Monday, January 31, 2022

The Eye of the Beholder

Remove Art Spiegelman's MAUS from a middle school curriculum? Inconceivable! 

Or maybe not.

There are swaths of this country where the object of public school education is no longer to educate children in public schools. Instead, they are devoted to the idea that any idea not aligned with their personal agenda is a danger to children. Obviously, the plan really is to turn kids into mindless replicants incapable of expressing critical or independent thought. They are whitewashing their brains. 

See, whitewashing isn't just for walls in Tom Sawyer; whitewashing is how history is spun so kids see nothing wrong with the evils We, the People, have committed and supported. It prevents the exposure of heinous acts to young minds. (Which probably have already watched hours of DC and Marvel action movies and viewed more heinous acts than most of us growed-ups.)

Humor me for a moment. Let's talk about whitewashing. Once  upon a time, it was, indeed, the stuff you slapped on a wall. Merriam-Webster's Words-At Play 2019, however, points out modern usage has taken on a life of its own, attributing that shift to Wiley Hall:

Finally, the movie makers must not be afraid to lie - especially if it makes us look good. Hollywood has been whitewashing (pun intended) history since movies were invented. (Wiley A. Hall, Afro-American Red Star, 6 Dec. 1997)

It is, as Hall notes, a sly pun on the earlier use of the verb whitewash which can refer to making something whiter, usually by applying a whitener of some sort to it (as in, “We have to whitewash the fence annually”). Whitewash can also refer to glossing over or covering up something that is immoral, illegal, or otherwise bad (as in “a book which whitewashes the country’s troubled past”), and the connotations of this particular whitewash have certainly bled over into the Hollywood whitewash.
If you're  surprised by any of this, you've not been paying much attention. You need to read or listen to more reliable news PBS Newshour. 

Anyway, what is particularly compelling is the hypocrisy. Our GOP brethren scream about the Democrats attempts to cancel culture  when, in fact, they are doing just that and so much more damage to children in their attempt to prevent them from seeing anything that might promote thought in their little, developing minds. On this list of 850 books Matt Krause wants to see banned in Texas, you will find damn near any book that has to do with gender identity, sexual identity, LGBTQ issues, abortion in the courts, civil rights for Native Americans, the list is heartbreakingly astounding. This list, and others like it, intentionally prohibit the nation's children from learning about anything other than white-bread pure, historically incorrect bull-oney. According to the Dallas Morning News, of the first 100 books on the list, 97 of them are written by women, people of color, or LGBTQ writers. Within those first 100 books you will find Avoiding bullies?: skills to outsmart and stop them by Louise Spilsbury, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Since the bills passed, parents across Texas have challenged books that explore issues of race, gender and sexuality. Some have read short passages about sexual assault and sexual experiences during school board meetings, saying the material is inappropriate for children. A mother in Richardson went somewhat viral after her testimony against books that included descriptions of assault and vulgar language. She later said she took issue with the titles’ information about suicide and “left wing ideology.”
(Just in case you didn't think this was political.) The book bans deny kids a chance to learn without embarrassment or pressure. The bans do not protect children; it puts them at greater risk for emotional and psychological distress, and even physical danger for being different. Books are safe introductions to the very personal questions kids have and ultimately need to ask. Loss of access to material that will illuminate the world is a disservice with far-reaching implications. 

Maus is not on the Krause list from Texas, but in Tennessee, it was unanimously banned from the 8th grade curriculum for nudity and questionable language. Nudity? Not guns in mice mouths? Really? 

A guy I know to be philosophical and thoughtful on this very topic once upon a time had the screen name MnMaus when AOL first started. While there is some disagreement about how that name came to be, the reality is that the owner of said AOL screen name was profoundly impacted by Art Spiegelman's Maus. He wrote:
I was 11 or 12 when I first came across Maus. I already loved comics quite a bit, but Maus struck me in a deeply personal way. This was one of the first serious comics I had read and it dealt with being Jewish in a profound and meaningful way. Vladek Spiegelman became a hero to me in a way because of his ingenuity and his determination to survive. I also loved the artwork. Fun fact: it was drawn using a fountain pen on standard typewriter paper. The simplicity of black and white ink has a starkness to it that seems perfectly fitting with the subject matter.

The Holocaust seemed very monolithic to an 11 year old. Something that is so large and heavy that it's almost impenetrable. Maus took those events and scaled them down to the story of one man's survival in a way that became very accessible to a kid. In a way, Vladek always reminded me of Zaydie in the way he tells his story. It made everything that happened seem more personal, more "real".                      Misha Siegfried

Keep in mind, he's recalling from the point of view of an 11-year old boy in 1990s America. He knew Holocaust survivors; they were all around him. He saw the numbers, he heard the stories, these were part of his every-day existence. Still, the books sparked discussion; the statements above are proof there was a profound impact. 

So if MAUS made the Holocaust more "real" for a kid who saw the aftermath all around him, why wouldn't anyone want a kid to encounter that reality in a pen-and-ink illustrated book? Would photographs have been better? More shocking? Yes. Scarier? Yes. Desirable for young readers? Maybe not so much. 

Spiegelman's drawings are scary. This is not Feivel the Mouse in An American Tail. This is dirty, gritty, and scary. But if our kids do not, from an early age, learn that this stuff happened in real life, we are doomed to repeat it. 

Banning books that deal with difficult subjects does not make them go away; it buries the hard stuff and lets it fester.  Listen to Art Spiegelman talk about the banning; he's spot on.

Drawings are just that, drawings and even if these are gritty, hard to digest images, they are not photographs of bodies in a ditch or even mounds of shoes. I could understand why some parents would find the fear of night-terrors for kids who have never been exposed to the depth of human cruelty to not want photographs. 

You still have to wonder if these parents are also banning Batman, Spiderman, or Superman comics? I'm equally certain that this folks don't know/understand that Superman was born in the bedrooms of a couple of Jewish kids in 1930s Cleveland. 

Winner of the Completely Inconceivable Stupidity Prize goes to Tennessee's Williamson County, for banning Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth. The so-called reason for disallowing elementary kids the chance to read this adorable book? It describes seahorse reproduction. This is subversive dangerous material? Really? 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you don't own a copy of MAUS, 
go get on a waiting list. 
It's the #1 best seller on Amazon at the moment. 

Bonus Tip o' the Week
Treat yourself to a moment of Art Spiegelman talking about his art

Extra bonus Tip o'the Week from MnMaus himself!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Trojan Horses

I treated myself to some fluff reading over the weekend. Between last week's funeral and the bitter, bitter cold that's settled over the tundra, I needed  a little bit of decompression time. 

In the land of fluff, I have a guilty pleasure reading romance novels by Aven Ellis, Lucy Score, and Claire Kingsley on my tablet. None of these ladies write particularly deep, steamy Fifty Shades type books; these are quick reads with lots of laughs. All three write really snappy dialogue amidst really sappy stories. It's like eating a profiterole  or an éclair, sweet but you can only eat one or two before your teeth sing. But this weekend, I needed something more  complex to divert my sighing sadness over the passing of Uncle Mike. So off to the library I went, and on You R Lucky shelf (those hot books in high demand) I caught a copy of State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton. 

I'm not reviewing the book here, but suffice it to say, it was a fascinating read. The story, of course, casts the Mrs. Cleaver look-alike Secretary of State as  the flawed  but determined hero. Duh. Still, Clinton walked  that  walk for a few years and she provides some unexpected insight into the job and the personalities that  inhabit the halls of American Power. Some of it was, oddly, thought provoking. Not that this was real life and the  depiction of  the previous president, a Feckless Leader look-alike named Dunn, is particularly terrifying in light of  the recent investigations of January 6th, but still, it got me to thinking about a couple of things.

Mykonos vase, 670 BCE
One of those things was the Trojan Horse. The phrase has been used a lot lately, mostly ascribed to Islamic State attempts to infiltrate any number of locations/schools/corporations or to describe malware that appears to ride in as harmless software. However it's used, a Trojan Horse is a powerful image. It is explicitly about deception, the desire to conquer from within, as well as a certain level of crude trickery. No matter what you wanna call it, it's not nice.

Trying to fall asleep last night, I could not shake the image of a Trojan horse. Its middle is vacant, ready to be filled with something implicitly evil. It's designed to deliver a stealth payload of nothing good. And  in my imagination, it's BIG. Every time you hear about a Trojan horse, your mind immediately goes to a big thing on wheels being rolled into the center of a city, only to have a plague released at  midnight. 

BIG. The thing is always big. Big enough to hold an army, according to the story. I kept thinking about other things in which you could hide an army. And then I thought, maybe not an army army, but a cabal. A cadre. A cell of dedicated somethings. What if you pulled back the dome like  an open beer stein, and instead of men and women dedicating their lives to the preservation of democracy and the ideals delineated in the Constitution, you find a bunch of power-brokering lobbyists who have traded reality for a stack of lies interspersed with personal gain? 

Whatever happened to Truth, Justice, and the American Way?

Oh, wait; there are people out there who will tell you that this is the American Way: deceit, lies, self-interest...maybe it is. We have some pretty terrific role models out there for that kind of  behavior....Carnegie, Rockefeller, Hill, Astor, Madoff, Feckless....the list is very long. We have a history of internal marginalization and discrimination: Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Jews. We are certainly not the worthy inhabitants of that shining city on a hill.

It's  like  the rotunda flips open like a beer stein, and inside you see the New Americans.....the ones who shit in the hallways and trashed the halls where our laws are made. Maybe they were making an editorial comment. Or maybe they didn't fully understand what it means to live someplace other than a democracy, however flawed, where repression was the rule of law. Maybe they need to spend a week or two in Venezuela or Saudi Arabia to experience life without the basic freedoms? 

(And speaking of basic freedoms, why is it a matter of personal freedom whether or not to wear a mask, but the government can tell a woman what to do with her body? Another conundrum.) 

But back to State of Terror. Had I read this book 6 years ago, I would've laughed it off as highly improbable. The idea that secret dirty bombs could be built and hidden would've seen possible, but far fetched. The very idea that we could have a president who was so unprepared to lead, so crude, ill-mannered, and grotesque in speech was unfathomable to me. Even Bush II could put together a cogent sentence. Nowhere in my imagination did the possibility of such a lout being elected even cower in a corner. No; the age of television and public debate prevented such a travesty from happening. Except it didn't. The electorate in this country wanted a guy who grabbed pussy and shoved his tongue into women's throats  because he was a celebrity and that makes it okay. Even if the popular vote favored Hillary Clinton, the reality of the electoral college gave us a guy who liked despots and admires dictators. This scenario sets up Clinton and Penny's book and suddenly, it doesn't seem so far-fetched. That's what make the book so terrifying: it could happen. And it probably already has. We've already had one failed  insurrection and attempted coup.

What will it take for We, the People, to pull our collective heads outta our asses to deal with the BIG LIE and get this show back on the road? We've had so many warning shots across the bow, it's no wonder we're beginning to look like an Iranian ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Today, President Biden was heard responding to a Fox reporter's question on a still hot mic:

Peter Doocy of Fox News Channel: Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?

President Biden: It’s a great asset. More inflation...(apparently thinking the mic  was dead:) What a stupid son of a bitch.

Y'know, it was a pretty stupid question. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Midterm elections are coming.
Choose to be part of the solution:
campaign for a candidate who supports that which is important to you.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Sad, Mad, and Pissed Off... for a change

What was supposed to be a calm, easy week has turned into something quite the opposite. 

On the personal side, we lost our very dear Uncle Mike. He wasn't really my uncle, but he and Aunty Bonny were always Uncle Mike and Aunty Bonny to our boys. Together, they were a force of nature in the very best sense of the phrase. They basically adopted Ziggy and me when I didn't know I actually had family in Minnesota. They shared the highs, the lows, and all the stuff in the middle. They moved to Virginia back in 2017 to be closer to their daughter as they navigated their 80s, and in April of 2018, we lost Aunty Bonny. Uncle Mike found his foot, drove Uber for a while, and even found a lady friend. Life was looking good for him...and then stuff started. One thing after another. On Wednesday, the 13th, he went to join Aunty Bonny for breakfast. Not a great surprise, but no departure is ever really expected. Getting him back to Minnesota, however, has been a bit of a challenge. Weather, you know. So this Wednesday there will be a small funeral that will be zoomed. I will be there, and then the immediate family will come back to my house for the traditional meal of consolation before everyone flies to various homes to sit shiva. Aunty Bonny would expect no less, even in a pandemic. She trained me well. And I can hear Uncle Mike laughing as I write this. 

In the middle of feeling sad, I stopped long enough to get really, really angry. The hostage taking during shabbat morning services at Congregation Beth Israel. Yes, it was horrifying and terrifying, but my anger came from some of the responses...or lack of them. 

As soon as I heard, I logged into The New York Times. Nothing. I turned on CNN; they were covering the story live. That was all disappointing, but that wasn't what made me mad. Save that for that august news service, The Beeb. 

The BBC headline said: 
This is a great case of semantics matter. What the FBI Special Agent Matthew DeSarno said after the hostages were safe was:
He was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.

Yeah, I understand some people were unhappy with Special Agent DeSanto, but reports support the idea that he had an outcome in mind and the synagogue was an opportunity. Granted the guy was also homeless and rather unstable in his rants and raves, lending credence to the idea that he was just plain off his rocker. The BBC, however, published a headline that made the selection of the location a benign point in the standoff. I'm not buying that.

According to one of the zoom viewers, Stacey Silverman, he was not exactly benign about Jews.

He was foul-mouthed. He was swearing. He was saying antisemitic tropes. He was talking about Israel, Palestine, Islam, and that he had a gun. He implied he had a bomb in his backpack, and that he could, you know, let it loose at any minute. It was horrifying.

She was theoretically in the room. I kinda guess she knew what was going on. 

See, this wasn't an isolated incident.

Here's a list of synagogue shootings taken from Wikipedia. 

1960 Congregation Beth Israel (Gadsden, Alabama). Gunman injured two worshippers after fire-bombing synagogue.
1986 Neve Shalom Synagogue. During Shabbat services gunmen killed 22 worshippers and wounded 6.[2] (Istanbul, Turkey()

The highlight is my contribution; those are attacks in the last 5 years. 

Open the search parameters to Jewish institutions, you get a very different picture:

This is the whole list that Wikipedia publishes for Attacks on Jewish institutions in the United States. I left the citations and links in just in case you want to see some of these for yourself.

We, the Jews of the United States, are targets. We know this. We may comprise less than 2% of the US population, yet 54.9% of religious bias crimes are targeting Jews, according to the American Jewish Committee report issued in August, 2021. That a rather disproportionate number, dontcha think? But given the fact almost every Jew, observant or not, is concerned about these attacks harkens back to early Nazi Germany and that ol' saying, It could never happen here. 

It happened there and it can happen here just as easily. In fact, it already has. 

This morning, like damn near every morning except shabbat, I'm in a synagogue at morning minyan. I've been doing this for a long time. I like morning minyan; it frames my day. But let me reassure you, we have spotters who watch the parking lot for unknown vehicles and visitors. Our security has been upgraded, and we are vigilant. This is the new reality. 

Yes, you can still see in our windows. You can see us praying. You can see us reading Torah. It's what we do. Join us if you'd like...just wear an N95 mask, please. But when it's cold, there is coffee. 

morning minyan is the best place to see dawn.

We are not afraid. We are not hiding. We will welcome those who want to come to pray, for a yahrzeit, or for the chuckles we seem to have every day. 

Jews came to this country to escape persecution and pogroms. We are not going to stand around pretending Colleyville didn't have anything to do with a synagogue. We're not gonna let you pretend either. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If someone offers you a class in shooter-preparedness,
take it. 
The life you save may not just be your own.   

Monday, January 10, 2022

A Mouse, A Louse, and An Inappropriate Appropriation

A while back, while walking through a park in Firenze, I noticed the ground was littered with chestnuts. This took me back to my childhood, when the chestnut tree in front of our synagogue dropped its spiky load every year right around Rosh Ha'Shanah. We were always told those chestnuts were horse chestnuts and should not be eaten. Still, I loved the spiky wrappers and when I saw dozens of them on the ground, I could not help but pick up a few to find out if they were sweet chestnuts or horse chestnuts. I picked up three, stripped off the covers, and dropped them into my pocket. 

And promptly forgot about them.

Until I was home and found them in a pocket  as I prepared to do laundry. Knowing  this is highly illegal, I called the local USDA office to ask what to do. When the guy stopped chuckling, he asked a few questions, then assured me that bringing  just the chestnuts, sans shells and leaves, was not a big deal, but to be on the safe side, I should wash them in a little bleach, dry them thoroughly, and I would have a nice souvenir. So I did. 

For the last few years, they shared a lovely little pottery bowl with dried lavender that I had grown on my little mirpeset

The other day, I saw one on the floor, almost hidden under the baker's rack. "Hmmmm," I wonder if Young Sir got a hold of the chestnuts when he had the step stool out?" I picked it up and put it back in the bowl. 

This morning, a chestnut was on the floor again, but this one had been gnawed. I looked in the bowl...there were no chestnuts at all! Only one conclusion could be drawn: an uninvited guest has taken up residency in my house. 

Honestly, it's winter. I get it. If I knew it was just one, I would leave him alone. But just one never stays just one. 

MouseMode automatically switched on. Nothing in the cabinets. Nothing under the table. I checked the living sign of activity in there. But he had gotten the chestnuts out of the bowl on the third shelf up from the floor on the baker's rack. Yup. There was "activity" in the Longaberger bread basket (which was empty save for the warming brick,) on the wooden shelf covers I used on the rack, and on top of the placemat basket. And that was it. But nowhere else. 

I checked the basement. Not a sign anywhere that a mouse was hanging around. 

Now, just about 2 years ago, I had my first mouse in the house. It was the week after the basement flood. I wrote about it. I am quoting myself here:
Peanut Butter Bucket
I was sitting in the kitchen eating my cottage cheese and granola dinner when a mouse skittered across the floor and dived under the fridge. Yes, I was startled; no, I did not yell EEEEEEEK and jump onto the counter, but I did call the junior son who told me to go to Home Depot and get a mouse trap. He told me this is part of adulting, and I needed to do this on my own. Google would help. Sure, it will. 
Having had a wonderful mouser dog and a husband who didn't mind battling critters, my experience with mice and mouse traps was almost non-existent, and what little experience I have had did not end happily. I floated around Google for a bit, and decided I need more help than it was providing, so I did the most adult thing I know...I called my machatunim* who know everything about this kinda stuff. My wonderful machatennister** immediately cried, "What you need is a peanut butter bucket!" and said she had one all put together, I should come over and get it. She also provided the Mousy Ramp for getting said critter into the bucket. She never once mentioned the word "adulting." I love this woman. Good thing they're only 5 minutes away!
The only thing that has changed was the hollering-for-help part. The Junior Son, ever so practical, strongly suggested I keep said bucket...which I did. As I write, it's in exactly the same place as in the original picture.  I'll let you know what happens. 

*******Yup. Worked like a charm. He was a little guy. I still feel kinda bad.*********

That said, I am kinda pissed about the chestnut souvenirs from Florence. I may have to go back to Italy to sneak in a few new ones. Yeah. I could see doing that if this pandemic ever lets up. 

And speaking about things to be pissed off about, turns out this is a thing. Some guy wearing a make-believe tallit (no kippah, mind you) and standing up there like he's an old time Hebrew tribesman, takes a shofar and blows it as he announces his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor. Yeah. Like he's standing at the walls of Jericho and they're gonna tumble on down because he's blowing a shofar. 

On Shabbat no less. Everyone knows you never blow a shofar on Shabbat. Oh, wait. Jews know that....not fakirs in costumes. 

You gotta watch the video on this. The ratty fanfare before he breaks into t'kiah, shevarim, and teruah is enough to send you running to shul for morning minyan. I promise you can never unsee this...this...this...travesty.

Not only is this cultural appropriation without a lick of understanding about what he's doing, but turns out it's some kind of evangelical thing. Now, VOX News is not exactly my go-to source for balanced news, but their article on this wave of shofar-blowing events was a pretty good basic explanation of what's going on. Seems like shofars are getting real popular, although the good/kosher/real ones from Israel are expensive, so they're getting their rams' horns from China. Okay, that strikes me as beyond absurd.

Look, a shofar IS a religious item used in specific services, blown in specific sound patterns with meaning. It's NOT like a Christmas tree; it's not decorative, it's been used in the same way for the same things for several thousand years, and you can't dance to it. And no, smoke doesn't come out of it when you blow. 
And I hafta confess, the image of this louse in a tallit really reminded me of the Nazi guy in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. You know who I mean...the one who dresses up like a High Priest? So far, Mastriano's face hasn't melted yet, but I wanna believe Moshe Rabbenu, Joshua, and the rest of the gang are doubled over laughing at this. But hey! This is show biz, right?

Wanna know what's scarier than a Nazi guy dressed in high priest clothes? 

The percentage of Americans who think this is real, okay, and appropriate because the election was stolen. 

I wish I had some serious words of wisdom for the leader of the Democratic Party. In order to hear any words at all, they would have to stage The GIANT Popping Noise...the one you hear when they all pull their heads outta their asses in a single move. I am rapidly losing faith that we're ever gonna hear that sound. 

*machatunim: child-in-law's parents.
**machatennister: child-in-law's mother
***mishbucha: family
[not shown but what the heck] machutin: child-in-law's father

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
While the weather outside is frightful
But the couch can be delightful 
With a cup of tea and 
It's getting great reviews. If you haven't read it, you should!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Coming up on January 6th, 2022

 Almost exactly a year  ago I wrote an episode called What If...  Please  forgive the hubris  of quoting myself:
What if all of this is just a show to divert attention away from the long-term purpose?
I was listening to CBS News this morning, and Ian Bremmer, head of Eurasia Group, a risk analysis company, was interviewed, talking about the global risks of 2021. He said something that caught my attention. He said Joe Biden's presidency will have an "asterisk,"  like A-Rod or Barry Bonds, meaning that the record doesn't count. Hear what he has to say:

A year later, I'm even more convinced this January 6th insurgency was exactly that: a red herring. 

On last night's CBS News, there was a report on a poll taken almost a year after the attempted insurrection. The results are basically terrifying. But four questions really stood out for me.

The full results of the poll taken December 27th -30th, 2021 
can be seen here: CBS News Poll.
I found the results terrifying. Especially the third question. 12% of the sample believes Feckless Leader must continue to fight to wrest the presidency from President Biden. 12%. Double digits. A number above statistical error. 12% of 332,915,073 (the approximate US population in 2021) is 39,949,809 people who think the election was not only stolen from Feckless Leader, but he should continue the fight to get it back. Almost 40,000,000 people. That's a big number no matter how you want to look at the statistics. 

But think of it this way: 40,000,000 are drinking the KoolAid put out there by the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of this country. 40,000,000 people are listening to Q-Anon and other alternative news outlets selling them on the idea that they are the oppressed masses and have to take back their country from the commie liberals. These are the same people who believe Feckless Leader gave them access to healthcare when all his administration did was work hard to remove access to health care. Those are the same legislators who are stopping any bills that pertain to the social safety net and have no plan or proposal for taking care of Grandma when she can no longer take care of herself. These are the folks voting for the same legislators who refuse to confront Big Pharma on drug costs even though they won't be able to afford insulin when Type 2 Diabetes sets in. 40,000,000 people who continue to vote against their own self-interests, believing these clowns care about them. 

No, these clowns care only about their wallets. Democrats, for the record, are not exempt from this either. Both sides are guilty of malfeasance, so don't think I'm prejudiced about this. I'm not. If the billfold fits, expose it. 

A recent article in The Atlantic stated that about 18% of Americans are unwilling to get the COVID vaccine. That's approximately 59,924,713 unvaccinated people. Now, that doesn't include those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot receive the vaccine, and yes, there are some individuals who are vulnerable. This number reflects those who are unwilling to be vaccinated. That means there are about 60,000,000 people, give or take a few, who don't give a shit about themselves or their families. They would rather play Russian Roulette with a close cough or sneeze than protect their elders or children. Whatever would Jesus say about that, I ask you?

As we head into the midterm elections, I would caution every sentient voter, whether you be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Pastafarian in your party affiliation, to think not only about stuff like abortion and voter rights, but to consider that which falls out of your favored candidate's mouth in the coming months. recognize that party affiliation is nice, but we need a government that can sit down together to find that common ground while hammering out the differences. Not everyone is always gonna get what they want, but people, we ALL live in the country and we should be striving to find communal answers. 

The answers must go beyond the political posturing to include everyone with a stake in the country, and that means the Indigenous Peoples are more than simple shareholders; they are the original owners and cannot be dismissed from the table. It means respecting the inalienable rights of every religious group: the Jews, the Muslims, the growing Hindu population along with the Buddhists, the Baha'i, Rastafarians, and about a zillion other belief groups. Majority does not mean running roughshod over everyone else. Majority means working with the other side to make sure of our nation's survival. 

In a perfect world.

In our less than perfect world, however, there is something that is all too often lost in the shuffle and that is the real moral compass of our elected officials. I don't mean a stand on abortion, I mean knowing the difference between right and wrong, truth and lies, caring and selfishness. These are all intangibles, but require public affirmation every chance we get. You can't elect someone who has a history of cheating his workers, making totally inappropriate statements, or dodging taxes with a big grin and expect that person to act on behalf of an entire nation. That person has nothing to recommend that they will lead by anything other than self-service. 

Like Aaron Sorkin's character Andrew Shepherd said in The American President: 
 I can tell you without hesitation: being President of this country is entirely about character. 
As the midterm election year begins, maybe it's time We, the People, made character the big issue on the ballot. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I'm really tired of wallets running the country. Maybe we should be asking better questions at the debates, like 
  • tell us about the strongest aspect of your character
  • when facing a tough scientific question that impacts the nation, to whom do you turn, what questions do you ask, and what resources do you check for yourself?  
I don't think I want a legislator who cannot answer either of those questions. No one should. 

The insurrection did not materialize out of nowhere; it was always out there, but suddenly given new legitimacy. If you're like most of the people in this country, you already know our democracy is fragile and growing frailer each month. Be aware, people; this is out there, it's real, and it can happen. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Now is the time for the first stage of reclamation to begin:
Ask your elected representatives for an accounting of their character inventory.
If they can't back it up with FACTS supporting their case,
it's time to shop for a new candidate.