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.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Naked Democracy

Let’s Make America VOTE Again

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

In The Margins

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Losing Rights

A Country Divided

“Coastal Liberal Latte-sipping Politically-correct Out-of-touch Folks.”

Is Calling Someone a ‘Nazi’ Simply a ‘Poor Choice of Words?’ Ask a Westchester Democrat

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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.”


Related First.One.Through articles:

I Love 5-to-4

Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

Liberal’s Protest Bubble Harms Democracy

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

In The Margins

A Deplorable Definition

American Hate: The Right Targets Foreigners, The Left Targets Americans

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Is Calling Someone a ‘Nazi’ Simply a ‘Poor Choice of Words?’ Ask a Westchester Democrat

There have been few moments in history which revealed mankind’s darkest and most evil nature. Nazi Germany of the 1930s and 1940s epitomized that racist, anti-Semitic, sinister and violent corner of hell that occasionally takes control in parts of our planet.

One would imagine that calling anyone a Nazi would be reserved for the most heinous kind of villain – perhaps ISIS today that proudly tortures and beheads men, women and children. Could anyone imagine a current American politician calling out a mild-mannered fellow politician – especially one with particularly strong pro-Israel credentials – a ‘Nazi’?

Welcome to the Democratic party in Westchester, NY in 2017.

Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) was upset by the action of the Republican County Executive Rob Astorino in regards to an act involving illegal activities among illegal immigrants in the county. In an email slamming Astorino, Borgia wroteIt’s the classic ‘Big Lie’ technique. All clever Nazis use it.

As detailed in the NY Post, the ‘Big Lie’ was a phrase coined by Adolf Hitler about Jews. Borgia said that Astorino was a “clever Nazi” just like Hitler in their attempts to eradicate illegal immigrants/ Jews.

The comparison was outrageous and disgraceful. As was the reaction from fellow Democrats.

State Senator George Latimer is a Democrat running for Astorino’s seat. He opted to barely address the issue and simply said that calling Astorino a Nazi was a “poor choice of words.” He didn’t condemn the statement nor use the opportunity to address anti-Semitism. He tacitly agreed to the underlying sentiment that Astorino is an anti-Semitic, racist, lying devil, but would have preferred that his Democratic colleague not use the term “Nazi.”

At a time when Democrats are up-in-arms about Donald Trump not repudiating neo-Nazis at a protest in Charlottesville, VA, how can Democrats freely call political opponents “Nazis” and then refuse to condemn the remarks?

Astorino rightly said that Borgia’s comment was not simply offensive to him, but to everyone. He asked for her to apologize to all of the people in the county.

People offended by the incident can support Astorino in his upcoming election and distance themselves from both Latimer and Borgia.


Related First.One.through articles:

The Democrats’ Slide on Israel

The Democratic Party is Tacking to the Far Left-Wing Anti-Semitic Fringe

Politicians React to Vile and Vulgar Palestinian Hatred

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

In The Margins

A Country Divided

If you Only Loved Refugees as Much as you Hate Donald Trump

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

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An Orthodox Rabbi at the Capitol

It has been several decades since any rabbi delivered a prayer at a presidential inauguration, the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in 1985 being the last one. In Reagan’s and each of the prior events, the prayer was delivered by a rabbi from the Reform or Conservative movements. In 2017, at the swearing in of President Donald Trump, an Orthodox rabbi finally took the stage.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, is a well-known rabbi on the national and international stage, as dean and founder of the Simon Weisenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance. He also founded Moriah Films which has won two Academy Awards. His credentials in combatting hatred and in educating the world about the evils of the Holocaust are beyond reproach.

hier-inauguration

Why did Trump invite a rabbi when Obama, the Bushes and Clinton did not do so? Why invite an Orthodox rabbi, the smallest of the Jewish denominations?

A major factor to consider must be that Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her entire family are Jewish. And Orthodox.

Trump also hails from New York City and built his business in the real estate industry, where many Jews live and work. He has gotten to know many Jews – and Orthodox ones in particular- over many years. That is in sharp contrast to past presidents who were lifelong politicians, a profession with fewer Orthodox Jews. 

The point that I will add here is that it should not be a surprise that the first party to include an Orthodox rabbi in one of the greatest of human occasions – the peaceful transfer of power of the most powerful nation in the world – was the Republican party.

Orthodox Jews are Mostly Republican

The Pew Research group did a comprehensive survey of American Jews in 2013, and published the results in August 2015. The survey found that “American Jews tend to be more highly educated and politically liberal than the U.S. public as a whole,” but one group did not fit that pattern: the Orthodox, which are 57% Republican-leaning.

“Unlike most other American Jews, Orthodox Jews tend to identify as Republicans and take conservative positions on social issues such as homosexuality. On average, they also are more religiously committed and much younger than other U.S. Jews, and they have bigger families.

“…the median age of Orthodox adults (40 years old) is fully a decade younger than the median age of other Jewish adults (52). Despite being younger, more than two-thirds of Orthodox adults are married (69%), compared with about half of other Jewish adults (49%), and the Orthodox are much more likely to have minor children living in their household. On average, the Orthodox get married younger and bear at least twice as many children as other Jews (4.1 vs. 1.7 children ever born to adults ages 40-59).

“…in a few ways, Orthodox Jews more closely resemble white evangelical Protestants than they resemble other U.S. Jews. For example, similarly large majorities of Orthodox Jews (83%) and white evangelicals (86%) say that religion is very important in their lives, while only about one-fifth of other Jewish Americans (20%) say the same. Roughly three-quarters of both Orthodox Jews (74%) and white evangelicals (75%) report that they attend religious services at least once a month. And eight-in-ten or more Orthodox Jews (84%) and white evangelicals (82%) say that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God – more than twice the share of other American Jews (35%) who express this belief.”

So while Orthodox Jews only make up about 10% of the 5.3 million American Jews, they are the fastest growing denomination by far. The implication is that even as Democrats point to the growth of the non-white population in the USA as favoring the Democrats, within the Jewish minority, the Republicans hold an advantage.

The Address

Rabbi Hier spoke for just two minutes after President Trump was inaugurated. In his remarks he recited a passage from Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion… If I forget thee o’ Jerusalem may my right hand forget its skill.” It was an interesting choice of quotes, as the Obama Administration let the area of Babylon – in today’s Iraq – fall into an Islamic jihadist war zone, and neighboring Iran have a pathway to nuclear weapons. In regards to Jerusalem, Obama abandoned Israel at the United Nations, letting a motion pass that declared that the eastern half of Jerusalem which houses the Jewish Temple Mount and all of the West Bank were illegally controlled by Israel.

Conversely, the Trump administration has broken with Obama’s view that Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and has vowed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is a campaign promise that many presidents have made only to reverse course once they assumed office, however, it would appear that Trump is likely to follow through with his pledge.

Did Hier deliberately use the quote to voice the displeasure of the pro-Israel community with Obama? As encouragement to Trump to honor his pledge to Jerusalem?


It had been over 30 years since a rabbi was invited to give a blessing at the presidential inauguration. While it was a special moment for all Jews to celebrate, many liberal Jews tried to petition Hier to withdraw as they disliked Trump’s stated policies. It was a shame that in the divisive election campaign between Democrats and Republicans, Jews could not pause to appreciate the acknowledgment and invitation that was extended to their small community.


Related First.One.Through articles:

On Accepting Invitations, Part 2

“Jews as a Class”

Older White Men are the Most Politically Balanced Demographic By Far

Political pundits have been calling out White, uneducated old men as racists and the sole fringe backers of Republican candidates.  They suggest that women, minorities and the young are much more balanced and thoughtful in their choice of political preference and affiliation.

They are lying to you.

Look at the actual numbers from the 2012 election:

By Gender:  Men split for Romney by 52%/45% (7 point difference), while women voted for Obama by 55/44 (11 point difference). Men were more balanced than women in considering their candidate.

By Race: Whites voted for Romney by a 59%/39% margin (20% difference), while blacks voted for Obama 93/6 (87% difference), Hispanics for Obama 71/27 (44% difference) and Asians 73/26 (47% difference). Whites voted in a more balanced way than minority groups.

By Age: The young were the most unbalanced in their support for Obama. People aged 18-29 chose Obama 60%/37% (23% difference), while the other groups, 30-44 picked Obama 52/45 (7% apart), 45-64 year-olds chose Romney 51/47 (4% difference) and 65 and over chose Romney by 56/44 (12% difference). The older working class (aged 45-64) were the most balanced in their votes for the candidates.

Education: The most uneducated people picked Obama by the widest margin. Those with some high school picked Obama 64%/35% (29% difference), compared to high school graduates picking Obama 51/48 (3% difference), those with some college chose Obama 49/48 (1% difference), college graduates picked Romney (51%/47% (4% differential), while those postgraduate work picked Obama 55/42 (13% difference).

Marital Status: Married people voted for Romney by 54/39 (15% split), versus singles for Obama by 56/35 (21% difference). Interestingly, white non-married people were perfectly balanced (45%/45%), but non-white non-married people almost exclusively voted for Obama (80%/11%).  Married people, and non-married white people were more evenly divided.

Religion: Catholics were the most balanced group, voting for Obama by 50/48 (2% spread). Protestants chose Romney 57/42 (15% spread), Jews chose Obama 69/30 (39% spread), other faiths picked Obama 74/23 (51% spread) and the unaffiliated picked Obama 70/26 (44% spread). Mormons chose Romney (who was Mormon) by 78/21 (67% spread).

The most unbalanced group in the 2012 election were uneducated, young, single black women, who almost exclusively voted for Obama.  The most evenly split group were older, working, married Catholic white men with some college education, who split very evenly for the two candidates.

But the liberal press continued along a narrative that old racist white men are the last holdouts for the Republican party.  They made it sound that there aren’t real and legitimate policy differences between Democrats and Republicans – just people that are progressive-thinking and those that are racists.

This characterization started in earnest in 2008, when Barack Obama was running for president.  He said that some people “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” In July 2016, Democrat Nancy Pelosi continued the same white male-bashing theme that “non-college-educated white males have voted Republican. They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three G’s, God being the woman’s right to choose.

pelosi-2
Nancy Pelosi at the Democratic National Convention
(photo: Chad Rachman)

Liberals paint all white men in a monolithic camp, even though they are actually the only demographic that doesn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to vote in a simplified and unified manner.  If Republicans would speak about single African-Americans in such a fashion (and there is statistical reason to do so), there would be a loud uproar.

Liberals biased treatment of white men is a gross disservice to genuine debate about how to govern and put in place policies that serve all Americans. In the 2016 election, where the candidates have only exchanged barbs about being “fit to serve,” the American people have truly been robbed of thoughtful discussion of important issues.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Political Pinatas: Populist Greed Meets Populist Anger

An Open Letter to Non-Anti-Semitic Sanders Supporters

George Soros’ Left Wing Lobbying Dwarfs Goldman Sachs and the NRA

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Liberal Hypocrisy on Foreign Government Intervention

Libertarian Validation and Absolution

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Magnifying the Margins, and the Rise of the Independents

If people really had such compelling arguments, why do they need to always use extreme examples to make their case?

Magnifying the Margins

Both liberal and conservatives often try to argue their points of view by highlighting extreme examples that have little to do with day-to-day reality. Could it be that the basic lines of their arguments are tenuous? Consider some examples:

President Obama took to the airwaves after a terrible mass killing in October 2015, to argue for gun control. The reality is that the number of murders from mass killings is a very small percentage of gun-related deaths. The vast majority of gun deaths – over 60% every year – are in suicides. The over 700 deaths from guns in accidental shootings, is lower than the number of drownings in pools.  Gang and drug-related crimes make up another large segment of gun deaths. Of the over 32,000 gun-related deaths in the United States in 2015, 475 – 1 percent – were in mass shootings.  If Obama really cared about gun deaths, he should take to the airwaves after suicides and gang violence, not from random mass shootings.

Obama tear
Obama sheds a tear during remarks on gun violence, October 2015
(photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

Liberal and pro-abortion activists highlight the need for abortion, and vilify pro-life people that are against abortions in cases of rape and incest. Rape and incest account for just 1% of abortions according to the Guttmacher Institute. Almost all abortions are done for financial or relationship reasons. Why bring up such marginal cases to make a point? If the law states that abortions are legal before the baby is viable outside of the mother, at about 22 weeks (a law driven by time), then the reasons for having the abortion should have no part in the conversation.

Republicans and foreign policy hawks are equally at fault for magnifying the margins. Conservatives continue to pound the table about the threat of Islamic terrorism in the United States. In fact, the number of deaths from Islamic terrorism in the 14 years since September 11, 2001, is less than the number of people who died in lightening strikes.

Denying the Obvious

The convoluted arguments noted above become further estranged from the truth when people also deliberately deny the obvious.

Consider Obama’s refusal to state that there even is something called “radical Islamic terrorism,” which presidential candidate Republican Senator Ted Cruz repeats often.  While Obama may be correct that there many, many Muslims who are not terrorists, that has nothing to do with the scourge of terrorism in the world that is almost exclusively conducted by Islamic radicals.

Trump muslims
Donald Trump calls for banning all Muslims from the US
until the vetting process is improved, December 2015

It is similarly absurd for pro-choice advocates to claim that abortion is 100% about a women’s privacy, as if the issue was akin to a tattoo or body piercing. Such a position inherently argues that a fetus has zero rights until it is actually born. That line of reasoning is as extreme as people who argue that life begins at the very instant of conception. The US Supreme Court and most thoughtful Americans believe a fetus deserves rights at some point between those two extreme moments in time.

The Beautiful Gray Truth

Reality is often a bit too complicated to fit on a bumper sticker. “Pro Choice” fits neater than “Roe v. Wade is about the stage of development of the fetus, and modern science now enables pre-mature births to survive at 22 weeks as opposed to 24 weeks when the law was passed 50 years ago, so I am in favor of moving the timeframe to the new earlier date as the limit for having a legal abortion.” Definitely too wordy.

The truth is that radical Islam is the source of most of the terrorism in the world and the destabilizing force from the middle east and north Africa through Europe. And it is also true that most Muslims are not terrorists.

But political discourse is now only had at the edges.  Politicians and mainstream media magnify marginal situations, denying the middle any air.  That middle ground is where 99% of the truth lies.

Rise of the Independents and Libertarians

If there is a silver lining to the extreme positions taken by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, it is that Americans are leaving them both.  The number of people who consider themselves political Independents jumped to 43% in 2014, according to a Gallup poll, the highest level ever.  That figure compares to 30% for Democrats and 26% for Republicans.

Perhaps Americans realize the foolish spin they are given every day.  Maybe Americans are not really being driven to extremes – its just the two party system that has begun to champion marginal rhetoric, and most Americans are still in the middle.  Americans may only be fed up with Washington D.C., because they hate the two parties that occupy it.

Maybe.

Hopefully.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Political Pinatas: Populist Greed Meets Populist Anger

Absolute and Relative Ideological Terrorism in the United States

The Invisible Anti-Semitism in Obama’s 2016 State of the Union

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Trump Fails to Understand that Jews Want Peace, not a Deal

On December 3, 2015, the fourteen Republican presidential candidates lined up to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, DC.  Almost all of them offered “red meat” to the crowd, denouncing the terrible foreign policies of current President Barack Obama with the assistance of his Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

One of the foreign policy points that they discussed was the status of Jerusalem.

IMG_3657
Program line-up of speakers at the RJC 2016 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C. December 3, 2015
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Jerusalem is often mentioned during campaign season by both Democrats and Republicans. The two main talking points are:

  1. Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel (no recognition of a divided city)
  2. As president, the candidate will move the US embassy to Jerusalem

As a presidential candidate, Senator Obama made these same comments in front of a crowd at an AIPAC conference in 2008, only to reverse his comments the next day.  By the time he ran for re-election in 2012, he gutted the entire pro-Israel agenda from the Democratic platform.  In seven years in office, his two comments proved meaningless.

At the 2015 RJC event, almost all of the Republican candidates mentioned Jerusalem in prepared remarks, while some repeated the two policy points above when responding to questions from RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.  Except for Donald Trump.

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Senator Marco Rubio addressing foreign policy issues to the RJC
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Trump, seemingly ever-desirous of inflaming passions, refused to give the crowd the same responses that all of the other candidates proffered. For that he was booed by the crowd, which, not surprisingly (based on his campaign to-date), did not seem to bother the candidate that much.

IMG_3655
Donald Trump addressing his deal bona fides to the RJC
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Campaign Promises versus Delivery of Actions

Presidential candidates always throw out promises to potential voters and donors.  The fact that candidates from both parties state positions popular with an audience is as natural to the political process as lying is to politicians.

So reporters take note of the arrogant presidential front-runner who prides himself in “telling it like it is.”

As no president ever moved the US embassy to Jerusalem despite promises to pro-Israel groups during campaign season, is Trump just “telling it like it is?”  Or is it simply his abrasive personality that cannot help upsetting audiences, whether they be black, Hispanic or Jewish?

There is more than that to extract from Trump’s comments.  At the RJC, he quipped to the Jewish crowd “I’m a negotiator like you folks…Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”

Putting aside Trump’s anti-Semitic stereotypes in a room that included many doctors and people outside of the business world, it underscored the entire Trump campaign: vote for me, since I’m a successful negotiator.  Being the president of the United States is really just about negotiating deals – whether with Iran or Congress.  As such, I like to leave my options open, and be unpredictable. That’s what makes me a great negotiator.  Don’t pin me down in advance about what I will do, as it hurts the ultimate outcome.

Trump has approached every campaign opportunity with a simple tagline: Trust Me. I’m a Billionaire. I do Great Deals.

However, Trump failed to internalize in his address to “fellow negotiators,” that Israel just doesn’t want a peace deal, it wants actual long-term peace.

A Peace Deal versus Long-Term Peace

A deal comes about when two sides agree on terms.  Typically, each side gives a little to arrive at a compromise.  In a situation where the two parties do not have the same power or requirement to consummate a deal, the exchange will not be a 50-50 compromise.  The party with greater leverage typically uses that leverage to extract better terms.  The party that is more desperate for a deal, usually caves on key items.

In Trump’s world of deals, he sees a more powerful Israel and a more desperate Palestinian population.  As such, he is confident that he can deliver a “good deal” to the Israelis, even while he won’t promise any particular move in advance regarding Jerusalem.

The crowd at the RJC does know some things about negotiating deals.  One of the key requirements is having a real negotiating partner.  Not just a counter-party, who, as Senator Rubio stated, “acknowledges Israel’s right to exist,” but can actually deliver a deal.  Part of the crowd’s disappointment with the Obama administration is its continued hypocrisy of forcing Israel to negotiate with a straw man with no authority or power in acting PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Further, as analyzed in detail, in The Arguments for Jerusalem, there is virtually no argument to support Palestinians’ claim for part of Jerusalem, other than sheer desire.  Part of securing long-term peace means securing Jerusalem.

Lastly, Israel feels alone and vulnerable.  The various anti-Israel United Nations resolutions and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) proposals around the world feed the feeling of Israel’s isolation.  The Iranian deal produced by the Obama administration instilled tremendous fear of an existential threat to both the Jewish state and the Jewish people.  The terror attacks by Palestinian Arabs and anti-Semitic vitriol from the Palestinian leadership make Israel feel that there will never be peace.

Trump understood that the RJC reflects a powerful group that is strongly supportive an increasingly powerful Jewish State.  But he failed to understand that the Jews in that room included Holocaust survivors and people who walked away from the Twin Towers on 9/11.  Those people are not just looking for a “good deal.”  They want support and true long-term peace.

It was not only Trump’s refusal to mention the Jerusalem points above that got him booed.  Trump’s focus on the “Art of the Deal” instead of understanding that a peace deal is not the same things as true long-term peace will make him an increasingly difficult choice for Israel supporters.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

Seeing Security through a Screen

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

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Absolute and Relative Ideological Terrorism in the United States

Summary: The New York Times has sought to educate people to fear Republican terrorists more than Muslim extremists.

“Right-Wing” versus “Muslim Extremism”

In June 2015 the New York Times ran some articles and editorials claiming that domestic terrorism was more of a problem than radical Islamic terrorism.

  • A June 16 op-ed “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat” quoted a police officer that “said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism’”. The paper quoted statistics from The Global Terrorism Database which counted 65 attacks at the hands of “right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11”. It added another source, “the International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.
  • On June 24, the NYTimes had an article entitled “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11”. The paper stated that “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.” That data looks to be the same as the International Security Program, but included the nine black church-goers who had just been gunned down. Another statistic in the article stated that “Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such [ideological] attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants.”

The Washington Examiner questioned the definition of “right-wing terrorists” to include a very broad group of people. How did neo-Nazis and racists get lumped in with the “right-wing”?  Before exploring the Times deliberate grouping of all non-Muslim extremism under a single banner, consider a brief education about relative numbers versus absolute numbers.

20150626_073343
Main cover story in the New York Times

 Absolute versus Relative

A cursory review of numbers could lead to a quick conclusion: 48 people killed is a greater total than 26 people killed. A total of 19 attacks is more than seven attacks. As such, the quotes in the article such as “Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists” would appear accurate on its face as there were more than two times the number of attacks and almost twice the number of fatalities from non-Muslim attacks.

However, a review of the statistics on a relative basis would yield a very different result.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims accounted for 0.9% of Americans in 2014. That means that there are 99 times more non-Muslims than Muslims in the US. If one were to assume that the percentage of Muslims who are radical that would commit an act of terror is the same as the broad group of right-wing and anti-government terrorists within the non-Muslim population, one would expect the right-wing terrorists to have 99 times the number of attacks and fatalities, not two times.  This implies that an average Muslim is 49 times more likely to commit an act of ideological terror than a non-Muslim in the United States.

(By the way, the statistics deliberately exclude the jihadist terrorism of 9/11 which killed nearly 3000 people.)

 The New York Times Warning of Terrorism by Conservatives

After the Times led its readers to focus on “homegrown extremism” as the actual threat of terrorism (compared to jihadists), it lumped all of those non-Muslim fanatics into the Republican party:

 On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives. A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that an ailing economy and the election of the first black president might prompt a violent reaction from white supremacists, was withdrawn in the face of conservative criticism.”

Even if one were to use the liberal paper’s biased assumptions that all anti-government and racist fanatics must exclusively come from the Conservative and Republican parties (which account for roughly 45% of the population according to a June 2015 Gallup poll), it would still suggest that an average Muslim is over 20 times more likely to commit an ideological attack as a “homegrown [Conservative] extremist.”

That would suggest one of the following conclusions:

  1. Non-Muslim terrorists have nothing to do with the Conservative/ Republican parties; OR
  2. An average Muslim is much more likely to commit acts of terror than an average non-Muslim

Either way -or both – these are the exact opposite conclusions that the New York Times sought to convey in its articles.


Related FirstOneThrough article:

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism