Supporting the POTUS

Supporting the POTUS

ConstitutionIn a recent online discussion I voiced disagreement with the President of the United States (POTUS) and was reminded that since he is President of my country I must support him.

Yes, the POTUS is the President. But the US Constitution is built upon the separation of Powers – between the President, the Congress, and the Judicial system (the Law).

separation of powersThe President had Congress behind him, in an almost unprecedented way, upon his election 6 years ago. Under his leadership his party has lost “control” of congress, and he is now acting in opposition to Congress. This is one reason Congress invited Netanyahu to speak, to provide a counterpoint to negotiations the President is conducting which specifically do not have the support of a majority of the American population, which many, myself included, deem wrongheaded and reckless, and which endanger the security of America and the world. In the American democracy we have not only the right, but the obligation, to make these views known, in an effort to influence and moderate the President’s decisions.

Further, the global Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty is a legal document.

The President does NOT have the authority to unilaterally change that treaty, which (if the reports are accurate) he is undermining in his negotiations with Iran at this point in time. If he then proceeds to execute an agreement with Iran without congressional approval, he will be acting in violation of the law, and will serve to further destabilize the world which was made a safer place through the execution of that Non-proliferation treaty.

Already other nations are positioning themselves for the new “treaty-violated” world Obama is creating. Exhibit A is the agreement the Saudi’s reached with North Korea.

Thus, while my discussion partner made a valid point, it is pointless. I fully support the President of the US, so long as the President is acting within the constitutional rights we elected him to exercise and also uphold. To the degree he is acting outside those rights, or violating them, we need to support the Congress and the Judicial branch even if it means opposing the President.

That is the nature of the balance of powers which is what, even more than presidential leadership, has made this country great.

Nuclear NonproliferationObama betrayed that trust when he failed to take meaningful action to protect the sovereignty of Ukraine against the Russian aggression in Crimea, and he is apparently proceeding with a disastrous deal with Iran. I am very, very far from being a hawk. I think war is atrocious, and I do not wish to send American’s overseas to fight wars.

But I am also a student of history and geopolitics. As such, I know for an undeniable fact, that when we pursue the path of appeasement so infamously pursued by Chamberlain, vs. the path of opposition so famously advocated by Churchill, the result is more war, death, destruction and chaos, not less.

Unfortunately it has become very clear in the last 4 years that Obama is pursuing a path worse than that taken by Chamberlain. Obama is not only appeasing aggressor states, he is advocating for the expansion of their influence, power and even military capabilities, in the case of both Russia, which his “reset” and more importantly, the entire Muslim world, beginning with his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which pushed that country towards the brink of chaos, from which it thankfully recovered, from his failure to adhere to his own “red line” in Syria, in favor of letting Russia’s role increase, his withdrawal from Iraq, leading to the rise of Isis, and now his overt efforts to empower, embolden and even encourage Iran to continue it’s aggressive regional expansion.

The story of The Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly comes to mind. We’re about to start choking on the Iranian horse intended to catch the ISIS cow we allowed by ignoring the Syrian dog when we swallowed the cat of withdrawing from Iraq.

The thinking that got us here einsteinDespite the president’s ludicrous claim, just a few months ago, that the world was a safer place, anyone who is able to assess the world objectively understands that nothing could be further from the truth.

Interestingly, the Virtue Card randomly chosen to conclude this blog was Initiative. Here are some of the quotes from the card: “Initiative is originality and creativity in action. When we have initiative we boldly express new ideas, discover a new method, or find a different way to solve a problem.”

We can fix this, America, but given how far we’ve strayed it’s not going to be easy. The time to take initiative is now.

Beautiful Striped Pajamas

Beautiful Striped Pajamas

To follow up on my Never Again? Shut Up! blog I decided to review  kindred movies that deal with the Holocaust in parallel ways, each of which is stunningly effective. Before doing so, let me preface the reviews with a few comments about the pending visit of Benjamin Netanyahu – or Bibi as he is commonly known.

This recent Politico Article illustrates the fallout caused by Congress’ invitation for Bibi to speak to it.  The article quotes Martin Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel under Bill Clinton saying “nobody wants to be put in the position of taking sides… Democrats who are supporters of Israel don’t want to have to choose between supporting Israel and supporting their president.”

DiscordNancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives echoed this sentiment when she, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill “expressed her concern that casting a political apple of discord into the relationship is not the best way forward given the formidable challenges our two countries are facing together”.  It appears she blames Bibi.  I’ll keep my opinion to myself on this, and invite you to reflect on where the “political apple of discord” originated.

Was it the invitation by John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives? Bibi’s acceptance? President Obama’s reaction? The responses by Representatives in Ms. Pelosi’s Party? Or do the causes lie with others, inside or outside the US?

But getting back to the topic of remembering the Holocaust, the origin and continued existence of the embattled “Jewish State” is directly tied to the unbelievable suffering of Jews throughout history, culminating in the Holocaust.  Denial of the Holocaust and the refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel, and its right to defend itself, go hand-in-glove.  On the world scene many people and nations today have turned Anti-Zionism into a gross caricature of the Antisemitism that empowered the annihilation of over six million Jews.

Antisemetic caricature

It took the tiny nation 50 years to achieve a population as large as that, and since then the forces that sought to destroy it before it got established, and which have conspired against it ever since, have continued to grow in strength and influence.  The global narrative against Israel is eerily similar to that which existed in Weimar Germany, throughout sections of Europe, and pockets outside of it, in the build-up to the Holocaust.

In the US we’ve generally been supportive of Israel, but as our current president seeks to normalize relations with traditional enemies, including Iran, many believe that he has betrayed Israel, a nation we have traditionally supported. Clearly, the world is, in fact, being forced to choose.  And while it is not Israel doing the forcing, it seems to be the very presence of the Jews who, like Dickens’ Ghosts of Christmas, haunt anti-semites, past, present and future. Speaking of Christmas, a wave of religious persecution unheard of in centuries is sweeping the world, as indicated by “Christmas Slaughter”, a Gatestone Article highlighting that, in the Muslim world “Christmas celebrations were, as usual, tense and sometimes bloody”.

The first of the two movies I’d like to discuss is “Life is Beautiful”, by director Roberto Benigni, which won three Oscars in 1997. This implausible romantic comedy morphs into a story about a father trying to help his son survive a Nazi Concentration camp.  roberto benigni nicoletta braschi life is beautifulIt celebrates the power of the Human Spirit, giving visual voice to the sentiments Viktor Frankl expressed in “Man’s Search For Meaning”.  Frankl eloquently and convincingly argued that those who were able to find meaning in their suffering were more likely to survive. Against all odds, both Frankl and Benigni pull off a miracle.  Helping us understand this aspect of the Holocaust and believe that in some finite way, individuals were able to exercise a fragment of control, even in the most horrific and hopeless situations, which at times made the difference between life and death. This is one aspect of the Holocaust that needs to be remembered – the power of the Faith of those Jews, and others, who, against all odds, survived. This is the rare movie I have watched more than once, and though I last saw it over decade ago, it sticks with you, in a very positive way.

The movie, however, that inspired this blog was one I watched last night;  “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” directed by Mark Herman.  This lesser known and less decorated movie is etched more clearly into my psyche than the lighter, and more inspiring movie I referenced above.  boy in the striped pajamasIt is Chilling.  Haunting.  And memorable for similar, but distinctly different reasons. Both movies illustrate how the innocence and imagination of a young boy, faced with the horror of genocidal ethnic hatred, has the ability to overcome what otherwise would be the extinction of the soul. Both movies illustrate how a belief in one’s father, supported by the love of one’s mother, gives the needed left and right wings for the spirit of the child to soar above the downward spiral of an evil so grim it presents the gassing and burning of people, based on their religious and cultural ethnicity, as a solution.

The difference between the two is the nature of the father.

I won’t spoil either movie, but strongly recommend you watch them both, with this in mind.  What I will say before pulling a random Virtue Card to guide us to conclusion, is that the Title of my trilogy and this Blog “The People of the Sign” really centers around that question.  What is the Nature of our Father – capital F – our Divine Creator? And how do we identify with Him? My book posits that, for the Jews it was the Sign of the Sabbath Day, which gave them an identity the Nazis could hang a yellow star upon, branding them for slaughter.

The card I pulled was Cooperation. I resisted my initial desire to draw again, which would be contrary to numerous virtues, and instead decided to cooperate with it. Here’s a selection of what’s on the card:

“Cooperation is working together for the good of all. It is the willingness to stand, side by side and use the different gifts each of us has to offer. We seek common goals in service of a unified vision.” The card features a great quote by Dwight Eisenhower “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace”.

I’m glad I chose to cooperate with it.  I’m of the opinion that we do face an emergency, and that force will be needed to deal with it. At the same time, the only solution is cooperation. Within congress. Between congress and the President. And with Israel, who perhaps has more grounds than any other nation on earth to decide not to cooperate with others, in order to protect themselves.

I for one wish to hear what Bibi has to say. He represents a people whose clarity was forged by trusting in God, over millennia, and who, despite the Holocaust, haven’t given up on life, or on cooperation.

Plus Jamais

Plus Jamais

I’m gratified by the generally favorable attention garnered by the Je Suis Charlie Who? – aka “Onion” blog. At the same time some were puzzled and a few were angry. Two types of people responded “Quoi?”.Anti Zionist Symbol

Some found my meandering post hard to follow. Others twisted what I wrote, creating an opportunity to loudly and proudly use the “Zionist” epithet.  Many automatically lob that stone at anyone daring to discuss antisemitism.  They do so with impunity.  It is politically correct to harbor this particular brand of hate.The irony is not lost on those able to discern double standards and false equivalencies. This followup blog is an explanation to the confused and a challenge to Anti-Zionists.”

Je Suis Charlie” is a wonderful hope-filled phenomenon. But declaring to “Suis” Charlie begs the question of whether France and the Western world are committed to “Plus Jamais” (Never Again) disassociate themselves from the Jews. We need to l
ift up the onion layers donned by emperor Charlie to find out if  Je Suis solidarity will be enough to cover up France’s shame.

Shame?  What shame?

The shame that comes from having apologized for delivering Jews to the Nazis while failing to defend them from the  kinds of attackers that massacred the Charlie cartoonists. Attackers who target Jews systematically.  Deliberately. With malice, forethought, and genocidal intensity. And without provoking them with offensive cartoons.

JuifAfter the Holocaust the world exclaimed “Plus Jamais” and invited the Jews to establish a homeland called Israel in what was then called Palestine.  The Jews have been mercilessly attacked and brutally murdered for having done so. The “Je Suis” movement should have started years ago.  And it should be called “Je Suis Juif”. To those who think I’m over reacting – yesterday the Wall Street Journal ratified my onion blog.

Here’s a shout out to my friend Mike Rochelle, for pointing out the WSJ video to me! Do me, him and the world a favor – vote for his book “Lead with Love and Peace“.

And as my regular readers know, I challenge myself at the end of each blog to take a fresh look at the topic, by pulling a random Virtues Card. Today I pulled  Righteousness. The first four sentences in the lengthy description are as follows.

“Righteousness is living by a code of moral rectitude. It is practicing impeccable integrity in light of what we know is right. We don’t allow the fads of the day to sway us from doing the right thing. Nor do we stand in judgment of others.”

Wow. It brings another French word to mind. Apropos.

Even though some may judge me as standing in judgment of others. To that idea, I say “non”.  This blog merely peels off an onion layer or two, shedding light on a topic that invites us to judge ourselves. Only we know who and what we are, and whether what we say we are is true or not.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

December 10 is the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the UN General Assembly. The horror of WWII is credited for inspiring, if you will, this first ever global expression of inherent personal rights. It came in the wake of the declaration of a Jewish State seven months earlier.

In this light, reactions to the planet’s only Jewish entity’s efforts to defend itself from existential threats are shocking. Violent attacks have been carried out against it, relentlessly, since its birth on May 15, 1948.

Universal Declaration of Human RightsRather than support the citizens of Israel’s democracy, world opinion denies equal access to the Human Rights which their suffering helped inspire. The most tragic, and ironic aspect of this, in this writer’s opinion, is that even inside the UN Human Rights Council the planet’s sole Jewish State is singled out for persecution.

In selecting a Virtues card to frame this blog, Mercy came up.  How appropriate!  But since that card was just used for Syrian refugees I drew again – and was presented with a more challenging lens.  Contentment – “A trusting that life provides us what we need, when we need it.”

Here goes… Israel’s Jews can enjoy contentment given what they have, and have achieved.  Many, including this writer, believe events began in 1844 to fulfill the prophetic sequences which were initiated thousands of years ago.  This view holds that God is the force behind an in-gathering that began prior to and increased in momentum after WWII.  The selection of the Real Estate in Palestine for a modern Israel was predestined as were all the challenges inherent in that choice.

Though the entire planet be aligned against it, at this time, the Jews can be content with the messages in their Holy Writings – that God will infuse with eventual success all global efforts, including those of Israel, toward beating swords into plowshares and transforming deserts into rose-gardens.  However imperfect those efforts may be.

The verses below proclaim hope for the future. Our potential for contentment is great, when we trust in God to fulfill His promises.

Swords into PloughsharesIsaiah 2:1-4 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord‘s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Israeli desert blossomIsaiah 35:1-4 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Great contentment comes from trusting in the promise of a better future, as foretold by the Jewish Prophet Isaiah.  Shalom to you all.

Lamb lies down with the lion and the little child leading them

Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.