The U.S. is Stealing Real Choices from the Voters

The United States of America prides itself on its democracy.

Americans strongly believe that the country gives its citizens the right to choose the course of their lives, much as they can choose to elect a leader of their liking. It is a mantra that President Abraham Lincoln encapsulated in his prayer for at Gettysburg in 1863, about freedom in the USA, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

Embedded in those words is the notion that ALL people have the ability to serve in the U.S. government for the benefit of ALL Americans.

But remarkably, there are some families that seemingly have a stranglehold on political office. They have names like Bush, Clinton, Kennedy and Cuomo. Brothers, sons, wives and cousins with the same last name show up as presidents, senators, governors and congressmen. Decade after decade.

The notion that any and all Americans have a shot at being a leader in government feels more like a fairy tale than a foundation principle of the country.

And it is rooted in corrupt mechanisms that those people in power use to cement their positions in government.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
and the Women’s Equality Party

Andrew Cuomo is the current Governor of the State of New York. He served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton Administration from 1997 to 2001 (often accused of creating the foundational mess for the great housing and stock market collapse in 2008-9 due to encouraging banks to provide housing loans to people whom could not afford them) before becoming Attorney General of New York and then Governor.

Not coincidentally, his father Mario Cuomo also served as governor of New York.

But it is not just the famous name, lineage and connections that help cement Andrew Cuomo in power (his brother Chris Cuomo is a famous TV journalist). It is also very much about his gaming the system in his favor.

In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo – the most powerful Democrat in the State of New York – decided to launch another separate political party. If that sounds too outrageous to be true, you haven’t looked into New York politics.

Noting how many women were voting Democratic, Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Party. A new party, beyond his Democratic Party, solely focused on women’s issues.

And who did the Women’s Equality Party support for governor? A woman? Of course not. It backed its creator, Andrew Cuomo.

When an average New Yorker went in to the voting booth to elect a governor in 2014, did he or she get to choose from a wide array of candidates? There were many parties listed on the ballot including the Green Party and the Independence Party and the Reform Party…. so many choices beyond the major Democratic and Republican Parties.

But the long list of parties posted a fiction. There was no choice.

Andrew Cuomo was not only listed as a candidate by the Democrats, but by the Working Families Party, the Independence Party, and the Women’s Equality Party. Rob Astorino of the Republican Party also showed up under the Conservative Party and the Stop-the Common-Core Party (now called the Reform Party).

Two individuals showed up seven times to voters!

How impressive these candidates must have been that so many parties endorsed them! And the Women’s Party endorsed Cuomo too! He must be extremely pro-women, even if no voter could recall anything he did for women as the sitting governor. (Of course there was no footnote on the voting form that Cuomo himself created and named this new party to ensnare those single-issue voters).

But the Cuomo machinations were not done.

You see, New York State has some funky rules for getting on the Voter Registration Form. A party must have at least 50,000 votes in the governor contest to appear as an “official party” over the next four years. For Cuomo’s new entity to get staying power, he needed to funnel some of the votes that would normally come to him via the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Parties to come through the Women’s Equality Party to establish it for the next several years.

And wouldn’t you be shocked to learn, that of the over 2 million votes that Cuomo received in 2014, just over 53,000 – barely enough – came from the Women’s Equality Party. Just enough to be on the New York Voter Registration Forms. What a happy coincidence! Wink.

Not only did New Yorkers have few choices for governor despite the multiple parties in the race, they were deceived and manipulated by Cuomo and the New York Board of Elections.

Libertarians – The Invisible Third Party

In the 2014 New York governor contest, the Green Party and Libertarian Party each promoted a distinct candidate not named Cuomo or Astorino. The Green Party candidate won almost 5% of the vote, but the Libertarian candidate only gathered 17,000 votes. Due to New York State rules of needing 50,000 votes to be an “official party,” the Libertarians are now invisible on New York State Voter Registration Forms.

VoterRegistration2015

The Libertarian Party had the third greatest number of votes in the 2016 presidential election. The Libertarians won more votes than all of the minor parties COMBINED.

But if you want to register as a Libertarian in New York, you have to skip over eight other choices and go to the “Other” category and type in “Libertarian.”

Don’t think there’s an impact? Here are the totals of registered voters in New York as of April 2018:

  • Democrat           6,201,033
  • Republican        2,823,758
  • Independent         481,831
  • Conservative        155,500
  • Working Families   46,453
  • Green                    29,787
  • Other                       7,329 (including Libertarian)
  • Women’s Equality    4,675

So how does the Women’s Equality Party get 53,000 votes when fewer than 5,000 people are registered with the party? Well there are over 2.6 million people that didn’t affiliate with any party. And of course, there’s Cuomo’s influence that helped make it happen.

It would have been so much easier to just be a politician from royalty and cook up your own political party…

The Majors at the Margins
and the Minors at the Edges

Voters are increasingly disillusioned by the Democratic and Republican Parties, which have become more and more extreme as they fight to appeal to the excited base at the margins through their respective primaries. As of 2017, Liberals accounted for 48% of the Democratic Party, dwarfing the middle of the road Conservative Democrats which are down to just 15% of the party (and shrinking). The Republicans’ situation is not better. To review the Republicans on the Judicial Committee which approves judges, is to look at a cast of characters that are all almost exclusively Conservative purists (only three of eleven members had a GovTracks rating of under 0.85 – Chuck Grassley; Lindsay Graham; and Ben Sasse).

Meanwhile the small niche single-issue parties like the Green Party continue on their extremist ways. They either push an extremist candidate like Jill Stein (Green Party), or endorse the Democrat or Republican candidate, to stay relevant and on the voter registration forms. Ideological purists on one hand, or tools of the establishment and election committees on the other.

The dynamic has led to a false array of choices which have become more extreme, and single issue marginal candidates. You can either binge watch Law & Order on Netflix or three different cable channels OR you can watch SproutTV and wait for the cable channels to drop it from the visible universe.

Needed Overhaul

It is time to dramatically overhaul our election system to bring genuine mainstream choices back to voters.

  1. Any political party that wins at least 2.5% of the votes in the last presidential election should be on every state’s voter registration form
  2. If a political party does not field a distinct candidate from the other parties for two consecutive election cycles, it gets removed from the state’s voter registration form
  3. If a political party does not field a distinct candidate from the other parties for three consecutive election cycles, it does not appear on the election form
  4. The threshold of reaching the voter registration form should be 1.0% of the gubernatorial election, not 50,000 (in New York). An absolute number is unfair, especially if few voters turn out, and it should become a standard for all states.
  5. Any candidate from any party that calls for violence against a U.S. citizen must be removed from the ballot. It is time to bring back the most basic level of civility.

The founding fathers of the United States imagined a country based on the principles of freedom and liberty and feared the abuse of power and the coercive nature of people who played games with election process, money and judges. President James Madison may have had Andrew Cuomo (and his family, appointees and political parties) in mind when he said:

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Americans are being robbed of quality moderate choices for leadership positions, and the runaway train seems to be just gathering steam.


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The Democratic Party of No Takes on the Supreme Court

There was a time when bipartisanship had a place in Washington, D.C., especially as it related to nominations to the Supreme Court.

In July 1993, Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. She was approved unanimously by both the Democrats and Republicans on the Judicial Committee, even though she was – and continues to be – an extreme liberal in her rulings.

The following year in July 1994, Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer to be an Associate Justice. Like Bader Ginsberg, he was approved by an 18-to-0 margin. Every Republican approved his nomination.

All of that changed a decade later under a Republican administration.

When Republican President George W. Bush nominated Stephen Roberts in September 2005 to be Chief Justice, he was only approved by a 13-to-5 margin. All ten Republicans on the committee approved him, but only three of eight Democrats approved the nomination (Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Herb Kohl of Wisconsin; and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin).

Samuel Alito’s January 2006 nomination was even more contentious. While all ten Republicans approved his nomination, none of the eight Democrats voted in favor of him. Zero percent.

The Republicans have never uniformly voted against Democratic presidential Supreme Court nominees including Sonia Sotamayor in July 2009 (6-to-1 against) and Elana Kagan in July 2010 (6-to-1 against). But the Democrats would be absolutists and do it again under Republican President Donald Trump in April 2017, with all nine Democrats opposing Neil Gorsuch.

The Democratic Party of No has promised to take a similar stance for the replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy. Left wing-radical Senator Elizabeth Warren has been calling on Republicans to vote against an “extremist” Trump nominee. Quite a bizarre and telling comment from an extreme liberal senator and after Justice Gorsuch proved himself to be a more moderate than either Bader Ginsberg and Sotamayor.


Senator Elizabeth Warren

The Democrats have become so disoriented in the far left fringe, that even moderate Conservatives are considered unacceptable extremists. Democratic President Barack Obama noted that his party had run off the rails after the 2016 presidential loss saying that “Democrats are characterized as coastal liberal latte-sipping politically-correct out-of-touch folks.” It is not a characterization. It has become a fact.

Here are the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee (and their GovTracks ideological score, with 0.0 being the most extreme liberal, 0.5 being a perfect moderate and 1.0 being a full conservative) who will consider the nominee to replace Justice Kennedy:

  • Diane Feinstein (0.18)
  • Patrick Leahy (0.23)
  • Dick Durbin (0.17)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (0.19)
  • Amy Klobuchar (0.38)
  • Christopher Coons (0.39)
  • Richard Blumenthal (0.16)
  • Mazie Hirono (0.18)
  • Cory Booker (0.21)
  • Kamala Harris (0.14)

As seen above, almost all of the Democrats on the committee are extreme liberals with the exceptions of Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. They are the the keys to a rationale bipartisan review of the Supreme Court nominee. Contact Senator Coons and Senator Klobuchar to let them know of your desire to have a thoughtful – not knee-jerk – review of this most important position.

“I am part of First.One.Through, a group of people dedicated to a thoughtful and honest review of issues in the hopes of bettering our society.

I am writing in regards to your role on the Judiciary Committee. Republicans have NEVER unanimously rejected a Democratic president’s nominee, while the Democrats have done that for each of the last two Republican nominees. I ask that you fight the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party of No and give a thoughtful hearing to the Supreme Court nominee. My sincere thanks.”


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This July 4, I am Leaving the Democratic Party that Left Me Long Ago

I have been increasingly unhappy with the far-left direction of the Democratic Party for several years. Its horrible handling of international affairs under Obama, its refusal to actively combat antisemitism in preference to “Islamophobia,” the welcome mat for Senator Bernie Sanders and Cornel West, the refusal of party members to actively rebuke racist Louis Farrakhan are just some of the reasons.

I held off leaving the party when it elected Tom Perez as head of the Democratic National Committee instead of alt-left wing Congressman Keith Ellison who was supported by liberal stalwarts including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer and Sanders. I thought the party had dodged a bullet.

But that was just wishful thinking. The Democratic Party has been hijacked and it doesn’t look like it will be returning.

On July 3, 2018, the current Chair of the DNC, Tom Perez praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who had recently won a primary. He described this self-described Democrat-Socialist in the mold of Bernie Sanders as “the future of our party.

It is a future of extremism of which I want no part.

Libertarians / Conservative Democrats like me have been vanishing from the Democratic Party for a decade. From 2000 through 2009, The percentage of Conservative Democrats was relatively stable, going from 23% to 22%, while the Liberal wing grew from 28% to 32%. While a minority of the party, I still felt that I had a voice and a place, as the moderates still had the largest slice at over 40%.

That disappeared since the Obama inauguration.

As shown in the graph above from the Pew Research Center, Liberals account for 48% of the party as of 2017, while the Conservative branch has shrunk to just 15%. The DNC Chair and 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have taken notice and are endorsing far-left candidates and positions. It is time for moderates and conservative Democrats to go.

To celebrate this great country’s Independence Day, I will change my party affiliation which I have had for several decades. If you live in New York, you can use this form to join me. If you live in another state, look up your Board of Elections to find the form.

Roughly 44% of U.S. adults identify as Democrats. While I used to be part of that group, I no longer recognize the party that has been seized by the alt-left that now more closely resembles the Green Party and Working Families Party then the Democratic Party of 20 years ago.

Please join me in saying goodbye.


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When Only Republicans Trust the Police

I grew up in suburbia.

I was taught from the earliest age that the police were our community’s brave protectors. In case of danger, they were to be called in an instant.

On hot summer days, my mother would send me out with cans of soda for the policemen that sat in their cars in the neighborhood (the old larger cans that would actually quench one’s thirst; not the miniature cans of today that just wet the lips). It was a small token of appreciation for being out in a hot day for us. We appreciated our guardians.

And I never thought any differently until years later.

For college, I moved just a few miles – but an ideological continent away – to the big city. I remained there after I graduated and started work. A short time later, I was called for my first jury duty.

On my first day, I was ushered with a pool of jurists into a large room by a manager of the court who gave us a short run-down of the case in question: a robbery-and-assault which was witnessed by a police officer. It basically came down to a he-said/ he-said assessment of who was telling the truth. The judge asked if anyone had any reason why they could not be impartial in the case.

I raised my hand.

I explained that all things being equal, I was inclined to believe the police officer and give greater weight to his testimony. When the judge asked why I would be partial to the police, I explained my upbringing of always trusting police officers.

The pool of jurists burst out laughing.

The judge went nuts.

She lashed out that my explanation was ridiculous and worthy of a child. She asked whether I was just looking for a quick exit to my corporate job. Hundreds of eyes from the multi-ethnic city jurists bored into my pale white skin.

But I didn’t blush of embarrassment; I shrunk in disbelief. Was I still in America?

Now, decades later, I often think about that day.

  • I think about it when I read articles about “white privilege.” Do non-Whites engage in society differently than I do?
  • I recall it when I read of unarmed Blacks being shot by police. Is race a dividing line in dealing with police?
  • I consider the gap between the red counties and blue counties across the country every election cycle, particularly in 2016. Is there a genuine difference between the experiences of people in large cities versus the rest of America?


2016 Presidential Election Map by County (red=Republican; blue=Democrat)
Source: BrilliantMaps

I am aware that the U.S. has become more divided regarding politics. But where is the fault line when it comes to government protection? Is America divided by race, by a rural-urban divide, by liberal-versus-conservative, old-versus-young, married-versus-single as it relates to something as basic as the police?

Our Common Defense

The preamble of the U.S. Constitution outlines the principle roles of our government:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

In taking apart the opening clause, one can see how liberals and conservatives view the role(s) of government in starkly different terms:

  • form a more perfect union,” related to the establishment of the country in binding the colonies into a single entity. It may be poetic to consider 300+ million people married to each other today, but the union relates to our common citizenship.
  • establish justice,” has a very different meaning to progressives that seek to “establish justice” by flattening society and providing promotions to those falling behind, and conservatives that seek to uphold the rule of law;
  • insure domestic tranquility,” is a broad phrase and could cover freedom of speech (either protecting or curtailing) and religion, strengthening the economy, or preserving peace;
  • provide for the common defence,” can only be read one way, but may be perceived differently as reviewed here;
  • promote general welfare,” to liberals means freebies for individuals like free schools and free healthcare, while for conservatives it means governmental projects for society like highways, hospitals and parks;
  • and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” means the establishment of the rule of law, including the ability to prosecute such laws. Liberals could read “liberty to ourselves” as covering such rights as abortion for nine months of pregnancy, while conservatives could read “our posterity” to specifically limit abortion which undermines the unborn.

While various roles of our government can be interpreted very differently by liberals and conservatives, there is no misreading the role of “common defence,” to protect our borders, land and citizens from foreign actors with our armed forces. There is no question that each domestic goal can only be secured through a local police force.

But there is a swath of America that views the nation’s police and military with distrust.

Urban-versus-Rural

Based on my experience at jury duty, I thought the cynicism for our officers came from people in the cities. But the Cato Institute did work on the subject and concluded:

“People who live in densely populated areas are more likely to come into contact with officers. City centers also are more likely to have higher crime rates, which may increase the likelihood one has an encounter with law enforcement. However, actual differences in favorability toward the police by community type are rather small. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of individuals living in the suburbs have a favorable view of the police, as do 60% of those living in cities and 61% residing in rural areas.”

The fault line isn’t population density.

Race

The nation’s local and national protective forces have been increasing the number of minorities for the past few decades.

As of 2015, minorities made up 40% of the active military, up from just 25% in 1990. The percentage of minorities in local police forces doubled between 1987 and 2013, with Latinos making up the largest jump (just as they did in the US military).

But despite the increase of Blacks and Latinos in the police and military, Blacks continued to view the armed forces with distrust at the same levels as the 1970’s according to the Cato Institute. From 1970 to 2016, the percent of Whites with a favorable view of police was relatively constant, going from 67% to 68%. Over the same time, the percent of Blacks viewing police favorably dropped from 43% to 40%.

Blacks were skeptical of law enforcement regardless of income level, whereas Whites and Hispanics grew more comfortable with police as their incomes grew. Further, Black people were distrustful of police at almost the same levels whether they were Democrats, Independents or Republicans. Not so for Whites and Hispanics, whose positive opinions grew as their politics moved rightward.

Democrat-versus-Republican

Just as Black people were unlikely to change their feelings about law enforcement regardless of their income, party affiliation or increase in the number of Black people on police forces, Democrats – and liberals in particular – also barely change their distrust of the police. Whether the Democrats were White, Black or Hispanic and regardless of income level, they were wary of the police. However, Independents, Libertarians and Republicans all saw movement towards greater faith in the police as incomes grew in both the Hispanic and White communities.

Democrats that are White, Latino or Black all view the criminal justice system as unfair to minorities, with only 26%, 17% and 13%, thinking that the system was fair, respectively. The number jumped dramatically for Republicans that are White and Hispanic, but not for Blacks, with 67%, 45% and 15% stating that the system was fair, respectively.

Age

Older people are much more likely to have a favorable attitude towards police. People 65 and older had an 82% positive scoring for the police, higher than any group. The favorability scoring dropped to 70%, 54% and 53% for ages 45-64, 30-44 and 18-29, respectively.

Young Liberals and Blacks Distrust Police

The Cato Institute attempted to develop some underlying reasons behind the persistent negative feelings that Blacks and Liberals have for police.

One theory relayed to a “Respect for Authority (RAI) Index.” It found that Conservatives scored much higher (44%) than Liberals (16%). People that scored high on respecting authority were more likely to grant police latitude in their criminal prosecution. Young people are more likely to push against all forms of authority, including police, while Black people feel that the system has been set against them for generations.

Another poll examined the asymmetry of protecting the innocent versus punishing criminals. Liberals were much more likely to let more criminals run free if it meant avoiding incarcerating innocent people. Conservatives were more likely to pursue more arrests, even if it meant that innocent people would be caught up in the net. Not surprisingly, such attitudes correlate to Conservatives favoring a strong police presence, while Liberals favored a weaker force.

Black Lives Matter –
A Liberal and Black Coalition Against Police

A core principle of the local and national government is the protection of its citizens, and Liberals and Blacks believe that the government is failing in that regard. Liberals prefer empathy to order, and assistance to prosecution. Police sit on the wrong side of that equation for all Liberals, regardless of race, age or income.

Black people are still suspicious of the police, despite the large increase in their numbers in law enforcement and eight years of a Black president. They believe the anti-Black bias is deep and systemic.

These two groups coalesced into the Black Lives Matter movement a few years ago.

As stated on the BLM website:

“Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.

Enraged by the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, and inspired by the 31-day takeover of the Florida State Capitol by POWER U and the Dream Defenders, we took to the streets. A year later, we set out together on the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson, in search of justice for Mike Brown and all of those who have been torn apart by state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Forever changed, we returned home and began building the infrastructure for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which, even in its infancy, has become a political home for many.”

Liberals attached themselves to the movement and added LGBTQ, environmental matters, minimum wage and a host of other issues into a movement that was primarily concerned with perceived police brutality against Blacks. The intersectionality of rage against the police was natural for the Liberals anyway.

Where Do We Go From Here

The polarization in the United States regarding a range of issues including unions, abortion and minimum wage all pale relative to the divide that exists in the perception of law enforcement, which is a core tenet of our government. Our society cannot thrive with only “red” cops (Republican-loved police), nor can it survive the anarchy proposed by Liberals. Increasing the number of minorities on police forces has yielded no change in attitude, nor has increased wealth.

Therefore, new approaches should be considered:

  • Elevate Hispanics. The Hispanic community has been joining both police forces and the national armed forces in great numbers. Their admiration for law enforcement has grown significantly. Society should reward both efforts by continuing to hire and promote the talented Hispanic officers, including to prominent positions.
  • Positive Police in Schools. Do not let the Black Lives Matter run the agenda in schools teaching young people to hate the police, and do not only have police officers in school when investigating a crime. Have officers talk to students and get to know them in a positive class and hallway format. Visit the local precinct and celebrate holidays together with police, possibly side-by-side in homeless shelters (versus just going to shelters without the police).
  • Dial back “authority.” If Liberals and Blacks are sensitive about authority, then police should consider selectively managing such authority, such as being more selective in “stop-and-frisk”programs.

America’s police and military are for all citizens and should be appreciated and trusted by everyone. If people are not learning to respect and appreciate our protective forces in their homes, we must do out utmost to promote such message in schools and society at-large.


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Immigration to America (Music by Neil Diamond)

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I Love 5-to-4

Sports games are most exciting when they are close. Whether soccer, hockey, baseball or whatever, I am most engaged when the two competing sides are battling for victory to the very end.

It is not only that the games are most thrilling when the score is close, but the quality of the play is heightened. Closely matched teams bring out the best in the teams and individual players.

And so it is on the Supreme Court.

Just one day ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would retire from the Supreme Court. Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988, has been considered the most balanced of the justices. His rulings crossed between the court’s four more conservative and four more liberal voices. He was often the deciding factor in rulings.

The Supreme Court used to have more than a single ideological middle-of-the road justice. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, also appointed by Reagan, had a balanced voting record between the liberal and conservative camps. During the 1988 to 2006 time period, Kennedy and O’Conner provided voices to both the liberal and conservative camps.

Today, the remaining balanced justice is Chief Justice Stephen Roberts, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2005. While he was counted on as a conservative voice early in his tenure, the past few years have seen the Chief Justice side with both ends of the ideological divide.

Overall, American society and politics are very divided today. According to polls, both Democrats and Republicans have become much more extreme in their views. The Democratic party continues to lurch towards Socialism and anarchy, while the Republican party is advancing more conservative and nationalistic themes. It is through these extremists lenses that Americans look at the Supreme Court, and claim that the court has never been more polarized.

But in fact, the court has never had a narrower band of opinions than today. Only Justice Clarence Thomas is considered a far-flung Conservative, scoring above a 3 on the ideological metric in the chart above, the only Conservative justice scoring above a 2. Meanwhile, there are two liberal judges scoring above a 2, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotamayor. The other justices are towards the ideological middle.

And I am happy about that.

As in sports, I believe that there is merit to a balanced approach in law. Opposing views bring out the best arguments, with each side refining the other. America’s legal system is best served when the balance of the court includes both liberals and conservative minds, weighing the law and society in its legal rulings.

Ronald Reagan, one of the greatest of the American presidents and the best of the modern era, gave the court a lasting stamp with two moderate conservatives and a brilliant staunch conservative mind in Antonin Scalia. As today’s court sits with an equal number of conservatives and liberals, hopefully President Donald Trump will take a similar path in appointing a moderate Conservative to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, keeping the balance in America’s Supreme Court.


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NY Times, NY Times, What Do You See? It Sees Rich White Males

I loved the Eric Carle / Bill Martin Jr book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I loved it both as a child and as a parent reading it to children. The text was clear and the pictures were beautiful. It taught us how to see and identify basic things like colors and animals in a straightforward and enjoyable manner.

But the world is seemingly not so simple in a world pounding out millennial “my truths.” Simple pictures of animals are now Rorschach tests subject to varied interpretation. Colors are now blinded through a reverse prism of everything exiting as a blinding white – as in white male privilege.

Consider an important study performed at Stanford University of 260 million standardized test scores taken by third to eighth graders in the United States. The graphic pointed to remarkable and scary outcomes regarding the performance differences between boys and girls in school.

Hundreds of red circles marked the top of the chart showing girl test scores ranging anywhere from half to more than a full test grade level over boys in every part of the country, whether in the poorest or richest segments. The graphic clearly illustrated how girls scored dramatically higher on English tests all around the United States.

Further down on the page, clustered near the parity line between boys and girls, were the blue dots representing the math scores. Here the graph was more balanced, with girls out-performing boys by just a little in some markets, with boys outperforming girls by just a bit in more markets. The blue cloud appeared to have a slope indicating that boys in richer neighborhoods performed slightly better than those in poorer neighborhoods. In no sample did the maximum out-performance of boys in math even reach the smallest out-performance by girls in English. In English, girls outperformed boys by about 3/4 of a full grade, and in math the boys outperformed girls by roughly 1/3rd of a grade.

The graph was alarming in how poorly boys performed relative to girls in English. It begged the question of how to redo the entire English curriculum to address the failure of schools to educate boys. Are more male teachers needed? Are the choice of texts not appropriate for boys? Should there be a change in the classroom setting? In the creative writing syllabus?

But these questions that immediately sprang to anyone’s mind from the picture were missing in the New York Times coverage of study on June 17, 2018.

In an article titled “Math’s Variable: Boys Outperform Girls in Rich, White Suburbs,” the Times inverted the story into a different narrative. The Times wrote “In school districts that are mostly rich, white and suburban, boys are much more likely to outperform girls in math, according to a new study from Stanford researchers, one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level.” For 24 paragraphs, the Times would explore the advantages of rich White and Asian households that “invest in more stereotypical activities,” like “daughters in ballet and their sons in engineering.” Because rich people are sooo stereotypical and non-progressive.

Only in the 21st paragraph of the article did the Times devote attention to the obvious and important conclusion of girls DRAMATICALLY outperforming boys in English. It wrote: “Girls continue to outperform boys in reading in school districts across the United States, regardless of income, and in most other rich countries. Parents have been found to talk more to girls from the time they are infants. Teachers say girls concentrate more on reading. Perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later. There could also be a role model effect: Women say they read more than men, while boys are steered more towards sports and video games.

This article is a travesty of #AlternativeFacts and it undermines helping children that are truly falling behind. Our progressive society that looks to spend as much public money as possible to produce equal outcomes for poor-and-rich; White-and-Blacks and Latinos; boys-and-girls, focuses only on the narrow out-performance of rich white boys. The article noted how a wealthy white township where “the students are about 60% white and 30% Asian-American,” had “Boys and girls both perform well, but boys score almost half a grade level ahead of girls in math…. Boys are much more likely to sign up for math clubs and competitions, he said, to the point that the district started a girls-only math competition this year.” But there was NO mention of what is being done to help millions of boys perform better in English. Just “perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later.” Sorry. Nothing we can do to help boys in English. Move on.

Consider that the Times published this article at the same time as discussing the ultra-liberal New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s plans to upend the city’s strongest math and science high schools to reduce the number of Whites and Asians and increase the number of Blacks and Latinos. Are there any efforts to get more boys or Whites into the best arts high schools, like Fiorella LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts which is 74% female and 56% minority? Nope.

Our schools are grossly failing our boys in English and there is zero effort on their behalf, either by progressive politicians or left-wing newspapers. Boys are just younger versions of the ‘patriarchy’ that are future enemies for the racial and gender justice warriors. Stay on message: it’s all about rich white male privilege.

Perhaps that observation is part of the grade gap between boys and girls in English and language arts: boys and girls see the world differently, just as conservatives and liberals do. While math and science have strict rules about what is correct, the language arts are more fluid and subject to interpretation. And if women and liberals continue to dominate the teaching profession and direct the narrative of interpretation, the nation’s boys will likely continue to suffer.


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Fake Definitions: Pluralism and Progressive / Liberalism

The Right Stuff, Then and Now

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

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The Middle East with American Leaders that Back Friends and Punish Enemies

On February 2, 2011, US President Obama gave the Middle East a clear unambiguous message: the United States will no longer back its allies.

Arab countries had hoped that the only US ally that Obama was going to abuse was Israel, as witnessed by the callous and abusive treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first two years of Obama’s presidency.

However, on that February day, Obama pulled the carpet out from Hosni Mubarak, the long-time ruler of Egypt and loyal US ally.

“We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country and a long-time partner of the United States,… [the transition] must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.

Obama made clear that the future was in the hands of the people of Egypt, not its leader and long-time US partner Mubarak.

The rest of the Arab world was appalled by Obama’s actions. The leaders of American ally Saudi Arabia felt that Obama had no clue how things worked in the Middle East. You backed allies, not enemies.

In Syria, the regime of Bashar al-Assad bombarded his own people with missiles and chemical weapons, but Obama set down fake “red lines” without ramifications.

Enemies got a pass in the brutalization of its people. Friends were scorned, thrown out of office and arrested.

Seven years later, on January 30, 2018, the Trump Administration’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made clear this administration’s break with Obama’s foreign policy after Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

“For the first time in a long time, our friends know that they can count on the United States to have their backs, and our enemies know that we will no longer give them passes when they threaten American interests.”

It is still early too tell if the Middle East will be better suited under the model of protecting one’s allies. But it is all too apparent that enabling one’s enemies as under Obama, was a catastrophic failure.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Remembering the Terrible First Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

Obama and the Saudis

Israel & the United States Repel the Force of the World

Trump’s Take on Obama’s “Evil Ideology”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy on Israel is like the United Nations

Nikki Haley Will Not Equivocate on the Ecosystem of Violence

Comparing Nikki Haley’s and Samantha Power’s Speeches after UN Votes on Israel

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Israel & the United States Repel the Force of the World

“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense
January 9, 1776

On January 9, 1776, exactly 242 years ago, the great American Patriot Thomas Paine published the first edition of his pamphlet “Common Sense.” In it he advanced the arguments why the colonies needed to break free from England, and argued for a new political system based on democracy and equality, quite dissimilar to England’s monarchy and class-based hierarchy. While he acknowledged that the colonies were outnumbered and outgunned, he declared that the unity of the American colonies in spirit and purpose would withstand the battles to come.

Those sentiments are being borne out again, this time, between the United States of America and Israel.

On December 6, 2017, US President Trump acknowledged the reality that Jerusalem is the capital city of the State of Israel. It was a move that was welcomed by the government of Israel, but not by much of the world.

Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Security Council voted to denounce USA’s decision in a vote of 14-to-1, with only the US voting against the measure. That single vote by a permanent member of the UNSG was enough to block the resolution.

The Arab states moved to have a similar vote at the UN General Assembly. The lopsided vote came in at 128 countries voting to condemn the American recognition, 9 votes supporting the USA and 35 countries abstaining. The overwhelming vote was non-binding and the US continued to take measures that were completely within its rights and jurisdiction .

Not seven weeks after the US declaration of the Jerusalem Acknowledgment, US Vice President came to Israel, to visit its capital city of Jerusalem and address its parliament, the Knesset. He loudly and clearly proclaimed the unity between the US and Israel:

US Vice President Mike Pence addressing the Knesset
(photo: January 22, 2018)

“Thanks to the [US] President’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel.

We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.

We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”

Pence made clear that the US stands with Israel in both the positive and negative; in the passive and the aggressive.

The US stands with Israel in the mundane. In a democratic way of life. In commerce and trade. In acknowledging truth and fact.

And the US also stands with Israel against the forces of hatred, racism and antisemitism. Against evil ideologies and terror. Against distortions and fake history.

Pence reiterated those comments, as he absorbed the history of the Jews and the history of America:

In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope….

“And your story inspired my forebears to create what our 16th President called a “new birth of freedom.” And down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland.”

Pence addressed the lies spewed from the mouth of the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority and the UNESCO that the Jews have nothing to do with the land of Israel:
“The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that “even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,” from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed….“The Jewish people’s unbreakable bond to this sacred city [of Jerusalem] reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God.

“It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.”

Pence further spoke of a revolution in the Arab world, where some countries are breaking with past hatreds and establishing ties with Israel:
“Over the past two days, I’ve traveled to Egypt and Jordan, two nations with whom Israel has long enjoyed the fruits of peace. I spoke with America’s great friends, President Al Sisi of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Jordan, about the courage of their predecessors who forged an end to conflict with Israel in their time.And those two leaders prove every day that trust and confidence can be a reality among the great nations who call these ancient lands home.

In my time with those leaders, and with your Prime Minister, we discussed the remarkable transformation that is taking place across the Middle East today, and the need to forge a new era of cooperation in our day and age.

The winds of change can already be witnessed across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation. And the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause as never before.

Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump addressed an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He challenged the people of this region to work ever closer together, to recognize shared opportunities and to confront shared challenges. And the President urged all who call the Middle East their home to, in his words, “meet history’s great test — [and] conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism together.”

And Pence spoke about the common threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism and the evil of the Islamic republic of Iran:
“Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders — targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East, and the wider world. It respects no creed — stealing the lives of Jews, Christians, and especially Muslims. And radical Islamic terrorism understands no reality other than brute force.Together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth.”
Just over 242 years since Paine’s call for unity to launch a new nation, the US administration declared its affinity for Israel, in maintaining and advancing the Jewish State, just 70 years after it was reestablished:
“How unlikely was Israel’s birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future.Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of your forefathers, yet as it grows, it reaches ever closer to the heavens. And today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as your own.

It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again.

The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.”

The US is proud of Israel and Israel is proud of the US. That unity is a strength for both countries and will hopefully continue to “repel the force of the world” for many years to come.


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Israel’s Colonial Neighbors from Arabia

Both Israel and Jerusalem are Beyond Recognition for Muslim Nations

The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

The Invisible Flag in Judo and Jerusalem

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The War Preferred

Summary: When a country prefers to use military force over financial pressure, what does that tell you about the party’s temperament and goals?

USA’s Financial Pressure First

Over the past decades, the United States of America has made efforts to contain the nuclear ambitions of rogue states like the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea. The USA viewed those state sponsors of terrorism as too dangerous to be the guardians of weapons of mass destruction. But in each case, the USA used economic means of combating Iran and North Korea as a preferred course to launching into a military war.

These were not unique situations.

The US has engaged in economic warfare several times. In situations like Cuba, the US never opted to attack the country militarily. However, in other situations like Libya, the US imposed economic warfare initially in February 2011, before deciding to use its military force some weeks later.

For the United States, the preferred course of engagement was to use economic means of achieving it’s aims, whether it was for a country to reverse course on a nuclear program, or to stop a war. The USA wanted to save lives – both of its own soldiers as well as in the country it attacked – so it delayed the use of force as long as possible.

Arabs’ Attack First

The Arabs in the Middle East have used the exact opposite approach.

When Israel announced its new state in 1948, five Arab countries invaded with an enormous military. Death was not only a means to an end but a goal: the destruction of the Jewish State.

In 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Arab armies attacked Israel again. The Israeli army eventually repelled the invading forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, after incurring significant loss of life. In response to their loss, the Arab countries imposed an oil embargo on those countries that assisted Israel militarily during the battle. As summarized by the US State Department:

“During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. Arab OPEC members also extended the embargo to other countries that supported Israel including the Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa. The embargo both banned petroleum exports to the targeted nations and introduced cuts in oil production.”

The Arab countries were not concerned about the loss of life and rushed into battle to both destroy Israel having lost wars and land to Israel in 1948, 1956 and 1967. The Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said the following as it launched its attack on Israel on October 6, 1973:

“We have always felt the sympathy of the world but we would prefer the respect of the world to sympathy without respect.”

By 1973, the Arab goals’ had expanded to not only destroying Israel, but establishing a modicum of honor. As he conceded the war to the Israelis, Sadat said:

“We have been fighting Israel for the fifteenth day running. Israel fought us on its own in the first four days and its real position was exposed on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts; it [Israel] lost by its own admission, 800 tanks and more than 200 aircraft on both fronts. For the last 10 days, however, I have been fighting the United States on the Egyptian front, armed as she is with the most sophisticated weapons in her possession. I simply cannot fight the United States or bear the historical responsibility for having our armed forces destroyed once again.”

In launching the war, Egypt made clear that its honor was at stake, and in calling for a ceasefire, it opted to claim victory over Israel, but capitulation to the US. As the Arab state could not beat the United States militarily, it pivoted to an economic war, the Oil Embargo.

Palestinians’ Also Attack First

Like the other Arab countries, the Palestinian Arabs have opted to fight militarily as a first effort. However, lacking a standing army, the Palestinian Arabs have used terrorism against Israeli civilians and army alike.

After the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1995 as a result of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians attacked Israelis throughout the 1990s. When the head of the PA, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to deliver a peace in September 2000, the PA launched a Second Intifada which claimed the lives of thousands of additional civilians. The end of the Intifada was brought about with the help of Israel’s establishing a security barrier which stemmed the flow of Palestinian terrorists into Israel, which propelled the Palestinians into a new war. The launch of the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) effort in 2005 was designed to economically strangle Israel.

A Palestinian demonstrator raises a knife, during clashes with Israeli police, in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Palestinian Arabs – like the Arabs of the neighboring states – opted to use military force to try to destroy Israel. Only upon the failure of such efforts, did they switch to economic warfare.

  • Goals: The US took action to prevent the tremendous loss of life (rogue states with nuclear weapons), while the Arab goal was to kill and destroy.
  • Tactics. The US pursued economic pressure first to prevent the loss of life, whereas the Arab states immediately went to war.

The consistency of the goals and tactics of the United States and Arab world is a fabric of their world view: the US has a goal of preserving peace, so uses military force as a last resort. The Arab states have a goal of destroying Israel, so attack it first and only resort to a BDS campaign once they conclude that they cannot win militarily.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel and Wars

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

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Weddings are Religious Affairs

On December 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The court will decide whether a baker has the right as a matter of religious freedom to not create a customized wedding cake for a homosexual couple, or whether turning down such clients is a matter of discrimination against gays.

Colorado baker Jack Phillips

The case will have Americans confront an issue that it has been pressing in the wrong direction for many years: the government should have NO ROLE in weddings, even while it maintains documents on marriages. The government should limit its involvement to a single legal document as to the selection of a civil partner and no more.

Judeo-Christian Society versus Freedom of Religion

American politicians have long stated that the country’s laws were based on the ethics and morals of Judeo-Christian teachings. But while American laws were established with such inspiration, a fundamental principle of American society is the separation of church and state. Nothing can be made more clear than the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The core of this amendment is that US laws cannot infringe on a person’s practice of their religion.

Religious Limits on Marriage

There are some laws found in the Bible that limit certain relationships, including bans on incest and homosexuality. For the first two centuries of America’s existence, the law of the land followed the Judeo-Christian ban on these two marriages. However, due to American society’s more accepting attitude towards homosexual relationships, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit gay marriages in June 2015. The ban on marriages between family members still remain.

The US lawsuit that brought about the legalization of marriage was filed because of American law that prevented the plaintiff, Jim Obergefell, from putting his name on the death certificate of his late husband. He was completely correct in being outraged that US law prevented him from doing so.

But our society has been making the wrong arguments in its defense of gay marriage, in advancing a bad set of arguments forcing a baker to create a cake against his religious sensibilities.

Religious Ceremonies versus Civil Documents

The US legal system uses many civil documents, including birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates. They are simple legal notices that must be filed to keep an appropriate record of people in the United States.

Anyone should be free to fill out these documents in a manner that fits their personal beliefs without ANY intervention by the government. That means that the government cannot object to someone naming their child Mohammed any more than two women filing a marriage certificate. (The government should also be prohibited from banning a civil union between siblings or close family members, which it still does).

Put simply, it should not be up to the government to put its Judeo-Christian founding above the principle of a separation of church and state.

In a similar vein, the government should not be able to infringe on people’s practice of religion.

Just as the government should not be allowed to ban the practice of circumcision (the Jewish custom of a bris when the boy is eight days old), it cannot interfere in a wedding ceremony.

Bris/Baptism/Wedding versus Civil Documents

There are certain life events that are religious in nature, where the participants use a priest or rabbi to officiate the ceremony. They often hold the event in a church or synagogue and invoke God’s name and recite prayers. Baptisms and weddings are such occasions.

US laws do not much care about the nature of the religious ceremony. While a priest may declare the couple to be man-and-wife, the legal system still requires a civil marriage certificate to be filed. It is that legal document that falls under the government’s purview, not the wedding itself.

Similarly, a rabbi may name a child in the synagogue at a child’s bris. But the parents must still fill out paperwork in the courts declaring the child’s legal name.

Ceremony and Party Participants

Should everyone be compelled to participate at a bris? Of course not. A photographer should not be compelled to take pictures at a bris just because she takes pictures at baptisms.

Should a baker be forced to design a custom wedding cake for homosexuals or an incestuous couple which goes against his religious beliefs? Absolutely not. It is every vendor’s right to not actively engage in a religious service to which he doesn’t subscribe.

In the case of Masterpiece Cake, the baker made clear that he would sell any ready made item in the store to any person who walked in, regardless of sexual orientation. However, Colorado law compelled him to design and create a cake against his religious beliefs. While that activity does not reach the level of a priest officiating the ceremony, it stands well above the electric company’s providing power to the event. The latter is “blind” to the religious ceremony, and the activity would be identical if the event were a convention. The baker crafts his cake for the ceremony.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” The converse is just as true, that no person should be compelled to violate their religious beliefs.

To actively compel a person to engage in a religious practice – and a wedding ceremony is a religious practice – is wrong. And overturning the Masterpiece Cake Colorado ruling would have no impact on homosexual couples filing for government-approved civil unions.

It is time to clearly delineate between religious ceremonies and legal documents, and to give both gay people and those that have religious objections to gay marriage the freedoms they all deserve.


Related First.One.Through article:

The Baker and Government Doth Protest Too Much

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Black People are Homophobic

Pride. Jewish and Gay

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