I’m Still Here…and There, and There, and Sometimes Over There…

April 3, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Hello, people!

I realize it might seem I go dormant for a couple of weeks on the blog, but I assure you that’s not the case.  Except for when it is.  But really, at the moment, it’s not the case.

Sometimes I’m published other places, and sometimes I get paid for it, and other times I don’t, and sometimes if I publish something HERE, that makes it so I can’t publish it somewhere else, etc.  Sooooooo, I will do my best to remember to direct you guys to other places who have the wisdom and good taste (or really low standards, take your pick…) to publish what I write.  🙂  The reason I haven’t done so up until now is that I am what is known as a “technomoron.”  I don’t make the connection between the fact that just because I publish on Kveller or Aiming Low, you (the actual blog followers) don’t automatically, magically see that content.

Last week, I read a blog piece on The Times Of Israel that really made me mad about the threat of intermarriage to Judaism.  The concept itself doesn’t bother me, but the terms in which this rabbi described intermarriage and those who partake in it was so offensive I needed to respond.  Here’s the link to what I wrote there, entitled “Rigidity is the Real Threat to Jewish Continuity.”  The piece that prompted the response is linked to at the end of my piece, if you’re inclined to read it.

However, if you only have time to read two pieces, I recommend (of course) mine, and this one: “The Threat of Warrantless Hatred.”  This high school student in Massachusetts responded to the nasty comments on my piece with an op-ed of his own.  While my piece prompted its own fair share of hatred and mean-spirited responses, it also prompted this thoughtful missive from someone who contributes to the great hope I have for today’s youth.  I was very moved by his heart and intellect.

Anywho, that’s all for now – I’ll do my best to keep you all up to date if for whatever reason, I’m showing up There instead of Here.  🙂



P.S.  Nicky (my 14-year-old) pitched 4-1/3 solid innings a couple of days ago.  So there.  You can read about why this is so cool in this piece I wrote for Kveller.
P.P.S.  Go Orioles!!!


Four More Years…Please?

October 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

I want Barack Obama to continue as our president for the next four years.  “Oh, my goodness, I am SO SHOCKED to hear this!” said no one who has met me ever.

Reasons range from shallow to profound, and from micro-specific to enormously broad.  Let’s start with the obvious.

1.  Obama is a friend of groups who have historically been ignored, dismissed, abused and refused basic rights of equality.

  • He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  This broadened the ability of those (mostly women) suffering from pay discrimination to take action against their employers.
  • He endorses marriage equality.  He’s strong enough to stand up for and take ownership in protecting rights of the LGBT community.
  • He renewed the Combating Autism Act, landmark reform “assuring continued federal support for critical autism research, services and treatment.”
  • He supports and defends a woman’s right to determine her own healthcare and family planning choices.  He *gasp* TRUSTS them!  He *gasp* RESPECTS their right to determine their future and what goes on in their uteruses!

2.  Obama has stopped the economic bleeding for many (not all) segments of the population.  

  • He revived the auto industry with strong support from the Federal government.  After facing disaster, all three American auto makers are “increased sales of vehicles and have posted a profit.”  (see link.)
  • He’s enacted truly historic healthcare reform.  Pre-existing conditions are now covered, and so is birth control.  I’m not saying this won’t cost certain segments of the population or provide hardship for some – I know some small business owners struggling with these requirements.  It isn’t perfect.  It does, however, take a large burden off so many who had to choose between treating their cancer and feeding their families.  It’s a step in the right direction.
  • The economy has improved for many, many people.  Private sector jobs have increased for the last 31 months straight.  I agree with the author of this GQ article that it’s risky to tie Obama’s performance so tightly to a chart (requiring upward arrows always to convince), I still think it demonstrates how low we had sunk with the previous administration and how far we have come with the current one.

3.  Obama has a calm, assured and proven foreign policy.

  • He’s improved our image which was so devastated by eight years of George W. Bush.  There’s no question that Obama’s global popularity has taken a hit as a result of his policy on drone strikes, and the perception that the U.S. still does whatever the hell it wants to.  Yet, even though he’s less popular than he was four years ago, the Pew Research Trust survey shows the strong majority of the 20 countries polled want Obama elected over Romney.
  • The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden was more than symbolic – it was reflective of the job the Obama administration has done in weakening and dismantling much of Al-Quaida.
  • He is withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan – just like he said he would.  He’s closing that horrible chapter.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I don’t delude myself into thinking he is the messiah or hasn’t made colossal blunders.  Operation Fast and Furious was awful in that it put weapons in the hands of arms traffickers – some of which have been used against Americans.  I’m not ready to say his handling of the Benghazi attack was a blunder or involved a cover-up, but I recognize the possibility that with time evidence might support that analysis (I really think it’s too soon to tell.)  Let’s not talk about his performance in the first debate.  I realize many of the jobs created are part-time jobs with few or no benefits.  I know under his administration the number of people on food stamps has risen instead of dropped.  I get it.

When I compare his record, however, to Romney’s history and his proposals for our future, I have no question that he is the right choice for the job.

1.  Romney said, and I really think he believes, that people who pay no income tax are parasites and victims.  Never mind his protests to the contrary after the infamous 47% video was revealed.  That he said it AT ALL is profoundly troubling, and I feel it reflects a disdain for half the population that is not only unfair and unfounded, but borders on perverse.

2.  The New York Times wrote a fascinating article about Romney’s management style.  I thought there were many things in the article that humanized him – even managed to muster up a sense of empathy in me for him.  He’s described as conflict-avoidant (many of us are), socratic (wades into details, loves to debate), and fiercely loyal, as represented in a quote I love:  “As head of the private equity firm Bain Capital, he was so uncomfortable cutting loose struggling employees that a legend grew: executives sent in to his office to be fired emerged thinking they had been promoted.”  (Of course, he had no problem firing people he’d never met or had any relationship with…) Yet the very things that humanize him in this article also make me think he’d not be an effective president.  Loyalty is great, but an inability to fire people who aren’t getting the job done could weaken his administration.  Avoiding conflict is understandable, but the Oval Office isn’t exactly a conflict-free zone.  And these two qualities have played themselves out in his campaign with his refusal to reveal details about his tax policies, his inability to separate himself from the crazies in his party, and his saying whatever his audience needs to hear, regardless if it contradicts previous stances of his.  Doesn’t bode well, in my opinion.

3.  Romney has a need to privatize things that borders on pathological.  Consider his stance on FEMA – many agree it’s an agency greatly in need of overhaul.  Some (including me) even see the potential virtue in having responses to disaster be controlled by the individual states.  Romney?  He wants it to be privatized.  Does he think there is ANYTHING the government does that should not be morphed into a for-profit venture???

4.  He is incapable or unwilling of separating himself from the nut jobs.  He continues to support Richard Mourdock for office.  (To paraphrase Jon Stewart, “Yeah, we disagree on rape and incest, but…meh?  Not a deal breaker!”)  He chose a running mate whose stances on reproductive rights are so extreme, women are essentially reduced to incubators, and microscopic clumps of cells have more freedom than do their mothers.  His stance on gay marriage is medieval and absurd.  While he used to be considered a moderate, and is contorting his candidacy now to appear like one again, he is catering and pandering to the parts of his party who are driving out any moderate Republican voices.  And they DO exist – moderate Republicans.  There are thinking, compassionate, strong Republicans who no longer feel they have a place in their party.  Think Olympia Snowe.  Think Richard Lugar – the candidate for Congress who LOST to Mourdock in the primaries.  Very, very bad to lose these voices, people.

There are so many more reasons I support Obama and reject Romney.  I’m sure many of you can come up with as many reasons why you feel the opposite way.  Here’s what I ask myself, though, when I step back and take the larger view into account.  Between the two candidates, who is more likely to want to compromise?  Who is more likely to WANT to work in a bipartisan way?  Because that’s how things get done.  The Republican leadership’s stated refusal to allow Obama to accomplish anything at all is embarrassing.  Yet Obama manages to walk the line of true governing by standing firmly in the center, angering people on both sides – conservatives AND liberals.  Extreme conservatives think he’s doing too much, extreme liberals think he’s not doing enough.  Oddly enough, that tells me he is doing something right.

Munich 11 Postscript

August 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

It seems pressure remains high on IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge to honor the Munich 11.  I couldn’t be gladder.  I am not deluded enough to believe he will bow to international opinion, but I am heartened by the attention the issue has received.

In “Doing the Right Thing” and “Bearing the Torch”, Ken Kovacs and I presented our own reasons we felt honoring the Olympians slain in Munich in 1972 was a societal and moral imperative.  We were far from alone in our pleas, and our voices joined many others, some of whose actions spoke louder than words.

Here are some examples of how people from all corners of the globe have made their opinions known.

1.  Bob Costas followed through on plans to hold his own moment of silence during the opening ceremonies, while the Israeli athletes entered the stadium, in protest of the IOC’s refusal to do so.

2.  At least 200 people held their own tribute in Trafalgar Square to the fallen athletes on the morning the London Olympics began.  Over 20,000 were reported to participate in other venues throughout the host city.

3.  More than 30 members of the Italian delegation held it’s own tribute to show solidarity with Israel and the familes of the slain athletes.  They stood with members of the Israeli delegation outside the quarters of the Israeli athletes for a minute of silence.

4.  18-year-old Aly Raisman, the Jewish-American girl who captured gold with her floor routine (fittingly performed to “Hava Nagila”,) paid tribute to the Munich 11 in her interviews with reporters after her victory.  She diplomatically, but pointedly, said she would have supported and respected a moment of silence had the IOC chosen to hold one.

5.  Finally, ever the optimist, Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler wrote to Mr. Rogge.  He insisted it is not too late to do what is right.  He asked Rogge to redeem himself by holding a moment of silence for the slain Israeli athletes and coaches during the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony.  It’s a moving and poignant plea, which at the same time, pulls no punches in its analysis of what denying this request would signify.

I am not holding my breath.  I am, however, moved and comforted that so many around the world have rallied to the sides of these families who suffered through the ultimate loss while the Games went on.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank them.

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