting article in the Washington Post that sorta unpacks this chaos into semi-cogent thoughts, but in reality, it does little to convince me the mouth moving up and down is attached to anything of any import. Clearly, he doesn't understand climate change or science. He thinks that if he thinks he sounds scientific, he is scientific. Nope. Smarts don't work that way.

I'm really tired of pointing out the wacky stuff this guy says. I've decided he really does remind me of Professor Irwin Corey, The World's Foremost Authority:
624: The sum of the cyclic hypotenuse and any two angles of tensor vertices is equal to the co-tangent of the obtuse seraphim. Where the angles are expressed in radians per some time unit I forget, but will come back to in overdue time, yielding feathers per flap.                                 
The difference between Professor Irwin Corey and Feckless Leader is that Irwin Corey was a bona fide comedian. He was obtuse and ridiculous because he was aiming for obtuse and ridiculous. Based on the statement above and other things he said, he could easily be the role model for the sitting president. After all, he says stuff that is equally obtuse and ridiculous. Only he's not funny. 

What speeches like the one on wind turbines do is to turn me into a conspiracy theorist. I suspect that's only because I can't believe this stuff is happening in real time. Which it is. So when the editor of Christianity Today, a magazine (founded by Billy Graham) comes out and says in no uncertain terms that the president of the United States should be immediately removed from office, you just gotta wonder why. It can't be that they had some sort of epiphany over there. You'd think all the pussy grabbing, multi-wife, multi-baby-mama routine would've sent them out onto Fifth Avenue at East 56th Street three years ago. But I guess the gospel of prosperity delayed their right-mindedness. 

Or did it? Are they seeing a crack in Mordor that can be exploited to open for Mike Pence? It would certainly make sense. After all, he's on board with denying health care for women and children-outside-the womb. This is a guy who wants funerals for fetal remains, whether they are aborted or miscarried. He's the guy who can't be alone in a room with a woman not his wife...obviously because he cannot control his carnal nature. I could go on, but why bother. You all know the drill. This is who they want as president. Sure, the majority of Americans didn't elect him either, but the electoral college made him first runner up. And you know what that means, right?

On an even more bizarre note, let's not forget that teeny-tiny incident back in November when The Feckless Foundation was fined over $2,000,000 for using its cash as the president's personal piggy bank. From the NY Times
Reporting by The Washington Post, which led to the New York State attorney general’s investigation of the foundation, found that the foundation could not provide evidence that it gave anything to veterans groups until a reporter started asking about it, months after the fund-raiser.

When Mr. Trump was not treating the foundation like an arm of his campaign, he used it to pay off some of his business’s legal obligations, according to Thursday’s settlement. (Although, shortly after his election, Mr. Trump did agree not to use the foundation to pay any of the $25 million settlement awarded to victims of his fraudulent Trump University.)
He also used foundation money to buy a $10,000 portrait of himself, which he displayed at one of his hotels.

Granted, $2,000,000 is nothing more than chump change for a supposed billionaire, but it sure shows him to quite the grifter, dontcha think? Apparently not everyone agrees with that conclusion either. No seemed to be that upset about it. 

In unpacking all this wackiness, I have come to a conclusion that some (including my big brother) will disagree with. I don't mind; I haven't been wrong on much yet when it comes to this administration. So here it is: we are witnessing a bloodless coup, not against a sitting president...who the wackos wanna keep, but against the foundation of our government: The Constitution of the United States. 

There are a number of reasons why I suspect this could be an attempted coup. There is, of course, the ongoing joke Feckless Leader makes about having to serve a 3rd term even though only 2 terms are Constitutional. AG Barr's statements on the proceedings also skate the narrow line of malfeasance:
There is an inherent conflict in Barr's designated role as the chief law enforcement officer of this country and his efforts to protect the man who gave him his job. It is unfortunate that Bill Barr never misses an opportunity to place his thumb on the scales of justice in favor of Donald Trump. That's not how it is supposed to be.                                                                                                                             Michael J. Stern, former Federal prosecutor 
Since no one is stepping up to the plate on how this process is supposed to work, we can only look back to the impeachment of Bill Clinton to get a sense of how his impeachment unfolded:

  • Whereas Clinton's impeachment was over extramarital affairs and lying to Congress, it was sex, not international diplomacy. There's a bit of a difference right there. But lots of people thought it was heinous enough to impeach the guy.
  • Whereas Clinton said, "It's not in my hands; it's in the hands of Congress and the people of this country — ultimately, in the hands of God. There is nothing I can do," Feckless Leader has been spewing garbage statements via any media outlet he can find, regardless of the truth or accuracy of his statements, bashing everyone in sight. Anything to shift the focus away from him.
  • Whereas in the Clinton impeachment, witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky, were called to testify and tapes of the testimony replayed in the Senate, this White House has consistently blocked witnesses from appearing and Moscow Mitch has declared not only will he NOT be an impartial juror, he will align with the Oval Office to forbid additional testimony from witnesses Democrats think should be heard. This sounds a whole lot like judicial malfeasance. Or at least Obstruction of Justice. 
The smoke and mirrors are choking the process and that's exactly what they are designed to do. Come on, folks; if the guy did nothing wrong, why aren't people clamoring to testify in his defense? It's like the taxes. If they're above board and honest, why can't the American people see them? What are Feckless Leader and his henchmen hiding? 

That is the $64,000 Question. 

This is a pattern supported by people who seem not to have the good and welfare of We, the people, our Constitution, or the health and well-being of the nation as central tenets of their modes of operation. One look at the people surrounding the Oval Office from the beginning of this administration should make you wonder about who is running the show. Few congressionally vetted Secretaries remain. There is no process being followed for replacements. The appointments are haphazard and scattered; positions crucial to foreign relations, like ambassadors and consuls, remain vacant. If there are no experienced people in the grunt-work positions, and the few remaining are leaving, being forced out, or just canned, who is there left to speak for this nation?

This is the bloodless coup part. When professional government positions are filled by flunkies (like Ambassador Sondland readily admits he is) or left empty, who is actually managing our place in world diplomacy/economics/defense/security? 

No one. 

The Ukraine debacle makes that very clear. This administration is concerned with implanting fiction as fact, nonsense as news, and propaganda as policy. We can continue to stick our collective heads in the sand, or........

One upon a time, a country turned itself over to a guy like Feckless Leader. Like Feckless, he declared Jews to be an independent nationality, not a religion. Ultimately, all the Jews had to wear identity stars. Jews were just the first...there were more symbols after that one. 

In 1932, Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner of Kiel, took this photo of their Hannukah menorah set in their living room window:

In German, on the back of the picture she wrote:

Chanukah 5692
"Death to Judah"
So the flag says
"Judah will live forever"
So the light answers
They left Germany with their family, many congregants, and the menorah in 1933 and arrived in Israel in 1934.  

They did not wait around to find out what happens next. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Chag urim same'ach to those who light menorahs.
Merry Christmas to those who mark the birth of Jesus.
Happy Winter Solstice to those seeking longer days and shorter nights.
Happy Festivus to those airing grievances around the pole.
And happy whatever to all.