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.

THE REST IS ADDRESSED TO WHITE AMERICA WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP:

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.

Life American Style

You want to know why our society is crumbling?  Why we are losing our preeminence in education and innovation?  Look in the mirror.

These are the items that get equal billing in the news re-cycle in the US.  These are taken from CNN, Yahoo, MSNBC and FOX.  Ok, I cherry-picked.  And I re-ordered to prove a point.  So what?  I bet that I gave us more credit than we are due.  In order of (my manipulated) importance, accompanied by my snide remarks:

  • US consumer confidence is at an all time low.  No one is buying off-road vehicles for the urban terrain.
  • Banks are not lending and companies are not hiring because of confusion over the new laws that will go into effect over time.  Would you like us to re-enact Glass-Steagull (that was eviscerated when the GOP was in control)?  I bet you would take Dodd-Frank in a heart-beat.  So, shut up.
  • Did Anderson Cooper flub a critical question to Michele (Night of the Living Dead) Bachmann (two n’s so she is not a secret Jew) in the GOP Debate on Tuesday night?  Does she have a cause of action if she loses the GOP nomination?
  • The housing bubble has not bottomed out.  So, the economy has to stop and wait for that.
  • Unemployment is over 9% which is a reflection of the last 2.5 years and not of the implosion caused in the years that preceded it.
  • People are occupying Wall Street and financial centers across the country because they don’t understand why the American Dream is out of reach, but aren’t they anarchists?
  • Lindsay Lohan has to go back to jail because she overslept on her first day of community service.
  • Stock prices are lower.  “Euro Contagion,” baby.  (Wait, don’t tell me, it must be an ad for “The Black Death Has Returned,” in movie theaters everywhere.)
  • Qaddafi is dead after an insurrection against his brutal rule, but enough about that, oil prices are dropping and it is a sign of Obama’s failed domestic policies (I am still figuring out the latter).
  • The Queen didn’t mind a curtsey malfunction in Australia.  She is a woman of the people.
  • Not all of the 99% pay federal tax (but they do pay state, local and sales tax).  Nevertheless, they should be deported.
  • The GOP candidates are talking crazy talk in their debates about how much less taxes we ought to pay (and Herman Cain would not tax used goods but food — which cannot be sold “used” or “pre-owned” — would be more expensive than ever) and how we need a fence across our entire southern border because Martians and other aliens are landing and illegally entering our country and taking our jobs.  Who said the GOP doesn’t believe in UFOs?
  • Israel negotiated with terrorists because the release of one soldier was worth freeing 1,000 Palestinians non-POWs (“If you save a life, it is as if you saved the world,” said a great rabbi; it was also a smart move to undermine Abbas and his UN bid for statehood).
  • There are almost 9 billion humans in the world, at least 8 billion of whom live in abject poverty.  And I worry about my retirement accounts.
  • There is a faster and easier way to lose flab around your abs.  You mean I can watch TV, drink red wine and eat french fries (not together) and the fat will melt away?
  • Ashton’s and Demi’s marriage is on the rocks.  I didn’t know they actually got married.  Apparently, he thinks politics is sexy because . . . RIGHT before he was shtumping (I mean, stumping) for Obama.
  • The best and worst Versace styles are available at H&M stores.  He is dead, so I don’t get it.
  • Jessica Simpson (who IS she?) wants money to talk about her pregnancy.  It may be cheaper to buy “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”.
  • There are ten HOT Halloween costumes for this year.  You mean the French chambermaid outfit won’t work again this year?

Res ipsa loquitur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erev Rosh Ha-Shanah 5772

SOS (our son, source of sanity) decided that he preferred his former blog “handle”, TLP (the little prince).  I am worried.

But I was immediately distracted by how adorable he was in his blue blazer, tan slacks, penny loafers, and bow-tie and my heart melted.  Just FYI: I keep suggesting “regular” ties, but SOS (or TLP) demurs.  I think because he knows the bow-tie makes him irresistible to many women (not only his moms).  He doesn’t want to chance missing out on the “boob crush” hugs he gets from all the lesbians in the synagogue (hey, breasts are breasts).  When he gets taller and there is no boob bonus in the hugs, he’ll probably switch to regular ties. Just a guess.

SOS lasted nearly the whole service, which is quite extraordinary for an adult, let alone a child.  “E-Mom, does every word end in “echa” in Hebrew?”  Almost, buddy.

The service was a mixture of celebration, remembrance, solemnity and a little irreverence (we are after all, a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex congregation).

The Torah portion we read tomorrow the binding of Isaac by his father Abraham.  I have always hated this story.  A crazy father, a submissive son, and a psychopathic deity.  With a heritage like this, we should start therapy in utero.

What do we learn from that Biblical story, other than we shouldn’t read the Bible to our children, especially before bedtime?

 

I still don’t get why Abraham was so willing to kill Isaac that the angel twice had to tell Abraham to stop before Abraham put down the knife.

I don’t understand why it is part of our liturgy except for us to be horrified by it.  Our rabbi noted that the story seems to defy the requirements elsewhere in Torah for us, as a community, to teach, love and shelter all of our children.  Abraham, the parent generation, is so invested in his belief that he is willing to kill Isaac, the child generation, regardless of whether Isaac has the same commitment.

I never thought of it quite that way — we say we love our children but we send them to battle the wars we decide to wage.  It is as true then and it is today in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in countless other places where wars have been waged so long that no one remembers peace.  We are horrified at the ghastly stories of child abuse here and yet we barely remember that we have sent thousands of other people’s children to war this year alone.

 

Love your children.

Protect your children.

Teach your children.

Remember peace.

 

The times they are a’changing

I always knew I was gay.  People often ask, “how could you know before you were ever with a woman?”  “The same way you always knew you were straight,” I say.  But the truth is that kids don’t think in terms of gay or straight.  They are who they are.  So, I knew as much that I was gay as straight kids knew they were straight.  Labels didn’t apply yet.  It only became an issue in the teenage years and beyond.  I desperately tried to be like everyone else, to the point of going overboard.

In the 1970s-90s, it was something to be hidden if I wanted to be a successful lawyer, if I wanted to fit in, if I wanted to get into the right social and professional crowds.  By the late 1990s, the gulf between who I was and who I pretended to be was wider than the San Andreas fault (gee, I hope that the fault line is wide, or I bungled this analogy).  I was tired of the schism, and so tired of the inevitable lies that somehow never fooled anyone, that I was willing to give up some measure of “success” and “acceptance” for peace of mind and peace of being.  That’s when the journey toward self-acceptance and family acceptance began.  A long, winding road, filled with pot holes, and yet, at various critical points, surrounded by warmth and beauty.

Today, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the military must end “don’t ask, don’t tell”.  Last week, New York legalized same-sex marriage.  A recent poll reported that more people in the country support gay marriage than not.

Still, I am not equal in the United States of America, the beacon of liberty to all nations.  But I am closer to equal than ever before.

I just hope that there comes a time when people wonder why there ever was a need to fight for equality — for anyone, anywhere.

Weiner, Whiner, Weenie

And another one bites the dust.

It is all so stupid.  I don’t care about Weiner’s weiner.  I don’t care about for Sen. Craig’s gay liaisons.  I don’t care about Gov. Sanford’s Argentinian fiasco or Schwarzenneger’s love child(ren).  I don’t care about Bill Clinton’s dalliances. Or Al Gore’s ooky come-on lines with the spa masseuse. And Dominique Strauss-Kahn can have all les liaisons dangereuses possible.  Those are PRIVATE matters until:

  • Sen. Craig, who was virulently anti-gay until his actions showed himself a hypocrite and in serious need of counseling.
  • The governor of South Carolina was unreachable for a time without transferring power to the lieutenant governor (even if that guy is a psycho right wing nut).
  • Bill Clinton lied under oath when he was president, and therefore head of the executive wing that includes the Department of Justice.  It was just about sex until he committed perjury.
  • Al Gore just showed himself to be gross and awkward in an alleged encounter with a masseuse that makes even the words “suave” and “debonair” cringe.
  • DSK allegedly did not have non-consensual sex.  (It is a crime.  Whether or not he was set up, “no” is “no” assuming the housekeeper said, “no” (ou “non”).)
  • GOP representative Mark Foley sent inappropriate emails to underage senate pages and should have been jailed.

The list goes on and on.

Anthony Weiner is a hypocrite.  He also said something really scary: he did not know the ages of the females with whom he was corresponding.  THAT reckless behavior together with his self-righteous attitude toward anyone who doesn’t share his Progressive political perspective and his inability to accept responsibility from the outset bears on his fitness as a leader.

Weiner has been hoisted on his own petard and burnt.  He should slink away and get counseling.

I don’t hate men (and I love POB (partner of blogger) who is a woman) but I just don’t get it.  Is it a power thing?

I teach my son, “You do it, you live with it.  You own up to what you’ve done. Try to make it right and learn from it.” But I can’t compete with these idiots who show that you have a 50-50 shot at holding onto power and prestige if you deny, deny and deny.

The one guy who deserves re-election?  The GOP representative who showed his bare chest to someone on email or some chat room and became the GOP sacrificial lamb.

 

Hitting the roof

Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, even the Republicans, Boehner himself, have acknowledged the catastrophic nature of our nation’s defaulting on its obligations. Yet, lawmakers are trying to leverage our need to raise the debt ceiling to exact political points.

Yes, lawmakers think they can play brinksmanship with our future.  The mere fact that our politicians would keep the world — and us — in suspense until August will erode our creditworthiness abroad and the global confidence in our economy.  We think of us as a society where our word is our bond.  Well, look in the mirror.  It isn’t pretty.

Imagine how you would view a country so divided in their “parliament” that one side is willing to risk ruin to have its way — slash and burn tactics.  So, just because we are the United States of America, you think we can mess with this stuff, without ramifications?  If you do, you are arrogant AND crazy.

Am I good with so much debt? No way.  I pay my credit cards on time.  I can afford my mortgage and could pay it off tomorrow. I believe that a person, a family, a country must live within its means.  If we need to spend more, then someone needs a second (part-time) job.  We didn’t do that and fought two wars and gave tax cuts to people like me who never asked for one, didn’t need one and didn’t want one.  So, now we have to live with the consequences. And I am willing to pay more in taxes to clean up George Bush’s and Trent Lott’s and Bill Frist’s nightmare.

It is important to note that the GOP — under whose governance drove us into this debt hole — is the party that is playing it to the bone.  Not because they are arrogant; but because they are hypocrites.   And the hypocrisy is so galling that it makes me want to go to the Congress and shout: “WORRY ABOUT US AND NOT YOUR POLL NUMBERS, YOUR JOBS AND YOUR POWER!!!!!!! FIX IT NOW.” If there is a report of a middle-aged lunatic screaming in the House of Representatives, you’ll know that I may be off-line for a while, in federal custody.

I think we have to raise the debt ceiling, not only because the credit of our great nation is at stake, but because it makes sense.  And, although I am an unabashed and unapologetic liberal, I am conservative in my investments and my rationale for raising the debt ceiling is, to my mind, steeped in the rudiments of getting out of debt and on a sustainable course.

It is, perhaps, counter-intuitive that a shirt-maker in bankruptcy should be allowed to borrow MORE in order to pay workers to stitch together the pieces of cloth so that they become shirts.  Scraps of cloth are worthless; however, a completed shirt sells for something.  That differential is presumably more than the amount borrowed.  The net effect is that there is a meaningful exit from bankruptcy where the assets of the company are maximized to pay off debts and re-emerge on sounder footing.

We have many fights ahead about just how we re-emerge from this mess a stronger nation, indivisible, with liberty, FAIRNESS and justice for all.  Let’s give ourselves some breathing room, for our sakes and the future of our country.

You may disagree with me on principle (IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) and JR (old friend from Camp Wingate/Camp Kirkland): go at me) but you can’t disagree with the necessity and exigencies of the circumstances — with a no-win choice, you must choose to raise the roof.

 

Dear Paul

Dear Paul:

I am not a Ryan, but I know members of your extended family. 

I know you come from such a good family, with strong community values based in religious precepts, like the one about taking care of the poor and the stranger.  Or the other one about not putting a stone in the way of a blind person.  And even though Rabbi Hillel said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” that is totally in sync with the Christian Bible.

Here’s the big problem with your budget:

No amount of spending cuts is going to get us out of the hole caused by waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya. 

Paying for these requires tax increases.   (Remember when the GOP just put the Iraq and Afghanistan tabs on the credit card and, oops, forgot to put these line items in the budget??????) 

Cut all you want from social programs, etc.  Go on.  

But one year from now, when the deficit is still essentially as large as it now, there will need to be a tax increase on all Americans. 

All you will have done is gutted the social compact that each generation has with another:  we will not leave those vulnerable in our society — the young and the old — to fend for themselves.   The very social compact that makes America great.

What are you thinking?

More tales from the City

These past days, I have been lost in the old days and vignettes from childhood.

I remember that my parents often threw cocktail parties for my mother’s colleagues in the advertising and cosmetics industries.  My mother knew everyone’s cigarette preferences and she filled silver cases with the preferred brands and laid them on the coffee table.

And women had those tortoise cigarette holders that made smoking look so cool.

People drank Manhattans, Rob Roys and martinis (gin and very dry) and gimlets.  People drank blended scotch whiskey and Gordon’s gin back then.  I guess there weren’t that many other choices.  Twists of lemon, little onions and olives were in dishes, and there was a bottle (?) of bitters, ready to finish off the drinks.  My parents converted a closet in the foyer into a bar with an open front that faced into the living room.

A hired waiter passed hors d’oeuvres to men in slicked back hair and square hankies in the front pockets of their thin-lapeled suits and women (including Mom) who had Jackie Kennedy hairdos and dresses with shoulder wraps. No one dressed like Lady Bird Johnson.

We would come out in our matching pajamas and say good night.  And then Mom or Dad would tuck us in bed.  As soon as they were out of sight, we would creep back to the closed door closest to the “action” and listen and giggle until we were discovered and sent back to bed.

Only in retrospect, can I place the end of those heady days as around 1968.  I am guessing that it all ended as a result of social upheaval from the 1968 assassinations and the Vietnam War.  And because raising three children in the city was expensive.

Everyone tells me I ought to watch Mad Men.  But I prefer the memories.

The New Me (In the Test, Day 7-ish)

It is hard to describe how I feel as I watch the events unfold around the world, but let me try:

say you are in a bath (reading a book, sipping red wine in the hypothetical awesomely fabulous Manhattan apartment) and you pull the stopper to let the water drain.  At that exact second, you hear a big BANG from somewhere.  So what do you do?  You put the stopper back in the drain and shiver a little.

Powerless and with shivers of fear.  (FYI:  I don’t live in the hypothetical fabulous apartment, I am drinking an unfortunate Sauvignon Blanc (I don’t even like white wine) and I have no time to expand my intellectual acumen (maybe when my son is 10).)

In truth, I never thought anything was out of my control until TLP (the little prince) was born.  Now, I worry about the world after I am dead because (I hope) he (and his children) will still be alive. THAT makes what we do now even more important.  Because we all know that the harvest reaped in two generations will be directly related to the seeds we sow now.

My mom always believed that if you can’t change the big things, then start with the little things, but you must always, always, strive to repair the world (tikkun olam) — תיקון עולם

Here is the difference between Mom and me.  Mom just did things.  I, first, need a whole new outfit and work-out regimen.

Did you think I could stay so serious and not deflect my fears, hopes and dreams by lapsing into (sometimes, forced) humor?  DO YOU KNOW ME?

Sooo, deflectors are engaged.

One has to have strength to repair the world, no?

Ok, so let’s critique my old gym regimen, also known as, NP2 — “no pain, no pain”:

  • 3 times a week, get on the stationary bike for 30 minutes, but quit after 25 minutes.  Don’t even break a sweat.
  • Think about doing sit-ups. Hyper-ventilate about the anxiety of dealing with my expanding midriff. Suck in my stomach and do something else.
  • Do push-ups because I actually can do them.  And not the girl-y ones, either.
  • Do back muscle exercises because I don’t want to stoop too much in my dotage.
  • Talk to some people, less now that some gym friends have moved to other locations.
  • Notice the time and realize I have to get home.

There was a time when I could suck in my tummy, arch my back a little and my stomach would be flat and my breasts “perky”.  One cannot leave on memories of prior glory.  Starting tomorrow (because I am drinking wine and might hurt myself if I tried it out now):

My new, Spring, regimen, also known as SPB2 — “some pain, but buff”:

  • Buy some new outfits for my new gym state of mind.
  • Do Michelle Obama arm exercises because we all deserve to look like we could go sleeveless on national TV.
  • Do something cardio for 40 minutes. And actually break a “glow” but no sweat because I am becoming more genteel (and eccentric) as I age.
  • Stop watching the TV because next year Oxford English Dictionary will declare “pundit” a synonym of “idiot” and people who watch pundits “vidiots”.

I promise, Mom, in the midst of my self-absorption, I won’t forget about tikkun olam.  For your grandson and your great grandchildren.  For everyone’s children and grandchildren.

תיקון עולם

Last Day (and Last Supper)

You would think that I had enough self-respect not to make a reference to the Last Supper.  But I don’t.

Before I start on today’s adventures, I must mention that during the visit to the Jewish Ghetto, we stopped at the Piazza del 13th (?) del Ottobre. (Sorry, IFOB, that I butchered the name of the plaza.)  It is the place where the Nazis rounded up the Jews and took them to Auschwitz on October 13th (?), 1943.  We were standing in the piazza and, as if on cue, a police car passes nearby, blaring Anne Frank noise (eeeeee-awwwwwww eeeeee-awwwwwww).  It is the sound that makes every Jew shutter.  The ambulances have a different noise, I noticed (eeeee-eeeee  eeeee-eeeee).  Now I have completed the tale of devastation and triumph of world Jewry.  Phew.

Today, our only aim was to shop.  Shop for things that are made here in Rome and not in Milan or elsewhere.  And of course look in the churches and walk in the piazzas along the way.  That is one thing about Rome, a church on every corner and lovely piazzas.  There is even an Episcopal Church that had Irish dancers and a bagpipe outside, trying to get worshippers to come inside.  Now that is a tough sell in the seat of Roman Catholicism.

So not a lot of things made in Rome.  We had to search out artsy areas, a hard thing for foreigners because it is so easy to get lost in Rome.  And, I get bored of shopping in less than an hour.  POB (partner of blogger) wanted to shop and so TLP (our son, the little prince) and I had to schlep along.  Mind-numbing and exhausting.  Some things but nothing really.  Milan would be the city for shopping.

So, nothing really absurd or crazy happened today.  We found some groovy areas that we would love to visit next time.

TLP had a great time in spite of his pre-trip whinings.  POB relaxed by mid-week despite her stress about traveling.  I got stressed as the week went on, because I was almost totally out of touch with everything in the US.  I did check in with the office daily and my secretary and colleague texted me as necessary.  I heard snippets of news — Dow tumbled on oil supply fears and not because of a massacre in Tripoli, Berlusconi’s Bill Clinton problems, Obama’s not defending DOMA anymore.  Other than the massacre, I really don’t care.  Monday I will care.

I think this means I actually had a vacation.  A real vacation.  But wait, the journey home is tomorrow.  So, I shouldn’t jinx it.