This blog is devoted to time-honored wisdom; i.e., common sense, as it has been transmitted through the ages. I’d give you my real name, but for a number of reasons I cannot. Suffice it to say, the current political climate makes free speech a challenge. Nevertheless,what I will say here needs to be heard. Solomon was proverbially the wisest of men, so I will try to live up to his standards.
Still Crazy After All These Years
In the midst of the ongoing effort by the Democrats to impeach President Trump, Paul Simon’s lyrics are relevant. While we tend to view politics as a cynical game, serious psychological issues are contributing to what is currently transpiring.
It takes a special sort of person to work as a politician in the “big leagues.” While there have always been men of integrity in American politics, they are becoming harder to find. Instead, we are seeing increasing numbers of malignant narcissists and sociopaths representing the interests of America. This is exacerbated by an elite that has become increasingly obsessional and morally perfectionistic, and that seeks to silence and punish anyone who does not share its views. Paradoxically, the result has been an increasing level of political corruption together with Puritanical behaviors.
I treat mental illness for a living and am accomplished at recognizing grandiosity and dishonesty. In observing the main characters of the current drama, I see little more than glaring examples of character disorders. Although it is irresponsible according to the Goldwater Rule to diagnose politicians without having met with them, that did not dissuade Trump’s detractors in the mental health profession from diagnosing him with a “dangerous” degree of narcissism.
I do not disagree with their diagnosis of narcissism, and suspect that Trump might not either, but I do not see his behavior as “dangerous” to the country. Historically, dangerous personality disorders in political leaders have included their embrace of rigid ideologies. Trump does not have an ideology. As a businessman, his major concern is money, and he has recognized that political strategies can be effectively linked to economic pressures. He is a nationalist and a patriot, who eschews the power-driven policies of a globalist elite. He maintains a pragmatic grasp of political and economic realities. This has been demonstrated by his ability to negotiate effective deals with world leaders, and success at stimulating America’s economy, which had stagnated due to ideological positions of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
But what about those on the Democratic side of the aisle? One does not have to be a mental health professional to recognize the obvious inability of Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters- the list goes on- to distinguish their ideological fantasies from reality. As for the front running Democratic candidates for President, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, they both appear to be psychologically incapable of distinguishing truth from falsehood, and are as corrupt as any white collar criminals that I can recall-the exception being Hillary Clinton, who based on her continued inability to recognize her role in her 2016 defeat, appears to be totally delusional).
Of course, history is replete with power-hungry narcissists. There was Hitler and Stalin in the last century, and some have argued that Churchill and Roosevelt ran close seconds in their own megalomania. But the latter were not rigid ideologues and there is an important difference between those who are crazy for “the good” and those who are crazy for “the bad.” The present behavior of the Democratic party is unquestionably bad. It is riddled with deceit and display a palpable lack of concern for the welfare of the American public. It also shows little grasp of reality (Trump will not be removed from office, even if they actually impeach him). The country has challenges but by most standards it is doing well. The economy is prospering and there are no new armed conflicts. There are important issues that need to be addressed: health care, border security, China, infrastructure, etc..but the Democrats in Congress do not appear to care. Instead they are obsessively driven by a desire to punish Trump for having honestly won an election based on the will of the American people.
Democratic leaders are instead pre-occupied with greed and power, staples of the narcissistic psyche. Witness the old crone, Nancy Pelosi, who would compromise any of her “values” to remain Speaker of the House. Furthermore, from a psychological perspective, the projections of the Democrats onto Trump’s behaviors are massive, and suggest psychotic and paranoid levels of mental functioning. They know Trump has done something wrong, even if they cannot define what it is. This is simply the stuff that paranoid delusions are made of.
Of course, Republicans are not immune to the plague of mental dysfunction that has gripped Washington. Mitch McConnell is opposed to all ideas that the Democrats offer, while he profits from his family relationships with the Chinese, Mitt Romney is a poster boy for a “false self” and would sell his own mother to be President.
The fact is that American political life is sick and shows no sign of recovering any time in the future. Perhaps the current “trumped up” impeachment process will help alleviate mental pressure by lancing the boil of Democratic paranoia, envy and vengefulness, but that’s doubtful.
It is high time to decide whether the present government is the one that our increasingly narcissistic and ill-informed public deserves. That half the country cannot see that Joe Biden and his “n’eer do well” son Hunter, were engaged in massive unethical dealings in Ukraine and China, or that the Clinton Foundation was nothing more than a corrupt “bank” for the Clinton’s persistently corrupt pay-to-play schemes, suggests that they are either dreadfully ill informed-thanks to an obviously corrupt and complicit press- or too mentally compromised in their own right, to serve as proper citizens in a democratic society.
History teaches us that Empires fail as a result of internal corruption, and America appears to have reached that point as well. There is cosmic justice in this, i.e. karmic consequence, if you prefer. With respect to our dysfunctional political parties, as Shakespeare suggested, “a pox on both their houses.” But if American voters allow this travesty to continue without removing these disturbed swamp creatures out of politics by any means possible, then “a pox” on our own houses, as well.
Trump is Correct
As expected, the anti-Trump media is currently outraged by his comment that Jews who support Democratic anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli positions are “disloyal.” Trump’s might be disturbing to some, but not to those who understand what Judaism is about.
Judaism is based on a covenant with God, and on the relationship of Jews to each other and to the the land promised to them in the Hebrew bible, i.e. Israel (not Palestine, which is a pagan Roman term aimed at insulting the defeated Jews in the Revolt of 132-135 CE). It is not limited- as many Reform Jews believe- to notions of social justice. Tikkun Olam is not a social justice idea about “repairing the world.” It is a Kabbalistic term that refers to the Lurianic creation myth and one that is achieved by strict observance of Jewish law, something that Reform Jews know little about. What they are promoting is in fact an idea out of the Progressive play book that started in the 1960s, one which has been adopted by virtually all Reform Jews, and unfortunately by many Conservative ones as well.
The idea of supporting a boycott on Israel, which undoubtedly would lead to financial hardship and the suffering of Israeli Jews, is, as Trump suggests, frankly disloyal. As a Jew in America-or anywhere else for that matter-it is possible to disagree with the policies of the state of Israel, but it runs against the fundamental values of Judaism to cause other Jews to suffer as a result of such stances. Furthermore, as Judaism is primarily based on notions of family, it is not charitable to be more concerned with the well-being of others, e.g. Palestinians, than with one’s own kin. That’s not a Jewish concept.
So Trump is right. Furthermore, he is the most pro-Jewish President that this country has ever seen. To accuse of him of anti-Semitism is preposterous, and no real Jew would do so.
Unfortunately, for metaphysical reasons, Judaism defines who is a Jew by the accident of birth. It reasons that even “bad” Jews may see the light and behave properly. But it is the opinion of many Rabbinic sages that Jews who hold opinions that potentially harm other Jews have no rightful place in the Jewish community.
Traditional Jews have been patient-perhaps to a fault with their Progressive “co-religionists,” but the day may come when that will no longer be possible, as Reform Jews continue to move increasingly away from Judaism’s core values. There is good historical precedent for breaking with such “heretics,” Christianity being one, Karaism another. In the mean time, Jews who value their traditions and the state of Israel should applaud the President’s concerns and actions on behalf of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I know for a fact that the vast majority of Israelis, both secular and religious, agree.
It may be asking too much for non-Jews to appreciate the distinctions between Judaism’s sects, but suffice it to say, the Progressive Jews in this country do not represent real Jewish values. They are ignorant concerning their religion and misguided in their actions. Jews in this country have generally been liberal and aligned with the Democratic party. But that party in 2019 is not the party of FDR. Jews who continue to vote for Democrats who like Omar, Talib, Sanders, etc. espouse anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli policies, are truly disloyal. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer may continue to pander to the Jewish vote, but in recent years only Donald Trump has done anything to support Jews and the state of Israel. So when a Jew votes for Progressive anti-Semites he or she is openly declaring that they are self-hating. Maybe they could either learn about what Judaism is or perhaps find another religion that better suits them. Real Jews will not miss them.
Yesterday a Jewish group protested at an ICE center in Providence, RI. They were objecting to the enforcement of border security by ICE agents, comparing their ensuring the safety of the border with the racist policies of Nazi Germany. With the slogan “Never again!”they blocked access to the facility. The situation deteriorated when a truck driver attempted to cross the barrier line, created by their sitting down illegally in front of a large entrance to limit access.
Unfortunately, the driver unwittingly created a photo opportunity for the group by crossing the line with his vehicle, which apparently resulted in minor injuries to several recalcitrant protesters. Although technically in the right, the driver reinforced the narrative that ICE employees are inhumane and “cruel.”
I know little about the Jewish group that engaged in this protest. But I do know that they are wrong-minded on many levels. The protest infringed on the workings of government. But the greater problem is their misguided adoption of “Jewish” values to support their actions.
Unfortunately, this group apparently knows next to nothing about Judaism. If they did, they would never behave in this manner. Like so many institutions in the United States today, religious denominations of all traditions have been misinterpreted and distorted by liberal Progressivism. Untutored in the details of Judaism, they equate it with Progressive notions of “social justice.” Social justice does have roots in the Prophetic traditions of the Hebrew bible, but Judaism is far more complex than reform Progressive Jews know. For example, do they know that Rabbinic law does not condone infringing on the property of others? Do they know that it is expressly stated that the government should be supported in its efforts at preserving law and order? Are they aware that Judaism calls for the impartial application of the law to the rich and the poor, and that illegal aliens who break the law are guilty under the law? Likely not.
Unfortunately, the reform movements of American Judaism are ignorant of the compendium of Jewish law, and deny the critical ritual observances that are at the core of traditional Judaism. They are globally ignorant of the two thousand years of opinions that represent its traditions. What they may not know, is that they do not represent Judaism; rather, they represent a Progressive movement that increasingly expresses its disdain for all things religious, and that rejects the core values of Judaism and the Jewish state.
Some learned Jews tend to forgive these misguided individuals as “infants kidnapped by pagans”, which is to say, those raised in an environment that has not allowed them to learn the rules and traditions of their religion. But this lenient position fails to address the danger that these reformed Jews pose to the reputation of all Jews in this country. It is not lost on non-Jewish Americans that many of the scandals that litter the front pages of the news, the Epsteins, the Weinsteins, etc. are related to Jews. In addition, the political left is replete with Jews who show little respect for their traditions. These may be Jews ethnically but they are not “my people.” So my advice: Find another slogan to spread your Progressive propaganda, and please do not co-opt the Judaism of those who take it seriously. Don’t suggest that you represent real Jews, never again!
Mass killings in El Paso and Dayton perpetrated by young men with guns. The motives are still not known and it is doubtful that we will ever fully understand what motivates people to such behavior. The anti-gun activists will as usual blame weapons, but this alone cannot explain what we are seeing in America.
The society is ailing from a lack of morality that.
What is the cause of this disease? I would argue that it reflects a breakdown in moral values fueled by a society that has lost its way
What Trump and Republicans Ignore at Their Own Peril
The economy is good—perhaps the best it has ever been—at least by the standards of the stock market, GNP, and unemployment rates. Yet Democratic Presidential candidates claim that Americans continue to suffer economically and apparently large blocks of voters agree. So what is the problem? Interestingly, the answer was given in 1951 by a self-educated longshoreman with a philosophical bent. In The True Believer, Eric Hoffer argued that the direction of a society is largely determined by its highest and lowest achievers. At the low end are those who are frustrated by feeling disenfranchised and are susceptible to the suggestions of mass political movements.
These were championed in 2016 by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and had the latter been the Democratic nominee, it is uncertain that Trump would have been elected. Trump’s approach to the disenfranchised has been to champion a meritocracy, in which success at the top benefits all, and to some extent he has been successful. But he remains vulnerable to the frustration of an emerging voter bloc that is burdened by college debt, a paucity of high-paying jobs, and the inability to achieve the American dream of owning a house in the costly suburbs of our large cities. As Hoffer recognized, this group views itself as entitled to that dream. Individuals chafe at their failure to achieve it. To avoid the shame that accompanies failure, they are susceptible to socialist ideas like the ones that Sanders and his Democratic mimics are offering. Sanders &Co. are frankly disingenuous; they are by no means disenfranchised; instead, they are part of the very elite class that is to blame for this situation, no matter how much they advertise themselves as “working class heroes.” But they are offering the disenfranchised a dream, which they may be willing to buy into. But as Sanders is fond of saying, “We must think big!” even if the ideas are impractical and most likely to fail.
Polls suggesting that socialism is increasingly popular in America, evidence of a growing aversion to individual failure and the wish for the collective anonymity, offered by an egalitarian ideal, in which there are no winners or losers. Meritocrats like Trump find it difficult to comprehend such trends, especially in what had traditionally been capitalist America. But the complaints are real and must not be ignored. The wealth discrepancy in America is a genuine concern that needs to be addressed, by whomever is governing. The breakdown of traditional societal supports, including family, religious communities, etc, and the insistent heightened emphasis on individuality only heightens the sense of failure felt by the disenfranchised.
The Democratic idea of increasing taxes on the wealthy to reduce income inequality is not the solution; however, addressing the huge discrepancies in salaries between CEOs and workers might be, and this is especially true when they are based on pervasive levels of corruption. Capitalists like Trump and the Republican party need to address these issues and make genuine efforts to develop solutions, lest the country take a large swerve towards collectivism. They might begin by reading Hoffer.
Trump, the Fox, and the Hedgehog
The title of this blog may sound like a fairy tale, but it’s not. It refers to the famous essay, the Fox and the Hedgehog, by the political critic Isaiah Berlin, which adopts the distinct goal-achieving strategies of these two animals as a metaphor for how history is made.
The hedgehog, according to Berlin, is monomaniacal in its approach. He has a grand design, but is largely unconcerned with the pragmatic details of how to achieve it. By contrast, the fox is focused on how to reach its goal. He adapts to changes that arise, and creatively modifies his approach to overcome them. It is not always easy to make one’s way into the hen house.
As one might imagine, when compared, in practice, foxes are more likely to succeed than hedgehogs. In this country, Abraham Lincoln was a fox, so was FDR; so is Donald Trump. Barack Obama was a hedgehog.
Today’s Progressives are hedgehogs on steroids. They are enamored with grand ideas like the Green New Deal, government sponsored health care, and open borders. Unfortunately, the details and costs involved in achieving their goals are ignored or dismissed as unimportant.
Contrast them with foxy Donald Trump. He is not an ideologue. He is a pragmatist who went from being a builder to running the greatest country on earth. He decides on a goal and then confronts whatever challenges and contextual changes may occur and creatively and flexibly adapts to them. Example? Despite seemingly endless layers of resistance, Trump will build the wall!”
So while Progressives dream about transforming America without a clue as to how to do it, Trump is “making America great again.” Progressives might learn a lesson from the Fox. He does not strive for perfection, he simply gets the job done.
Time is Precious: Don’t Waste It
Moscow Mitch? Certainly, the news media jests. But they don’t. Rather, they have become so unhinged from reality that no ridiculous accusation of treason, racism, etc. is considered as beyond the pale.
We’ve grown accustomed (as well as weary) of the daily accusations directed against Donald Trump) but now the media’s targets are expanding. Leader McConnell may be guilty of many things, (the press might consider looking into his economic ties to China), but being a stooge for Russia is not one of them. But why burden oneself with the truth, when you can always fall back on your 1st Amendment rights that they otherwise conveniently ignore.
The 1st Amendment that calls for freedom of the press was meant to protect those who sought to honestly educate and inform the public. America’s Founders never expected that it would be coopted to make unfounded and scandalous accusation against one’s political opponents. True, the press has not always been innocent of such practices but to divest all vestiges of honesty is a new and dangerous strategy.
The mainstream press has for many years now professed left-leaning proclivities, but today they are simply the source of outrageous propaganda primarily aimed at undermining Donald Trump and his supporters. Journalists are currently well out of touch with mainstream America, and are comprised of naive elites who cannot identify or accept objective truths.
So as Howard Beale in Paddy Chayefsky’s prescient film “Network” suggested, “Get up! Go to your TV sets and turn them off!” And while you’re at it , you might want to cancel your subscription to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, or whatever rag your city offers that is controlled by a corporate conglomerate etc, as well as whatever comparable magazines you may currently be wasting your hard-earned money on. You will learn nothing true from any of them; they are propaganda machines, mouthpieces for a global elite; they are not your father’s news media. Indeed, a health alert is in order: they are peddling garbage and can infect you with the germ that is today’s Progressivism.
Americans are a people averse to confrontation. They are also hypersensitive on matters of race. So it is little wonder that we are witnessing outrage on the left and amongst some conservatives in their reaction to President Trump’s negative Tweets about Rep. Elijah Cummings and the state of his congressional district of Baltimore, MD.
True to character, the President was reacting to a series of disparaging remarks by Cummings, and to his continuing accusations directed at the President and his supporters of engaging in illegal and immoral activities. This comes on the heels of Mr. Trump’s negative comments about four freshmen progressive congresswomen of color, which inspired outrage and accusations of racism.
The demands for a higher level of discourse by Mr. Trump, while Democratic politicians are given a “pass” by the mainstream press for making all manner of heinous comments, especially if they also happen to be people of color, are blatantly hypocritical. The willingness of Democratic politicians of color to accuse Trump of nefarious activities, and then hide behind their race to avoid well-deserved criticisms, is a strategy that undermines America’s basic standards of fairness and decency while contributing to racial polarization in the country. As has been repeatedly pointed out, Trump’s economic policies, his efforts to reform the criminal justice system, and his personal relationships with people of color, fly in the face of the accusation of racism, but go conveniently ignored by those who would use race to sow social discord and discredit detractors.
The color of one’s skin, be it white, black, or any hue in between, is not grounds for protection from well-deserved criticism. While most Americans would understandably prefer congenial discourse to demeaning comments, it should be recalled that all members of society have the right to defend themselves from unjust accusations, and that race-as-defense for bad behavior is not the American way, and must not be allowed to become the norm.
People of color in America have an important decision to make concerning the future. They can begin to embrace Trump’s policies designed to enhance the quality of life for all Americans, or they can tenaciously hold on to the psychology of victimization, and refuse to recognize that this country has changed fundamentally since the time of Jim Crow, and that few Americans today are racially biased.
We need people like Donald Trump; people who are not easily intimidated, and who are willing to expose the race baiting behaviors of those Democrats who continue to hide behind their skin color. Americans who would prefer to retreat to a more “civil” form of discourse at the expense of genuine progress need to recognize that they are part of the problem, and not the solution. If they cannot stand up for what’s right, at least please do not obstruct the path for those who are genuinely dedicated to creating real positive change for all Americans.
An Aging Mueller
The recent spectacle of the Mueller testimony before Congress raises questions that merit consideration and concern. At age 74, Mr. Mueller is no longer a young man; and it should be recognized that some, e.g., Donald Trump, age better than others. It would be wrong to make a diagnosis of early-stage dementia in Mueller’s case but his performance under stress certainly suggests this to the trained observer. Mr. Mueller struggled to orient himself, showed considerable difficulty answering questions, could not recollect important personal information, and at times looked like a “deer caught in the headlights.” Most of us have seen previously agile minds begin to fail with age.
Mr. Mueller shares some responsibility for his embarrassing performance. He did not have to appear before Congress and the Attorney-General, perhaps recognizing the current limitations of his former colleague, offered Mr. Mueller an excuse not to testify. Mueller undoubtedly recognized that he was no longer capable of turning in a peak performance when he was offered and accepted the role of Special Counsel. The inability to accept one’s limitations invariably does not end well, and to exit the public stage on a sour note is unfortunate. But what can one say about friends and family who allowed him to proceed? On another note, Rod Rosenstein should be made to answer why Mr. Mueller was chosen for this critical task. One disturbing possibility is that he was picked primarily to serve as the official face of the report, so that its quasi-legal conclusions could be created by a team of politically partisan lawyers, who a nimble Robert Mueller might never have chosen to work on this project. As usual, the big loser is the American public.
But the issue should not be allowed to fade with Mr. Mueller, as their are currently four septuagenarians (Trump, Biden, Sanders, Warren) running for President in 2020. Considering the gravity of the position and America’s history of having been governed by aging and cognitively-impaired Commanders-in-Chief–Reagan, Roosevelt, Wilson all come to mind– it behooves the current candidates to provide the American public with a clean bill of cognitive health not just their tax returns.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom-Solomon