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.


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.


Even more tales from the 60s

I mentioned to POB (partner of blogger) that if I don’t write down these memories, soon they will be lost because my brain is maxing out.

The 60s were not all days of wine and roses.  Some of it was very confusing to a little kid.

I remember when our Jamaican-born baby nurse was not allowed to go into a Sutton Place apartment building to speak to the mother of a boy who hit my sister. Even in our own building, she had to stare down the landlord who told her she had to take the service elevator. She took the main passenger elevator. I was wide-eyed and only later understood what happened.

And yet, for years after his assassination, our baby nurse reminisced about that day that then Senator Bobby Kennedy held the door open for her on his way to the tennis club in our building.   People born after those times don’t see how big that was.

Mom used to tell us that her secretary told her not to marry Dad because he was a Jew.  Mom had to break the news to her secretary that Mom was also Jewish.  To Mom’s credit, she continued to work with that secretary.

I look at it more practically:  Mom was dropping an intimidating Polish last name for a generic Jewish one.  In those days, it was also a question of: “pick your poison”.


This is now our national discourse?  WTF?  How about if you don’t like what you hear, instead of tearing it down, Build It, Tough CHick.

Ugh, I have stooped to her level.  Soon I’ll be sending my son to appear on Dancing With Famous People’s Children who should be home taking care of their love children.

But the person who out-Sarahs Sarah is Michele Bachmann.  Our founding fathers fought to end slavery?  Ever hear of the 3/5th Compromise in the Constitution that effectively legitimized slavery and kicked the issue down the road for a century?

Everyone has a right to an opinion.  And I have a right to determine that someone’s opinion is stupid, ill-informed and baseless.  And I have the right to believe that a scholar’s view has more weight than someone’s who has not studied the topic and relies on talking heads (on any network) for opinions.

WTF, indeed.  As in:  “Sarah Palin??? WTF is that Grizzly Mama saying?”

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.

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.

Gays in the Military

Does anyone really believe that, with the lifting of the ban, gays will start wearing rainbow flags and singing Judy Garland songs instead of the national anthem? 

Military is a macho place where gays will be harassed for decades to come.  I doubt gays will start coming out of the closet in droves tomorrow. 

The point on the injunction is that no one can get forced from the military for being gay, so gay service members don’t have to live in fear of discovery while they serve our nation on the battlefields.  Our nation should be grateful to those who love this country so much that they will risk their lives even though they face senseless discrimination. 

Let’s get at the fear, which is sex:  Some people think that gay service members will start propositioning heterosexuals and start having sex in public. 

First, straight people over-estimate their attractiveness. 

Second, these people are trained military personnel who abide by a code of conduct. 

If a gay or straight service member acts in a way unbecoming an officer or enlisted person (use any example you want) then that service member can still be, and should be, discharged. 

And, President Obama, don’t fight this injunction.  We are here, we are queer and we are tired of waiting.

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

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.