Category Archives: National News

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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People of the POD: Diversity is Possible

These days, there is a lot of talk about diversity and learning to get along. But talk is cheap. We have to walk the walk if we want our actions to match our words.

In the wake of the hostages that were taken at the synagogue in Texas a couple of weeks ago, it would have been easy to turn to anger and despair. It is a sad fact that after 5000 years, Jews are still dealing with antisemitism and the lies that come from it.

But there is still a little bit of light in the darkness. On the 18th, the People of the Pod podcast released a special episode relating to the events of the 15th. As the news unfolded, local Jewish, Muslim, and Christian clergy waited at a nearby church, hoping and praying that the hostages would come out alive.

Listening to the interviews, I could see the light in the darkness. There are good people in this world. If only there was enough to stop hate in its tracks.

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The Only Way to Honor MLK is to Continue on the Path He Started

These days, it’s easy to reference Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His “I Have a Dream” speech is iconic and universal.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many today who give lip service to his legacy. Specifically to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On paper, some (ahem, Republicans) will state emphatically that they are for voting rights and protecting the right to vote. In reality, they are constricting the access to the polls for certain populations, knowing that these groups have by a wide margin, have supported their opponents.

When the Supreme Court agreed via Shelby County v. Holder that two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, it opened the door to the dangerous situation that our nation is presently in. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 would not only strengthen its predecessor but would also hopefully prevent another Shelby County vs. Holder. The issue is that this nation and this Congress is too fractured to protect the ideals that we claim to hold near and dear.

The only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory is to continue where he left off. Though the ground that has been gained is tremendous, the reality is that there are many battles ahead of us.

P.S. Dr. King was also outspoken about antisemitism, a fact that I wish that was not lost to history.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

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Enough With the Antisemitic Bullshit: Updates From The Hostages Held up at the Texas Synagogue

When my immigrant ancestors came to this country more than a century ago, they came for the freedoms and opportunities that did not exist in the places of their birth. They were also escaping from the antisemitism that at best limited their chances for a productive life and at worst, killed them for absolutely nothing. I imagine that they hoped that in emigrating, their descendants would be accepted for who they were and not hated/discriminated against for their religious beliefs.

It breaks my heart that this hope still lingers in the distance.

Earlier today, hostages were taken at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. The purpose of this heinous act was to get the attention of the authorities and force them to release Aafia Siddiqu. Siddique is serving a nearly 100-year sentence for attempting to kill Americans overseas.

I am so f*cking tired of this antisemitic bullshit. I’m tired of being forced to choose between being accepted by the wider non-Jewish world and being true to the faith I was raised in. For once, I would like to wake up and know that no one gives a shit about who I pray or don’t pray to. But we live in a world in which hate, prejudice, and fear still have a firm foothold on our reality.

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A Year On and January 6th Has Not Been Solved

When certain events become shorthand, it is certain to become a part of the public consciousness.

A year ago today, a mob forced its way into the Capitol building in Washington D.C. They nearly stopped what would have been an otherwise mundane procedure of certifying the 2020 Presidential election. Thankfully, they were stopped and President Biden was able to take the position that the American people chose him for.

While I would love to say that the perpetrators responsible for that day were prosecuted, sent to jail, and we could move on. But we can’t. There are far too many in this nation who not only believe that you know was robbed, but that they have the right to take back “their country” as they see fit.

Earlier this week, an article caught my eye. Written by Jonathan Allen, the final line is chilling.

“Jan. 6 is analogous to the first attack on the World Trade Center that failed. We should take heed of that.”

The people behind the riot knew exactly what they were doing that day. They also know what they need to do moving forward. They are not dumb, not by any stretch of the imagination. When their plan to physically take control of the government failed, they took a less noticeable, but far more invasive route. Via gerrymandering and taking control of school boards, there are many Republicans who are too happy to sacrifice this nation and her ideals to shape it into their image. If that means taking away the rights of women, minorities, and immigrants, so be it. And even further, if that means creating a real-life version of Gilead, they would be happy to do so.

We dodged a bullet last year. The next time this happens, it will not be a bullet coming in our direction. It will be a shoulder-fired missile and its target will not be left standing.

For nearly 300 years, Americans have assumed that our democracy will last forever. Unless we take a stand, our children and grandchildren will be talking about it in the past tense.

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Throwback Thursday: The President Show (2017-2018)

When times are tough, we turn to comedy and satire to let some air outside of the tires and let us breathe a little.

The President Show aired on Comedy Central from 2017-2018. Stepping into the shoes of you know who is actor/comic Anthony Atamanuik. Set in the format of a late-night talk show, the former guy and his sidekick/Vice President, Mike Pence (Peter Grosz) talk about the day’s events as only they can.

Among the performers who have played he who shall not be named, Atamanuik is the best of the best. He hits all of the marks in a way that creates nothing short of gut-busting laughter. It’s too bad that this show only lasted one season, it was the medicine we needed and still need.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Why Does Vaccinating Our Kids Against Covid Seem Like a No Brainer?

When it comes to our kids, we want the best for them. This, I think, should include making sure that they are physically and mentally healthy.

Last week, the rates of pediatric Covid cases shot up dramatically. According to an article from December 28th, almost 200,000 children were diagnosed with carrying the virus and 2,100 were in the hospital. I’m not a parent and by right, I cannot tell someone who is how to take care of their children. However, logic tells me that every child who is eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine should receive one. Given the number of immunizations that are required to attend school in person, I would think that this shot would be a no-brainer.

The thing that strikes me is that we know that receiving an in-school education is critical to a child’s emotional, psychological, and educational development. While learning via Zoom (or another similar program) was a temporary measure, it can never replace the experience of being in a classroom. The problem is that as Covid cases rise in general across the nation, this ping-pong game of bouncing between the school and the computer will not have a good ending.

We need our kids to go back to school, we need to go back to work, and we need to get the economy going again. The only way for this to happen is to vaccinate as many people as possible. Only then can we move forward.

P.S.

A relation of mine caught Covid last week. Thankfully, he was already hospitalized for an unrelated reason and was taken care of by the staff. But that does not mean that my mind went to the worst place possible.

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Of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls Kwanzaa a Fake Religion

In my experience, the mark of a mature adult is one who knows (or at least tries) to keep their mouth shut when they lack knowledge on a particular subject.

Last week, Marjorie Taylor Greene stated the following about the holiday of Kwanzaa via Twitter.

“Stop. It’s a fake religion created by a psychopath,” 

First of all, it is a holiday, not a religion. Second of all, this is classic MTG behavior. Instead of doing a little research (or a simple Google search), she opened her mouth and shit spewed out.

I am convinced that there are some members of the Republican party who says outrageous things, knowing the attention they will receive from such statements. Instead of doing the job they were hired to do, they distract the public from the fact that they are unwilling or unable to complete their legislative responsibilities. In any other profession and any other industry, they would have been fired a long time ago. But because these people are in the position they are in, they can act with impunity and still retain their office.

The only thing that makes me feel better in all of this bullshit is that one of Green’s Twitter account is permanently suspended.

P.S. Happy belated Kwanzaa to all who celebrated.

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RIP Betty White

To be the first in anything is a difficult task. This often applies when one is part of an oppressed group or a minority who is lacking in opportunity.

Betty White passed away yesterday. She was less than a month from her 100th birthday.

She was more than a legendary actress and comedienne who entertained generations of audiences. She was a trailblazer who opened the door to future generations of female performers.

My first introduction to Ms. White was watching The Golden Girls. After my paternal grandfather passed away, my sister and I would spend Saturday nights with our grandmother. The Golden Girls was regular viewing for us. It goes without saying back then that many of the jokes were over my head. To this day, I treasure these memories and laugh out loud during reruns (which are available for viewing on Hulu).

It takes a smart performer to play a dumb character. Ms. White was clearly one smart cookie. Rose Nylund is a woman with a big heart who was not the brightest bulb in the box.

When she hosted Saturday Night Live a few years, it was a landmark episode as far as I am concerned. It was not hard to see the throughline between Ms. White’s career and the women who have followed in her footsteps.

May her memory be a blessing and may she continue to make us laugh. Z”L.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Hulu, National News, Television

Best Books of 2021

  1. The Four Winds: Kristen Hannah has done it again. Her Cinderella-esque tale of a woman who resecues herself from a live of drugery, poverty, and low self esteem is one to be read again and again.
  2. Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People: Ben M. Freeman‘s treatise on Jews, and Jewish history is a must read for anyone who for once and for all wants to defeat antisemitism and all forms of hate.
  3. Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol: Mallory O’Meara‘s non fiction book explores how inspite of a certain image, women have been creating and drinking all forms of alcohol for centuries.
  4. I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trumps Catastrophic Final Year: The subject of you know who will be on the lips of writers and political historians for years to come. Authors Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker examine how the former President believed that he did not need help in running the country.
  5. Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood: Writer and podcaster Mark Oppenheimer tells the story of how a single neighborhood was affected by the murders of eleven Jewish residents in 2018.
  6. Peril: Bob Woodward and Robert Costa take a deep dive into how close the American democracy got close to destruction.
  7. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh: This JAFF by Molly Greeley gives the spotlight to Anne de Bourgh, a minor Pride and Prejudice character who has yet to be fully seen or appreciated.
  8. Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Become Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assasins-and WWII Heroes: This fascinating and powerful tale of three young ladies who led an underground war against the Nazis during World War II.
  9. Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers: Written by the Bonnet at Dawn podcast hosts, this book examines the life and works of the women writers we have loved and respected for generations.
  10. The Matzah Ball: A Novel: Jean Meltzer’s Chanukah themed rom-com about two people who are secretly in love, but cannot speak the words due to the current and past trauma.

Here’s to the books we loved in 2021 and the books we will love in 2022.

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