Sunday, September 17, 2017

Our Inadequate Constitution?

In a lead Op-Ed on the front page of Sunday's New York Times "Sunday Review" Vanderbilt University Law School professor Ganesh Sitaraman decries the Constitution's failure to address economic inequality. Said the professor: "Our Constitution was not built for a country with so much wealth concentrated at the very top nor for the threats that invariably accompany it: oligarchs and populist demagogues."

I trust that the professor has President Trump in mind with regards to both "oligarchs and populist demagogues." After all, Trump is a billionaire and a populist, and a demagogue to the Left. Just how big a factor was his wealth in his becoming President? Well, Hillary Clinton spent more money on the campaign than Trump did; just as Obama spent more than the billionaire Mitt Romney. And just as the billionaire Meg Whitman was unable to win the California governorship. And, of course, John Kerry, with a wife worth billions, was unable to win the Presidency.

For some reason, the professor thinks the English model is preferable, with a House of Lords and a House of Commons, with checks that "prevent oligarchy on the one hand and a tyranny founded on populist demagogy on the other." He continues: "Our founding charter doesn't have structural checks and balances between economic classes...this was a radical change in the history of constitutional government." Yes it was. Out of Europe's view on "class" differences, we got the likes of Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto." Communism turned out to be an ideology whose real world aftermath saw the deaths of tens of millions of people. And what has been the result of our "classless" society? A country that has produced the greatest amount of wealth for the greatest number of people more than any other country in history.

The professor acknowledged that our Founders knew that the American people would not accept a class-based system of government. He does not discuss all of the checks and balances the Founders put into the Constitution in order to prevent unchecked power by any person or branch of government. The House, with elections every two years, reflects current political sentiments. The Senate, being staggered with one-third of the Senators up for election every two years, but holding office for six years, lends greater stability to the Congress. The President can veto legislation passed by a power-hungry Congress, just as the Congress, with a two-thirds vote, can override a Presidential veto.

Most shocking, perhaps, is the fact that by a 5-4 vote, with a single Supreme Court Justice making the difference, the Court can declare a law unconstitutional - even if passed unanimously by all 435 members of the House and all 100 Senators and signed by the President. And let's not forget the power of the House to Impeach and the power of the Senate to Convict and remove from office a sitting President.

What is really bugging this professor? He bemoans the wealth of the top one percent. He continues: "...our constitutional system might not survive in an unequal economy." Why would that be? "Campaign contributions, lobbying, the revolving door of industry insiders working in government, interest group influence over regulators and even think tanks...skew policy making to favor the wealthy and entrenched economic interests." Citing Gouverneur Morris from 1787, the professor says "The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest."

The professor then speaks admiringly of the early twentieth century Progressive movement, whose reforms "would tame the great concentrations of power of wealth and power that were corrupting government." If much of the professor's reasoning sounds to you like left-wing talking points, you would be correct. It is not that the Progressives enacted no positive policies. They did, such as the direct election of Senators and women's right to vote. But it was a mixed bag to say the least, with the beginnings of the expansion of the Federal government - accelerating the growth of the Federal leviathan. As one example, the Progressives gave us the Federal income tax.

I always find it helpful to know something of the background of the authors of Op-Ed pieces. Mr. Sitaraman is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. As the name suggests, the Center is, indeed, a progressive left-wing organization. And, from the professor's website, we learn that "he served as Policy Director to Elizabeth Warren during her successful Senate campaign, and then as her Senior Counsel in the United States Senate."

I, for one, do not want to see a Constitutional system that enshrines income equality, nor one that dictates how much a person may earn, nor how much wealth someone may accumulate. Elizabeth Warren may deny that she is a socialist, but her statements often suggest otherwise. And her former aid, Professor Sitaraman, argues for what seems to be a Constitutionally mandated socialist society. To which I would reply: "No thank you."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Birthright Israel - Good or Bad?

In the late 1990's, the State of Israel, along with wealthy Jewish benefactors, established the Birthright Israel program. The program allows young Jews living in the Diaspora (the world outside of Israel) to have a 10 day all-expenses paid trip to Israel. There are various preconditions that one must meet to qualify - one must be between the ages of 18 and 26, have at least one parent who is Jewish, and not have traveled to Israel before, with some minor exceptions. The purpose is to create a connection between Jewish youth around the world and the State of Israel. The young people are accompanied by an armed guard/tour leader, and travel to historic sites throughout Israel. Two of our children went to Israel on Birthright, the third did not qualify as he had studied for a year in Israel.

Not every Jew seems to agree that the program is a good idea. How could that be, you ask? Well, leftist Jews side with the Palestinians, and as such, oppose not only the Birthright program, but the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. The group "Jewish Voice for Peace," which I would argue is actually a Jewish group against Israel, has a "Manifesto" that was issued by some of their young adherents.

The Manifesto states: "In 1948, Zionist militias expelled over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages, an act of ethnic cleansing, known by Palestinians as the Nakba or 'catastrophe' in Arabic, that cleared the land for the creation of the modern-day state of Israel." I do not know if this Manifesto was indeed issued by young Jews, but if it was it reflects the anti-Israel bias and propaganda one might see in a Palestinian publication.

To clarify, Jews did not just decide to expel Palestinians in 1948. The UN voted to partition the land of the British Mandate in 1947, establishing both a Jewish state and an Arab state. However, the Arabs refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state, and the day after the new State of Israel declared their independence in May, 1948, the Arab world attacked, and tried to annihilate the Jews. Were hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced? Yes, but many left on the advice of Arab leaders saying they could return after the Jews were destroyed. Others left voluntarily. But some were, indeed, forced out. But none of it would have happened but for the Arabs refusal to accept a Jewish state. And, no mention is ever made by leftists of the hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced from the surrounding Arab countries following the establishment of Israel.

More from the Manifesto: "But today, we must acknowledge that the modern state of Israel is predicated on the ongoing erasure of the Palestinians." Ironic, as Hamas vows to get control of all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, promising to drive the Jews into the sea. Ironic, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said that not one single Jew may live in a future Palestinian state. Ironic, as the Palestinians in the form of Hamas now control the Gaza Strip. Ironic, as the PA controls much of the land in the West Bank. And further ironic, as the Palestinians already have a state of their own - it's called Jordan.

The key, however, is their implication that the modern state of Israel, being founded on the 'erasure' of Palestinians, is not and cannot be a legitimate state. I trust they would feel the same about the USA being founded on the 'erasure' of Native Americans; although I doubt they would feel the same about Mexico, settled by the Spanish on the 'erasure' of the native Mayan, Incan and Aztec peoples.

The Manifesto "implore(s) other young Jews on our campuses and in our communities: don't go on a Birthright trip to Israel. Don't take a trip sponsored by conservative donors and the Israeli government, where the ongoing oppression and occupation of Palestinians will be hidden from you, just because it's free." By imploring Jewish youth not to experience the miracle that is Israel, by referring to "conservative" donors, and by using the Palestinian terms of "oppression and occupation" they ignore history and simply repeat Palestinian propaganda - which is the same as left-wing propaganda. This Manifesto is actually nothing other than another manifestation of the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement against Israel.

So, I would implore Jewish youth - go to Israel. Visit the homeland of the Jewish people. Go to the Kotel (Western Wall) and pray, where our ancestors prayed thousands of years ago, and where all Jews in the Diaspora have always turned to pray - towards the City of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). Go see a country that against all odds has not only survived but thrived. Surrounded by hostile neighbors who have launched war after war trying to annihilate them, a country without the natural resource (oil) that has made their neighbors fabulously wealthy, and occupying the smallest land mass of any of the Arab countries that surround them - Israel has become an economic and technological powerhouse. And, as the only democracy in the area, its Arab citizens vote and serve in the government. Ignore the never-ending anti-Israel propaganda - and go!

In the News

Speech. Berkeley is expecting more problems as conservative thinkers continue to be invited to the UC Berkeley campus to speak. Next up is conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. While the Chancellor wants to protect the right to all speech, the university is also "deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals' sense of safety and belonging." So, the school has offered faculty and staff the services of mental health counselors. I totally agree. If you cannot cope with simply hearing an opposing point of view from your own, then I would suggest that you do need mental health counseling.

The Mayor of Berkeley wants to go one step further. Mayor Jesse Arreguin has appealed to the University to simply prevent conservatives from speaking. After all, he tells us that we need to be sure that "while protecting people's free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the City hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses." So, the Mayor not only favors a heckler's veto, he weighs the Constitutional First Amendment right to speech against broken windows - and comes down in favor of the windows. This is quintessential leftist thinking, showing no regard for the Constitution.

Kneeling during the National Anthem. It's a new season in the NFL, and players are already taking a knee during the playing of the anthem. I know, they have a beef, sometimes a very legitimate beef. So what? You need your life to be perfect before you will stand for the flag and the anthem? You need society to be perfect before you will stand for the flag and the anthem? Well, neither of those things will ever occur. So, the kneelers should be honest and admit that they will never truly love the country that has given them so much.

Fight for your life? Maybe not, according to Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, of Dartmouth's School of Medicine, in her Op-Ed in the 8/30/17 USA Today. Instead of using the war metaphor of trying to "fight and beat" what are likely to be terminal illnesses, she suggests asking patients "what can I help you fight for?" She suggests alternatives such as "time with family, completion of estate planning, restoration of relationships and even bucket lists." All worthy goals; but haven't doctors always suggested that certain patients "get their affairs in order."

I disagree with Dr. Kirkland. I had predicted this type of thinking after the passage of the Affordable Care Act - a decreased concern for protecting human life. But here's another reason I disagree - my brother-in-law. At age 33 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given 6 months to live. But he chose to fight, and became his own advocate. Initially, he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, which has a very poor prognosis. His doctors recommended an atypically high dose of radiation treatment. The treatment would be brutal, but he agreed. Not feeling comfortable that he was given the correct diagnosis, he kept researching and consulting with the top medical experts. Ultimately, he was told he had an oligodendroglioma, which has a higher survival rate. For that he was treated with chemotherapy.

My brother-in-law passed away on August 18, 2017, at the age of 58 years, as a result of a side effect from the high dose of radiation. He was too young. However, by not giving in to his death sentence he survived another 25 years, during which time he married my wife's youngest sister, and together they had two bright and beautiful daughters. They made a life, albeit cut short too soon; but maybe the good Dr. Kirkland would do well to speak with their two daughters - two young ladies who would not be here if my brother-in-law did not fight for his life.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Texas and Harvey

I suspect I am no different from many Americans who have watched and listened and read all about the devastation affecting Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Some in the left-wing media thought it was important enough to focus on FLOTUS leaving the White House in high heels/stilettos for Marine One. Is the media similar to many on Facebook, posting nonsense because they have too much time on their hands?

On a more serious note, one visiting professor at the University of Tampa, was fired after Tweeting: "I don't believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn't care about them." And in response to one commenter, he added this: "Well, the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. I'm only blaming those who support the GOP there."

I am not saying this man's sentiments about Karma are typical of those on the Left. However, the belief that Republicans are evil is undoubtedly more widespread; just listen to mainstream democrats and read the mainstream media. But I did not see evil during the hours of watching pictures from Houston. What I did see was first responders coming from other cities and states to help. I saw Texan helping Texan, neighbor helping neighbor. Whites helping blacks, blacks helping whites. Young helping the elderly. And able-bodied helping the disabled. And I saw rescuers helping to keep people's pets with them.

I saw America at its finest and Americans at their finest. I saw people risking their own health and safety, trudging through waist deep filthy water, likely filled with various dangerous creatures, in order to help their fellow citizens. I saw the owner of a furniture store opening his doors to those who had no other shelter. No one was asking who might be a Republican or a Democrat before offering to give aid. Thankfully, no one had to depend on the likes of the abovementioned professor for assistance.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, not all the people in Houston are saints. The Mayor had to declare a curfew because of looting. I heard a claim that some people were forced to take food and water because of the length of time they were unable to get aid. If true, I would be sympathetic, but would require them to pay when able. To the extent people were simply looters taking advantage of such devastation I would throw the proverbially book at them. Although, as one official noted, you take your chances when you steal from a home or business in Texas.

Also raised in an email I received was the issue of "looting" with regards to FEMA. FEMA will be doling out billions of dollars. With that amount of money involved, the scammers will get away with...millions? Tens of millions? More? Which is the concern raised by libertarians and other conservatives about government programs that hand out large sums of money. After all, this is taxpayer money. The magnitude of the devastation raises the question of whether private charitable organizations are sufficiently funded to provide for those in need. Which, in turn, raises the question of people giving less if they believe the government will take care of everyone in need.

In terms of search and rescue, private citizens did much to contribute, but so did the City's and State's first responders. With streets and boulevards looking more like rivers, we saw a flotilla of boats, again, often provided by private citizens.

The impact of Harvey will be felt for years. But the concern that people showed for one another, for those in need, should serve as a reminder that we are all Americans.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Rebuttal Letter to Another Professor Attacking Free Speech

In an August 20, 2017 Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, a Professor Richard Hasen (UC Irvine Professor of Law and Political Science) had an opinion piece adapted from his law review article entitled "Cheap Speech and What It Has Done (to American Democracy). I wrote a rebuttal directly to the Professor. Although he thanked me for my "very thoughtful" email, he chose to not otherwise engage with me.

Coincidentally or not, the very next day the USA Today had an article entitled "Companies are targeting hate speech." The article starts out "Silicon Valley appears ready to pull the plug on hate speech." The ease with which hate groups such as neo-Nazis can access the internet and spew their hatred is, of course, a legitimate and serious concern. I see it as not much different from the ability of radical Islamist terrorists to use the internet in order to organize and plan terrorist attacks. We rely upon our law enforcement and counter-intelligence agencies to protect us from those who wish to do us harm.

However, Professor Hasen was concerned with false speech affecting people's beliefs and our politics. "Cheap speech is also hastening the irrelevancy of political parties by facilitating direct communication between politicians and voters," referring, of course, to Donald Trump's use of Twitter, and Trump's "lies to the public." Therein lies my concern. Do I think Trump has lied? Yes. Do I think virtually every President (at least every modern President) has lied? Yes. But I see how the concern about speech arises in the context of having a Republican President.

Here is my letter: "Dear Professor Hasen: I read with interest your piece in today's paper on "cheap speech." I agreed with some of your points, but was concerned by others. As a conservative, and someone who is "old school," I love holding a newspaper in my hands. Understanding that every media outlet has an agenda that may affect their reporting, and definitely their commentary, I try to read and listen to multiple sources. I, too, am saddened by the failing newspaper business.

However, I was distressed by the suggestion that Facebook, Google and Twitter should be policing speech. I do not see how these large corporate entities can be entrusted with determining the truthfulness of speech. Over 5 years ago I had an email exchange with the then Public Editor (a position the paper has since eliminated) of the New York Times, Arthur Brisbane. I had expressed my disappointment in an Op-Ed by Mahmoud Abbas, which I felt was filled with untruths, without so much as a sentence by the Times indicating that the historical "facts" stated by Abbas were very much in dispute.

I received the following reply from Mr. Brisbane: "Yes, I do believe editorials and Op-Eds should be factually accurate. It is much harder to police it, though, in part because deploying facts to support argument tends very often toward coloring them right to the very boundaries between accuracy and distortion." I have also found factual errors in the editorials of the "paper of record." And, as Mr. Brisbane pointed out in his final column, the liberal bias of the editorial pages sometimes bleeds over into the news pages. Although, I would probably argue about the extent to which their liberal bias affects the news pages. If the paper of record has difficulty with the issue of accuracy/truthfulness, how can we entrust Google, et.al.?

You start out suggesting that "cheap speech" is affecting the health of our country. I would not dispute that the ease of speech has an effect on our country. But I believe that the biggest reasons for the divisions in our country are twofold. First, I believe one of our two major parties, the Democrat party, no longer shares in the fundamental values that most Americans used to share. To put it another way, the Democratic Party today substantially is made up of Leftists (witness the near victory of an open Socialist for the party's nominee for President). Classical liberal Democrats seem to be a thing of the past.

Some examples. Classical liberals would never suggest limitations on speech; they had faith in their abilities to debate issues. Today, leftist students and professors try to shut down conservative speakers. The same thing happens with pro-Israel speakers - such as happened to then Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine. Some of my recent blog posts (I blog at www.truth-uncensored.blogspot.com) discussed how university professors have new theories for restricting speech (speech should be for the public good, and speech can cause physical harm to people), with no consideration for First Amendment issues. While you do acknowledge the First Amendment, you suggest that we should consider a "shift" in First Amendment doctrine. That may lead to a slippery slope that I, for one, am not willing to risk going down.

One more example. When the owner of Chick-Fil-A expressed his belief in traditional marriage, big city mayors across the country - all Democrats - said that they did not want him doing business (or opening new stores) in their cities. A classical liberal would have said something to this effect: "While I do not agree with the owner of Chick-Fil-A regarding gay marriage, I defend his right to express his opinion, and welcome his business to our city." I could give other examples as well.

The point is, when both sides agree on fundamental values, it is relatively easy to work out "issues." But how do the 2 sides get to discussing issues when they do not even agree on the fundamental values. I said there two reasons for the division in our country today. The second reason may very well be related to "cheap speech." By that I mean we are now inundated (the 24/7 news cycle) with news and commentary. Perhaps that is the reason people now seem to discuss news and politics more than ever. That alone might not be a problem, but I have witnessed the sheer intolerance that some on both sides have for the other side. Some of my fellow attorneys, people who know how to debate issues, have refused to hear or read a conservative viewpoint. (And see my 7/29/16 post "A Personal Tale of Intolerance," as well as the following post. My exchange with Mr. Brisbane is in the 4/21/12 post "Media Bias, Part III.)

Anyway, I thank you for your consideration in reading through this email."

Does the New York Times Now Oppose a Palestinian State?

In an August 22, 2017 editorial, the New York Times opposed the creation of a state for the five million Iraqi Kurds. Overall, there are 30 million Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. You see, the Times tells us that there are "serious problems" interfering with the establishment of a Kurdish state.

The Kurds, we are told, have two families controlling politics in Iraq. Hmmm...would that be like the Palestinians have Hamas and the Fatah run Palestinian Authority? But, the Times tells us, the Kurdish leadership suffers from "widespread" corruption. Much has been written about the corruption of the P.A. under Yasser Arafat, and his successor Mahmoud Abbas.

The Times also says that the Kurdish president has remained in office four years after his term ended. Once again...Hmmm...Abbas was elected to a term from January, 2005 to January, 2009. Yet he is still in office. The Times says the Kurdish government is in debt. The PA is in debt.

The Times says that the Kurdish authorities "are accused of discriminating against minorities." I'm trying not to laugh at the comparison with the PA, and especially with Hamas. Christians are treated poorly by Hamas, and Abbas has repeatedly said that not a single Jew may live in a new state of Palestine.

Says the Times: "But just voting for independence is no guarantee that whatever state emerges will govern fairly or well." I think we can predict that a Palestinian state would not govern fairly or well. There is no evidence that they would cease funding the families of terrorists killed or captured by Israel. There is no evidence they will cease their demands for complete control of all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which includes the State of Israel.

So, here is a question: do leftists like the editorial writers at the New York Times, support a Palestinian state because they are unable to see the same weaknesses that they see with the establishment of a Kurdish state? Or, does all the talk of creating a terrorist-supporting Palestinian state right on Israel's border just boil down to old-fashioned anti-Semitism? After all, the Times says that the Kurds have been seeking their own state since the end of World War I. The Palestinians have only been seeking a state since the Jews took over the West Bank and Gaza (already given up to the Palestinians). But there was no push for such a state when Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank. Hmmm...

My Letter to the Jewish Journal

In last week's Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, the left leaning editor-in-chief (Rob Eshman) had a three page editorial regarding Trump and Charlottesville. His usual editorial is a single page. I sent a letter to the editor in rebuttal. My two main points were the hypocrisy of the left in criticizing Trump for something for which they never criticized Obama; and that the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and radical Islamists are all the same - they all hate anyone not like them, and they all hate Jews.

The paper does have a word limitation for letters, and my letter, admittedly, exceeded their low word limit. They only printed the first two paragraphs of my letter. By doing so, it makes it seem as if I only cared about the hypocrisy of the left, and not the hate-filled extremist groups. Very disappointing, as they could have printed the last paragraph with the first two. On the other hand, as a left-leaning publication, were they perhaps trying to make it seem as if a likely Trump voter actually supported these hate-filled groups? Which is what the mainstream media does to Trump.

One need not have read the editorial to get the gist of it from my letter. Still, it is astounding that the editor said he never felt betrayed by any other President. I stayed on topic - Charlottesville - but it is beyond comprehension that, as a Jew, he did not feel betrayed by Obama. Obama, who consistently fought with Israel's leader, and who in his last days in office, helped to pass the overwhelmingly anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution establishing a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 borders. That resolution turned over the holiest sites in Judaism to the Arabs. That resolution also supported the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. But the Jewish editor never felt betrayed by Obama.

Here is my letter: "I get that Mr. Eshman does not like President Trump and has been attacking him since day one. But that should not negate his ability to maintain some semblance of balance and fairness. Eshman states that Trump "and his supporters" accused Obama of refusing to say "radical Islamic terrorism," offhandedly conceding that Obama's failure opened himself up to "entirely valid criticism."

It was far more than Trump supporters who were unhappy with Obama's failure to ever name radical Islamic terrorism. Obama went out of his way to never call Islamic terrorism by its name; instead we heard things like "violent extremism," "workplace violence," and "man-caused disaster." Trump took 48 hours before identifying the evil perpetrators in Charlottesville as the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Some of us waited 8 years for Obama to identify radical Islamic terrorism - only to remain disappointed the entire time.

One time Obama defended his failure as follows: "no religion is responsible for violence and terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism." When Obama defended his failure to name radical Islamic terrorists as just being "people" who carry out bad acts, did you run a 3 page editorial about that? Even worse, in early 2015, when an Islamic terrorist in Paris targeted Jews in a kosher market, Obama would neither identify the terrorist nor the victims - referring to the murdered Jews as "a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris." Yet, you say that no other President betrayed you. Obama refused to march with other world leaders in Paris to show solidarity against Islamic terror, but Obama never betrayed you.

You said of Trump: "What does it say about the President of the United States of America that getting him to name and shame white supremacists is like getting him to say 'uncle'?" Did you ever say that about Obama's refusal to name and shame Islamic terror?

The KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and radical Muslims all have a couple of things in common. They are all backed by a hateful ideology that is unable to see the humanity in the "other." And they all hate Jews. All such ideologies should be condemned by name and identified as enemies of our country."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville

Yesterday, a group of neo-Nazi inspired white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One of these individuals decided it was a good idea to drive his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and anyone else who happened to be standing in his way. One young woman was killed and 19 were injured. As always when terror strikes, our prayers go out to the victims and their families.

Hours later, President Trump made some comments condemning the attack. Trump: "We condemn this egregious display of bigotry and violence on many sides; it's been going on for a long time in our country," noting that it predates both his and Obama's presidencies. The uproar over Trump's use of "on many sides" immediately followed.

One criticism concerned Trump seeming to create some equivalency between the white supremacists and the counter-protesters. But, Trump did say that this violence has been going on for a long time. So, if we are honest, we must acknowledge he is correct. The violence against Congressman Scalise and others at the Republican Congressional baseball practice was actually quite recent. Then we have the violent protesters against freedom of speech, most notably at Berkeley. And, we can go back through our country's history and cite numerous incidents of political violence "on many sides."

The other criticism of Trump's comments had to do with his failure to call the attack for what it was - a domestic terrorist attack by white nationalists. Here, I am struck by the sheer hypocrisy of the Left. Obama would never call Islamic terrorism by its name. Instead, he referred to "violent extremism." Did those criticizing Trump now ever criticize Obama for the same lack of specificity in refusing to put a name to terrorism? Not likely. Instead, we have the usual hypocrisy from the Left.

Some examples. Actor Ed Helms referred to Trump's statement as "milquetoast drivel." That is rather interesting, as Trump also said: "Above all else, we must remember this truth - no matter our color, creed, religion or political party - we are all Americans first." Is there a problem with that? Helms: "What kind of coward is afraid to call out white supremacy by name?" Did Helms call Obama a coward for failing to call out radical Islam?

Actor and activist George Takai made a similar remark: "If you ever need to explain moral cowardice and false equivalence, quote Trump's "on all sides" speech today. Made me want to turn and spit."

Once, when Obama was explaining why he would not say "Islamic terrorism," he said that "no religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism." Does that explain why Obama, and many on the Left, so often referred to Islamic terrorist attacks as "isolated incidents?" And, can we say that "people" committed the violence in Charlottesville, and not have to identify those people any further? In early 2015, following the Islamic terrorist attack in Paris on, among other victims, people in a kosher market, Obama would not even identify the victims - the targeted victims - as Jews. Rather, you may recall he referred to them as "a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris." Obama refused to say that an Islamic terrorist targeted Jews. Who was the coward then?

My take. The truth should always prevail. Of course Trump should have identified the rat-bastards who carried out this attack as neo-Nazi white supremacist terrorists. (I apologize for the language not usually seen in this blog, but as a Jew, and as an American, what I actually think of neo-Nazis cannot be said here. Six million of my fellow Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, family members fought the Nazis, and we remember the over 400,000 American soldiers who died, mostly fighting Nazis, during World War II.) The neo-Nazi, white supremacist ideology is a hateful ideology - unable to see the humanity in the "other." In that regard, it is no different from radical Islam. Both should be properly identified as enemies of this country.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Guess the Countries

In one country, an Imam recently included the following in one of his sermons: "Oh Allah, count them (Jews) one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them." And this: "Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this."

In another country, an Imam recently said this at a sermon: "Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and all the Muslim lands from the unjust tyrants and the occupiers." And: "Oh Allah, destroy them, they are no match for you." And this to his congregants: "...wake up, it is time to be a Muslim. Prayer is not the only thing." The latter comment was made after he accused Jews of plotting to take over the Palestinian territory, Mecca and Medina, and most of the Middle East.

One country uses a textbook in their schools accusing Israel of torturing and murdering hundreds of Palestinian women. Another country uses a textbook suggesting that a Palestinian suicide bomber blowing up several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant perhaps should not be considered terrorism, but rather "wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions." I find it quite disturbing that some can convince themselves that blowing up a bunch of innocent teenagers is akin to an attack on soldiers.

Another country's textbook claims that "The land called Palestine now consists of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip." That is extremely misleading as Jordan was also part of Palestine. The students are not being informed that the vast majority of the territory called Palestine - which was never a country - is already under Arab control. The text also tells students that the Jews have had no connection to the land since they were driven out in about 135 AD. That is simply false.

Then there is this country, where the leaders have said: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

And finally, we have this from the leaders of another country: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hid behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

Were you able to guess the countries? The first Imam was speaking at a mosque in Davis, California - in the USA. The second Imam was speaking at a mosque in Riverside, California - in the USA. The various textbooks have all been in use in various states - in the USA. Only the last two paragraphs originate elsewhere - in the Hamas charter. But, were you able to tell any significance difference between the above entries?

Wake up my liberal friends! Wake up my liberal Jewish friends! What is being preached in your country is a call to violence - against you! Wake up if you expect your children and grandchildren to be able to live under the same freedoms generations before us have been able to experience. Or, you can keep voting for the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other like-minded Democrats who would continue an open borders policy, while expecting us to show tolerance to people who want to do harm to Jews and change the nature of our country. It is up to us to decide the kind of country we want to pass on to the next generation. There is no room for error.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I'm Pretty Sure Obama is Still President, and the Democrats Still Control Congress

It was recently reported that the State Department is deleting all references to "genocide" in describing the massacre of innocent civilians by ISIS, of groups such as the Yazidis, and the apparently lesser known group called Christians. This is certainly reminiscent of Obama directing the military and intelligence agencies to remove the term "jihad" from their training manuals.

Rex Tillerson's State Department also recently submitted a report to Congress regarding terrorism. As for Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis - that is Israel's fault. What else would you expect from Obama's State Department? The report blamed Israel because of "Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive." What? Trump is President? I don't think so.

The report also discusses how nice the Palestinians have become. "Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership does not generally tolerate it." C'mon, you cannot expect me to believe that Obama is still not the President. A week ago Friday, on Shabbat, a Palestinian entered a Jewish home in Halamish in the West Bank and stabbed three family members to death. I do not recall hearing any condemnation from Trump or Tillerson; even Obama and Kerry would be saying they condemn all violence by either side.

The PA run media is constantly inciting people to violence. Then, they reward the violence with money paid to the families of the terrorists who do the killings, and even name parks and schools after them. Last December, Obama failed to have his Ambassador to the UN veto the anti-Israel measure saying all of the West Bank, even the Kotel (Western Wall), belonged to the Palestinians. So, the President denied reality in December, 2016, and is again denying reality in July, 2017. It must be the same guy, no?

Well, one thing is for certain. The Democrats remain firmly in control of Congress. The Republicans are not able to pass any legislation; clearly, they must be the minority party. The repeal of Obamacare? Nine Republican Senators bailed on that. The so-called skinny repeal? Could not pass that either, as Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona voted with the rest of their party - the Democrats.

While the tone of this post may be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the reality is the Republicans are doing little to encourage people to vote for them next year. Trump's Tweets probably lose some independents. And just how motivated will Republicans be to vote if their party seems unable to govern? If the Democrats do take back the Congress, they will be able to pass additional healthcare legislation if the leadership wants it. The Democrats do not break rank. But that legislation may very well be the Democrats long-desired single payer system. I have a hunch that Trump would sign pretty much anything presented to him on healthcare.

As for me, i do not want to see a government run system, where only a bureaucrat or judge decides the fate of the next Charlie Gard. "One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project." Ronald Reagan. And, Collins, Murkowski and McCain all helped prove another Reagan quote/truism: "Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lessons From My Childhood

I grew up in a medium size town in New Jersey in the 50's and 60's. We never had much money, but I never felt that we were poor. We lived in a garden apartment complex. The friends I made there, all of whom still live in New Jersey, have remained life-long friends. It's very special. It was, for me, an ideal place to grow up. My fond memory of that time and place is not negated by the medical setback I had at age 15, ultimately resulting in spine surgery at age 17, and being diagnosed with an auto-immune arthritic disorder. In fact, I would say that those problems have given me a certain perspective on what is truly important in life.

My Mom loved to read. She probably read one book a week. My Dad used to say that she always had her nose in a book. But her love of reading also translated into a love of the world of ideas. That love of ideas, with an openness and willingness to discuss anything, was passed on to me. No topic (personal or otherwise) was off limits for discussion, and there was never any requirement that I agree with her on any particular issue. There was, however, an expectation that I be true to her values.

My Mom was a people lover. She taught that everyone was to be treated equally - regardless of skin color, religion, or any other unimportant "difference." My Mom worked as a sales clerk part-time in the neighborhood pharmacy. Given her outgoing nature, it seemed as if everyone in town knew her. One time, while I was in the fourth grade with a rather strict teacher, I was sitting and doing an assignment, as was the rest of the class. All of a sudden, the teacher calls me up to her desk, and I could not imagine how I got into trouble just sitting there. As she told me to come close to her, she whispered to me: "Listen, can your Mom (calling my Mom by her first name) get me some (I don't recall what it was) from the store." Everyone, it seemed, knew her and liked her. In turn, she never had a bad word to say about anybody.

My Dad was very direct in his approach - no tolerance for bad guys. Behave properly and you won't have any problems. As tough as he sometimes seemed on the outside, he was warm and loving and affectionate to his family. Until going on the DL at age 15, I loved playing sports with the boys in the neighborhood. I also loved watching sports on TV with my Dad - from Wide World of Sports to football, baseball and track and field.

My Dad also loved to kid around, and show off when my friends were over. He'd say to my Mom: "I'm going to trade you in for a couple of 20's." It was all in good fun. He had lines such as: "Stay single, and your pockets will jingle." But he was quite serious when it came to life issues. You work hard for what you want in life. Hard work never hurt anyone. Never expect handouts. And he demonstrated that by the way he did what he needed to do to support his family - including working on nights and weekends. And no job was so menial as to not deserve respect, and any job worth doing deserved to be done well. But he had no tolerance for the "work" of criminals.

My Dad was a gun owner. I recall him taking me to the shooting range one time. Even though he gave me ear plugs, the noise seemed so loud to me that I did not enjoy it. He kept the gun in a locked box in the house. And he made it very clear that we were never to go near that box. In an age when parents still bought toy guns for their kids, he also made it very clear that you do not point even a toy gun at anyone.

For a number of years my Dad would play pinochle once a week with a group of other men. Some were clearly more well off (professionals and businessmen) than we were. The same for many of my parents friends. I do not recall socioeconomic differences determining who their friends were. It did not seem to work like that back then. Friends were friends, regardless of career paths or money earned.

The 1960's was a contentious time in our country. My brother was drafted, but our parents did not want to see their oldest child go off to war. But off he went. After his basic training, he was headed for Viet Nam. My parents had to cope with one child going to war as another was developing disabling back problems. As a parent now, I know it is never easy. One of the aforementioned neighborhood boy's father was a Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserves. He gave my brother a pocket Bible to keep with him at all times, and told him to bring it back safely. While I have never discussed it, I have always believed that that Bible was what kept my brother alive. He was shot, but he survived. And I have always been grateful for my friend's Dad, and for that Bible.

The older I get, the more I seem to miss my Mom and Dad. But I treasure my memories of them and the lessons learned. The main lessons I learned? Always treat everyone the same (unless and until they give you a reason not to), and always do the right thing. I have tried to pass those values on to my kids. Whenever any of our kids would leave the house when they were in middle school and high school, I would stop them at the front door as they were leaving and ask them to repeat the Number One Rule: Always do the right thing, regardless of what anyone else is doing. I hope they pass on the same values to their kids.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Left's Love Affair With Tyranny Continues

The Left's affinity for tyranny seems to know no bounds. In my April 30, 2017 post, I discussed how the Left's new theory of speech was to protect only that speech which was deemed to be for the "public good." Additionally, there was concern that the "oppressed" would not be able to stand up for themselves. None of the proposed "standards" came even close to meeting First Amendment Constitutional guidelines for protected speech.

Now, the Left has yet another reason to ban certain speech. According to a 7/16/17 op-ed piece in the New York Times ("When is Speech Violence?"), Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, claims that certain speech, scientifically speaking, is a form of violence. You see, the professor tells us that "certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain - even kill neurons - and shorten your life." "Can make you sick." We can assume, then, that not every individual exposed to this adverse speech will suffer ill health effects. Is it only a tiny percentage of people that might be negatively affected by exposure to adverse speech?

Then, the good professor takes this incredible leap: "The scientific findings I described above provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn't be acceptable on campus and in civil society." What? A few people may suffer ill effects from certain speech and that tells us which speech should not be acceptable? Too much sugary soda can be bad for you, so New York City limited the size of a soda anyone could buy from fast food establishments. Second hand smoke can be bad for you, so... Plastic bags can be bad for everyone, so... Guns can definitely be used to commit violence, so the left looks for new and creative ways to restrict gun ownership. And the list goes on and on.

Except, speech has First Amendment Constitutional protections. Gun ownership has Second Amendment Constitutional protections. But, the Constitutional protections generally do not occur to the Left when they are making their arguments; the Constitution did not come up in this professor's article. Speech, gun ownership, big sugary drinks, plastic bags - it's all the same. If we can say it's bad or unhealthy, then that ends the conversation.

Said the professor: "If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that's the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain. That's also true of a political climate in which groups of people endlessly hurl hateful words at one another...that's why it's reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulis to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse. There is nothing to be gained (this sounds like the "public good" argument coming) from debating him, for debate is not what he is offering."

I wonder who else the good professor would say is not offering debate? Ann Coulter? Sean Hannity? What about some left-wingers, such as Bill Maher? Or is it only conservative speakers we need to be concerned with because, after all, guys like Maher do not stress out college kids. The liberals on campus love him; and conservatives just ignore him. And what about this offering of debate argument? What about the orator on the proverbial soap box whose only interest is in expounding on his own views? He is not seeking debate, so do we ban him from speaking?

Freedom and liberty frequently yield to the left-wing agenda. When that agenda supersedes even Constitutional restraints on government power, such as restricting speech or preventing individual gun ownership, then what you have is tyranny.

Monday, July 10, 2017

SCOTUS Provides Much Needed Civics Lessons

An Asian-American rock band, the Slants, fought all the way to the Supreme Court to be able to register their name with the Patent and Trademark Office. Federal law bars someone from registering a name or mark that is "scandalous, immoral, or disparaging." Such potential trademarks are likely to offend. The question was whether or not the Patent and Trademark could prohibit the registering of the name "Slants" because of its disparaging nature.

The band wanted to be able to register the name, not to be self-deprecating, but as a means of removing the disparaging nature that the word has come to embody. In a unanimous 8-0 decision in the case of Matal v. Tam, the Court found for the Slants. Justice Alito wrote: "Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express 'the thought that we hate.'"

In a concurring opinion, Justice Kennedy explained: "A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all...The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government's benevolence."

The positive impact has been felt already. First, the Justice Department is dropping its case against the Washington Redskins over the use of its name, after the Redskins lost their Trademark protection in 2014. Second, the New York Times got a needed lesson in the First Amendment. Their editorial board (6/20/17 editorial) opined: "Based on this case, however, we've since reconsidered our underlying position" on the Redskins case. Why would a media outlet need any instruction on the significance of free speech? As previously noted in this blog, the Left no longer shares in the fundamental American values - values such as free speech. The name "Redskins" is deemed offensive by the Left, and that ends their analysis. That approach is why conservatives speakers are not welcome on college campuses - they don't like the message, so no need to allow them to speak. The First Amendment be damned.

The other civics lesson came in the case of Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project - the so-called travel ban case. Two federal appellate courts, the Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit, upheld District Court decisions striking down Trump's executive order. The Supreme Court disagreed, at least for now. The Court agreed to hear the merits of the case in the fall. In the meantime, the injunctions issued by the lower courts are removed, except in cases of those who have connections to the USA - "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship."

The Court's decision was an unsigned - but unanimous - per curiam decision. Three Justices did write an opinion, but not in dissent. Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch joined in an opinion saying that all the restrictions in the executive order should stand, without the restriction on "bona fide relationships."

What are the lessons from this case? First, the entire population of the world does not have a constitutional right to come to the United States. The fact that two appellate courts thought otherwise speaks more to a political agenda than to the rule of law. Second, the Supreme Court clearly understands that our Constitution set up three branches of government - all with different functions. Federal courts are not privy to day to day intelligence briefings, and they are not subject to being voted out of office. If the President's policy offends enough people, he may be voted out. In the meantime, it is the President who, traditionally, sets our foreign policy. Not the Courts. Should we also have courts second-guessing where and when a president may order the deployment of troops? While some on the Left would undoubtedly approve of that arrangement, the Constitution tells us that it is the president who is the Commander-in-Chief.

Over the last century the Left has increasingly looked to the Courts to accomplish their agenda, as the political process has often failed them. Just as the Left viewed "offensive" speech as superseding the First Amendment's right to free speech, they also viewed their opposition to the so-called travel ban as superseding any issue about the Constitutional separation of powers. Having said this, it remains extremely disappointing that a government agency (the Patent and Trademark office) and that various District Court and Appellate Court Judges, needed these reminders from the Supreme Court about our Constitution.

Given the failure by federal officials, one can only wonder about how well informed the average student and citizen is about our Constitution. It is for that reason that I suggested (in my July 1 post) that all students be required to learn about the Constitution and how our system of government works. For now, I will be content that the New York Times, the Patent and Trademark Office, and a number of federal judges all got the message.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Fake News Media

The self-described "paper of record," the New York Times, is another participant in the fake news world. Following the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and others by a left-wing fanatic, the New York Times tried to do what the left commonly does - create an equivalency with the right when someone on their side engages in bad behavior. In this case, the paper attempted to equate the shooting of Scalise with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords six years ago.

Said the Times in one of their editorials: "Before the shooting (of Gabby Giffords) Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs." First, the cross hairs were over the districts - not on individual politicians. Second, the shooting of Gabby Giffords was in 2011. It has been common knowledge for quite some time that the shooter had no particular political affiliation that motivated him to commit his murderous acts. He was thought to be a mentally ill individual.

So, why would the New York Times run with such a story in their editorial? They had to know it was false. This editorial is best understood as yet another example of what motivates the left - their left-wing agenda. As I have noted before, truth often bows to the agenda. Their "issues" are their values, which also explains why the left and the right do not share the same values. The right relies on fundamental religious and Constitutional values.

The allegations against Sarah Palin were so obviously false that the Times had to issue a "correction." It read as follows: "An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established." However, there was such a link between the shooting of Representative Scalise and his shooter - as that shooter clearly hated Republicans. The "correction" did not include an apology to Sarah Palin, who is now suing the Times over the editorial.

Recently, another anti-Trump news outlet - CNN - had their own controversy. Three of their journalists were forced to resign. A story run by CNN accused Trump adviser, Anthony Scaramucci, of having improper ties to Russia. Mr. Scaramucci denied the allegations and the network did not have the facts to back up the claim.

James O'Keefe runs Project Veritas. One of his people was speaking with a CNN producer, John Bonifield. Bonifield: "Just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN (Jeff Zucker) said in our internal meeting...he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we are done with that, let's get back to Russia." Queried the Project Veritas reporter: "Then why is CNN constantly, like, Russia this, Russia that?" Bonifield: "Because it's ratings." To which I would add, it is also consistent with their left-wing, attack Trump news.

Just how biased against Trump is the mainstream media? Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy sought to study that issue, looking at Trump's first 100 days in office. The results should not be surprising to anyone. CNN and NBC had the worst records for fair reporting, with 93% of their news coverage of Trump being negative, with only 7% being positive. As for the rest: CBS was 91% negative and 9% positive, The New York Times was 87% negative and 13% positive, The Washington Post was 83% negative and 17% positive, The Wall Street Journal was 70% negative and 30% positive, and Fox News (formerly under the slogan "Fair and Balanced" but now "Most Watched, Most Trusted") was the only one of these media outlets to have balanced reporting - 52% negative and 48% positive.

Overall, Trump's coverage was 80% negative and only 20% positive. Obama's first hundred days came in at 60% positive to 40% negative. That is a 40% shift towards the negative. Notwithstanding these statistics, it does not mean that I believe Trump should engage in a Twitter war with every critical news outlet or individual. I would like to see him use Twitter to discuss his accomplishments and his policies. But, an occasional Tweet against the "fake media" is sometimes in order.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Hate You More!

Phil Montag, a former Nebraska Democratic party official (since fired) had these kind words to say after Congressmen Steve Scalise was shot: "I hate this motherf..... I'm f...... glad he got shot. I'm glad he got shot. I'm not going to f...... say that in public. I wish he was f...... dead."

Comedian Marcella Arguello said this: "If a few old ass conservative white men have to die in order to get the gun control issue discussed then I'm willing to take that risk."

Regarding the Senate Republicans' healthcare plan, Elizabeth Warren said: "These cuts are blood money. People will die. Let's be very clear - Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives."

Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton said this: "Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill they're the death party." I have to say a word or two here. Remember how Sarah Palin was mocked and laughed at for suggesting that Obamacare would lead to rationing; and with rationing comes decisions about who gets treatment and who does not - in some cases, who lives and who dies. But, Elizabeth Warren can say the Republican plan will kill people; Hillary Clinton can say it - and no outcry. Nothing. Crickets.

Here is the latest from Johnny Depp, to an approving audience in Glastonbury, UK: "When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?" So clever. I do hope that the Secret Service pays him a visit.

Chelsey Gentry-Tipton is the Democratic Black Caucus Chairwoman in Nebraska. She had this to say about the shooting of Steve Scalise and others: "The very people that push NRA legislation in efforts to pad their pockets with complete disregard for human life. Yeah, having a hard time feeling bad for them."

One writer for the Huffington Post, Jesse Benn, said this: "What's more harmful: putting millions already on the margins more at risk via draconian policies, or shooting a racist lawmaker in the hip?" Here is what is more harmful: your inability to view those who hold differing views as being human beings. The same applies to all the others quoted above.

Here is a real hater - Professor Johnny Williams of Trinity College in Connecticut: "It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be 'white' will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system #let them f...... die" "The time is now to confront these inhuman a..holes and end this now."

Today's Los Angeles Times reports on a new Pew Research poll concerning how Democrats and Republicans feel about one another. It is not a pretty picture. 47% of Democrats say Republicans make them angry, but 46% of Republicans say the same thing about Democrats. No difference between the parties there. But there was a very interesting difference: 52% of Republicans say that Democrats are more closed-minded than other Americans. But a whopping 70% of Democrats say Republicans are more closed-minded than other Americans. Do I believe that Republicans are more closed-minded than Democrats? Of course not. Given the above quotes, and once again given what happened to me personally (discussed in last summer's post entitled "A Personal Tale of Intolerance"), I could certainly make the case that Democrats are more closed-minded.

In fact, it is the rare case where I encounter a liberal Democrat who tells me that they read or listen to opposing views. I am not alone in expressing the concern that we seem to be in a civil war in this country - albeit a mostly non-violent one. There are an increasing number of commentators who are now expressing the same sentiment. I am seeing an increasing number of articles discussing what might be done to increase tolerance for divergent views, especially on college campuses. For now, however, one commentator said it best about colleges - colleges provide tremendous diversity of race, religion and ethnic background, so long as everyone thinks alike.

I have previously discussed that I believe that a core problem is that Democrats and Republicans no longer share the same fundamental values. That certainly makes it easier to disrespect those with whom you disagree. It is time - past time - to bring back the fundamentals to our schools. Requiring recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Teaching civics. Teaching how our governing document - the Constitution - works, and why it is the greatest governing document ever written. And teaching why allowing the expression of many viewpoints is one of our greatest freedoms, a freedom that we have because the First Amendment to the Constitution protects that right.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Terminate the Republican Party"

Apparently, that was the name of a group to which today's shooter in Alexandria belonged. This man (for new readers this blog does not give the names of evil perpetrators), who hated Republicans and was a Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a practice baseball game of Republican Congressmen. Said the man's brother: "I know he wasn't happy with the the way things were going, the election results and stuff." A lot of people were not happy with the election results. The media, the Left, the Democratic Party have engaged in non-stop "resistance" that frequently exceeds the bounds of decency and civility.

We recall Madonna telling us that "I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House." Stephen Colbert thought it was funny to joke about Trump's mouth being a receptacle for Putin's private parts. Recently, we had Kathy Griffin holding up a head made to look like the bloody decapitated head of the President. But, do not for one minute think it's just the Hollywood crowd that acts so disrespectfully and inadvisedly.

Let's not forget what Hillary Clinton thought of Trump supporters - the basket of deplorables - "the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it." It is not just that she said that - it is that so many on the Left actually believe it. If you think that about your political opponents, it is easy to think of them as not deserving of respect. If you doubt that, see last summer's post entitled "A Personal Tale of Intolerance."

With regards to the Republican's American Heath Care Act, numerous Democratic politicians said that the bill, if passed, would result in people dying. Those politicians include Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Terry McAuliffe, John Lewis, and undoubtedly others. These comments could be taken as saying that a vote for the bill essentially makes you a murderer - you are voting to get people killed. Rather extreme rhetoric. And clearly also believed by many on the Left. For example, the Chairman of the Democratic Party said this about Republicans: "Republicans don't give a shit about people." I'd say that is fairly clear as to what mainstream Democrats think about Republicans. Add in all the insults to Republicans from the mainstream media, and from academia, and you've got quite the vortex of hatred.

As for the shooter, he was quite active on social media, with comments such as: "Trump is guilty and should go to prison for treason." And this: "It's time for the Republican congressmen to grow up. Maybe if they weren't so full of hate, they could see what they are doing to this country." And this very ominous one: "Trump has destroyed our democracy, it's time to destroy Trump."

As of this writing, Congressman Steve Scalise remains in critical condition. As he is the Majority Whip, he had a security detail of two Capitol Police officers. Although wounded themselves, these officers (one man and one woman) stood their ground and returned fire, wounding the shooter, whose wounds later proved fatal. Two others were also wounded. One thing is certain - everyone there was extremely grateful that there were armed good guys able to take down the shooter. Otherwise, it might have been a massacre. The actions of these officers reflect the finest of the men and women in blue who protect us on a daily basis.

Six years ago, when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and severely wounded by a deranged man, the mainstream media wasted no time in blaming Republicans/conservatives/the right for the shooting. The 1/11/11 LA Times editorial said this: "the Right bears the brunt of responsibility for this poisoned atmosphere." The lead editorial in the 1/10/11 NY Times opined: "...it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media (an obvious reference to talk radio) responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge."

I am ending this post with two thoughts. One, I wonder how the mainstream media will spin this so that the shooter's actions do not reflect negatively on the Left; and maybe even find a way to blame Republicans. Two, and I am not happy that this thought even occurred to me, but what if it was President Trump who was shot? I have personally experienced the vitriol from the Left. I have seen the outpouring of animosity and pure hatred coming from the Left towards Republicans generally, and towards Trump particularly. So, my question is, if Trump was the victim, would we be seeing celebrations by the Left across the country, with the hope that Trump wouldn't make it? The fact that such a scenario seems possible tells us about the sad state of politics today in the - still - United States of America.

Monday, June 12, 2017

J. "Edgar" Comey

For those unfamiliar with the first director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover had a reputation for keeping secret files, or dossiers, on politicians - just in case. Some think those secret files helped keep Hoover in office as the Director from 1935 through 1972. That's some tenure.

Last week, another Director (albeit former Director) of the F.B.I., James Comey, testified before the US Senate Intelligence Committee. Lost in all the noise coming from the Left was the fact that Comey presented no evidence of Trump's alleged collusion with Russia. There were "no new bombshells about Russian meddling in the 2016 election or improper contacts by the Trump campaign or the White House with Russian authorities." That, from the liberal LA Times (6/9/17). And from Chris Matthews, we were told that those who claim the president colluded with the Russians to affect the election - "what came apart this morning was that theory."

Having lunch with two friends afterwards, I suggested that the mainstream media had several options for the next day's headlines. Comey: No collusion with Russia. Comey: No votes affected by any Russian interference. However, my prediction was this: Comey: Trump lied! So, how did I do? USA Today: "Comey calls Trump a liar." LA Times: "Comey accuses Trump of 'lies, plain and simple.'" NY Times: "TRUMP TRIED TO SINK INQUIRY, COMEY SAYS." The sub-headline does, however, say Comey "Condemns President's 'Lies.'" Not too bad in my prognostications. Or, as one of those two friends later texted me: "Nostramichaelus." But, really, just how difficult is it to predict what the mainstream media will say?

Exactly what did Comey say Trump lied about? That the F.B.I. was poorly led and in disarray, as the alleged reasons for firing Comey. There's a shocker - a dispute between an employer and employee over the reasons for the employee's termination. That's the type of dispute that occurs daily across the country. And that's what makes the headlines in the mainstream media. Apparently, the Russian collusion story is already acknowledged by the Left to be a lost cause. Ten months in and we have no hard evidence of collusion with the Russians. At least the media can call Trump a liar, given Comey's testimony.

It turns out that the "big" story to come out of Comey's testimony was his claim that Trump asked him if he could "see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," because Flynn is a good man. Before Comey was the Director of the FBI, beginning in September of 2013, he was in the private sector. However, prior to that he was the US Deputy Attorney General from December, 2003 to August, 2005. And prior to that he was the US Attorney for the Southern Distract of New York. That US Attorney office is one of the top two US Attorney offices in the country, along with the one in Washington, D.C. The Southern District of NY gets very tough cases, including organized crime and terrorism cases. But, suddenly, Comey tells us he is not that tough after all.

Apparently, it was not only Trump who thought he might have some influence, when expressing his "hope" that Comey could let the Flynn investigation go. It turns out that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch made her own request of Comey when she asked him to refer to the Clinton e-mail investigation as a "matter" and not an "investigation." Comey said that request "confused me and concerned me." It also made him feel "queasy." Later on, when Lynch agreed to the meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix, Comey declared that "that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the F.B.I. and the Justice Department."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, (Dem., CA) asked Comey why he did not tell Trump that his request regarding Flynn was wrong. Why not say: "I cannot discuss this with you?" Comey: "Maybe if I were stronger, I would have." And: "Maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance." Let's examine that. The man who was a Deputy US Attorney General, and a former federal prosecutor in one of the most important offices in the country, and ultimately the top cop in the country - turns out to be a wimp? Is that what we are supposed to believe? If so, he did no service to this country and no service to the President. The President does not need a "yes" man in such an important position. Any President needs an F.B.I. Director who will speak truthfully to him. Comey, if he is to be believed, failed in that; and that alone forms a sufficient basis for his termination.

Another way to look at it is that Comey acted as just another member of the "deep state," extremely distrustful of this outsider Trump. Comey says he kept memos (like dossiers?) of his discussions with Trump. Did he keep memos of his discussions with Loretta Lynch? Did he think that the directive to use the term "matter" came from Lynch, or that Obama instructed her to tell him? When Lynch then met with Bill Clinton, that "capped" it for him, and he went public with his assessment of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. Why didn't he resign? He clearly felt that Lynch was not impartial. If he felt that Trump was asking him to do something improper, why didn't he resign, or at least report it to higher-ups in the Justice Department? Comey made it clear that he would still be the Director had Trump not fired him. Apparently, he saw nothing so egregious that would prompt his resignation.

J. Edgar Hoover has been credited with making the F.B.I. the modern, preeminent law enforcement agency that it is. He was also a man who apparently relished in the power that he wielded. So, was Comey the wimp, unable to stand up to any higher official? Or, was he also enamored of his power, writing memos to be used against political foes as necessary - memos that, perhaps, he assumed would protect his job? Astonishingly, Comey admitted to leaking his memo about the Trump meeting to his friend who teaches at Columbia Law School, encouraging him, in turn, to turn it over to the NY Times. Quite a manipulative scenario. But what if this happened - what if Comey, when asked if he could let the Flynn matter go, responded "Mr. President, that is an improper request and we cannot be discussing that." Then, Trump's reaction would tell us if he meant to exert any undue influence or not. That is what someone who is not a wimp, or manipulator, does. As for any obstruction of justice, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley said this: "the legal fact is that Comey's testimony does not establish a prima facie - or even a strong - case for obstruction." Just don't expect the mainstream media to drop the unproven allegations against Trump from their front pages for the next four years.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Some Reflections on Kathy Griffin and Other News

Somehow, comedienne Kathy Griffin thought it would be funny to hold up (a la ISIS) a fake head of Donald Trump dripping with fake blood. Nobody laughed; although the Secret Service did open an investigation into the matter. After receiving blowback from all sides of the political spectrum, Ms. Griffin apologized. Not directly to Trump and his family. But she did acknowledge that she crossed the line, and begged for forgiveness.

No surprise, but the President and his family were not amused. They Tweeted their disgust, with Trump calling it "sick." In the time of ISIS, whose members have held up the severed heads of "infidels," I cannot imagine where she saw the humor. Her apology was not accepted by everyone. She lost her endorsement contract with Squatty Potty, and was fired by CNN, where she has cohosted the New Year's Eve program with Anderson Cooper for the last 10 years. She was also told by certain entertainment venues that some of her scheduled appearances had been canceled. Admittedly pretty rough for one bad mistake.

But, the next day Griffin appeared with attorney Lisa Bloom, giving a press conference, in which she blamed Trump and his family for her misfortunes. Griffin: "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump. I've dealt with older white guys trying to keep me down my whole life, my whole career." What is she talking about? How does Trump being an older white guy have anything to do with her poor decision to hold up what looked like Trump's bloody, severed head? This is a perfect example of what the left often does - they make the perpetrator the victim. We saw it in the mainstream media after the 9/11 attacks. Somehow, Muslims became the victims. We saw it after Michael Brown attacked officer Darren Wilson. The media made him a victim - of his own actions.

The best line by Ms. Griffin was this one: "...what's happening to me has never happened - ever - in the history of this country." Where has she been living? Oh, that's right, she resides in the liberal, entertainment world where only conservatives are supposed to be the bad guys. Does she even know about all the attacks and threats against conservatives, especially those who try to speak on college campuses? Has she ever spoken up in favor of the speech rights of conservatives? Clearly, if she is getting death threats, those people should be caught and prosecuted.

Actually, maybe the best line she said was this one: "It's quite clear to me they're trying to use me as a distraction. I'm not going to be collateral damage for this fool." Hmmm. That sounds suspiciously like a left-wing anti-Trump talking point. Do I think she came up with that on her own? I do not. On the other hand, her attorney is Lisa Bloom, who just happens to be the daughter of Democrat-supporter Gloria Allred. Coincidence? You tell me.

Evergreen State College is a liberal school in Washington State. Since the 1970s, they have had a yearly "Day of Absence," when faculty and students of color meet off campus. The idea, apparently, is to make whites realize the significance of the minority community. This year, however, the minority students decided to "invite" whites to leave the campus for a day. One white, liberal professor was apparently offended by the idea, and was not treated respectfully.

I'm offended by the whole thing. I'm offended by the incessant need of the left to always draw distinctions between the races. How is that supposed to create racial harmony? It does not. But if you want to know all you need to know about "higher" education today, consider this - the school has a position with the title of "Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services." I'd like to say that I'm just kidding, but no, I'm not.

Having terminated Kathy Griffin's New Year's Eve cohosting duties, I wonder what, if anything, CNN will do Reza Aslan. Aslan on Trump: "This piece of sh.. is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He's an embarrassment to humankind." Let me say that Aslan is an embarrassment to journalism and intellectual discourse everywhere.

Every once in a while I get to agree with the LA Times. From today's lead editorial: "The drumbeat of hatred, incivility and intolerance threatens our political system in ways big and small. It demeans individuals, disrupts discourse and exacerbates divisions. It weakens our claim to be a culture that values a free and open exchange of ideas. And at worst, it devolves into violence, which is unacceptable." Maybe the Times can lead the way and stop with the name-calling of conservatives, and the use of other derogatory terms we see in so many mainstream editorials.

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!

After President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, one might reasonably conclude that the end is near. After all, the LA Times 6/2/17 lead editorial told us that Trump "put the world on a path - potentially, but increasingly inevitably - to irreversible catastrophe." Let's put aside for a moment that in the 1970s, some scientists were warning of a coming ice age as increasing amounts of particulate matter in the atmosphere would block the sun's rays and lower global temperatures. Let's take an honest and calm look at what the President has done.

It turns out that in 2014, diplomats of the world were unable to come together and reach a binding agreement about how to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Hardly surprising, especially given the need of developing countries to use plentiful and relatively cheap carbon-based fuels to grow their economies. That would include countries such as China and India, who together have over 2.6 billion of the world's estimated 7.5 billion people. That is over 1/3 of the world's population in just those two still developing countries.

So, if the countries of the world were unable to reach a binding agreement, what does the Paris Accord actually do? It requires each signatory to submit an "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution," or INDC.

Here are two important quotes. "In truth, the agreement does not require any country to do anything; after the failure of the 1997 Kyoto Accord, the United Nations, which oversees climate change negotiations, decided that it simply did not have the authority to force a legally binding agreement." That quote is not from a conservative commentator; rather, it is from the 6/2/17 editorial in the New York Times. Here is another quote from that editorial: "Partly because of investments in cleaner fuels, partly because of revolutionary improvements in efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, carbon dioxide emissions in this country actually fell nearly 12 percent in the last decade."

The Times continues: "Market forces all seem to be headed in the right direction. Technologies are improving." Yes, conservative ideals carry the day again - market forces and technological breakthroughs in the private sector.

Before the international conference in Kyoto, the US Senate voted 95-0 against participating in any protocol that required a reduction in greenhouse-gases in the US - unless developing countries were also mandated to do so. Hence, there was no point in submitting the Kyoto protocol for ratification by the Senate, the Senate having already unanimously rejected the one-sided proposal. But here is another conservative idea. If the Paris Accord is of such significance, then why shouldn't there be compliance with the Constitutional requirements for approval of treaties? Obama did not submit it to the Senate when he signed off. But Article II, Section 2 reads as follows: "He (the President) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur."

Meanwhile, while my liberal friends worry about what the Europeans are saying about the US, the 6/1/17 lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal tells us: "...Germany's emissions have increased in the last two years as more coal is burned to compensate for reduced nuclear energy and unreliable solar and wind power." And they are lecturing us? The 6/2/17 Journal editorial tells us that "over the past five years U.S. emissions have fallen by 270 million tons, while China-the No. 1 CO2 emitter-added 1.1 billion tons."

I understand that my liberal friends worry about the US being the odd country out. That does not bother me at all. We are already leading the developed world with substantially reduced carbon-based emissions. The Paris Accord would require the US to give away billions of dollars to developing countries in order to assist them with their energy needs - green energy needs. And why not? The first page of the 6/1/17 New York Times tells us "The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet."

So, I ask the editors at the New York Times and other liberal papers, and I ask my liberal friends, how small a car do you drive? How small a house do you live in? Are you willing to give up air conditioning? Are you willing to walk or bike to your job and when you run errands? Of course, if we all stopped exhaling that should significantly reduce CO2 emissions, but I think we can agree that is not a feasible option.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump and the Middle East

On his first overseas trip as President, Trump's first stop was to Saudi Arabia, where he spoke to the assembled leaders of the Arab and Muslim world. In thanking his host, King Salman, Trump referred to the "magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." He spoke of the "splendor" of the country, the "kindness" of its citizens, and the "grandeur of this remarkable place." Was he over the top with his rhetoric? Given the Saudi's history of human rights abuses, yes he was. But clearly Trump and his team had decided to practice realpolitik. As Trump stated: "We are not here to lecture - we are not here to tell other people how to live..." Rather, Trump was there with three goals in mind: uniting these countries in the fight against ISIS and terrorism, establishing a bulwark against Iran's hegemony, and gaining acceptance for Israel's right to exist as the Jewish state in exchange for a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Trump was exceptionally strong in his urging the Muslim world to participate in the fight against terrorism. Trump: "Terrorists do not worship G-d, they worship death." And, using a phrase that may turn out to be historic, Trump said: "A better future is possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out." But words are not enough. Qatar helps fund Hamas. The Saudis help to fund many mosques in the US and around the world, with their radical brand of Wahhabbism. Is there any reason to believe that these countries will change their ways?

In seeking to reestablish our ties to the Sunni Arab world, after eight years of disengagement by Obama, Trump signed a $110 billion dollar arms deal with King Salman. Over the long haul, the deal is expected to reach $400 billion. As the Saudis have no peace agreement with Israel, and no recognition of Israel, the Israelis were not pleased. The intent, again, is to shift the balance away from the Ayatollahs which Obama pursued, back to our more traditional allies. As a Jew, and as a supporter of Israel, I find the arms deal disconcerting - even though I understand it.

The mainstream media, however, remains critical of anything and everything Trump does. The New York Times expressed their concern over the "unsettling path" Trump has taken to align the US with the likes of Saudi Arabia. The Times: "The Saudi human rights record is no better than Iran's." Was the Times so concerned with human rights when Obama aligned himself with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Ayatollahs in Iran? The reality is that US policy has traditionally aligned with the Sunni Arabs, if for no other reason than they are the keepers of the oil.

The Times also expressed their disappointment with Trump choosing to "single out Iran, the leading Shiite-majority state and Saudi Arabia's main enemy." After acknowledging the Iranians support for "militias" in Lebanon and Yemen, and its backing of Assad in Syria, the Times agrees that "many of Iran's activities are indeed destabilizing." Many? Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

During his stay in Israel, Trump was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with these words: "We are absolutely delighted to welcome you and Melania to the P.M.'s residence in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and the united capital of the Jewish State." It is sad that Netanyahu must continue to remind US leaders that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and that it will remain undivided and in Israeli hands. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated the nonsense we so often hear about the Middle East: "We solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace dilemma, we start solving a lot of the peace throughout the Middle East region."

Trump repeated the same fallacy, following the lead of not only Tillerson and the State Department holdovers from the Obama Administration, but also what has been a long-term attitude of State towards Israel. Exactly how will "solving" the Israeli-Palestinian issue affect these other issues in the Middle East: the Sunni-Shiite divide within Islam; the desire by Iran to expand its control over the Middle East and export terrorism around the world; the Syrian civil war; the failed states in Iraq, Libya and Yemen; and the overall lack of freedom throughout the Arab world? The truth is that the Palestinian issue has nothing to do with most of the problems in the Middle East. Nothing. And the Sunni Arab world was already moving closer towards Israel, seeing it as an ally in the fight against terror and against Iran; not to mention that they see the technological and economic benefits of dealing with Israel.

As Caroline Glick notes in her most recent column, 98% of the Palestinians live in Areas A and B in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), and have been under Palestinian Authority control since 1996. Glick: "They carry Palestinian passports. Their births and deaths are recorded in the Palestinian population registry. They vote in Palestinian elections." Although, it should be stated that Abbas has refused to hold elections for his office for well over a decade. But Israel can never give up Area C, an area mostly unpopulated, but which allows for Israeli control over the Jordan river valley. Without Israeli control over the borders of the West Bank, how long before Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS move in? Abbas and the PA are not strong enough to keep them out. Abbas' regime would fall quickly. Are the US policy makers so blinded by their pro-Arab outlook, and against Israel, that they are unable to see what will happen?

Let me put it another way. If, G-d forbid, Israel were overrun and the Jews killed or evicted and all the land was in the hands of the Arabs, who actually believes that the result would be peace throughout the Middle East? Who? For those of us who live in, or have visited, Southern California, imagine that you are traveling northbound on the 405 Freeway from the city side of Los Angeles into the San Fernando Valley. As you reach the top of the hill and start to descend into the Valley, you can see across the Valley floor to the mountain range on the other side of the Valley. That short distance is equal to the entire width of Israel in some places. Should Israel give up complete control of the West Bank, they are looking at enemies who also will have elevated vantage points in the hills of Judea and Samaria; vantage points from which they can easily attack Jerusalem, the Knesset, Ben Gurion airport, and even Tel Aviv and most of Israel's population centers.

Trump visited the Western Wall (the Kotel), but as it sits in what much of the world calls disputed "East" Jerusalem, he did not invite Netanyahu to go with him. He visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Early on he said he would move the US embassy to Israel's capital city of Jerusalem. He has since backed off. Trump seems to be falling under the same anti-Israel influences that permeate much of our State Department and other Federal agencies. Trump's efforts to get the Arab and Muslim world united in a fight against terrorism is to be commended. His desire to align the Sunni Arabs with Israel against the Ayatollahs is worthy of admiration. But, there is no point in forcing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East, and our best ally there, to commit suicide. None.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Why My Friend is Wrong

Recently, a friend, who also reads the blog, asked why I have not been discussing the big issues of the day. Issues such as "Korea, Yates, Flynn, Sessions, Comey, Putin, Russia and the French election." Admittedly, I have not discussed much about those issues. Those are issues that do require more research and more time to prepare. I fully acknowledge that it is likely that many readers would like to see me address those issues. Recently, I have discussed Hollywood propaganda (using the TV show "Designated Survivor" as an example), and the lack of tolerance for conservative speech on college and university campuses. My friend told me that those issues were the least of our problems in light of all the other issues he referred to. I disagree.

It is not that all of those issues are not important. Of course they are. But I believe the bigger issue is the civil war which we are currently experiencing. I have described it as a mostly non-violent war. You see, this war did not start with a few college protests. We have an entire generation that has been spoon fed propaganda by the Left - from Hollywood TV and movies, from academia and from the mainstream media. Not only have they been "taught" left wing views, they have been taught that those who disagree are the basket of deplorables - haters, bigots, racists, sexists, homophobes, and so on. Once those labels are attached, it quite easy to have no respect for such people.

We now have some newspapers refusing to print opinion pieces opposing gay marriage. The rationale is that gay marriage is the law of the land. Of course, when heterosexual marriage was the law of the land they had no problem printing news stories and op-eds in favor of gay marriage. Some papers will not print opinion pieces rebutting global warming. They say that the science is settled. Once upon a time the science was settled that the earth was flat. I am reminded of the death sentence given to Socrates for "refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state." Some would like to see climate change deniers imprisoned. Shall we return to the time of Socrates, which was 2,416 years ago? Of course, we need not go back that far, as in the 20th Century, Communists in particular have meted out harsh sentences to those who dared to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies in their societies.

Today, we see young people unable to even hear an opposing viewpoint. Instead they need their safe spaces. Worse, it is not just young people. I was part of a group email with the aforementioned friend. After a while, I was kicked off of that group email by adults who could not tolerate an opposing viewpoint. And it is not simply an unwillingness to hear my views. I know very well what some on the Left think of me as an individual because of my conservative views. For proof, please go back and read my 7/29/16 post "A Personal Tale of Left-Wing Intolerance," as well as the 8/1/16 post "An Email Exchange With the Woman From the Last Post." That incident last year was not the first time I was yelled at by someone who disagreed with me.

Obviously, I am not the only conservative who feels the dislike and even hatred from the Left. We now have families where those who voted for Trump are made to feel unwelcome at family get togethers, and are even uninvited to holiday dinners. It's bad enough to see the violent protests and vandalism at colleges where conservative speakers are scheduled to speak. In a 5/10/17 piece by Michelangelo Signorile, which the Huffington Post saw fit to put online, this is what Mr. Signorile recommended: "Starting today and from here on, no elected official - certainly those in the GOP defending and supporting Trump on a variety of issues, for example - should be able to sit down for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner in a Washington, D.C. eatery or even in their own homes. They should be hounded by protestors everywhere, especially in public - in restaurants, in shopping centers, in their districts, and yes, on the public property outside their homes and apartments, in Washington and back in their home states."

Mr. Signorile continued: "The elected officials and White House staffers must be challenged going to and from their cars and at the many public speeches they give at organizations and think tanks throughout DC and elsewhere. They should be bombarded with questions and placards by groups of people as they head to media appearances at the cable networks where they spew their lies every day. And they should be challenged when they come off TV for what they just lied about."

Then there's this: "Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, should not be able to attend any function, eat in public, or enjoy dinner at home without hearing people expressing how his actions are harming their lives and their families' lives in terrible ways." Signorile goes on to state he is not calling for violent or thuggish behavior. Rather, he claims he wants to see protests the way the AIDS activist group, ACT UP, did in the 1980s and 1990s. Of course, he is dreaming if he believes this type of in-your-face harassment does not lead to people getting hurt, or worse. I do not remember any call to treat liberals/leftists with such disrespect while Obama was in office, even though many of us felt that Obama constantly lied and was a danger to this country.

The Left has been engaging in an effort to hurt the "enemy" (Republicans and conservatives) for some time. As an example, recall how they wanted to hurt Chick Fil-A because the owner said he personally believed in the traditional definition of marriage. And the hatred towards Donald Trump has been so great that we have heard talk of his impeachment from the day he took office. So, my friend is concerned about my not addressing certain "big" issues. Our country has always faced such types of issues. But, there was only one time when we were engaged in a violent civil war. Actual civility is not a value for the Left. We have seen it in the vulgar tirades from late night talk show hosts. We see it in the likes of Mr. Signorile's call for harassment and intimidation. We even see it in the mainstream media's name calling and demagoguery.

This civil war will not be north versus south. But it will, and already has, divided families - just as the first one did. Where this one will end still remains to be seen. But I fail to see how the possible failure of the United States to stay united is not the most important issue facing our country.