What was the Purpose of the Mike Pence Interview on Meet the Press?

The expectation of the press (and the news in general) is that the information provided is not one-sided. However, given the state of American politics, we have to be one-sided. We have to remember that democracy is a choice and unless we keep fighting for it, it will die.

Last Sunday, former Vice President Mike Pence was interviewed on Meet the Press. From the outside, the purpose of the interview was to talk about his new book (which will be the first and only mention on this blog) and to take a deeper dive into his perspective on the last few years.

While I understand that concept logically, I cannot understand why a supposedly “moderate” program would give this man the spotlight. Despite the threat to his life on January 6th and the obvious thread that our nation is hanging by, he continues to drink the Republican cool-aid.

Two weeks ago, the thread was made just a little stronger by the midterm results. That does not mean that we are out of the woods. Far from it. Until we excise this right-wing, fascist, and archaic ideal from our collective system, we will never be free from it.

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Exile Podcast Review

It is easy to assume that the world is saved by Generals and Presidents. While it is true that they have a hand in restoring normalcy, we should never forget that one ordinary person can make a difference.

The new podcast, Exile, started airing earlier this month. it is sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute and hosted by Mandy Patinkin. Each episode tells the story of a person of German Jewish descent who fought against fascism during World War II. Using archived letters, stories, and first-hand accounts, each subject is given their due as a hero or heroine in their own right.

As I listened to the episodes that have been released, I can’t help but think that history is one more repeating itself. Around the world, democracy is slowly being replaced by other forms of government that do not respect the rights of the average citizen. The lessons are there, if we are willing to stop and listen.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of Exile are released every Tuesday.

The Election in Italy is a Warning That Cannot be Ignored

If Americans have learned one thing over the past few years, it is that democracy is not guaranteed. It must be fought for and earned.

Last week, a new Italian Prime Minister was elected. Her name is Giorgia Meloni. Though she has just been chosen to lead the country, there are already comparisons to Benito Mussolini. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the twentieth century understands that this is not a good sign of things to come.

Though there is the argument that she is a woman, that does not preclude where she lands politically. Fascism is dangerous, regardless of the sex and gender of elected officials and those who work for them.

Obviously, as an American citizen, I have no say in this decision. But what we can all do is be vigilant and speak up. If we don’t, then who knows how long we have left to live in a country that is truly democratic?

Politics Book Reviews: Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America & Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

It would be easy to think that those who we elect to speak for our needs in the halls of power are doing their jobs. A deeper dive reveals a lust for power, the need for influence to fill one own pocket, and the lack of care/responsibility to those who put them in office.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America, by Dan Pfeiffer, was published last month. In short, it describes how both the carelessness of the social media companies and a right-wing conspiracy nearly led to the annihilation of this nation and our democracy. He also talks about how we can fight back and stop the lies before they destroy us.

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution, by Elie Mystal, was published in March. Mystal takes the legalese out of the Constitution and explains them in a way that anyone would understand. Complete with pop culture references and the occasional f-bomb, Mystal points out what is wrong with the law (i.e. racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ sentiment, etc), and how we can prevent the white patriarchy from dragging us back into the past.

What we need right now are two things: hope and a kick in the behind. These books provide both. By writing laymen’s terms, both Pfeiffer and Mystal are giving the average citizens the tools we need to fight against the growing threats of theocracy and fascism.

Do I recommend them both? Absolutely.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America and Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution are available wherever books are sold.

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Eternal Book Review

Growing up is never simple. We are often faced with challenges that force us to make difficult choices or face a reality that we would prefer not to.

Eternal, by Lisa Scottoline, was published earlier this year. Growing up in Rome, Marco, Sandro, and Elisabetta have been best friends since they were young. Marco is the son of a former cyclist and ardent follower of Benito Mussolini. Elisabetta was raised in an artistically inclined family, Her dream is to become a novelist. Sandro is Jewish and a promising mathematics genius.

Two major events upend the world as they know it: World War II and their teenage years. Marco loves Elisabetta. But Elisabetta loves Sandro. As their love triangle intensifies, so does the fascist government and the increasing influence of Nazi Germany.

Soon, they will all be tested. As a Jew, Sandro’s world becomes ever restricted by the antisemitic Nazi race laws. Marco gets involved in local government and Elisabetta must fend for herself. Everything and everyone they know will become unrecognizable, forcing all of them into adulthood and the complications that arise from this transition.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a reminder that the Holocaust extended to the whole of Europe. The Jews of Southern Europe were a target as much as their Central and Eastern Europe co-religionists. What was different was that Rome’s non-Jewish community did not wholeheartedly accept the ideology of the German invaders. There were many who maintained friendships with their Jewish friends and neighbors while helping them in whatever way they could.

Though it is not a quick read, it is well worth the time it takes to complete the novel. I was quickly engrossed in the tale and the changing relationship between the main characters.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Eternal is available wherever books are sold.

Ridley Road Review

Hate, in all of its forms, is always around us. It is an unfortunate part of the human experience. Despite our advances in science, medicine, education, and technology, it remains ever-present.

The new Masterpiece series, Ridley Road (based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom) premiered last weekend. The heroine of the series, Vivian Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) is the daughter of a Jewish family in England in the early 1960s. She is expected to live as her mother and grandmothers did before her: give up her job, marry the boy chosen for her, and take care of her husband and children. But Vivian wants to be more than a housewife and mother.

She follows her boyfriend Jack Morris (Tom Varey) to London. Jack is a part of the 62 group, an underground Jewish organization who are fighting against the growing fascism in the UK. Going undercover as a member of the neo-nazi group led by Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear), both Vivian and Jack play a dangerous game of going along with their new identities while trying to keep their relationship alive.

I am absolutely loving this series so far. It’s James Bond meets a love story with a feminist coming of age narrative and a background of combating prejudice. What makes the program for me is that our heroes are ordinary people. It is, I think a reminder that change does not always come from the top. It comes from the person on the street who sees a wrong and does what they can to right that wrong.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Ridley Road airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9PM EST.

The Federal Government’s Reaction to Portland is Fascism in the Making

Democracy does not secede to fascism in one sitting. It requires time and the inaction of both the government and the ordinary person on the street to allow this transition to occur.

Last night, as peaceful protesters descended on Portland, the response by Federal troops (sent in by you know who) was to gas the protesters.

This is not democracy, this is the beginning of fascism in the making.

We, as a nation to need to take action ASAP. We need to vote in November and we need to make sure that our voices are head. If the experiment that is the American democracy is to last another 200+ years, we cannot be complacent. If we are, then the United States as we know it to be may be one day resigned to the history books.

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