Where do we go from here?

I have this terrible feeling that I, along with everyone else in this country, am being sacrificed at the altar of hubris and zealotry.

“Take no prisoners” is a way of waging war.  It is not a way of governing.  True believers and purists on both sides of the aisles are important counterbalances, but they cannot dictate the future of our nation.  Even Grover Norquist said letting the Bush tax cuts (which affect me) expire and closing tax loopholes are not “new” taxes (phew, because if repealing subsidies for corporate jets is so problematic in these times of George W. Bush deficits, then let’s all join hands and drown ourselves).  Shouldn’t the true believers be swayed?  I guess it is a new, virulent strain of true believer.  One that speaks to God directly.  It must be a local call because the long distance charges alone could bankrupt a person.

For those who invoke G-d and destiny in the argument surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling, I send this quote:

“Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God.”

This is the answer to two questions posed in Micah, Chap. 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you? What are you supposed to do to live faithfully with your God?”

Why am  quoting scripture?  Because I am that desperate for the extremists to take pity on us and our nation and make some hard and dare I say, PRACTICAL, decisions.

I understand taking a hard line in the abortion debate, in the capital punishment debate and in the war debates.  These are about potential life, actual life and the taking of life.  But, in the money debate?  I think you can tell what God thinks about money by who has the most.  So, let’s not bring God into this.  Let’s be honest.  It is about political gain and power. And that is about as un-God-like as you can get.

You know the world is tilted in the wrong direction when I am trying to “protect” God’s good name from God’s self-proclaimed followers.  As far as I can tell, they are frauds.


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.


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?

Tragedy on so many levels

In Tucson, many are dead and injured as a result of a deranged man with a deranged message.

Let’s put aside the left blaming the right and whether it is foreseeable that a lunatic would do this.  That conversation will get us nowhere and misses the point.

I think it is more worthwhile to wonder why politics is a bloodsport these days in a way that we haven’t seen since in perhaps a century.

Let’s think instead about how our politician are so invested in being right that they vilify the oppositional view and the integrity of its proponents.  In 2008, when Michele Bachmann said that then candidate Barack Obama and Michele Obama were “anti-American” because they hold views different from hers, that is a code that our country is being infiltrated by enemies.  Think about it, she said that the likely 44th President was the Manchurian Candidate of the movies.  And in the movies, a lone gunman (the good guy) kills the Manchurian Candidate.

Then Sarah Palin has a website that has a target on Rep. Giffords’ district (“in the cross-hairs”) for some reason or other.  Or the famous, Palinism: “don’t back down, just reload” or something like that.  Words have meaning, even if you try afterward to refudiate them.

This is war-speak.  And in war, enemies are killed, and our soldiers come home to heroes’ welcomes (ideally).  But war produces body-bags, brutality, starvation, desperation and carnage.

Is that the fevered pitch we want in our national discourse?  So, let us speak gently and with respect when we debate.  Even if we have to fake it.

Let’s set some ground rules:

  1. A socialist and tea-party member can love this country and protect the very institutions of government that make us strong.
  2. It isn’t about being right; it is about building a consensus and keeping this country great.
  3. Political defeat is hard to take but you can’t take your marbles and go home or start threatening people.
  4. The media does more to stoke the divisions than provide any useful information.
  5. If our nation tacks to the left or right, some people will not be pleased, but they must always remain the loyal opposition. (It is hard; I know. I had to endure the policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney and even some of President Obama’s policies I don’t like).
  6. Exemplifying and practicing the principles of this nation are essential for this country to move forward in one piece and in peace.

WikiLeaks made the world way more dangerous.

Mr. Wikileaks, the self-appointed arbiter of world politics, is a cyber-terrorist and not a crusader.   But the information is not revelatory; but its publication is like yelling fire in a crowded theater.   

And really, is the world a safer place because we know that a diplomat thinks Silvio Berlusconi is feckless and a womanizer? Or that Quaddafi travels with a voluptuous nurse?  This suggests that Mr. WikiLeaks is out to embarrass people and not to save the world.

And does the world (and specifically terrorists) need to know that the US is SECRETLY (oops, WAS SECRETLY) trying to secure some of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal?   And did anyone doubt that the Afghan government is corrupt to its core?

To review.  Before this weekend, we knew, among other things, that:

  1. China is our biggest creditor;
  2. China can be an immense military and economic enemy if threatened;
  3. China views North Korea as a buffer between it and the Western sphere of influence in the Korean peninsula;
  4. South Korea is one of our biggest trading partners and buyer of US goods and thus key to our economic recovery;
  5. North Korea is ruled by lunatics and they have a nuclear arsenal; 
  6. Iran probably has or is about to have nuclear weapons making the Middle East evermore the powder keg of the world;
  7. Secretly every ruler in the Middle East hates Ahmedinejad and wants Iran disarmed;
  8. The US cannot afford to fight another war; and
  9. Hamid Karzai and his merry band of traffickers run one of the most corrupt governments in one of the most ungovernable areas of the world.

Now we know that:

  • The US and South Korea are planning for a united Korea (assuming North Korea implodes) allied with the US which will freak out China;
  • Some Middle East countries (other than Israel) hate Iran enough to want the US to attack;
  • Iran is really close to having nuclear weapons; and
  • Karzai’s brother regularly shakes down countries and is paid millions of dollars in unmarked bags.

Net Gain:  Zero Information. 

Net Loss:  Now countries may have to respond with harsh words, sanctions or firepower because delicate diplomatic balances have been disrupted and bonds of trust breached.  Gee, just what we needed. 

Ramifications:  In this world, this diplomatic crisis could as easily result in political breakthroughs or peace or devolve into war and/or global economic collapse.  

First, fire the pundits. Second, let’s talk about race.

Yesterday op-ed by Bob Herbert of the New York Times really got me nuts.  It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I don’t care which party “gets it” or not.  That is not even a relevant question.

That we have a president named Barack Hussein Obama is in fact a delivery of his campaign promise of change.  The fact that he is decried as not that much different from other presidents is another delivery of his campaign promise of being President of all citizens, not just blue states.

You see, you may not have noticed, but the President of the United States is African-American.  Now, I am a middle-aged, white, Jewish lesbian (MWJL).  And I have no idea what it is to be anything or anyone other than who I am. But from my perspective (for what it is worth):

The President may be post-racial, but the country is not.  (We are making progress and, as we do, sometimes there is backlash that makes us think we are losing ground.)  The fact of his presidency is a challenge to much of the nation.  The fact that he is continuing some of the Bush policies in matters of war means that his opponents (the Grand Old White Man Party) need to frame his domestic policies as so radical as to threaten our very existence as a nation.  Thus, the charged rhetoric.

Because it is, at least in part, about race.  (Please no eye rolls — I am a MWJL, remember?)

Lest we forget that John McCain and Sarah Palin got a lot of votes and stirred up fears of the end of the reign of the Old White Man.

Remember when he let a little of his anger show when Professor Gates was arrested?  You would think that he created an international incident.  All he did was call the actions of white cops stupid.  Imagine George Bush doing that.  Not even a blip on the radar.

Listen to the racist language of the Tea Party.  These people are scared that they will be treated the way they have treated minorities.  They know that karma can be a painful boomerang.  So, now that the Establishment is run by an African-American, they are fighting the Establishment tooth and nail.

I had an epiphany the other day about DADT.  The President is Commander in Chief of a military run by conservative white men.  When he leads, they need to follow.  So, he needs to show he will listen, too.  So, maybe he needs to protect DADT for now as it winds it way through the courts and the Congress.

The President is the embodiment of the American dream, with the picture-perfect American family.  But he is not a reflection of America yet, but an aspiration of what America can be.  We all have some work to do.

Who am I; What am I?

For over 46 years, I was an American.  I was one of us — even though I am Jewish, an unrepentant liberal, and gay.  There was room in the tent, even if a few people called me unpatriotic for opposing the Iraqi invasion.

But this year, things are different.  Was my grandmother a citizen when my mother was born?  Yes.  Does it matter?  Maybe I get dispensation because I pay in taxes what most people earn in a decade.  I thought that in this country, one no longer had to buy freedom or the right to be protected from government interference.  But if neo-fascists get their way, birthright citizenship goes away.  If that happens, hell, I am moving because I am not paying my tax dollars into a system that makes me prove my mother’s citizenship.  I bet that America would find that most of their tax dollars comes from second generation Americans and not the Tea Party Express members who fear that their status as descendants of European conquerors doesn’t buy a loaf of bread.

Then there is this talk about the oppressive Atheists who deprive Christians of their right to pray in schools.   News flash:  it isn’t just the Atheists.  It is every mainstream of every minority religion that wants breathing space from fundamentalists — of whatever religion.  As religious as were the founders, they believed, and the case law of our nation’s highest court supports, that there be a separation of church and state, mostly for the protection of the minority against the tyranny of the majority (thank you, Thomas Jefferson).   Chew on that, Christine O’Donnell.

Protest is the hallmark of our nation.  We were founded upon the belief that we had a right to protest the edicts of King Charles of England.  So when video captures a campaign aide stomping on the head of a protester, one has to wonder who has hijacked our nation.  I disagree with the campaign aide’s candidate on more things than I can count but I support his right to campaign on his ideas.   If his staff cannot support the right of the opposition to protest, then they are totalitarian thugs.  They don’t belong in the great experiment in democracy that is America.

Also in this election cycle, we learned that there are those who believe that if this nation were to allow gay marriage, it would be tantamount to allowing a person to marry a piece of furniture.  No joke.  Try telling that to your girlfriend.

Where did the ideals and dreams of America go?  I am a stranger in my own land.

A puzzlement

How can we call ours a civilized society if politicians, pundits and preachers gain support and power for demonizing Muslims and gay people?  

I would appreciate hearing any thoughts on this.

Sanchez and Stewart — A Re-Think

A friend from high school sent me a message and thought I should rethink my prior blog entry on the Sanchez and Stewart dust-up (http://40andoverblog.com/?p=2921).

I re-read it and my high school friend was right that I was unduly harsh and outrageously judgmental (and, although she didn’t say it, I will add, hypocritical) in my comments about Jon Stewart’s religious observance.  It is none of my business and I was out of line.

I still believe that there was a potential for a teachable moment with Rick Sanchez, where we could talk about the source of the anger.  There is so much anger in our society right now that I just wish we would look more closely at it, together, and find some common ground and possibly healing.

And even as I was trying to make that point in my prior blog entry, I took a needless and shameful pot-shot at Jon Stewart.  As much as I love Jon Stewart and I would bear his children if I could (POB (partner of blogger) knows this and accepts this because, well, it is biologically impossible anyway), some things about him push my buttons and I react irrationally.  Maybe that it why I feel bad (a little) for Rick Sanchez (whose show is, in my opinion, so bad as to be unwatchable).

Anyway, to my high school friend, thank you for “calling me” on this and I expect you to keep me in line as you see fit.

~ Blogger

Sanchez and Stewart

I feel bad for Rick Sanchez and I feel bad for Jon Stewart.

I think Rick Sanchez was wrong about Jon Stewart’s sense of entitlement or paranoia as a Jew.  I think Jon Stewart’s cultural Jewishness infuses his humor with that contrarian-isn’t-the-world-crazy approach, but that’s it.

But Rick wasn’t really talking about Jon Stewart.  He was talking about how he — Rick Sanchez — feels about his place at CNN and the things that have kept him down.  I don’t think one tirade should cost him his job.  That only cements the anger.  More famous people get to hire a spiritual adviser and keep their jobs or move onto the speaking tour.  So, I say, CNN needs to listen to him and figure out whether or not his anger is justified.

As for Jon Stewart, I am sorry that he felt the need to change his name, although it is show business.  And Leibowitz doesn’t really flow well.  And Jon Stewart may have issues with Judaism — hey, he works (or at least new shows air) on the high Holy Days.  Even the most lapsed Jew in the world finds a synagogue or stays home from work for self-reflection and contemplation on these holy days.   So, he has baggage, too.

I have baggage.  We all have baggage.  Rick Sanchez should get his job back and he should go into therapy.

I will say it is odd that some bullying assistant attorney general who is targeting a gay college student gets to keep his job on a “free speech” argument and Rick Sanchez gets tossed for a short rant that he probably regrets.