Posts Tagged ‘Diane Feinstein’

NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN NOR HEAT

The unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service long has been, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” What does? An American president hellbent on making a mockery of the Constitution and democracy.

Polls indicate that Donald Trump badly trails Joe Biden in this year’s presidential campaign. They’ve put Trump in panic mode.

His bungling response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crash have turned a great many undecideds to Biden. More, the pandemic has emphasized the need to provide the option of voting by mail to all Americans.

Nothing new here. Voting by mail in the U.S. is common. Trump votes by mail. But our would-be Vladimir Putin condemns “mail fraud” and a “rigged” election. Translation: An election in which all citizens have a vote and so threaten to turn out the incumbent—by a wide margin. Even so, Trump just flip-flopped and “approved” voting by mail in Florida, a state ravaged by the coronavirus. Florida seniors—including Republicans—like voting by mail.

Does that make everything okay? Check out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. A Trump henchman, he took the position three months ago. NPR’s Brian Naylor reported (5-7-20): “DeJoy has contributed more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund, and millions more to Republican Party organizations and candidates, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention.”

DeJoy almost immediately cut overtime and hours for postal workers to reduce the USPS’s multi-billion annual losses. How curious that he did so in the months leading to November’s election. Which imperils mail-in ballots. Counting votes beyond November 3—even if Trump appears to have been soundly defeated—will encourage Trump to negate election results and seek to stay in office. We could face a crisis worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Americans must respond. Vote? Of course. Before then? Support candidates—Congressional and state—opposed to Trump. And raise your voice.

Monday, I emailed—through their web sites—several important officials with this message:

Fifty-three years ago today, my buddy 1LT Howie Schnabolk, an Army medevac pilot, was shot down and killed. I write in his memory to urge you to do everything within the powers of your office to maintain every American’s right to vote in this November’s presidential election. This includes making available mail-in ballots to those who wish to use them, and advocating for adequate funding and monitoring the USPS to assure complete and on-time delivery.

As newly commissioned Army officers, Howie and I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. Howie gave his life for it. Please do all you can to uphold Howie’s memory and those of all Americans who died in our wars to protect democracy.

The recipients:

I’m not Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling. But cracks in our political firmament pose a clear and present danger. The ball’s in our court.

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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

People often ask me how I pronounce my name: Perl•stine (long “i”) or Perl•steen (long “e”). The latter is accurate. I appreciate the inquiries. Most people try to get others’ names right as a mark of respect. Some self-important people don’t.

As it happens, my family name was probably pronounced Per•el•shtine when in 1906 my grandparents landed at Ellis Island from Warsaw with three young children, including 2-1/2-year-old Moishe Chaim (my father). Moishe became Morris, and everyone else took an Americanized first names. Still, the family’s naturalization certificate (1914) displays the name Perelstein. Shortly after, the second “e” disappeared.

We value our names. The Torah relates that people sought to build a tower to the heavens (the Tower of Babel) to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11). In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abram (later Abraham), “I will make your name great.”

Shakespeare throws this tenet a curve. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. She’s a Capulet and loves a Montague—the name alone sufficient to earn her family’s displeasure. Call Romeo “a Montague,” and you label him a monster.

As kids, we defended ourselves from schoolyard bullies who mangled our names or hurled epithets with “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (or words) will never harm me.” This lesson seems lost on our Schoolyard Bully-in-Chief.

At a recent political rally in Iowa, Donald Trump errantly referred to California’s Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein as Fein•steen. It’s Finestine(long “I” in both syllables). Am I quibbling? I think not. Senator Feinstein has become the latest object of Trump rallies’ chants of “Lock her up.” Because she opposed Trump in the matter of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Trump sought a way to lash out. What better way for a 12-year-old to advance political discourse than to mispronounce the name of an opponent.

Also, to “dog whistle” a key message to his supporters. I suspect Trump well knows how Senator Feinstein pronounces her name but wanted to remind his supporters that the Senator is—gasp—Jewish. The real pronunciation might mislead them into thinking her background (and that of her second husband whose name stayed with her) German.

As it happens, Trump’s paternal grandfather Americanized his name from Drumpf. Nothing wrong with that. But Senator Feinstein had to be called out since a significant segment of the far-right exudes anti-Semitism, including those who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia last year chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Ah, you say, the President’s daughter Ivanka is Jewish. She converted to marry Jared Kushner. Good luck. When Trump stated re Charlottesville that there were good people on bothsides, he threw Ivanka and Jared under the bus. Unless he numbers these particular Jews among “the good ones” who toe the Republican line enumerated by Christian conservatives and white supremacists (they sometimes overlap) lamenting white people’s loss of their “rights”—a euphemism for monopolistic political, economic and social power.

Yes, sometimes people address me as Perl•stine. I correct them. They appreciate it. They understand the integrity names because they hold others in regard. Such esteem was offered a few years back in the Oval Office. I hope it will be again—soon.

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