Sarah Palin: The One Woman Superspreader

If we have learned one thing about Covid-19 since March of 2020, it is that this virus is highly contagious. We do not have to be coughing and sneezing in someone else’s face to spread it.

Last week, former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was dining out in New York City. The idea of her choosing to eat out is nothing new. We have been slowly moving back to leaving our homes for a meal for months. The problem is that Ms. Palin not only tested positive for Covid, but decided to ignore the local guidelines that require anyone who has received a positive test to be quarantined for five days.

As expected, she has not received the vaccine and will accept the only shot if she is no longer in the land of the living. By then, it is nothing but futile.

“It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot,” Ms Palin announced at the right-wing conference AmericaFest 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona last month. “I will not do that. I won’t do it, and they better not touch my kids either.”

There is only one word to describe her: selfish. We all know how deadly this disease can be. It doesn’t take much to get someone else sick. I don’t know about anyone else, but I couldn’t look myself in the mirror I gave it to someone else. The fact that she just doesn’t give a shit pushes all of my buttons and then some.

The major problem with this pandemic is not the medical aspect and its side effects. It’s that if we all cared, it would be a thing of the past. But there are far too many who don’t care and don’t realize that it is not about them when they get vaccinated. It is about everyone around them. But I guess there are some people who are too selfish to understand that.

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The Gun Crime in NYC is a Symptom of a Much Larger Problem

The last few weeks in New York City have brought nothing but heartache and tears.

Two heroic cops were murdered when they responded to a domestic violence call. An eleven-month-old baby girl was shot by a stray bullet while sitting in the family car.

The problem, as I see it, is not the gun laws that exist within New York’s borders. It is the rest of the country. The reason we have a gun control problem is the patchwork of laws. One could legally buy a firearm in one state that has laxer laws and use it to injure or hurt someone in another state with stricter laws.

There are many that will argue that the states have the right to make their own laws. While I agree with that sentiment, for the most part, I disagree when it comes to gun control laws. We need one national standard when it comes to guns. It won’t wholly prevent unnecessary loss of life, but it will hopefully keep more people alive and out of the hospital.

May the memory of those officers forever be a blessing to their families, the department, and the city.

Banning Books is a Bad Sign of Things to Come

We all know that books open the door to the world. They take us on a journey to places we have never been to and introduce us to people who we might not otherwise meet.

Last week, several school districts around the country banned books that some consider to be “controversial”. Among these is the award-winning graphic novel, Maus. Maus is the story of the Holocaust using the allegory of mice as Jews and cats as Nazis.

It’s one thing if a parent, school, and/or schoolboard tailors the children’s reading to their age, maturity, and interests. It is another thing entirely to ban books that share ideas that don’t fit into your worldview.

The fact is that we, as adults, cannot keep our young ones in neat little bubbles for their entire lives. Even if their media diet is severely limited now, they will one day grow up and leave the nest. Part of that experience is meeting new people and being exposed to ideas that conflict with our own.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was last week. We celebrated MLK‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago. The events surrounding both are not ancient history. If we are to give our kids a complete education, that includes telling them the truth about both events, even when we don’t like the facts. If we don’t we are shortchanging them and our future.

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Thoughts On President Biden’s First Year in Office

The first year of any Presidential administration is always rocky, regardless of how much political experience the President and their team have. It is a transition that requires patience, understanding, and the knowledge that the road ahead is anything but smooth.

Last week, President Biden held a press conference marking his first full year in office. To say that it was a challenge is an understatement. Given the mess his predecessor left behind, I think we need to be a little more understanding.

Looking back, I think many of us expected Biden to twitch his nose and instantly undo the damage done by you know who. It is a task that by definition is impossible.

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The one thing that I think he has going for him is his ability to change course, genuinely listen, and apologize when necessary. I can’t say the same for he who shall not be named.

The one obstacle I see ahead of Biden and the Democrats overall is the 2022 midterms. Recent history tells us that the party in power loses its advantage in Congress every two years. The major problem this time around is that the Republicans have no problem crossing the moral lines to win elections. Michelle Obama‘s recommendation two years ago to go high when they go low will not work this time around.

We can’t completely stoop to their level, but getting a little dirty maybe the one thing that saves the nation and our Democratic model of government. If Biden wants to see his poll numbers climb and ensure that his party retains control, there are two things he must do.

  1. Get the Voting Rights legislation passed: I firmly believe that he won because he spoke to Americans who have been disenfranchised and promised to make it happen. We all know that not all promises made on the campaign trail come to fruition. But this one is the key to the future success of this administration.
  2. Kitchen table issues: Not only does he have to address the most basic of kitchen table issues, he has shout his accomplishments from the rooftops. The only way to win over Americans who believe he is doing a poor job is to reach them where they are. If they are gainfully employed with a good salary, prices are reasonable, etc, then they may finally see through the bullshit of the Republicans. Otherwise, we are facing political tumult like we have never seen before.

I wish I had a crystal ball. But I don’t. I can only hope that at some point in the near future, we can put this madness aside and return to some version of normal.

Mansfield Park Character Review: Julia Bertram

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It’s tough to be the younger sibling. There are often comparisons to the older brother or sister, forcing that person to fight for the attention and energy of their parents and other adults. In Mansfield Park, Julia Bertram is the youngest of the four Bertram children. Forever in the shadow of her elder sister, Maria, she is fighting for the spotlight. This feeling becomes even more complicated with the entrance of Mary and Henry Crawford.

Henry captures the curiosity of the sisters and flirts with both women, even though Maria is engaged. Julia does everything she can to become the sole benefactor of his time, but she is unable to convince him to see her as she would wish him to. This loss becomes even more apparent when her role in the family theatrical is downgraded when compared to the roles that her sister and Mary play.

Heartbroken when Henry leaves without proposing, she joins Maria and her new husband, Mr. Rushworth, on their honeymoon. Unlike her sister, Julia spends less time dwelling on what might have happened with him. When Maria runs away with Henry, the scandal leaves no one in the Bertram family and social circle untouched. Without an emotionally safe home to return to, she does what many women did back then. She marries the first man who pays attention to her, Tom Yates. When we last see her, she is a newlywed, running away from an unhappy home life and her potential fate as a spinster.

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To sum it up: Fighting for the limelight in a large family is never easy. Julia Bertram is an example of someone who does everything they can to be seen, but ultimately fails to. Which leads her down a path of a possibly unhappy future, due to the feeling of being ignored in favor of her sister and brothers.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Flashback Friday: Unexpected (2017-Present)

Children are a blessing. They are also the biggest job any adult can take on. Ideally, it takes a mature and responsible person to become a parent. What happens you have a child and you are still a child yourself?

The TLC program Unexpected has been on the air since 2017. Like its sister show, MTV‘s 16 and Pregnant, this show follows young girls who are in the family way. While dealing with the standard growing pains of that age, they are living with the very adult responsibility of becoming a parent.

This is another example of a reality show in which the viewer has to question what is real and what has been created to build up drama. While watching this show, I have two thoughts. The first is that I have to question if these children are being exploited for the sake of viewership. The second is that these kids appear to be so blase about this abrupt change in their lives. What bothers me is that there are many couples in this country (one of whom I am very close to) who are ready, willing, and able to become someone’s parents, but cannot do so the old-fashioned way. While these kids pop out their own kids like it is no big deal, adults who want to children are unable to make it happen.

Do I recommend it? No.

RFK Jr., Anne Frank, and the More Than Inappropriate use of Holocaust Analogy

For the last few decades, Holocaust education has become a normal part of our overall academic and cultural education. Which is sadly, still needed in 2022. The problem is that some think they can twist the facts and the history to fit their needs.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It should be a day of quiet contemplation and reverence. Instead, it has become another fight to preserve the memories of those murdered. Earlier this week, Kennedy family scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologized for his remarks made at a recent anti-vaxxer rally.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy told a crowd of 20,000-30,000. “Today the mechanisms are being put in place to make it so that none of us can run and none of us can hide.”

What he and others who use this terminology conveniently forget is that they have choices that European Jews were denied. Anne Frank and the other inhabitants of the Annex did not go into hiding for shits and giggles. Anyone with half a brain and any basic knowledge of the period knows that the dehumanization, persecution, and murder of six million Jews was systematic and methodical. Their options were at best limited, and at worst, non-existent.

If someone chooses not to vaccinate themselves or their children against Covid-19 or any other virus, that is their decision. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have yet to see police or soldiers banging down doors, demanding to see vaccine cards.

The kicker is that his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, condemned his statement. If nothing else, that speaks volumes.

His analogy is more than inappropriate, it is insensitive. He may have apologized, but apologies mean nothing unless there are actions behind those words.

May the memories of the millions who were killed (including my own relations) forever be a blessing. Z”l.

Throwback Thursday: Nate & Jeremiah by Design (2017-Present)

The balance between our work lives and our personal lives is, well, a balancing act. Sometimes, priorities have been shifted around to be productive.

Nate and Jeremiah by Design have been part of the TLC lineup since 2017. Designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are life partners and business partners. While raising their children and maintaining their marriage, their job is to help homeowners whose home renovation projects did not go as planned.

I respect the fact that we get a glimpse into their private lives. I also appreciate the representation of the LGBTQ community that is still sadly lacking on television. However, the narrative is rote as the genre goes. After a certain point, I have to change the channel. I can only take so much before I get bored.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The UN and the Israeli Double Standard: Dara Horn Was Right

Last year, author Dara Horn put for a troubling theory in her history/nonfiction book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Past. Her hypothesis was the non-Jewish world speaks fondly and mournfully of Jews who are no longer among the living. But when it comes to those of us who are alive and kicking, that’s another story entirely.

Last week, the United Nations ratified a resolution denouncing Holocaust denial. Don’t get me wrong, this is super important, given that antisemitism is back at a rate that has not been seen for decades. But while this is happening, they continue with their usual double standard of targeting Israel more than any other nation.

The UN’s charter states the following:

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Clearly, they have failed at their mission.

It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable – And How We Can Stop It Book Review

For more than 200 years, Americans have taken comfort in that our democratic nation was solid. Our beliefs and freedoms would be with us forever. Until recently, I think most of us had this perspective. The last few years have proven that in reality, we are on extremely shaky ground.

It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable – And How We Can Stop It, by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, was published earlier this month. The grandson of a Holocaust survivor, he knows all too well what happens when hate consumes a nation. In the book, he calls out antisemitism, racism, and hatred of all kinds. His warning is loud and clear for anyone who is willing to listen: we are at a tipping point. Unless we do something when there is still time, this country that we know and love will be nothing but a shell of its former self.

Greenblatt could have offered platitudes or pie in the sky ideas. Instead, he offers real-world ideas that are applicable to anyone who has felt ostracized because of who they are. This is a book that we should all be reading and applying to our everyday lives. It is possible to undo the damage. We just need the courage, the backbone, and the balls to do what needs to be done.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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