Did You Hear the Story of the Texas Grinch Who Sent Asylum Seekers to the VP’s House on Christmas Eve?

During the holiday season, there is a lot of talk about goodwill toward others and giving a helping hand to someone who has less than you.

On Christmas Eve, several busloads of asylum seekers stopped in front of Vice President Kamala Harris‘s residence in Washington D.C. They were a “gift” from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It was 18 degrees outside that night. Many of them were underdressed and unprepared for the freezing temperatures.

It takes a person with a cold heart to use human beings to score political points. It takes a person with no heart to use human beings to score political points on a day that is supposed to represent peace and understanding. These people, by the way, did not travel for thousands of miles just for shits and giggles. They wanted (like all previous generations of immigrants) a better life for themselves and their families.

I don’t believe in Santa Claus (for obvious reasons) and never have. Come next Christmas, I hope that Santa gives him the biggest lump of coal that he can find. It would be a fitting response for someone who is more concerned with keeping his job than being his sibling’s keeper.

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P.S. In contrast, the President and First Lady spent the 23rd visiting sick children who were not able to come for the holidays. That is what the season is about.

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Republican Fuckery Part VI: Florida Grand Jury Investigation on Covid 19 and Texas Lists of Transgender Americans

I would love to say that those in power have their priorities in order. Some do, while others think that their job is to police those who they deem as “different”.

As usual, the fuckery comes from Florida and Texas. Instead of using taxpayer money to fund schools, roads, or hospitals, Governor DeSantis has decided to convene a grand jury. The purpose is to investigate so-called “misconduct” in regard to the Covid 19 vaccine.

Given the rapidity of the vaccine’s release, I am guessing that there was a mistake or two along the way. However, given that it has saved countless lives, I think that is nothing more than another stunt to rile up the base.

In another potential waste of taxpayer funds (which was thankfully averted), Texas AG Ken Paxton asked state employees to put together a list of transgender citizens. This record was supposed to come from requests to change the listed gender on driver’s licenses.

This is not the action of a democratically elected government official. This is what happens in countries run by authoritarian leaders. Though the specific details change, the tactics are the same. A minority is blamed for the nation’s problems to distract from the lack of rights and freedoms. By singling one group out, it is easy to point the finger and state they are the problem.

I don’t know when or how this is going to end. But it has to, for the sake of our country, our children, and our future.

First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice Book Review

One of the earliest examples of the hate-to-love narrative within the bounds of a romance novel is Jane Austen‘s 1813 book, Pride and Prejudice. The up-and-down courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy has thrilled readers for more than two centuries.

Debra White Smith‘s 2004 tale, First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is set in a small town in Texas. From the moment they meet, Eddi Boswick and Dave Davidson dislike each other. Eddi has just opened her own legal practice. Dave has also just moved in with his aunt, preferring that his neighbors know nothing about his past.

When they are cast as Lizzie and Darcy in a local dinner theater production of the book, sparks fly. As much as they hate each other, they cannot deny the mutual attraction. When push comes to shove, will they walk into the sunset together or will Eddi and Dave go their separate ways?

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The title alone, speaks to how much the author respects Austen. First Impressions was the original title before it was changed to Pride and Prejudice. White Smith perfectly balances the original text with the place and time that her story is set in. It is a challenge that many writers (myself included) have taken on and well, taken their best shot at.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is available wherever books are sold.

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.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible Book Review

The core of any democracy is not just the right to vote. It is that every voice and every vote is counted, regardless of the specific details of the person who stepped into the ballot box.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible, by Texas Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was published just a few weeks ago.

O’Rourke does more than advocate for the idea that without voting rights, our nation would crumble. He tells the story of Dr. Lawrence Aaron Nixon. Dr. Nixon was the son of a formerly enslaved man and an early civil rights activist. Weaving throughout the history of the state (and his experience speaking to voters), he shares the narratives of others who have also stood up for free and fair elections.

I enjoyed this book. With his usual eloquence, openness, and direct nature, he is challenging the reader to stand up for this nation and our future. While having an eye for what might come, O’Rourke is looking to the past and lessons learned from the mistakes of our forebears.

Every once in a while, there comes a book that is so essential that it becomes a required read for every American and everyone who believes in democratic values. This book is one of them. Speaking from the heart, he reminds the reader that there is still time to avoid the precipice ahead. That is if we heed the warning signs.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also argue that it is one of the best books of the year.

We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible is available wherever books are sold.

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Dispatches From the Right: Kari Lake on Feminism, Louisiana Woman Denied Abortion, and Texas Mother Rips Book Bans

The nature of the American democracy is made up of two different political parties who at the end of the day, can hopefully come to a compromise. These days “hopefully” is wishful thinking and “compromise” is a dirty word, depending on who you speak to.

Last week, Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake made the following statement:

“Women are not equal to men. We don’t want to be equal to them”.

I have a problem with this statement. If women are not equal to men, then we are inferior. Therefore Ms. Lake hasn’t got a chance in you know where to win her election. The person who becomes Arizona’s next Governor will automatically be a male. This type of thinking drives me insane. The women take advantage of feminist achievements when it suits them, but they also bash it when it suits them. They can’t have it both ways. We are equal to our male counterparts, or we are meant to be barefoot and pregnant without any rights.

Last week, in Louisiana, Nancy Davis was denied an abortion. As of when the news hit the press, she was 15 weeks pregnant and told that her fetus was nonviable. Due to the draconian and far too vague anti-abortion law, she will have to travel out of state to have the procedure. I can only imagine that being told that the fetus is nonviable is hard enough. The last thing I would wish on anyone in that position is to be told that they have to carry a pregnancy to term because of legislation crafted by non-medical professionals who may be forcing their religious beliefs on others.

And finally, in Texas, Adrienne Quinn Martin stood in front of her local school board and basically told them to shove their book-banning ideas where the sun doesn’t shine.

My favorite part of her speech is as follows:

“Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination,” she told the room as she looked various board members and attendees directly in the eye.

“I implore the board to put an end to attempts to appease these extremists. Focus on retaining staff, providing excellent public education and a safe and welcoming learning space for all students. The speakers speaking about what great Christians they are? Great. Go tell your pastor. Our schools are not your church.

Am I a taxpayer whose taxes help to fund public schools? Yes. But I am not a parent or a teacher. Nor do I have a degree in education. Therefore, I will let those who interact with students on a constant basis make the decisions that are best for our children’s education.

This is the state of our political system these days. We have two choices: let the extremists on the right change this nation or fight for everything we hold dear.

Look Both Ways Movie Review

We never know how our decisions will impact the path we take in life. The only thing we can do is make lemonade with the lemons we have been given.

The new Netflix movie, Look Both Ways, follows Natalie (Lilli Reinhart). On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie sleeps with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez). At a party a few days later, she takes several pregnancy tests. The narrative then diverges into two separate stories: one in which she is pregnant, and another in which she is not pregnant.

In the scenario in which Natalie is pregnant, she stays in Texas. Co-parenting with Gabe, she does the best she can to raise their daughter and gives up her dreams in the process. In the scenario in which she is not pregnant, Natalie moves to Los Angeles with her best Cara (Aisha Dee). Working at her ideal job under Lucy (Nia Long), she starts dating Jake (David Corenswet).

This film is a sweet romantic comedy about accepting yourself and what life has thrown at you. Natalie is certainly a character that is relatable on multiple levels. She knows what she wants, but she also knows that she has to live in the real world.

What made it stand out is that Natalie lives in the real world, not some rom-com fantasy that is so fantastic that it is impossible to believe that it’s real.

Do I recommend it? Yes

Look Both Ways is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Republicans Got Owned: Beto O’Rourke and Dick Cheney

Politics is more than the creation of a series of laws. The impact of such legislation has consequences that go far beyond the room that it is passed and signed in.

Over the past few weeks, the Republicans got owned twice.

The first instance came earlier this week. During a campaign event, Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was speaking about the need for gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde in the spring. One person laughed and O’Rourke went off on him. The crowd cheered in response.

This is the type of leadership we need. We need someone who cares more about saving lives than padding their pockets or kissing the asses of their 1% donors.

Meanwhile, last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney released an ad supporting his daughter Liz while warning that he who shall not be named is dangerous. The reaction from MeidasTouch contributor Texas Paul is absolutely on the spot.

These days, the former VP is one of the OGs of the right. Back in the day, his nickname on the left was Darth Vader due to his less than moral actions. I can’t say that his reputation has taken a 180. But given what is going on in this country at the moment, his warning should not be taken lightly.

We still have time to save our nation and our future. The question is, will we do so, or let everything we know and love turn into a dumpster fire?

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Republicans and the Hypocrisy of Small Government

Every political movement, big and small, has a core ideal that governments their policies and legislation.

If we are to believe the current Republican party, they are governed by the idea of small government. As per Thomas Jefferson, it is as follows:

[A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

On paper, it doesn’t sound hypocritical at all. It comes off as fairly reasonable. The powers that be should not be interfering in the day-to-day life of the average person on the street. But the reality is another story entirely.

When they are called out for their duplicity, they claim “free speech“. What about my right to free speech? Why is it they are allowed to speak their truths, but if I do it, I am labeled a radical lefty snowflake?

If they want to live in a right-wing, sexist, and racist Christian theocracy, that is their choice and their decision. As we say in Judaism “Zolst leben un zein gezunt!” (Yiddish for you should live and be well!). but do not impose your beliefs on me and expect me to quietly give in.

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Let’s Talk About the Real Baby Killers (Hint: It’s Not Pro-Choice Activists)

We all know that children are our most precious resource. Without the next generation, our future is non-existent. As we all know, 19 of those precious resources were taken from us earlier on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.

Those who are pro-life and against Roe V. Wade argue that abortion is nothing more than the killing of babies. I would argue the opposite. Republicans who are vocally against gun control laws are the real baby killers.

In the three days since the murders, Texas leadership has placed the blame on every issue except one: the fact that the gunman was able to easily get access to a firearm. The only one of them to speak the truth is Beto O’Rourke. When he dared to confront public officials, he was booted out of the room and called all sorts of names.

Courtesy of Facebook.

What I find completely ironic and sad is that while Governor Greg Abbott placed at the feet of responsibility among other things, mental health, he authorized cutting millions of dollars of mental health aid from the state budget.

When I think of both of these topics entwined together, I think of the younger generation who has been traumatized by these events. Not just the kids who are hearing about this on the news or from adults, but the ones who were there. The scars of hearing and/or watching their classmates and teachers being killed will likely create scars that will stay with the survivors for decades.

I remember that right after Columbine happened, there were some who condemned the band, Marilyn Manson, for the killings. I’ve never had even an iota of interest in their music. The problem is that instead of looking inward to understand what led to the tragedy, the accused were outside actors who in reality, had nothing to do with the problem.

It’s been three days and my heart still hurts. The only silver lining is that this may be the figurative fire that finally forces us to codify legislation, both at the national and state level that stops this kind of event. The question is if our lawmakers have the balls and the backbone to do so.

P.S. The husband of one of the teachers who tried to save her students died from a heart attack, unable to deal with the grief. I can only imagine what their kids are going through, having lost both of their parents.

Z”L

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