The first half of my week was spent in The Big Apple. While Hannan sat in JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) board meetings as they expressed appreciation to outgoing president, Penny Blumenstein, I explored the city in 60 degree temps. And when in New York, you can’t help but think about Old Blue Eyes and pay tribute to (what would have been) Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra‘s 100th birthday on Dec. 12th (though he was born in Hoboken, NJ). Though he had a storied history, his Good (overwhelmingly) outweighed his Bad. He was a staunch supporter of racial equality and spoke up clearly and angrily when exposed to racist or anti-semitic language. He was a loyal and generous friend and his talents were legendary. Take a listen, “Strangers in the Night”
On the other side of the ocean, one week later during that same year, another powerhouse performer was born. The compact dynamo of Edith Piaf
arrived in Paris and she too would have celebrated her 100th birthday this week. Here are the vocal talents of her musical soul:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeLynj1GYM
The above commemorations are celebrated but 3 years ago this week we continue to mourn the loss of 20 children and 6 educators from Sandy Hook
. And what sensible gun regulations have materialized since this tragedy…None! Legislative prayers and tributes do nothing to ease our senseless epidemic of gun violence. 555 children (under the age of 12) have lost their lives from a bullet in the past 3 years. And our biggest problem with easy access to firearms is Suicide. 64% of all gunshot deaths are suicide. This alone should snap us into action, as we could easily cut down that statistic with sensible regulations.http://tinyurl.com/RestrictGunsRestrictSuicide
We must crush the NRA’s stranglehold on our legislators by voting in politicians who won’t bow to their pressure. For example, it’s absurd that we have (NRA supported) laws forbidding doctors from having a gun related conversation with their patients. There are several organizations and people (like Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, The Bradys and many others) trying to make an impact on this issue. Here is info on the Sandy Hook Promise:
Numbers by Neil degrasse Tyson,
did you know…
1.4 Million Americans died in all Wars fought since 1776.
1.4 Million Americans died via household Guns since 1968
400,000 Americans died fighting in World War II.
400,000 Americans died by household Firearms since 2001
3,400 Americans died by Terrorism since 2001
3,400 Americans died by household Firearms since 5 weeks ago
Another GOP Circus, I mean, Debate, took place this week in (not so ironic) Sin City
. CNN (who should change their name to TrumpNN) hosted the affair with the hot topics of National Security and Foreign Policy dominating the conversation. Attacking Obama and Hillary were next on their agenda while low ranking candidates tried to vie for attention. The current polls show Trump
still leading and surging in the mid 30 range. Following Trump’s lead is Cruz, Rubio
(who is tumbling) with poll numbers in the teens. Next comes Bush, Christie, Kasich, Fiorina, Paul
in the single digits and bringing up the rear is Graham, Pataki
(who is dead last). My belly rumbles whenever I hear Carly speak and some of the extreme views of the others are rather comical (as long as they don’t have a chance at a White House address). But the best “candidate” message was from Will Ferrell
‘s retro impersonation of W
on last weekend’s SNL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKXGA-AU50w
Politics and Policy
Compromise is the best tool for effective government and this week, our legislators were able to come to an agreement on aBudget Plan that will take us through the next 2 years. The vote is Friday (after I’ve sent this email) but most likely it will pass. Thankfully, Jon Stewart‘s efforts on behalf of the 9/11 First Responders paid off as their health care will be permanently reauthorized. This is Paul Ryan‘s big assignment and its success will set the tone for Ryan’s reign. And while we are on a positive track and the economy continues to gain strength, Federal Reserve head honcho, Janet Yellen has increased the interest rate for the first time since it was dropped to Zero, 7 years ago. The NYT’s created an interesting Rube Goldberg Machine to help explain this interconnected process.
On our local Michigan political scene, voting reform has taken a step backward with the passage to eliminate straight partyvoting while also eliminating the compromise on that Bill to include No Excuse absentee ballots. Making our voting process more complicated and harder to do always helps the GOP which is exactly who controls our Michigan Congress.
I must admit, I loved the 1977 Star Wars
but lost interest with the sequels…till now. Though I haven’t seen the new version, I heard kudos goes to JJ Abrams
and Lawrence Kasdan
for creating these new films with the integrity of the original Lucas magic. And of course, Jimmy Fallon
also created magic with this wonderful musical tribute featuring the cast including “Leah and Han” better known as Carrie and Harrison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTLAx3VDX7g
(chewy’s also in it). May the Force be with you!
Harmony Around the World
22 hands and 11 pianos from all over the world create harmony to help instill unity among nations. Idan Reichal of Israel orchestrated the event and drum virtuoso, Meytal Cohen, makes a rogue appearance among the ivory keys.
And while on the subject of music, Mazel Tov to Itzhak Perlman, 2016 Genesis Prize
(Jewish Nobel) winner for his contributions to Humanity and the State of Israel. The Genesis Prize was established in 2014 with Michael Bloomberg receiving the first award and Michael Douglas as last year’s winner.
For some of you on this list who will be celebrating Christmas next week, I wish you a Sweet and Peaceful gathering with family and friends and a Merry Christmas. Hope you enjoy this creative movement to accompany the California Philharmonic’s Nutcracker classic (the full show is 9 minutes but if you don’t have time, check out the 3 minute mark):
And for friends and family who eat Chinese food on Christmas, enjoy this animated film from 2005 by SNL’s Robert Smigelfeaturing Darlene Love. Here is
“Christmastime for Jews”