Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why Term Limits Are Not Universally Good.

So Donald Trump the other day gave a speech at Gettysburg, PA.  This historical site was used by Trump to give an overview of his first 100 days.  He buried his own lead by first suggesting that he would sue those accusing him of sexual assault since a tape of him bragging about doing it came out. (Spoiler Alert he won't sue, he threatens a lot but rarely follows through).  But one thing he suggested was to push for a Constitutional Amendment to create term limits on Congress.  This was a nod to the right-wing of the GOP who on occasion call for it until they get in office.  But I think we should talk about them.

Term Limits have been used at the state and local levels for some offices, often the executive.  After FDR won the Presidency 4 times, there was a successful scramble to change the Constitution to make the US Presidency limited to two terms, which was a standard set by George Washington and followed until the 1940s.  There have been times since then that term limited Presidents would have been likely re-elected.  But the executive is different from the members of Congress.  Limiting the President is a way of not allowing a single individual to have so much power.

However that is not the case for members of Congress.  The House members get re-elected every 2 years and the Senate every six.  We control their number of terms.  But if there is a person elected by a district or even a state who is doing a good job for that district or state and represents them well, why should they not be able to keep that person in the office?  If they don't represent their district or state they should be ousted.  The system works on paper.  But we have professional politicians and a system that makes them often set in stone to win unless they do something completely outrageous.

The American electorate clearly does not think about their member as the problem.  Often their tenure gives them power to bring home what we once called pork barrel projects.  Gerrymandered districts means that a candidate may not share all one's values but they are often closer than the opposition.  Also the amount of money being able to be poured into races from outside sources, specifically from special interests, allow people who will not be represented by a candidate to effect the race.

So better than term limits what if we:
1.  Used population algorithms to create Congressional districts instead of a meeting in a state house. '
2.  Limit money from outside sources, one can't donate to a candidate that won't represent them.
3.  Limit incumbent's ability to use tax payer funded office mailings in an election year to promote self.
4.  Grow local and state parties in areas dominated by one party over the other.

We have seen that when people work hard they can break a candidate's streak of victories but that is hard.  That is the term limit we already have.  Frankly I think the Constitutional amendment takes away freedom and is lazy.  Aren't those things unAmeican?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Challenge to All Of Us

Tonight Jews around the world will begin an 8 day holiday that has multiple connections to our past.  Sukkot is a celebration of joy, and that main function is to rejoice in nature in structures (Sukkot) that we build to include natural materials. We eat and some people sleep in these structures meant to be temporary.  It is an agricultural celebration of the harvest and the antecedent to our modern American Thanksgiving, a reminder of our time wandering in the wilderness living in tents in non-permanent housing, and it also is about remembering that with joy comes the reminder that life is fragile, like the structures we build.  


Part of the tradition is to invite people into our sukkah (the structure) and share our bounty, our abundance.  I know that most of my friends do not celebrate this holiday but I would like to make a connection to another commemoration today.  Today is World Food Day and to that end the organization I work with in Kenya is launching our biggest fund raiser in cyberspace. 


When Global Interfaith Partnership started its Umoja Project in Chulaimbo, Kenya, teachers and guardians there identified hunger as the primary problem affecting students’ attendance and academic performance. Since 2008 we’ve had a school lunch program feeding 3,200 students in 18 schools, ensuring that each child receives one nutritious meal a day.

Our goal this fall is to raise $25,000 for the 2017 school lunch program.


I have seen the results of the this program, in the eyes of children eating the maize and beans they receive for lunch,  in the teacher's pride while showing the rising test scores since our program came to their school, and in the relief of guardians when they can be assured their charges will be able to continue their education with full stomachs.  

You don't have to be Jewish to feel motivated to share your abundance and you don't need a holiday to help feed hungry children.  So here is a simple opportunity to do that, from the comfort of you mobile devise, and  your own home.  Twenty-five dollars will feed one child, for a year.  And by doing so you give that child an education, increased safety and a sense of hope for the future.  But if all my friends give $5.00 each I will reach my goal and then some. Help me make one small impact on a world that needs good news.  Help me celebrate in November that we can continue the work we have been doing for 10 years.    

The #FoodForThought Challenge runs October 16 – November 29, 2016, during which I have a personal goak to raise $500 to contribute to our organizational goal of  $25,000.  Click HERE and make a small (or a large)  donation and help change the lives of the children living Western Kenya.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What Is Going on in the Locker Room

I will admit from the start that I have never been the stereotype of a classic man's man.  I have never been to a strip club, I find the concept of Hooter's to be childish, and I think the use of sex to sell hamburgers is cheap.  But I also believe in a pro-sexuality life, I enjoy burlesque, I have friends who write erotica that makes 50 Shades seem more like 50 yawns, and I have been reluctant to judge people harshly for things they do that are consensual and not violating a promise to someone else.  It is in this vein that I say what I am about to say.

I have never been in a locker room where someone was judged well when they suggested they sexually assaulted someone.  Let me repeat, sexual assault have never been seen as manly among any group of men or boys I have hung around.  Have they used crude language to describe what they would like to do with a woman or even to a woman?  Of course.  But every conversation I have ever had did not include lines that what my friends wanted to do was not consensual. I am quite certain that any of my friends today who talked about grabbing a woman's crotch without consent would be immediately and without reservation ridiculed.  Perhaps when we were in 8th grade we would have thought that funny, but I can't think of a time since.  You see when you engage in sexual behavior without consent, that is sexual assault not sex.  Donald Trump was not talking about sex.  Donald Trump, in his recently released hot microphone conversation, was bragging about assaulting someone.  You may think this is just guy talk, but he has also been accused of doing exactly what he said on the tape he wanted to do.  He is a sexual predator and looking to be excused for it.

Now his minion who not inexplicably works for CNN suggested to let it pass, suggesting we are not hiring a Sunday School teacher.  (just to be clear I wouldn't let Trump near any of the kids in my school)  And that is fair, except Trump has been not only running as a Christian Conservative but has suggested his Christian values are the reason that he has been audited by the IRS.  Seriously, I wish I was making this up, I could get a book deal at least.  He flaunts the fact that he has evangelicals on his side and proclaims that he would role back LGBT rights because of his faith.  So he finds two people who love each other who are engaged in a monogamous relationship, vile, but as a newly wed he bragged he tried to get another married woman into his bed.  Not to give her pleasure but to conquer her, another conquest or acquisition.

So his defense is the President Bill Clinton was worse.  The childish defense of a failed soul.  But let's think about it.  Let's say everything that Bill Clinton was accused of is true.  I am not certain all of it is.  The things we know are true are terrible.  I believe he should have resigned after the facts of Monica Lewinsky came to light, and wrote a letter to the White House saying as much.  But in the end Clinton was embarrassed by his failures, blamed no one and moved on.   He didn't brag about it and while he is a flawed human, he truly focused his energies for the greater good since leaving office.  But he is also not running for anything anymore.  So his background is not valid.

Evidence is coming to light that Trump has acted in the manner he described since he has been on the campaign trail.  Think about that for a second.  That while running for President of the United States he has harassed and in one cases allegedly assaulted a woman.  And conservatives are still standing by him.  That is failure of the party system far more than anything I can think of right now.

There are many people in the GOP who I feel are bad for women.  They are not likely to fund programs for women's health, would make abortions relegated to back alleys and force woman to continue to earn less than men for the same work.  But at least I know many of them are outraged by what Trump has been saying.  My hope is that their outrage will make them see this is not conservatism, this is not what the republican party stands for and this is not a good candidate for President of the greatest (and we are still great) country in the world.

If you continue to support Trump after this revelation and his non-apology apology that was excuse filled and probably written by a spokesperson, then you are certainly free to do that.  Overlooking flaws in politicians is a common practice and we all do it.  But don't ever again call yourself a social-conservative, suggest that your positions are about protecting women or attack anyone over who they sleep with, either the sex, gender or number.  You would be giving up that right to have any authority to speak of that.

I am not sure how this will move the needle for Trump.  The anti-Hillary crowd will struggle to find a way to rationalize anything.  You might simply say that this rawness is refreshing because he is like "one of us".  Except it isn't, I can't think of a conservative friend I have who would talk or act like this.  That is simply not who they are.  I hope this finally breaks through to them to see they may need to give up 4 years and come back with a candidate that is at least a Republican.  They can still believe the myths they have told themselves about Hillary.  But at least the country will be certainly be more stable.

RIP Anthony Bourdain and We Must All Be More Aware

This morning I woke up with a little spring in my step.  It is Friday, Shabbat is almost here.  I can work outside this weekend for a bit a...