Monday, May 15, 2017

In The Original Klingon


I was sitting on my little mirpeset (kinda like a little balcony...there's no word for it in English)on Sunday, drinking a cup of coffee, working the NYT crossword, and thinking about what I was going to write this week. There was such a plethora of egregious behavior that it was hard to narrow it down to just one or two things. 

Earlier, I'd read The National Review's version on how the Clintons were to blame for Comey's rapid descent. I read the article because the headline intrigued me. I tried to follow the logic, but after a few graphs, I figured this guy must be high on something to have written this steaming mass of bull-oney. And then Bill Maher blamed Bill Clinton and the incident on the Loretta Lynch-plane stupidity. And that's stupidity on both Lynch and Clinton's part. But never mind that.

I got to thinking what would this be like if Hillary were president and behaving like this?

That just staggers imagination.

But back to Comey. As much as I hate to think about it, the toddler-in-chief may have done We, the People, a huge favor. He was not acting in the capacity of a lawyer, so unlike like Preet Baharara and Sally Yates, there is no attorney/client privilege invoked. This guy could be the best loose cannon on the face of the planet. Think about it. He can  talk and no one can stop him. He can decide to tell the truth and clean up at the same time. Someone telling the truth in Washington would certainly be novel. 

The Economist is a well respected, well-written British magazine that's been around since 1843. Yes folks, that's 174 years. They didn't get to be around that long because they were publishing alternative facts. Nope. The Economist is about as respected as you can get in magazine-land. So when they announced they were interviewing the toddler-in-chief, everyone was anxious to see how it was handled. And it was handled brilliantly. This is taken from the transcript of that interview:
The E: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit? 
45: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll…you understand the expression “prime the pump”? 
The E:Yes. 
45: We have to prime the pump. 
The E: It’s very Keynesian. 
45: We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event? 
The E: Priming the pump? 
45: Yeah, have you heard it? 
The E: Yes. 
45: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

Sorry, 45, you did not invent that expression. The reporter from The Economist got it in one. It's modern usage in economics is attributed to John Maynard Keynes in the early 20th century. Can you say utter embarrassment, boys and girls?

Meanwhile, in the Too Weird To Possibly Be True category, the meeting with the Russians was tremendous. Not only were no American photogs allowed in the room, turns out the Russians were tweeting away and sending photographs to the Kremlin for their website. Really? Really. 

Back in the old days, the joke was that the Russians always said they invented everything. Didn't matter what it was; it was invented in Russia. In some respects, the coverage of the meeting reminded me of the Klingons having dinner with Captain Kirk and his officers in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.






You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.                                                                                    Chancellor Gorkon

If Hillary's meeting had gone viral like that, Cecil the Turtle and Eddie Munster would be clamoring for her immediate resignation.

HOW IS NOT DEMANDING SOMETHING BE DONE, BE OKAY?

So once again, I ask my conservative and GOP readers two questions:
  1.  How is this okay
  2. When is it not okay?

Leave a comment. Inquiring minds want to know.



The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Take a moment to think about the people that mean the most to you:
how do you want to leave the world for them?

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Blessing For Your Favorite GOP Congressperson


That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who've done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.                                                           Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala                                                                                                                     
A Blessing for Your Favorite GOP Congressperson
by the Wifely Person


May you have a brief, manageable bout with cancer.
May you achieve remission.

May you lose your employer provided health insurance.

May you go to sign up for health insurance.
May you be told your cancer is a preexisting condition.
May you find yourself in a high risk pool.
May your premiums cost more than you earn,
And cover less than your daily meds.

May your child be found to have a small, correctable heart-valve defect
May you be told this is a congenital, preexisting condition.
May the simple surgery co-payment cost more than
a year of groceries and a year of heating utilities.

May your wife become pregnant quickly and easily,
And may that fetus be found to have the same heart defect as your other child
and may your insurance tell you this is a preexisting condition that,
 while fixable in utero,
is not covered.

May your parents live long and productive lives
until age related dementia sets in
and you find that is a preexisting condition.
May they be forced to sell their home to move in with you
because they cannot afford either 
care at home or assisted living.
As they decline, may you be faced with 
their bills as well as your own.
Since you already lost your job, 
may you become the kind, loving, stay-at-home caregiver,
paid nothing, but shelling out everything.

May you be faced with foreclosure 
because you cannot pay 
your mortgage,
your property taxes,
your medical bills,
or your insurance premiums 
that cover nothing.
May you be able to move everyone into your car…
until the repo people come to take that, too.

May you wonder how all this came to pass because
good people like you
don’t have preexisting conditions.

May you appreciate how the one-time constituents you threw beneath the bus
reach out to put hot food on your disposable plate.


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Keep calling, keep writing, keep sending postcards to 
your personal Congressional clowns.
If you like what they're doing, tell 'em.
If you think the morons, tell 'em that, too. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Decline.....

When I was a kid, I couldn't read enough about history. I loved the lives that were. I wanted to know why Archduke Ferdinand was shot and how the slaves in Egypt really lived. The woman who would become my 5th grade teacher, upon hearing about me brought me a book to read over the summer.  "I hear you've already read GODS, GRAVES, and SCHOLARS," I assured her I had. Several times. "Then you will like this." And she gave me the second book that would change my life, TUTANKHAMEN: Life and Death of a Pharaoh.  I still have the copy Miss Myrus "lent" me, and my dad found a copy of G,G,&S for me years ago, and I still have (and treasure) both.

I won't bore you with a recitation of my years of studying archeology and anthropology and that protracted and difficult decision to let my college diploma read Bachelor of Science, Theater, not Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology. My love of history has never changed.

My dad had a complete set of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and we read it together. It's not exactly a light and fun read. But we talked a lot about leaders and what good leaders do. And what bad leaders do. Those conversations never left me, and as I got older and took to reading biographies over histories, Decline and Fall became the yardstick by which I measured other encounters on the page.
Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.                                                                                                                                                                                 Volume 1
Whilst Gibbon drew comparisons between guys like Diocletian and more contemporaneous monarchs like Charles V,  one cannot help but see how different eras yield different, yet fundamentally similar, comparisons. 

The short version is that if you don't pay attention to history you get to repeat it. See World War I and World War II for recent examples. 

It bothers the stuffings right outta me when people play fast and loose with history. Good history is not opinion. Sure, there might be opinions about what's important or reasons for occurrence, but you cannot say the South won the Civil War. Along those same lines, you cannot say the crowd standing outside at 45's inauguration was the biggest crowd ever because it wasn't. To say otherwise is delusional. 

To be the leader of a nation and not to know its history is deplorable. To stand at a microphone to talk on topics you know nothing about is foolhardy. 
I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart,
He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, "There's no reason for this."
People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

To say something completely and utterly moronic like President Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War, and that he, a slave owning individual, could've negotiated a solution is not merely despicable, it's completely, totally, and unquestionably without foundation...especially since Jackson had been dead 16 years when the war happened. To dig oneself in deeper by saying this is his opinion, is skating along the edge of an abyss. 

Then, there's the CBS interview from Face The Nation. Watching it was unsettling enough. Reading it almost pushed me over the edge:


On Kim Jong-un:
 I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, "Is he sane?" I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie. But we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue. And frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.

On Congress:
Just a system. It's just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you're forced to make deals that are not the deal you'd make. You'd make a much different kind of a deal.
You're forced into situations that you hate to be forced into. I also learned, and this is very sad, because we have a country that we have to take care of. The Democrats have been totally obstructionist. Chuck Schumer has turned out to be a bad leader. He's a bad leader for the country. And the Democrats are extremely obstructionist.
All they do is obstruct. All they do is delay. Even our Supreme Court justice, as you know, who I think is going to be outstanding, Justice Gorsuch. I think that it was disgraceful the way they handled that. But, you know, I still have people, I'm waiting for them to be approved. Our chief trade negotiator. We can't get these people through. 

Let's not even talk about health care and pre-existing conditions. My head would just simply explode. 

And now, he invites Rodreigo Duterte of the Philippines for an official visit to the White House. A guy who compares himself to Hitler, who is working to suspend civil rights, who orders wholesale murder of his people. And they're gonna throw him a dinner.

Are you seeing a pattern?

Power is the name of the game. Civil rights, human rights, those things don't matter. The only ones getting any cred in the White House are totalitarian-authoritarian-dictator-wannabes. These are the role models, people. Look and learn. 

The new affront is the desire to restructure how Congress operates. Now, we all know Congress is a slow moving behemoth, but it's a constitutional one and one that, when allowed to function, does an okay job of protecting We, the People from ourselves. That's what checks-and-balances are all about. 

They are in jeopardy.  

But here's the thing. 45 did not realize how hard this job really is. We, the People seem to be more okay with that than one might think. According to Gallup, 41% of voters approve of 45's job performance on May 1st, 2017.

The transparency we were hoping to get in this government not only isn't there, the veil has been drawn on things we have been used to seeing...like tax returns. 

I know it's not possible for everyone to be activist, but everyone must do something to keep from being run over by this juggernaut of lies and misdirection. Pick up the phone. Call your representatives, state, local, or federal. Send postcards. They work. One postcard added to a pile does make the pile bigger. Find your voice. 

I keep hearing the phrase coup d'etat. The right keeps saying that's what the left wants. But that's stupid. The left doesn't want a coup....but the right does. And it will be subtle. A rule change here, a filibuster there. It will be subtle.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nice People don't protest. They don't picket. They do nothing. And they stand by when the government is disbanded. 

Don't be nice.


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you missed Colbert going after 45 for being a jerk on CBS, 


It was brill.

















Monday, April 24, 2017

Are you now, or have you ever been....

If you're not watching the elections in France, it's time to think of yourself as an ostrich and behave accordingly.


It's not as if so goes France, so goes the world, but it's probably not a bad idea to listen to their political rhetoric. Sure, lots of pundits are saying she can't/won't win, but hey, they said the same thing about our current Toddler-in-Chief.  If you don't know what the National Front stands for, maybe you should go read something about it. You might change your mind about being an ostrich after that. And France is not alone. Other European countries are putting forward right-wing candidates who are increasingly brave about their isolationist and nationalist goals. Needless to say, non-Christians need not apply.


We can make jokes about our government, but to not take what it's doing seriously is at our own peril. And you have to look at government from the town on up to the White House. You have to watch it all. 

Let me share this about Minnesota. Marc Dayton is our DFL governor, having followed the Republican Tim Pawlenty who believed vociferously that civil rights were not for everyone. Dayton took over, and things started happening in this state. We have a surplus. Our business climate is one of the top in country. Our schools are in the top 5 states. Wisconsin is run by the GOP nut-ball Scott Walker. (Speaker Paul Ryan is one of their congressclowns.) Iowa is run by Republican Terry Branstad (Chuck Grassley and that brainiac Joni Ernst are their senators.) Here is the border battle as laid out by Joe Atkins, my former state house representative, now Dakota County Commissioner. 

This is what happens when a Democrat runs the show even with a Republican legislature:
I recently posted a comparison between Wisconsin with Minnesota, using only documented figures and rankings. A couple Iowa friends suggested both Minnesota and Wisconsin would pale in comparison to the Hawkeye State. So I checked. Below are the results.


TAXES. For 2017, an average family with a median annual income of $54,286 would pay $7,384 in state and local taxes in Wisconsin, $6,968 in Iowa,and $6,291 in Minnesota. Source:https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/.

PROPERTY TAXES. Minnesota residents pay $2,110 in property taxes on a $180,000 home. Iowa residents pay $2,649 on the same-priced home. Wisconsin residents still take the prize for the highest property taxes; they pay $3,499 on the same $180,000 home. The average household in Dakota County pays $1414 less in property taxes than a family in Wisconsin, $564 less than a family in Iowa, and $461 less in property taxes than the Twin Cities metro average. Source:https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/.

WAGES. A worker in Iowa earns an average annual wage of $43,540, while a Wisconsin worker earns an average annual wage of $45,240, and a worker in Minnesota earns an average wage of $51,320. Dakota County residents earn an average annual wage of $51,532. Source: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm.

JOB GROWTH. Wisconsin businesses added 28,900 jobs in 2016, more than four times the 6,700 jobs added in Iowa, but 42% behind the private-sector job growth in Minnesota, where businesses adding 41,200 jobs in 2016. Source:https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/323f046b-3e87-477f-9f96-0d0ac8f1e90f/jec-state-economic-snapshots-january-2017.pdf 

BEST STATE FOR BUSINESS. Minnesota ranks as the 4th best state for business, with Iowa coming in 9th. Wisconsin ranks 23rd. Source:http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html

FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES. Minnesota is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies. Wisconsin has 10. Iowa has three. Minnesota is also home to the world's largest privately-owned company: Cargill. Dakota County serves as headquarters for one Fortune 500 company - CHS in Inver Grove Heights - which is #84 on the list with $34.6 billion in annual revenues. Source: http://beta.fortune.com/fortune500/list/

STATE BUDGET. Wisconsin's state government has a $1.7 billion budget deficit. Iowa state government has a $131 million deficit. Minnesota's state government has a $1.65 billion surplus.

DEBT. The State of Minnesota's debt equals $2,982 per resident, while the State of Wisconsin's debt equals $3,933 per resident. The State of Iowa’s debt is $2,082 per resident. Source:https://ballotpedia.org/State_debt. Dakota County has zero debt, which is unusual in Minnesota and across the country.

BEER CONSUMPTION. Wisconsinites annually consume 38.2 gallons of beer per person, placing them at #6 in the nation. Iowans consume 34.4 gallons of beer per person, raking #16 nationally, and Minnesotans bring up the rear, at 31.3 gallons of beer per person, which ties us for #25. Source:http://www.beerinfo.com/index.php/pages/beerstateconsumption.html

GAS TAX. The gas tax is 15% higher in Wisconsin than in Minnesota. At 32.9 cents per gallon, Wisconsin has the 12th highest gas tax in the nation. Minnesota’s gas tax is 28.6 cents per gallon, ranking #25 in the country. Iowa is in between at 32.0 cents per gallon, ranking 14th highest in the country. https://taxfoundation.org/state-gasoline-tax-rates-2016/ 

MURDERS. There were 165 murders in Wisconsin in 2016. Minnesota had 88 and Iowa had 60. Source: http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/murder-capital-of-the-us-states-with-the-most-murders.html

FARM PRODUCTION. With $20.2 billion in farm production, Minnesota ranks #5 nationally. Wisconsin farmers come in at #9, with $12.5 billion in production. Iowa leads the way, with $32.1 billion in production, which is second only to California. Dakota County farmers held their own among Minnesota's yield-leading counties in bushels per acre of oats, corn and soybeans.Sources:https://data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx ID=49642 and https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Minnesota/Publications/County_Estimates/

SOCIAL SECURITY. Wisconsin and Iowa do not tax Social Security income. Minnesota is one of 13 states that still does. The legislature is currently considering a proposal to reduce or eliminate this.http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C000-S001-which-states-tax-social-security.html

QUALITY OF LIFE. Wisconsin ranks 15th. Iowa is 9th. Minnesota is 2nd. Minnesota was narrowly edged out by Hawaii for the top spot. Source:http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html

CHEESE. Wisconsin farmers make 2.8 million pounds of cheese annually, earning them the #1 ranking in the nation, while Minnesota ranks #6 and Iowa is 9th. Wisconsin was second only to California in milk production, with Minnesota ranking #9 and Iowa well back. Notably, MN Milk recently named the Otte Family of Dakota County its Milk Producer of the Year. Sources:http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/us-cheese-production-top-10-states.html.https://www.statista.com/statistics/194968/top-10-us-states-by-milk-production/ andhttp://www.mnmilk.org/news/320727/Minnesota-Milk-Names-Otte-Family-its-Producer-of-the-Year.htm

AARON RODGERS. The Packers have one. The Vikings don't. And Iowa has a guy named Eric Mueller who looks like Aaron Rodgers.http://www.kwwl.com/story/19629263/aaron-rodgers-look-a-like-packer-fan

LIFE EXPECTANCY. Hawaiians rank #1 with an average life expectancy of 81.3 years, with Minnesotans coming in second at 81.1 years, Wisconsinites 11th at an even 80.0 years, and Iowans 16th at 79.7 years. In Dakota County, life expectancy is 83.6 years. Sources:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_life_expectancy andhttps://ww2.kqed.org/futureofyou/2017/01/31/find-life-expectancy-map/

EDUCATION. Wisconsin ranks #11; Iowans are #17; and Minnesota is #2. In states where at least half of all students take the ACT, Minnesota ranks #1. In Dakota County, seven high schools were named to Minnesota's 50 Best High Schools list: Rosemount, Eagan, Simley, South St. Paul, Sibley, Eastview and Apple Valley. Sources: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/12/americas-top-states-for-business-2016-the-list-and-ranking.html and goo.gl/qxgw2D.

With lots of family and friends in both Wisconsin and Iowa, I wish our neighbors to the east and south nothing but the best. Except when their teams play ours.

It's not that Dayton's a charismatic governor...far from it. He's a total nerd, a lousy speaker, and kinda frail....but he knows how to run the state in spite of some of the asshole politics that go on in the legislature. If you want to see a state that works, look at us. Not saying it's all perfect because it's not. The IR is always trying to short change people....like the Minnesota National Guard. Dayton did not take kindly to that. His response was lovely:
It’s ridiculous and wrong that, despite a healthy state budget surplus, Republican legislators want to cut funds for services to our veterans and for the Minnesota National Guard.                    
                                          Governor Mark Dayton, April 21, 2017      
When our elected representatives put the good and welfare of this nation's citizenry first, last, and in the middle, we can begin to live up to our own expectations. But throwing the working poor under the bus is not a way to start. Cutting arts out of the budget is not the way to start. Slashing funding for medical research is not the way to start. Claiming the climate change is pseudoscience is not a way to start. Telling coal miners you are bringing their job back is not a way to start. 

So if you think doing the ostrich thing instead of paying attention to what's happening in Washington, in France, in North Korea, in Syria, or Afghanistan, or the UK, or Somalia is okay because you're are not impacted directly by the multitude of issues facing those people.....guess again. Not paying attention is like crossing the street. You can get run over.


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week:
If you missed INDEPENDENT LENS: THE LAST LAUGH tonight, watch it. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Beware the Ides of April

I cannot keep up with the current administration's constant changes. It's like trying to stay on top of an overtired toddler's mood swings. 

That said, those changes worry me the same way. The recent spate of bombings scare the skin right off my neck. Not that I don't think someone should glass over Assad's palace in the new future, I just don't  think it's good foreign policy for the US. And dropping the "mother of all bombs" on Afghanistan? Nope. This was clearly a dick thing, and tootsie-dick needs to get over his lack of sizable male equipment. 

The current administration talks about chopping ridiculous spending by congress when it cuts out funds for medical research and children's television...well, folks, budgeting begins at home. The cost of chaperoning the First Family is over-the-moon expensive and for what? Let's not even talk about the weekend jaunts to Mar-A-What's-It-Called. How about underwriting his kids' jaunts overseas or skiing in Vail? Do you have any idea what this is costing We, the People? 

Each round-trip on Air Force One costs us $700,000. That's just the airfare. The GAO estimates each trip to Florida cost about $3,000,000. One receipt was for secret-service golf cart rentals: $35,185.00. Seven trips to Florida and we're talkin' about real money: $21,000,000. 

Should I even mention the $127,000 to $146,000 per day it's costing the NYPD to protect Mellie and Baron in their gilded tower?

No wonder this administration wants to cut funding for the arts, public broadcasting, and education...all things that  benefit We, the People, and not the new thems? 

For the sake of comparison, over two terms..that's 8 years....the previous administration racked up a total of $97,000,000...including all those pesky G-type conferences heads-of-state are supposed to attend. ....or about $12,125,000 per year...not quite half of what this family spent in 3 months

But the money this guy is spending isn't going for global conferences or summit meetings. It's paying for vacay. 

And this is okay with you?

Yesterday, the Ides of April, also known as Tax-Day in the US, the sitting president was doing just that....sitting in Florida. Outside, there were very simple, very civil protests asking the goniff-in-chief to produce his tax returns. This bullshit about being unable to release them because of an audit is still bullshit and everyone knows it.

These are not stock photos; these were taken by my friend Artie who is a retired from being director and chief-of-staff of the ITU, a UN Specialized Agency. This guy knows his stuff. The most mild-mannered human on the planet is out there protesting. Of course, you don't know Artie, but I do and that he is out there on the picket line tells me volumes. And I'm telling you that his being out there should be telling you the same thing: something stinks. And if you want to get to the bottom of the offal heap....follow the money.

This is no longer about partisan politics or Democrat vs Republican. This is about damage to the very core of We, the People, and our nation. Look around, folks. This is our worst nightmare..and it is our presumed future. 

Make up your own minds. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Old Story, New Audience

I'm about 99% Pesadik as I write this. The other 1% is my dining room floor which I will do as soon as I hit the "go" button. But the kitchen is done, and while it doesn't have the old familiar feel of my old kitchen, this is, even though I actually moved into the house Pesadik last year, a fresh start, a new beginning. 

That's what Passover is about...starting over. Whether or not you buy into the mythology of Passover, there are some things to take away from the experience. Like cleaning your kitchen. If the expiry date is 2013, throw it away. If the Moroccan tangine pot you bought for that North African dinner party you didn't throw in 1989 still has the tag attached, you might want to get rid of it. But if you find yourself cradling Grandma's chrain jar and checking to see if it still has a whiff of horseradish, you might want to hang on to that one. Passover tells a very old story to a new audience every year. 
The more one tells of the departure from Egypt, the more one is to be praised.                                                                                     any Haggadah
Of course, this has become a metaphor for whatever you want it to be. The seder plate that once held a roasted egg, a roasted lamb's shank bone, parsley, bitter herbs, and the mortar-like charoset now can also have an orange, an olive, a tangerine in sections, and newest of all, a banana. Each one is a metaphor:
  • the orange = the inclusion of women
  • the olive = peace offering, like an olive branch, for the Middle East
  • the tangerine = the inclusion of the entire LGBT community
  • the banana = the plight of refugees from all over the globe. 
Different people add different things to represent pieces of more recent stories of struggle. 

If the point of the holiday is to spur discussion, then there is a plethora of Haggadot for the occasion. This year, there's a HAMILTON HAGGADAH and a HOGWARTS HAGADDAH. This is not a new phenomenon. For a couple of millennium, people have been adding and subtracting from the text. The oldest known Haggadah is from about 1000 C.E. and was found in the Cairo Genizah. Like the rest of Judaism, the story of the departure from Egypt is fluid in the telling with each generation adding, embellishing, and even subtracting from the text.

2nd seder - ready to go
In olden days, I was much more stringent about my preparations for Pesach. Ziggy used to say I was being machmir, and not in a good way. Anytime he used the word machmir, I knew he was thinking borderline crazy. Most of the time he humored me, but there were moments I could see he was getting ready to yell, "GENUG! Enough already!" in a way only a mid-western guy who grew up in a not-Jewish household could possibly yell, "GENUG!" It used to just crack me up and I would keep on doing whatever it was I was doing...like covering all the laminate counters with plastic sheets. (Ah, the joys of granite counters! No more plastic!) I find I buy less and less packaged food, and more raw ingredients. I have jumped off the kitniyot cliff and may actually use rice this year. Quinoa fer sure, but that's not kitniyot anyway. Neither is wild rice. And if that is not change enough, I will be hosting second seder night here ...and it will be vegetarian. 

I keep a kosher home and always will. I'm wired that way; it's the only way I know how to run a kitchen. And I don't mind. I have to think before I buy, cook, or even eat. The whole purpose of kashrut, I have long suspected, is to make us do just that. THINK about what we're doing. 

Any religion that isn't making you think through daily events, tasks, and relationships isn't much of a religion. If you're not using your faith to frame what you do in relation to your relationships, your environment, your community, and the world beyond, then your religion isn't doing its job. 

If your religion tells you to hate, tells you that it's okay to elect a serial adulterer even though the bylaws say adultery is on the top-ten list of No-Nos, tells you that once the fetus is a child that child is not worth protecting, or tells you that profiting from the abuse of natural resources is more important than caring for the health and well-being of this planet, then your religion isn't doing its job. 

Religion really isn't about G-d, y'know. It's about us. It's about providing a frame through which we can view the world. And it doesn't much matter through which frame you look, as long as at the end if the day, you're leaving your campsite cleaner than you found it. If you want to be machmir in your observance, if you want to be truly religious, consider how you treat the world around you. 


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

And if you don't like how the world around you is being treated, 
don't settle for a shrug and a "meh." 
Your voice, your presence, and your faith in something better
 is central to repairing this world