Category Archives: Politics

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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Filed under History, National News, Politics

The 49th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Could be It’s Last

The anniversary of any legislation that enfranchises a formerly disenfranchised people should be one of remembrance and respect.

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. If things go a certain way, there is a good chance that it would be a thing of the past. The choice of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term and care for the child that comes out of that pregnancy is not the decision of the government. It is a decision that is deeply personal. The only people concerned are the ones that have a hand in making that decision.

If Roe is either completely overturned or is rendered toothless, the potential of a patchwork of state laws is very real. Depending on where the pregnant person lives and the income they bring in, they could at best have access to a safe abortion or at worst use the coathanger method of ending the pregnancy. If the pregnant person survives, the physical repercussions on their body does not fade quickly or easily.

We all know that having children is a blessing. But it is also a responsibility that I think some pro-life people conveniently forget. Not every child is blessed to have parents who are able to emotionally and financially support them.

At the end of the day, Roe is about a pregnant person (a woman to be specific) deciding their own destiny. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which some believe that a woman either does not have the right to or is unable to draw her own conclusions. For that reason alone, the fight for Roe must continue on.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Politics

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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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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Filed under National News, Politics, Television, TV Review

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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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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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mental Health, National News, Podcast, Politics, Pride and Prejudice

West Side Story Movie Review

Regardless of whether or not one is a fan of Broadway musicals, they are likely to at least know of West Side Story. To make a long story short, it is Romeo and Juliet taken from Italy in the 16th century and put down in New York City in the late 1950s.

The reimagining opens as San Juan Hill, a neighborhood in Manhattan, is being torn down to become what we know today as Lincoln Center. Not surprisingly, the residents of this neighborhood are people of color, immigrants, and low-income Caucasians.

The Montagues and Capulets have been replaced by two warring gangs of young men, fighting to retain unofficial control of what is left of their neck of the woods. Riff (Mike Faist) is the leader of the Jets, who are all White. Bernardo (David Alvarez) is the leader of the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. Though he has a career as a boxer, he is equally concerned with protecting his family and his fellow Puerto Ricans.

Their fates are changed when Maria (newcomer Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort) meet at a dance. Maria is Bernardo’s younger sister. Newly arrived in NYC, she is both idealistic and stubborn. Without their parents, the only maternal influence she has is Anita (Ariana DeBose), Bernardo’s girlfriend. Anita is spicy, whip-smart, and is eager to take advantage of the opportunities that lay before her. Tony is Riff’s best friend and his former second in command. After spending a year in prison, he wants more from life than being a hoodlum.

As the two fall in love and envision a life together, their relationship is tested by the violence around them. If they could get those closest to them to find a way to get along, Maria and Tony could have a chance at a future. But as lovely as that idea is, it will take a miracle to make it happen.

Kudos go to director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner. They took a chance on remaking a classic and succeeded. What makes it stand out from its 1961 predecessor is both the casting of Latinx actors and the understanding that socio-economic issues, politics, and racial strife is the backbone of this narrative.

The deliberate decision of seeking out and hiring performers who are from Latin America or of Latin American descent adds a feeling of authenticity that is missing from the original film. Even Rita Moreno, who is also Puerto Rican (Anita in the 1961 movie and Valentina, the co-owner of the pharmacy and widow of the late pharmacist in this adaptation) had her skin darkened.

If there is one performer who stands out, it is Rachel Zegler. In her first on-screen role ever, she shines as Maria. Her voice is absolutely stunning. Most young actors start out as background players or in small roles, slowly building up their resume. To come out of the gate in the lead role in a major movie and blow everyone away shows that she has nothing but a bright future ahead of her.

This narrative is as timely and powerful as it was sixty years ago. The problems have not changed, they just have different names and different faces. If nothing else, it reminds the audience that we have two choices. We can continue to figuratively shoot ourselves in the literal foot, or find a way to work tother.

Though it clocks in at a little over two hours, it is worth sitting through.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

West Side Story is presently in theaters.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, New York City, Politics, William Shakespeare

WTF Joe Manchin?

At the end of the end, voters want our politicians to represent us. We rely on them to take care of the macro details of running the country so we can deal with the micro issues that come up in our daily lives.

Last week, Senator Joe Manchin publicly rejected the Build Back Better bill, leaving the White House in shock and this once-in-a-lifetime piece of legislation hanging in the balance.

What I don’t get is why he said no. His home state of West Virginia ranks at the bottom or near the bottom of the various rankings when compared to other states. If I was him, I would do everything in my power to raise those numbers.

As I understand it, this bill is supposed to address kitchen table issues that affect all of us. It’s making sure that parents can both put a roof over their children’s heads and feed them properly. It’s helping senior citizens living on a fixed income to pay for their medication while being able to afford their other bills. This is not a hard concept to understand.

Adding insult to injury, he claimed that low-income parents would use the money from the child tax credits to buy drugs. This statement is both offensive and wrong, in addition to a generalization that condemns an entire group of Americans simply based on their paychecks.

I know that I have no stake in how the people of West Virginia vote. But I am deeply concerned that this one individual is holding the nation hostage and preventing the government from supporting the people as it ought to.

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