In the 1st Century CE, the Romans destroyed the second temple and purged all Jews from ancient Israel. The final battle was at Masada, wherein the final remnants of Jewish leadership perished by suicide just before the Romans breached the walls of the fortification. It was not until the 20th Century that the Jews began to return in significant numbers in response to the Nazi threats. In 1948 there was a great exodus of Jews from Europe to Palestine following the end of World War II to seek asylum and to establish the Jewish state of Israel. All returning Jews from around the world were guaranteed a home and citizenship in the new Jewish state.
This exodus from Europe in 1948 meant the forceful conquest of Palestine, and the attack on the Palestinian people. Violence and tension between Israel and Palestine have continued to this day.
In 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Israel continues to rule over these conquered lands. Israel did not annex these lands, so the Palestinians living there are not Israeli citizens and are not allowed to vote. These disenfranchised Palestinians number some 2.7 million.
The State of Israel treats the Palestinians as stateless refugees and enemy aliens. There is no denying that atrocities have been committed by both sides. The Gaza Strip resembles nothing so much as the Warsaw Ghetto of World War II. Where there is oppression people will struggle and even fight for freedom and dignity.
There are 5.3 million Palestinians living in the region governed by Israel, including Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The Jewish population of Israel is 5.2 million. This means that the Palestinians are the majority population in the lands controlled by Israel. Additionally, there are another 1.5 million Palestinians exiled to other countries in the region. (WorldPopulationReview.com/Palestine-Population/).
There are Israeli Arabs living in Israel proper who are allowed to vote. However, as Israel was constituted as a Jewish state the Israeli Arabs have little power. There are some 600,000 Jewish Israelis living in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank who are allowed to vote.
The Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has endeavored to establish illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories in order to deny a homeland to the Palestinian people. In the past, the proposed solution to the Palestinian situation was the “Two State Solution.” This meant that the Israeli controlled territories would be partitioned into two countries, Israel and Palestine. Palestine was to be given considerable autonomy, although Israel always claimed the right to maintain security over Palestine. Now it appears that Israel is no longer considering the Two State Solution. After decades of negotiation such talks have broken down. The creation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have created facts-on-the-ground that have made the Two State Solution impossible.
The United States has long been an ally and supporter of Israel, but has also sought to advocate for Palestinian rights. President Jimmy Carter is known for his efforts at creating a lasting peace in Israel with justice for the Palestinian People. Unfortunately, those efforts were never successful.
When Donald Trump moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, his actions were clearly a slap-in-the-face to the Palestinian people. It was a demonstration that Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the other conquered territories were both legitimate and permanent. It was a signal to his cohort, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel had a free hand to put an end to the Palestinian issue in anyway that he chose.
Israel claims to be a democracy. The United States government is its staunchest ally. Yet in truth, Israel is a religious apartheid nation where democracy only applies to the Jews. Netanyahu is a segregationist, not unlike America’s George Wallace. In supporting Israel without seeking justice for the Palestinian people, the United States has abandoned its principles and supported oppression.
If there is not to be a Two State Solution, then the only other method of achieving justice would be a One State Solution. And by this, I mean that Israel evolves into a secular democracy with equal rights and participation for all. But that is not a likely outcome for the foreseeable future.
The Trump team has done nothing but lie to us. His people would tell the most outrageous lies throughout the election and transitional period. Now they are continuing their outrageous lies from the White House.
On day one of the Trump administration, Saturday, January 21, Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave his first official briefing. In it he berated the media for “distorting” the crowd numbers at the inauguration, and then proceeded to list a series of “facts” that were nothing more than fabrications. There are numerous pictures, videos, and statistics to support the media’s version of events. Then, Spicer spewed out a torrent of lies. In this case Spicer simply made up numbers such as mass transit ridership that had no basis in fact. These utterly false statistics were disputed by the transit authority. According to CNN, four of the five main statements made by Spicer at that event were totally fallacious. The Orwellian notion herein being enacted is that falsehood becomes truth when trumpeted loud and long.
Kellyanne Conway went on television the next day to explain that Spicer had not lied, but only presented “alternative facts”. I do not know about how this works in your world, but in my world an “alternative fact” is simply a lie.
And of course the larger issue here is that Trump, on his first day in office, must have higher priorities than arguing about attendance figures at the inauguration. This raises the problem of his extreme narcissism which will be a topic for a later chapter.
Trump during the campaign would hammer the same lies over and over, often times repeating each lie multiple times in one sentence. The Trump people routinely tell more lies than can even been debunked. While the press and pundits are trying to analyze the first lie, the Trump team has issued a hundred more. Trump complained about unfair media coverage even when the media did nothing more than show video clips of Trump’s prior pronouncements.
The Donald wants to suppress freedom of the press under the First Amendment. He wants to decide what is news and to punish those who publish otherwise. This is not the thinking of a democratically elected leader. It is rather the rantings of a dictator seeking absolute power and control.
The Trump team refuses to answer questions, and instead pivot and distract by changing the subject. During the campaign the standard pivots were to Hillary’s emails and Bill’s sex life. Neither of these are relevant now, so get over it.
Kellyanne Conway was just one of dozens of Trump spokespersons who lied to us throughout the campaign and transition period. There was also Kayleigh McEnany, Katrina Pierson, Jeffrey Lord, Chris Christie, Paul Manafort, Corey Lewandowski, Rudi Juliani, and more. Paul Manafort is now under investigation for the Russian connection. All of these spokespersons spread an endless barrage of lies, distortions, pivots, and distractions. All of them would pivot and throw red-herrings in order to not answer questions. Now it looks like the Trump administration will continue in the same vein.
Apart from lies The Donald’s other rhetorical techniques includes bullying, heaping abuse on others, and scapegoating problems. He would also promise much but never provide any plans or solutions. Real solutions must be grounded in facts and not fantasy. No one is going to build a wall. No one is going to deport 12 million people, breaking up millions of families in the process. No one is going to be excluded from the United States based solely on their religious affiliation.
The inaugural address was despicable. Rather than addressing the nation Trump only addressed his supporters. Part of being “presidential” is to realize that a president must serve all of the people, and not just those who voted for him or her. Trump attacked all those who oppose him, blamed the media for under reporting the inaugural crowds, and then whined to the CIA that the media was biased. Trump acts more like a playground bully that anyone who could govern this country.
Trump is now and will always be in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution which forbids the president to take any money from foreign powers. Trump has business entanglements in at least 50 countries, and many of these involve foreign governments. Trump denies having any business interests in Russia, but the record is clear that he has been working to establish businesses in Russia for the past thirty years.
Trump’s lease of his hotel in Washington from the federal government is now illegal and must be terminated. Sean Spicer has told us that as president, Trump is above the law and can have no conflicts of interests. But Spicer is describing a dictator, not a president bound by a constitution. More lies from Spicer. More lies is all that we can expect from The Donald and his rabid attack dogs.
The White House website now has a plug for Melania’s ongoing jewelry business. Trump will use every opportunity to abuse the office he holds for personal gain. Spicer two days before the inauguration told everyone to stay at the Trump hotel in Washington. The Trump administration will be marked by endless scandal and corruption, so get used to it.
And let us remember Trump’s tax returns. Trump promised over and over that he would release his tax returns 1) if he ran for election, 2) when the IRS audit was completed, 3) when he was elected to office. This, like everything that the Donald has told us is simply a self-serving lie. We can only assume, along with Mitt Romney, that Trump will never release his tax returns because they are toxic if not radioactive. Without his tax returns we cannot even begin to grasp what is needed for the Donald to be free of conflicts of interest. What we know about his businesses is bad enough. What we do not know is potentially horrifying.
On day one there is enough to impeach The Donald based on the emoluments clause alone. His ties to Putin and his relationship to Russia is further grounds, but this will take more time to substantiate.
And finally, the election irregularities, most of them predicted by The Donald, are grounds for his resignation. Nixon was right. Watergate was indeed a “third-rate burglary” compared to what has happened now. The Russian connection and the various election irregularities will take several years to sort out. But the emoluments clause and the numerous financial conflicts of interest are immediate grounds for impeachment.
We need to trust a Republican Congress to impeach Trump and to put an end to this obscenity that is the Trump administration.
It’s time to dump the Electoral College (November 2016)
For the second time in recent history, the Electoral College has thwarted the will of the American voter. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, as did Al Gore in 2000. That is twice in 16 years that the Electoral College has failed us. The Electoral College is an 18th Century anachronism that may have made sense back then. But is the 21st Century it has become a disaster.
No one wants to see another Electoral College tragedy like the one that occurred in 2000. George W. Bush was elected by a handful of votes in Florida that overrode the choice of millions of voters across the country. In truth, the election was decided by one vote when the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision gave Florida and the election to Bush. Now it has happened for a second time and the results will be even more devastating.
The Electoral College is full of mathematical aberrations which make for unfair elections. Wyoming has a population of 563,626 and 3 electoral votes, or one electoral vote for every 187,875 people. California has a population of 37,253,956 and 55 electoral votes, or one electoral vote for every 677,345 people. Thus the vote of a Wyoming resident counts 3.6 times as much as the vote of a California resident.
But there are even more to worry about. The rules are not even consistent from state to state. Maine and Nebraska split their votes according to congressional districts. While this might actually make sense, the rules should be standardized across the nation.
Even more troubling is the potential for an “unfaithful elector.” One of the electors from the state of Washington declared that he would refuse to cast his ballot for Hillary Clinton out of personal conscience. On election night there were some scenarios that pointed to an Electoral College tie vote at 269 each. In such a situation, one unfaithful elector could change the results of the election out of personal whim, and not be accountable.
The Electoral College system disenfranchises those who vote for the losing parties in each state. If you are a Republican in California or a Democrat in Texas you need not even bother to vote for president. Your vote for president will not even be counted in this winner-take-all system. The only way to make your vote count is to move your voter registration to a swing state, like Florida, where it just might make a difference. But such shenanigans are shameful and ought not to be necessary.
The Electoral College made sense in Eighteenth Century America. Back then America was much like Europe is today. The European Community is still a collection of nations, even though there is the beginning of a European government. In the Eighteenth Century colonial America was also a collection of nations. People were Virginians or Georgians or New Yorkers. No one thought of us as a federation. In the Eighteenth Century it made sense to vote for the president by states.
The name “The United States of America” comes from the Declaration of Independence. But what the Declaration of Independence really says is, “… the thirteen united STATES OF AMERICA.” The emphasis was on the individual states and not on a union.
It was the Civil War that finally fused this collection of states into a nation. The Spanish American War in 1898 marked the birth of the American superpower, capable of influencing events beyond our borders.
Now in the Twenty-First Century the Electoral College is a dangerous and destructive historical anachronism. We are one nation and we need to vote as one nation. The elected president should be the person who commands the most votes regardless of the states in which those votes were cast.