Neither Deserves to Win

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump deserves to win the presidency. Here’s why:

Why Clinton Deserves to Lose

Hillary Clinton assumed the Democrat Party owed her its nomination because she had tolerated Bill’s infidelities, played second fiddle while he served as governor of Arkansas and President, and then lost to Barack Obama in 2008 mainly because of the latter’s patrimony. In her mind she had paid her dues and therefore was entitled to be the nominee. The problem is the divine right of queens went by the wayside two centuries ago. Today you have to earn the right to carry your party’s banner and she hardly did so, but what’s worse is how she conducted herself as Secretary of State and head of the Clinton Family Crime Foundation. She traded on her status as the likely nominee for $250,000 a pop speaking engagements for herself and Bill and for donations to her foundation. That’s taking the mafia’s manner of raising money by threatening to burn down a business unless the owner donates a percentage of its weekly take and modernizing it. Want a government contract? Want a job? Want an audience with the queen? Donate! Assuming she deserved to win, Clinton put forth a platform of platitudes, offering incremental changes and pandering to Sanders supporters. People are not enthusiastic about her candidacy, which meant she could only win by attacking Trump’s qualifications. Fortunately for her Trump made that part too easy. If Hillary loses, she has only herself and her arrogance to blame.

Why Trump Deserves to Lose

Trump tells us he’s a very smart man. Fact is he’s too smart for his own good. He assumes his success as a businessman is a reflection of his being smart, and while that’s undoubtedly true in part, it’s not the whole story. There are also the hundreds of people who worked for him who enabled him to make good deals and whose advice he failed to follow when he made bad ones. Seeing himself as smart he failed to understand the nature of the game he had interjected himself into. He failed to understand you don’t go out of your way to make enemies in politics. You don’t insult whole groups of people. You do build an organization capable of registering voters and getting out the vote. You do know you need money to compete with your opponent’s fund-raising capabilities. Trump could have won handily had he not alienated Ted Cruz by attacking him on a personal level. Had Cruz campaigned as a Trump surrogate, he would have cut into the Hispanic vote now going to Clinton making it unnecessary for Trump to spend so much time in Florida. Trump could have spent more time in Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. If Trump loses he has only himself and his arrogance to blame.

Entertainment Industry Goes Politically Correct with Designated Survivor

Ever wonder to what extent films, TV shows, books and other forms of entertainment are censored for content? The answer is clear if you pay attention to trends that dominate the industry––particularly lately. Villians in 2016 are typically rich, white men and to the extent that their religion is revealed they are Christians. Protagonists, on the other hand, are women of any ethnicity, minorities, and to the extent their religion is revealed, they are Muslim.

No clearer example of the shift away from portrarying Islamic terrorists as the feared villains of American society can be seen from the appearance of Kiefer Sutherland, once the fearless Jack Bauer of 24 fame, as the unpresidential president in Designated Survivor. In episodes two and three, President Kirkman (Sutherland) faces down the governor of Michigan and the head of the state national guard, both of whom support the efforts by local police in Dearborn, Michigan to crack down on one of the largest, most concentrated Muslim populations in the U.S. in the aftermath of the bombing of the U.S. Capitol and murder of one thousand of the country’s highest elected and appointed officials. This kind of simplistic assumption that local police and government officials are bigoted and bent on taking the law into their own hands while Washington is pure and rational is standard fare in American media as of late.

The very fact of suggesting such an event as the bombing of the nation’s Capitol Building could occur is testimony to how far the entertainment industry is willing to go to make viewers think America deserves such a fate and the country’s salvation lies in adopting Democrat Party platform.

Contrast today’s themes to the entertainment industry’s response to World War II and the Cold War when films, TV shows and books portraryed the Nazis and communists as our mortal enemies requiring heroic efforts on the part of our bravest, most dedicated citizens to prevent our destruction. Instead of shows portraying that same theme brought up to date to tackle jihadist ideology, we get stories that blame the United States for the troubles that have befallen us. It is our fault that heroin and guns are smuggled into our inner cities from Mexico. Don’t do what Donald Trump did––don’t blame Mexico. It’s our racist past and present that are to blame. Don’t blame disturbed Muslims egged on by ISIS propaganda for bombing innocent civilians. It’s the greed of our corporate society that’s to blame, not only for repressing third world peoples and turning them into terrorists, but for climate change as well.

Another TV show that echoes that story line is Quantico (although it’s hard to abstract any story line out of the show given how contradictory and ad hoc the events are that it portrays.) The bombing of Penn Station in New York City was an inside job, not the work of terrorists, and one character’s supposedly having spent time in Gaza on a humanitarian mission gives the show’s writers a chance to take a gratuitous slap at Israel. Given that Israel is our number one ally in the region that slap is meant to suggest why the U.S. deserves to be bombed.

Soon (if they’re not already there) the airwaves and book shelves will be offering stories of Trump look-alikes doing great evil while the first woman president saves the day. Orange indeed is the new black.

The problem when an entire industry is controlled by a narrow group of owners is that alternative visions are not aired. Writers with contrary ideas will not have their stories purchased by the Networks or film producers. Editors will not buy books whose stories are about the threat of jihadist terrorists or the threat sharia law represents in our schools, churches and communities. We’ll continue on the other hand to get stories about those evil rich white Christian males whose greed threatens the survival of the planet and whose personal behavior threatens the virtue of women from 9 to 90.

One can’t even escape political correctness in the world of sports. The NFL has become boring with constant stoppage of play either for imaginary penalties or non-instant replays and the national anthem is only shown so the cameras can search for athletes who are kneeling or raising their fists to protest the fact that they happen to live in the only country on the planet where athletes can earn more than corporate CEOs.

My message to the Tom Clancy’s and Joel Surnow’s who are toiling in their garrets and whose stories are not in vogue in 2016. Don’t give up. Your audience will try to be patient and hope the table turns before we’re dead and gone.

Anti-Religious Sentiment is Winning in the U.S.

This year’s presidential election is a test of the role religion will play in America’s future. In recent years, America’s highly secularized society has moved from tolerating people’s commitment to their religions to becoming anti-religion. The one exception is Islam, which sharia observant practitioners can confidently tell their followers will become the dominant religion in this country in this century.

What are no longer tolerated are Christian and Jewish based beliefs and values that interfere with government authority over all aspects of life––from the womb to the grave. People of faith are routinely portrayed as bigoted and as using religion as screens for their repressive conservative political beliefs.

Anti-religious teachings dominate college campuses where students learn to despise their parents and replace traditional religious values with an unquestioning adherence to the values of liberalism––faith in government and its leaders, disdain for capitalism and its bounties, disdain for America’s past in light of slavery and imperialistic dominance over third world countries, and a belief that climate change is the just reward for man’s arrogance and greed.

That this anti-religious ideology has become overtly anti-Christian can be seen on several fronts, including the failure of the Obama administration to do anything to protect the Christian sect being slaughtered in Syria by ISIS as well as documents uncovered from the Democrat Party which show the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian tendencies of its top officials. Obamacare’s running roughshod over Christian institutions with regard to birth control is another example.

The rise of anti-Semitism in American society over the past two decades is a direct reflection of the strength of this anti-religious ideology. Modern anti-Semitism, as opposed to that based on Christianity’s slanderous claim that Jews must be punished for eternity for having betrayed Jesus, reflects the view that Israel as a Jewish state is a remnant of Western colonialism, and thus is by definition repressive and undemocratic.

The entertainment industry has already well into promulgating anti-Christian and anti-Jewish stories and I predict the number and overtness of the attacks will continue to escalate.

On the agenda for those who see religions (except Islam) as inherently repressive and irrational will be an attack on first amendment grounds that prevents the state from taxing property owned by a religious institution. We won’t see a direct attempt to tax churches and synagogues, but school buildings and other property is too enticing for liberal government officials who need to keep filling their coffers to pay off constituents and donors.

Why tolerance for Islam? It fits the overall narrative. Islam is the religion of oppressed peoples. Anyone who has watched Quantico, the TV show about the FBI, has been given a taste both of anti-Israeli and pro-Islam story lines. Ironically, liberals admire Muslims’ devotion to their religion. Christianity and Judaism have been watered down so much in American society that people who have a need to commit themselves to something prefer liberalism, and they seem willing to make room for Islam because at least its followers are not wishy-washy.

It may be too late to reverse this trend and even should long-shot Donald Trump win the November election it’s unlikely he will be able to turn the tide. Conservative Supreme Court justices could engage in delaying tactics, such as preventing local governments from taxing religious property and ruling partial birth abortion unconstitutional, but secular anti-religion liberalism is America’s prevailing ideology. Better get used to it.

Instead of Solutions, the Arab-Israel Conflict Needs a Way

In light of the Republican Party’s decision to abandon the two-state solution, I’m offering something better than a solution.

 

Those who think a solution to the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict can be found if the right people with the right attitudes sit down at a table, are fooling themselves. It’s not a matter of the right people, or people with the right intentions, or people who have caved to pressure from the U.S. or any other external body. Solutions are for math problems. What’s needed is a way.

In case you think I’m playing with words or offering a semantic solution (pun intended), here’s the difference. A solution is something that a group of authorized parties representing the key players with a direct interest in the outcome can put in words in a document for all to sign. That solution must also be something the leaders who the signers represent will accept and implement. It must be an agreement with some hope of working––i.e., holding up for an extended length of time.

A way in this context implies a process whose outcome will lead to a satisfactory outcome or a status that approximates the goals of those seeking a solution. A way doesn’t necessarily include the signing of an agreement or any formal recognition of the outcome. A way doesn’t require formal consent nor is it a public policy. A way is merely a strategic process implemented over many years that yields a result the majority over time come to accept.

What’s wrong with solutions?

Solutions are often imposed on the signers. They give up something to get something. Solutions engender opposition––people who are dissatisfied with the outcome who believe their side gave up too much may attempt to sabotage the agreement. Solutions often ride rough-shod over key issues, using language that ignores the substance of those issues and thus creates the ground for ongoing conflict. Solutions are often the result of one side winning a hot or a propaganda war and thus forcing the other side to surrender. Solutions are often treaties signed because one side won and the other lost. Which is why a solution is wrong for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Today, neither side in the conflict has a defensible outcome that the other side can live with. Israel requires defensive security and continued existence of some if not all Jewish communities in Samaria, Judea, and East Jerusalem. Further, security concerns militate against Israel’s giving up any of the Golan Heights.

No Palestinian Arab political leader can accept any solution under those terms. The current leaders of the Palestinian Authority and its constituent members could never enter such an agreement and return to their people without certain knowledge that their lives and the lives of their entire family would be at risk. Thus, they engage in a propaganda war on two fronts––one outside the middle east where they see how many lies they can get away with and one with their own people to see how many they can incite to kill Israelis in hopes that the Israeli left will capitulate as soon as it wins a majority in the Knesset.

Is there a way out? I believe there is. Let’s examine the conditions on the ground. An increasing percentage of the people living in the Arab communities in Judea and Samaria are dissatisfied with the old guard PLO/Fatah leadership. Promises have been made for decades, which have not been delivered. They look across the current boundary based on the 1967 war and see a prosperous country where Israeli Arabs are living good lives. In Israel nearly 2 million Arabs––both Christian and Muslim––have full citizenship rights, which means they get health care, education and other benefits while enjoying job opportunities that afford them much better living conditions than their relatives enjoy on the West Bank. Are things perfect? Of course not, but if Israel offered to pay five or even ten thousand shekels to Arab Israelis to move to the West Bank, very few if any would sign up.

Some young West Bank Palestinians have turned to violence to show their frustration with current conditions. That is evidence they don’t believe things are going to change without drastic measures such as giving up their own lives. They need an alternative they can believe in that offers them something their leaders cannot––namely, a future.

Israel can best combat terrorism on two levels––the current military and police presence and the way––a quiet propaganda campaign focusing their messages to young Arabs who live in the territories. If they don’t already do so, they need to tell the story of Israeli Arabs living a decent life in Israel who prefer living in Israel than any other place in the Arab world.

In addition, Israel needs to offer a free university education annually to 500 or 1,000 territory residents who qualify, and Israel needs to offer advanced health care for anyone living in the territories who needs special or emergency care.

Of course, the PA will threaten the families of anyone who takes up these offers, but it’s the offer that counts. It’s showing young Palestinian Arabs a way out of their currently hopeless environment.

Israel also needs to offer programs for businesses in the territories to gain assistance, including loans, to grow their businesses and to put more people to work. Again the PA will threaten any business that participates, but this is a propaganda war.

Today, the PA wants to control the entire economy in their territory. They want to control every university acceptance, every business license, everything that can be controlled. People must see these restrictions run counter to their well-being. Israel can show business owners and their families a way to a better life.

And, Israel needs to react stronger when falsely accused. For example, when Mahmoud Abbas said a (non-existent) rabbi’s council wants to poison their water, Israel must show it is already providing more clean water than is required. It needs to publicize that fact in the territories and the West so everyone sees each lie.

Israel must fight a propaganda war offering young Arabs a better way of life with real opportunities––education, health care, business assistance, housing and even jobs. At the same time it must fight a propaganda war in the west to explain why negotiated solutions will inevitably fail raising even higher the level of violence.

The only time an Israel government should ever sit down with Palestinian Arab leaders is after they say upfront they are dropping their demand that Israel leaves its 4,000-year-old homeland, dropping their “right of return” demand, and dropping territorial demands that include removal of Jews from the territories. That won’t happen with the current leadership, but perhaps an extensive propaganda campaign offering real benefits will do that job.

The day that happens will be proof a way has been found where solutions have failed.

Declining newspaper circulation in a divided society

Despite the early, national interest to the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the circulation and advertising revenues of daily newspapers in the U.S. continued to drop precipitously over the past year according to the Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media 2016” report. The question is what’s causing the accelerating circulation decline and will owners do anything about it?

Let’s look at the numbers first: Weekday circulation fell 7% in 2015 while Sunday circulation dipped 4%. Further bad news is a decline in advertising revenue of 8% between 2014 and 2015. Even digital ad revenue declined, although only by 2%.

These numbers contrast with world media data, which show booming circulation, especially online. Print circulation worldwide grew just under 5% in 2015, confirming a trend that shows 21.6% increase in print circulation over the past five years. The majority of that increase comes from China and India. Print circulation for North America declined 10.9 percent during the same time period.

I doubt anyone has the data, but I suspect the percent of print and online newspaper readership among supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is much lower than the national average. Both groups are disaffected with the mainstream narrative as demonstrated by their support for candidates who challenged that narrative. If they do subscribe to a mainstream newspaper, my guess is the majority access that publication online and few receive the print edition.

One can’t blame these citizens from giving up on large daily newspapers. Much of the news they are interested in can be obtained faster and cheaper online or from the TV. Further, the editorial pages of most daily newspapers largely ignore the issues Trump and Sanders supporters feel important or present positions that contrast with their own. Further many editorials and columnists disparaged dissident voters as racists, homophobes, and worse.

Will owners make course corrections in light of the above data or tweak their current game plans? I’m convinced we won’t see any major changes. Why? The newspaper industry has already responded to projections of declining circulation by seeking revenue from its online product, by consolidating operations, and by generating revenue from other sources. Hence, they have no incentive to change their papers’ editorial focus, which today makes many columns and editorials appear as if they were written by the Democratic National Committee, if not by White House staff.

Buying into the Democrat/Liberal national narrative is the safest bet for media owners. They don’t need a crystal ball to see that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive winner and that little will change in Washington. Therefore to listen to dissidents or challenge the national narrative would only invite unwanted scrutiny and probably alienate their current readers, most of whom agree with their editorial outlook.

Media owners are probably correct in assuming being more critical of Washington would not result in disaffected citizens taking out subscriptions. All they need to do is print the occasional column by a conservative or an elected Republican, and they can maintain the appearance of neutrality.

There is an unfortunate consequence of the world of today’s newspaper industry, which is that they are playing a major role in dividing our nation in two. On one side with the newspaper industry is what we can call the Washington elite. These people are committed to increasing government’s reach into every aspect of daily life. On the other side are the average citizens whose views are not taken into account––people who resent Washington’s intrusion into every aspect of their lives, including which bathroom their children use at school. These are the people who lost their jobs or had them reduced from full to part-time by Obamacare, the war on coal and other environmental dictates, and by overregulation of every aspect of business practice. These are the people whose taxes provide more in cash and services to illegal immigrants than they can bring home from a $50,000/year salary.

From today’s divided society we got Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Many Sanders supporters feel he was robbed by undemocratic provisions of the Democratic Party’s primary system. They will stay home in 2016, but they will be looking for the next Bernie to run in 2020. Trump’s ego may have prevented him from having a realistic chance to win in November. I’ve talked to people who hate the Democrats, but will not vote for The Donald due to his failure to stay on message, but those people will also be around in 2020 looking for someone to challenge the mainstream narrative. All bets would be off if those two groups ever teamed up. Meanwhile, newspaper editors might do themselves a favor by listening to disaffected Americans instead of dissing them.

An Open Letter to Ayelet Waldman, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon & Geraldine Brooks

Your participation in Breaking the Silence’s tour of the Palestinian West Bank reminds me of the prison visitors movement in the U.S. People who worried that prison inmates were being mistreated visited individual prisoners in an effort to curb excessive and illegal treatment by prison authorities. That movement also advocated sentencing reform to reduce sentences and provide alternative sentencing options. Their rationale was both religious based, but they also believed racial prejudice and poverty were contributing causes of criminal behavior. Some went so far as to excuse law breaking.

Your involvement in a project to publish essays about what you found in the West Bank parallels the activities of prison visitors. In this case the prison you visited is called the West Bank. You see how bad it is for some people and you want to tell the world. There’s no doubt the people living in the West Bank are victims, but they are not victims of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory––since there never was a country called Palestinian or any other Arab nation in that region. They are victims of decisions made by their leaders and in many cases by their own choices.

I would assert that the history of the former British Mandate from 1917 to the present reveals that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians are largely responsible for the situation they are in today. They committed the crime, but most don’t want to accept the responsibility for their role or pay the price.

The crime the Arab residents of Palestine committed in the past was to side with those who would not accept the decision of the United Nations in 1947 to grant the right to establish a Jewish state to Jewish residents of the former British Mandate. Most of the Arabs living in that territory went along with the five Arab states that attempted to destroy the new nation. Later, they went along with Yasser Arafat and his successors hoping that his plan to empty the entire region of Jews would succeed. Now they blame Israel for that plan’s failure. In essence they are blaming the prison guards and ignoring their own history of active hatred and indiscriminate violence. They are scapegoating others for their bad choices. As convicts say, if you can’t do the time, don’t commit the crime.

Prison reformers traditionally have a hard time dealing with crime victims. Victims are not sympathetic when they hear complaints about inadequate representation or lousy prison conditions. Victims hear reformers say someone other than the offender is responsible for that person’s being locked up. They hear reformers say racism and poverty are to blame, not their decision to commit the crime.

Prison reformers also have a hard time talking to prison guards. They fail to recognize that it is hypocritical to advocate for policies that recognize the dignity of the convict without advocating for the people who guard them. Prisons need guards, and unjustly they are the first to be blamed if something goes wrong.

That same understanding is owed to the men and women of the Israeli police and military. They would rather not be stationed at checkpoints or patrol dangerous areas, but they are needed as long as the Palestinians continue to commit random acts of violence against Jews and fail to negotiate a peace with boundaries that assure Israel’s survival.

The problem with blaming crime on racism and poverty is that not all victims of prejudice or people born into strained circumstances commit crimes. In fact, the majority who face those obstacles overcome their circumstances and are law abiding.

The problem with blaming Israel for the circumstances of those living in the West Bank is that not all Arabs fled Israel in 1948 or since. Approximately 1.7 million Arabs live in Israel today with full citizenship rights. They get free education and medical care but, unlike Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs don’t have to serve in the army. Do Israeli Arabs have legitimate complaints? They do, but they live in a society where they can elect representatives to the Israel’s legislature, where grievances can be voiced, and where change is possible. Is that true, dear writers, for residents of the West Bank?

When you write your essays about your experiences, I hope you don’t fall for the scapegoating narrative––the one that blames someone else for the situation the Arab Palestinians have created for themselves. I also hope you write about the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and how it incentivizes violence by paying families of those who commit random acts of violence. I hope you interview the families of moderates who were killed because they opposed the PLO/Fatah. I hope you’ll interview Israeli Arabs who prefer to remain in Israel rather than move to the West Bank. I hope you don’t fall into the trap of loving the convict to the detriment of his victim or the people who have to guard him. I hope you’ll be clear-sighted about why things are not good for the residents of the West Bank and who is to blame.

How do we explain Brussels?

A very nice person, who by profession is a psychiatrist, wrote in a directory listing that she understands human nature. Really? Then how do you explain Brussels and Paris and San Bernidino and Charleston and I could go on and on?

To me human nature is not comprehensible. It might be to an alien species, but for someone to claim he understands himself, much less the entire species . . . well, you might as well ask that person how many fish there are in the ocean. The exact number please.

That said, we can offer theories about behavior and I have a one about Brussels. You’ve read this far so you might as well stick around for the punch line.

Why would people kill innocent people in such a blood thirsty, or dare I say inhuman, manner? To me the problem is tolerance.

Tolerance is not natural. It’s a behavior that has to be taught. The natural tendency of children is to grab what they think is theres, not to share. Some people think tolerance is respect. That’s not true. Respect may require an aspect of tolerance, but it encompasses a lot more.

Europe after World War II thought they could prevent future wars and holocausts by being tolerant. As a result, when African and Arab Muslims started coming into Europe in large numbers instead of asking them to assimilate––to learn the language and to accept Europe’s rules and values, Europeans felt the need to be tolerant. It’s okay for you to treat your women like slaves they said; it’s okay for you to cheat and steal; it’s okay for you to form gangs and harass people on the street. It’s not your fault psychiatrists and others told the newcomers. It’s our fault.

So crimes were not prosecuted, mistreatment of children and women was ignored, and the response of all too many of these invaders was ANGER. Why? Because tolerance is very close to disrespect, to avoidance and to please don’t bother me. When a person or group are ignored, they become angry; when they are treated like children, they become even angrier and when they are appeased, their anger turns outward.

The appeasers of the Islamic ideology that preaches death to infidels are to blame for today’s situation. Western societies have put their collective heads in a guillitine of guilt for our accomplishes and successes. We’ve said please chop off our heads, and angry young men have complied.

I’m not saying we should respond to violence with violence. I’m saying lets enforce our existing laws; and if there are not enough laws to prosecute people for marrying off children at age 12 or stoning women because they went outside without a hajib, then pass new laws.

And Europe needs to do something about mosques and Islamic schools that teach hate. I’d require all children to attend public schools at least through age 14. Religious schooling can be done after regular school hours, and that includes Jewish schools. By being tolerant, we allow hate mongers to indoctrinate children to commit acts of violence against us. It has to stop.

Europe also needs to go back to requiring people to produce identification in order to travel from country to country. It needs to fund greater resources for anti-terrorism operations. It needs to violate what some people think is their privacy. They’re wrong. Privacy does not permit you to build bombs in your kitchen or even download diagrams to do so off the Web.

And the U.S. needs to do these things as well because the next Brussels could take place on the D.C. Metro or a NYC airport or a farmers’ market in downtown Chicago. And please people take those tolerance stickers off your cars. Treating people with respect is not being tolerant. In many cases, it’s just the opposite.