15 May 2016

The Future of Attawapiskat

The disaster of Attawapiskat has been going on for years. The people are suffering, but it does not appear that the proposed solutions, which include sending in more social workers, will truly help them. It is time to think outside the box.

No one doubts that the First Nations have been historically mistreated on many levels (a major understatement), but we have to look forward in order to save the people living there. It has been acknowledged by some that the population of Attawapiskat cannot reasonably continue living there. There are no jobs and no jobs forthcoming. The people of Attawapiskat are understandably attached to the land they live on - especially since they have been forcibly relocated by governments over the last 200 years. But where do we go from here?

As a religious Jew, I am reminded of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the focal point of Judaism. Pilgrimage was made to this holy place three times a year by Jews from across the ancient land of Judea. They travelled to Jerusalem to partake and celebrate in communal activities. In 70 CE (AD), that Temple was destroyed by the Romans. The Jewish People had to come up with an alternative system to that of the pilgrimage. The synagogue is a reflection of that alternative system. While it is debated when the synagogue came into common use, there is no doubt that the local synagogue really came into its own after the destruction of the Temple.

The synagogue, with Jews praying in a quorum three times daily, helped recreate and re-enforce the communal closeness that the pilgrimage to Jerusalem had once established. This sense of community as well as religious laws helped keep the Jewish identity alive for more than 3000 years, even as we were scattered across the known world.

How can we relate Jewish history to the tragedy of Attawapiskat? Attawapiskat and other native populations are in the midst of self-destruction through abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, and alcoholism -a situation that is continually getting worse. A creative solution is the only key.

When the Second Temple was destroyed, Jews had to find a new way to live outside of the Land of Israel, the holy land given to us by G-d. They created a "diaspora" with the heart of the religion still focused in Jerusalem. First Nations need to create a "diaspora" as well, with their heart still in their ancestral homelands. The leaders of these First Nations need to realize that their proud heritage can be used as an anchor while living productive lives in other locations.

The terrible issues of abuse, sexual abuse, suicide and alcoholism cannot be properly dealt with when those affected have no job, no sense of self worth and see no point in living. A "diaspora" must be created. Community centres teaching Native education along with vocational skills and a good general education can create a tight knit community. This will create opportunity for those who are interested to move onto higher education and bring the best of Canada back to their Native communities. In addition to creating these community centres, government monies can be used to establish a mental health framework where people can have a real chance for rehabilitation. Attawapiskat does not have to fade into the woodwork, rather it can be made a pilgrimage site, where the tribe can assemble once or twice a year to strengthen their relationships with one another.

The next generation is already being destroyed. How much longer are those in government and those leading the Native communities going to let this go on? There are solutions, but none of them will be easy. It will take creativity and courage, especially by Native leaders, to reshape the future of their people. I hope they can take the first step.

12 May 2016

Happy 68th Birthday Israel!

There's a great collection of videos to be seen related to Israel's 68th Birthday. Go take a look!

Happy Birthday Israel!

10 May 2016

Fun with Hillary

I found these on Facebook, I can't claim responsibility.

This one is fun, I haven't seen it before:

Or this one?

Let's all vote for Hillary Clinton (and her husband).

09 May 2016

History in the Original - Must See!

I just came across this website, it is fantastic if you love history in primary sources. And even if you don't care for history - you should check it out anyway.

The Shapell Manuscript Foundation - Explore American History Online

I've only just begun looking through what is available, I can see I'll be spending a lot more time here.


08 May 2016

The Year of the Revolution

Maybe you hadn't noticed but Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. But for some reason, I'm seeing a whole lot of Republicans suggesting a third party run by someone else... anyone else. This doesn't make any sense to me at all. They want to see Hillary Clinton win the Presidency? By not supporting Trump, we are looking at another Clinton presidency.

Democrats support anyone with the letter "D" next to their name, whether they like the person or not. Kudos to them. They like winning. Republicans, on the other hand, if they don't like the person running, they are willing to shoot him down and let the other party win. There's something seriously wrong with this. Do you want to win or not?

It's not even about keeping the party together either. While Trump was not my first choice, I think his candidacy is a good thing for the party. The Republican establishment screwed up - ignoring the pain of the working middle class, not fighting to keep President Obama's agenda from being successful, ostracizing the "tea party" conservatives inside and outside Congress, not fighting to keep the deficit down - the establishment deserves what they are getting, they brought Trump unto themselves. This is a real opportunity to revisit the basics of the Republican platform. What do we stand for? Who do we stand for? But I'm not sure that they even understand why they lost this presidential primary.

If somehow Trump manages to lose the presidential election because of a third party candidate, put up by the Republicans who won't support him, this will prove the point - the establishment is only there for themselves. They will destroy the party themselves, not Trump.

This is the year of the revolution - in both parties. Bernie Sanders, while he seems unable to win in a rigged system, is pulling huge crowds. Clinton is working much harder than she expected, trying to co-opt his successful message to the masses. It looks like the Sanders supporters may be more interested in supporting Trump than Clinton come election day. That "D" may not sway them this time.

This is a year where both parties are going to need to re-evaluate who they are and who they represent. What are their ideologies going forward? The establishment lost on the Republican side of the aisle. The Democratic establishment is barely hanging on.

It's time for Republicans to suck it up and support Trump. Clinton will only continue on the same path of destruction as Obama. How can we let this happen? We can't. We have to win.

28 April 2016

Time to Support Trump (sob)

Donald Trump easily swept five primaries yesterday. It was a blowout. We know that Trump is the only one who is mathematically even able to hit the 1237 delegate mark, Ted Cruz cannot (and Rubio is still beating Kasich in delegates.)

Today Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his VP running mate. Very nice, but what is the point here? The race has been lost. It's time to let it go. I know, he wants to fight it out at the convention. I would agree if the race were neck and neck between Trump and Cruz, but it's not. Trump is way ahead in the number of states he has won. Unless something major happens between today and the convention and Cruz magically makes up a crazy number of states and it becomes even between them - it would be ridiculous not to give the nomination to Trump.

Again, I am not a Trump supporter. Rather, I am simply looking at this race and trying to understand what's going on. For Cruz (and Kasich) to keep fighting is silly. It's time to be gracious losers and bow out.

14 March 2016

Prediction: John Kasich vs. Donald Trump

My prediction is that Governor John Kasich is not going to support Donald Trump if he gets the Republican nomination. I've been thinking this thought the last few days and I think I'm getting "official" confirmation of that tonight... CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Kasich if he'd support Trump if he were the nominee and he declined to answer. Basically he said, we'll see.

If Kasich does announce that he will not support Trump as the nominee, it will open the door to other establishment candidates to announce the same.

I hope Kasich understands that he will be destroying the party when he makes his announcement.

09 March 2016

Vote Trump Over Clinton or Sanders

I can tell you why I'd vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I trust Clinton as far as I can throw her. Median income is down, minorities are doing worse than they've done in a long time. Clinton is part of the problem. She is doing nothing to differentiate herself from the policies of this president. People are hurting across the board. And yes, I do blame Clinton for the death of four Americans, and lying to their families about a stupid video which she admitted under oath she knew not to be the problem.

Bernie Sanders, I believe is more sincere, but seriously flawed. We're so far in debt right now, all the programs he's proposing would destroy the country. Socialism is not a good solution to our problems, and we have serious problems. Blue collar workers are working ever harder, competing against legal and illegal immigrants. The establishment on both sides of the aisle don't get why Sanders and Trump people are upset. I'd vote Trump any day if he were the option.

28 February 2016

Let Democracy Work

I am clearly not a Donald Trump fan, nor will I pretend to be.

There is a lot of talk revolving around what will happen if Donald Trump is able to collect enough delegates to win the Republican nomination for President. Some are suggesting that the "establishment" do something and somehow make it impossible for Trump to gain the nomination. I think this would be a terrible mistake.

Just because the Democratic party's nomination is rigged, doesn't mean that the Republicans should follow suit. Trump's rise is due to the Republican "establishment" ignoring the will of the people who put them in office. We gave them both the Senate and House of Representatives believing that they would stop the Obama Administration, and they didn't. Just a couple months ago the Republicans passed a budget that would add another trillion dollars to the deficit. A trillion more here and a trillion more there, maybe we'll be talking about real money. It's almost laughable.

If the establishment does anything to stop Trump, outside of Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz getting enough delegates - Trump can rightly say that the nomination was stolen from him. He can point at the establishment's interference... the same establishment that created him as the leading candidate. His supporters will not support the establishment nominee (and those who may not have supported him originally), the Democrats will win, and the Republican party will fracture. To even consider intentionally handing the election to the Democrats, is beyond my comprehension.

The party must let this nomination process take its course. Elections are about choices. The establishment blew their chance to lead. I do not support Trump, but I do support democracy in action. If he ends up being the Republican nominee, the party must work with him and put the country back on track. For the establishment to expect our support after derailing Trump (if it comes to that), they would be delusional.

Let democracy work.

23 February 2016

Edmund Burke and the Presidential Election of 2016

After the South Carolina primary, the Republican race looks like it is finally shaping up... sort of. Donald Trump won handily. Jeb Bush did the honorable thing by leaving the race. I wish some of the other second tier guys would too.

Hillary Clinton won Nevada in a squeaker against Bernie Sanders. Whether or not she wins the nomination, which seems somewhat probable, Sanders is putting up quite a fight. A self-identified Socialist is neck and neck with wannabe-Socialist Hillary Clinton. Quite a show.

I am currently reading Edmund Burke, his speech on Conciliation with America (1775). I highly recommend it. It's an English perspective on the difficulties they were having with the American colonies and Burke's suggestions on what to do about them. I haven't finished it yet, but his perspective is fascinating - he focuses on what makes Americans special - the focus on freedom.
In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole; and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies probably than in any other people of the earth...
Reading Edmund Burke, brings the reminder of who we, Americans, are at our core. The harsh dissonance between who we are in our being and who is leading the polls in our ongoing Presidential election is painful and disheartening.

Donald Trump, Republican front-runner is a demagogue. While some of what he says may be true, and much is not, the way he says it and who he insults and blames along the way is disturbing to say the least. He brings out the worst in people. Nativism is making a comeback. He is a populist whose current platform does not reflect other earlier political beliefs. How do we know which policies reflect the "real" Trump?  The lack of respect for his rivals, his putdowns of POWs (while referring to Senator John McCain), along with attacks on women is way out of line and completely unpresidential behavior. It is inexcusable and unacceptable.

The fight between the Socialist and the wannabe-Socialist is uncomfortable to watch. Sanders has always been a Socialist. Clinton has not, and watching her move left, attempting to usurp Sanders' supporters, we can see how far the Democratic Party has fallen. Tax, tax, tax. Free, free, free... are the bywords of the Democrats. While not as obnoxious as Trump, Clinton and Sanders are demagogues in their own right. Identity politics and class warfare are used to divide us, and are so commonplace, we don't even identify them as demagoguery when they clearly are. Our current Demagogue-in-Chief, rather than follow up on his 2004 Democratic National Convention focusing on bringing all Americans together, spent his next 7+ years in office using inflammatory speech and demagoguing anyone and everyone who disagreed with him. I almost fell off my chair when I heard him lament the state of political discourse at his last State of Union address.

This presidential election is painful when we see the frontrunner of one party and both candidates of the other use language that is anti-individual and anti-liberty. Aside from his other nonsense, I have yet to hear Donald Trump condemn the use of eminent domain for private use - taking private property not for the public good, but rather for usage by private companies. I have only heard from Sanders and Clinton about more regulation and more taxation. What we are seeing here, to borrow a phrase, the larger the government, the smaller the individual.

Returning to Burke's description of Americans.
...a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole; and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. 
It worries me that this "jealous affection" of liberty and freedom is no longer, and the suspicion of government is long gone only to be replaced by demagoguery and what can be gotten for "free".

Thomas Jefferson offers this thought, ""The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." Is this an inevitable truth?

This election should make us look long and hard at ourselves and decide who we are at our core and how we want this to translate into action for the future.

2016 is a turning point in American history. What kind of America will we be leaving our children?

03 January 2016

2015: The Year of the Power Vacuum

To summarize the crazy year of 2015, it was the year of the power vacuum.

* The United States stepped back on the world stage - Russia and China stepped forward.
* Iraq, Libya and Syria are becoming increasingly lawless - ISIS has established a caliphate, Sharia laws included.
* Establishment Republicans have lost the trust of the mainstream, everyday Republican - Donald Trump is the response.

Most importantly to note, the "war on terror" has been put to rest by the Obama Administration. While this happened already more than a few years ago, as some might say the chickens have finally come home to roost. This lack of proactive anti-terror action has led to a vacuum which Islamic terrorists are comfortable to make their moves against the West. Obviously, any attacks on Jews in Israel doesn't count as "real" terrorism, so we won't discuss those (since nobody seems to notice or care, aggravatingly enough). But the two attacks in Paris, along with the attack in San Bernadino, California are unfortunately just the beginning. Terrorists are stepping into the vacuum of the lack of proactive anti-terrorism action. We will see where this leads us.

2016 awaits with all its promise... I wish all of us a Happy and Healthy New Year ahead.