Friday, July 31, 2015

I could not have said it better myself

By Michael Golden -- Huffington Post

He's ridin' high in the polls. He's maintained altitude longer than most of the pundits predicted he could or would. And the media is compelled to cover (smother) him as long as his numbers hold. But set aside the circus and prognostications for a moment -- could Donald Trump actually govern effectively as a U.S. president?

If you ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the answer is an unequivocal "no." Why? Because his skill set is not Transferable to a government setting.

We should stipulate that Christie, along with more than a dozen other Republican presidential candidates and their strategists, are laying awake at night trying to devise new ways to steal some of the spotlight away from Trump (witness Mike Huckabee's Holocaust reference and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz calling his Majority Leader a liar right on the Senate floor). But in Christie's elaboration of his claim, we hear a line of logic that's been sorely lacking from the Trump coverage:

"Donald would tell Speaker Boehner, 'I want this bill and I want it on my desk because this is what's best for America.' And Speaker Boehner is going to say, "Yeah? Well I don't have the votes for that, so I can't give it to you.' He can't look at him and say 'Speaker Boehner, you're fired.' You can't do that. You can do it on a reality TV show, but you cannot fire the Speaker of the House, or the Senate Majority Leader, because you don't get what you want."

It's a bit ironic that this rational, common sense diagnosis of what a Trump presidency might look like comes from a candidate and governor who himself has publicly called reporters "idiots" and told them to "shut up." At the same time, reporters are not Christie's government colleagues in the same way members of the legislature are. This is why for the most part, even when we hear our candidates and elected leaders disagree with each other, we usually don't hear personal slurs. It happens now and again. But Joe Wilson's "You lie" accusation at the President in a televised joint session of Congress was huge news because of just how rare it was as a public show of bombastic, personal animosity.

But for Trump, so far, it has been the norm: "They're rapists." "He (U.S. Senator John McCain) was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." He "graduated last in his class at Annapolis - dummy." "He (Governor Rick Perry) should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate." Trump's "not a fan of Jeb Bush." Trump calls U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham an "idiot" and a "lightweight."

Of Trump's thumps, Governor Bush responded: "The problem with Mr. Trump's language is it's divisive, it's ugly, it's mean-spirited." Governor Perry similarly returned serve: "He offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense." A bit more irony there, as some would level the same charge at some of Perry's past comments (think: Texas secession). Still, while these observations will resonate with a ton of Americans who aren't part of the 15-25 percent of Republicans polled who support Trump, they still don't get to the larger question about his candidacy -- and by extension -- our system.

In the United States, every single president we've elected had prior government service. Most were either vice presidents or governors before serving in the White House. Barack Obama was only the third U.S. Senator to directly advance to the presidency from that body over the last century.

By most objective standards, Donald Trump is a highly skilled businessman -- a billionaire proficient at building profit and attracting attention through grandiose behavior. In his case those two traits have been mutually beneficial, and time will tell whether his nascent presidential campaign is only part of that larger profit imperative. But whether the campaign is real or not, it's a genuine teachable moment, and Christie's comment is at the root of the lesson.

For many, it's a comforting thought to believe that if only we had a successful, bold CEO in the White House, our government would work with an efficiency approaching the level of a highly profitable corporation. But even folks with a hazy memory of grade school civics will come to realize that this is not a realistic notion in our democracy. Christie just spells it out clearly and succinctly. An individual elected governor or president is afforded a great degree of power, either by respective state or U.S. Constitution. At the same time, and by very intentional design, our heads of state are constrained by the constitutional imperative to work with a legislative branch that also possesses great powers -- if not always exercised.

Trump may be aware of this on some level, but his public comments show no evidence of it. Conversely, most of the other candidates are aware of it from actual personal experience, either as legislators or governors (excepting former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson). The tone and substance of all of these candidates are in contrast to Trump. This is not to say that their public comments do not offend on occasion, but most of them seem to realize that whatever they do say on the record, they will need to live with those remarks if actually elected. Words matter. In politics and government, they matter a great deal. Mature elected leaders know this, and most of them understand the consequences of the scorched-earth tactics.

Trump insists he'll build a wall along our southwestern border and force Mexico to pay for it. Trump says he would love a trade war with China. Trump says he'll put Sarah Palin in his cabinet. Like any of these ideas? Whether you do or you don't, our U.S. president does not have unilateral power to make them realities. In our country we have something called the U.S. Congress. It is designated as the "first branch" of our federal government, and sits right up front in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

Like it or not (and record low numbers of Americans express confidence in Congress), our president is required by law to work with the U.S. House and Senate to pass legislation. This is no easy task, even when the chambers are controlled by the same party that occupies the White House. This is the way it's supposed to be.

But the problems in Congress make it exponentially harder to move the country forward than at any time in recent memory. Earlier this week former Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) returned to the Capitol to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (passed overwhelmingly in both houses). Dole explained to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank why bipartisanship used to work: "We were D's and R's, but beyond that we were friends. We worked together because it was the right thing to do."

So is it just the personalities in Congress that are different? Don't fall for it. Americans have geographically self-sorted themselves regionally over the last few decades -- that's a fact. But there are structural reasons for the breakdown, too. The flood of money washing through the system, the most rigged U.S. House races in modern history, and the rules in the Senate that have allowed for a record-breaking level of obstruction tactics. Even if Dole is right that our elected leaders today are more lacking in leadership, the rules make it even harder. We ignore these real impediments at our peril.

Right now, and for the next 15 months, the media will focus its political coverage for the most part on the presidential horse race as opposed to the defective legislative branch that any winner will have to negotiate with for at least four years. The narrative of presidential politics is easier to convey and more entertaining to consume.

If American history is any guide, Donald Trump will not be elected president. This is not to say it's impossible. But beyond ruminating over the odds of his success, or being amused by the sideshow that Trump's been able to bump up onto the main stage, sooner or later we'll need to come to agreement about the structural defects that are severely damaging the congressional product we're all paying for. That's the lesson that lies underneath the carnival show. No matter whom we elect president, that person alone cannot repair a busted government -- and that person will be called upon to work with both houses of Congress that have their own internal dysfunction. Ultimately, only the American electorate has the power change this dynamic by learning about that dysfunction's core causes, and harnessing that knowledge to reform the rules, and restore the system.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My relative: Jon Finer (my mother's maiden name.) How proud of him are we? VERY!!

My relative: Jon Finer (my mother's maiden name.)  :-)

Such a Deal

What I sent to Congress about the Deal:

I am a white Jewish woman and I support 100% the expertly crafted nuclear Deal with Iran. The alternative would mean a probable war with Iran and not in the distant future. It is an impossibility for the US to endure yet another huge Middle East quagmire costing double the Iraq War in blood and treasure. It is more than unacceptable. It is impossible and wrong.

No deal means Iran would continue its stepped up enriched uranium process (and its search for plutonium) to build a bomb doing it soon within the most fractured and volatile region of the world we helped create.

We are talking about the surety of war with Iran and eventually a possible nuclear one at that. The Israelis should be proclaiming the virtues of this Deal some of their own scientists support because it delays Iranian enrichment for over a decade and in some cases more. If Iran fails to accept inspections the business-as-usual sanctions will continue. None of the other P5 plus 1 nations will continue bone crushing sanctions against Iran without trying the negotiated Deal first. The US 's MIT nuclear expert, Ernst Moniz, President Obama’s Energy Secretary led the complicated crafting of this Deal. Moreover, we should accept what the other P5 plus 1 nations want, nuclear experts want and the world wants because the stakes for not accepting it are so unnecessary and so high.

Either one accepts nuclear scientists – including some in Israel – or one does not. Our science denying corporatist owned Republican Congress are a joke to the rest of the world but the Deal Republicans cavalierly renounce is serious. Those who unfathomably reject this Deal will, hopefully, lose this fight.

In evolutionary terms the fittest survive and science deniers will not be among them at least not for long. I do not want know-nothings dragging those of us who accept science and its truth into an explosive catastrophe because of those who do not. Scientists support this Deal because they know it is the best one we could get to avoid war for decades so no war will happen now. Another US monstrous intervention against Iran costing blood and treasure in the trillions inflating our debt even more – something Republicans say they loathe – is unacceptable.

Republicans never saw a war they did not like but know nothing about adding the nuclear equation to the mix with its calculus of losing certainty. The P5 plus 1 is led by an academically gifted group of nuclear experts. They have with the other P5 plus 1 nations created a masterpiece most accept except our know-nothing Republican Congress. To the world we are a joke but to the academically inclined the game is deadly serious.

Howard Zinn always told me with respect to war ask the question who does it benefit and why. In addition to those questions with corporate answers I ask do you want your children to live. It's that simple.

SUPPORT the nuclear deal with Iran, bring Iran into the family nations and avert the slaughter of generations. Such a deal my Jewish grandmother would say. I say to the Congress approve it!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Only Thing Greater than Ourselves -- the Universe

The only thing greater than ourselves and Neil DeGrasse Tyson tells you what it is. LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED this 60 minutes segment

Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn't think like the rest of us. Here's a glimpse into what excites an astrophysicist

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Get it Right

One day the NTY reports a possible criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails and then the next day says, oh well, it's not a criminal investigation of emails and it may not be about Clinton. The story about Secretary Clinton's emails, as was true in the Judith Miller's untrue stories about Iraq, is false. Again, the NYT disappoints our nation by getting important stories wrong. Sometimes, as in the Miller story it costs hundreds of thousands of lives and a Middle East quagmire from which this nation still cannot extricate itself.

The stories in the NYT that are in error are not small town newspaper stories that are unimportant in the larger context. They are stories that are hugely important not only to the nation but to the world.

The latest faux pas egg all over the NYT's face is the anything-for-a-buck story trying to impugn the reputation of hopefully the next president and first woman president of the United States. The Times cannot nor should not throw a poison dart at an important national figure without the proper sourcing of its story. Hillary Clinton has experienced more than once Republican attempts to destroy her. She is well seasoned to refute those scurrilous attacks.

Does one think for one millisecond this seasoned politician and brilliant woman who knew she might one day seek the presidency would be so naive as to do anything nefarious that could besmirch her efforts?

We know many things reported by various news media in this nation are written with one hand shaking the corporatist hand while penning stories with the other. To impugn the possible future president Hillary Clinton with yet another false story about making headlines to sell papers should be beneath this allegedly prestigious news source.

I urge the NYT to research well its stories before it prints anything, get it right or do not print it at all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Billionaire Businessman -- the Essence of Trump

Trump has been skewered (and rightfully so) for his injudicious comments about Senator and former Vietnam War prisoner John McCain.  If you do not know by now what Trump said then you must have been hiding under a rock.  The media thinks it died and went to heaven as Trump provides much entertainment and Americans love entertainment just ask John Stewart.  Trump, of course, impugned Senator McCain as-less-than-a-hero because he was captured in Vietnam.  No matter how many times Trump tries to finesse those statements he cannot.  The 21st century uses the handy dandy proof of video tape.
Trump is about one thing success.  He did not choose his words artfully because Trump suffers from foot-in-mouth disease as he is repeatedly prone.  His blabbering morphs into a grand mal verbal faux pas seizure as he shoots himself in the foot first, while asking questions later.  Trump’s algorithm for success in war (or for that matter anything) is to win.  In war it is to capture or kill the other guy first while you avoid that fate.  Success in the world according to Trump means ending up on your feet at any cost while the other guy ends up on his posterior feet first out the door.  Trump is about winning and nothing else.  Objectively, if a soldier gets captured or killed he is not improving his odds of winning the war.  Trump’s heroes, as he perceives it, are those who like General MacArthur or Patton win by hardening themselves in war against the softness of feeling.  Trump is about hardness and the objectivity to do whatever it takes to win the game and one does not win the war by getting captured or killed.
Unfortunately, a man who had four military deferments and another deferment for a foot bone spur loses cred in the arena of war.  Odd how he cannot remember which foot had the bone spur. It turns out he had them in both feet – a memorable malady one would think. I digress.
Trump cannot see that luck in war plays a part as to whether one ends up captured, tortured or killed succumbing to the laws of physics or whether one ends up on one’s feet the winner. Sometimes it is simply a roll of the Game of Risk dice.  The heroes, I think, he was saying, are those who outsmart the enemy and end up on their feet.  Such is Trump's brain.  Great title for a book:  “Trump’s Brain.”  It could outsell “Bush’s Brain” doncha think?
There is little room for empathy in Trump world.  He does not care that many of the so called illegals have families, are trying to make a living, risking their lives to get here or if their mother has cancer and they need money to pay for her and support their family.  Trump is NOT about that. He is about Trump and making sure he wins by exploiting an issue which will help him do just that.
Progressives, generally, are not simply about that.  They are about compassion, empathy and understanding for the little guy who tries but cannot overcome his fate.  I want the greatest number to win even if they happen to come from Mexico and my heart is broken if they die in the desert trying.  Liberalism cares about the inequities of life while Trump cares solely about himself and winning life’s war.  The inequities of life and its unfairness do not play a part in Trump’s repertoire or if they do they play a part it is only how he can exploit them to his advantage and win.
Billionaire businessman success and nothing else but success is the essence of Trump.

Another Oscar Schindler--a Rightous Gentile--Leica and the Jews of Europe

Sent to me by a friend to be forwarded to any you choose.  He should be listed among the righteous Gentiles.  My friend states:

This is quite a story.  They always made good cameras, but I never knew about this part of the Leica history.

            Leica's Jews 
German camera inventor helped
Jews escape at shudder speed during the Holocaust 

      The Leica is the pioneer 35mm camera. It is a German product - precise, minimalist, and utterly efficient.
Behind its worldwide acceptance as a creative tool was a family-owned, socially-oriented firm that, during the Nazi era, acted with uncommon grace, generosity and modesty.  E. Leitz Inc., designer and manufacturer of Germany's most famous photographic product, saved its Jews.
And Ernst Leitz II, the steely-eyed Protestant patriarch, who headed the closely held firm as the Holocaust loomed across Europe, acted in such a way as to earn the title, "the photography industry's Schindler".
As soon as Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany in 1933, Ernst Leitz II began receiving frantic calls from Jewish associates, asking for his help in getting them and their families out of the country. As Christians, Leitz and his family were immune to Nazi Germany's Nuremberg laws, which restricted the movement of Jews and limited their professional activities.
To help his Jewish workers and colleagues, Leitz quietly established what has become known among historians of the Holocaust as "the Leica Freedom Train", a covert means of allowing Jews to leave Germany in the guise of Leitz employees being assigned overseas. Employees, retailers, family members, even friends of family members were "assigned" to Leitz sales offices in France, Britain, Hong Kong, and the United States; Leitz's activities intensified after the Kristallnacht of November 1938, during which synagogues and Jewish shops were burned across Germany.
Before long, German "employees" were disembarking from the ocean liner Bremenat a New York pier and making their way to the Manhattan office of Leitz, Inc., where executives quickly found them jobs in the photographic industry.
Each new arrival had around his or her neck the symbol of freedom - a new Leica camera. The refugees were paid a stipend until they could find work. Out of this migration came designers, repair technicians, salespeople, marketers, and writers for the photographic press.
Keeping the story quiet, The "Leica Freedom Train" was at its height in 1938 and early 1939, delivering groups of refugees to New York every few weeks. Then, with the invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany closed its borders.
By that time, hundreds of endangered Jews had escaped to America, thanks to the Leitzes' efforts. How did Ernst Leitz II and his staff get away with it?
Leitz, Inc. was an internationally recognized brand that reflected credit on the newly resurgent Reich. The company produced cameras, range-finders, and  other optical systems for the German military. Also, the Nazi government desperately needed hard currency from abroad, and Leitz's single biggest market for optical goods was the United States.
Even so, members of the Leitz family and firm suffered for their good works. A top executive, Alfred Turk, was jailed for working to help Jews and freed only after the payment of a large bribe.
Leitz's daughter, Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, was imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland. She eventually was freed but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning.  She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improve the living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who had been assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s.  (After the war, Kuhn-Leitz received numerous honors for her humanitarian efforts, among them the Officer d'honneur des Palms Academic from France in 1965 and the Aristide Briand Medal from the European Academy in the 1970s.)
Why has no one told this story until now?
According to the late Norman Lipton, a freelance writer and editor, the Leitz family wanted no publicity for its heroic efforts.
Only after the last member of the Leitz family was dead did the "Leica Freedom Train" finally come to light.  It is now the subject of a book, "The Greatest Invention of the Leitz Family: 
The Leica Freedom Train,"by Frank Dabba Smith, a California-born Rabbi currently living in England.
Thank you for reading the above, and if you feel inclined as I did to pass it along to others, please do so. Memories of the righteous should live on.   

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Difference Between Left and Right

The National Review magazine founded by the multi-millionaire William F. Buckley and  pride of right wing conservatives proves its ignorance by name calling Bernie Sanders a Nazi.

It would be nice if a magazine that calls itself a "conservative" political entity understood the political concept of left and right. The extreme left is Communist and extreme right is their arch enemy Nazi (National Socialist) which means that National Review is more Nazi like than Bernie Sanders surely is. As a matter of fact Sanders calls himself a Socialist i.e. on the LEFT side of the political spectrum -- NOT to be confused with "National Socialist" which is Nazism.

The political right walks hand in hand with capitalist oligarchs which is why capitalists often run to their side. Communists and Socialists do the opposite. They impugn corporatists as Sanders does all the time for humanitarian purposes.

The National Review calling someone like Sanders a Nazi proves that the right wing is politically brain dead and does not know the difference between left and right!

National Review Says Bernie Sanders is a Nazi.  Link here


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Can I Get Fooled Again?

Did I get my position wrong again? I supported, dare I say, right after 911, the Iraq War because I THOUGHT the Republican administration nincompoops knew what they were doing and possessed information I did not and could not possess. I thought on matters of war they would not lie. I have paid for my own personal humiliation and the naïveté of what I thought then ever since. Subsequently, after much observation of the explosively wretched conditions in Iraq after the US invasion and after much examination of what was being done in our name, I learned what the mendacious Republican Bush administration was really doing.

Now, again, I support President Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran but the immovable and all powerful Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran delivers a Bushian speech that spews the same old belligerent rhetoric that all religious and political extremists spew sometimes backing up their words with hostile actions ultimately killing thousands of innocents. They say it is about their belief system and culture which is, of course, the only right belief one can hold. We, in reality, know it is about leaderships' own power sold to a gullible, non-thinking, religiously uncritical and frightened public.

You can get fooled once as one so called US "president" said, but you can't get fooled again. Can I get fooled again? Say it ain't so and our negotiators know what they are doing because the stakes of this nuclear agreement are high. They are the stakes of war and peace. Innocent lives are held in the balance -- yours, mine, our nation's and the world's. Read the link here or below of the Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech and say I am not getting fooled again!