Tag Archives: American

Welcome to a World of Sociopaths

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I’m basically a Democrat. I have plenty of friends who are Republicans.  I often disagree with them, occasionally agree with them, and from time to time don’t want to even venture into a political discussion with them.  I’m not fan of our current president.  I have friends who love him. We will definitely disagree on how we feel about him, sometimes jokingly while sometimes with more intensity.  One thing we never do however, is physically hurt or attack each other.  Does that make us wonderful people? Absolutely not. It makes us normal people.  It makes us people who are not sociopaths. Unfortunately we live in a world crawling with sociopaths.  They can be Democrats, Republicans, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, man, woman, citizen or immigrant. But make no mistake. Sociopaths are all over the globe, be it someone who drives a truck through crowds of people in Nice, blows himself up in a concert in Manchester, mows down women and babies on a Jerusalem street with a car, goes on a shooting rampage at a baseball practice for American Congressmen, or on a lesser but still significant level a comedian who holds up what looks like a severed head of the President of the United States.

I believe and understand that everyone wants to be part of something.  I realize that so many people in the world are in search of a movement.  That being said, even those who choose movements, even those movements I hate and find damaging or hateful, are not sociopaths for being what I perceive as stupid or misguided.  Do they give a platform or strength to the crazy person that feels it is OK to hurt or kill?  Frankly I say no, and here’s why.

I am a somewhat liberal Jewish Democrat who does not like Bernie Sanders at all.  It would not be totally abhorrent to me to blame him for what happened in Alexandria, Virginia since the shooter was a Sanders supporter. However, as much as I dislike Bernie, he is not the reason the shooter, James Hodgkinson, was crazy enough to go on a shooting rampage at a bi-partisan baseball practice with children present.  Somehow this man felt that he could do whatever he wanted to do no matter how vicious, hateful or violent it was. It’s one thing when dictators preach violence and murder against a segment of society, it’s something entirely different when a politician speaks angrily against policies. What happened was not Bernie Sanders fault.  But it is critically important to note that it also was not Donald Trump’s fault.  It’s society’s fault.

We are all very focused on the behavior of radical Islamic terrorists and for good reason. That being said, we need to make sure to pay close attention to our own house, because while we sit back and focus our concerns on other nations, we are a nation with it’s very own rising population of sociopaths, and until we find a way to stem this very dangerous tide, I fear more and more people will get hurt or killed.  My suggestion, and if President Trump follows through on this and has success this will be his legacy, is to appoint a Mental Health Czar. This would be a man or woman entrusted with understanding and dealing with the psychological issues facing so many people today.

Someone said to me earlier today that James Hodgkinson shot up the baseball field because he was mad that Trump won the election.  But that’s not the case. The reason he went on a shooting rampage against Republicans at a baseball practice is very simply because he was a sociopath.  He somehow felt his behavior was acceptable or justified. It’s very easy to blame the “other side” for all the bad that happens, and that is acceptable when it deals with policy, but when it deals with violence it’s time all of us normal people, the ones who don’t believe injuring or murdering people is acceptable behavior, remember this one very critical thing. We’re all on the same side.  When we start looking at it that way we may be on the way to saving the future of our very fragile society.

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Is ridiculing feelings like Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America

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We all know the saying, “As American as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”.  I always liked that saying, because although I’m not a car guy and Apple Pie isn’t my favorite thing in the world, at least those 3 things, I do like baseball a lot,  have the ability to contribute positively to people’s lives.  So if Apple Pie and Chevrolet are to be associated with things very American, that only stimulates and strengthens my patriotic impulse.  Unfortunately in the time passed since the election, it appears that a large segment of society thinks there is something else that is the American way, and that is the ridiculing of feelings.

I am white, I am Jewish, I am straight and I am male.  So in all fairness, as much as I genuinely am not pleased with the outcome of the election, the worst of Donald Trump’s campaign statements and his new administration’s potential upcoming policy agenda, at least on the surface won’t impact me directly.  So if I would speak constantly of ongoing sadness and despair, although I would have every right to feel it, I could see the rationale in calling me a cry baby.  But what about those, potentially at least, who feel they will be directly impacted?

The LGBT community has watched as the country has elected a ticket with a Vice President formerly in favor of using HIV funding for conversion therapy and once signed a bill to jail same sex couples in Indiana who applied for marriage licenses.  Are gay people whiners if they express concern and even fear?  Is the cast of Hamilton really harassing the Vice President elect as stated by the President-elect Donald Trump because they use their platform to first welcome him to their show and then call on him to be a public servant for all Americans? Are the feelings of people whose lives could get directly impacted by policy or attitude wrong for having feelings? Not in my America?

What about law-abiding, patriotic American Muslims.  And yes, for those of you on the right rolling your eyes and wondering how a proud Jewish man and proud Zionist could say such a thing, there are significantly more of those types of Muslims in the country than there are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.  Are they wrong for being scared?  Are they wrong for feeling fear of the backlash caused by comments by the President-elect  and his new National Security adviser during the campaign?  Are they wrong for feeling as though they are being made to feel less than welcome in what is also their America?  Is it OK to see them as a threat merely for being born into the religion they were born into?  Not in my America?

But no other group has been made to feel more deeply isolated and frightened by what has taken place during this election cycle than the Latino community.  Addressing those Mexicans who are murderers and rapists in a way that left it open to be interpreted as all Mexicans, rallying people behind the building of a wall between the US and Mexico, and most significantly garnishing support by proposing rounding up all undocumented aliens and deporting them, was all it took to create an atmosphere of fear and despair in much of Latino America.  This is about much more than Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric.  This is also about how so much of the American public took to the rhetoric.  Blaming undocumented immigrants for your poor lot in life is at best a precursor to a dangerous racist society, at worst the creation of it.   So I ask you, were Latinos who were shaking and crying the day after the election crybabies and whiners?  Not in my America.

I have often said that you can dispute facts but you can not dispute feelings.  Someone is not wrong for how they feel.  Their feelings may be based in the perversion of fact, but questioning the legitimacy of feelings is as illogical as saying someone is wrong for liking Pizza or Star Trek.  People like what they like and feel what they feel.  Furthermore, when a large segment of society feels a certain way, especially when those feelings are based on things they have consistently heard for over a year and a half, who is anyone to ridicule those feelings?  Are people who have been the basis and so much of the foundation of Donald Trump’s success wrong for feeling targeted?  Not in my America.

Just as we should not ridicule the feelings of those decent people who chose Donald Trump because they found him to be the best choice moving forward, so too we should not tolerate the ridicule of the people who are not happy with the result.  Particularly those who feel their lives might very well be negatively impacted.  You might say that protesting will do nothing positive and may just make it harder to move forward.  I understand that viewpoint. Rioting and causing damage to property and loss of life should be met with harsh and immediate punishment.  Without question I get that.  But is ridiculing feelings as much a symbol of this great country as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America.

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Open Letter to Colin Kaepernick

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Dear Colin,

Before I get into exactly what I think of you, I want to make something very clear not only to you, but to those reading this who do not know me.  I care about all Americans.  I care about justice and inequality for people of color.  I care about the staggering rate of murders within the black community, and although I am someone unapologetically supportive of the police as a whole, I also will acknowledge the existence of bad cops who need to face justice.  No clearheaded black man or woman I have ever known has ever accused me of being a racist of any kind.  So before you continue reading this you should know that I won’t get in cars with racists, won’t have drinks with them, and if I am unfortunate enough to be forced to encounter them, I avoid them as much as possible.  Now that you know this about me I will continue by saying that your recent behavior not only doesn’t help solve any problems, it indicates how you as a well-known individual is an integral part of many of those problems.

People generally speak up about issues for one of two reasons.  Either they care so much they can’t keep quiet, case in point my motivation for writing this letter, or a desperate need for attention, as appears to be the case with you.  I guess when you sign a $116 million contract and do nothing for it, you want to find some way to become relevant.  This is a free country.  Everyone has a right to protest.  I don’t think you should be fired or face legal action for refusing to stand during the national anthem.  As an American, in this free American society you seem to be so thoroughly disgusted with, you have every right to stand or sit as you wish, and I as an American, and incidentally a football fan, have every right to criticize you for it.  Kind of ironic that you used the words “paid leave” to describe those you find responsible when you are in the midst of a massive contract and can’t even perform on a level good enough to start for your team.  I am by no means equating a football player’s responsibility to that of a government official or law enforcement professional, but I do believe your criticism of someone not being on the job as you think they should be a degree of projection on your part, and possibly a way for you to appease your conscience of the fact that you now get paid millions of dollars for doing nothing.

As someone who loves this country I find your actions to be deplorable, illogical, and worst of all, unhelpful.  Is this the example you wish to set for those fans who still see  you as a sports hero to some degree?  So many great heroes have died defending this country and everything the national anthem stands for.  I’m the first to admit this country is not only not perfect, it’s in trouble.  But you see Colin, maybe the difference between you and I is that since I love this country I won’t stab it in the back when it’s down.  If anything I will support it more.  I am not a soldier or law enforcement officer, so all I can do is show appreciation for all that they do to protect us.  If you don’t see how disrespecting the national anthem is doing just the opposite, then you are as ignorant as you are disrespectful.

I do not question you or anyone else’s rights to speak their mind, protest, or criticize anything they see taking place in this country.  I may not always agree, but if done so peacefully and with some modicum of integrity, I will likely read or listen to it and leave it alone.  When Jesse Williams gave a very passionate speech in protest I did not say a word, because what he did was speak loudly about what he thought was right, and in doing so made comments much harsher than the one’s that you made.  What he did not do was attack the core of the very essence of the greatness of this country.

I know your intention is to continue to sit during the national anthem.  It is my belief that you do nothing to further the cause of any person in color by doing so.  All you do is show yourself to be someone with seriously poor judgment and character, and someone who has made a choice to do something insulting during the song that honors the country that has given you so much.  I don’t know you and I certainly don’t know the details of your life, but I know you live a life of privilege, regardless of what you may or may not have done to earn it. Now you have chosen to express thanks not by standing in honor, but by sitting in disgrace.  I guess it’s fitting for a player who  collects a big paycheck and has now sunk to a level only good enough to do the same thing for his team that he chooses to do during his countries national anthem.  Sit on the bench.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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In Defense of Trump; from a Never Trump Jewish guy

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I write this as a Jewish man, not as a voter.  As a voter I have absolutely no intention of casting my vote for Donald Trump.  There are many qualities he displays, all qualities discussed in the media ad-nauseum that makes me not only not want to vote for him, but fearful at the prospect of his presidency.  Trump is many things that are abhorrent to many American voters.  I will not only not dispute many of those criticisms, I will very likely agree with many of them.  But the one thing I will dispute is the notion that Donald Trump has displayed anything resembling anti-Semitism.

I personally do not believe Donald Trump is a racist or bigot of any kind.  I believe he says some very irresponsible and thoughtless things that are not only insulting but potentially very damaging as well.  I also believe his incendiary comments resonate strongly in a very racist element of American society making them potentially very dangerous. As president these comments would carry even more force and would subsequently have an even more damaging impact.  That being said, even as someone very sensitive to attacks of any kind on my religion, I did not find the tweet with the star calling Hillary the “most corrupt candidate ever” to be a racial slur or an indication that Trump has a problem with the Jewish people.

There are many factors that point to why this is not the case.  The most obvious would be the fact that Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, who has a strong and positive relationship with his father-in-law.  The next fact is that as much business as people have done with Trump, as many companies as he has owned and as many people as he as employed,  if Trump was a racist of any kind, including an anti-Semite, we would have known this long before he ran for president.  And that is not because his activities have gone under the radar. There has certainly been plenty of buzz showing him to be a heartless and self-serving business man. And finally, and this is just simple logic, with an ad designed to bring attention to the Trump campaign’s stance that Hillary is too corrupt to be president, why would they deflect attention from that message by going after Jews.  The answer is that they would not. The truth is that what the star represents, and I refer to it as the star rather than the Star of David because I do not believe it was meant to represent a Star of David, is more stupidity and carelessness than bigotry and racism, and as a proud Jew I can forgive that, at least from a personal and ethnic standpoint.

Unfortunately the tweet does represent much of what is wrong with the Trump candidacy. Just because it is not anti-Semitic, that does not mean it is acceptable. The lack of understanding and preparedness that this represents is very much  part of the reason I am a Never Trump guy, but as a Jewish man I don’t hate him, I merely hate him as a voter.

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Bernie’s Double Down on Israel is About Fear, Not Courage

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After watching the debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some commentators went on the record as saying they felt Senator Sanders showed courage in his continuing insistence that Israel’s military action in the most recent Gaza War was a “disproportionate response”.  Their analysis was that a Jewish politician coming to New York and taking this unpopular stance in, of all places Brooklyn, took bravery and character, regardless of whether you agree with his viewpoint or not.  The reality is, despite how it looks on the surface, nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t blame the commentators for feeling this way.  I do recognize that when Van Jones, a journalist for CNN and an African-American showed a degree of admiration for Sanders for not backing down, he was very clear about the fact that it was whether you agree with him or not.  His admiration for his character was not an endorsement of the viewpoint.  Nevertheless, just as I can intellectually understand but not comprehend what it means to be black in America, so too Van does not understand what it is like to be the son of Holocaust survivors. Incidentally, neither does Bernie Sanders.

Even when discussing his Jewish background and experience with Israel, Senator Sanders comes across more as he is talking about them than us.  I hardly ever use the term self-hating Jews anymore, not because I don’t believe that some Jews fall into that category, but because I believe it to be inappropriate to declare what someone hates or loves unless they come right out and say it.  However, I do know that the perspective of a cultural Jew whose parents immigrated from Poland with little money is very different than a proud Jew whose parents lived through Nazi-occupation first hand. But more importantly I recognize that those who take the side of the enemy hardly ever do so because of a courage of convictions, rather they do so out of a fear so deep-rooted, they either don’t know it exists or they deny it to the world.

The enemies of the free world are dangerous and frightening people.  Most of these enemies hate America and its way of life with a passion.  To an Islamic Extremist, there is almost nothing worse than an American with American values.  Almost. The one thing worse is a Jewish American.  That’s not to be taken lightly in today’s world. After all if history proves nothing else, it proves that hatred for Jews is easily converted into violence against Jews.  Throughout time, but most notably during the time of Adolph Hitler, there were always Jews who took the side of the enemy because they felt it would save them.  The harsh reality is, that it not only ended up in the loss of their lives, it ended up in the destruction of their soul.

I have absolutely no problem with a presidential candidate speaking of the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity.  I have also gone on the record many times as being someone completely willing to blame Israel when they deserve to be blamed.  That being said, a sovereign nation defending its very right to exist and retaliating against missile attacks on its population centers by a terrorist organization is not the guilty party.  Furthermore, being a Jewish politician in America and taking the side of the terrorist organization not only does not make you an individual of courage and character, it ultimately does nothing to make you immune from those who hate the Jewish people.  All it does do is make you another typical politician pandering to a certain demographic, albeit not the demographic of those born into the same religion as you.  It also makes you a coward more than it makes you a hero.  Taking on Israel is not the same as taking on Wall Street.  Taking on Israel is easy.  In the world in which we live today, it might even help a politician get more funding, and generally speaking, and I say this with pride,pro-Israel Jews don’t commit acts of violence against those who oppose their views.  I have little doubt Bernie Sanders knows that as well.

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Syria America Line

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Those of us who have an avid interest in current events will go as far as sitting around a table in a New York City restaurant on a Friday night attempting to come up with the solutions to those issues that we feel need the most immediate and secure resolution.  Last night, one of my friends  Denise Marie Overton Magidson shared with me the following idea that, even if it does not resolve the entire refugee crisis, would certainly alleviate the pain and suffering of many thousands.

Her idea, in 2 words; cruise ships. While at first I thought she was being tongue and cheek, when she elaborated on it I realized what an original and compassionate idea it is as well as a potential means of providing immediate, safe, and livable conditions for the Syrian refugees living under hellish circumstances and desperately seeking a new home.  These people would have shelter, food and running water and it would also allow for a more careful and accurate vetting of those attempting to enter other countries.

What I particularly like about this idea, although admittedly I have no clue of whether or not it could work on a practical basis, is the fact that it represents an idea which combines concern with our safety with the well-being of the suffering of others regardless of where they come from.  Like many Americans, Denise Marie is not a heartless and hateful person who couldn’t care less about the plight of the others.  On the contrary, in coming up with this idea she represents what to me is more the American way than those who propose to blindly and haphazardly allow the entry of thousands upon thousands of people who could easily and unwittingly be camouflaging terrorists.  Her proposal combines a practical way of protecting our interests while in the process helping the needy and protecting our collective soul.

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Open Letter to Jimmy Carter

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Dear Mr. Carter,

Since I know fully well that appealing to you from the standpoint of a Jewish man would be a waste of time, I will instead appeal to you as an American citizen.  Let me however begin by  saying that I truly believe that appealing to you from any reasonable position is a waste of time, but in the hope that I can somehow get through to you, I will at least do some due diligence. Even more important, I hope that people who do actually read this become even more aware of your devious and detrimental contribution to the security of the nation you once officially lead.

I use the word officially, because in being one of the worst presidents this great nation has ever seen you really provided very little leadership.  I have said before and will say again that in my opinion your mishandling of the Iranian situation when you were the Commander-in-Chief is a very significant reason why we not only have Iran to worry about today, but its numerous and growing satellite terrorist organizations and nations. In fact  if one were to believe you purposely mishandled Iran, your current support for Hamas would fall perfectly in line with your previous actions. Personally I do not believe you calculated this outcome, instead I believe it is rooted in two basic premises.  You have a dislike for the Jewish people that is deep-rooted and rather obvious, and you came to terms with your failings in foreign affairs by choosing to prop up organizations that would legitimize the disaster that was your presidency.  Case in point, your support for Hamas.

I started this letter by stating that I would appeal to you as an American.  Although I believe you to be too egotistical and arrogant to respond to this letter even if you do actually read it, I do believe that as a former President of the United States and someone sworn to protect us, you should let the American people know how you find any justification in publicly supporting a terrorist organization such as Hamas.  How do you feel showing such warmth and support for the terrorist leader Khaled Mashaal is beneficial to our country and what it stands for?  You then turn around and say that meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be a waste of time. Why? Because in your mind it’s better to work with a terrorist than a Jew.  Nothing you can say or do at this point will make it appear otherwise, and for any decent clearheaded person to take you seriously at this point you would need to make a dramatic change in your words and actions.

The more you talk the more difficult it becomes for me to show you the basic respect I wish to show you for the mere fact that you once held the position of President of the United States. I will just say that in my opinion it is you who are a waste of time, and that your participation in foreign affairs does nothing other than hurt the interests of all Americans, not just the Jewish people you have very little interest in protecting.  I hope you continue to enjoy your photo ops with the murderers you so clearly respect and that the people who matter become more and more aware of your disingenuous and harmful intentions.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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