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.

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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.

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.

On the Media: The Divided Dial Podcast Review

The media in its various forms (television, radio, etc) is by itself a tool. How it is used is based on the individual’s needs and perspective.

The new five-part podcast, On the Media: The Divided Dial is a part of the long-running WNYC produced On the Media program. The focus of this short-lived series is how a certain company (which I will not name in this blog) has used the media to share its right-wing perspective with its listeners.

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So far, three of the five episodes have aired. From my perspective, it is a reminder that this perversion is here to stay and has been part of our cultural landscape for many years. Though the argument for free speech is valid, relevant, and important, there is the question of what happens when the line that leads to violence and hatred is crossed.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of On the Media: The Divided Dial is released every Tuesday.

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.

    The Similarities Between the Violence Against the Rohingya and the Holocaust are Too Scary to Ignore

    Since the beginning of our species, humanity has evolved in ways that our ancestors could have never dreamed of. But there is one aspect that is unchanged: hate.

    In Myanmar, the official policy against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority has been discrimination and violence. On a recent episode of the WNYC show, The Takeaway, the subject was the brutal treatment of this specific group, which has escalated in the last five years.

    The similarities to the Holocaust are too scary to not ignore.

    1. Spreading lies and slowly dehumanizing a specific minority.
    2. Enacting laws that strip them of their rights as citizens and human beings.
    3. Removing access to educational and professional opportunities for both children and adults.
    4. While the world looks away, those in power continue on their path, knowing that nothing and no one is standing in their way.
    5. Destroying homes and taking material possessions at will.
    6. Forcing many to become refugees and ramping up the persecution of those who stay.
    7. Outright murder.

    While I was listening to this story, I could feel and hear the cries of the six million murdered. Their souls reach through time and space, asking why it is happening again. I wish I could answer them. But I cannot.

    Maybe this time, the rest of the world will pick their head out of their asses and stop this madness. But knowing what has happened in the not too distant past, I highly doubt it will happen.

    May the memories of everyone who has been killed by hate be a blessing. Z”L.

    P.S. In the English city of Norwich, human remains were recently found in a well. Tests revealed that the victims (three of whom were young girls) were all murdered in a medieval pogrom simply because they were Jews.

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    The Shooting in Buffalo is a Shit Storm of Everything That is Wrong With This Country

    Saturday morning started as out as a normal day. For the residents of Buffalo in upstate NY, it became a day marked by grief and horror. A gunman walked into a grocery store and started shooting. By the time he was apprehended, ten people were dead, and three were injured.

    The accused (whose name will not be mentioned on this blog) is an eighteen-year-old Caucasian boy. According to the police, his intention was to murder as many African-Americans as he could. Only two of the victims were not POC. Upon further digging, law enforcement officials discovered a manifesto in which he also believed the antisemitic bullshit.

    To make matter worse, he had previous mental health issues and was able to evade the laws that prevented him from legally buying a firearm. If that was not enough, he lived streamed the massacre. As much as I appreciate the upsides of social media, the companies that run these platforms have some serious work and soul searching to do.

    Everything that is wrong with this country is represented by the event on Saturday and the person accused of perpetrating it. There are many who would have no restrictions at all when it comes to firearms, but they will do everything in their power to control a woman’s/pregnant person’s body and their right to choose if/when they become a parent. They also turn a blind eye to the hate coming out of the right-wing press and the politicians who prefer power over respecting democracy, political norms, and the rule of law.

    I don’t know what it is going to take to shake us out of this dream world that we live in. I fear that when we do, it will be too late.

    May the memories of those killed on Saturday be a blessing. Z”L.

    P.S. There were five mass shootings across the country this past weekend. How many people are going to die before we do something about this once and for all?

    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.

    Flashback Friday: Radiolab (2002-Present)

    It has been said that curiosity killed the cat. But it also leads us to ask questions and perhaps create a better world from those questions.

    The NPR and WNYC podcast, Radiolab, has been on the air since 2002. Hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser, this show uses curiosity as a launching pad for an in-depth examination of various subjects such as science, news, and history. Known for adding both sounds and music, each takes the viewer in a direction that could be both surprising and educational.

    Though I don’t regularly listen to this podcast, they sometimes have interesting episodes. What I do appreciate is the unorthodox approach that is taken in both the topic and their approach to the topic.

    Do I recommend it? Maybe.

    New episodes of Radiolab are released every Sunday.

    Will Be Wild Podcast Review

    The thing about news and politics is that both are ever-present in our lives. As much as we want to get away from them, we can’t.

    The new eight-part podcast, Will Be Wild, is a follow-up to the WNYC podcast, Trump Inc. Hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz dive into what led to January 6th and its repercussions. Using sources from different backgrounds and perspectives, Bernstein and Marritz explore the potential lasting damage and those that would overturn our democracy for the sake of power.

    The podcast is amazing and so important to listen to. It once more reveals how corrupt many politicians are and how willing they are to put their own needs ahead of the people they work for and represent.

    Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

    New episodes of Will Be Wild are released every Monday.

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