עוֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינו וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵןּ

Over on Universal Hub, there are links to bloggers who are organizing or attending pro-Gaza and anti-Gaza rallies. I feel a bit uncomfortable with either viewpoint, and particularly the one from Miss Kelly, who states, "Please go and show your support for Israel tomorrow. Don't let the Hamas-supporting, Muslim Brotherhood-backed Boston Muslim American Society get all the press coverage."

Ugh. I definitely wouldn't want to support Israel with a group that has such misguided racist reasons for supporting Israel. Likewise, I wouldn't want to support Gaza (or, more to the point, oppose the military actions) with the group who is going around urging Israel supporters to withdraw their support.

Is it that hard to disagree with actions of the Israeli government while supporting Israel?

Why is this so hard for some people to wrap their minds around? It's much like how I love the United States, am proud to live here and be a citizen, and spend quite a bit of my time promoting peace and a good quality of life for the inhabitants of the country. I'm also frequently infuriated and embarrassed by actions of our government. Expressing support and love for America does not in any way mean that I agree with our country going around and blowing up brown people (not to mention oppressing our own brown people). Similarly, I love Israel and hope for peace and safety and well-being of the Israeli people, but I really hate that the Israeli government thinks they need to blow brown people up.

What's really frustrating is that so many otherwise intelligent people have this need to make politics so black-and-white. You're either for Israel, or against Israel. I don't feel comfortable going to either type of rally, because I support the state of Israel, but I don't support said state blowing up people. Much like how I support America, but I wouldn't display an American flag (by itself, without other flags or a peace sign or something) on my car or my bag, because it's become equivalent to a pro-war/anti-Arab symbol to so many people. I've heard from a lot of fellow GLBTQ folks who say that when they notice that a business has American flags on its website or displayed on the premises, they become suspicious that the business supports anti-queer causes, and will look further into this before patronizing the business. Upon further inspection, they're often right. The flag has become a warning symbol for many of us.

(Also, I think it's obvious to most people that Miss Kelly is a racist nutjob, but the world isn't as concrete as she makes it out to be. Yes, I support the Ay-rabs who are getting blown up by Israel. I also support the Ay-rabs who are getting blown up by the U.S. It isn't right to blow up anyone. If it makes me a terrorist to not want to see anyone -- Jewish, Arab, Muslim, American -- be a victim of violence, then fine, I'm a terrorist.)

Our synagogue is quite liberal and very much social justice minded. Yet, every week, when we say the mourner's kaddish, we also add "the individuals who have died in the service of this country, and the individuals who have died in defense of the state of Israel." (The wording used by the clergy is always really similar to that; not sure if I've gotten it exactly right.) Sometimes, if there's been a major tragedy somewhere in the world during the week, they will also add those individuals. (I also find it interesting that the traditional kaddish text of course refers to only the Jewish people [ve'al kol Yisrael], but is still used in inclusive congregations where kaddish is said for anyone.) I always personally say the kaddish for the individuals who have died as a result of both conflicts. I wish that we as a congregation would officially include these individuals. I haven't actually spoken with the clergy about doing so (maybe this will encourage me to do so), but I have a feeling that they've surely considered it. I'm purely speculating here, but I have a hunch that including the Iraqis and Palestinians would upset some of the older and more rigid members of the congregation. I can see how the kaddish is something sacred and probably not somewhere to invite controversy, but right now, it's expressing a political view and is condoning oppression, whether people realize this or not.

עוֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינו וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵןּ
Oseh shalom bimromav hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu ve'al kol yisrael ve'imru amen

May the one who makes peace above make peace descend on all. Everywhere.

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Hey, people who know about laws and money and stuff: can they do this?

I have an American Express card onto which I transferred a balance with one of those 3.99% APR forever deals. I pay a couple hunge each month. For the past few months, every time I send them a payment, they then send me a letter saying they've carefully reviewed my credit blah blah and they're lowering my available credit to [slightly above what the balance is at the given time]. No biggie; the purchase rate is some godawful 17% or something, so I'm not fixin' to charge anything to it any time soon. I'm just enjoying the low interest rate.

I had been kind of wondering whether it was worth their time and money to review my credit and adjust my account and all that stuff every month, particularly when I have a card with terms that make it really unlikely that I'll use it.

Also, my credit score is in the 700s. I do have a fair amount of debt, but I've never had a late payment on anything in my life, I own a house with decent equity in it, and I have tons of unused credit. I'm guessing that they're changing their guidelines along with the credit crunch, but again, I'm hardly a credit risk, and again, is it really worth their time and money to lower my credit line by $200 every month?

OK, so here's the thing that really threw me. This month, when they sent me said letter, it listed a bunch of reasons why my credit isn't good enough. There were the usual "too much debt" and "ratio of debt to available credit is too high" (which I've always suspected is a more complicated equation than a "ratio," since I'm using barely any of my available credit).

There was also a bullet point that said
  • The credit risk associated with customers who previously had residential loan(s) with lender(s) as indicated in your credit report.
Wait, what? They're basing my credit on the actions of other people who've used the same mortgage company(ies) as I have?! Even though I've never had a late payment on my mortgage? How is that legal? I thought that credit decisions had to be based on one's actual history, not by any sort of profiling. Are people also allowed to deny me credit if I start shopping at Fingerhut or Rent-a-Center or other places notorious for bad debts, even though I have a good credit history? Wouldn't that constitute discrimination?

Based on what I know of financial laws (not much), I'm guessing there's some sort of loophole that allows them to profile people like this. Does anyone have more info?

One of the many ridiculous things MassHealth is doing to save money

When someone applies for MassHealth on the basis of having a disability, they have to fill out this patronizing disability supplement form where it asks, among other things, how often the person does things such as bowling, hunting, and fishing. Apparently not hunting or fishing frequently is some sort of indicator of impairment. The individual also signs consent forms to obtain medical records from any present or past providers s/he wishes.

After they get the form, they send back a confirmation saying that the form was received on X date, and if the person is determined to be eligible, the benefits will be effective on that date.

Less than three weeks after that date, the person receives a letter from MassHealth stating that they were unable to determine that the person has a disability based on the medical records received. The letter lists the names of the providers from whom they have not received medical records.

Naturally, they list ALL of the providers. Because there's no way they could have sent away for medical records and then expected to receive them with that short of a turnaround. Most private providers don't immediately send them without some review, and a hospital or clinic setting has a medical records department and takes several weeks to process the request.

The letter then goes on to state that since the not-yet-received medical records did not indicate that the person has a disability, MassHealth has scheduled an appointment for the applicant to see one of the disability evaluation services doctors. Clearly, this is going to lead to considerably fewer people being determined eligible, since many (most?) disabilities involve a complex history over time, and most people with a type of disability that would need evaluating at all are going to be asymptomatic on any given day. (People who have an easily defined condition such as blindness will usually already have an official determination of this, so MassHealth is mostly going to be evaluating people with psychiatric disabilities or chronic systemic issues -- things that cause loss of function when they flare up, but don't show up much of the time). They're going to make their determinations without records of a person's emergency room visits when their heart condition or bipolar disorder or epilepsy was out of control on that particular day.

Instead of posting actual content, I'm going to talk about the drink I just made

I pretty much mixed all the remaining liquid items in the fridge together. It's 12oz of Mike's Cranberry, about 10ish ounces of OJ, 3ish ounces of yellow Vitamin Water, 3ish ounces of Trader Joe's green apple Italian soda, and 2ish ounces of sour apple schnapps.

It's amazing. Except now I've used up all our beverages. Hmm.

Note: This was clearly not intended to be an alcoholic beverage, but rather more of a thirst-quenching beverage. I don't do fruity girly drinks unless they have a lot of vodka in them.