The Nightmare

The Nightmare

by

Howard Adelman

The nightmare is not over; it has just begun.

I went to bed last evening at 9:30 p.m. My stomach was churning at what I saw coming, not just a win but an overwhelming win. One did not have to be a seer to know the outcome of last night. I woke up at midnight hoping that I had not had a nightmare. The horror was worse than I had ever imagined.

A man who denies climate change has been elected president of the United States. A serial liar has been elected president of the United States. A man who admires Putin has been elected president of the United States. A man who promises to make America great again because of a false narrative of national decline has been elected president of the United States. A man who claims crime has increased when the evidence points to the opposite has been elected president of the United States. A man who would build America’s military much stronger but who will no longer use that military to protect allies (unless they pay) or offer humanitarian protection for civilians is about to become president of the United States. A man who spreads illusionary fears of Syrian refugees has been elected president of the United States. A billionaire who promised to lower the taxes of the rich will become president of the United States.

A man who denigrates Mexicans and promises to build a wall just when more Mexicans are moving back than seeking entry into the United States has been elected president of America. A man who boasts about groping women and forcing himself upon them has been elected president of the United States. A man who saw two black men counting money before his casinos went bankrupt and insisted that they be replaced by Jews with kippas has been elected president of the United States. A man who promises to initiate destructive trade wars and demolish the existing international economic order has been elected president of the United States. A man who insists that the American political system is broken and/or rigged has been elected president of the United States by that supposedly rigged system. A man who denigrates constitutional norms and promises to resurrect torture has been elected president of the United States. A man who attacks and derides the media and threatens to introduce libel laws to shut down criticism has been elected president of the United States. A man who insists, “I alone can fix it,” a man who says that he knows more about ISIS than the generals, a man of such megalomaniacal proportions has been elected president of the United States. A man who will now control the nomination process of judges to the Supreme Court and over 4,000 federal administrative appointments, a man who clearly demonstrated that he has taken over the Republican Party from the economic conservatives and the Tea Party right, a man who claims that American democratic institutions are corrupt has been elected president of the United States.

What happened?

When Donald gave his acceptance speech at about 3:00 a.m. in the morning, he was gracious towards Hillary and congratulated her on a well-fought campaign. He promised to represent all Americans of whatever race, religion, background or belief. He promised to reach across the aisle and work with both Republicans and Democrats. He promised to rebuild America’s inner cities, its roads, its bridges and its infrastructure. He promised to work with and on behalf of all Americans, whether white or black, whether Latino or Muslim. And he promised to work on behalf of America’s interest but in cooperation and fairly with all other nations willing to get along with America. His tone stood is sharp contrast with the voice of his campaign, the voice of anger, the voice appealing to fear.

Reagan won as the smiling candidate of optimism combined with a hawkish foreign policy. Trump won as the candidate of anger combined with pushing America’s withdrawal from the world much further than even Barack Obama. Yet he was humble and conciliatory and thanked many others for their role in his victory. He insisted that the victory belonged to “us” and not to himself. Will the real Donald Trump stand up? But perhaps there is no real Donald Trump, only the man who needs mass admiration and adoration.

How does my nightmare compare with the dream Donald sold to the American public? It is not as if this would-be pharaoh dreamt of zombie cows eating healthy fat ones with no benefit to themselves. Instead, he dreamt of elites acquiring power and getting rich in the dot.com age and leaving the cattlemen, the farmers and the industrial workers to rust away themselves in the backwaters of America. It is not as if this would-be pharaoh dreamt of thin stalks of wheat devouring healthy ones. Instead, he dreamt of zombie intellectuals, wimps, nerds and members of the chattering class eating the downtrodden people of small towns and the underemployed workers in the rust belt and called for reversing the tables. Further, he had his own court Jew, his own Joseph with the coat-of-many-colours, his son-in-law, to help him interpret his nightmares.

This would-be pharaoh was told that the nightmares had revealed what had been the case, not what would be the case. Further, the nightmare he envisioned in the inner cities and in the rust belt and in rural America was prophetic for the neo-would-be pharaoh elected by pent up anger and resentment, this would-be pharaoh was about to bring about the catastrophe that, as a fabulist, he had invented about the past. The catastrophe he envisaged as having taken place was but an adumbration of a catastrophe about to be visited upon America. “You see. What I said has been unequivocally been proven.” And to correct the catastrophe, he will appoint czars to all his ministries and create a very powerful centralized government. He did so, not because he despised a central and powerful government as traditional Republicans do, but because he resented the overseers who previously ran the dysfunctional central government and who were unable to read the fears and hopes of the populace.

The dream of America, the dream of its founding fathers, has turned away from real hope towards an ersatz hope, turned away from vision towards glitz and advertisements for Trump, turned away from the staggering but irresistible march of a nation towards equality and a flawed but still beautiful dream and turned it into a nightmare fuelled by a whitelash of resentment against minorities and women seeking equal status with men. And women who do not enjoy such equality joined the whitelash. There was a spread of white non-college women voting for Trump over Hillary of 28 points. That added to the spread of 50 points of white non-college educated whites made it impossible for Hillary to bridge the gap without really stimulating minorities and college-educated women and men sufficiently and probably without winning back enough of the millennials who supported Sanders.

So I woke up this morning and saw that my nightmare did not belong to the darkness but was now part of the daylight. The catastrophe I hoped would be averted is upon us, not only Americans, but the whole world. Could Canada be a refuge for hapless dreamers and disillusioned thinkers, creative inventers and conscientious but cautious entrepreneurs, for students and scholars wanting to live lives in an environment that celebrated truth, that celebrated trust and faith, that celebrated a world of progress rather than the art of the deal?

The problem is that Canada with a few other countries like Chile, finds itself to be an oasis of order and good government. But how can Canada float above the tsunami that will inevitably wash across our borders?

Again, so what went wrong?

Muslims are fearful as are the children of African Americans and Latinos, but the biggest and first losers in the election yesterday were our modern futurologists, our pollsters, our prognosticators who declared Hillary had an over 80% chance of winning the presidency. In their estimates of probable and possible outcomes, they had declared that Donald Trump had a few but highly improbable routes to the presidency. They were proven dead wrong. His victory has been overwhelming in the Electoral College. The electoral map was upended in key states. More specifically, the blue wall in the rust belt was breached, not just in one place, but Republicans burst through in two and possibly three breeches.

Donald Trump is the oldest person ever elected to be president, the only president-elect with no experience in public office, the only president-elect whom over 60% of the American population thinks lacks the experience and qualifications to do the job and who does not even have the temperament to do the job. For a candidate who made deporting illegals a central plank in his platform, over 70% of Americans believe there ought to be a legal route to citizenship for these foreigners living in America. Yet he won Florida where that pro-legal route to citizenship was favoured by a majority. They rersent immigrants and illegals because they believe they receive benefits to which they themselves are not entitlDonald Trump made immigration a central and perhaps the central plank in his platform. But there is insufficient evidence to indicate that this is why many voters supported him.

Donald Trump made terrorism another central plank. Trump promised to immediately wipe out ISIS once he took office. But ISIS and terrorism, other than for the alt-right, hardly appeared on the electoral screen. But trade was his third central plank. And the issue of trade did count. And count overwhelmingly. Americans elected him as their president because he opposed the trade agreements and because a very large number of Americans agreed that those trade agreements were the source of the weakening of America.

Sanders, the populist on the left of the Democratic Party, also blamed the trade agreements. American workers had fewer and fewer well-paid manufacturing jobs available to them. Between outsourcing and robotics, they have been displaced. What will happen when they learn that Trump’s promises of restoring those jobs are a chimera? But Sanders was defeated in the primaries because of the way the rules worked and because he was not given a prominent voice at the beginning of the campaign. Would a Democratic populist have won against a Republican populist? Possibly. My youngest son is convinced that this would have been the case. Hillary lost because she could not energize minorities – Hispanics and African Americans – sufficiently to outweigh Trump’s appeal, not only to white working class Americans, but to white working class females. And Trump not only energized his own unique movement, but forced traditional Republicans into a corner where most were unable to do much but back him lest they themselves go down to defeat at the hands of his supporters.

Will Trump cancel the Iran nuclear deal? Other than the alt-right, it did not loom as a huge issue. But the foreign policy establishment in Washington is totally afraid of Trump. And Washington gave Clinton 92.8% of its votes. In the end, Donald not only proved that he could stage a coup and take over the Republican Party, but that with both the width and depth of his support, he could win the White House. As he promised, “the forgotten will not any longer be forgotten.” Most Americans wanted radical change and Hillary came across, not as a change agent, not as someone breaking through a glass ceiling, but as someone who had constructed a mirrored wall around herself so that she was easily branded as a shape shifter.

As one pundit put it, Hillary died the death of a thousand cuts.

Given the economic state of the world, the Obama-led rescue in 2008 will soon appear as a blip as America comes face-to-face with the credit debit crisis. The direction Donald wants to take the economy ignores the underlying rumbles of an imminent earthquake. And instead of the Republicans trying to put their party back together, it has been totally remolded by Donald Trump. It is the Democratic Party that walks away licking its wounds and trying to figure what went wrong and how to re-create itself.

In all this chaos, I will be going back to my nightmares retreating, for my daymares seem so much worse.

With the help of Alex Zisman

Secure America

Secure America

by

Howard Adelman

This morning I received the following email:

Secure America

by

Howard Adelman

Howard —

Today is Election Day! This is a critical election and we need every single American to do their part.

Hillary Clinton is a danger to Americans. Go to the polls today and stop Clinton from implementing her dangerous policies by voting against her. Hillary plans to increase the number of unscreened refugees in the U.S. by at least 550%, directly endangering our communities. Through her role in the murder of Americans in Benghazi and her support of Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal, she has demonstrated her terrible judgement over and over again.
Point blank, we cannot let Hillary Clinton become the President of the United States.

America is at a crossroads and this election will have huge ramifications upon our national security. With so much at stake for the future of our nation, you simply cannot afford to stay home. Your vote will help to restore our national security and protect Americans across the country.

Do you know where to vote today? Click here to find your polling location: http://vote.secureamericanow.org/

Get out and vote today!
Thank you for your loyal support,
Secure America Now

Quite aside from the fact that the organization did not know that I am not an American and am not eligible to vote in an American election, and setting aside the vilification of Hillary Clinton, this short email makes a number of simple factual errors. The organization is accurate in several respects – today is election day in America. It is accurate also in asserting that “America is at a crossroads.” Sometimes, making such an assertion is merely rhetoric, but I believe it is demonstrably true today.

The email stresses the two core themes raising fears among Americans:
1. The fear of terrorism and of Syrian refugees;
2. The Iran nuclear deal is a direct threat to the U.S.

Secure America asserts, “National security is the most important issue this cycle. Hillary Clinton endangers the security of Americans with her support of the Iran nuclear deal and admitting Syrian refugees.”

On Syrian Refugees

One year ago, following the terrorist attack in Paris, Hillary Clinton weighed in on the refugee issue in a city not particularly pro-refugee – Dallas. America had a target of 13,000 Syrian refugees last year. Hillary argued that closing the door to refugees fleeing Syria would “undermine who we are as Americans. “We always welcomed immigrants and refugees. We have made people feel that is they did their part, they sent their kids to school, they worked hard, there would be a place for them in America.” She added that those seeking refuge must be carefully vetted by “our defense and intelligence professionals.”

So the email is blatantly incorrect that Hillary Clinton proposed allowing the entry of unvetted Syrian refugees. She never did. She never has. And she never will. For even the strongest bleeding heart for refugees does not recommend an unvetted process. As for numbers, Hillary did support a 550% increase in the intake, from 10,000 to 65,000, just about the same number Canada will take this year with a population one-tenth of America’s. A 550% increase seems enormous, but not if you start with a very low figure. Given traditional ratios, if Canada takes in 50,000 refugees, the U.S. would be expected to take in 500,000. But given the temper of the times in America, it is hard to imagine America getting back anytime soon to being a large haven for the oppressed in the world.

The fear mongering about Syrian refugees, other than telling an outright lie about vetting, ignores a number of facts:
1. Syrian refugees include Yazidis and other Christians who are being and have been systematically religiously cleansed from the Middle East;
2. If you are a terrorist, the refugee route is one of the poorest routes through which to gain entry into the United States or Canada since you become so well documented. Arriving as a student, as a visitor, as a business person, are all far easier routes into the country;
3. 70% of Syrian refugees are women and children;
4. The vast majority of terrorist acts committed by terrorists – and there have not been that many given the huge threat from them – has come from radicalized young Muslims who grew up in Canada or the United States; they are homegrown influenced, by the ideology of Al Qaida and ISIS.
5. Syria thus far has been a magnet for extremists far more than a producer of terrorists for export. This may change with the imminent defeat of ISIS.
6. The Harper government, far from being pro-Syrian refugees, was very suspicious of Syrian refugees, but still authorized Canada to adopt the same absolute target as the U.S. in the Obama administration. [In its 2013 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, published by Public Safety Canada, there is no suggestion that refugees from Syria currently pose any threat.]

The Iran Nuclear Deal

This is a subject on which I have written extensively and a quick survey of the SAN site indicates that it is another area with enormous misinformation.
Note the source of the missive I received – Secure America Now (SAN). SAN claims to be non-partisan, but seems clearly linked to the Alt-Right and headlined by hard-line ideological Republicans such as John Bolton. It was established by two pollsters, John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell, in 2011. It is one of the major sources of non-scientific “push-polls” that Donald Trump frequently cites to show he is on a winning track.

SAN has pushed petitions that are strong on rhetoric and very weak in providing information that urge the U.S. government to “lead a multi-faceted campaign to stop Iran” and “to send a powerful message to the world that America is strong and will not tolerate illegal aliens infiltrating our land.” The organization is alarmist and demonstrates little concern with accuracy. For example, while urging support for the American intelligence and military service arms of the U.S. government, SAN ignores the simple fact that those same communities, whatever hesitations or qualms they might have about the nuclear deal, contrary to SAN claims, agree that Iran’ nuclear program is NOW not geared to nuclear weapons production. SAN’s videos are also replete with geographical errors, errors about dates, and questionable maps about Iran’s nuclear sites. If you wonder where Donald Trump’s vision of restoring water boarding and other even worse torturing techniques, that even the conservative U.S. Supreme Court insists are contrary to the American constitution, look at this site. Further, its “information” data base looks even worse than Donald Trump’s mendacity, if that is possible.

“Push polls” spread politically driven talking points under the guise of gauging public opinion, They are the same types of polls that the National Citizens Coalition in Canada used to raise fears in 1979 that the Vietnamese refugees arriving in Canada would each bring an additional 16 relatives – for some of us, not a fear at all – but it played on a deeper “yellow peril” fear that once ran through Canada. However, while the National Citizens polls mislead with leading questions, they did not distort, as SAN polls seem to do, by cherry picking those to be interviewed or respond. One SAN poll claimed to show that Americans viewed Iran as a top security threat when independent scientific polls show no such thing.
The oldest trick in the American political playbook is to play up America fears. JFK did it in his race against Nixon in 1960 – “the myth of the “missile gap”. SAN is part of that tradition.

This is what SAN has to say. “Secure America Now will work with like-minded groups to help our elected officials to make the right policy decisions on a wide range of security issues. For too long and too much the threats to our security have been downplayed or even ignored in our political discourse. Secure America Now exists to make sure our security concerns are no longer ignored. Secure America Now will challenge political correctness that often leads to avoidable security situations such as the Fort Hood massacre committed by Major Hassan. Secure America Now will expose and promote action when governmental policies fail to effectively address direct threats to our national security such as the nuclear program of Iran, the rise of China’s military challenge, and growing lawlessness in our society. For too long national security policy has been made by politicians in a vacuum. These issues are too important to be left to the politicians. The American people should be heard on these issues that impact all our lives.”

Scaremongering along the lines of Trump lying! Just two more from the above list. One is the alleged “growing lawlessness in our society.” If the reference is to ordinary crime, crime rates have declined steadily. If the reference is to the lawlessness of torture or to urging people at rallies to take protesters out, then the point is self-referential and not at all about society as a whole. On the issue of Dr. Nidal Hasan (not Hassan), a major and a psychiatrist in the Army, Hasan shot 13 people and wounded 32 others seven years ago. He was convicted and awaits execution. The FBI, the DOD, and the Senate all conducted thorough investigations and all concluded the same thing: “Investigators in the FBI and U.S. Army determined that Hasan acted alone and they have found no evidence of links to terrorist groups.” He would describe his colleagues as anti-American. On the other hand, he was a devout Muslim who examined terrorist sites and was upset by what he heard from the soldiers he was treating about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is more information that is readily available, but there is no suggestion of any connections with refugees let alone Syrian refugees.

The SAN missive alone is sufficient to make sure one does not vote for Trump.

Mad as Hell

Mad as Hell

by

Howard Adelman

“Mad as Hell” can stand for uncensored speech, telling it as it supposedly is in a professed unwavering dedication to speaking the truth. It is also often associated with despair and an unwillingness “to take it anymore.” I am mad as hell, but I hope my speech remains sensitive and self-censored (it does not always). Further, instead of leading to cynicism and uncontrolled rage, I hope my anger reignites the fire in my belly and my quest to right the wrongs of the world. Most of all, I trust that the rage will not undermine my dedication to objective analysis and detachment.

I woke up late this morning, very late. I was furious. Not for waking up late. I had slept so long because I was so angry. I am raging. And when I get very emotional, I knock myself out and fall asleep. It is the other side of my sleep condition that allows me to be very productive between 4 and 8 in the morning. It is why my writing is perceived to be objective and cool. This morning I am not cool. I am mad as hell.

First of Four Stories

In the first news item I read, a handsome, young, clean-shaven police officer’s picture of Sgt. Paul Parizek from the Des Moines police department appeared above a story that included the following: “There have been at least 49 officers shot and killed in the line of duty this year, according to preliminary statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that tracks police deaths. In a report released earlier this year, the fund said that more than half the officers killed by that point were shot in ambushes.” (my italics)

Is this true – two dozen police officers shot in ambushes in the U.S. this year? I did recall that eight officers had been murdered in attacks in Baton Rouge and Dallas, but this horrendous event was only a quarter of the number killed up to that date in 2016. But it was the fatal shooting of the two police officers this morning that made me sit up and listen, made me pay attention to the pattern. Why I have been so obtuse is another story.

In the United States, there is a war against police officers. Crime has been down. Murder rates are way down. Policing had become significantly safer in recent years. But there has been a dramatic change in 2016. In Urbandale in Iowa, one officer was shot and killed sitting alone in his patrol car next to Urbandale High School. 20 minutes later, a Des Moines police officer responding to that first shooting was also shot and killed.

Modernity is based on the rule of law. Professional police are a key component in maintaining the rule of law. Police have two prime functions. They try to prevent crime in part by capturing criminals and bringing them before courts of justice. But police have a second function. Whether they are engaged in traffic management or the protection of property by demonstrators and potential rioters, they also protect that property, the system in the West by means of which our needs are satisfied. Police are concerned with the well-being of each individual as well as the protection of society as a whole. Our basic welfare and our lives depend on the ability of these men and women to fulfill their job. An attack on the police that now appears systemic and deliberate undermines the fundamental foundations of our society.

Second Story

This story began with a simmering fire in my kishkas (look it up) by one of the emails I received in response to my blog the day before yesterday. In part it read, “Trump is a talented leader, who calls out the liberal and greedy elite.” [He calls out the greedy, he who is the icon and advertisement for greed!] “Like King David. He likes women like all healthy males including you and me. Most women play to their sexuality through makeup and choice of clothes. Healthy and tasteful. Bill Clinton rapes and abuses women. Hillary destroys women who speak up against her husband’s victims so that this power couple can play the corrupt system.”

It is NOT natural and healthy to grope women. It is not natural and healthy to force yourself upon women. It is sick. And to boast about it makes it sicker. And to claim your money and power entitles you to engage in such behaviour and allows you to get away with it is sickest of all.

Aside from the libels against Bill and Hillary Clinton that have been repeated so many times that Clinton-haters take for granted that they are true, what really kindled my ire was the description of Donald Trump as being a healthy male who admires women, a man who boasts and has possibly a record of groping women and physically assaulting them, a man who admits that he becomes furious if his dinner is not put on the table by his wife when he arrives home.

That was the kindling. The fire in my belly broke out in full flame when this morning I read a story about Jane Doe who was raped by a champion swimmer, Brock Turner. He was only sentenced to six months in prison and was out on parole after three months. The rape victim’s 21-year-old younger sister wrote, “Today I am still sick thinking about it, sick to my stomach every time I am reminded of the incident.” And I felt sick to my stomach as I read about the devastation visited on both these women, the rape victim and her sister. The court records showed that Brock Turner had behaved in the same way that Donald Trump boasted of behaving, initially repeatedly trying to kiss the eventual rape victim against her will greeted with an unquestionable and demonstrated lack of interest.

But what set off the roaring fire in my belly that has made me so nauseous this morning is Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing statement and the response of the rapist’s father to the rape of a woman who had been left unconscious, naked from the waist down, behind a dumpster. The two sisters suffered at the public humiliation of exposing what happened to the older one in full detail on the internet. The two sisters were both raped over and over again in their minds as they both sat through the court sessions over a six month period. The younger sister addressed Brock Turner directly: “Where has your remorse been? Really, truly: Do you feel guilty because you were sexually assaulting her or because you were caught?”

Male assaults on females are not only despicable and outrageous, they symbolize everything a civilized society must oppose. These assaults have absolutely nothing to do with sex, nothing to do with the pleasurable and passionate intercourse between sexual partners and everything to do with aggression and hatred of women. So this morning a report reads that in Greensburg Indiana, when a woman turned down her boyfriend’s offer of marriage, he shot and killed her. Recall that the two Swedish heroes, Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt, who had seen Brock Turner attacking the victim and ran after him and tackled him after he fled, testified that the victim was motionless on the ground at the time and could not be woken up, totally contradicting Turner’s insistence that the sex was a product of consent.

But what happens? The two sisters live with the experience for the rest of their lives. In an open and shut case – which very few are – the judge responds favourably to the letters requesting leniency when there has been no demonstrated contrition nor open admission of responsibility. Just lies. And a father who paints his son as the victim! At least Ari Shavit immediately owned up to his responsibility and expressed deep contrition when the stories of his assaults on women became public.

Third Story

As the Republicans face the real and imminent possibility of a Clinton presidency, they have already evidently begun to plot a campaign of obstreperousness, about continuing the campaign to refuse filling Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, thereby bringing the whole system of justice into disrepute. For the system depends not only on a responsible and empathetic administration of justice, on a conscientious and informed legislative body, but on an independent judiciary at the very highest levels. When ideology dictates how issues of justice are handled, the end of democracy is near. It is not only a break with democratic tradition to refuse to approve an appointment, but an effort to blow up the fundamentals of democracy altogether. When cynicism takes the reins of justice, we are all doomed.

Fourth Story

This tale might seem the most remote from the story of a wanton ambush and killing of police officers, dealing with assaults and rapes of women and sabotaging the whole system of justice when your side is defeated. But in the end, I suggest that it goes to the heart of the matter.

The background of the story is over the use of the Wailing or Western Wall in Jerusalem, not the conflict between Arabs and UNICEF over proprietary rights to religious sites among Jews, Muslims and Christians, but the fight over whether Orthodox Judaism should retain monopoly control over what is now regarded as the holiest site in Judaism – the exposed sector of the old temple wall. In 1967, the government, as a gesture to the religious party allies and an indifference to religious symbolism, had assigned responsibility for administering conduct on the plaza outside the wall to the Orthodox establishment. That establishment maintains a strict separation of sexes and limits even the way women can worship at the wall. Hence the protests by many orthodox women against the patriarchy that controls access. Hence other counter-protests against non-Orthodox Jews who have insisted on a place for egalitarian services at the wall. A political compromise had been forged to build a new section of plaza that would permit that new area of plaza to be used for egalitarian religious services.

The Netanyahu government, under pressure from his Orthodox political allies, in spite of Supreme Court orders, has repeatedly stalled on implementing this compromise. This morning, there was an effort of hundreds of demonstrators led by leading Conservative and Reform rabbis to carry Torah scrolls to the Wall and conduct an egalitarian service. They were resisted by force by Orthodox young men as police stood by and refused to interfere. What followed was unprecedented pandemonium and violence.

Some of the most prominent clergy in the diaspora were shoved, pushed and thrown to the ground. But they persisted. Netanyahu, the same man who refuses to implement the compromise arrived at after years of negotiations, stated that, “unilateral breaches of the status quo in the Kotel harm our attempts to reach a compromise,” even though a compromise had been reached and the issue was its implementation. There was no condemnation of the violence perpetrated by the young orthodox men.

When, because ideology and not negotiation and compromise, lawlessness ensues, when courts are ignored, when police choose to remain passive in the face of overt assaults, when politicians practice the politics of inaction, when supreme courts are blatantly ignored, democracy is at stake.

And it all starts with the mistreatment of women and the resentment of many men and women to allowing a woman to become President of the United States. This resentment goes much deeper than even racist attitudes against Blacks. The story goes back to Bereshit and the myth of the birth of history and time in our world and the story of Adam and Eve.

With the help of Alex Zisman

The Decline of the Republican Party

The Decline of the Republican Party

by

Howard Adelman

Yesterday evening I attended a wedding. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing young people, handsome young men and beautiful young women, marry and set off to turn a cohort into a new generation. However, these days one cannot go out into the public without encountering the effects of the shock waves that have been sent through the body politic, not only in America but around the world. It is as if Italy’s massive new earthquake had encircled the globe. Whether in the hospital attending my wife and listening to the visitors talking with the patient in the next bed, or engaging in conversation last evening with two well-off businessmen – one had traveled all the way from Oregon to attend the wedding – the spectre of Donald Trump filled the air.

Preoccupation with Donald Trump pours out into the conversation unbidden. What does it mean? What does it portend for America and for the world, even if Donald Trump loses after his last spurt to close the gap? It seems that few expect Donald Trump to fade from the scene quietly even if he loses. The only consolation – I am not the only one obsessed.

Donald Trump has often been portrayed as an outlier to the Republican Party, at odds with its essential nature, principles and many, if not most, of its policies. Donald Trump from Queens has painted a self-portrait of the self-made billionaire taking on the billionaire governing class from Wall Street, the ordinary self-made man from the Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens coming forth as a cast off from the ruling hierarchy to lead his dispossessed followers like Moses towards the promised land. In fact, Donald Trump is the logical extension of the way those principles have evolved and have been expressed in most of the recent policies proposed by the GOP as the essence of what used to be its nature has been hollowed out to contribute to a darker, meaner, stressed out and grumpier America.

Begin with immigration, the initial headline issue with which Donald Trump launched his pursuit of the presidency – build a wall, deport all the illegals, Mexicans are rapists, refugees are security threats, the intake of Muslim refugees should be stopped “until we know what we are doing.” No queue jumping. No amnesties. Immigration law has to be enforced to ensure that anyone who wants to come to America waits in line until he or she is adequately vetted and selected. Fear of the invader – Mexicans and Central Americans, terrorists from the Middle East (even though the vast majority have been home-grown radicalized youth) – is married to the sense that neither the legal system nor borders have been up to the task of securing Americans (or Hungarians or Poles or Frenchmen or Brits). Ignore the reality that 25% of America’s core rite of baseball now has 25% of its players with Hispanic backgrounds. Instead, attend to the important shift in the body politic as the proportion of whites in the population is steadily reduced.

But have the Republican Party principles and policies been any different, at least in the basics? The first principle of the Republican Party platform has been that the RP “believes in immigration laws.” The fundamental criterion for any policy is not American economic self-interest but national security, though the immigration program should fundamentally be a skills-based program for selection and a temporary visa program for the unskilled. The RP advocated putting more resources into keeping people out who have not been granted legal admission to the U.S. Otherwise, they contended, the law is a farce. Amnesties only encourage a future wave of new illegals. And large numbers of illegals on American soil (estimated at 11,000,000), they insisted, place unfair demands on the American social security system. All this is stated as a given truth in spite of the data showing that illegals contribute far more to the system than they extract from it. Nevertheless, the focus is on the need to expand enforcement, the use of a Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement (SAVE) program and the creation of a biometric data tracking system akin to the one already in place at airports.

Recall that House Leader John Boehner lost his position largely because, in his immigration reforms, he was considered too soft, including even those of his proposals that emphasized border security as the prime criterion. His plan denied any path to citizenship for anyone who had arrived on American soil illegally.

Donald Trump differed in only details – the wall should be higher and stronger. The Mexicans will pay for it. At heart, it was the same hardline Republican Party doctrine on immigration, but blasted out at many decibels higher as a boast rather than an obvious backhanded trick. Further, while the Boehner platform offered no path to citizenship for illegals, he threw them a bone – which drove his more puritanical Republicans in the House crazy, let alone The Donald himself. No legal path to citizenship, except if “they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).” On the other hand, Boehner’s plan was even more radical in some ways than ones proposed by other more radical Republican members of the House. For he would repeal the opportunity allowed for an immigrant to sponsor his wife and children.

The evidential irrationality, the huge barriers to implementation, the enormous costs undercutting any self-interest and the inhumanity of the policy proposals that would send the parents of American citizens back to their country of origin, suggests a far deeper motive that had nothing to do with the importance of upholding the rule of law. This was nativism writ large, the flip side of the undercurrent of racism and of birtherism that has haunted the Republican Party and made every day seem like Halloween.

In economic policy, the Republicans have been the clearest and most puritanical supporters of lower taxes, reduced guarantees for social security (citizens should be incentivized to provide for their own social security, social and medical benefits), minimal government, and offering the most unregulated environment for the expression of capitalism, including increased regulation for and restrictions on labour unions. Who better to choose to represent the party than a billionaire who has evidently paid no personal income taxes for eighteen years? Republicans support fewer taxes on even the rich who are esteemed as the engines of economic growth. Republicans oppose the Democratic Party proposals to institute a $15 minimum wage. Republicans certainly oppose the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Many in the past opposed Medicaid and Social Security. On all these economic policies, Donald agrees with the economic policies of his party.

There is one exception. The Republican Party has consistently promoted free trade agreements. The Donald has pointed to free trade as the cause of the decimation in the rust belt and characterized NAFTA as “a disaster.” “It’s the worst agreement ever signed” – though that is also how he described the Iranian nuclear deal, but, of course, for Donald Trump, there is no contradiction in declaring a large variety of arrangements as “the worst” Speaking of NAFTA, Trump promised, “We will either renegotiate it, or we will break it. Because, you know, every agreement has an end. … Every agreement has to be fair. Every agreement has a defraud clause. We’re being defrauded by all these countries.” With one stroke, Trump upended a Republican long-standing trade policy and wedded his proposal to conspiracy theorists.

More importantly, Trump had followed a long historical precedent going back to Napoleon III of appealing to those tossed aside or whose security has been reduced by the latest revolution in capitalism, what Karl Marx called the lumpen proletariat. Instead of the Hispanics, Blacks, women and gays that National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had proposed to appeal to in his March 2013 reform recommendations for the Republican Party that recommended immigration reform and policies directed at the inclusion of minorities, Trump went in the opposite direction and appealed to white males who felt their roles had been undermined by a combination of benefits offered to minorities and opportunities transferred to foreign workers. The hollowing out of America’s industrial core, the thinning out of the middle class and the huge increase in the fat cats versus the working poor, the emergence of the new dot com economy and the financializing of corporate America, the resulting dislocation and insecurities reinforced by a weak social security system, produced an earthquake in which the optimism of the American creed came tumbling down in the face of the new Joshua and his populist trumpet blasts.

In doing so, Trump had collected a base that could offer the Republicans a majority foundation just as they had discovered fifty years earlier in the turn to take the old South away from the Democrats. Count the numbers of social conservatives concerned, for example, with abortion and embryonic stem cell research (12%), but who are disproportionately politically engaged (19%), almost offsetting an equal-sized committed liberal population (15% who would never support the Republican Party and are even more politically engaged (21%). Add to that core economic conservatives (10%), also disproportionately very engaged politically (17%). Add the two groups together and this is where you find Trump’s core support of 36% with some disaffection from economic conservatives upset by Trump’s crass populism and his rejection of free trade.

These losses, however, were more than offset by an appeal to the previously politically disaffected financially stressed members of the population who had been left behind by the economic changes underway. If this 13% of the population could be motivated to participate in politics at much higher rates than their traditional reluctance, Trump will have provided the GOP with a third strong leg and built a new and powerful foundation for its future. To retain the religious right, he opportunistically stressed conservative social values, though he was unable to sweep up large numbers of young voters sceptical of big government but liberal on social issues – Sanders supporters. Nevertheless, he had identified a potentially winning combination. For the latter group of Democratic dissenters forced Hillary initially to equivocate and subsequently support the TPP and TIP treaties only if specific modifications are made. These compromises and blandishments are unlikely to mollify the critics on her left while reinforcing the stature of Donald Trump’s unequivocal renunciation of free trade.

The Democrats, in contrast to Trump, relied on a mixture of die-hard liberals (the 21% mentioned above), minorities (12% of voting activists even though they were 14% of the population), and the new millennial left (11% of activists even though 12% of the population) giving the Democrats a 44% base of support, but one which was vulnerable if enthusiasm to vote for “crooked Hillary” were to be suppressed. This became a major goal of the Trump political campaign. Sweep the lumpen proletariat into the party and reduce the turnout for the Democrats by undermining the enthusiasm of the body politic for his opponent. If Trump has a ceiling above which he cannot rise, then lower Hillary’s floor. Get a higher percentage of the population who actually vote to support the Republican candidate. As Nathan Silver has warned, polls that fail to take this enthusiasm factor into account could well be incorrect. The “crooked Hillary” campaign targets the turnout factor for the Democrats while raising the enthusiasm of his own base which does not need any further convincing. His supporters recite the mantra like automatons while Trump runs a do-not-vote campaign targeting voters leaning towards voting for Hillary. You may hate and distrust me, but Hillary is worse.

Then there are the undecided or those who rarely vote. It becomes clear that the goal of each side is threefold: 1) peal away some supporters from the other side; 2) suppress the enthusiasm factor in the opposing camp to decrease the turnout rate of those inclined to support that side’s candidate, and 3) prevent too much slippage to minor party candidates. (For a breakdown in the factions of the American population supporting different candidates with the enthusiasm factor taken into account, but not the slippage element, see “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology, 26 June 2014 published by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press – http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/)

The anti- or pro-immigration bias and the scepticism for or stress on minority rights had already been built-in on each side. “Extremism” on any of these positions might suppress enthusiasm on one side or the other, but the offset would be a boost in one’s own side’s enthusiasm factor. Clearly, we were dealing with a high-risk candidate on one side and a cautious, calculating candidate on the other side. The objective factors mattered far less than how they were perceived. Is it any wonder that substantive issues played such a small part in the debates and the election? Is it any surprise that not one question in the debates addressed the most important issue of our time – human induced climate change?

Take NAFTA. It may not have worked out nearly as well as its architects planned, creating fewer net new jobs than envisioned. But the techies and the skilled who saw their job options increase would not feel as emotional about the new economy as those distressed poorer less educated voters among the 350,000 and 750,000 directly impacted, along with the sales and service personnel that supported them. They fell by the wayside and lost jobs or moved to lower-paying ones. If the latter were combined with resentful whites and religious minorities (as long as one pandered to the social values of the latter), it can be seen that Trump had forged a potentially winning coalition, even though it would be one coming with a handicap. Thus, although the actual impact of the trade agreements and the openness to free trade had been relatively positive, though also considerably smaller than anticipated, the new targeted population became the victims of the relatively modest positive impacts of free trade. Thus, the real potential of an anti-free trade and anti-immigrant posture, whether in the U.S. or in the advanced democracies in Europe that have also experienced the rise of the alt-Right, was apparent to any opportunist.

The contradictions were not so apparent. Increase the number of high value jobs on one side and the number of low-valued jobs on the other side of a border, then not only does each side benefit from the rising tide, but the pressure on immigration is significantly reduced as increased job opportunities open up on the poorer side. Closing off the spigot through coercion rather than through foreign domestic incentives can only come about at enormous direct costs and a multitude of indirect ones so that you end up having a negative sum game for both sides.

To recognize this requires ignoring the lost political opportunity costs. And Donald Trump, with an attention span of twenty minutes, was certainly not interested in that. The same is true of the negative impacts of Donald Trump’s tax policies on the very people he is winning and getting to turn out to his large rallies. This is also true of a decrease in the social safety net for these very populations who will suffer much more than they are suffering now. But if the blame can be displaced and built into the equation from the start, that failure will only result because there is an effort by international bankers, crony capitalists, led by the get-rich-quick through government largesse of the Clinton clan and that of their corporate partners, then the possibility of political victory is enhanced by more economic suffering.

Donald Trump offered an additional new enhancing formula – an anti-imperial and anti-activist American leadership in foreign affairs, but now enhanced by the spectre of an opponent launching World War III. The irony was that Trump preached making America great again as a cover for becoming a mouth piece for the fears that the Putin mafia have been promulgating since 2014 – that of America as the initiators of a new world war. As Russia tests its new ambitions for expansion in the Ukraine and in the Middle East, make America great again became a formula for shrinking America from its global responsibilities. This switchback required extending Barack Obama’s lead in making America small again, retreating from an active interventionist role and paying far more attention to the well-being of one’s own population.

This was a tour de force for it undercut the appeal of the Hillary Democrats to their own left base. But it came at a cost, but one Donald Trump bet would work to his advantage. As Colin Powell, a former Republican Secretary of State, noted in reference to the birther movement, when nativism is combined with “a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” the party has to engage in some intense naval gazing. But conspiracy theories obviate the compulsion to do so.

Not one of Donald Trump’s competitors for the leadership of the Republican Party recognized this route to the White House. But they had already built into the party an attraction to demagoguery, an absolute insistence on no compromise, even if the cost was a burning political system crashing down upon their heads, a propensity for constructing conspiratorial groupings aimed to deprive Americans of their second amendment rights joined by a scientific conspiracy of leading intellectual figures to foster on a naïve domestic population a myth about climate change. When fostering ignorance at the expense of knowledge, when blaming others at the cost of assuming responsibility, when creating a narrative of a besieged American betrayed by the ruling establishment, the pathway to a potential victory had been forged by the previous leadership of the Republican Party. Trump had simply upped the ante, driving his rivals out of the game. The Tea Party’s fight with the traditional establishment in the party was not intended to but did serve to prepare the ground for Donald Trump by bringing into the party the power of negative thinking, the enhancement of suspicion, the huge increase in mindblindness and the anxiety and insecurity that now undergirds the party.

So when the enthusiasm factor is introduced into polling so that different voters get different weights depending on that enthusiasm, the result of outlying scientific polls show either a victory for Donald Trump or, on the other hand, a narrow victory for Hillary Clinton when she needs an overwhelming win with the consequent win in the Senate and even potentially in the House of Representatives to actually govern.

Racism, the general distrust of government, the insecurities of white males, particularly those who are less educated, as well as evangelicals primed to expect the immanent end of days, have been linked together to create a toxic brew of fear and insecurity, an emotional maelstrom that bubbles like a volcano about to explode and pour its hot lava through the cracks and fissures of the Republican Party. Hence the focus on the after-effects of the Trump earthquake and the shock waves that have reverberated around the world. Hence the sacrifice of reasoning and evidence-based policies for ones that reinforced passion and unbridled vehemence, that emphasize entertainment more than dialogue, that confers authority on celebrity itself. Hence atavistic nationalism rather than just patriotism, xenophobia married to racism and sexism. Hence a political campaign built on grievances and whining. Hence the politics of resentment. Hence the scare-mongering and the rise once again of the Know Nothings. Hence, the discontent with democracy and the faith in a rational voting population.

For those who believe in attachment, who either esteem or long for a strong community, but encounter one increasingly atomized by technology, Facebook and Twitter, the use of coarser language and a reduction in empathy are used to prove that “community” itself is weak and evanescent. The results of economic, social and technological forces have been devastating and prepared the ground for the takeover of the Republican Party, the rise of Trumpism and a divided and meaner polity with civility driven to the margins. Is it any wonder that this Halloween the main ghost is that of Donald Trump?

With the help of Alec Zisman

Donald Trump’s Misogyny

Donald Trump’s Misogyny

by

Howard Adelman

Why am I spending so much time writing about Donald Trump at this point in the campaign? After all, the presidential battle is virtually over. Hillary Clinton is not only going to win the presidency; she is going to wipe the floor with Donald. She is going to humiliate him. The reason: after the battle is over, I expect the real war to begin. Donald Trump is going to go after Hillary Clinton with revenge in his heart, turbo propelled because the winner was not George Bush Sr. who scorned Trump’s offer to be named as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, but Hillary, a woman. Donald Trump could casually put George Bush Sr. down because the latter failed to complete his war against Saddam Hussein – in total contradiction to his assertion that he always opposed the war in Iraq. And in his mind, he did. For when he finally did oppose the war, it was not really about Iraq – about which he knew very little – but about his revenge against President Bush Sr. and the elites of the Republican Party establishment that had scorned him.

If Donald Trump stewed in his anger and plotted revenge in his heart against the Republican establishment for a quarter of a century, when Hillary wins, he no longer has that much time to exact his revenge. He has already either very seriously injured or even destroyed the GOP. What will he set out to do to Hillary? The humiliation will have been so overwhelming, that he will not be able to control himself. He had been briefed over and over again by his “handlers” to keep on message. He has been told repeatedly not to go off topic instead of drilling down further against women who publicly accused him of forcing himself on them. He had to keep his attention on policy issues. But he simply could not.

Stephen K. Brannon had been named as his campaign’s chief executive defining the grand strategy. Kellyanne Conway was named to replace Paul Manafort in August to manage the campaign to handle the tactics. Ever since she was named, Kellyanne promised us that Donald Trump would “remain true to himself” and stay on message. Instead, he remained true to himself and continually went off message. In the third debate, when staying on message was so critical to stopping and reversing his freefall, his subconscious once again took over as the debate progressed, and he shot himself in both his feet. He would leave everyone in suspense to see if he would accept the results of the election. And he will not accept those results, even if he does formally concede. This response to a question about a fundamental principle in democracy could not be pivoted away from by his surrogates trying to compare such a situation with the Al Gore challenge to the George W. Bush claim of victory.

Unlike Manafort, Conway had not tried to mold Trump into a person he was not. Instead, she tried to channel his energy and ambition in more positive ways to keep him on message. But time after time he let her down. No man, and especially no woman, could determine not only who he was, but about how he appeared. Conway’s latest rationale was to judge Trump by his actions, not his words. But his words both betray and signal the pattern of his actions.

Donald Trump’s second major slip in the third debate was to interrupt Clinton’s reply to a question with the words, “Such a nasty woman,” when, of all things, she was discussing her proposed tax policies, perhaps reminding him of the humiliation to which he had been exposed for having to admit that he had not paid any federal income taxes for perhaps eighteen years. Something “nasty” is, at the very least, something very unpleasant to see or smell, taste or touch, though it also suggests someone morally deficient. If you look up the word in a thesaurus, “dirty,” “filthy,” “foul,” are offered as substitutes. The use of the term echoed his description of Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, as disgusting. Nasty is a word that evokes strong sensual reactions and the subjective response. The repulsiveness is at least as important as the alleged objective circumstances justifying such a description. Dirty and filthy, despicable and morally base, are all characteristics projected onto Hillary Clinton that have so recently been fully displayed by the language and talk uttered by Donald Trump himself. He truly and deeply hates himself as he projects his hatred onto others and further inflates his ego with the hot air inside.

The other face of this record of “slut-shaming” by Donald Trump is that women are put on a pedestal and, not only held to a higher standard of chastity, but certain select women are regarded as the epitome of skill and virtue – such as his daughter Ivanka and the many other women of talent he employs in his company and as surrogates in his campaign. He both advances and admires women, but he denigrates those who resist and oppose him, and demeans those he deems unworthy of his “high standards.” Women must be angels, physically and intellectually beautiful angels, or they are disgusting. His treatment of some of those women serves to verify that conviction.

Donald Trump has flip-flopped on virtually every policy he has proposed. On immigration as recently as 2012, he called Mitt Romney’s immigration policies vis-à-vis illegals mean-spirited and maniacal, denigrations that stand totally opposite to the horrible epithets he himself has hurled against illegal immigrants. This suggests that his misogyny, which has been his most and possibly only consistent position, goes much deeper. In this respect, he can be insulted as a “half-witted harlequin” to match his own insults targeting those illegally on American soil. He can rationalize that dislike as a key part of his strategy to boost wages and job opportunities, when it is well-known that these illegals take the jobs Americans largely will not.

Trump wants to suspend the intake of refugees from areas where Islamic terrorism is rampant, even though it is well known that, given America’s long vetting process, given the fact that those admitted in numbers have been historically and comparatively very low, given that 80% of them are women and children, the risk of entry for terrorists is very low. The focus on refugees as terrorists comes from a verbal and strategic terrorist who depicts illegal immigrants as rapists when he himself was once accused by his first wife of tearing her hair out and raping her when she did not show enough empathy for the pain he had been experiencing as a result of his own hair implants. Perhaps the height of his hypocrisy emerges when he emphasizes vetting immigrants to demonstrate they share America’s values, presumably of those misogynist and anti-constitutional demagogic values of the new head of state that Trump so brashly wanted to become.

You can only imagine how deep that misogyny must go to make his stance on immigration appear as simply a passing fancy. Why make a remark about Megyn Kelly as bleeding from whatever”? Why refer to women’s faces and bodies in such nasty language as when he disparaged his competitor Carly Fiorina’s face. Like a Dr. Jekyll to Mr Hyde, Donald Trump can be very charming, flirtatious and offer women a taste of money and power while he himself is literally cocky, controlling and narcissistic and puts women down in public. He forces himself on women because he will not waste the effort of foreplay to ensure that they get pleasure. He is openly and proudly a cheat.

In Robert Louis Stephenson’s 1886 short novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Edward Hyde is truly evil. Dr. Jekyll, “something of a stylish cast,” is a large well-made, smooth-faced man who is gracious, amiable and considerate. Seeking the presidency was to be The Donald’s ultimate shot to disguise the horror he unconsciously knows exists below his own surface. The rallies and admiring masses inject the adrenaline he needs. But the result, unsurprisingly, is increasingly the emergence of a more emboldened, cruel and remorseless Edward Hyde. After the election, without the continuation of that potent source, Donald Trump will metaphorically die. He has become the addict he always feared. Once Satan has been cast out of heaven and has been rejected as the object of his own creation, the grand mal narcissist will refute the dictum that pride simply goeth before the fall, for though pride precedes the fall, it is also inflated by it as the victim tries even harder to puff himself up and rise once again to heaven.

Donald’s behaviour with women has not been furtive; Trump has not been determined to keep his liaisons hidden. Trump actually wants the public to know about his sex life – hence his boasts, not simply in the “locker room,” but on the media. Until, of course, such boasts undermined his quest for power. So Hillary was advanced from being a crook and promoted to “nasty.” As Michael D’Antanio depicted Donald Trump in the biography he wrote, Trump wants a queen at his side, but he wants to be king.
In the election on 8 November, he will have been usurped by the embodiment of what he despises. Sex is an opportunity to demonstrate power. Sex is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are a stud and an alpha male. At the same time, as D’Antonio emphasized in an interview with Anderson Cooper last night, Donald Trump is a great empty vessel in terrible need of adoration which provides the fuel for the enormous amount of energy that he uses. The implications: he is now addicted to a far larger stage than the one he had as a developer or as a reality TV star. He WILL respond to the movement to which he was crucial to its birth. The 8th of November will not end Donald’s role on the American stage.

Trump meant it when he promised to put Hillary in jail, for he unconsciously knew he faced an eternal cage of self-destructive behaviour if he lost. For this time, he will be unable to rise from the grave a second time. Winning, winning alone, must remain the goal. For to lose is not simply to die, but to suffer an agonizing death. Donald Trump, underneath a very thin skin, is a “bad hombre” who will not only continue, but expand his attacks on an allegedly rigged alliance of the political establishment and the media which he will continue to characterize as dishonest, corrupt, horrible and biased; for him, the combination is infused with poison. This is, of course, a description of himself.

The attempted rise once again of Donald Trump will be an even wilder ride, fuelled again by “process journalists” who regard the news as entertainment. They love reporting on the struggle, the horse race, rather than the issues at stake. They love technique and cleverness. For them. Donald Trump has been a godsend with his attacks on both civility and democracy, the two pillars of our public life. Donald Trump materially may never have attended the school of hard knocks, but he did so morally and physically. The military academy to which he was shipped off at the age of 13 used brutal tactics to tame its delinquent charges. And Trump absorbed the discipline and need to impose “perfection” on his subordinates. And to never be subordinate. There is only winning and domination. And braggadocio. This is his image of his own manhood and virility. It is the Janus face of his misogyny that characterizes women as dogs and slobs. He boasts that “you have to treat them (women) like shit” and will characterize the best line in Pulp Fiction as Sam’s, “Bitch be cool” when he has his pistol in his hand. As Bette Davis said, “When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman givers her opinion [if it does not echo his own], she’s a bitch.”

As the old comic line goes, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Donald Trump with a post-election gatling gun will be even much more destructive than when he walked the electoral stage carrying a gun and intimidating his Republican competitors.

With the help of Alex Zisman

Denial – A Movie Review Part III

Denial – A Movie Review Part III

by

Howard Adelman

Instead of the earnest and dedicated Deborah Lipstadt in Denial, who would like to sting like a bee (the meaning of Dvora in Hebrew), but was not permitted to do so by her legal team in the trial, and who certainly does not float like a butterfly, the script has been well adapted from her book. David Hare recognized that seriousness is best wrapped in wit so, that humour can allow the bitterness of medicine to go down. When individuals forget that, as Donald Trump did at the Catholic charity dinner last night, the result is disastrous.

Al Smith IV, great grandson of the first Catholic governor of New York State and candidate for president, introduced the two candidates in this dinner to raise funds for Catholic charities while allowing candidates to set aside their boxing gloves, engage in some humorous self-deprecation while pummeling their opponent with light-hearted jabs. Smith set the tone. “They have just returned from their third debate and I think they are both grateful for a format in which nobody can interrupt anybody else.” Sometimes he was more biting. “Donald, even though there’s a man sitting next to you in a robe, you’re not in a locker room.” But they never came close to crossing the line of unacceptability in this white tie and tails affair in which Donald Trump last night crossed the line even with Cardinal Timothy Dolan sat between the two belligerents for the evening.

Donald told a very funny joke, at the expense of his wife, Melania, when he asked how come Michelle Obama can make a speech and receive plaudits, but when his own wife makes the same speech, she is widely criticized. However, he definitely crossed the line – and, in an unprecedented event for an Al Smith dinner, was booed – when he said, “Hillary believes it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy. And a totally different policy in private.” This echoed the previous night’s bitterness in the debate. He then went onto say, to even more boos and noticeable discomfort, “I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I? For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”

Hillary, on the other hand, both had much better lines and had a better sense of timing in telling jokes and never crossed the redline from self-deprecation and ribbing to offensive and aggressive remarks. Though Trump had cracked a very good joke at Hillary’s expense when he said that earlier in the evening she had bumped into him and said, “Pardon me,” (referencing that when he was president he would lock her up), Hillary’s managed to consistently sting like a bee while never venturing even close to the imaginary red line.

“Donald really is as healthy as a horse. You know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on,” she quipped.

I have “now stood next to Trump longer than any of his campaign managers.”

Though some jokes fell flat, Hillary Clinton proved she had a much better joke-writing team and could deliver her zingers with a broad smile.

But why write about Trump and Clinton when I am reviewing a film about David Irving’s suit against Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier? Because as one lie after another of Irving’s came out in the trial, I could not help hearing Donald Trump from the debate the evening before tell one lie after another.

“In the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby right out of the womb, just prior to the birth of the baby.” As Hillary countered, the decision to abort, especially late in a pregnancy, is the most horrible ordeal for a woman to go through. She could have said outright that, abortions in the ninth month are virtually non-existent. Almost 90% of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Only about 1% take place in the last trimester and these are almost always either because the health of the mother is severely threatened or because something seriously wrong was learned about the foetus.

Trump accusing Hillary, said, “Just like when you ran the State Department, $6 billion was missing. How do you miss $6 billion? You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen. They don’t know. It’s gone, $6 billion.” First, the six billion cited by the State Department Inspector General in 2014 was not stolen. Nothing, in fact, was stolen. The expenditures were just inadequately documented. Further, most of these expenditures included in the criticism did not even take place during Hillary’s turn as Secretary of State.

“I started with a $1 million loan … but I built a phenomenal company.” But the initial stake was $14 million documented when he applied for his casino license in 1985, ignoring the $3.5 million in chips his father purchased in contravention of the gaming commission rules. Further, his father co-signed a $70 million loan with the Hyatt chain.

Hillary “destroyed 33,000 email criminally.” Lock her up became his rally refrain. The staff had requested that the emails unrelated to her government work be deleted long before the subpoena was issued and the FBI said there was no evidence of intention or criminality.

“If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote … that shouldn’t be registered to vote.” People move. People die. Voter lists quickly become obsolete and full of errors. There is virtually no evidence of voter fraud.

Trump said he did not initially support the invasion of Iraq referring to an Esquire article. He did one year before that article appeared.

On Obamacare, “the premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 percent.” They are expected to go up 71% in Oklahoma, the highest in the nation. But average increases are expected to be 9% and, in any case, 80% of enrollees receive government subsidies.

“We take care of illegal immigrants — people who come into our country illegally — better than we take care of our vets.” Absolutely false! In fact, immigrants pay far more into the Social Security system ($12 billion) but are not eligible to receive benefits. The three incidents cited by the Trump organization of vets being treated worse than Obamacare enrollees have been investigated and disproven.

My economic plan does not “add a penny to the national debt.” Not according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. His plan would add $5.3 trillion to the national debt.

“Hillary Clinton wanted the wall. Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006 or thereabouts. Now, she never gets anything done, so naturally the wall wasn’t built. But Hillary Clinton wanted the wall.” She never did. She consistently criticized Donald’s proposal for a 30-60’ concrete wall. She had supported and voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006. There is a difference between a normal border security fence and a wall.

“She’s taking in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, who probably in many cases — not probably, who are definitely (my italics) in many cases, ISIS-aligned, and we now have them in our country.” There are no such cases. The American vetting system is interminable, often taking two years. Almost 80% admitted are women and children. And all Clinton has proposed is to increase Obama’s miserly figure of 13,000 somewhat, but nowhere near the 550% that Donald proclaimed.

“Those stories [of women saying Trump assaulted them] have been largely debunked. Those people — I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it.” They have never been debunked. In fact, a number of the stories have been corroborated by well respected people who were told the story at the time of the occurrence. There is no evidence that the Clinton campaign was behind the women making the charges and they only spoke out after the 2005 tape was revealed and immediately afterwards on CNN in an interview with Anderson when Trump was cornered into stating that he had never acted on his boastful claims about grabbing women’s pussies and kissing them against their will. Only then did they come forth in this last week.

And these lies are merely some of the more prominent ones he told in the third debate.

Trump, like David Irving, is a pathological liar and sociopath. Why and how would the Republican Party select him as their candidate for president? Trump fabricates even when the only result is that he shoots himself in the foot. He lies and the press reports what he says, though they increasingly fact check his remarks – fact checks I relied upon to write this summary. He clearly gets the attention he so cravenly seeks. The lying is frequent and repeated. “The election is rigged.” It is as if Donald Trump is impervious to the fact that he is now consistently caught out in his lies. Further, it seems to be tied into his spontaneity and why, as the length of time of the debate increased, he increasingly resorted to lies and petulant behaviour. The lying seems integral to his extreme form of narcissism. Complementing the narcissism and lying are patterns of abusive behaviour and impulsive aggressiveness. Most of all, he never admits that he lied. David Irving did what Donald does – when the judge’s verdict blasted him for his deliberate lies, Irving pronounced victory and insisted that the judgement had praised him.

There is no indication that Trump has any real self-understanding of his serial and compulsive lying. There is no indication that he ever feels guilty about what he says. He doesn’t need to be provoked to tell a lie and when challenged about the lie, he digs deeper and reinforces the lie instead of backing off. And, as demonstrated in the David Irving trial, these types of pathological liars knowingly, willingly and intentionally lie.

His lying and abusive behaviour are also connected with his absence of empathy for the people taken in by those lies. In contrast, when Clinton ended her speech at the Catholic dinner yesterday evening, she recalled her history of empathy for and work with women and children. To have cooperation, we need empathy. Empathy breeds civility. To have civility, we need respect. To have respect, all parties have to be committed to the truth.

Denial – A Movie Review Part II

Denial – A Movie Review Part II

by

Howard Adelman

When Clinton ended her speech at the Catholic dinner yesterday evening, she recalled her history of empathy for and work with women and children. There is no indication that Trump has any real self-understanding of his serial and compulsive lying. His lying and abusive behaviour are also connected with his absence of empathy for the people taken in by those lies. There is no indication that he ever feels guilty about what he says. He doesn’t need to be provoked to tell a lie and when challenged about the lie, he digs deeper and reinforces the lie instead of backing off. And, as demonstrated in the David Irving trail, he knowingly, willingly and intentionally lies.

Given the state of affairs in the United States where an outright pathological liar can win the primaries and become the Republican candidate, a Sadat stance of hope replacing cynicism is just not on. Further, The barrister and solicitors in Denial both demonstrated that when dealing with pathological liars the best response is to ignore them and not even shake their hand when it is proffered. There is no obligation to be civil to a pathological liar, and when Tom Wilkinson said his strategy was to ignore Irving altogether and engage with him only to get under his skin so he can inflict more and more wounds on himself. Most of all, the movie, Denial, demonstrated the interdependence of justice and truth pursued, not because of principle, but o win, and to do so decisively in a pragmatic way. Since the liar is pathological, it is useless to engage him but it is perfectly legitimate to bait him and trick him into even more damaging utterances.

In 18 days, the election will be over. Hillary Clinton will win by a significant margin. It has been a very long and stressful period so we can look forward to a sigh of relief. But we should want more. We should want to celebrate. By Tuesday evening, we Jews will end the seemingly interminable series of holidays tumbling one after another that began with Rosh Hashana.to inaugurate the new year. Ten days later, we own up to our shortcomings on Yom Kippur and apologize to God and to our fellow humans whom we have hurt deliberately or unintentionally. Now we are in the middle of Succoth, a harvest feast that began five days after the Yom Kippur fast day. On Sunday night, we have another holiday, Shemini Atzeret, a time to tarry just before the finale, the period we are in before the lection in the U.S. either upholds the constitution or sets the stage for its dismemberment on 8th November. On Monday evening, Jews begin to celebrate Simchat Torah honouring the “constitution of the Jews, their bible.

In the American civic religion, it is why the peaceful transition of power and acceptance of the election results are integral to America and any democracy. All must pledge adherence to the rule of law and the transfer of power in accord with the votes of the people. But what happens if the individual who is elected. These are important moments in the lifecycle of a nation and when Donald Trump insists he will hold us all in suspense at whether he accepts the results, unless, of course, he wins.

This shabat we will read chapter 33 of the Torah where God promises to reveal what goodness is and “be gracious – not to anyone – but only “to whom I will be gracious” and to be compassionate to whom I will be compassionate. (verse 19) Donald Trump has indicated no sign that one ought to be gracious or empathetic whit him, since there is little evidence he has empathy and even less that civility and grace are inherent. This is a fundamental lesson also conveyed in the movie.

In the final analysis, both in the American election and in the movie, Denial, truth is fundamental to history as it unfolds and to history as it is recorded. But truth is never delivered as a matter of principle but as a pragmatic prerequisite for sustaining the life of a nation. If someone insists the elction is rigged, if someone insists that the Holocaust is a myth perpetuated by Jews to extract money from the German government, then they attack the foundations of a civil society and not just a political order. Lipstadt was right not to debate facts. And the movie first begins with David Irving propagating his lies and then the scene where Rachel Weisz as Deborah Lipstadt takes the position of a Holocaust denier as a teaching device for her students and outlines the four telltale signs of a Holocaust denier, questioning the systematic murder of Jews and the existence of a crematorium, questioning the number of Jews killed, depicting the Holocaust as a myth and explaining the myth as motivated by Jewish greed. Then the two sides clash when David Irving crashes a public lecture by Deborah Lipstadt, challenges her to debate him and waves a thousand dollars in the air offering it as a reward to anyone who can provide even a sliver of evidence connecting Hitler to the Holocaust as we recall Lipstadt’s lesson than there is no direct record of the Holocaust itself.

We live in an age of conspiracy theories and challenges to solid science. Climate change is a myth. The Jews planted the bombs in 2011 in the Trade centre and warned all Jews to no show up for work that day, Muslims danced in the streets of New Jersey when the planes crashed into the Trade Centre, vaccines cause autism. This situation is not helped by false equivalences, when CNN puts up two apologists for lies as surrogates of Donald Trump against two reputable Democrats who try to tell the truth and be analytical. We live in an increasingly postmodern world where truth as the foundation of society has been converted into absolute relativism where every thought is but a subjective opinion, an internet world where crazies and nut cases find each other, especially when led by a billionaire nutbar. When the birther issue conspiracy played itself out, the seeds are already being planted to delegitimize his successor.

As Deborah Lipstadt has written, there are truth, opinions and lies. The deliberate purveyors of lies, like Donald Trump and David Irving, the best way to proceed is NOT to debate him but to bait him and appeal to his ego so he blows himself up. Civility and courtesy demand respect. But there are limits. Pathological liars who have power deserve only disdain. They deserve the contempt Richard Rampton expressed when he refused to shake David Irving’s proferred hand at the end of the trial. But ina addition to outright lies which I have cited, falshoos are spreac by quoting out of context. On Kristallnacht, Hitler evidently did issue an order to stop the madness of burning Jewish synagogues, shops and homes, not, however, because he though such actions were wrong, but because he had been informed that the fires were getting out of control and burning down city blocks.

There is an interesting scene that drifts off into left field in the film when two of the subordinates on the legal team get into a discussion as the male says, to the effect, “Isn’t it enough? Why do we have to keep talking about the Holocaust? Why can’t we get on with just living? This is a belief even more pernicious than the outright liar. Because it undermines like a leaking water pipe from below. His girlfriend rebukes him, too politely, by insisting that if you want to preserve truth, you must fight lies. And you must remember. But the total focus on outright liars and not on the perniciousness

That is the central truth of the Torah which tells the story of many flawed Jews, including Moses. Thank goodness for Deborah Lipstadt who, in spite of her individualism, kept her bonds with that unassailable conviction at the same time as she went along, initially very reluctantly, with the legal team’s pragmatism. Denial is a great film where it was even harder to watch Tom Wilkinson walk around Auschwitz as a memorial site than to see a concentration camp recreated on film as an active killing machine. There is enormous truth in silence and reverence. Denial is also subtle and nuanced and avoids sinking into stereotypes or efforts at reinforcement by showing pictures and videos of the Holocaust. This is a trail picture and Andrew Scott who plays the famous British solicitor, Anthony Julius who was Diana’s divorce lawyer who has a reputation as having a self-serving ego but proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is totally devoted to destroying the credibility of David Irving who is left as the figure standing alone on a branch that he has almost sawn through and Listadt has been saved from disaster by the excellent teamwork of a of a large number of experts and lawyers, researchers and supporters.

There is another scene in the film that bothered me other than the felt need to include the scene of the pernicious young lawyer who wants everyone to get beyond the Holocaust and leave it behind. It is a scene of Deborah Libstadt with the elite of British wealth as she tries to raise money for her defence to spread the economic support widely instead of relying on one or a few large donors. The spokesperson of the group has the effrontery to suggest that the British Jews can live with David Irving so why does she not just settle the case and go back to America. Anthony Julius is just an egocentric self-serving solicitor who is only interested in fame. British Jewish elites are portrayed as sellouts of truth whreas British gentiles emerge as the great defenders.

I wrote most of this and then read a number of reviews. I was surprised to learn that everyone was not blown away by the movie. A few critics were even critical. I want to examine that review to try to explicate the characteristics of a review that is bad, not because the target is bad but because the reviewer is bad. One wrote that patches of the film are so ludicrously hammy, it (the movie) plays like one of those unbearably corny fake films teased at the beginning of Tropic Thunder.” But the scenes are not cited to allow you to falsify the judgment and you feel that the writer is driven more by an effort to be clever and a struggle to comprehend the film and even expose some of its weaknesses.
But the stupidest sentences support the notion that Hare agrees with the Jewish elite that Julius was only defending Lipstadt for his own glory and that, “Hare makes the parallels to the media treatment of Donald Trump during the lection ring loud and clear.” But only to a viewer who is totally deaf. There is a connection clearly between Donald Trump and David Irving, but other than seeing the claque of journalists at the entrance of the trial, no attention is paid at all to how the media covered the trial.

The review I found most appalling was written by Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety. (11.09.16) He claimed that this courtroom drama was “too muddled to bring its issues to life” and was, “about nothing so much as the perverse, confounding eccentricities of the British legal system” Balderdash! It was not an intellectual riveting thriller. But how could it be when any reasonable well-read viewer already knew the outcome. The challenge was to develop the dramatic line that did not depend on leading up to the conclusion. And it does not.

Rather than being a clockwork system where the verdict can be deduced from the process, this drama builds by concentrating on how the team members interact and the tensions between and among them. The film is NOT a puzzle so the reviewer missed the whole point. It is a film about how people with different interests, different points of view, and different priorities learn to work together to accomplish a valiant task beyond the rach of any one of them. David Irving is the foil in the background, the then celebrated and rich British writer who made his money on Holocaust denial. He is there as a menace standing alone unless addressing his adoring followers and the press. The story is about empathy and human interaction and the need for compromise, including breaking a promise to a survivor to ensure her voice was heard. There is a huge difference between a group of people who bond together to ensure that truth beats a lie and those who bond together on to worship and idolize a lie. It is not that the film is awkward and slipshod is awkward but the review because the reviewer never “got” the film.

The reviewer writes, “He(Julius) refuses to put any Holocaust survivors on the stand, because he says that they’ll be “humiliated” — and the first sign that the movie is heading off the tracks is that Hare’s script barely clarifies what that means. Is Julius worried about the well-being of the witnesses? (He needn’t be.) Or is he worried that their testimony won’t play? (Why wouldn’t it?) But the script clearly articulates why and how they will be humiliated by Irving as a master grandstander who can provoke and prod and build on miniscule failures of memory. He needed to be worried about the well-being of the witnesses, and rightly so. He was worried that their testimony would not play if Irving got “under their skin.” Testimony will not play unless it is both solid and unanswerable. But Irving is very capable of offering supposed answers and discomfiting witnesses.

Just because Lipstadt doesn’t testify does not mean that she is a “passive agent in her own story” because she is not telling her own story, for the core story is about the interplay of a team and how a team works, about the compromises that must be made to ensure that justice and the pursuit of truth work together. But some film viewers are blind as well as deaf. For a film about self-denial to attack denial is not just a clever trick of a playwright but central to the working of politics as Abe Lincoln argued.

IX Combatting BDS: Domestic Politics

IX Combatting BDS: Domestic Politics

by

Howard Adelman

Domestic Politics in the U.S.

Every country has its weak points where political parties are susceptible to infiltration and the promotion of the BDS agenda. In the United States, it has been the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, in Britain, the left in the Labour Party and the Green Party, in Canada, weakest of all, the party most on the margins, its Green Party has been directly targeted by BDS. But the actual tactics are similar in various countries – promote candidates within the party sympathetic to the BDS cause, promote members on policy platforms and policies that advance the BDS position, and do so by playing down the BDS anti-Zionism and playing up the “illegal” settlements on the West Bank and Palestinian human rights. The counter-attack pushes in precisely the opposite direction.

Bernie Sanders had been given the right to name five of the fifteen members of the Democratic Party Platform Committee, though he still held out from endorsing Clinton. In May, Bernie chose Cornel West to be one of his five nominees on the National Democratic Committee to draft the Democratic political platform in the forthcoming election, in particular, the platform on Israel and Palestine. Cornel West, a philosopher and an eminent academic, has been a strong backer and campaigner both for Bernie Sanders and for BDS. However, on Friday 15 July, Cornel did not follow Bernie’s lead in endorsing Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

Cornel West announced that he would be backing Jill Stein, another Jew, who is the American presidential candidate for the Green Party; Jill Stein is a supporter of BDS. Like many leftist dissidents before him, in a close race, Cornel West was willing to split the left vote that would give an enormous boost to Donald Trump’s chances. “I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an ‘outstanding president’. Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.” I read no announcement that Cornel was resigning from the Policy Platform Committee of the Democratic Party, perhaps because the committee had already completed its work.

Bernie named a second strong BDS supporter, one who was part of the party establishment, James Zogby, the President of the Arab American Institute and a very strong backer of BDS as well. Bernie also appointed Keith Ellison, the Democratic House of Representatives member from Minnesota’s fifth district, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Keith did not have a reputation as a backer, strong or otherwise, of BDS, but had been an outspoken critic of Israel while maintaining close ties to the Jewish community. The two other nominees were environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker, neither known to have taken a stand on BDS or on Israel for that matter.

DNC’s chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, one of the most prominent Jewish leaders in the party, named four members of the committee. Three of them were very strong backers of Israel: Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s chairman had for years run a program in conjunction with the organized Jewish community to send a dozen Baltimore black high-schoolers to Israel each year; former Rep. Howard Berman, D-California, in 2010, had been responsible for shepherding the strong Iran sanctions as chair of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; Bonnie Schaefer, a philanthropist, is involved with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Weizmann Institute of Science. The only member Schultz picked who was not a strong supporter of Israel was Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, who had joined Ellison, the Bernie appointee, in opposing the House resolution condemning the 2009 Goldstone Report which had been so flawed and which Goldstone himself subsequently renounced. However, she was not a known backer of BDS.

Hillary Clinton was given the right to name six of the members of the Platform Committee. Among the six Clinton backers was Wendy Sherman, the former deputy secretary of state who was a lead negotiator in the Iran nuclear talks over which she received a great deal of bric-à-bac from the Jewish establishment, but remained a strong supporter of Israel. Sherman has spoken warmly of her involvement in Jewish life in suburban Maryland. Neera Tanden, a long time Clinton confidante and president of the Center for American Progress, was a second nominee who identified strongly with Israel, even while sometimes critical of Israeli government policies.

In recent years, she took a lead role in trying to establish a dialogue between Israel’s government and the American progressive community. Her main credentials, however, were as a progressive domestic policy wonk. Others included Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece; and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. All were known to back Hillary Clinton’s strong pro-Israel stance.

The breakdown was as follows: Shultz Clinton Sanders Total
BDS Supporter 0 0 2 2
Israeli Critics but not BDS supporters 1 0 1 2
Neutral 0 0 2 2
Strong Israeli Supporters 3 6 0 9

Total 4 6 5 15

There was no chance of the BDS support or position being endorsed. 60% of the members were strong pro-Israel supporters, though on the progressive end of that support. There were only two strong supporters of BDS and, as stated, one in effect bolted the party. Three of the four Congress members were on record as strong supporters of Israel – Cummings, Lee and Gutiérrez. The only outspoken critic was Ellison who had never endorsed BDS and had strong Jewish support. All four had been endorsed by the political action committee affiliated with J Street, the Jewish liberal Middle East policy group.

Not only was BDS not supported, even efforts calling for Israel to end settlement activity and to label Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an occupation failed. But that could have been anticipated. The real play was to get a minority report. That required 25% support so the Israel-Palestine issue could be debated on the convention floor. Even that failed. It should be noted that Bernie Sanders himself, a strong critic of Israeli settlement policy, has never advocated that established settlements be dismantled – in contrast to Cornel West. He did support naming the Israeli military presence as an occupation, urged recognition of a Palestinian state. But he also refused to condemn Israel for its 2014 Gaza war, insisting it was fought in self-defence, while, at the same time, claiming that the military response was disproportionate. (http://forward.com/news/national/310087/is-bernie-sanders-a-lefty-except-for-israel/#ixzz4EcepUh5A)

So why did Sanders appoint two of his five appointees who were known as BDS supporters when he himself had an infamous debate with BDS supporters in a town hall meeting in Cabot, Vermont in August 2014 in which he told a critical member of the audience to “shut up.” Though he did not co-sponsor a resolution expressing support for Israel in the conflict with Hamas, when it was voted on 17 July of that year, he did not object to the motion which passed by unanimous consent. (For the Cabot confrontation, see http://forward.com/news/national/310087/is-bernie-sanders-a-lefty-except-for-israel/#ixzz4EcepUh5A.) I am not sure why. I can only think it was because he wanted to appease the large number of supporters who were far more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than even he was.

Britain

Larry Sanders is Bernie’s older brother (by seven years) whom he credits with inducing him to enter politics in the first place. Larry is an American-British academic, social worker, and health spokesperson for the Green Party of England; he ran as a candidate for the party in the Oxford West and Abingdon riding in the last British election. And lost. Badly! Larry, unlike Bernie, supports the BDS movement against Israel. In a tweet on 20 April 2015, he called for Israel to “end occupation of West Bank, siege of Gaza, [and grant] Palestinians in Israel equal rights.” “BDS yes,” he ended.

In Britain, the Green Party is an open supporter of BDS. Natalie Bennett, an Australian rather than an American immigrant to Britain and leader since 2012, endorsed the previous party platform supporting BDS which she depicts as a human rights and international law issue. “We need to get the message across to the Israeli state. It needs to comply with international law and human rights.” The party calls for suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement worth more than nearly $1.5 billion per year. Bennett also supports a boycott on any sale of arms to Israel. One Green Party candidate, Tanya Williams, called Israel “a racist and apartheid state.” Sharer Ali, deputy leader of the party, is a harsh critic of Israel.

However, the battle in Britain is for the soul of the Labour Party. That battle appears to have been lost. The UK Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, openly supports BDS, though he personally would restrict the boycott only to products produced on the West Bank. He also calls for penalizing Israel, cancelling the EU-Israel trade agreement and even banishing Israeli politicians, though not academics, from entering Britain. He has called Israel’s treatment of the population of East Jerusalem illegal and an abomination. Though he has visited Gaza and called Israel’s politicians criminals, he has never replied to the invitation of the leader of his cousin party led by Isaac Herzog to visit Israel.

Corbyn has called Hezbollah a “friend” and has urged dialogue between Israel and Hamas and insisted that, “You don’t achieve progress by only talking to those who you agree with,” but seems only willing to talk to Palestinian and Arab extremists and not Israeli moderates. Though not an anti-Zionist, and certainly not an anti-Semite, nevertheless he clearly favours the Palestinian position by a wide margin. Further, he is not pro-Zionist for he called the Balfour Declaration “an extremely confused document which did not enjoy universal support in the cabinet of the time, and indeed was opposed by some of the Jewish members of the cabinet because of its confusion.”

It did not have to go this way. Corbyn was the long-shot candidate for the Labour Party leadership. Corbyn’s views were reasonably well-known and were explicitly articulated at an all-candidates meeting sponsored by the Jewish Chronicle, Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement at the JW3 community centre in north London. All three of his opponents were strong backers of Israel and opponents of BDS – Andy Burnham, the Labour Party MP from Leigh who was widely expected to be elected leader, Yvette Cooper, a former shadow foreign secretary, and Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West. British Jews had failed to unite behind one candidate and, in part, the establishment had followed the lead of the American Jews, but primarily Bibi Netanyahu, and put their energies into backing the one clearly pro-Israel party, the Conservatives.

Further, in combatting the move of the Labour Party to the more radical left and the supporters of the Palestinians versus Israel – Corbyn was elected leader with an overwhelming majority – the Jewish establishment in Britain tended to support smearing the Labour Party with the anti-Semitic brush instead of stressing the basic anti-Zionist character of BDS. Mind you, the Labour Party itself in good part invited such a tactic as the anti-Semites within the party came out of the woodwork. Vicky Kirby, a former Labour parliamentary candidate, referred to Jews having “big noses,” equated the “Zionist God” with Hitler and accused Jews of “slaughtering” the oppressed. She was forced to resign. But Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford, called for shipping the Jews in Israel to the U.S. and Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, defended Shah and, in that defence, claimed that in the thirties Hitler had conspired with the Zionists. The two were only suspended.

In a subsequent blog, I will explore the link between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and the propensity among many Jews to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Zionism, and then anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, possibly valid when anti-Zionism is an effort to deny the Jewish people a right of self-determination and to delegitimize Israel. I will also have to explore who really was the first to renege on the Oslo Accords and whether settlements are expressions of colonialist imperialism. In this blog, however, I want to stick to the machinations to get political parties to line up for or against Israel. I will not have the time or space to discuss what has happened in this battle in other European countries, such as the Dutch endorsement of BDS activism as a form of free speech and the Foreign Minister of Ireland, Charles Flanagan’s non-endorsement of BDS while defending its legitimacy and objecting to the demonization of BDS.

Canada

On 22 February 2016, Canada’s newly-elected Liberal Government supported a Conservative anti-BDS motion by a vote of 229-51. However, an Ontario Bill co-sponsored by Liberal MPP Mike Colle and Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak as a private members’ bill, was defeated. Hudak had labelled BDS “the insidious new face of anti-Semitism” and the bill failed to win support from the Liberals. Though Premier Kathleen Wynne openly opposed the BDS movement, she refused to follow the lead of American states because of her defence of free speech. “I support all rights to freely express their views, freely expressed without fear of discrimination or persecution, whether in Ontario or in the Middle East. Freedom of speech is something that all Canadians value and we must vigorously defend. But, it’s unacceptable for students, or parents, or children to feel unsafe or discriminated against.”

The real focus of attention currently is the Green Party. In Britain, the Green Party is represented by one lone member, Caroline Lucas, who is an ardent opponent of Israel and not only supporter of but active campaigner for BDS, labelling Israel an apartheid state and the Board of Deputies of British Jews the “Zionist lobby.” She even blamed Israel for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack perpetrated by Pakistani Muslim zealots that killed about 200, including the Chabad rabbi and his wife, and supports violent action against Israeli interests.

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Canadian Green Party and its sole MP here, is not a supporter of BDS, is a supporter of Israel, but has permitted two BDS resolutions to go to the floor of the Convention in August, one denying income tax deductible status to the Jewish National Fund and another endorsing the BDS movement. Further, outspoken anti-Semites have been candidates for the Green party of Canada. For example, Marika Schaefer produced a video denying the Holocaust and calling it “the biggest and most pernicious, persistent lie in all of history,” denied there were death camps and insisted that the showers were used to keep the inmates healthy. She has been denounced by the partly leadership and a process has been set up to expel her from the party.

We await the August Convention to examine the fallout.

With the help of Alex Zisman

Passage from British Columbia to Regina

Passage from British Columbia to Regina, Saskatchewan

by

Howard Adelman.

Last evening, we arrived in Regina in time to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was in town for a meeting dealing with First Nations issues. Of course, we did not meet him. We did not have time. We had to rush to our motel room to turn on CNN and watch the results pour in on Super Tuesday in the U.S.

It was too late. All the results were in. Hillary Clinton had swept all but the smallest state, Rhode Island, and most by significant margins. Donald Trump swept all five of the Republican primaries and by even more significant margins over two rivals. They had finally presumably ganged up against him. But not really! They each agreed – or their campaign chairs did – not to campaign any further in certain states – remarkably in precisely those states where their rival and presumptive partner was pouring in all his efforts. However, neither would instruct their supporters to vote for their rival/partner in the other in the states in which they had agreed to cease campaigning.

Too little, too late! The commentators were generally correct. Donald Trump is virtually unstoppable, even though the Republican candidate would be chosen by the delegates at the convention. Even if it was a brokered convention and Trump fell a bit short of the requisite majority of delegates, even in the worst case scenario for him, Trump would have by far the largest plurality of delegates. It would be political suicide for the Republican Party to stop him. And the delegates selected know that.

For the first time in my life, I agreed with Donald Trump. He became the presumptive Republican candidate yesterday evening as he claimed. So Donald Trump was free to go back to being totally un-presidential. Hillary Clinton was a felon. In any case, she only appealed to women. And she appealed to fewer of them than he did. And he would do more for women than she would. He would make America great again. He would protect them from illegal migrants. He would protect them from a nuclear holocaust. He could do business with strong and respected leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China. (It was not clear that he knew the name of the latter or could pronounce it.) Hillary would be easier to beat than any of the thirteen rivals in the Republican Party that he had defeated over the last six months. She would only get 5% of the vote if she were a male.

The usual gross hyperbole! The usual insults spread generously about! The usual plethora of libelous depictions of others! The usual admiration for strength! The real question now is whether Bernie Sanders would urge his supporters to back
Hillary and whether he would settle for a Democratic Party platform that would have to veer in the direction of his campaign. By the time we get back to Toronto by the end of the week, we might have some idea. In any case, we will bring with us the warmth of Vancouver Island.

With us, but not ahead of us. For after we traveled along Highway 3, The Crowsnest Highway through Crowsnest Pass, the fields of southern Alberta for some distance were covered with snow. We had crossed the continental divide between British Columbia and Alberta. Yesterday, I quickly described our trip after we left the Fraser Valley along the beginning of the western end of the Crowsnest Highway from Osoyoos to Cranbrook through a series of ascents descents through the Anarchist Mountains into and through the Kooteneys beginning around Grand Forks on the U.S./Canada border then past the lake named after Nancy Greene and south again at Salmo before we passed through the Kooteney Pass. Though the Kooteney Pass was spectacular, it did not prepare us for the deep valleys and the phenomenal snow-capped mountains of the Rockies proper that rose out of the ground like great mammoths. The northern passage through Lake Louise, though also spectacular, was totally gentle in comparison. But this time, we were descending quickly eastward through Fernie and Sparwood to the Alberta foothills and then the western plain.

In those foothills, we passed a startling site that neither of us had heard of ever before. It was the Frank Slide between Pincher and Fort McLeod that must have been cataclysmic at the time. The whole side of a mountain had been sheared off; the rubble of huge boulders – and I mean huge, the size of small buildings – was strewn across both sides of the highway. We learned that in 1905, the side of Turtle Mountain was severed off and, in a little over a minute, buried the new coal mining town of Frank. 90 were killed. Frank disappeared only to be memorialized by the rubble of this spectacular event. It must have destroyed a whole section of the highway and the Canadian Pacific rail line at the time. If we had been prepared, we would have stopped to visit the museum or commemorative centre that would have told us much more about this tremendous slide and its history, but we simply drove past in awe.

Since the area is also an archeological wonder and, from reading Jack London and Pierre Berton, I knew a tiny bit about the area. But I wished we had driven a bit north of Salma to Kokanee Glacier National Park, the place that became famous when Justin Trudeau’s youngest brother, Michel, was swept by an avalanche into the lake and drowned in 1998. I did know much more about the geology of the Continental Divide that forms the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta and that runs from the mountain peaks of Alaska to Chile.

The region is of importance historically as well as geologically, of course, but the attraction is mostly the spectacular geography. Twenty years before he was assassinated by Serbian nationalists to trigger WWI, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand was a visitor to Arrow Lake just north of where we had driven. William Randolph Hearst, and his father thirty years earlier, had also visited the region. But there are serious disappointments as well as the inspiration from the spectacular scenery. As you descend through the mountains, Trail B.C. with its smokestack industries appears as an apparition and scar across the landscape. Trail has the largest non-ferrous smelters in the world. Industrialization had significant costs as well as benefits.
History, as I said, may be influenced by geology because of the natural beauty left behind. But the region attracts entertainers as well as important political figures.

In a memorable concert in 1988, Johnny Cash – whom we listened to on the radio yesterday – performed alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Wanda Jackson. In 1991, the B.C. government tried to replicate that high note by sponsoring Joan Baez, Sarah McLachlan and even Bob Hope as performers in the region. But as famous as these performers were, they never rivaled the excitement of the 1988 concert.
Towns become famous for the strangest reasons. The day before, we passed through Fruitvale and Salmo, the region to which Japanese Canadians were forcefully and disgracefully relocated during WWII. David Suzuki grew up in the region. So did Nancy Greene mentioned above, our most famous female athlete of the twentieth century and Olympic champion skier who came from the region. Naming senators like her to follow in her footsteps in the Senate may be the way to save that institution.

Yesterday I wrote about tectonic plates. The Rockies and other ranges west were the result of the Pacific Plate rubbing against the North American plate as mountain ranges were thrust up in the process, perhaps as little as 75 million years ago. Much more recently, 10,000 to 15,000 year ago, the glaciers in the region started to retreat leaving behind the alluvial soil that formed the Okanagan Valley and the other valleys we traversed. But the juncture is still unstable and volcanic eruptions, tremendous rock slides and avalanches characterize the region. So, although the region is spectacularly beautiful, it is also very dangerous. Many of us remember 1980 when the State of Washington’s Mount St. Helen’s snow-capped dome blew off and altered the weather of the whole of our Earth for at least a year.

How tame it is then to descend to the western planes and traverse Alberta and Saskatchewan through Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw. Snow not only still covered many of the fields in southern Alberta, but small piles of dirty snow were scattered alongside the TransCanada Highway as we drove to Moose Jaw. Unlike our trip west through Canada in the Fall of 2014, the fields were mostly brown though plowing had begun, especially in the huge farms that align the highway. In parts, farm houses are few and far between. As one approaches Regina from the west, farm equipment dealer after dealer, with yards full of all types of new equipment, astride the highway on both sides.

My biggest disappointment was the sky. In September of 2014, the vast blue of the skies was truly breathtaking for a Toronto boy. But this time, the skies were totally overcast with rolls of clouds lined up in u-shaped row after row as if preparing for a tremendous military battle. However, when we passed Reed Lake and Chaplin Lake on the way to Moose Jaw, the most delightful scene was of birds, small ducklings already well past the infant stage, Canadian geese in ones and twos waltzed beside the highway, but looked forlorn as if they had lost contact with the V formations they used to fly north. Perhaps they had wintered in the West this past year and never flew south. There were herons, larger hawks than we had seen in British Columbia. I did not spot the white Cormorants that my driver did.

Shallow lakes form part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and there are signs alongside of the road indicating the importance of this region to the migratory patterns of the birds which fly, some from South America, to their breeding grounds in the north. We were disappointed not to see large flocks, but we probably were traveling through too early in the season.

I said that I would write about our visits to the wineries, but I will not do so today. We want to be on our way early this morning to try to reach Ontario.
But I will get to it.

Reasons 5&6: The Rule of Law and Israel

Ten Reasons Why I Will NOT vote for Bernie Sanders:

Part III Reasons 5 and 6 – The Rule of Law and Israel

by

Howard Adelman

Thus far I have pointed to Bernie’s ill targeted criticism of the major banks, his protectionist trade policies, his weak position on gun control and, most extensively, on his incoherent policies and performance on economic immigration, deportation, family reunification, the diversity visa lobby and, most importantly, his hesitancy and modesty in dealing with Syrian refugees. I could have spent much more time on the inadequacies and incoherence of his migration policies. For example, how could he:

  • Grant amnesty to illegal aliens but vote against bills to do just that only because they include no provisions against guest workers
  • Extend asylum to victims of domestic violence but not significantly increase the intake of Syrian refugee victims of state, rebel and terrorist violence
  • Expand the grounds for refugee claims by including victims of gang violence and include the credible fear standard for making an asylum claim while not recognizing victims of a different type of gang violence and credible fear when it comes to Syrian refugees
  • How can he enlarge the room for refugee claimants who can manage to get to the United States but keep resettlement of refugees at a minimal level so that the combination results in enhanced incentives for smuggling operations and illegal entry?
  • Oppose chain migration but support expanded family reunification
  • Supposedly support the high tech business sector but oppose their ability to import necessary skills and increase the pressure to relocate overseas while denouncing the out-migration of such firms
  • Oppose the visa lottery program but defend it in a speech in November 2015 “The Diversity Visa program is an enormous and inexpensive source of goodwill, affords potential immigrants with no family ties an opportunity to join our great nation, and is particularly important to African immigrants.”

I could go on, but I want to now focus on two additional reasons and complete the reasoning tomorrow, erring of necessity on the side of brevity because the New York primary is tomorrow.

Reason Five – The Rule of Law

Other than referencing Hillary Clinton’s legal problems with her use of emails when she was Secretary of State or Bernie Sanders’ legal challenge (successful) to enfranchise 17-year-old voters in the Ohio primary who will be 18 on election day, very little has been said about the rule of law, the system of laws and regulations that are the bedrock of a constitutional democracy and that apply universally to the wealthy and the poor, those in power and those who lack power, those in positions of formal authority and the vast majority who are not. As the saying goes, in a rule of law polity, the rules apply to the rulers as well as the ruled. This is true not only in the application of the law but in its creation. While Barack Obama was extremely cautious and modest in his use of executive powers to make law, what has become clear in Bernie Sanders’ campaign is that he would rely far more on the use of executive orders to override legislators.

This is a practice that was prevalent in both Venezuela and Brazil. The reality is that strong proponents of economic justice who blame rich economic elites for a country’s problems tend to see economic justice as trumping legal justice and procedures. Further, the more economic incentives and subsidies expand, whether on behalf of corporate interests or the needy, there is an increase in bureaucratic power. Though a strong and independent creative civil service is an essential component in a modern state, something the political right is blind to, it is also the case that  bureaucrats are susceptible to being corrupted by the economic inducements of the rich and powerful, to which Bernie is legitimately ultra-sensitive in the United States, but also to those who gain political power and envision enhanced control over different segments of the economic sector as the entry to greater economic and social justice, an entry point to undermining the rule of law and enhancing the power of individuals, including the President, and groups, a susceptibility to which Bernie seems insensitive.

Perhaps even more, but certainly as much, modern states need an honest, capable and efficient administrative apparatus, which attacks on government per se undermine. That civil service, and it is a service that must both remain civil and serve the universal interests of civil society, must retain a realm of initiative and independence to ensure the polity remains immune to both economic and crusading political predators. Unfortunately, there is a built-in tension between demands for the state to build the necessary infrastructure, provide the necessary services and incentivize both economic engines and individuals, as opposed to the temptation to turn these mechanisms into convoluted traps for inaction or, on the other hand, units for dispensing patronage and favouritism. Good government needs to walk that fine line between the Scylla of sclerosis and Charybdis of indulgences. From many of Bernie’s statements, one fears that he would remove the blindfold of justice and sail the ship of state into the rocks on either side of the straights as he attempts to maneuver the ship of state through the foaming waters of an unruly social environment.

  1. Israel

I could write on a number of political areas of foreign policy, such as Libya on which I have written a number of blogs, but I have chosen Israel because it is an arena I know well. Further, I have chosen to focus specifically on the degree to which Israel fights its wars in accordance with the norms of just war, an area on which I claim some expertise.  In the contemporary period, Israel generally and just war analysis more particularly has proven to be the Achilles’ heel of the Left. Bernie is the exemplification of the propensity of even the moderate Left, and Bernie is a card-carrying member of the moderate Left, to misunderstand and misrepresent Israel, a propensity exacerbated by a right in America which serves as a cheerleader of the Likud in Israel and is almost blind and deaf to the rights of Palestinians for self-determination.

In the corrected version of his original infamous editorial board interview, Bernie said, “I do believe that Israel…has every right to destroy terrorism. But in Gaza there were 10,000 wounded civilians and 1,500 killed. Was that a disproportionate attack? The answer is it was. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel. In the long run, if we are ever going to bring peace… we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”

In the reference to the cry about the numbers, he did originally say that, “my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza,” but soon corrected that to say 10,000 civilians had been wounded. So the outcry that there were only 1,400 or 1,600 killed according to even UN or Palestinian figures is beside the point. The real issue is that he referred to all the dead as “civilians.” Israel says there were only about 700 of the total of 2,130 killed. The UN and the Palestinians double the proportion of civilians killed. The reasons are clear. Youngsters under the age of sixteen are recruited by Hamas to serve in auxiliary positions as observers, runners, etc. When they die, they are counted as civilians. So are policemen who have a military role in Gaza. And since they do not wear uniforms, many militants can also be counted as civilians.

But the controversy over figures is both a distraction and an indicator. For the real issue is whether Israel’s response to the Hamas rocket attacks was disproportionate. Bernie on this point is dogmatic. “It was.” For him it is self-evident. Since there was wide-scale destruction, including destruction of apartment buildings and even hospitals, for Bernie it follows logically that the Israeli response, however much Bernie finds such a response in itself to be legitimate, is self-evidently disproportionate.

However, in the application of rules of just war and its conduct, a military action is disproportionate if excessive force is used to achieve a military goal. A military action is disproportionate if civilians and civilian facilities are attacked indiscriminately. The issue is not the quantity of destruction, but the procedures and mechanisms for minimizing civilian destruction.

In relation to the amount of force used to achieve a legitimate military objective, if the goal was forcing Hamas to sue for peace, as the United States did with Japan towards the end of WWII, then Israel would, at the very least, have to reoccupy Gaza. If the goal was deterrence, many would argue that insufficient force was used since the objective of deterring Hamas from targeting Israel with rockets has worked only for a limited time and then the practice has been resumed. If the goal was temporary deterrence and enhancing the protection of Israeli civilians and civil life without a significant cost in the lives of Israeli soldiers, then the proportion was probably about right, though I personally would have been very hesitant to use that much force. But then I am not a military officer or a politician charged with such a responsibility. And my wariness about the use of force probably ensures that I would be unfit for such a responsibility.

The issue is not treating the Palestinian leaders or the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. I think that Israel often falls far short of that standard in treating Palestinian civilians. The issue is whether Israel applies the standards of executing a just war sufficiently to protect the civilian populations in the territories where it is engaged in lethal and legitimate warfare both in general and in particular military encounters. By any measure that is objectively applied, Israel applies the rule of law in accordance with just war doctrine with greater attention to those rules than any other state, even the United States which also has high standards. Most countries, including the peaceable Kingdom of Canada, do not assign legal officers to military units to ensure that ethical considerations enter into targeting decisions. Israel does.

Of course the IDF suffers from the same tensions between the legal ethical officials and the commanders charged with winning a military battle as in any other army, but those ethical considerations are there and they are by and large effective. Bernie’s simplistic judgement that Israel practices indiscriminate warfare against the Palestinians is a calumny. That alone makes him unworthy to be the Democratic presidential candidate when Hillary Clinton is the alternative.

So when Bernie says that, “no one will fight for that principle (a right of self-defense) more strongly than I will,” and insists that Israel, “ has the right to live in freedom, independently and in security without having to be subjected to terrorist attacks,” he is not to be believed. For his credibility depends on delivery and execution, not just rhetorical adherence to a right. Further, when he boils the failures of the peace process down to the need to treat Palestinians with dignity and respect, he proves that he is not only self-delusional and  naïve, but is also ignorant of the machinations and positions of the various sides.

Opposing Netanyahu does not entail accusing those who have dealt with him as believing that Netanyahu is always right. Championing the cause of Palestinian self-determination does not require libeling Israel and its labours while assuring everyone that you cannot be engaged in libel since you believe in Zionism and support the Jewish right to self-determination. The reality is that the rights of self-determination of both Jews and Palestinians exist within a historical, political and ethical context and that does not easily boil down to simplistic sloganeering. It is not sufficient to oppose BDS, to condemn terrorism in general and Hamas in particular, to even criticize the bias of the Goldstone Report, but without really understanding its fundamental flaws. Bernie is certainly not an anti-Israeli zealot. He is a friend of Israel, but a weak friend with too simplistic a view of the dynamics of peace and war between Israelis and Palestinians.