Republican Fuckery Part VIII: Ilhan Omar Removed From Committees, the AR 15 Pins, and the Texas Ice Storm

The American government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is not supposed to be for the 1%, the lobbyists, and those who think that they can buy their way into power.

Last week, Ilhan Omar was removed from her committee assignments by the Republican leadership. Their reasoning was her previous antisemitic comments. One could argue that the argument is legitimate. However, given the fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene made the comment about Jewish space lasers a few years ago, their rationale is toothless.

In light of the many (and I mean far too many) mass shootings that have occurred in this country, the right has once again shown its true colors. A number of Congresspeople have been seen wearing small pins in the shapes of AR-15 rifles. It is clear to me that they value power over the lives of ordinary Americans.

According to news reports coming out of Texas, another ice storm blanketed the state. Thousands of residents were without power as the temperature dropped to less than 30 degrees. This is not the first time that the power has gone out during a storm such as this.

Just another reason to vote for the Democrats.

P.S. It is possible to get along and get stuff done in Congress, even when those you are working with have opposing political views. On Monday, the final segment of The Brian Lehrer Show, two members of the New York delegation were interviewed about congestion pricing. One is red and one is blue. It is proof that it is possible for our government to be fuctional. But in order for that to happen, divisions need to be set aside.

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Apples to Apples or Oranges to Oranges? The Case of the Biden Documents

Within the world of politics, there are certain rules, both written and unwritten. One of them is in regard to Presidential documents and what is to be done with them during and after a Presidential administration. The official name of this regulation is The Presidential Records Act.

It is defined as follows:

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) changed the legal status of Presidential and Vice Presidential materials. Under the PRA, the official records of the President and his staff are owned by the United States, not by the President.

One of the major headlines at the end of last year was that at the end of the former guys’ administration, he took multiple boxes of classified paperwork with him.

Last week, the firestorm coming from the White House was the discovery of additional records from when President Biden was Vice President.

It goes without saying that the right is eating this up. But before we go any further, we need to go over the facts.

The right has argued that the unearthing happened last fall and was kept secret in order to influence the results of the midterms. Obviously, I don’t know the reasons for keeping it under wraps, but I don’t think that it is the conspiracy they are making it out to be.

If there is an upside to this, is that Merrick Garland has created a special council to take a deep dive into the information. If nothing else, it shows that he is impartial and nonpartisan (unlike some of his recent predecessors).

As cliche as it sounds, only time will tell what the final results are. But, if nothing else, Biden has again proven that he is a stand-up guy who puts the country and the voters before his personal and political needs. After the last person (who shall remain nameless), it is refreshing and gives me hope that we can rise above the shit from the last few years.

I am For the NYC Bill That Bans Landlords From Criminal Background Checks (Within Reason)

Apartment hunting by itself is a beast of an experience. In New York City, it is ten times harder due to the high rental prices and limited supply.

Earlier this month a bill was introduced to the City Council. If signed into law, it would prevent landlords from completing criminal background checks on potential renters. Last week, the topic was discussed on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show. The guest during this segment was Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (starts at 18:00).

I think that in theory is a good idea. Building owners/management companies have every right to make sure that a potential tenant will not be a danger either to the property itself or to their neighbors. However, it cannot be black and white. Applying a sliding scale I think is the best way to go about it. Each case should be reviewed individually and not be decided with broad brush strokes.

Finding a home when renting is hard enough. It should not be made more difficult by a criminal record. If removing this obstacle requires legislation, then so be it. I would rather the city or municipality step in to prevent a problem before it becomes one.

The Recent LGBTQ Supreme Court Ruling Was a Waste of Time and Taxpayer Dollars

The purpose of the Supreme Court is to parse our laws and determine the direction that they should take. Its purpose is not to cater to an individual’s beliefs.

On Monday, a bullshit case was brought to the nation’s highest court. Lorie Smith, a wedding website designer from Colorado sued for the right to only work with heterosexual couples. Her claim came via her faith.

Obviously, as a business owner, Ms. Smith has the right to decide which customers she works with. She also has the right to be open and free in her beliefs. By the same turn, an engaged couple has the right to determine which vendors they work with in regard to their big day.

There are two problems here:

  1. The situation that was presented to the court is purely hypothetical. She isn’t open for business yet.
  2. It harkens back to the days in which the following sign appeared on the doorway of a business: No (enter ethnicity or racial background here) allowed. In this case, the (digital) sign says LGBTQ. I want to believe that this idea is in the past, but I know better.

This was nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. In an effort to legitimize her own prejudice, she took space away from a real case that could affect our future as a country.

This is shameful. We are better than this, I know we are. Unfortunately, there are people like Lorie Smith who keep us in the past instead of moving forward.

Should President Biden Run Again for President in 2024?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one election cycle ends, another begins.

Now that the 2022 midterms are in the rearview mirror, the focus is on the 2024 Presidential election. As of last month, President Biden has not said he will not run in 2024, nor has he said he will run.

The question is, is there enough support among both the voting public and the political Democrats class to support him?

Earlier this week, the question was posed on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show.

The argument for and against are as follows:

For:

  1. He took a political lemon and made lemonade: Given the mess he was handed in 2021 (and what has happened since then), I think he has done a good job of bringing us back to some version of normal.
  2. Compared to his predecessor, Biden has kept his promises and has genuinely led the country.
  3. He understands the job and who he is responsible for.
  4. He comes off (to me at least) as an everyman. Biden wants the US and her people to thrive. He is not interested in pursuing politics for personal gain.

Against:

  1. He is 80 years old. If he does win in 2024, will he have the cognitive ability to handle whatever comes his way?
  2. At the end of the day (as good as he is), Biden is just another old white man. Do we really want to pretend that in 2022, that the only people who can lead are Caucasian men of a certain age?
  3. We are a divided nation, that is a fact. One of the things I disagree with him about is that he thinks we can still negotiate with the right. Given the behavior of the Republicans in the past few years, I think we all have to be more realistic.
  4. Overall, we need new blood in politics. Preferably younger, female, possibly LGBTQ, and not Caucasian.

Only time will tell if Biden runs in two years. But the one thing that I do know is that I thank G d every day that he is President.

P.S. What is up with the Republican’s obsession with Hunter Biden? There are far more important issues to deal with than Hunter’s alleged (and private) past business dealings.

I Have Mixed Feelings About the NY Times Article on Hasidic Education

One of the many rights that a parent has is to determine how their child should be educated. That being said, if the young person is not able to function as an adult because their academic experience was lacking, then something must be done to fix it.

Last Sunday, the New York Times released a rather scathing report on the status of education in the Hasidic Jewish community. Written by Eliza Shapiro and Brian M. Rosenthal, the article accused many schools (boys schools to be specific) of taking state funds and not using them to ensure that the students receive at the very least, basic secular learning.

Both The Brian Lehrer Show and Unorthodox (start at 15:46) addressed the findings. Before I go any further, I have to advise on two points:

  1. I am not an alumnus of any of these institutions. I was sent to public school during the day and attended Hebrew school in the afternoon. Obviously, I cannot speak from personal experience.
  2. In the Hasidic world, men are expected to become religious scholars. It is the women who earn traditional degrees and later a paycheck while taking care of the family.

    I understand the purpose of educating the next generation in a faith-based setting (particularly when that faith is a minority). It is important to know the language, traditions, and history of one’s family. I also know that public education in this country is not up to par.

    However, the accusations made can be seen as antisemitic. It does not matter that the reporters could be of the same religion as the subjects of the story. Even if the state and the city were lax in doing their own follow-up, the idea that these communities were using the money improperly only adds to lies about my co-religionists and the hate-based crimes. On top of that, the Times does not exactly have a history of having journalistic integrity when it comes to my religion.

    Regardless of one’s perspective, this topic is bound to be controversial. I just wish that the truth, whatever it is, comes to a conclusion that allows young people to receive the classroom experience they deserve.

    Words I Thought I Would Never Say: I Agree With Bill de Blasio

    It takes an adult to admit when they are wrong. It also takes an adult to be able to criticize your peers in a way that is meant is meant to be helpful and thoughtful without veering into cruelty or making the other person feel small.

    On Friday, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a guest on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show. The reason for his appearance was an article he wrote in The Atlantic magazine. Both in the article and during the interview, he discussed what he did wrong during his time in office and how the Democrats can learn from his mistakes.

    De Blasio is 100% correct. If we are to ensure that the Democratic party wins in 2022, 2024, and beyond, they have to speak plainly. From the President on down, they have to state clearly what they have done for the people of this country and what they would like to do. The time for pussyfooting around and playing nice is over.

    While he was in office, I wrote quite a few posts about the man. Like many who live here, I had an intense dislike for his politics and the decisions he made as Mayor. I even went so far as to vote Republican when he ran for the second time. That being said, I can respect someone who publicly recognizes their imperfections and wants to prevent another person from making the errors they made.

    I can only hope that his advice will be heeded.

    Republican Fuckery Part III: Will Hurd on Abortion, Frank Niceley on Hitler and the Homeless, Tucker Carlson’s Balls, and Paul Schroder

    In an ideal world, we would all agree on everything. But we don’t live in an ideal world. However, that does not mean that in the halls of power, one party has to do all the work and the other can just complain all day.

    Last Monday, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd was on The Brian Lehrer Show. When asked about abortion, he said the following:

    I am pro-life and I think the time at which how many weeks into a birth you should limit. I think there is where Texas falls I am supportive of. I also think both sides of the argument should be looking and making sure, how do we prevent a young woman or any woman from having to get in this situation? I think working on the front end of this issue is where both sides of individuals can be working together.

    While the Congressman has a right to his opinion and sounds more reasonable than many on the right, he is still seeing this issue in black and white instead of in color. An episode from the podcast The Experiment which originally premiered last December explains why we need to look at abortion from an honest perspective.

    Meanwhile, also within the Lone State’s borders, there is a voice of reason: Paul Schroder. He spoke truth to power on Governor Greg Abbott‘s attempt to limit the number of trucks coming into the state. Instead of helping the country, they are once more hurting us. Thanks, Republicans.

    Meanwhile, in Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley made the following statement:

    “Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that got him into history books,” he said.

    “So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead end. They can come out of this, these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he continued. “I support this bill.”

    I think we can all agree that homelessness is a major problem that has been bandied around for decades without a reasonable resolution. But the choice of using a homicidal dictator who started a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people as an example was not a wise decision.

    And finally, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has made his personal crusade the restoration of American masculinity. How you ask? Testicle tanning. I shit you not.

    (Starts at 4:15.)

    Just another day of Republican fuckery in the United States.

    Should Kathy Hochul be Elected For a Full Term as NY’s Governor?

    There are a number of ways to get into a position of political leadership. One is to actively court the role. The other is to be thrown into the deep end when scandal forces one into leadership.

    Last year, when former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down due to numerous sexual harassment charges, his former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul took over the job for what would have been the rest of his term. She is also running for Governor as the incumbent.

    Compared to her predecessor, I have no complaints (as of now). Her management style seems to be one of working with her staff and partners across the state, not one of intimidation and ego. That does not mean that it has been smooth sailing so far.

    The decision to use taxpayer money to partially fund the building of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills did not go over well. When she called into WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show last week, she compared it to the status that Broadway has with downstate residents (starts at 18:44). That makes sense, but I still think that the owner of the team should have put in some of their own money.

    There is also the issue of her now former Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin stepped down due to an accusation of financial fraud charges relating to a previous campaign. Governor Hochul claims that she knew nothing about it. At this point, I believe her. Only time will tell where the investigation goes and reveal who knew what.

    As of today, I see no reason not to vote for her in November. But we still have a few months to go and no crystal ball to foresee the cracks in the road.

    Innocence Lost: 9/11 Twenty Years Later

    There are two ways to lose our innocence. The first is the slow and gradual growth to maturity when old ideas begin to be replaced with new ideas. The second is when a single event forever changes the way we see the world.

    Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It was an ordinary day. The sky was blue and bright, a perfect early fall day. Offices, schools, and stores opened as normal. Then the first place hit the Twin Towers and everything changed.

    I was in college back then, part of the younger generation. It’s amazing how fast two decades can go. Though it seems like it will take forever for the time to pass, it goes in the blink of an eye. Those of us who were young then are now adults with adult responsibilities. Some of the the kids who were too young to know what was going on or not yet born are now on the verge of adulthood themselves.

    On Thursday, The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners what the term “never forget” meant to them. What I remember is that for a brief time, the divisions that normally kept us apart disappeared. We were all Americans and we were all grieving. It was a communal loss that knew no boundaries or labels.

    Last month, I visited the 9/11 Museum with a couple of friends. It was my second visit. Walking into the building is akin to a ten pound weight being thrust on your shoulders. There is an energy that is emotional, heavy, and sometimes difficult to bear. The energy of the day and the souls of the innocent people whose lives were taken that day are all around you, a solemn reminder of what was lost on that beautiful September day.

    It was if nothing else, a potent reminder of how important it is to not only live while you can, but tell the ones you love how you feel before it is too late.

    May the memories of the nearly 3000 people who were taken us from forever be a blessing. Z”L.

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