Yearly Archives: 2011

Some Good News

We are just a year away from the 2012 elections. The economy is a mess, our “outreach” to radical Islamicists is a failure and our current President – the least transparent in US history – is losing popularity daily. Republicans still struggle to find a unifying leader who will galvanize the base and appeal to non-partisan, thoughtful people. The EU is struggling, China is gobbling up all the oil they can and from Wall Street to the Wailing Wall the Jews are once again being blamed for the world’s ills. What looked like a populist call for accountability has degenerated into left-over Marxists mini-mobs of a few score folks with nothing better to do. The Left can’t even agree on authentic “blackness” with their half-African-American President losing credibility and a 100% African American gaining popularity from the right. Why is it that every conservative Black is an “Uncle Tom” ( labeled and libeled by folks who have never read the original Harriet Beecher Stowe novel) while every Marxist agitator is “progressive’?

Where is the good news in all of this? What is heartening is the reawakening of the true American ethos by people on both sides of the political aisle. Clear-minded folks are discovering that we need to create wealth in the private sector if we are going to have any public largess. A solid work ethic coupled with public fiscal restraint, is the only pathway forward. Our federal government is incapable of creating jobs directly – it must regulate, not administrate. Government must become more local and less D.C.-centric. Democratic politicians are distancing themselves from Obama and Occupy Wallk Street ius a footnote to real news and the daily focus of most people. The failure of Solyndra is not stimulating gas-guzzling and environmental disaster . quite the opposite is true – Amricans are constantly inventing in backyards and laboratoies, in coffee-bars and corporate boardrooms. Creativity is alive and well – if only we could apply our social networking and technology development energies to new governmental systems!

Hard work, clear thinking, creativity and the end of the warfare-welfare state open new possibilities for a better American future. Our current headlong rush to self-destruction can be turned around in a moment if we will recover courage, humility, reverence for the Almighty, respect for one another and self-discpline that looks beyond the next paycheck. We can drill for oil AND develop new enery sources without environmental armaggedons. We can advocate for a new Palestinian State AND assure Israel’s security. We can recover public virtue AND respect privacy. We can have toleration AND debate our deepest differences. My moral objections to homoerotic behavior are not hate speech or intolerance. My support of Israel is not colonial racist zionism. My affirmation of the free market is not an endorsement of rapacious capitalism. Cutting public entitlements includes cutting over-bloated defense spending, recalbrating our global war on terror and choosing seek and destroy missions instead of foreign occupation.

Let’s agitate intelligently by reading about the issues, asking searching questions of our public servants and insisting that politicians and public unions play by the same rules as private-sector businesses. There is good news – perhaps we are arising from a half-century of lassitude and willful ignorance. We do not need bumper stickers and other agitprop devices – we need to wake up every day ready to make the world a better place.

Populism: Left, Right and Center

There are remarkable similarities between the Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Wall Street protests. Yes, there are cavernous differences as well, but both movements are touching important public nerve endings.

First, both groups are suspicious of “the machine.” For Tea Party adherents, the machine is an over-bloated, under-accountable, out-of-control federal government. Critical Constitutional liberties and national values are being scorned in favor of a soft totalitarianism. The Occupy Wall Street communities see the machine a “corporate greed”, especially in the banking and finance industries. Where is all the bailout money that was supposed to help the “average citizen”? Billions of federal dollars are in the banks and few regular folks have enjoyed any real assistance.

There is much in common here: both groups are (rightly) suspicious of the Corporate State. 20th century history is filled with Communist, Fascist and even “democratic” regimes that established control by cutting deals with their favorite magnates, even as they proclaimed themselves the champions of the middle and working classes. For the Left, Apple Computer, Progressive Insurance and General Electric are OK, but any oil companies, smokestack industries or most banks are the epitome of evil. For the Right, the Federal Reserve, IRS and supporters of the anti-corporate agitiator (President Obama) are enemies of liberty and economic progress.

Second, both groups agitate publicly and are accused by their opponenets of being extremists. While there are a few “nut jobs” and professional agitators in both groups, the way particular media outlets portray these demonstrations is interesting. Tea Party folks are labeled racist, far-right, uncivil and much more by the left-leaning academic and media personalities. According to the Right, the Occupy Wall Street groups are communistic, socialistic and full of hypocritical leaders who endorse the protests while jetting off to foreign vacations.

There is a third similarity: both groups are deeply frustrated with systems that unethically enrich a few at the expense of the many. The Tea part folks ask why all politicians are wealthier after their “public service” and call for benefit and pension reform as well as fiscal responsibility. The Occupy Wall Street groups call out corporate and financial beneficiaries of government largesse. Why are executives getting huge bonuses while their companies still owe the texpayers?

There are differences between these groups as well. Occupy Wall Street has the tacit support of the Obama Administration and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Republicans want the Tea Party vote, but they are still squeamish about full endorsement due to media influence. The Tea Party movements is not an “astroturf” group manipulated by extremists – it is regular folks deeply concerned about borders/immigration, government regulation and size, and personal liberties. Occupy Wall Street has its share of media-hounds and socialists, but most folks want some kind of ethics and honesty in the systems that manage wealth.

A wise leader will see the commonalities and call for a new day of personal and social responsibility, with free markets, balanced budgets and fair tax codes. A wise leader can read between the lines and realize that most Americans do not want “pure” capitalism or socialism, but opportunity to flourish in a fair system (the rule of law) and compassion that cares for the vulnerable without creating generational dependency.

Populism is a deep vein in American political and social history. From the early emancipation and temperance movemments to the agrarian silver advocates to women’s suffrage and industrial unions, hard-working Americans have seen through the image-manipulation and advocated for justice. It is my hope that we can transcend the libelous labels and professional pundits and call on the goodwill of responsible people to elect ethical leaders and energetically promote policies that create wealth within the rule of law and open opportunities for a better future.

Myths and Facts in the Middle East

The proto-state of Palestine, held together by a coalition that is ambiguous at best toward peace with their neighbor Israel, has made her bid for UN recognition. The process is a bit akin to Roman Catholic sainthood, except that the Vatican has a more objective process. The USA is obligated to veto such a move, even though President Obama has staked his world reputation and his Nobel Prize for hope on a resolution to current the impasse in the Middle East.

A cursory review of news outlets blames Israel’s refusal to halt new settlement construction for the breakdown in negotiations a year ago. While there is some merit in this, such a facile explanation betrays ignorance of the real issues underlying the current conflict. There is much myth masquerading as truth about The Arab-Israeli conflict. Sorting fact from legend – even for historical events less than a century old – requires intellectual integrity and patience, two virtues lacking in our instant-information-and-analysis Internet Age.

Myth: Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is the reason for the “cycle of violence.”
Fact: Israel is not blameless in this conflict; however, she has come to the table again and again, signed peace accords (Campd David, 1978; Oslo, 1993; others in 2000) and watched jihadist radicals subvert the process.

Myth: Palestinian national identity and historic claims to the land are equal to Jewish aspirations.
Fact: Palestinian “national identity” is a recent construct, though many families and villages have deep roots in the land. Jewish connections are unbroken for nearly 3000 years.
Special fact: the tragedies of war in 1948 created a refugee disaster still festering, with the descendants of 400,000+ Arab refugees living in squalor and exile.

Myth: The 1947 UN Resolution establishing a Jewish State place forced the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians and gave control of a large piece of territory to a minority group.
Fact: The UN Partition Plan gave the Jewish population of Palestine a small portion of land in which the Jews were a majority. The plan also called for both Transjordan (the first Palestinian state)and Israel to respect minority civil, property and religious rights.

Myth: Jewish terrorism was equal to Arab terrorism and the Jews massacred civilians and destroyed Arab villages on a large scale in 1948 and 1967. “Remember Deir Yassin” became an Arab war-cry.
Fact: The unauthorized work of the Irgun did result in scores of Arab and British casualties. The legitimate Israeli authorities punished such acts when possible. The exigencies of war did cause up to 400,000 Arabs to leave their homes; however, nearly 200,000 remained and many of them and their descendants have become Israeli citizens. The Mufti of Jerusalem went well-beyond any Zionist rhetoric when he stated unilaterally, “Kill all the Jews!” Egypt’s ruler in the 1967 conflict, General Nasser, made it clear that his goal was the destruction of Israel. By the way, more than 600,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab homelands as a result of the 1948 conflict.

Myth: Israel started the conflicts in 1948 and 1967.
Fact: There was low-level fighting in 1947-1948 as both sides positioned themselves before the departure of the British military. The British equipped the Arabs, gave no help to the new State of Israel and washed their hands of any responsibility. The 1967 war was preceded by scores of Arab missile and guerrilla attacks, the closing of borders and waterways and the movement of Arab armies on all sides of Israel. The Israeli “pre-emptive strike” was a brilliant response to the violence and brought a rapid victory. It also cemented Israel’s nationhood and wounded the pride of the nations around Israel.

Myth: Israel is a Western imposition arising our of Holocaust guilt.
Fact: The Holocaust DID accelerate world sympathy and UN action toward the new state. The problem with this line of reasoning is that many of its adherents are either Holocaust deniers or exaggerators of Israel’s “apartheid” policies.
Special fact: Current PA leader Abbas remains a Holocaust denier and refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist in peace next to a new (and second) Palestinian state.

Myth: Israel does not want an independent Palestine as a neighbor.
Fact: Israel has repeatedly negotiated toward a “two-state” solution – Camp David and Oslo both point the way. She has given up much land for peace and will even negotiate settlements in the West Bank – IF her neighbors will fully recognize her legitimacy, renounce terrorism and produce maps for their schools that include her name! Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated this time and again recently and even suggested another settlement freeze in exchange for direct, good-faith negotiations.

Israel is not perfect. She has
* Caused the displacement of many Arabs
* Invaded Lebanon and allowed her “allies” to wreak havoc among refugee camps.
* Erected a border fence that will make peaceful travel between two states difficult.
* Refused to look at creative solutions for Jerusalem – perhaps a shared capital of both nations?

But current Palestinian leaders have not
* Renounced terrorism – especially the killing of innocents.
* Recognized Israel’s right to exist peacefully and in perpetuity.
* Demonstrated any ability to treat minority populations with equity.
* Realized that their (exaggerated number of) descendants of the 1948 refugees cannot be allowed to settle within the political boundaries of Israel. Many could, however, help a new Palestine flourish.

Israel remains the only pluralistic democracy in a region of extremism and intolerance. If the USA was not so dependent of Arab oil, we would have helped popular secular movements topple several regimes long ago. Even this year’s “Arab Spring” is shrouded in mythology as the Islamicist Muslim Brotherhood takes control in multiple locales. The vandalizing of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo is a sign of what awaits these “revolutions” that are the darlings of the anti-Israeli Left in Europe and the USA. It is an insult to all decency to allow the Iranian leader on US soil. The greater tragedy is that thousands of unthinking students and chattering class members parrot his calls to destroy Israel. Ignored in all of this are the arrests of dissidents in Egypt, the “ethnic cleansing” of Blacks in Libya and the non-existence of anything resembling pluralism in the nations surrounding Israel.

The Palestinians deserve better leaders who want to live in peace and create a thriving region in partnership with Israel. When Israel left Gaza to the PA, the result was destruction and more violence. Hundreds of intact businesses were destroyed for no reason. Infrastructure was sabotaged. All this in the name of jihad.

Peace is possible, with direct negotiations and honest US leadership. But first we must know the facts and reject the myths.