Monday, May 27, 2019

From the Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction file.

As Memorial Day draws to a close, I find myself worrying more, not less about those who choose to serve our nation in uniform. I realize we are in somewhat of a "peacetime," but the saber rattling of this past week is disturbing and, quite frankly, frightening. Pence came right out and said it to the graduating class at West Point:

It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life.  You will lead soldiers in combat.  It will happen. 
Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region.  Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force.  And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.
I just don't like the certainty he expresses in that speech. That said, it dovetails right into the events in Asia over the weekend. 

While in Japan this weekend, our president made light of North Korea's latest round of test missiles, discounting and dismissing the position of his National Security Advisor John Bolton as well as the concerns of his host, Japanese Prime Minister and golf partner Shinto Abe, while praising Kim Jung-Un:
[He is] looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. … He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.... 
Feckless leader's comments are counter to what his own experts are telling him: that firing test missiles is not a good-faith action by Kim, coming off as a deliberate provocation meant to demonstrate to Japan that the American is in his pocket, not theirs. And as if that was not sufficient to make even the GOP cringe, our leader, who has never been one to let courtesy, policy, tradition, or cogent thought get between his brain and his mouth, continued: 
Well, Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.
There are so many things I could say at this moment, but none of them are nice or allude to the concept of dignified statesmanship.

I won't even mention China at this point. This trade war is devastating our food chain beginning with the farmers. Food, clothes, electronics, all that stuff is caught up in the tariffs war. And every item in your shopping cart is going to be impacted. 

But that, as my mother would say, is from the kleinigkeitenTruth is, we have bigger things to worry about. This guy bypassed Congress and arranged the sale of a whole lotta weapons to Saudi Arabia. 

This past spring, both the House and the Senate passed legislation cutting off military assistance to Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen. BOTH houses passed this resolution...and the oval office vetoed it. You gotta believe if BOTH houses thought military assistance to a monarchy that orchestrated the murder of an American journalist was inappropriate, this was serious stuff. Usually the Senate just wipes the president's butt with paperwork, but even they thought assistance was not in the best interest of this or any other country. 

Meanwhile,Saudi Arabia is busy rattling its own sabers at Iran. One would think we learned all we need to know about regime change from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the disaster that is Syria. One would think the failed Arab Spring movement would've driven home the point that getting involved with Mideast internal affairs is a losing proposition for everyone involved. And this included, believe it or not, Israel. Who do you think is going to be in the middle?

Feckless leader is choreographing his own despotic kickline to rule the world. Only it's not that easy. Putin, Kim, Netanyahu, and Mohammed Bin Salam are all auditioning for high-stepping solos in the alternate universe kickline while vying to be heir-apparent dance captain...all at the same time.

You would think Israel would know better than to align itself with new Axis. Are  Netanyahu and the rest of his confederacy of dunces really willing to believe this will make Israel safe for Jews? If antisemitic acts are becoming daily occurrences in this country as they are in Europe, who do they think is dog-whistling the miscreants? Can they possibly be so naive as to think the Jews won't be dragged off the stage for the sake of the Rapture?

And I am forced to go back to Pence's speech and wonder what army our soldiers will be fronting. 

Folks, we are fast approaching critical mass in this country. You can choose to ignore it, to keep your head in the sand, or you can begin dialing your congress clowns at a furious pace. To date, I have not been a supporter of impeachment, but I am beginning to see why there may not be an option. More and more centrist Republicans are cautiously coming out of the shadows to speak up. I suspect more will emerge, but it will be a slow process. If you are in a GOP area, begin asking your own representatives where they stand on the Saudi sale or the remarks about Korea's test missiles. Ask the question; let your elected representative know you are watching and listening. Silence is always taken as tacit consent . . . remember they were called the Silent Majority for a reason. You may be a loyal member of the GOP, but if the events of recent weeks are not sitting well with you, let Washington and your state capital know. 

If you haven't ever heard Jacques Brel's MARATHON, or haven't heard it in a while, you need to listen to the lyrics..or at least read them. 

Brel was a satirist and well ahead of his time for so many reasons. I listen to the album more often these days and I am appalled at how far we have not come. It's the same shit all over again. Europe has never really been very good at peace, anyway. And neither have we. And with Le Pen picking up steam, along with the right wings of several central European countries, we have a reason to be concerned. We've seen this play before. Several times. 

Sometimes I think this kinda stuff is why no outworlders have ever contacted us. They already know the punchline and they're not playing. We're not worth it.

On the other hand, if you're thinking our sitting president is A-okay and wanna roll with this administration and its policies, keep this thought in mind: it's not just your tomatoes, TVs and t-shirts that are gonna get expensive real soon, it's everything, even the brewskis. 
A report published by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association has found that 40,000 jobs have been lost in breweries as tariffs on metal have inflated the cost of aluminium cans.
The study found that 2.19 million people were employed in the US’ beer industry in 2018, down from 2.23 million two years ago.
Suppliers to the brewing industry – enterprises that manufacture bottles and cans, cardboard case boxes, brewing equipment or marketing displays – generate nearly $102.0 billion in economic activity and are responsible for almost 436,650 jobs, according to the Beer Institute.
US president Donald Trump sparked a trade war with several countries after he implemented a 25% and 10% import tariffs on steel and aluminium respectively from 1 June 2018.
“Aluminum tariffs are increasing brewers’ costs and are an anchor on a vibrant industry,” the Beer Institute’s CEO Jim McGreevy said in an emailed statement. “Each brewer is deciding for themselves how to absorb that expense, whether it’s raising prices, laying off workers or delaying innovation and expansion.”                                                                             The Drinks Business - May 24, 2019
 Between the aluminum and the farmers going bankrupt, your beer is about to get really, really expensive. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wednesday marks the 566 anniversary of the 
fall of Constantinople to the Turks. 
In my heart, there will be angel food cake with chocolate frosting. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Little Adventuring ~ Good For The Soul

Went to Boston last week. I was motivated to get my act together because there was a wedding I was not gonna miss come hell or high water, and this, in turn, gave me a great excuse to visit a friend from my misspent college days. Not that I needed an excuse; I just needed to make the trip happen and I did.

Ever laugh for 4 days straight? We did. Sure, there were some moments of serious conversation, but mostly we laughed. This is a good thing. About a year ago, Wendy was in the process of moving into her lovingly restored brownstone in Back Bay when a fire took it all out, lock, stock, and four floors full. A year and a whole lotta fortitude later, she is almost fully back in the house. The toilets work, but the fridge doesn't have a front panel quite yet. The rest of the kitchen is to die for, with counters tall enough for my very tall friend, and the rooms that are done are gorgeous. There's lots of work still going on, but I gotta tell you, I felt like a princess in the guest room. And that bathroom! The shower was heaven.

More importantly, I think Wendy is one of the strongest women I have ever had the good fortune to know. She has had a lot of challenges over the years. I won't recite the list, but let's just say she's still upright and sucking air when lesser folk would've folded. Not my friend Wendy. I admire her strength, her courage, her perseverance. And I love that when I'm around Wendy, we laugh. I mean, why the hell not? We're both upright and sucking air, and no adventure is too big. What's the point if you cannot go adventuring with someone who laughs as much as you do? 

We sailed on a whale-watching boat from Gloucester. The weather was glorious, there were more seals, both grey and harbor, than the naturalists had ever seen. It was a veritable seal traffic jam. And whales! Lots of Minke whales and a few humpbacks. And the humpbacks were pretty close in. This was the only breach I caught, but it was pretty impressive in person. Those little dark dots are actually harbor seals. It was so cool. If you ever get the chance to do this, do this.

From Gloucester we went to one of my favorite places on the planet: Rockport, where  I bought my first piece of original art when I was 12 or 13. Usually, it's on the wall of the study, but at the moment, it's awaiting a new frame. We talked to all sorts of seriously interesting people in Rockport, and bought two prints for the kiddos and one for me from a terrific artist named Bruce Johnson. The print I chose for myself is called CONGRESS. Look closely.  I love it. 
 © B.Johnson, LTD 2014.

And of course, the cannoli in Boston are really, really good.

While we were carousing all over Boston, we were not unaware of what was happening in the rest of the country. Although I saw no television while I was with Wendy, it did not stop us from hearing about the laws being passed in legislatures around the country. As two women who were around for the victory of Roe v. Wade, we are unquestionably concerned about what this war against reproductive rights will mean for not just the women who come after us, but for America. What can you possible say when

. . .the punishment for having an abortion is greater than the punishment for rape.

. . .forcing a 12-year old to bear a child is not just legal, it's the law.

. . .when proponents of this heartbeat rule refuse to protect the heartbeats of our schoolchildren against guns.
Consider this: No woman seeks to have an unwanted pregnancy. Men are responsible for unwanted pregnancies, yet, somehow, these legislators do not see them as the absolute cause. No; the vagina is responsible, not the penis that impregnates the womb. That has got to be the stupidest thing on the planet.

Funny thing, the weekend part of this trip was for the wedding, an event where two people commit to each other, and maybe eventually start a family with a wanted pregnancy. The bride is an incredibly talented singer. And while we celebrated with them, at every event I heard or participated in discussion about the future of this country for women, for Jews, for minorities of all types. Amongst the women, it was clear that we felt these draconian laws are hundreds of steps backwards from where we are now. We wondered aloud about the kind of world our granddaughters will find if they stay here. I heard a lot of people talking about "Plan B" in a way that is moving from ha-ha-it-can't-happen-here to what/when-do-you-think-is-the-point-of-no-return

Ken and Ariel
beneath their chuppah
But I usual. Just take a moment to listen to the bride. You Are The Light is a song of love and hope. To be at so joyous a wedding was a delight. I was thrilled to be there, to be a part of their day. I've known Ariel since the day she was born. Ziggy adored her to bits, and she is the one who, with the Senior Son on the guitar, sang BLACKBIRD at his funeral at his express request (and with the rabbi's okay.) 

I want the world to be right for this new couple, and for all our young families. None of us want them scattered across the world as our grandparents were once scattered. I don't want any of them to have to think about a plan B. I want them all to be safe and secure and unafraid. Yes; I know that's a tall order. I'm just not completely ready to give up on it quite yet. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week.
If you are ever in Boston, take a breather at the Mary Baker Eddy Library's Mapparium.
Excessively way cool

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Elephant in The Womb

Long, long ago, I mentioned Lysistrata in a blog episode called "There's no satisfaction for a man, unless.....".  I went back to that entry this past weekend as I was reading about the new abortion laws being passed in a number of states. At that time, I wrote:
If our male politicians want to use our sex against us, I would suggest that we follow Lysistrata’s example. If they want to inhibit access to birth control, we inhibit access to the birth canal.  If they want to limit our choices of what we can do with our bodies, well, I suggest we limit what they can do with theirs.
I don't think I went far enough. Seven years later, this has not gone away; it's gotten worse.

If you penis-waving Republicans truly want to prevent abortions while making most forms of effective birth control illegal, there needs to be some serious discussion about preventive measures that prevent implantation without risking harming a fertilized egg, since that seems to be the stage at which human life exists. I get it. I understand you think that sperm is sacred, and in as much, we women need to help you protect it. After all, did not G-d strike Onan down for spilling his seed on the ground? We get that ejaculating all those little buddies into a hostile womb is basically murder. 

Therefore, there needs to be established a protocol which prevents not merely pregnancy, but actual harming of all your little buddies. After all, an egg is just an egg without one of those swimming guys. 

Laws need to be written to require vasectomies when boys reach the  age of puberty. Since you have maintained that boys/men cannot control their impulses when girl/women wear clothing more fitted than gunny sacks, perhaps it's time to make sure no sperm is spilled unintentionally...or intentionally. Hey, we know about how you cannot control your wet dreams, so, rather than have you struck down by nocturnal emission, vasectomies are important. 

If you are serious about preventing unwanted pregnancies, you married men need to step up to the plate and start popping progesterone. You don't want God to strike you down for an accident, do you? Progesterone will take you down a notch at the same time it will help encourage the sanctity of the vagina. This is important stuff.

If you want to stop unwanted boners, no more girly magazines and underwear ads. You know very well those are the gateways to full fledged porno films. No boobs and explosions for you! Those things make men crazy with lust, and women are at risk as a result. Remember, a woman cannot conceive unless she has a boner between her legs, and you don't want that, right?

If you really are serious about protecting the unborn, you're just gonna have to stop having willy-nilly sex. You know condoms fail. You know there are accidents when your coitus ain't being interruptus, even with your wife. 

To help you emulate this new standard of moral behavior, we'll have a plan. Forget the anti-abortion stuff. Here's what you, those guardians of morality, need to do to put an end to all abortions:

  • Start with DNA registry for all men. Gone are the days when you can deny paternity; it's a simple, fool-proof test and if you are the father, you are the father. End of discussion. 
  • Pass a law requiring the proven owners of fertilizing sperm to pay for all prenatal care, all birthing cost, and all support of said children until the age of 21. No exceptions. No excuses. No backsies. 
  • If you refuse to pay for the welfare of the mother and the raising of the children, count on prison time while the proceeds from the sale of all your stuff, including but not limited to property, insurance, pensions, retirement accounts, IRAs, 401Ks, and unused sperm go right to the little family ...or families you rejected. 
Not crazy about those ideas? Okay. Here's Plan B from Inner Space:

Women - follow the Lysistrata  play book. Stop having sex with anyone who wants to control your uterus. Use your God given gift of a vagina to thwart their attempt to impregnate you. Do not let them off the hook or in the canal. If they try, you immediately scream bloody murder and expose them as the exploitative winkie-pushers they are. 

Florida's House Speaker José Oliva made it pretty clear he and his compatriots don't consider women to even be sentient beings. After all, he repeatedly referred to us as host bodies. When I hear that, I kinda think parasitic aliens, not the mothers of the future leaders of this country. Or maybe we really are host bodies since one of us produced him. 

But I digress. 

If you're not sure about how this is going to play out, go read THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Women who can conceive are host bodies. That's all. Sure, it's dystopian, but read (or listen) to the language they use. It is eerily familiar. Guys like Oliva use it all the time. They are serious about about stripping women of the right to self-determination. They keep talking about their health care plan? Do you know what it is? It sure as hell isn't universal health care. 

There are 224 countries listed on the UN Infant Mortality site. The nation with the highest infant mortality, 110.6 children per 1000 births, is Afghanistan. The nation with the lowest rate of infant mortality, is Monaco, with 1.8. The US ranks 169, right between Serbia and  Bosnia- Herzegovina. (stats from World Atlas)

Ladies Who Call Yourselves PRO LIFE: The GOP is not serious about protecting life. They are not serious about the lives of children, or the rights of the unborn, since they are so good at denying prenatal care and health care for all. If you care about those things, walk away from the liars now and start forming your own groups to fight for the right to have health care for all, born or unborn. Stop enabling their attempts to turn you into host bodies. The choice is yours. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
You are either part of the solution
or you are enabling the problem.
When your daughter asks what you are,
 what are you going to tell her?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Raging Against the Dying of the Light

If you had a friend who lied constantly about everything inconsequential from where his  parents were born to his college transcript, how long would that person be your friend?

If you had a friend who stood on a bridge over a freeway to lob rocks at passing motorists, how long would that person remain your friend?

If you and your friend were walking down the street and that friend knocked down an older person coming from the opposite direction, how long would that person remain your friend?

If you had a friend that went around gossiping about a total stranger, saying things that were blatantly untrue and proveably false, how long would that person remain your friend?

I suppose these are frivolous questions, but not really. Each sets out a paradigm in which you are asked: "What are your limits?"

Recently, I saw a post by an old friend that was not only untrue, it was damaging to someone I happened to know. The poster did not know I knew the target; he was only re-posting a meme, something someone else had posted. He thought it was funny. 

When I asked him about it, he said I'd lost my sense of humor. I said I did not find vicious lies funny no matter at whom they were directed. He said, "What about all the lies about the president. There was no collusion, no obstruction. It was all made up. Mueller and the whole committee lied."

Never mind he completely ignored what I said about the meme; he was using something entirely unrelated for a justification for doing something heinous. Suddenly, the question became do I want this person as my friend?

Social media, as everyone knows, is an anonymous platform even when it isn't. It's a place where you get to post truths, half-truth, untruths, and blatant lies for anyone to believe if they want to. On social media, you can say whatever you want. There are no truth police, and even if there was, no one would care. 

On April 30th, the Washington Post published: 
President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims
It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day. 
But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.

This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger....

Do you care?

Who cares what your politics are? No one cares if you're liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Socialist. Everyone gets to have an opinion in this country. Or at least they used to. It's hard to have an opinion these days without getting stomped on by someone. The result is not that the opinion goes away; it doesn't. It goes underground.

In this way the right wing is winning the war of attrition. We, the People, have stopped listening, and by extension, stopped reacting. We're no longer hearing the lies as lies; we're accepting them as whatever. Instead of becoming mobilized to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, we are shaking our heads and tuning out the noise. There could be one hundred Democratic candidates for president; we're not listening to any of them. They buzz like wasps and say nothing meaningful inside the incessant drone. They are wasting our energy and our goodwill. Not to mention our bucks.

Never has there been a more selfish, self-serving bunch of wannabes in the history of this nation. Someone should lock them all in a room until they come out with four possible candidates. If they don't, they will be the reason we get another 20+ years of Feckless Leadership because in case you missed it, he tweeted he's not leaving office. 

You already missed the coup. It was delivered by William Barr when no one was looking.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
Dylan Thomas