Democrats and Democracy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Democrats and Democracy–Could It Be Again?

The polarization, opposition, racism, and hatred is despicable and seems to only be getting worse. Two more people came to me today after synagogue to tell me they are “resigning” from the democratic party. We all used to love the Democratic Party and what it stood for, especially as Jews, who know the endless and murderous barbs of discrimination and anti-Semitism. What has happened? What once stood for freedom, respect, and dignity for all has turned upside down and inside out. All I hear now is hate, hate, and more hate.


Whichever political party and leadership can do what’s right for the nation and adhere to civil rights, human rights, and doing what’s right–that’s the one for me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

The Diversity Tapestry

I really liked this sign with the saying by civil rights leader, Maya Angelou:

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their color [or race, or origin, or religion, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability].”


Ok, I added the “or” statements at the end. 


But the point is the same and important.


Discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, and bias are stupid. 


They are a function of ignorance. 


– We learn from diversity. 


– Life is richer with diversity. 


If everything was in monocolor…if life was homogeneous…if there was only one type of everything, then what type of humdrum, monotonous, and boring place would this be?


Value the variety.  Value the diversity.  Value the differences. 


They make us better and stronger than we could ever otherwise be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Heads Down, Pants Down

Head Down.jpeg.JPG

If you put your head down in the global sand, then eventually your pants are going to get pulled down too, and you are going to get royally scr*wed (or should I say scr*w things up). 


And that’s exactly what’s happening to the reputation of the U.S. here and abroad.


Domestically, another 3 terror attacks just over the weekend in New York , New Jersey, and Minnesota.


While overseas, a humanitarian aid convey is attacked in Syria destroying 18 trucks and killing 20 people, and this after being coordinated with Russia, in advance.


And despite our touting our own horn of achievements at the UN yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal today, the former prime minister of Denmark and secretary-general of NATO is crying out on behalf of the world and imploring the U.S. to once again lead in the world, stating:

“We desperately need a U.S. president who is able to lead the free world and counter autocrats…right now, the [global] village is burning…we need a policeman to restore order; we need a firefighter to put out the flames.”


He goes on as to the consequences of the apparent reluctance to lead:


– “Middle East is torn by war”


– “Libya has collapsed and become a breeding ground for terrorists”


– “Resurgent Russia has brutally attacked and grabbed land by force from Ukraine”


– “China is flexing its muscles against its neighbors”


– “Rogue state of North Korea is threatening nuclear attack”


Oh, and I think he forget this one, but another WSJ piece captured it:


– “One year after Iran deal, Iran’s right’s violations and aggression continue [unabated]”


But aside from fighting terrorism and despots in the world, even when it comes to fighting for critical civil rights, there is weakness and disillusionment (today from Jason Riley in the Journal):

“By almost any traditional metric,–home-ownership, median incomes, labor participation, poverty–blacks are worse off today than they were at the start of Mr. Obama’s first term.” 


This country cannot lead with it’s head down and it’s hands tied!


It’s way past time to pick our heads up high and buckle our belts and get back in the ring to fight with belief and determination for what is right for us and the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Please G-d In The Workplace

Lookign To Heaven.jpeg

So here is a true story that happened to me at work.


You know how you put on your “out of office message” in Microsoft Outlook when on leave…


Well, I was responsible and did just that. 


My message was typical informing people that I was out, when I plan to return, and who to contact about urgent matters in my (brief) absence. 


But something astonishing happened then…


I actually got a reply to my out of office message from an executive scolding me about it–imagine this being how government time is spent. 


Yes and dun da da dum…here was my big offense to this senior executive, in my out of office message, I simply used the words “Please G-d,” as in:


“I am out of the office and plan to return, please G-d, on [such and such day and date].”


The message I received back in my inbox:


“I’m not sure what the ‘please G+d’ reference means. It’s a bit confusing. You may want to delete it.”


OMG, I was being admonished in the federal government for using the words “Please G-d” in my out of office message–for simply respecting and recognizing Him/Her. 


– What is confusing about “Please G-d”?


– And how can anyone ask that I delete G-d from my message or in any way from my life???


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states under religious discrimination and harassment that:

 “Harassment, can include, for example offensive remarks about a person’s beliefs or religious practices.”

 

Further, “the law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employees religious beliefs and practices,” barring an undue burden. 


What burden to the government was there in me saying, “please G-d.”


And why did I get back a mocking message spelling it this way, “G+d,” which I read as being a cross in the middle, mocking me as someone of Jewish belief.


Understand that I write the word G-d with a hyphen, because I was taught out of respect not to spell out ( or even say) G-d’s name in vain, which is the 3rd commandment in the biblical Ten Commandments.


The executive’s comments to me were not only extremely rude, offensive, and discriminatory, but also illegal.


It is outrageous that this type of behavior should be allowed to go on in 21st century America, let alone in the federal government itself that writes and enforces the law of the land–the land of the free and the home of the brave–read it, it’s in our national anthem and our constitution. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lives That Matter Not

Police Cycles

With the presumed racially bigoted killing of Black people, we got Black Lives Matter. 


Now with the sniper attack murdering 5 police officers, we have Blue Lives Matter. 


From the unfortunate political response to both, it seems that No Lives Matter. 


With all the violence, and revenge violence, and cycles thereof, it was amazingly sad to hear our President say last week, “I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested.”


Oh, really!


From Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray to the five police officers killed last week–there sure seems to be a lot of bloodletting for a country that is not all that divided. 


The problem is that the serious racial divisions are only a part of it. 


Economic inequality is another big factor in the equation with the top 1% owning more than 50% of global wealth, and the gap continues to widen. 


And on top of that you have the political elites who perhaps are not only above the law, but are so much intertwined with the law of the land that they can be “100% confident” on doing what they want and not getting in any trouble.  


So does the 99% matter? Perhaps only as much as your vote and/or donation count for the 1% to get and keep their beloved and worshiped money and power. 


One thing that is amazingly clear across the spectrum from the likes of Donald Trump to that of Bernie Sanders is that the system is rigged.


Yet as disparities and inequalities exist in treatment from black to blue, the elites are most able to manipulate the “echo chamber” with loads of spin to give the perception of calm and stability and some breadcrumbs for all. 


Everyone has a chance to live and to prosper except when they don’t.  


Still we can gloss over the spilled blood and the ridiculous inequality with some promises, gestures, and maybe even a few handouts–and make you 100% confident that you do matter so very much. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody’s Property

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody's Property

I saw the movie “12 Years A Slave.”

I have seen other movies on slavery, such as Amistad and Glory, but none were as potent and realistic as this was.

I came out with my head full of feelings of pain and injustice, as if I had just lived through those 12 years as a slave myself.

I literally felt sick to my stomach and the room felt as if it was spinning and I could hardly breathe.

My wife said to me, “You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel bad.”

And I responded to her, “I feel bad that they (the slave owners and traders) weren’t human.”

I cannot tell the story of Solomon Northup or of the horrors of slavery any better than the movie in fact did.

But what I can convey is my shear disgust for how anybody could enslave and mistreat others the way the Black people and others throughout history were.

As a Jewish person, my own people have a history of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and this took on a whole new meaning.

As great actors as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner were, The movie, The Ten Commandments, did not show the depths of Hell of slavery as much as the breadth of Heaven of redemption.

And while the Pyramids of Egypt were built not with massively powered Caterpillar earth movers and construction equipment, but with the flesh and blood of my people under the whip of servitude 3,500 years ago, similarly the Capitol of the United States and The White House were built with Black people in chains and hung by the noose.

In the movie today, the plantation owners said they could do what they wanted to the slaves and without fear of retribution or sin, because the slaves were their property.

What is unbelievable is that anyone can believe that anybody can be the property of anyone other than G-d, the Master of the Universe, him/herself.

The slave trader in the movie, tearing apart a family and selling the mother and her children separately, when questioned on his ability to commit such atrocity, says matter-of-factly,”my sentimentality extends the length of a coin.”

For a buck, what will a person not do?

In history, we have seen individuals and whole societies cheat, steal, rape, enslave, torture, murder, and commit every treachery and treason…for a buck or even just because they could.

What is the lesson for all of us?

People can do great good in this world, but unfettered by faith, conscience, reason, or fear of justice, they can do great, great evil–and for that we can never let our guard down.

In The Back Of The Bus

I love seeing the sign on the bus commemorating the heroism of Rosa Parks for civil rights.However, on this Thanksgiving, I was reminded that all is still not well when it comes to bigotry and racism in this country.I rode the S bus this evening–the one that goes up and down Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.The beautiful architecture of the luxury condominiums and hotels, and the palm trees, beach and waterways, along with a good smattering of fancy automobiles and yachts, makes for some impressive scenery.

But this is in stark contrast to most of the people on the bus, who come from a much poorer lifestyle.

This afternoon, the bus was very crowded and my daughter and I found ourselves in the back of the bus.

And the vibes were not very good at all!

First, there was a young lady dressed somewhat scantilly, and there was a guy riding in the back row who just kept looking her up and down–again and again. I imagined how uncomfortable and scared she must feel. But within a few minutes, I was glad when I saw her get off the bus, safely.

Now, I guess it was our turn, unfortunately. And beside the man who had been ogling the woman is a another guy. This guy has wild hair and his eyes are intensely dark, and he is staring at me.

First, when I noticed him doing it, I did the usual quick look back, which shows the person you are noticing them staring at you, and then they stop, right? That’s what usually happens, but not this time.

This guy stares straight at me with piercing angry eyes–and he won’t stop.

I look over at my daughter to make sure she is okay, but she is aware that something is wrong and that there is danger nearby, sitting just a few feet away.

I look up front to see if we can move away–but the bus is still crowded and we are sort of hemmed in.

The guy continues to stare straight in my face, and there is no avoiding it any longer.

I say, “Are you looking at me?”

He continues to stare, doesn’t say a word, and he looks up at my Jewish head covering, my Yarmulka. Then he lifts his hand–he points first at his eyes and then straight at me.

I get my daughter up and we squeeze our way forward toward the front of the bus. Thank G-d, this guy didn’t pursue.

We lost our seat, but by the way this guy looked menacingly at us, I think we could’ve lost a lot more.

This was quite a frightening situation, and it made me think that while the Rosa Parks sign on the bus has a permanent place there, unfortunately, there are still lots of people who hold onto blind hatred and refuse to let it go.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)