International Holocaust Remembrance Day


As Jews, how do we convey the significance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to those who did not grow up living and breathing the reality? Our obligation to the deceased, the victimized, the terrorized, the imprisoned – how do we respect their memories, their struggles, and their realities? How do we ensure that atrocities and bad behaviors remain consigned to history while guaranteeing the memories and lessons learned remain alive and active?

Throughout my religious education at temple, Holocaust survivors would kindly, patiently relay their tales of extreme horror to rooms full of children. These nightmarish stories could easily be flippantly dismissed by those who refuse to accept the true evil of man due to the depravity, absurdity, and cruelty if there weren’t common threads of rape, humiliation, starvation, torture, emotional abuse, and death.

Some would gasp and say “This is inappropriate! Young children shouldn’t hear such things.” while forgetting that young children were living these things. When you point that out, the ardent protectors of young children typically fall silent, stupidly and helplessly. One could even argue – complicity as it relates to today’s genocide, today’s rampant bigotry, today’s unchecked abuses of power.

There are many answers to how we Jews ensure we meet our obligations to the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust, but there is one common theme: education. Using resources such as Yad Vashem, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, one’s local Jewish community center, synagogue or library, we can maintain historical accuracy and share the truth.

But what of the obligation for those who aren’t Jewish? What is their obligation on this most somber of days and should there be one? Absolutely. And, perhaps their obligation and burden should be slightly heavier, slightly greater, slightly more significant and entail a bit more work as their exposure to the realities of the Holocaust doesn’t parallel the average Jewish person’s experience. For they, they live a life free from concern and wonder about WHEN this will happen again, WHO among their kin perished in The Shoah, HOW they will respond when the time comes, WHY do people want to exterminate them on a massive level, and WHAT would propel an entire world to do nothing about genocide to this very day.

Never forget. Never again.

Note for fellow Jewish folks:  please join Yad Vashem’s Circle of Friends.  It’s an annual, nominal donation.  I cannot think of a more meaningful mitzvah.  


…or nah?

Netanyahu sees three things and three things only: power, money, and land. The antisemitic, tiny-fisted, white supremacist manbaby may as well be the Messiah so long as he continues to support the evangelicals’ version of Israel.

Over the years, we have watched Israel appropriate land which was never hers, build a wall and force people to live in conditions reminiscent of the ghettos to which our grandparents were confined, and morph into some amusement park for those with the resources to fund birthright tours and honeymoon packages.

This is not the Zionism engrained in me via my parents or my religious schooling. This is not the form of Zionism I support.

The decision to name a train stop near the Western Wall after Donald Trump is a shanda. Also, a wonderful example of all things Bibi. Money over integrity. Power over humanity. Rewards for those who give Bibi what he wants, with zero regards for the character of the donor.

I don’t know if enough time and demonstration of decent human behavior will pass for me to believe that Jewish people do not *need* a homeland: a Jewish state, a safe place to seek refuge from irrational hatred, a place to live without fear of being killed for simply being Jewish. White nationalism is, once again, socially acceptable. Where Roy Moore failed, people like Kelli Ward and Paul Nehlen aim to succeed. This is terrifying for all marginalized people. We all need and deserve a safe space, a home without fear.

Should Israel continue down the current path of engaging those who aren’t interested in her safety and security for the reasons upon which she was created, should leadership continue to engage and rely on those who have no love for Jewish people, should leadership continue to treat innocent bystanders no differently than pests, nuisances and animals, the concept and the state will fail.

Back to the desert to wander, we will go.

Fearless Girl…

…and the fearful male.

An instigator decided he didn’t like Fearless Girl disrupting the integrity of Charging Bull. In response, he slapped together an intentionally poorly designed dog to urinate on her leg, installing her last night.

Alex Gardega insists he’s a feminist. He says he’s simply incensed by the marketing ploy by State Street and feels Fearless Girl doesn’t belong. Ergo, he’s protesting. Protesting by having a dog urinate on a child’s leg. A female child, at that.

Let’s say Gardega is genuinely enraged by the disruption of Charging Bull. Is it remotely appropriate to have a dog urinate on the leg of a child, even in statue form?

Additionally, even if Gardega is a “feminist” (which I doubt) how is it not blisteringly obvious that misogyny isn’t alive and well in 2017? That someone would think it’s wholly appropriate to urinate on a woman, without consent. To shame a woman in public. To degrade a woman “in the name of art.” We are not your tools, men.

On Twitter, someone suggested placing Fearless Girl elsewhere. And, you know what? I agree. She needs to be moved. She needs to face the White House until our society recognizes and accepts that a woman can effectively govern this country.

Lastly, sponsored/commissioned art has been going on for centuries. Stop making State Street the problem in this scenario. The statue is brilliant. It stands on its own and conveys a message. Making it about its sponsor dilutes the message. That said, I’m thinking a dilution of the message might be the intended consequence given how intimidated many are by women in positions of power, especially women of color.

The more vehement the protest about Fearless Girl, the more obvious one’s feeling threatened becomes. It says everything about the protester and our society, in general. We live in an age when a bronze female form is a threat. Think about that.

Idag i Sverige…

…a newspaper (or many) works at a frenzied pace.

What an absolutely bizarre day.  Newspapers in Sweden, Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter, have been publishing articles in English in order to clarify things for impressionable Americans who blindly accept everything McCheetodick and Alex Jones bark and tweet.

Another digital news outlet, The Local, has been working diligently to provide the English speaking world with articles debunking the false allegations made by our president and other conspiracy peddlers (Fox News, Info Wars, etc…).  The Local caters specifically to English speakers in nine different countries, focusing entirely on the respective country’s domestic news.  The Swedish version was the first, having started in 2004.  Yours truly stumbled upon it in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina of all things.

As of right now, there are four compelling articles which Americans should read.  These articles will clarify any issues regarding Sweden, immigration, crime and fake news.

Swedish embassy offers to ‘inform’ Trump after ‘last night in Sweden’ explanation
TT/The Local

Sweden has offered to “inform the US administration” about the country’s immigration policy after Donald Trump explained his comments about a non-existent incident in the country were provoked by something he saw while watching the news.

The US President took to Twitter to explain why he had insinuated to a crowd in Florida last Saturday that a serious incident had taken place the night before in Sweden – comments which left Swedes baffled over what he may have been referring to, following a peaceful evening in the Nordic nation.


Swedish Fox News cops hit out at filmmaker: ‘He is a madman’
The Local

Two Swedish police officers interviewed in a news report referenced by US president Donald Trump about crime and immigration say their quotes were taken out of context.

The controversial segment from a film by filmmaker Ami Horowitz, which was shown on Fox News on Friday and claimed immigration had led to a rise in crime in Sweden, made headlines after Trump (much to the surprise of Swedes) used the Nordic country as a cautionary tale in a speech on Saturday.

But two Stockholm-based police officers featured in the clip, talking about crime and the accessibility of weapons, have sharply criticized how they were portrayed and how their quotes were used in the interview.


Analysis: Why Trump’s false claims are bad news for Sweden
Emma Löfgren

Donald Trump targeted Sweden and then things got even weirder. The Local Sweden’s editor takes a closer look at the story dominating the news in Sweden.

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” US president Donald Trump asked on Saturday, targeting the country while listing a number of places in Europe hit by terror attacks.

Well, who would believe this? Least of all the Swedes, it soon turned out.

Trump later clarified his comments, but not before causing major confusion after a fairly quiet Friday in the Nordic country, where some of the biggest stories had included a man setting himself on fire for unknown reasons in Stockholm, talk about Eurovision try-outs, and a picture of an elk humping a wooden elk.


Six claims and facts about Sweden: a closer look at Ami Horowitz’ report
TT/The Local

When US president Donald Trump this past weekend mentioned events in Sweden, he was referring to a TV broadcast about Swedish migration policy. Several claims in the broadcast are questionable, and some downright wrong. Swedish news agency TT has looked at the facts.

Claim: In the introduction to the Fox News segment, the presenter says: ”In 2016 alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers”.

Fact: In 2016, nearly 29,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, a very sharp decline compared to 2015, when nearly 163,000 sought asylum, according to the Migration Board. In 2016 there were nearly 112,000 asylum decisions taken, some 67,000 were approved.


Read, share, inform.

Extreme Vetting…

…discrimination by executive order.

Omran Daqneesh

There is a pantload of pictures throughout history that make people stop dead in their tracks. For some, it’s Quang Duc’s self-immolation. It could be the photo of Nguyen Van Lem’s being shot in the head in Saigon. Or – it could be Tank Man from Tiananmen Square.

The picture that has haunted me since I first saw it is of Omran Daqneesh aka “Syrian Ambulance Boy.” All of five years-old. As a parent, it is heartbreaking and soul crushing. As a human being, it makes you wonder what constitutes humane.

Today, an executive order was signed suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. All immigration from “countries with terrorism concerns” has also been suspended for 90 days. This includes Syria, where Omran lives.

Some will say it’s not the United States’ responsibility to fix the world’s problems. As many have pointed out, today is also Holocaust Remembrance Day. With that in mind, I’d like to remind those who feel that way that there was a boat full of Jews who were seeking safety in the United States. Our country turned that boat away.

We can repeat our mistakes or we can learn from them. A five year-old boy is not a threat to our national security. Neither is a majority of Muslims seeking asylum from their war torn nations.

We have to be better than this.

The Repeal of The Affordable Care Act…

…theory does not practicality make.

Why can’t people extend logic just a smidge?  An iota?  A scintilla?  If you have the creative capacity to dream up scenarios to defend your shitty, weak hypotheses, what is the harm in thinking an additional minute or two to ensure your idea isn’t completely off-base or entirely wrong?  Wouldn’t it make it easier to sell?  Wouldn’t it make it believable?  Because, when you don’t take that extra five minutes or so, you’re left with being challenged by some nitwit, healthcare consultant in the South who doesn’t care much for people and certainly isn’t agreeable when she identifies significant gaps which she, in her distorted sense of ethics, deems immoral.

Alas, no.  Logic is not a consideration in Conservative decision making. Neither is decency.  Nor humanity.  If it was, these assholes wouldn’t be hijacking government via “special sessions” (imma lookin atchu, NC General Assembly) and the Senate wouldn’t be voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they should otherwise be in bed, fucking their rent-boys.

A few things to note:

  1. The costliest demographic to providers and insurers in healthcare is the chronically ill, age regardless.
  2. The general public will never escape the burden of funding care for those who cannot pay the bill.

In a society that relies on employer subsidized healthcare as the model, eliminating the consumer’s protection with respect to preexisting conditions is reckless, irresponsible and immoral. There is absolutely no guarantee any person can maintain constant employment. Costs for non-subsidized health insurance are unrealistic for middle and lower class citizens without opting for a deductible that is unreasonable.

With Ryan’s plan, the state and federal governments are still involved. The insurance providers are still involved. They’re still subsidizing the cost. Your tax dollars are still paying for this albeit less efficiently because you have diluted the market, as a whole. Your insurance premiums will still be offsetting the cost for the providers.

 “For sick patients who cannot continue coverage, Ryan’s plan calls for a return to state-run high-risk pools. These pools allow sick people to buy insurance separately, while states, insurers and the federal government help subsidize the cost. The president-elect’s website says he supports risk pools.

Risk pools have a long and controversial past. Before the ACA was passed, 35 states ran risk pools for people with preexisting conditions ranging from cancer and diabetes to more minor afflictions such as arthritis or eczema. Premiums for risk pool coverage were as much as 250 percent more than a healthy person would pay for individual insurance, and some states, overwhelmed with sick patients, had wait lists for coverage or imposed other restrictions, said Fish-Parcham.”

Additionally, as we see in other business models, when there is shrinkage or loss, the cost of business is passed along to the consumer. Do you honestly believe providers (practices or hospitals) are not going to inflate their charges to the consumer to make up for the bad debt of others?  Do you think you’re not going to be stuck assuming that burden?  YOU WILL BE.

And so forth.  Further reading here.

Go Fuck Yourself Weekly: Peter Thiel

Mayor of Libertaria
Population:  all the white boys who haven’t progressed beyond The Fountainhead

Peter Thiel is totally gay, people but that’s not why he wins RM’s esteemed Go Fuck Yourself Weekly Whenever award.  Nope.  I’d say we love gay folks but I’d sound like pander-pander-salamander or Donald Trump. Peter Thiel wins this round of Go Fuck Yourself Whenever because he is a horrible, horrible, horrible person with a dangerously “good brain.”

A little background music for the background, s’il te plaît.

On the surface, Bollea v. Gawker was a lawsuit about invasion of privacy of a reality tv personality (oxymoron, no?). Pull back Hulk Hogan’s ridiculous bandanna and you’ll not only find a bald head but Peter Thiel’s bulging forehead vein, a lust for vengeance and very deep pockets.

The end result: the death of Gawker Media due to an award of $115+/- million in compensation for the deeply traumatized, champion of diversity, Hulk Hogan.  Believe it or not, people celebrated this. They celebrated the collapse of a controversial media outlet. They were overjoyed that Nick Denton lost his empire. They delighted in AJ Daulerio’s bank account being frozen (worth all of $1,505.78).

All this celebration while missing the critical point: free press has been compromised by a Silicon Valley billionaire with a grudge. The precedent has been set: regardless of fact, regardless of reason – if you don’t like what is in print simply bury the outlet and move on with your bad self. So long as you have the dollars, of course. Thiel had the resources to kill Gawker. Thiel had the fire in the belly to stick it to Nick Denton (a post in Valleywag from 2007). All he needed was the case. Hogan’s was it. Nine years later, Thiel gets his and the cornerstone of our democracy – fuck it.

Meanwhile, Thiel’s company, Palantir Technologies, has been working for ICE’s HSI (since 2011) on a project called FALCON.  The scope (via Raw Story): develop and implement a “complex intelligence system which allows ICE to store, search and analyze troves of data that include family relationships, employment information, immigration history, criminal records and home and work addresses.”  In 2014, Palantir entered into another agreement with ICE’s HSI to build a case management system which processes civil and criminal cases.

Peter Thiel has been a very busy, totally gay man, people.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the “totally gay” comment is what sent Thiel into rage overdrive with respect to Gawker Media.

Now, Thiel has a new folly.  Thiel is part of President-Elect Shitgibbon’s transition team.  Should you be concerned?  If his past actions are any indication of his determination, Thiel is going to get what Thiel wants. We know Thiel wants money and I’ll even go so far as to say “Good for you, totally gay, money making dynamo!  You make your dollars!”

But what about the diversity element?  How does Thiel feel about that?

Back in *1996, Thiel co-authored a book with David O. Sacks titled “The Diversity Myth:  Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus.” In it, Sacks and Thiel attack multiculturalism and diversity in academia, namely Stanford University:

This is a powerful exploration of the debilitating impact that politically-correct “multiculturalism” has had upon higher education and academic freedom in the United States. In the name of diversity, many leading academic and cultural institutions are working to silence dissent and stifle intellectual life. This book exposes the real impact of multiculturalism on the institution most closely identified with the politically correct decline of higher education—Stanford University. Authored by two Stanford graduates, this book is a compelling insider’s tour of a world of speech codes, “dumbed-down” admissions standards and curricula, campus witch hunts, and anti-Western zealotry that masquerades as legitimate scholarly inquiry. Sacks and Thiel use numerous primary sources—the Stanford Daily, class readings, official university publications—to reveal a pattern of politicized classes, housing, budget priorities, and more. They trace the connections between such disparate trends as political correctness, the gender wars, Generation X nihilism, and culture wars, showing how these have played a role in shaping multiculturalism at institutions like Stanford. The authors convincingly show that multiculturalism is not about learning more; it is actually about learning less. They end their comprehensive study by detailing the changes necessary to reverse the tragic disintegration of American universities and restore true academic excellence.

A passage plucked from the book and shared for your reading pleasure by Advocate:

But since a multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret, a woman might ‘realize’ that she had been ‘raped’ the next day or even many days later. Under these circumstances, it is unclear who should be held responsible. If the alcohol made both of them do it, then why should the woman’s consent be obviated any more than the man’s? Why is all blame placed on the man?

Passages cited by The Guardian on diversity:

Real diversity requires a diversity of ideas, not simply a bunch of like-minded activists who resemble the bar scene from Star Wars.


As paradoxical as it may seem, the extreme focus on racism has become the source of acrimony, as multiculturalists charge whites with more evanescent and intangible forms of racism, such as ‘institutional racism’ or ‘unconscious racism’. As a result, the awareness of racism, once the main hope for ending racial division, today has become a major cause of debate and friction.

In October 2016, Forbes contacted Thiel about “The Diversity Myth” and his spokesperson responded with:

More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements,” Thiel said in a statement. “As I’ve said before, I wish I’d never written those things. I’m sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise.

Granted, Peter Thiel did say “I am proud to be gay.” during his speech at the Republican National Convention this past July but is that enough? While it is certainly brave to own homosexuality at the Republican National Convention, the act itself does not mean the person doing it is free from bias and prejudice.  One can very easily fall into the category of marginalized while harboring feelings of bias.  Most do it daily, completely unaware of their own behavior, on some level.

There is no disputing Thiel’s genius which may be the saddest thing of all.  No one is demanding he cast aside his Libertarian ideology (although, I do think a 49 year-old Libertarian is intellectually stunted. That way of thinking should be left in one’s 20s.).  What Thiel does need to do is become less of a demented, evil fuckstick intent on using this country as his token while he plays his distorted version of Monopoly. Visiting a psychiatrist may also come in handy to get that anger under control.

Shutting down a media outlet because you don’t like what it prints is not the way this country works.  Manipulating a legal system for your own personal satisfaction is absolute bullshit.  It’s one thing to be a profitable supplier to a government agency.  It’s another thing to be a supplier of goods and services which harm society.  Enabling a government’s effort to harm people, citizens or non, is unethical but I suppose ethics get a little fuzzy when your vision is blurred by dollar signs and dancing bags of money.

As for the whole diversity issue, from a casual observer’s perspective, it looks as if Peter Thiel has end-stage Implicit Bias (best case scenario).  I shudder to think if this is intentional, although I should not be surprised.  Not in Shitgibbon’s Amerikkka, at the very least.

And, with one long, detailed, not-so-snarky post, Mr Peter Thiel, congratulations!  You are cordially invited to go fuck yourself in the totally gayest way you could imagine.  I’m putting my money on ball gags and leather because I’m also thinking Peter Thiel is a very, very, very, totally gay and totally naughty boy.

*Cannot confirm actual date of publishing.  Five (Advocate, Forbes, The Guardian, Goodreads, Independent Institute – 1996, 1995, 1995, 1996, 1998 respectively) sources cited three different years.

Safe Spaces…

…and apologies.

“The president-elect added: ‘The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize'”

Wait a minute. I thought there were no safe spaces. I thought we were supposed to accept and embrace reality.

There is absolutely nothing more insufferable than blazing hypocrisy.

For eight years, people have stomached vile rhetoric, listening to wretched commentary about the President and the First Lady. For hundreds of years, people have endured intense and indescribable pain which has been flippantly dismissed and/or excused.

Now, now we’re supposed to create safe spaces? After we have been told there are none, to get over it? Does anyone even listen to themselves?

If you are an asshole (yes, asshole) who:

1. promotes conversion therapy
2. supports defunding health care providers who provide legal procedures and stem cell research
3. voted against the auto industry bail out which shows zero understanding of economics and supply chain implications (small business owners, Imma lookin atchu)
4. opposes pay parity for women
5. supports the denial of equal rights for the LGBTQ community
6. voted against $84 million in grant money for black and hispanic schools

…then you reap what you sow.

If it’s a safe space you seek, find your basket.

And, President-Elect Trump, you don’t get to demand a fucking thing of the citizens you serve. You work for us. Not the other way around.

Dear Deplorables…

…now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?

My parents, some of questionable sanity, instilled a sense of obligation in me at a young age. Confronted at the age of four with anti-Semitism by the family up the street, my father (the sane one), showed me how to manage bigotry in one sentence and a door slam. Both my father and my stepfather taught me that it is my moral obligation as a Jew to ensure all minorities, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other category, are safe from harm.

Throughout my life, I have seen and experienced prejudice, discrimination and overt racism directly and indirectly: at school, at work, during my leisure time, while participating in the most mundane activities or the most critical. It is not dramatic when someone says these experiences can be traumatic and terrifying. When your concept of safe spaces are corrupted, life does become unbearable.

When I speak up, when I interrupt, I fear people hear the words and the voice of a crazed individual ranting on a street corner. Yet, if I don’t, I wonder “who will?” So I do. I do me. As I was raised. As I was inspired by my father, my hero, one of my best friends. And I know I am not alone. I am so fucking blessed to count amazing, brave and bold people as my friends. Men and women who stick their necks out every day to stop injustice and make this hellscape a better place for the benefit of others and not themselves.

As I watch the election returns trickle in, I sit in awe. Of all we have been taught, of all we have learned, the path we are, as a nation, choosing to go down is one of hate and fear. One of intolerance and exclusion. One of complete and total lack of regard for our fellow human beings. As a society, we have committed to dismissing the pain of others. As a society, we have dedicated ourselves to perpetuating stereotypes, false information and lies. And for whose benefit and what cause? To satisfy fear and ignorance. For it is much easier to hide behind the cloak of intolerance than it is to confront our bias, own our weaknesses and grow as people.

Every single man, woman and child in this country, citizen or non, deserves better than what is unfolding right now. This is not the “change we need.” This isn’t the punishment we deserve for our bad behavior, either. This is, simply put, bullshit.

To the deplorables, the leaders and the followers, this is yours now. The responsibility. The accountability. The time for bluster has passed. The time for action has arrived. You must now prove to every single person you are not the bigot you claim you aren’t. You must now prove to every person that you are, indeed, human. You must now earn our respect.

Your margin of victory is small so don’t think of this as a referendum or a free pass. Our black lives still matter. Our safety in public toilets still matters. Our freedom to follow whatever religion (or none at all) is still ours, per The Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled our same sex couples can get married. You don’t have to like or approve of these basic principles but you will still have to accept them. Just as we have been living with your intolerance all of these years.

Show us you can lead by building the bridge to healing. Show us you can lead by being humble and decent. Show us you are anything but the horribly behaved example you demonstrated throughout the election. The ball is in your court. The burden has become yours.

Tim on Tim…

…and The Replacements.

I love politics.  I love music.  This is not a secret.

Imagine my splodey-hearted-and-headed joy when I read that Tim Kaine loves The Replacements.  Imagine my bliss when he quotes “Bastards of The Young.”  Imagine my being unable to function for the rest of the day as I sit at my laptop and draw hearts in the air with one of my eight legs while dreaming of the potential Vice President and Paul Westerberg.  Together.  With Tim playing in the background.  All of the Tims.  All of the time.

There has been nothing redeemable about this shitshow of an election cycle.  My child cannot watch the debates, let alone the news, with me.  I have been called a Skype and an Oven Dodger.  We have heard “Grab ’em by the pussy” for the first time and it’s not Mrs. Slocombe doing the talking.  For someone who finds political theatrics intoxicating, this election has been the equivalent of drinking too much grain punch from a frat house garbage can and puking down the front of your shirt in front of the really adorable guy you had been trying to get with the entire time you were in school; a messy, public humiliation that everyone is talking about.

Until now.  Until Tim Kaine saved the day and restored hope to this bleak hellscape by speaking of the underrated brilliance of The ‘Mats.

Once I’m done coloring in my hearts, I’ll cross my eight legs and hope for a Hillary/Tim victory.  Not just to restore sanity to this frothy cauldron of doom, stupidity and hatred this country has become.  No.  But for an inaugural ball befitting a modern era and featuring The Replacements as they should be – loud and drunk.