Tag Archives: Republican

Why are America’s Major Political Parties so Surprised? They are Reaping what they Sowed

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With Donald Trump all over the media and the crisis facing the Republican Party taking center stage, it’s easy for people to overlook the issues the Democrats are dealing with almost simultaneously.  On the surface the two  most significant differences are the number of candidates remaining, and more importantly, the fact that the front runner for the Republicans is the candidate making the most noise and getting the most attention.  This does not necessarily mean he is the most controversial.  Objectively speaking, that distinction could at least as easily be given to the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.  What both parties do have in common is that neither have any right to be surprised about where they are today.  In essence, both parties are reaping what they sowed.

It’s far easier to see this when looking at the Republican primaries.  Ultra conservatives and the Republican establishment have been attacking everything Democrat at least since the days of Bill Clinton.  Even before he got started Barack Obama’s opponents were attacking him from day one.  Whether you believe he’s been a great president or a failing president, his opponents assumed, almost immediately that he would be wrong on every policy move he ever made.  However, in reality it’s always been at least as much about his party as it was about his policies.

In fairness, the Republicans had just finished facing the same thing with George W. Bush.  After 9/11, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, there was a short period of time, maybe the only time in decades  that the nation actually stood together as one. But as soon as things got a little better, the unity fell apart.  Nothing represented it more than the war in Iraq.   Very few people reading this will likely take an objective stance on that issue.  There are stances that Republicans and Democrats have taken that are clearly the party line.  Democrats generally say they opposed the war in Iraq. Ironically, even many of the ones that voted in favor of it now prefer to say they made a mistake than breaking away from the party rhetoric.  Republicans say the war was the correct move but it turned into a disaster once the Obama administration came into power.  I challenge people reading this to come up with an original thought on this issue possibly even in breaking with their party affiliation.  Why?  Because when you don’t look at things objectively and avoid telling people the truth, guess what you get? Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

America is facing something far more complicated than a country divided.  This is actually a country with its two main parties divided before we even get to the growing division between Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans.  The big question is, why is anyone surprised?  After years of vitriolic criticism from both sides, the 2 men that represent the subsequent backlash on both sides are a Socialist touting a political revolution and a Reality TV star and businessman with such extreme views he is garnishing support of the country’s worst racists and bigots. But what did people expect?  If you spend enough time telling people how evil everyone on the other side of the political aisle is, do you expect a happy populous?  Do you expect tranquil political discussion?  Or do you stop and realize that what’s been created is  an environment fertile to the growth of far left or far right extremism.

Sadly it never ends.  Even with the issue of Donald Trump’s rallies, supporters of Trump say one thing, detractors say the other.  People don’t seem to realize that this is part of what people are fed up with.  Not every “expert” on TV has to always sound like a paid representative of one side or the other.  Most people do some things wrong and some things right.  But when you listen to the pundits, their side does everything right, and the other side does everything wrong.  For once I would like to hear someone say something that both sides would disagree with.  At least then we would know they were being honest.

In an era when politics looks like wrestling, and I mean the fake kind, not the Olympic kind, and political nastiness and controversy is blown out of proportion for TV ratings-case in point the constant replay of the same punches from this past Friday night-we can hardly be surprised by what we are seeing in both parties.  After all, when true leadership is lacking, people are often left with strong expressions of anger and frustration.  What would really be surprising would be if it wasn’t happening.

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Choosing a candidate on Twitter in 140 characters or less

 

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As a writer, my number one goal is to come up with a statement or story no one has ever heard before.  It’s not easy, and even when I think I have done it, it is very possible I just didn’t hear it when someone else said it first.  That being said I am struck by how the American electorate is so lacking in original thought.   I see it on CNN, on FOX, in my daily interactions with people, and of course all over the internet.

I was motivated to write this piece when earlier today I heard an acquaintance of mine make what he thought was the revelation of all revelations.  “There is going to be a brokered convention”, he said with a commanding tone of education and insider knowledge.  With Trump looking more and more like he is on track to get the needed delegates to win the nomination outright, I can only assume he heard all about the theory of a brokered convention on cable TV or some radio talk show in the car.  There are scenarios that lead to a brokered convention, but to come right out and predict it is just another example of someone parroting something they think will make them sound smart.

I don’t know what will happen, but my guess is that Trump will win the nomination and all this posturing by the establishment will morph into support for the presumptive nominee.   One thing I know.  Even when you look at the Republicans who do not want Trump to be the next President, the majority of them want any GOP candidate over a Democrat, especially if the Democrat is Hillary Clinton.  Funny thing is, everything they are doing is setting things up for the Democrats to win, especially if it’s Hillary.

Meanwhile, many of the people trying to sound smart are also the same people thinking they are smarter than everyone else because they are voting for Trump.  I’ll let you the reader take that one home.  I guess whatever happens we can’t be surprised by an electorate that gets a significant portion of their candidates views from 140 characters or less (the Twitter limit). Just goes to show you how the attention span of many Americans is shrinking.  It’s not like we are dealing with people switching back and forth between CNN and FOX.  It’s more likely it will be people on Twitter going from their tweets from their favorite candidate to the feud between Kim Kardashian-West and Chloe Grace Moretz.  Incidentally my knowing about this doesn’t automatically make me a Trump supporter, but in many other cases we can be sure it does.  Something Donald Trump seems to be counting on.

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The Complicated aspect of Bernie Sanders’ Judaism

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I don’t believe being Jewish is a complication in the mind of Bernie Sanders.  If anything I believe it to be a non-factor.  What it does do however is bring to the forefront the complications facing the Jewish community and very possibly one of the root causes of anti-Semitism.

So you have this 74 year old Jewish man from Brooklyn, a man who may or may not wind up being a serious candidate for President, fresh off the first victory ever by a Jewish American in a presidential primary.  It may not have ultimate significance- I jokingly say how the only think Bernie Sanders won was the presidency of New Hampshire-but whether he goes on to become the Democratic nominee, the President, or just slowly fades into the sunset, the fact that he is Jewish is history, and matters to many.  However, it also seems to not matter to many and that catches my attention.

I recently said that if just once I would hear Bernie Sanders take some pride in being Jewish I might even take a closer look at him.  Then it dawned on me.  Is that attitude of mine indirectly one of the motivators for those who do not like Jews?  There are many communities that want nothing else than to be seen as American only.  Recently before the Super Bowl, Carolina Panther coach Ron Rivera spoke about how he would rather be seen as a successful coach than a successful Latino coach.  If the fact that Barack Obama’s is a man of color had never become a big issue, no one today could ever say that dislike for him is based on race.  Yet here I am, and I assume I am not alone, a Jewish man, turned off by Bernie Sanders not bringing attention to the fact that he is Jewish.  I watch the Republican debates and take notice of the fact that no one mentions Israel more than Ted Cruz.  I get a little excited about the fact that front runner Donald Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism and that Hillary Clinton’s daughter married a Jewish man.  But when it comes to the Jewish thing, I have no overwhelming glee or enthusiasm over the fact that Bernie Sanders is Jewish. Why? Because he doesn’t seem to either.

So going back to the anti-Semitism issue, is it possible that my attitude, an attitude that openly shows pleasure when Jews distinguish themselves, and the desire to, in some way at least, see my Jewishness as a club I am excited to be part of, cultivate a hatred of Jews? Possibly. I know I am not alone.  Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah songs alone are almost enough to prove it.  I am sure many who are not Jewish enjoy them, but let’s face it, it’s extra fun for us Jews when we find out Captain Kirk or Scarlett Johannson are part of the tribe.

I can’t say I don’t respect on some level the approach that says, like me and admire me for my accomplishments as a person first, and vote for me or not as an American regardless of my background, but I also believe there’s nothing wrong in a little pride in where you come from.  Especially when the lack of emphasis may be more politically motivated than philosophically motivated. If going into the primaries in New York or other states with larger Jewish populations Bernie speaks more openly about being Jewish, I dare say we’ll have our answer.  In the meantime I hope that I hear him say he is Jewish at least once. Not because it would make me vote for him, but admittedly  because I prefer fellow Jews who are proud of their heritage, and then I can get at least somewhat excited about the current President of New Hampshire.

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Letter to President Obama Regarding the Administrations Foreign Policy

pobamaDear Mr. President,

Please allow me to start by saying that I write this letter to you with the utmost respect for the office you hold and will therefore address you accordingly.  However, as a citizen of the United States and as a Jewish American exercising my right to free speech I intend to speak on some issues I find both concerning and disappointing.

I am by no means your usual critic.  I am a Democrat and a social Liberal who voted for you twice.  I’ve defended your performance and I’ve verbally attacked those I have felt were opposed to your presidency for inappropriate reasons.  I have been aware and willing to speak out against those whose criticism seemed to be a smokescreen for racial bias caused by the color of your skin or your middle name.  I have recognized that you have encountered serious opposition from the House of Representatives and Senate often making your job more difficult than it would normally be.  I say all this to emphasize that I, as a citizen and a supporter, have been more than fair in my personal judgments.  So with that in mind you will understand that this is not a letter from a Conservative Republican that would have found very little favor in your performance, nor is it from a racist that would have found none at all. This is a letter from someone who has been somewhat of a supporter and defender of you and your efforts over the past  6 years.

Even as I write this letter I hold out hope that the issues I find disturbing do not tell the whole story and that you are doing things behind the scenes that would explain their logic and benefit, and that I, as someone with no understanding of the inner working of politics would have no way of knowing what actually is the true reality.   I accept that as a possibility, but with the information that I do have available and with my somewhat limited understanding, I will share with you my major concerns, specifically with your administration’s foreign policy.

My biggest concern has been with the administration’s approach towards Islamic extremism.  I understand and will not question your acknowledgment of people of all faiths.  It is a commendable sentiment and in a perfect world people of all faiths can live side by side with dignity and respect.  However, as you are fully aware, not everyone in the world is pursuing that same utopia. I do not think for one second that you are not aware of the threat ISIS and other terrorist organizations pose to the free world, but as a citizen observing your actions or inaction toward their development and growth, I respectfully question your strategy.  I can understand your reluctance to engage in military conflict unless completely necessary, what I am questioning, as are many other Americans, is at what point do you actually deem it necessary? The humanitarian mission recently carried out in Iraq was a commendable one and it was easy to see the necessity there, but at what point is action taken to eliminate a serious threat to America and its allies?  ISIS has taken over land, weapons, and large sums of cash with what appears to be little to no resistance.  I understand not getting involved in the internal problems of other countries, but it seems abundantly clear that ISIS is not merely a problem that will remain isolated to the region.  Are we to wait until they do attack us on American soil?  I am sure you feel as we all do, that waiting for that to happen is unacceptable.  I just don’t see what is being done to prevent that.

There are those on the far right that not only question your tactics in dealing with Muslim extremism, but your motives as well.  I am under the assumption and belief that you mean to do what is best for the country even if I question your methods.  This is what baffles me most about your dealings with Israel. I am not alone in feeling at least some degree of abandonment and betrayal towards Israel and the Jewish people.  I recognize some of the support you have given to Israel, particularly in the funding of Iron Dome, but some of the actions taken by the administration as well as some of the statements made, have been anything but positive.  I have often said, in an attempt to be fair and objective, that the Jewish people need to understand that you were elected President of the United States, not Prime Minister of Israel.  But knowing that as I do, I am baffled that you would not put your complete support behind Israel, the country most likely to fight an enemy not only committed to its destruction, but to America’s destruction as well.

Mr. President, I know that compared to the ocean that is your set of accomplishments in life I am a mere drop of water. I also know that I do not match up to you intellectually.  That being said I am still an American with a voice and an opinion that is shared by many other Americans.  Our opinion deserves to be considered.   As a Jew who has lost a significant degree of faith in your friendship towards the Jewish people, I ask you to recognize Israel’s need for support in combating not only its enemy, but America’s as well.  Most of all, I ask you to tell us how you intend to keep us and future generations safe from enemies that appear to be growing with little resistance.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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A Blessing For the Lost

flame1The honor and memory of 6 million Jews is not a political issue.  It is not aligned to being a Man or Woman, Democrat or a Republican, Conservative or Liberal, Jew or non-Jew.  It transcends race, nationality or color.  As a Jew I make no apologies for this being my main focus.  It does not mean I hold no importance to genocides that have taken place in other parts of the world.  It does not mean I do not condemn slavery or oppression against people throughout history.  It is very simply an issue of remembering the murder and devastation committed against the Jewish people.  Let no one make a mistake by thinking atrocities committed against any people is of no consequence.  As long as our world still allows this to happen everyone is potentially at risk.  But that should not be what it takes for people to care.  As human beings we can never be complacent about the suffering of others.   But just as importantly, we must identify evil where it truly exists.  Murderous governments still exist and in some ways are stronger today than ever before.  Muslim leaders referring to Jews as pigs or dogs and speaking of the annihilation of the State of Israel is a very true reality today.  So the importance of remembering goes beyond honoring the dead, it speaks to the survival of our people and moral development of the entire human race.  Do we as people hold power?  In joining together in decency and dare I say love, we have a far better chance than if we battle each other and let the true enemy off the hook by battling each other over theory and conjecture.  If there is one advantage we have today it is that the enemy is not hiding from us, but is rather out in the open and very clear about their intention.  Let our remembrance of the 6 million who perished be a lesson that helps our world survive the very real threats that exist today, and let our actions be a blessing for their memory.


A Citizen’s Plea

Abraham_Lincoln_head_on_shoulders_photo_portraitAlthough I write this post as a proud American, it is my belief that the strength and position of the United States of America is of great importance to the entire civilized world.  Debate is a good thing and it is a cornerstone of American society.  Part of the greatness of the country is the freedom of all its citizens to express themselves no matter how diametrically opposed one citizen or group may be from the other.  However, the freedoms given by the founding fathers, as important as they are, do very little good if they are used a destructive force against a united society.

Let me make it clear to anyone reading this that I am not being so presumptuous to think that anyone can put a limit on the freedom of speech.  Any limitations put on it destroy the very premise it was built on.  So in essence, all I am doing in this post is exercising my freedom of expression with a personal plea.  Let’s get it together people.

It is time to come together as a nation and stop the bitter attacks against one another.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  We are destroying ourselves.  Not with differences of opinion or ideology, not with conservative or liberal stances, and not with a loyalty to the Republican or Democratic Party.   We are destroying ourselves with conspiracy theories, personal attacks and vendettas, and hatred towards those who think differently than we do.  Intelligent debate has been replaced by name calling and accusation.  Idealism has been replaced with a corruption that has ambitious people taking advantage of weaknesses created by a modern society blinded by the desire to always find the easy way out.

I am a Social Liberal, but it is very important that I make something very clear.  This is a totally non-partisan post.  Those who are guilty are on all ends of the political spectrum and to say otherwise would just compound the problem and destroy any credibility this post might have.  Even if one side is harsher than the other, something both sides take turns being, we are still at a stage of verbal conflict where it behooves either side, even the attacked side to take a softer stance if it creates a more unified nation.  We need that right now.  For despite the importance of the debates taking place in the country today, the true enemies are not domestic.  There are forces such as Islamic regimes and a North Korean crazy who want to see us wiped off the map.  I may be Pro Choice, but I’ll support my Pro Life fellow American against those whose intention is to murder us.  And if someone opposes gay marriage, although I disagree with their viewpoint, I don’t see them as evil for standing by what they believe in.  And I may have an anti-gun philosophy for the average American, but I also know that an extremely high percentage of those who are passionate about keeping their guns do not want them for the purpose of killing their fellow Americans.

My point is that even the most Conservative of civilized Americans are not my enemy, just as I am not theirs.  But if we go after each other with venom and hatred we risk doing the very thing the great Abraham Lincoln warned us about, and that is destroying ourselves.  As an American this is my personal plea to all those reading.  Let’s not go down that road.  Let’s debate the issues but never stop working together for the best possible solutions to our shared problems.


The Solution Starts with the Media

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If there is one thing the majority of people opining since last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Ct., myself included  have in common, is that we have said a lot, spoken of what we like and don’t like about the current situation, and have offered no solution to the problem.  Part of this is due to the fact that many of the responses are emotional, so in essence the comments are reactions and expressions of how we feel, and since the tragedy caused so many to feel strong emotions, it is easy to understand why this is happening.  In this post however, I offer my solution, conceptually if nothing else.  Where does the solution lie?  It lies in the middle.

Let me start by saying something that may shock those who know me well.  My views have somewhat changed in the past week.  As a result of speaking with people, reading articles and posts, and watching news programs, I have moved somewhat away from my extreme view of wanting to ban guns from the common citizen.  I have spoken with some very good people who own guns.  The country does not become a better place by taking away their guns.  I have read posts on social media outlets and articles in news agencies from people who are not angry or hateful people, who feel owning a gun is important to them and give every indication of being thoughtful people who know that guns are dangerous if misused or unaccounted for.  The country does not get better by taking away their guns.  I watched Bill O’Reilly a few days ago, and was impressed by the insistence of a well-known Republican celebrity and gun owner admitting that there is a problem and that something needs to be done.  So now there is me, someone who has in the past made the statement that I question if the American people have lost their right to bear arms, thinking that the best answer may very well be one that allows people to continue to have that right.  However, they may need to make some sacrifices to help improve the chances that others don’t end up making the ultimate sacrifice.  I make no claim to know the technicalities of the current gun laws, but this post will not be dealing with technicalities, instead it will be dealing with a concept that I feel is critical to our civilizations survival.

I came up with my “solution” after going through a thought process brought on by a combination of factors.  One factor was the attempt by lunatic organizations and the Iranian government to somehow connect Jews and even Israeli military to the shootings in Newton, Ct.  It’s so insane that it’s gotten very little play outside the inner circles of those who fabricated the stories, but enough that many of us have heard it.

The next thing I considered was the situation between Israel, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.  All reports indicate that tensions are now rising in the West Bank and that radical organizations are trying to get another Intifada started.  The key and extremely important word there is “radical”.

I also read about those so-called religious leaders and organizations that blame the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary on the lack of God in the school and in our society, implying, sometimes saying outright that it is our behavior as people going away from God that caused this and other tragedies to happen, even those not caused by man directly, such as Hurricane Sandy.

The final thing that helped me come to my conclusion was the frustration of a good friend who, after looking at many of these issues, concluded that there appears to be no way to solve any of them.  This was coming from an otherwise positive individual who was feeling tremendous frustration at the apparent futility of any of the answers provided by anyone out there with any influence.

So what is the answer?  The answer lies in marginalizing extremists.  Over the past week I have seen a very clear distinction, on both sides of the political spectrum, between those who attack policy and those who attack people.  Those who without provocation attack the people who do not agree with them are always extremists in one way or another, while those who attack the issues are sometimes extremists, often not extremists, and generally not the problem.  Although I believe that the influence by their leadership has caused a large percentage of Muslims to at best dislike Jews and Israel and be people who would not mourn the loss of Jewish life, I absolutely believe that the majority do not want to murder anyone, including Jews.  I am confident that the majority of gun enthusiasts find making America a safer place to live just as important an issue as those who push for stricter gun laws.  In fact, it needs to be said, in fairness, that many gun owners feel this way because they in fact do not feel safe without one.  This means that although stricter gun laws may be important, they need to go hand in hand with finding ways to make citizens feel safer.

So how do we go about marginalizing extremists?  We call on, actually we demand help from the media.  The Mayans may or not be correct about the date, but unless we do something dramatic, they have a really good chance at being correct about the outcome.  Except at this rate the world is headed more towards catastrophic implosions than cosmic explosions.   Here is my call to the media and why I feel the answer lies in the major media outlets working together.  Most people hold views that fall in a safe zone somewhere between the far right and the far left.  By safe zone I mean a place where even if they are clearly Liberal or clearly Conservative, they are not dangerous people.  I also believe that even if a network like FOX News has a Conservative agenda, and MSNBC has a Liberal agenda, they both agree on the issues that have the greatest impact on our survival.  Neither advocates terrorist activity, mass murder, or outright bigotry.  These networks have enormous influence worldwide, and if they took it on themselves to work together in discussing the issues they do agree on, they might be able to impact society towards a middle of the road mentality.  In fact I feel that on a daily basis the major networks should coordinate a simulcast for at least one hour where they discuss the issues they agree upon regarding our safety, health, and basic ethics, and leave the harsher philosophical battles for the rest of the day.   Imagine Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, and Bill O’Reilly on the same broadcast, shown on all 3 of these networks discussing the heroics of the schoolteachers of Sandy Hook, Ct., or condemning terrorist who blow up buses or kill dozens in roadside bombings.  They can discuss their feelings on the specifics of gun control laws on any other broadcast, but if they got together for one hour a day and spoke of ways to improve mental health or identify potential murderers, imagine the good they could do.

There has been much talk this past week on the need of our society to change its mindset.  I believe everyone agrees with this in one way or another.  However, with all the time being wasted on blaming the extremists on both sides, we may be missing out on a great opportunity to begin the shift towards a more civilized world.   I don’t lay the blame on the media, but I do think that it has an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility to marginalize the radicals and extremists who either are only concerned about their own personal or agenda or are so far gone they no longer care about anything important.


Guns and Tragedies: A Common Partnership

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This post is a variation of a comment I wrote for an earlier thread on Facebook. Although this is more controversial than I normally get on my blog, my feelings on this subject are so strong that I feel compelled to state them openly, without fear, and without reservation.  To protect the privacy of those I responded to I have removed their names and adjusted the content appropriately as well as adding additional content.

I realize that personally I have a radical view on guns. Objectively I don’t usually think any radical approach is good, even when it’s my own. I don’t think good people owning guns generally do things to intentionally put other human beings in danger. I also know that many, if not most of them would gladly give up their guns if it was as a result of legislation that stopped the killing of innocent people.  I know that in reality it doesn’t work that way. I know there is no connection between criminals owning guns and decent, law-abiding citizens owning guns.  I even admit things don’t clearly get better by taking the guns away from good people. I just feel that many of them have misplaced passion.

A few people have tried to use the comparison of what happened in China a few days ago when a man attacked 22 children with a knife as “proof” that taking away guns won’t stop madmen. They’re correct, it won’t. But the difference between what happened in China and in Connecticut is the difference between children getting injured and children getting killed. That is right there in the headlines.  Both are horrible, but clearly one is worse than the other.

I understand that the good people who own guns want to keep their guns, but I don’t understand how some of them want it so much they won’t even admit something needs to be done. That is because some, and I emphasize some are so full of themselves and their Rush Limbaugh style politics that they consider someone like me the enemy. I resent the insinuation that they are better people than I am because I lash out in anger when something like this happens. They are so concerned about their politics, claiming it to be so important to own a gun that they come after me, who has freedom of speech, maybe even a greater, certainly equal cornerstone of our society, for placing the blame where I feel it belongs.

Am I right in how I look at the gun issue? Maybe yes, maybe no. But don’t tell me how I am taking away your constitutional right to own a gun while calling me an uncaring person for exercising my right to free speech. This, ‘you liberals don’t even wait till the blood is dry to turn this into something political’ attitude is complete and utter nonsensical self-serving partisan garbage. Who are these people to tell me when I am allowed to react? Who are these people to self-promote themselves to such an extent that they try to tell the world it makes them a better person than I am? Not once do I ever even insinuate that gun owners are less hurt by what happened than I am. But with some of them, the second you state an opinion contrary to theirs, they forget what is wrong in our society and come after someone like me. They have the audacity to imply, sometimes even say outright, that people who feel as I do are part of the problem. Do I put that onus on them? God forbid. I never would. But they are the ones politicizing everything, and anyone, Democrat or Republican, who uses this tragedy as a way to prove that they are a better person than someone else, needs to look long and hard in the mirror.  What they will see is someone more concerned about their image than in right and wrong.

In a less imperfect world, average citizens who own guns would be able to use them at a crime scene to either stop an evil lunatic from committing a heinous crime or if nothing else minimize the damage.  However, in our world it just doesn’t happen that way.  Not one of these gun related mass murders has ended with a gun-owning citizen shooting the murderer.  Does that mean that a decent citizen should lose his gun? No.  But saying that stronger gun control laws take away the option for a citizen to stop the crime is an argument that has yet to be proven to have any real merit.  I rather you just be honest and say you like hunting or want to protect your home.  Both of which you have every right to do.

I know there will be some who will feel such anger by my words that they will verbally attack me.  There will be some who will read this on Facebook and possibly choose to longer be my friend.  You all have every right to your opinion, but I ask you this.  Do we not want the same thing?  Do we not all want a country, dare I say a world, where children can live without fear, where people can go to a movie theater or to a park without fear, and where the value of human life is so great that we not only protect the children but protect all people?  Of course we do.  So before you come at me with all your venom and hatred, take a moment and realize that I very likely want the same thing that you do, and if that is not enough for you to have an intelligent respectful dialogue about a problem that impacts all of us, your friendship will not be missed.  But my hope is that good people will wake up and actually work together to come up with a solution that allows civilized behavior to flourish and grow, not be the ultimate victim of the guns of madmen.

As I was concluding this piece, two things happened that caused me to add to it.  The first thing was a chat I was having online with an old friend. She is a mother of 3 and lives in the country.  She was telling me that she owns guns, but that they are locked in a large safe where the children can’t get to them.  She allows her children to learn how to shoot but only while being very strictly monitored.  My reaction to what she said was extremely positive.  We both agreed that people need to take the careful measures that she does and since many don’t, government needs to get involved.

The second thing that happened was that I saw an interview on CNN with the family of Vicki Soto.  Vicki Soto was a 27 year old first grade school teacher at Sandy Hook elementary.  She is one of the victims of this terrible tragedy.  She is also someone I am deeply honored to mention on my blog.  She died shielding her students and saving the lives of young children.  Her heroics give us hope, restore our faith in humanity, and show us that heroes still do exist and I can think of no better way to end this post than to honor her memory.  As we ask God why, let us also thank God for people like Vicki Soto, for without angels like her we are surely lost.  May she and all the victims of this horrible tragedy rest in peace.


A Non Evil Liberal Conservative

With my cell phone causing me problems yesterday, I found myself in that unfathomable situation where without company or reading material I would be stuck on the train with nothing to do but travel.  So I went to the newsstand and did something I haven’t done in quite some time.  I bought a magazine.  The magazine I chose was the most recent edition of Newsweek, the one with Abraham Lincoln on the cover.  Reading the article made me think long and hard about the concept of civil war in these United States, what would cause it, and what the potential impact would be on our society.

By all accounts Abraham Lincoln was a great man.  He dared to change one of the most significant and indecent aspects of American society.  As somewhat of a news junkie I follow current events to the extent that I am able to form opinions and see patterns according to my own personal opinion.  With this in mind I realize that on some level Lincoln may have been fortunate to be the right person at the right time, but with such a large segment of the population opposed to his stance that it caused enormous consequences both nationally and for him personally, Lincoln deserves his  positive legacy.

But what if he were alive today?  With today’s perception of what is a Democrat and Republican, it may come of a shock to the unknowing that Lincoln was a Republican president.  How would he have been perceived by his party and opponents today?  I understand that times change so the comparisons are questionable, but to me it brought a glaring issue to the forefront.  The issue I am speaking of is the growing schism between the right and the left that leads to the use of the words Conservative and Liberal as a means to insult people.  The danger in this schism is that when people are divided to this extent the people that come to forefront are often those whose agenda challenges peoples’ freedom.  When that happens true evil rises accompanied by war and persecution.

Pope John Paul II was a great man.  He fought against Nazi oppression, helped Jewish friends as a young man in Poland, helped bring down the Soviet empire, and lead the Catholic Church with goodness and thoughtfulness.  Pope John Paul II was unquestionably a Conservative.

Steven Spielberg has directed films about the Holocaust and Slavery, given enormous amounts of money to charity, and used his voice to champion causes that support human rights everywhere.  As someone who generally supports the Democratic Party and based on his public stances on social issues Steven Spielberg would most likely be categorized by most as a Liberal.

In today’s world when spoken of by the opposition, both Liberals and Conservatives are evil and the cause of all our problems.  Just ask Rush Limbaugh or Janeane Garofalo.  I am sure they will tell you how evil Liberals and Conservatives are respectively.  If you need confirmation I am sure you can get it from the likes of Ann Coulter or Michael Moore.  Just ask these people, people who naturally have no personal agenda (please recognize the sarcasm), and I am sure they will show you, in detail how Conservatives and Liberals are destroying our society.   In fact, let us pretend Lincoln were alive today.  We might have Rush Limbaugh show us what a traitor he is to his Conservative base and a danger to the future of all good people of the good ole US of A.  If that doesn’t work for you we can have Michael Moore dig up some dirt on him and show us how he is using the hardships of a segment of our society to push his Republican agenda and unjustly seize control of the government.  I’m sure the word conspiracy will be in there somewhere as well.  Whatever the case may be, today that Liberal thinking Conservative would be seen as one evil war-mongering killer of the fabric of American society.

In today’s world, a world where anyone who is not like-minded is an evil Conservative or an evil Liberal, the only place to be is smack in the middle.   But be careful.  If you’re a Conservative who believes in a woman’s right to choose or a Liberal who believes in a tough stance on Foreign policy you’ll be thrown right back into the category of evil.  But fret not.  The great Abraham Lincoln will most likely be standing right beside you.

 

 

 


“Never Again”: More than a slogan

When I was a 14 year old boy my parents took me and my sister on a vacation to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Part of the trip was a short hovercraft ride over to the small Swedish city of Malmo.  I remembered this trip because of how nice the people were, how good the food was, and how pretty the cities were.  So when I read reports of anti-Semitic attacks on the rise in Malmo, it saddens me, scares me, and angers me.  With an estimated 600 Jews living in Malmo, and a Muslim population of 6,000, the question that needs to be put out there is what is the motivation for the anti-Jewish sentiment?  In France, a nation of over 60 million people, the Muslim population is an estimated 6 million strong, with a Jewish population that has shrunk to under a half a million.  The situation in France has reached a point where Jews are being murdered by terrorists, people randomly attacked, and vandalism of Jewish institutions is on such a rise that the French police are finding it more and more difficult to provide any form of protection, assuming they wish to.  The same question needs to be asked here.  What is the reason for this anti-Jewish sentiment?

It is not fear.  It may be marketed as fear, but the numbers speak for themselves.  Is it political?  Is it a protest against Israeli policy towards the Palestinians?  No more so than the Nazis reason for murdering Jews was based on the so-called Jewish control of the banks.  Sheikh Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood said that the Jews   “spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers and in their actions defile holy places, including their own”.

There may be political motivations in all these instances, but at best these political motivations are the use of hate in order to rally the mob and keep control.  But make no mistake, the hate is very real.  The attacks, the vandalism, and the anti-Jewish statements all have their origin in hatred of the Jewish people.  Sadly, these regimes and communities have such control and influence over their people that the average person who, in their heart does want a peaceful world, has no realistic voice.  As a Jew and a son of Holocaust survivors, I cannot in good conscience say “Never Again” in one breath and be quiet about this growing wave of danger in another. I haven’t even mentioned Iran, a nation that has made it quite clear its willingness to murder Jews in numbers comparable to the actions of Nazi Germany.

Many believe that both FDR and Churchill had enough information about the mechanics of the Nazi killing machine to stop the murder of the Jews long before the war was over.  Nevertheless, these 2 leaders were the most important people in putting an end to the horror, which they did upon the defeat of Germany.  And no one ever accused them of being complicit with the Nazis, rather focused on their strategy and not making Jewish lives a priority.  The point being, they may have not had the level of morality to put a true value on Jewish life, but they were the best we had, and they made the difference in the end.

So it is with this I make this plea to the electorate of nations such as England, Israel, and most immediately, the United States.  Continue to use your democratic rights to fight for your candidate.  Criticize, chastise, dig up dirt if that is your style, I don’t care.  But when then election is over support your democratically elected leader. You can fight to influence your president and hold him accountable, but don’t fight or obstruct him.   We can spend all day discussing and debating how much anyone who is not Jewish genuinely cares about the Jewish people, and we can easily take the discussion back to the days of FDR and Churchill.  But at the end of the day the reason some form of decency and Jewish life survived was because there was true focus on who the true enemy was.  And I have no hesitation when I say that the true enemy today is neither a Democratic or Republican nominee for President.  The true enemies, Muslim extremists, have their sights on democracy everywhere and ultimately will be the enemy of the people whose help we need the most.  At the end of the day, love or hate your leader, they may end up being our best shot at assuring that “Never Again” is not just an empty statement.