Monday, July 26, 2010

We the People

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.
Copyright © 2010 Gallup, Inc.
Wanna know what I wanna know? I wanna know what makes someone have little or no confidence in Congress. Does it mean that they don’t like the member of congress? The bills? The behavior? What exactly is it that they don’t like? Do the respondents even know what constitutes Congress?

And you wanna know what I wanna know about Congress? When do the people sitting in those chambers stop being the Democratic senator from the great state of Confusion or Republican congressman from the fifth district of the Yenne Velt? When do they start being Congresspersons concerned with the welfare of We the People?

This isn’t about being a Democrat or a Republican; it’s about having honest and fair representation in Congress. It’s about feeling like my congressperson represents me, my state  and my district whether or not I voted for him or her.

I must be some kind of Pollyanna to believe that once elected, these folks represent the entire district and not just some partisan caucus. I happen to believe that the intent of the Constitution is to ensure the representation of all citizens, not just the ones that agree with you. Whatever happened to the concept of constituency?

And this is also about We the People being smart enough to know when we’re being conned by elected officials who claim to have our best interests at heart when, in truth, they are too busy grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding. I’m all for open debate on any issue, but if you’re going to say “No,” to something, at least have the good graces to do your homework and come up with a workable alternative.

Forget the cult of the personality! Stopping legislation because you don’t like the President is not good enough. Give us an alternative version of that bill you don't like!  Or how about just working to find a middle ground where everyone gets something.

Y'know, I don’t think any of our elected officials ever passed “Works and Plays Well With Others” in kindergarten.

 Tip o'the Week:  
Nobody cares about your political proclivities; 
they do, however, care about how annoying you are on the subject

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome to my world


I've been under a great deal of pressure from several sources (you know who you are) to start a blog. Now, all things considered, this was Steve's gigue. He was Ziggy. Ziggy's Joke o'the Day was out there before there were blogs. ZJOD was, in it's own way, legendary.

Night after night, yawning with exhaustion, I sat on the couch in his office, listened to him read "the intro," and then edit it on the fly. Oh, how we argued over word choice and sentence structure. The debates were grand, sometimes heated, but always ended with "gimme a kiss and get outta here so I can get this thing out the door." And every night, when he finally stumbled into to bed, I would always be just awake enough feel two pats on the butt, followed by, "You're a good ol' broad, y'know that?" And I always snuggled a little closer.

There are no more pats on the butt. And no one who is going to sit on my sofa and opine at my work. It's is a dirty job, and I wish with all my heart that he was here to do it. But he's not.

Well, where to begin? What do I want to say? Oh lordy, such a fertile field and so many things on which I would like to comment. May as well just dive in and immediately get myself into trouble.

As I sit at my desk, the sun is setting and Tisha B'Av is starting. My best Tisha B'Av, if one can have a best Tisha B'Av, was in 1969, in Jerusalem, sitting on a hill overlooking the city, and I was the one to chant the opening of Eicha (Lamentations) and I did with the weight of three thousand years of history resting like a mantle on my shoulders. How could I, a kid from Long Island, possibly read these words and imbue them with the meaning they needed to have? What was my reference point? What did I know about suffering? Did I have a place in this chain? The experience was overpowering. Every Tisha B'Av after that was held up in comparison to that one. Over the years there were some more memorable than others.

And then there was last year. I was the widow. I was Jerusalem, desolate, abandoned, unable to hold up my head. I sat on the floor broken and unable to bear the words. They had new, horrible meaning and I hated every reverberating sound. I could not wait for it, all of it, to be over. I wanted to be past this day that grated on my own terrible loss. I could not imagine a worse observance.

Until today. I cannot begin to describe the utter disbelief and anger I feel toward the government of the State of Israel. The increased hijacking of democracy by the Haredi ultra-right cannot be tolerated. The conversion bill is not a stand-alone attempt to delegitimize non-Haredi Jews. It is part of an ongoing war of attrition to turn Israel into some kind of Jewish version of Iran or Saudi Arabia. How can the general population stand by and let it happen? Israel is supposed to our homeland, not just theirs. They cannot be allowed to force us to the back of the bus!

I am very torn on this issue. I live in the diaspora. I have not made aliyah. But I will also tell you that any hope I ever harbored for making aliyah has been dashed because my marriage and my children would be suspect in the eyes of the rabbinate. Even though Steven's conversion was very Orthodox and we made sure his "papers" would allow us to make aliyah at some point, they would not be acceptable now....or so I have been told. Obviously, Steve's not making aliyah, but what if the kids decide at some point that they want to? But like said, I don't live there, so am I even entitled to an opinion? Honestly, I don't know.

So I sit here tonight wondering what exactly it is that I think. The easy answer is anger, but it's really too complex an issue to reduce to a single word. I also wonder what other Jews are thinking on this night. I want to know what all Jews are thinking, from Reform to Conservative, to modern Orthodox, and even the Haredi. I want to know what they're thinking, and perhaps more important to me (and this is, after all, my blog so I get to ask the questions) what do they think the outcome for Israel will be? Will there even be an Israel to go home to?

This is really important stuff for all of us. As Jews, as Americans, as supporters of the idea of democracy and plurality. If Israel turns into a fundamentalist state, what will happen to it? To us as Jews?

Oh, yeah, here's another random thought: thanks to thousands of years of ghettos, we have managed to survive as an intact people because we were not allowed into the mainstream, and therefore never assimilated. Still, Judaism managed to grow and develop. Are we still practicing Temple Judaism? I don't recall animal sacrifices over at Beth Jacob. (Okay, _definitely not_ at Beth Jacob!) Do we know the super-secret Tetragrammaton so we can use it on special occasions? So why do some Jews think we have to freeze life in the 17th century? What was so special about that? Didn't someone have to say, "I think we should do it this way," which wasn't the old way to even get to this philosophically frozen religious observance?

Hey! I never said I had any answers, but boy, do I have a lot of questions! And if I have questions, I'm thinking there are a lot of us asking the same thing.

No, I don't have a joke, but I have a tip o'the day:
Keep asking questions even when they tell you not to;
you never know when one will be the _right_ one.