Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Trump shutdown: A civics lesson

Pick your title for this post.

We'll start with the one that I used.  Does anyone teach civics anymore?  Is part of the problem that many people have no idea what governments (local, county, state, and/or federal/national) do?  More on this later.

Here 's another possible candidate:  "The Trump shutdown:  'It's the economy, stupid.'"

Our son the cynic insists that Trump and his supporters won't change their minds about anything Trump says or does unless it affects them personally.  I'm inclined to agree.  I joked with my husband that Trump wouldn't re-open the government until his Washington, DC hotel started losing business because no one could fly into any of the DC-area airports.  That's pretty much what happened.  Someone on AM Joy this morning said that the shutdown had ended because some of the people involved in running the Super Bowl football game were afraid that they'd lose a fortune if fans couldn't fly to the game.

On a humorous note, I could have tried a play on lollapalooza as the name of this post:  Pelosi-palooza, anyone?

My personal favorite, though rather long for a blog-post name, would be "The Trump shutdown:  I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but it's the so-called "Deep State" that keeps our airplanes safe."

Full disclosure:  My husband is a retired federal employee.

And I fiercely resent any implication that his 30 years of auditing federal government contracts was a waste of taxpayer money.

Who do think finds the $600 toilet seats, if not federal government contract auditors?  They don't waste taxpayers' money, they try to save taxpayers' money!

Federal employees prevent mid-air collisions.

Federal employees check luggage for weapons or explosives.

Federal employees provide medical care to Native Americans.

Federal employees monitor our food supply to try to prevent illness.

Federal employees make sure that we get our tax refunds.

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems with the Trump administration is our president's adamant refusal to acknowledge the fact that anyone other than he has any expertise in anything.  If you think that you can run the entire country single-handedly, then shutting down the government is no big deal.  Heaven help federal employees.  And heaven help this country.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Welcome to Social Security. But not yet. :( You're forewarned

The Social Security Administration employee assured me that every person born on the first day of any month was eligible for Social Security the month before their birthday, and therefore, I would be eligible for Social Security in the month of January.

I was counting on getting that money when I was eligible for it.

No such luck.  :(

Over a week after I expected to receive my first check, I finally got the bad news in the mail--apparently, when one is eligible in the month of X, one actually receives one's first payment the following month.

You couldn't have explained that to me several months ago, when we spoke on the phone?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

"What's in a name?," Jewish edition

Recently, my husband and I went to Hadar to hear Rabbi Jason Rubenstein give the Dr. Eddie Scharfman Memorial Lecture 2019, "All Revelation Begins With Heartbreak--Radical Faith in Torah and Ourselves, From Maimonides to Plaskow."  The presentation was fascinating and, apparently, almost too popular--the place was packed, and the only reason I got a seat was that a kind gentleman had mercy on this older woman carrying a cane.

Afterward, I spotted Rabbi Shai Held in the crowd.  "Rav Shai, I have two comments.  One, this was great!  Two, when are you moving?  This is crazy.  Hadar needs a bigger place, and it has to be wheelchair-accessible."  Ever since Hadar had to make an emergency, last-minute rental of Lincoln Square Synagogue's event space to accommodate the "over-subscribed" panel discussion "What Feminist Torah Needs to Look Like," it's become increasingly clear that Hadar has outgrown its current facility.

But the space issue wasn't the remarkable thing about this conversation.

My "greeting" was.

To paraphrase the Haggadah, I am a woman of nearly 70, but I can't remember ever before having called a rabbi by their first name.

Rav Shai?!

Where on earth did that come from?

When I was a kid growing up in South Jersey (er, southern New Jersey) in the 50s and 60s, it would have been unthinkable to call a rabbi by his first name.  (Yes, "his"--all rabbis were male, at that time.)  Even after I moved to New York City and joined first a Reconstructionist, then a Conservative synagogue, I continued to call my rabbis by their last names, as did most of the other congregants.

In fact, when women first began being ordained as rabbis and cantors, I found it downright offensive that they were frequently called by their first names.  Why should it be Rabbi or Cantor Last-Name for a man but Rabbi or Cantor First-Name for a woman?  Was a woman's rabbinical or cantorial ordination worth less than a man's, that she should be treated with less respect?

But lately, I've noticed a shift in practice.  It started when an old friend roughly our age joined a Orthodox synagogue in which it was a given that the entire rabbinical staff was called by their first names.  All of a sudden, it was "Rav Avi" and "Rav Steven" and "Rabba Sara."  Was my Conservative background suddenly making me more traditional than the Traditional?

I guess I'm just catching up with the times.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

"Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?"

Parshat Bo

Exodus Chapter 10

ז   הֲטֶרֶם תֵּדַע, כִּי אָבְדָה מִצְרָיִם. 7 . .. knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?' 

The United States of American is plagued by a modern-day pharaoh.

Our pharaoh has plagued us with the plague of "dahm/blood."  Trump's policy of favoring business interests at the expense of the environment have almost literally turned our rivers red and threatened both our health, with cutbacks to protective regulations, and our public lands, through extraction of resources.  
His policies and/or the lack thereof on guns have led to deadly violence in places such as a concert in Las Vegas and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His not-too-well-hidden willingness to ignore, if not encourage, racist attitudes led to a death at a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.

His indifference to human suffering has contributed to the deaths of two would-be-immigrant children at our southern border

And he's trying to deprive people with pre-existing conditions of the right to life itself by attempting to destroy the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) without providing a substitute.

He may be putting lives at risk with his hoped-for ban on Muslim immigration and his legal maneuvers to take away a woman's right to choose.

(Speaking of Trump's attitude toward women, is it true that he fired Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellin because he thought she was too short?!)

Now we're dealing with a United States federal (national) government shutdown that leaves the nation at risk, especially in terms of safety and health, with hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors either not being paid or at risk of missing a paycheck by this weekend if the federal government is not re-opened.

The only reason why the federal government is still shut down is that Trump has hardened his heart regarding his plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and is throwing a temper tantrum to get his way.

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said,
“American democracy doesn’t work that way. We don’t govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage. […]"

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it:

“Many federal workers will not be receiving their paychecks, and what that means in their lives is tragic... the president seems to be insensitive to that,” Pelosi said. "He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money. But they can’t.”

She added: “If you don’t understand financial insecurity, then you would have a policy that takes pride in saying ‘I’m going to keep the government shut down for months or years unless you totally agree to my position.’”

How can we change the government when voter suppression sometimes keeps the majority from having their voices heard

We are truly in a leil shimurim, a night of watching (Parshat Bo, Sh'mot/Exodus 12:42).  When will we be liberated from this pharaoh?

See also Vayera, pipe bombs, & a mass murder in a Pittsburgh synagogue--yes, there's a connection
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>