Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cold Again

I have spent too much time thinking about Eric Snowden.  When he first became news, I found myself far more empathetic to his situation.  I could see how he felt that he had important information that he had to share with the world to protect the people of the United States.  As time has gone on, he has fled the country, has been living in limbo in an airport in Russia, seeking political asylum, and threatening to expose more National secrets. My feelings have changed.  I now think that he is a traitor to America.  Whistleblowers are far more altruistic than he is.  He seems totally cowardly and self involved.  He is looking to go to any country that doesn't have extradition to the U.S. which happen to be all the countries that are not our "friends." Snowden is getting a lot of support from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks devotees.  He is also getting encouragement from Putin.  

I am sure it's not all black and white, but Putin is a bad guy.  He is re-creating tensions that had been gone after the Berlin Wall came down.  Putin is a bully.  He is more of a dictator than a democratic leader.  Taking Russia backwards.  Putin has passed bills that are so frighteningly anti-gay that even to be a gay tourist could get you thrown in jail.  The country is being led back into the Dark Ages.  Now that the people of Russia have experienced a form of democracy, how can he keep them back down?  It looks very bad and bleak for the near future of Russia and its people.  

So with the horrific and combative leadership towards the United States of America, how can we, as a country, go to the Olympics in 2014?  We have boycotted the Olympics before when the USSR invaded Afghanistan but now that we have too, it's not so objectionable.  The current climate of anti-U.S. and anti-gay stance by the Russian leadership seems far more egregious.  Why should we support them?  Harvey Fierstein, Tony Award winning playwright and actor, has been all over the anti-gay government positions.  He wrote a long op-ed in the New York Times and his conclusion couldn't be more concise: 

In 1936 the world attended the Olympics in Germany. Few participants said a word about Hitler’s campaign against the Jews. Supporters of that decision point proudly to the triumph of Jesse Owens, while I point with dread to the Holocaust and world war. There is a price for tolerating intolerance.

I wish I'd written that. It's perfect.  So other than Harvey Fierstein and I, where is the outrage for Putin and the Russian government??

Sidebars:  Still catching up from being away for a week.  Still catching up with friends, chores, and television shows.  I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about Alex Rodriguez and his battle with MLB.  I do not particularly like ARod, but I also don't trust MLB and the Yankees management.  If the Yankees didn't have so much to gain by losing Rodriguez from their payroll, I'd feel better about the whole thing, but this feels like David and Goliath.  Rodriguez, right or wrong, will lose because he can't fight these two huge corporations.  It's a very unclean fight.  There is no holier than thou.  They are all guilty.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Oh, I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Weiner

Everyone would be in love with me.  Is that the problem with Anthony Weiner?  He grew up singing the Oscar Mayer Weiner jingle and thought it was about him?  I really don't understand it or him.  I used to be a huge fan/supporter of Anthony Weiner.  I thought he had a huge future, but that wasn't what was huge. He shocked Congress, his constituents, fans, supporters, and his wife with the discovery that he tweeted photos of his weiner to women around the country.  He lied to America and Luke Russert when he said it wasn't his photos and junk, only to finally have to come "clean" and resign in shame from Congress.  It was so disappointing and another let down by another politician. I know, I know, no surprise to be let down by a politician by scandal and ego but....

Anthony Weiner came home to NYC in shame, with his "tail" between his legs, and said he was committed to repair his marriage and rebuild the trust of his constituents. Again, silly me, I bought it.  While I was in California last week and heard that there were more allegations of our Mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner, I was all huffy.  I was thinking it's all old news being rehashed or rediscovered from two years ago.  That the disgusting, disgraceful, egomaniacal  candidate stood up and lied again to us and then had to reveal that he continued his behavior up until he decided to run for office was unbelievable.  AND if that wasn't bad enough, he dragged his wife Huma Abedin to speak to reporters and the Nation that it was a private matter, she's forgiven him, and he would make a wonderful Mayor of NYC!!!!  Are you f**king kidding me?  Seriously???  She never should have stepped forward.  It was painfully uncomfortable to watch.  Why, why would she do this?  What did she think she'd get out of it?  

I have to say that a close friend never gave Anthony Weiner a chance at becoming Mayor.  She was disgusted by his behavior and couldn't have him representing her or the City of New York.  I, on the other hand, wasn't sure.  I don't feel at all versed in the positions of any of the candidates running for Mayor.  I wasn't surprised at all that Anthony Weiner took an early lead, because he's the only name the people of this city "know," but how quickly did he sink.  He should sink.  I think he is an embarrassment to this City.  I'm not totally sure that he should bail out.  I have very mixed feelings about that because this is a democracy and he should sink or swim on the votes.  BUT, he makes a mockery of the campaign and his penis actions are all reporters want to talk about.  No one is talking about the actual issues of the City.  We, as the people of NYC, are getting a diminished campaign because Anthony Weiner's hubris will keep him in the run for Mayor.  

The disappointment is great.  The shock is gone.  The narcissism is palatable.

Sidebars:  Let's not forget the fantastic Mayor Filner of San Diego who has multiple sexual harrassment charges against him.  He won't resign.  He went to two week intensive therapy.  As Michael Smerconish said, his actions are worse than Anthony Weiner's because the women were not consenting to the sexual advancements.  Theoretically, the women that Anthony Weiner sent his photo's to were of age and welcomed the attention.  

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Heavy Heart

 After having spent weeks watching much of the trial, I actually missed the live reading of the verdict Saturday night, but I caught up fast and felt such pain.  I do not blame the jury, but I do blame the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the law, the judicial sysytem, and the absolute absurdity that an unarmed black child can be dead and no one is accountable!  Look, I know that when you are sitting on a jury there are very strict and rigid legal lines to follow.  Jurors take their jobs seriously and do their best to follow the law.  From the outset of this trial, many people felt that Zimmerman would be found not guilty.  I couldn't believe it.  Yes, I am a Pollyanna.  I always believe the best in people, that those that do bad things will be punished, and that truth and justice will win out.  I am continuously heartbroken and surprised.  I haven't learned that justice is illusive for many.  

I heard Melissa Harris-Perry, an MSNBC host, speak after the decision and I found her words heart wrenching and tragic.  She was saying that black mothers will be hugging their children closer.  Mothers will try to come to terms with the fact that black children are not valued in this country.  I am paraphrasing poorly, but for any mother to feel that in 2013, just shows how far we have to go to get equality for all. 

Look, I am Jewish.  There was a time when Jews walked the streets with Stars of David on their clothing and were marked for harassment, jail, torture, and death.  Once the mark was removed, you can't tell who is Jewish or who is not, unless wearing Orthodox garb.  We can blend in, but if you are a person of are always a mark.  Maybe that is why I feel so deeply about this tragedy.  I have written so much about injustice and racism since I began writing this blog.  I haven't gotten any closer to having answers.  I don't understand why the TV talking heads keep saying the perspective falls on racial lines.  I think that's bulls**t.  I think it falls more along the lines of liberals vs. conservatives, pro-gun reform vs. NRA, educated vs. ignorance. To say that it falls along color lines seems too simple.  I live in NYC and I haven't met one person that thinks that George Zimmerman shouldn't pay for killing Trayvon Martin.  

Did you hear the comments of the defense attorneys after the verdict?  O'Mara and West should be ashamed of themselves.  They were so damn happy that they won.  They missed an opportunity to be compassionate and empathetic to Trayvon Martin, his family, and the entire black community.  It's not their fault that the laws are written the way they are, but the arrogance and righteousness at the press conference was unseemly and disgraceful.

Maybe the people of Florida and all over the United States need to get active and change the laws of the land.  Why are only the small-minded, ignorant, bullies able to get things done?  I have to believe that there are more of us, but we aren't good at rallying and effecting change.  The laws need to change.  All people should be treated equally. All children need to be safe. They shouldn't fear for their lives when they are walking through a neighborhood, going to school, or playing on the playground. I am sure I am preaching to the choir, but the choir is singing a little more wistfully today.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Trayvon, We Hardly Knew Ye

It's been a long time that the airwaves have committed to showing a trial, but for the past few weeks MSNBC (and others) have been showing and commenting on the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.  The Prosecution had their closing arguments yesterday and today the Defense team get their chance.  The Prosecution gets the final word in the closing rebuttal statements. 

For those of you who may know nothing of this case, a 17 year old black teen was walking through a perfectly manicured neighborhood in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman had taken it upon himself after recent crimes to create a neighborhood watch.  He was on "duty" as a citizen, armed with a loaded gun in his back holster, and found a black youth in a hoodie walking in his neighborhood.  George found Trayvon suspicious and followed him.  He called the cops and the dispatcher told him not to follow Trayvon, but he didn't listen.  What ensued exactly we will never know but what resulted...Trayvon shot in the chest and killed at the young age of 17. George Zimmerman has said that he acted in self-defense.  George Zimmerman packing a loaded gun proves again, no good can come of it.  This is a bare bones summary of the events.

Before the jury gets the case and comes back with a verdict, I want to say that under no uncertain terms do I think George Zimmerman is not guilty.  Whether or not it's manslaughter or Murder 2 makes no difference to me.  Granted, as a non-jury member and watching it on TV, I am privy to far more information and discussion than a juror will have while deliberating.  BUT there is no way that George Zimmerman isn't guilty.  If you carry a gun, disobey the police's instructions, follow a person that looks "suspicious" because he is black, and the end result is went looking for trouble.  No chance if Trayvon looked like Justin Bieber would this whole incident have occurred.  You cannot take the importance of skin color out of this case.  

It pains me that the possibility of a Not Guilty verdict could even be mentioned, but after the OJ Simpson trial in 1994...anything is possible.  That the Supreme Court can for one second think that racism is dead in this country is proven over and over, day in and day out, year after year.  You can watch Big Brother on CBS and hear the heinous statements of the contestants on that show.  You can go see the film Fruitvale Station opening today. And if you are a person of color, you can experience it everyday for yourself.  It's us, the white folk, that are so misinformed, delusional, or in denial that anything has changed.  Since the election of President Obama, the inexplicable and palpable racist fears have overtaken this country.  It's having a Supreme Court Justice like Clarence Thomas that has not helped anyone and especially people of color.  He has consistently voted against any ruling that would help minorities.  But I digress....

God help the people of Sanford, Florida, if the jury doesn't convict George Zimmerman.  It would be a huge miscarriage of justice and another serious blight to the justice system and the people of the United States of America. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Immigration and the Horse It Rode In On

The Immigration "problem" in this country is somewhat made up.  Do we have a lot of illegal aliens living among our communities?  Yes, we do.  Again, I will ask, " are they taking our jobs?"  No. Americans don't like to do drudge work.  We don't.  We don't want to work long hours in the hot sun picking lettuce, caring for our children, gardening our yards, etc.  So, why are there so many people all over the illegal aliens?  Of course, I do think it always comes down to color of the skin, but you may have another opinion.  Have you seen the fence that they built along the Mexican/US border?  It is so startling to see.  Part Berlin Wall/part Great Wall of China.  

So we are afraid of the Mexicans coming into the country. I'm not talking about criminals, just hard working-trying to make a better life for yourself and family people.  America has been built on the backs of immigrants.  We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. So what's the problem?  Well, in my very pragmatic mind, I feel like it's an easy fix but no one wants to pay more for services and products.  If the employers were held accountable, that would take a lot of the heat off of the worker.  The worker would make more money and pay more taxes.  The employers could absolutely bring the workers out of the shadows and give them a better quality of life.  BUT, and this is a big but, if you had to pay fair market value for services rendered, then you'd have to raise the cost of foods, nannys, gardeners, etc.  

I want someone to introduce me to an American who lost a job to an illegal immigrant.  Seriously.  I don't think they are out there.  If the immigrants arriving in the U.S.A. were from England, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, this would be a very different conversation.  So, how to fix it?  First and foremost recognize why "we" are all freaked out about the illegals and make the employers culpable.  That would change the face of immigration immediately.  

If a person in this country is here illegally and breaks the laws of our land, then they should be tossed out immediately.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just back to the country of origin.  I am a firm believer in that.  We shouldn't be spending tax dollars on trials and prisons for illegal aliens crimes.  

So, on the eve of the 4th of July, let's remember how and why this country was built to greatness and not chastise those that are just trying to make a better life.  We all came from somewhere unless you are a Native American.  More compassion.  More love. More jobs. More education. More money.

Wishing everyone a very HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!