My First Interfaith Event

So I attended my first interfaith event today at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


The first lady that I spoke to said that she wasn’t any one religion.  


When I asked more about this, she said:

The core to all religions is Rachamim (mercy, compassion) and Ahavah (love).


Pictured above are the table seating cards that directed people to sit next to people of other religions:  Jewish, Muslim, Other. 


The event was led by the One America Movement, and the Director, Andrew Hanauer spoke very well about bridging what divides us. 


Here are some of the take-a-ways:


– We need to address the divisiveness, polarization, and conflict. 

– Remember that we are talking with other human beings and not with labels.


– Polarization is not just issues, but devolves into identity–“I hate your stupid face!”


– But we are all human beings (and children of G-d). 

– Republicans and Democrats each say that the other is 20% less human than they are. 


– We all have our own “facts”:  My facts vs. Your Facts. 


– We attribute good that happens to us as being because of “us,” but bad that happens to us because of “them.”


– Similarly, we believe that we act out of love, but they act out of hate–and:

– We interpret threats to our viewpoints (political and otherwise), as threats to our groups and to ourselves. 

– Try to remove binary thinking (right and wrong, left and right, etc.), critique your own point of view, and share doubts

– Reconciliation:  If we can cross the divide, have open dialogue, and positive interactions with each others, and develop cross-cutting identities then we will make it easier to counter divisive narratives, solve problems, and reduce violence. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Derangement of Conscience

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Watching the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists march in Charlottesville, VA yesterday made me sick.


They represent the worst of what human beings have to offer–hate, bigotry, and violence. 


The event was culminated when a car driven by one of these hate-mongers apparently intentionally slammed into a crowd of anti-protester and killed a 32-year old woman  and injured 19 others–what a sick, sick soul!


This miserable event just 2 days shy of 2-months from when Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and 4 others were shot at a baseball field in Alexandria, VA by another nut job from the alt-left. 

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) said it right when he stated on national TV last evening:

“The hate and division must stop, and it must stop right now.”


But as we face large, looming enemies on the international scene — like dangerous Axis of Evil, North Korea and Iran — with weapons of mass destruction aimed at our shores and cities, all we can do is hate and fight internally.


What is wrong with this country now — when so many seem to have abandoned personal integrity and national unity — and shoot verbally and physically at each other instead of at the real enemies that seek to lay waste to our beloved homeland of the free and the brave?


Soon the missiles will reign down and the hate will smelter in the derangement of conscience. 


(Source Photo: Twitter)

Killer Organizational Sharks

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There are sharks out there. 


And it’s not just in the oceans. 


There are plenty in your organizations. 


They make for lots of dysfunction and conflict. 


The organizational sharks see themselves as the bigger and more important fish in the sea. 


They look for weakness in others—they smell blood and when they do, they usually follow it to the kill!


These sharks are the types of people that attack their colleagues when they should be assisting them. 


Not only do they lack respect for others, but instead see them as the enemy and eat them as prey, when instead, they need to be chewing up the outside competition.


It’s an attitude of us versus them misplaced within the organization, rather than external-facing. 


These organizational sharks could be in leadership positions, in which case, their attitudes filter down infecting the rest of their staffs. 


Instead of unity, cohesion, and working together to get the mission and job down, the sharks are selfishly worrying about and working to build their own power base. 


It’s a dysfunctional culture that allows these sharks to exist and swarm in their organizational waters. 


Sharks for some reason fail to see that their boats are hitched to everyone else in the organization, and that all the organizational boats rise together or fill with polluted water and sink to the bottom.


As leaders, we need to focus and agree on supporting each other to achieve the success of all. 


Even sharks should learn to be nice and play together with all the other fish in the organizational sea. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Nation Conquered By Politics

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So Obamacare is failing with rates spiraling up out of control and choices narrowing for people that need good affordable healthcare. 


And the Ryancare replacement plan failed to garner enough votes and has been questioned by the alt-right as not going further enough to change things for the better. 


Blame the parliamentarian, blame each other, blame the Russians. 


Between the two sides of the aisle, there aren’t enough centrists, and the parties won’t work together on a solution to this or anything else apparently–hence the utter catastrophic deadlock and lack of progress in Washington going on for years now!


The democrats passed Obamacare along party lines without a single Republican.


And now Ryancare similarly had not a single Democrat. 


Resistance.  Resistance.  Resistance!


This is how polarized and ineffective our system of governing has become, when the two sides love their position and power more than they love the people of this great nation!


The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians didn’t have to fire a single shot…they just continued to shame our ineffectiveness with bogus deals and aggressive posturing, fed us boatloads  of misinformation (“fake news”) to agitate our already divided country, and then they left us to split asunder under of our democracy’s own weight. 


As the Republicans point fingers and the Democrats gloat–there is a great refrain of La La La Koosh Koosh going on–and the Superpower U.S. is looking not only asleep, but also fat, stupid and sprawled out pathetic with no where to go but up from here. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Polarized and Not Going To Take It Anymore

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So they say about Washington politics, “if you’re not on offense, then you’re on defense.”


In the polarized mood of the nation, this has never been more true. 


The alt-left and alt-right are stronger than ever and pointing fingers and fists at one another. 


Each side, the ultra -liberals and -conservatives are duking it out over who is is going on the offensive today.


Only to be outmaneuvered the very next day and be placed back on the defensive. 


Who communicated with the Russians today?


Who used their private email today?


Who committed perjury and lied under oath today?


Who was offensive and even violent at rallies and protests today? 


And on and on…


You’re either on offense or your stuck on defense!


And the more polarized and hateful of each other this nation has become, including in the media, the more the outrageous the accusations and the more alternate facts and fake news. 


But what I learned today is that this doesn’t just apply to politics.


Religion is another prime source for discrimination and hate of your fellow man. 


I remember learning that over history, more people have died in wars in the name of religion than for any other reason.


So too today, the “crazy-hard line” ultra religious and the “throw-it-all away” irreligious are just as polarized. 


The religious mock the irreligious as self-haters and atheists and the irreligious make fun of the rightwing religious as abusive and robotic.


Moreover, any disagreement results in insults and loathing over who is morally superior.


Of course, everyone cites sources and authorities to show why their position is the correct one and everyone else is wrong about religion and G-d. 


Attack, defend, attack, defend. 


No wonder nothing is getting constructively done.


No wonder children are confused. 


No wonder those around us laugh at our seeming inability to come together, all as G-d’s wonderful creatures. 


Who will be on the attack today and who will be on defense. 


If only we could have a panini instead of all this anger, hate, extremism, and rejectionist bias toward our fellow man. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

U.S. National Demise From Political and Media Extremism

When media becomes propaganda, this country is in serious trouble.


We are so busy telling each other what “the truth” is that nothing is getting done. 


While Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and radical Islamist terrorists increase in strength and bravado, we are fighting one another here at home.


As more people in the U.S. gravitate to the extremes–alt-left and alt-right–lines in sand are drawn between us, while the red lines defending our common interests are eviscerated. 


Self-destructing from within, while we outwardly spend $600 billion on defense–34% of that of the entire world!


No strategy or weapons can defend us, when fake news and alternate facts and hatred of one another is at our present-day core. 


Tearing us apart, the endless hateful calls of:


– “Not my President”


– “Resistance and persistence


– “Love Trumps Hate”


– “Deplorables, Nazis, Communists!”


The political extremists and their media henchmen are leading the charge to America’s downfall and possible doomsday. 


Unless we, the American people, can moderate and unify and love each other again.


We must before our enemies take advantage of our inner divisiveness and weakness.


If we don’t come to our common senses, then we may very well pay a most heavy price in our persons, property, and freedom that we all so cherish and value. 😉

Emperor Has No Clothes

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What happens when the emperor has no clothes?


That’s when we get fake news and alternative facts. 


These days we don’t know what to believe anymore because institutions and media have lost so much credibility with bias, prejudice, and trying to influence based on overtly selfish motives. 


The gloves have come off in the fight for supreme earthly might. 


Apparently, a lot of other clothes have come off too.


Now the influencers stand naked before us and we must judge for ourselves the truth of the matter. 


It funny-sad that in their utter nakedness, they bear no shame. 


They scream, and hissy fit, protest, rage, demean, threaten and commit violence.


Ear lobes are dangling as are the other parts and still there is no listening, negotiating, or compromise. 


Advancement is limited to obstruction, and progress is dead like a heap of dung.


The nation suffers the marks in the flesh of bitter fighting, while our competitive advantages are eroded. 


United we used to stand, and divided for a decade we are falling. 


We can dive into the pile of clothes and swim among them, but still we are sinking naked and stinking the lot like selfish bastards, indeed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Divided States Of America

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So the way the alt-left are fighting it out with President Trump…with violent protests, riots, marches, insults, beatings, fires, broken windows, and sheer contempt,  you’d think we were in a third world country under a brutal dictator, or worse.  


Gone is the respect, decency, compromise, and diplomacy among valid differences of opinion and points of view. 


Talking it out and working it out…forget about it. 


Aside from taking up arms, it’s almost like this country is in a second civil war


The United States has become the divided states. 


Hitler, Nazis, Stalin, Commies!


California wants to secede (like Texas wanted to previously). 


Lawsuits against the President.


Screams, posters and groups of “Not my President.”


Celebrities threatening to pack up and leave the country. 


Refusals to carry out the laws of the land. 


People joining the resistance and underground. 


Secret communications in agencies


Plotting and threats for a military overthrow of the Presidency


Calls for blowing up the White House.


Tweets calling for assassination and pics posted of what it would look like. 


Yet there are no death camps, no razor sharp wire, no attack dogs ripping the flesh off people, no forced labor, no death marches, no brutal beatings, no starvation of prisoners, no poison gas showers, no crematoria, no firing squads, no mass graves, no gruesome experiments on twins, no vicious assaults, no sexual abuse and rapes, no Star of David patches to be worn, no threats to exterminate. 


While of course, we need to ensure “Never Again” for all of us– even the slightest inkling of it–is there really a bona-fide “again” or “inkling” here in the first place? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Not A Newspaper, But Rather A Hatepaper

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Many are raising concerns about media bias and censorship in this most polarizing of times for our nation. 


Media like the New York Times that many used to look up to is endlessly going after the President of the United States and has become a hateful disgrace for its bias, hyperbole, and rancor. 


No longer a respectful investigative and informative newspaper, it’s now become a bona fide one-sided, bigoted, hatepaper.


Sure, media is going to represent the views of its owners, but today’s New York Times is what happens when hate and party politics become it’s sole purpose for being. 


When people and media are balanced, fair, and rational, they present good and bad–both sides of the argument. 


When they are biased and hateful and simply a tool for power elite propaganda and mind control then this is what you get…the New York Times Sunday Review Section–here’s a list of their articles today:

– The Commander in Chief Who Buried Humility
– How to Listen to Donald Trump Every Day for Years
– Why Would We Need To March?
– Racial Progress, Then Racist Progress
– Under The Big Top (Apparently the circus [Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey] couldn’t compete against a Trump presidency)
– Sheer Dispair
– The America We Lost When Trump Won
– Placing a Bet on the New President (I’ve Been hearing he’s surrounding himself with swampy people)
– The Tempting of the Media (The traps for the press in the Trump era)
– Why I Cannot Fall in Line Behind Trump

Yes, our freedom and democracy is under attack by bias and bigotry, but perhaps you need to look closer at the supposedly mainstream newspapers that you are reading for the true hateful filled columns that they have come to represent.  


May G-d save this republic from not only corrupt politicians, but also a media that is in some cases no better, and perhaps as in this case, maybe even worse. 


Who are the deplorables when the windows of innocents are being smashed, the cars being burnt, threats of bombing the White House are broadcast, and the hate-mongering media keeps bashing and bashing and bashing.  😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Lies, Injustice, and the New “(Un)American Way”

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Superman and all the American heroes have been so great because they represented the fight of good over evil.


And…with the principles always of “Truth and Justice.”


We were proud to be Americans because we were a free democracy and we fought for freedom and human rights everywhere. 


Truth and justice in the world meant something; it meant everything to us. 


It was part of our Judeo-Christian faith and who were were as people and as a nation. 


We defeated colonial rule, slavery, Hitler, Communism, and even put a man on the moon while heralding in suffrage and equal rights irrespective of color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and more. 


The truth was sought out no matter where it was to be found, and justice needed be done to satisfy the courts below and the Heaven above. 


But it seems that a lot has changed, hasn’t it?


Right is no longer right, but rather politics makes right. 


From smear campaigns, secret dossiers, exaggerations and fairy tales to name-calling, hate speech, cyber attacks, and marketing and branding to undo the opposition. 


From secret email servers, foundation pay-to-play, and pizzagate to claims of Russian campaign ties. 


From a Snowden surveillance state to stolen questions from election debates. 


From abstention at hateful, bigoted UN resolutions to deals with terrorist Iranian mullahs.


From honors at the White House for Army deserter Bergdahl to injustices meted out against the opposition party by unscrupulous political appointees. 


From fake news to the abandonment of investigative journalism with now one-sided bias and trash talking journalists and even SNL “comedians.”


From the reversal of dry-foot wet-foot immigration for Cubans (what ever happened to helping refugees in need and danger?) to watching 500,000 dead in Syria from the sidelines of violated red lines. 


From a purge of 36,000 after a Turkey coup to the rise of competing ISIS and Iranian terror caliphates across Asia and the Middle East. 


From nukes on NATO’s borders to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Georgia and from China’s buildout in the South China Sea and threatening of its neighbors and freedom of navigation of the seas to North Korea developing and tests ballistic missiles and nukes. 


From shootings of African Americans to “revenge killings” against police officers and the demise of inner-city America with skyrocketing crime and the long misery of poverty and homelessness.


From decrepit U.S. infrastructure, jobs going overseas, a widening trade deficit, and an overwhelming national debt. 


From rose-colored glasses, half-baked statistics, and selling bogus ideas to the “media echo chamber.”


From abandonment of allies and friends to embracing terrorist murders and the inability to say “radical Islamist.”


From campaigning from within the White House on the taxpayer dime to attacking Bernie Sanders for his faith to steer the primary to Hillary. 


From secret meetings on airplanes with the Attorney General while in the middle of an investigation to lies about videos being the cause of an attack on our Benghazi mission and the murder of an American Ambassador. 


From prosecuting some for mishandling government classified information to letting others go who were “grossly negligent” endangering national security.


From divisiveness and “resistance” to creating an inability to get anything done. 


From sit-ins and walk-outs and from disrespectful “peaceful” demonstrations to violent protests, and from loose-mouths to paid operatives to disrupt lawful campaign rallies. 


From “Not my president” to how dare anyone question the legitimacy of our elections. 


From breaking glass ceilings to creating new barriers between peoples and races across the spectrum. 


From broken healthcare to bankrupt social security, and from failing education to trailing life expectancy. 


From a decrepit nuclear triad “deterrent” to a weakening of the global order, including Brexit. 


From terrorism and war to genocide, refugees, and human rights violations. 


So as lies and corruption run rampant and we are aghast with mouths open wide at how far things can fall…we recognize when power itself becomes the end rather than the means, and wielding it becomes more important than any truth and any justice, and that is fundamentally how totally unAmerican things have become, indeed. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)