And a Firewall Holds

American exceptionalism is an oxymoron these days. 

Because a moron is in the White House and 63 million people thought that was a good idea.

We are a drifting hulk and striving for steady leadership. Or even a little respite — comic relief — in our search for direction. (Thank you, Justin Trudeau, for your choice of socks on May 4th. May the Fourth always be with you.)

The abject corruption and self-dealing in this White House is so abhorrent and anathema to our 250-ish year-old experience (ok, the Teapot Dome scandal was amateur hour compared to this Administration), that we have no response. 

We keep thinking we are crazy because it can’t be happening, and surely the Congress and Department of Justice would investigate.  Oh, wait, this is the Congress that passed AHCA and a DOJ that imprisoned someone for laughing at Jeff Sessions.

First Brexit and then Agent Orange made the sane among us worry about the portents of a World War II redux.  One in which fascism/nazism would win precisely because 45 is enamored of strongmen and dictators.

If France “fell” to Le Pen and Merkel didn’t do well in local elections, then the conventional wisdom is that the world would devolve into conflict that would end the world.  Because now, as distinct from 1945, many groups have nuclear weaponry.

I believe that conventional wisdom.  And I am grateful for the election of Macron — which meant, for me, that people who love liberty, even for those they may personally despise, won the day — and the shoring up of support for Angela Merkel. 

But we must remain vigilant.

Because no one has to like another person, for any reason or no reason, but all of us must believe in a person’s rights to believe and behave as they do, within the confines of the law.  That means if you beat up someone, you go to jail.  That means if you don’t want “others” in your town, suck it up or move.  It means that you are responsible for your choices and your destiny and there are no scapegoats for your sorry life.

The beauty and reality of a free society. 

These tenets are under siege.  And I will fight for them.


I am white, educated, and reasonably well-heeled.  My immigrant grandparents struggled and so did my parents.  And now my siblings and I are successful. We stand on the shoulders of two generations.  And our children will get everything we can give them.

Because we know where we came from.  And the gift that is this nation.

Too many people after too many generations here forget the gift of this nation.  And then chose to despoil it with a con man and grifter.

Let me be clear about something:  if you are white and voted for Trump and you take assistance — food stamps, medicaid, or go to the emergency room for medical care — you are a scourge on the society.  You depend on me for your care.  And that aid ended with the election of Agent Orange.  And I am good with it.  Because immigrants deserve the promise of this country more than those born into it who feel more entitled than grateful.

Maybe Reagan poisoned you with the “welfare mothers driving Cadillacs” which was a whistle call and untrue.  But if you had any self-esteem or any drive, you would have seen through that.  You are lazy and you think white privilege will grease the wheels. 

Would I give you a managerial job if you failed 6th grade?  Are you kidding me?

You are so interested in entitlement reform?  Most of those who receive benefits are white (and Republican).  I am good with it.  I don’t want to pay for you.  You were born with more rights and privilege than anyone else in the world.  If you and your family blew it, it is on you.  And because AHCA was passed, you need me to pay for your ER visits.  Instead of making me pay those taxes to provide those services, I will get a tax break.  Thank Paul Ryan and Agent Orange.

I am tired of you.  Get a job.  Harvest the fields.  Like my grandparents who worked in sweat shops and my parent who did odd jobs from when they were 5 years-old. And studied when they could and learned about the world.

I will contribute my tax savings to people like my parents and grandparents who struggle to make it here so their children will have good lives.

No, I have no sympathy, except for the coal miners who will lose their medical coverage now.  But if they voted for Trump and the Darwinian view of life, then, well . . . .

Don’t cry to me when you are turned away from the ER. 

I voted for Hillary. 

Which meant more taxes for me. 

To take care you and everyone else. 

Because I believe in the promise of America. 

But you don’t believe in that promise.

Because you elected Agent Orange and a Congress that would repeal ACA.

I believe in the sanctity of human life – from inception to the end.  My heart bleeds for every unnecessary death and for every injury or malady that can’t be repaired or remedied.  I can’t even read about a child dying without tearing up.

Oh, and you should know that I am a lesbian raising a child with my partner.

You may think that is a sin and beyond the pale.  And you would be wrong.  We live a life with the same principles as in my parents’ home: work hard, be compassionate, be humble (here is where I fell down), and pay it forward.  I would compare my charitable giving and my civic involvement to make everyone’s life better against 45‘s in real dollars and as a percentage of our incomes.  And have it posted.

But, you and I, we are very different: my family and I take responsibility and work for a better world.  My family and I don’t wallow in what is.  My family and I are forward-looking and seek to heal the world.  The latter a commandment in my religious tradition.  I am not a person of faith, but I believe in the wisdom and directives of our ancients.

And as far as sins go, what you all allowed –i.e., electing 45 — puts you in a Hell that even Jesus didn’t anticipate.  Jesus is on my side.  And you know it.

So, if you obeyed even just these three commandments, how did we get here?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Don’t bare false witness against thy neighbor.

Do not covet that which is your neighbor’s.

Yeah, I thought so.  You screwed up.

A hero for our times — Aung San Suu Kyi

The Burmese military regime just released the rightful leader of Burma from 20 years of on-and-off house arrest. 

She has committed her life to democracy in the country renamed as Myanmar by the military so much so that she didn’t see her dying husband in London for fear that if she left her homeland she would not be allowed back.

She is a hero by the example of her life and should not be measured by whether or not she brings democracy to Burma.  And no one knows what democracy means to a people under totalitarian rule for at least two generations.

I visited Burma on a lark shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi was popularly elected and then prevented from seating her government.  It was a crazy time to be there.  Stupid in retrospect. 

Burma is a beautiful country with natural and archeological treasures.  

The military desecrates these treasures as easily as it does cemeteries, houses of worship and monasteries.  Some of the country is as ungovernable as are parts of Afghanistan, where tribes and drug trade rule.

What is France thinking?

Never known for its warm and welcoming manner, France has outdone itself.

First, it has deported Gypsies, an act condemned by the European Union.  But no sanctions were levied.

Now the legislature has banned burqas — the Muslim full-on veil.  Maybe people — me included — think that it is a little imprisoning to be totally covered at all times.  But the government of a politically democratic (and culturally snobby) country outlawing an outward sign of piety?  What if France wanted to outlaw the kipah (the beanie worn by religious Jewish men and cardinals and popes) or the sheitl (wig worn by religious Jewish women), would there be an outcry??  I think the answer is clearly yes.

Deportations . . . singling out customs of a religious minority . . . hmmm. . . . Is it Germany 1933?  Sad, but true, it is France 2010.

And don’t think this is an aberration.  Belgium and Spain are considering a burqa ban, too.

Lest we forget . . .

First, they came for the Jews.  But I was not a Jew, so I did not speak up.
Then they came for the communists.  But I was not a communist, so I did not speak up.
Then they came for the trade unionists.  But I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak up.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

(Attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984))

Burning the Quran is bad for all of us

General Petraeus commented that burning the Quran is dangerous for US troops. (See below.)

It is dangerous for all of us.

The Nazis burned books. The Communists burned books. The McCarthy-ites burned books.

Is this really what America stands for?

And just a little side note:  and these Quran burners call themselve the DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER?  Really?  Really?

P.S.:  ONLY C-SPAN and CNN carried live the interfaith press conference denouncing the burning of the Quran. Fox News Channel had no coverage and MSNBC did not carry live coverage.  WHAT DOES THAT SAY???

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press Writer Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press Writer Sept. 7, 2010

[Truncated; excerpt only]

KABUL, Afghanistan – The top U.S. and NATO commander warned Tuesday an American church’s threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide.

Meanwhile, NATO reported the death of an American service member in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The comments from Gen. David Petraeus followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center — a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy — to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war.

This is the media’s Hurricane Katrina

I believe the Gulf disaster defies analogy.  

But we need to pigeon hole this one for the 24 hour news re-cycle.  Hmmm.  Hurricane Katrina.  Yeah, that’s it!  Let’s exploit another episode of human suffering for the sake of ratings.  That’s why the media asks, “Is this Obama’s Hurricane Katrina?”.  Because that was the most recent large scale disaster.  We can’t remember back almost 10 years to ask if this is “Obama’s 9/11”.

And it feeds our need, in a situation out of control, for symmetry with past events so we can pretend to understand the event and its ramifications and then go back to watching Britney Spears.   The pathology of fear symmetry.

Let’s not make this about President Obama, although it would make it easier if it were.  It is about greed and reckless indifference to our earth.  It is about a problem of unimaginable scope causing imponderable calamity for all living beings.

We elected President Obama because he is unflappable, at least in public.   Now, we are pissed because he doesn’t express constant outrage to satisfy CNN, FOX, and MSNBC and our own fear symmetry pathology.

Everyone, listen up:

Rule 1 of disaster reaction:  If the only people with the machinery to solve the problem are the ones who caused the problem, don’t piss them off.  If you make it so they can never get out from under the liability, they will take their marbles and go home and then all is lost.   Sometimes it feels good to yell at a given moment, but it hurts you in the long run (ever hear the old saw, “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”?).

Rule 2 of disaster reaction:  There is no easy resolution to this problem because no one prepared for this disaster.  Not BP and not the United States.  Preparation would have required years of research and development by top scientists and hundreds of millions of dollarsSo, blame Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II.  Even throw Carter, Ford and Nixon under that bus while you’re at it.

Rule 3 of disaster reaction Everyone wastes time pointing figures at othersAnd take out the mirror.  All of us.  We are the problem, too.  Consume too much?  Vote for the Drill, Baby, Drill ticket?

Rule 4 of disaster reaction: DON’T TELL THE PUBLIC THE TRUTH.  WE CANNOT HANDLE THE TRUTH (Jack Nicholson was right in “A Few Good Men”).  We also expect that everything will get fixed for us, preferably within a day’s trading session at the New York Stock Exchange.

Rule 5 of disaster reaction: The media feeds our ridiculous expectations and our hubris.  So, Anderson Cooper, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Maureen Dowd, Jack Cafferty, Wolf Blitzer and whoever else:  stop with the comparisons and come up with ways to heal our earth, ways to help our fellow Americans, our wildlife, etc.  Set up a disaster relief fund.

Reality No. 1 of Disasters:  The man in charge — President Obama — wanted this gusher plugged the minute it happened.  You think he wants to go down as the president who screwed up this disaster response?

Reality No. 2 of Disasters: Everyone is an armchair quarterback.  If you can help, then help.  If you can’t, then shut up.

Reality No. 3 of Disasters: If there weren’t a disaster, the media would create one. So, for the 45th President of the United States of America, what will be your Gulf Oil Spill Disaster?

This Blogger’s No. 1 Fear: If it is ever over, we will forget about it in a New York minute.

Rand Paul, the Prophet with the Pitchfork

That crazy Tea-Party-er is good for America.  You’re thinking: some crazy person is guest blogging.  Nope.

Rand Paul is a false prophet.  He is rationalizing our nation’s three-decade long drift into a selfish, ego-centric theocracy.  He is giving us a way to rationalize and even celebrate our nation’s screw-your-neighbor-because-it-is-your-G-d-given-right hypocrisy.  Yes, if we listen to him, we will surely perish.

He lays bear the essential pathos of the Tea Party movement — the fight for white supremacy and control over diminishing resources.  Neo-Nazis and Neo-Klansmen with an apocalyptic rapture.

I am over-reacting, maybe?

  • He said that the President’s criticizing British Petroleum was un-American.  Does being American mean I have to applaud and support corporate greed that despoliates the earth? (Psssst, Randy, BP is headquartered in Switzerland to avoid US taxation).
  • Then he drew a line in the sand — saying that an individual’s right to be a racist is improperly impinged upon by the Civil Rights Act.  (If a black proprietor refused to serve a white man, I don’t believe Mr. Paul would be so sanguine about the protections of the Civil Rights Act.)

No, I am not overreacting.

After thousands of years of human civilization and evolution, it still all boils down to the epic battle between good and evil.  On one side of Mr. Paul’s line is our common humanity and sense of decency, justice and fair play.  All the things that — we say — define us as Americans.  On Rand Paul’s side of that line, there are only Freud’s id, chaos and brutality.

Good versus Evil.  Yes, it is that simple.

One thing leads to another

I started the weekend early by slipping out to go to the ear doctor.  Most people wouldn’t call that the start of a weekend.  But my ears have been clogged and itchy on and off for some time and more and more people have told me that they’ve been to the ear doctor and the problem was wax.  Deriving from a deep-seating egotism or martyrdom — I am not sure — I assumed that the ear doctor would look into my ears, faint at the sight of the wax and then, once regaining consciousness, would suit up (a HazMat, of course) and begin excavation.

He looked into my ears, my ears and my throat.  He said, “No wax.  Your ears are clean.”  He looked at my expression and asked, “You were hoping for serious wax, weren’t you?”  I nodded.  He felt bad.  He said, “I am really sorry, but your ears naturally dispose of excess wax, just the way they are supposed to.  And it just may be allergies causing the itching and clogged feelings.”  I was so dejected.  He started to feel really bad.  He continued, “Look, I kept you waiting for 30 minutes and there was no wax, so I am waiving the co-pay for the visit.”  I protested, after all, it wasn’t his fault about the wax and he apologized for being late the moment he walked in the room, so my anger at that was assuaged.  “No,” he insisted, “give it to charity.”

I walked onto the street and tried to hail a cab during that ridiculous time of day when ALL cabs are “off-duty” — why every cab company must have the shift changing times is beyond me.  I inadvertently cut in front of a guy and ran to an off-duty cab because sometimes the driver will take you if the destination is on his way to the designated shift-changing location.  I felt bad — I don’t usually cut a line and this was right after the doctor waived a co-pay.  The guy looked odd but harmless enough.  So, I offered him a lift to his destination — Port Authority. This is a very non-New York thing to do.  A cab is one’s (rented) private domain from the beginning to the end of the ride.  Don’t get between a New Yorker and his or her cab.  It would get ugly fast.

It turns out the stranger in my cab was a doctor and a sheep farmer near Binghampton, NY and was in the city for a medical conference.  He hates the city and the thought of living on a farm gives me hives.  So, total opposites and that does not bode well for the 20 minutes remaining in our time together.  That is an eternity in a small space with a stranger who somehow feels beholden to make conversation.  And he was clearly not a natural conversationalist.  For example, he mentioned that not only does he get wool, milk but he also gets hides.  Picture a dead Bambi starring in the movie, “The Silence of the Lambs.”  He had noooooo sense of humor and seemed somewhat sad.  When we got to Port Authority, I declined his offer of payment and told him that my doctor waived the co-pay, and telling me to give it to charity and so I am doing the same here.

As the cab driver and I continued on to my destination, I said congenially, “Was I crazy to give a stranger a lift?”  The cab driver looked at me in his rear-view mirror and said, “You seem like a very nice spirit and a professional, educated person.”  I knew that that was a compliment and a way to say he thought I wasn’t crazy doing a good turn for a stranger, but it is fascinating how different cultures and the “immigrant experience” shape our language.  He then asked rhetorically, “You are Jew?”   Turns out Moustafa is a Muslim from Egypt and a civil engineer.  (A weird factoid: he is the third cab driver — all were Egyptian — to ask if I were a Jew.)  We had a wonderful chat about life, happiness and universality of humanity.

It is crazy how a doctor’s waiving a co-pay led ultimately to a conversation with Moustafa.  A conversation that lifted my spirits and reminded me of our common humanity.

Out at Work

I “out”ed myself today at work — not as a lesbian [remember, I am here, I am queer and I am over it] but as a blogger.

While I didn’t give away the site, apparently some of my coined phrases, like “schlepic” — in the passages I cut and pasted for a colleague — can lead straight to this blog.  So, the secret is out.  I will never be on the Supreme Court as a result of my writings.  That’s okay.  First, I am not qualified.  Second, I am one of the few New Yorkers who doesn’t look so good in basic black.  Phew, intellectual and sartorial disasters averted.  Our nation is safe again.

Although, come to think of it, I would dispense justice, tempered with mercy.  As in, “would you like extra fries with your LAST meal?”  I fear that most people would be horrified if every opinion from the bench started with, “Schmuuuuuck, what were you thinking when you . . . ?”  I would imprison people who tortured the words of laws or statutes beyond all recognition to fit their desired ends as violations of the Geneva Convention.  You know, the Geneva Convention, the so-called “quaint” doctrine discredited by Dick Cheney and his highly educated legal “scholars”.  Just using fancy words doesn’t make an idea good; it just makes it high-fallutin’ bullsh@t.  But I digress.  See, I would get on a roll and mayhem would ensue in my court room.  Maybe I should get the Presidential Medal of Honor for having the patriotism not to seek a judgeship.

Anyway, today was a regular day without many gross things to report.  Other than the fact that the Virginia governor forgot that slavery was part of Virginia history.  That’s like a Texan forgetting the Alamo, for G-d’s sake.  But the governor’s omission did hit an impressive trifecta:  gross, idiotic and inflammatory.

And then there is the mining company that put profits ahead of lives and now 25, possibly 29, miners are dead. I think Lady MacBeth found that blood stains your hands forever.  That crazy Bill Shakespeare.  Our very own Elizabethan Nostradamus.

Starvation in the Sudan is at a humanitarian crisis level.  (There are so many centers of humanitarian crisis, wouldn’t it be easier for the UN to list where there ISN’T a humanitarian crisis?)  We really should think about how lucky the majority of us are in this nation (and remember and help the less fortunate).  But, tea party-ers are crying over taxes, which most of them don’t pay anyway.  Children starving in the Sudan.  Spoiled Americans are protesting a functioning government that protects their liberties and provides a safety net from starvation.  Let’s put these two concepts on the scales and balance them.  Ok, why are the tea party-ers still talking?

Associate Justice 40andoverblog of the United State of America.  It has a nice ring to it.

Doctor, heal thyself

The urologist who put up a sign saying, “if you voted for Obama, go somewhere else,” got his information from the Internet and . . . wait for it . . . it was misinformation.  We did not “misunderestimate” him (my favorite moment of the otherwise bleak Bush years).  He was flat-out wrong.

The Internet is an amazing tool.  It also must be viewed in its context.  Opinions — informed, ill-informed and maliciously disinformative — are out there.  It is up to each person to glean the facts, evaluate the sources and come to one’s own conclusion.  Just because I can write an opinion that you might read doesn’t mean that I am right, that I have all of the facts or that, quite frankly, I am interested in the truth.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but that doesn’t mean that each opinion deserves equal weight.  I spoke to a tea party goer about a year ago that heard on an unnamed “news” station (ok, FOX) that the health care bill would give social security benefits to illegal aliens.  Ok, let’s set aside the fact that we are not talking about E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, or Martians, and that they are humans deserving at least the catch-all phrase of “illegal immigrants”.  I asked this woman if she ever dealt with the government.  She asked me to get to my point.  I responded that even if President Obama were seeking to give away the money in the Treasury (which he can’t because there is a 3 trillion dollar deficit), that the government needs a social security number to take any action with respect to a person’s benefits.  So if someone doesn’t have a SSN (let’s assume that an illegal immigrant hasn’t stolen one because why impugn someone who is seeking a better life here, while there are native born executives of Enron and Madoff enterprises who have committed heinous crimes and haven’t yet had their days of reckoning), then it is impossible to give that person social security benefits.  The commentator was either mistaken or intentionally misleading.

Ok, let’s be honest.  MSNBC is slanted the other way and sometimes uses inductive reasoning — basing a hypothesis on one fact — and gets the whole analysis wrong.  For me, sometimes, it is analogous to watching a show about law or maybe a doctor watching ER or Grey’s Anatomy.  It strains credulity and sometimes is farcical.

However, when I realized that I paid more in 2009 taxes than most, non-celebrity, tea party-ers pay in two decades, I realized that I put my money where my mouth is.  I believe in universal health care, medicare and a safety net for those like my grandparents who slept at night knowing that, if they lost their jobs in sweatshops, their children would not starve.  As a child of those children — the embodiment of the American dream — I pay my taxes for those like my grandparents and my parents, and not for the ungrateful masses who are the tea-party-ers.  Why?  Because this is America, the greatest nation on Earth.  But if you don’t want to buy in, that’s ok.  But there are consequences.  How about we mess with your medicare?  Would you be partying then? I hope you get along with your neighbors because if I join your group, there won’t be money to pave the roads outside your homes.  But because of my belief in America, and my indebtedness to my forebears, you get to be parasites sucking on the dream of America.  To tell you the truth, I cannot wait to heave the yolk of your entitlement of my already heavy burden.

How about that?  Let the generous, gentler and kinder America (thank you, Bush I) reclaim what is America.  I live America — I work hard, I pay my taxes, I pray that the government is good, right and just, I do not believe in torture and I give charity to those who need help to jump start their lives.  Yes, what Jesus would do.  And I am a Jewish, lesbian, Ivy League educated, Northeastern elitist.  And I embody the promise and opportunity of America more than most of the greedy, uncharitable, talking heads that pollute our airwaves.

Bring it on.

I get it, no one wants to comment on my blog

Why? because everyone is traceable these days.  Hey if Israeli operative can be photographed prior to an assassination, then our lives are open to the world.

The truth is I am too stupid and I have too much to say that no one would voluntarily listen to, so I need a blog.  Maybe I should call it my Blab or my Blah-Blah.

An option.