Letitia James and Fani Willis may be the Ones Who Save Us From You Know Who

It has been said that where there is smoke, there is fire. If that is true, there has been smoke coming out of a famous NYC building owned by you know who for a very long time.

Earlier this week, New York state Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James announced that she has filed a lawsuit against he who shall not be named, and his three eldest children. In short, it claims that their namesake organization and its leadership have been committing financial fraud as a standard business model for years.

Of course, his response was a racist slur. Which we have learned over the years is par for the course.

In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has pulled together a grand jury investigation. The purpose is to determine if he and his supporters violated state laws in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

Starts at 1:15

As pointed out in yesterday’s episode of the podcast The New Abnormal (which starts at 5:19), both James and Willis are African American women. I think it speaks to where this country is going politically. These women understand that if they don’t stand up for what is right and the rule of law, there is a chance that no one will.

The only way to shut down a bully is to beat them at their own game. The former President is a bully. Until it is made crystal clear that he and his cronies are not above the law, they will continue to act with impunity.

DeSantis and Abbott Should be Charged With Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is both a crime against humanity and a crime in the United States. At the same time, it is not against the law to ask for asylum in this nation. Immigration has been the backbone of this country since its founding. And yet, there are some who want to restrict who can enter the US.

Over the last few weeks, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have been using tax dollars to ship South American migrants to blue states. Not knowing where they were going, they were expecting that jobs were waiting for them when they reached their final destination. Instead, the locations they arrived in (New York City for the migrants sent from Texas and Martha’s Vineyard for the migrants sent from Florida), the local officials were not aware or prepared for the new arrivals. As of this past weekend, NYC is looking at the possibility of taking legal action against Abbott.

This goes back to what we all know. Serious reform of our immigration policy is necessary. The most recent change was a decade ago with DACA. While DACA was a huge step forward, it does not solve the overall issue. The problem is made worse by our current political climate, which has at best led to mostly partisan legislation and at worst, created a deadlock that cannot be overcome.

I think the answer to the question should be yes. They have broken the law and like anyone who has been accused of a crime, should have their day in court. But only time will tell if this comes to pass.

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P.S.: A woman who was among the over 10,000 migrants bused from Texas to New York killed herself on Monday. Abbott has blood on his hands.

Reasons to Fight For Democracy: The Mass Graves in Ukraine and the Murder of Mahsa Amini

It’s easy to get discouraged about the state of democracy these days. But what we have to remember is that it is worth fighting for.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been going on since the winter. In the liberated city of Izium, mass graves were discovered. So far, the number of bodies is over 400. Many of those killed were civilians and children.

Warning: the images may be distressing.

If this discovery is not enough to the world that Putin must be stopped and forced to stand trial, I don’t know what is. Unless we make it clear that this type of action is unacceptable, it will happen again.

In Iran, Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, was killed by the morality police. Her crime was supposedly an issue with her headscarf. Since 1979, it has been compulsatory. As a result, protests have broken out. Many women have cut their hair and refused to wear the hijab in response to Amini’s death.

Religion of any kind is all well and good. But when the majority forces their beliefs on the minority and believes that one gender is superior or inferior to another, that is a problem we cannot ignore. If we do, it is at our own peril.

May Mahsa Amini’s memory and the memories of those murdered by Russia since the beginning of the war be a blessing. Z”L.

The US and the Holocaust Review

There is a famous quote about history. As cliche as it sounds, it is the truth

If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

The new PBS three-part documentary series, The US and the Holocaust premiered this past weekend. Co-created and co-directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, actor Peter Coyote narrates the story of the near destruction of European Jewry from 1939 to 1945.

Within the film, there are interviews with historians, survivors, and readings from respected actors such as Meryl Steep, Paul Giamatti, and Liam Neeson. It does more than share what the events in our history books have already told us. It takes the viewer back in time to show what led the Shoah and repeats what most of us (hopefully) know. Though it’s been nearly a century since World War II, it is clear to me that we have not learned from the experiences of that generation.

The thing that hit me immediately is that there are far too many parallels to what is happening now both in the United States and around the world. Xenophobia and hatred have once again become the norm. We have a former President who has authoritarian tendencies, refuses to accept the results of the previous Presidential election, and has convinced many that he is the victim.

What made me angry was the spoken and unspoken complicity of a majority of Americans at the time. Though this country is supposed to be the land of immigrants and freedom. Instead, it became a land of isolation and hypocrisy. That hypocrisy was clear in the first episode when the connection was made between the Nazi’s racial laws and Jim Crow.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. In fact, I would say that it is required viewing for every American.

The first two episodes are available for streaming on the PBS website. The third will air tomorrow night at 8PM.

P.S. After I watch or read anything about the Holocaust, I can’t help but think of what the victims or the descendants might have given to the world. The late performer Olivia Newton-John was Jewish on her mother’s side. Her maternal grandparents got out while it was still possible to do so. If they hadn’t, it is very likely that she would have never been born and therefore, not entertained multiple generations of audiences.

Flashback Friday: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

The natural evolution of a narrative may seem simple to write. But the truth is that it is not. The next step in the story has to hold onto the characters and narrative while ensuring that it is not forced or outlandish. It becomes more complicated when the original work is respected and appreciated by both fans and critics.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) is the sequel to Legally Blonde (2001). Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has a new passion: animal rights. It is so important to her, that she prioritizes the issue over her wedding to Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson). Arriving in Washington D.C., she turns to Congresswoman Rudd (Sally Field) to help her bring attention to the issue. She also gets help from Sid Post (Bob Newhart), her building’s doorman who provides guidance in how to navigate the figurative power corridors of the city. As in the previous film, Elle is an outsider who is initially judged a pretty blonde with nothing between the ears.

As sequels go, it’s pretty good. The screenplay does not feel like it was being stretched to fit within the world that was created in its predecessor. The film is funny, charming, and Witherspoon again makes us root for an unlikely heroine. The message of not judging a book by its cover is potent, but does not hit the audience over the head. It is a lesson that is forever universal and important.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story Book Review

Politics is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are female. It requires grit, strength, a spine made of steel, and confidence.

Lis Smith has all of these qualities. Despite all of the challenges that have stood in her path, she has somehow been able to make a career out of it. Her new political memoir, Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story, was published in July. The narrative starts in the early 2000s when Smith was a college intern. Taking the reader through the ups and downs of the last twenty-odd years, they are introduced (or re-introduced) to some of the most well-known and controversial political figures of our day.

Throughout the story, Smith is honest about her mistakes, her missteps, and her belief that those in the halls of power can affect greater change for the good.

I really enjoyed the book. Smith not only reveals what happens behind closed doors when the cameras are off, but she is also extremely candid about what she learned along the way.

It is a terrific read for those of us (myself included) who are frustrated with our current legislative climate and want our governmental representatives to do the jobs they were hired to do.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story is available wherever books are sold.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble Book Review

Free speech is the cornerstone of any thriving and legitimate democracy. However, there are limits to this concept (i.e., yelling fire in a crowded theater). There are also those who push this concept to the boundaries. Specifically, when using certain language about certain people.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble, by Judy Gold, was published in 2020. A respected and award-winning comedian, Gold argues that comedy has no limits and censorship is a harbinger of what could happen when we stop telling the truth via jokes. Using her own background as a Jew, a woman, a mother, and a member of the LGBTQ community, she speaks her truth. Gold also explores how politically speaking, the last few years have challenged us all in terms of what is funny and what crosses the line.

I enjoyed this book. While speaking about and to her fellow comedians, she is not afraid to speak the truth. We live in a country in which comedy is more than subjective. There are many who have drunk the Kool-Aid and will take offense to anything that does not fit into their worldview. Moreover, they are not above using whatever means they have at their disposal to share their opinion.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble is available wherever books are sold.

Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in the White House . . . Yet Book Review

Over the last half a century or so, there has been a shift in regard to women and politics. Many nations across the world have had at least one female in the highest office in the land. Except for one….the United States.

Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in the White House…Yet, by Ali Vitali was published last month. Dissecting the events of the 2020 Presidential election, she examines how it was both history-making and business as usual. Though there were a good amount of female candidates (Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, etc), Joe Biden still ultimately won the Democratic nomination.

She also deconstructs previous elections (the 2008 and 2016 Presidential elections to be specific) and how both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were viewed by the press and the voters. As usual, the questions of “likability” were applied unequally. The qualities that were questionable or just plain wrong in terms of the female candidates were brushed off as completely fine for their male counterparts.

Throughout the book, Vitali asks two important questions:

  1. When will we finally be able to say “Madame President” in this country?
  2. When will women and men truly be equal, both legally and socially in the US?

This book is an important and vital read. It is a reminder of the fact that the glass ceiling is still intact and how far women still have to go. Given our present political circumstances (i.e. Roe V. Wade being overturned in June), we need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask why only a man can be President.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Electable: Why America Has Not Put a Woman in the White House…Yet is available for purchase in bookstores.

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Ben and Beatriz: A Novel Book Review

Among the thousands of writers that have existed throughout history, there is only a handful who have reinvented or added to stories as we know them to be today. One of them is William Shakespeare.

Katalina Gamarra‘s new romantic comedy, Ben and Beatriz: A Novel was published last month. It is essentially Much Ado About Nothing set among a group of modern twenty-somethings. Beatriz Herrera and Ben Montgomery are as different as night and day. Beatriz is a queer, biracial Latina who can take you down a peg or two with her sharp tongue if needed. Ben Montgomery is an all-American boy who comes from a WASP 1% family whose politics couldn’t be farther from Beatriz’s.

Though they claim to hate one another, underneath that hate is an attraction that cannot be ignored. As their expectations about one another begin to dissipate, there is a question of whether they can be honest about their feelings and their future as a couple.

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I was so excited to read this book. Unfortunately, the excitement quickly turned to disappointment. The promises made by the description were not fulfilled. Though the reader is told that Beatriz is queer and trying to hide it because of the political climate, it was barely mentioned. I kept asking myself if it was just being used to pull in readers without truly exploring this part of her persona.

Though the author does a good job of balancing the original text while recreating it in our time, it cannot be overcome by the expectations that were not met.

Do I recommend it? No.

Ben and Beatriz: A Novel is available for purchase in bookstores.

Thoughts On President Biden’s Speech

There is a reason why the Presidential pulpit is called the bully pulpit. It gives whoever is in the position a unique spotlight and opportunity to speak to the nation as they wish to.

On Thursday, President Biden gave a speech, calling out the right-wing Republicans and the MAGA believers. While praising Republicans who are willing to work with their Democrat colleagues, he was not afraid to speak directly to those who are ready and willing to destroy this country based on lies.

Some said that he went too far. I disagree. Without pushing the envelope over the edge, he told the country the truth about our potential future. Unless we do everything in our power to secure our democracy, the prospects for our nation to continue on the path set by the founders look pretty bleak.

Among the many issues that have been created and/or magnified is the claim of election fraud. It started, as we all know back in 2020 and continues to this day. What makes it worse is that it has trickled down the political pipeline. Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake made the following statement about the results of her primary election and the possible outcome of the general election:

“If we don’t win, there’s some cheating going on. And we already know that.”

This is the game they are playing. If they win, everything is fine. If they lose, it was not because the majority of voters went for the other candidate. This is not the reaction of a mature adult who understands that you cannot get what you want whenever you want it. This is a tantrum taken by a spoiled child who cannot bear to be told no.

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We have two choices come November. We can either protect our future and our children’s future by keeping the American democracy alive. Or, we can give in to big babies, fascists, and wannabe autocrats. The choice is ours, I only hope we can make the right one.

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