Why Comey and President Trump Don’t Matter

I like to know. Knowing comes from personal experience… not reliance upon another’s experience then trusting or believing their interpretation. That’s why I watched every minute of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing and questioning of former FBI Director Comey’s testimony today. Which is why I know some things with certainty.

Director Comey stated that he “doesn’t know him [President Trump] well enough to read him.” Yet, the Director attributed certain intentions to the President that had no basis in fact but were rather the Director’s attributions upon which he subsequently relied in choosing to either act or refrain from acting.

Director Comey never before memorialized any conversation he had with any former President or other official of the FBI, CIA or Justice Department, yet he memorialized every one with President-elect Trump and President Trump.

Director Comey was careful to qualify many of his attributions with the words “I could be wrong.”

Director Comey chose not to proceed with either 1) a recommendation for prosecution or making public former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s improper efforts to have the FBI characterize the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server activity with language that mirrored the Clinton campaign’s characterization rather than that preferred by the FBI.

Director Comey admitted to deliberately using a friend, who is a professor at Columbia University, to leak to the Wall Street Journal notes from a confidential conversation he had with the President of the United States.

Director Comey stated that the President never attempted to interfere with the FBI investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Director Comey testified that the President said ” it would be good” if the investigation found that any “satellite” people who were a part of his campaign were found to have wrongfully colluded with the Russians. (Good in the sense of getting to the truth).

Director Comey said the President was never the subject of investigation, a fact the Director never made public or, for that matter, leaked.

I don’t know what the Democrats, Obama supporters, Hillary supporters, or the #NeverTrumpers hoped to find today, but whatever jackpot they expected to hit turned out to be much more of a vindication of the President and insight into a very selective enforcement mindset on the part of Director Comey’s decision making process than anything else.

This President may not be the Chief Executive of your dreams, or mine, but that is not cause for a witch hunt that is harming the nation and keeping us divided.

Read history.

We have had Presidents who were greedy, foul mouthed, corrupt, bigoted, stupid, immoral, philanderers and more. We survived them not because the opposition took them down. We survived them because the Constitution remained the framework for our rights and liberties as well as our restraints upon government and the Supreme Court upheld what that framework set forth.  All manner of Presidents, and bureaucrats, bring with them upon arrival their politics and idiosyncrasies and take them when they go. Yet, the Republic remains as it was intended: land of the free; home of the brave.

So, rather than getting all caught up in the sideshow distractions, let’s focus on what matters. President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to U.S. Supreme Court and will likely appoint one or two additional “strict constructionist” Justices during his term or terms as President.  All is well.                                      Carole

MOAB Then and Now

Today the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat. It was dropped in Afghanistan on the caves used by ISIS affiliate Khorasan to attack U.S. troops. The bomb is a GBU-43 named “Massive Ordinance Air Bomb, or MOAB. Am I the only one who was riveted by that acronym?

Moab is a name I am very familiar with since it is on the mountain Nebo, in the Land of Moab, that Moses gazed upon the Promised Land and died without ever having entered it. Why? Because Moses disobeyed God’s direction.  During the Exodus, while the Israelites were wandering in the desert on their way to the Land of Canaan, God instructed Moses to “speak to” the rock so that water could be brought forth to show the people that God would provide for them. Moses “struck” the rock instead and the water poured out.  The consequence of Moses having disobeyed God was that Moses would bring the Israelites to the land but never enter it himself. He died there.

What was so terrible? So he struck it instead of speaking to it. Wasn’t the purpose to get the water out to show God’s willingness to provide? Well, no. The purpose was to be humble, witness faith and be an example of patience with a doubting people. Moses brought forth the water in anger. Faith and patience know not anger. Then, to add insult to injury, he took credit for the miracle!

I don’t want to get all religious on you here. I write about energy not theology. From that perspective, different energies have different frequencies and effect different ends. The type of energy you use has a direct impact on the end you affect…on the outcome.

I remember what a teacher once told me when I was taking a class in Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. He said, “Of course you have to discipline your child. And sometimes it’s necessary to appear to be stern or even angry. That is fine as long as you are angry in appearance only, not in your heart. When you seem angry to that child, you must be holding love in your heart.”

It’s a nuanced approach but I get it. What originate from love can only create good. What originates from anger can only create more anger. Speaking to the rock would have done it without anger. When Moses struck that rock he was angry. So what began in anger ended poorly…for him.

We live in troubled times and, too often, we think we have all the answers. In our hubris, we act precipitously and take credit for the outcome, conveniently forgetting that there is a higher power that provides us with the basics of how we are to live our lives and who assures victory.  Have faith and be love. Its simple. We are still allowed to defend ourselves, or the oppressed, but we must do so with an awareness and circumspection of what is in our hearts. We must understand our connection to all that is. If evil was set back today, and good comes of it, let us understand that it was divine intervention that succeeded not egoic politicians.

So what’s the connection between Moab and MOAB?  I sure hope those pilots had love in their hearts when they dropped that thing.                     Carole

The Untold Story of United Airlines Brutality

The story of what happened on United Airlines has been about the violence and brutality inflicted upon a passenger. That story is not nearly as troubling as the one no one is writing about. What happened on that flight was how the German government, led by Adolph Hitler, was able to kill twelve million people. What happened on that flight was cowardice in the face of abuse of power.

None of us know what we will do in an emergency or life threatening situation until we are there. So it’s easy to say what we would have done had we been there. Hindsight is not only 20/20…it’s also safe. What can be said is that if you know what you believe in, and you know what is worth facing consequences for, then your action in such unanticipated moments will be motivated not by what is expedient or beneficial to you, but rather by your guiding principle.

Everyone on that flight knew that was happening was wrong. I don’t care what United’s Rule 25 says or what its CEO says in justifying the assault and battery that occurred. Nor do I care a whit about United employees who “needed to get where they had to go.” Everyone knows that what happened was wrong. It was the application of brute force with total disregard and disrespect for another human being. It must have been horrifying to watch right before your very eyes. Yet no one present did anything about it.

Why?

We say gold is a rare commodity and difficult to mine but courage is much harder to find. It was totally lacking on that flight. Three hundred people watched, horrified, and did nothing about it. What could they have done? Well, if they weren’t trying to make certain that they weren’t next, and they had a principle of which they were certain, they could have stood and said, “We’re all leaving this plane. You just bloodied a passenger because he was resisting disembarking. Now you can have the whole aircraft for non-paying United employees because we’re getting off and never flying United again.”

That’s what courage looks and sounds like. But instead, what happened on the flight was precisely what German Lutheran Pastor Martin Neimoller wrote about:

“First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me….and there was no one left to speak for me.”

He was one Asian man, minding his own business, sitting in a seat he had paid for, harming no one. His history and his background are irrelevant. Unless, of course, you are looking for a reason to justify or excuse, in your own mind, why what was done to him was not so bad.

And those people present on that plane? Well, it was happening but not to them. It wasn’t their seat, it wasn’t their problem. Best to not draw attention to one’s self and perhaps be the next victim.

What breeds victims is an unwillingness to stand in the face of evil. Whether it is a bully in a school yard, an abusive spouse, a rogue cop, ISIS, or a corporate policy that justifies violence…the failure to refuse to tolerate what we know is wrong is the slippery slope to enslavement.

It is Passover. It is a holiday that exists to remind us that we are only enslaved to others when we tolerate indignity and deny the laws of God in so doing. Yes, it takes courage to walk into the unknown and risk the safety of what is. But when what is robs you of your humanity then the unknown should be welcomed and the risk worth taking.

On Palm Sunday 50 Coptic Christians were killed in a suicide bombing in Alexandria, Egypt.  First they came for the passenger and we did nothing…                           Carole

 

The Heart of the Presidency

I abhor war. Any sane person does.

I also don’t support the concept of nation building or think it is the job of my country to impose its culture or form of government upon other nations. I am not a nationalist or isolationist. I’m just an American who knows she is blessed to have been born in the United States.

I am also a Jew.

So when I watch Syrian children writhing in pain and unable to breathe because a barbarian named Hafez al-Assad used nerve gas on innocents, I am vividly reminded of the abhorrent use gas played in the 20th century history of my people. It reminds of a world that stood by silently and watched. And it makes me surprisingly proud of President Trump.

Why?

Because at the very least, bullies only understand an equal and opposite force. They don’t understand diplomacy, they don’t care about public opinion, and they mock “red lines in the sand” that are all talk and no action. In fact, they call it cowardice.

Such was the case with Barack Obama and Assad. What every Arab, and every Israeli, knows is that in tribal cultures such as exist throughout the Arab world, the failure to meet force with force is perceived not only as cowardice but also as an invitation for even greater brutality. Barack Obama invited the growing chaos of the Middle East and the spread of ISIS precisely because his repeated inaction was taken as weakness and he would not, or could not, see the damage he was doing due to his own ideology and ego.

Some are saying that in raining Tomahawk missiles down on Syria Trump was finally “Presidential.” It reminds me of Michael Douglas’s line from the movie “American President” when he orders a retaliatory bombing strike against a munitions warehouse in Libya, knowing he would, in the process, kill the innocent night watchman who was just doing his job. One of Douglas’ staff remarks,”Mr. President, what you did tonight was very Presidential.” To which Douglas replies, “What I did tonight is the least Presidential thing I do.”

Killing is never something to be glorified.

What President Trump did last night had nothing to do with being presidential. It had everything to do with being human. Regardless of your politics, we are Americans and do not stand by and watch children’s lungs incinerated in real time while we stand frozen in either ineptitude or fear. We do not make political calculations or take a poll to see what the popular response should be. We aspire to elect people who, in such moments, understand what is at stake and have the personal fortitude to stand and say, “No. Not on my watch.”

I watched a Syrian man interviewed on CNN who had suffered the chemical attack by Assad’s forces and survived. He was thanking President Trump for his action last night. He said it brought hope to the Syrian people who have been pleading for 6 years for some sign of support from the United States. He begged our President not to stop. When the CNN anchor then asked him what he thought of the President’s immigration ban, he said, ‘We do not want to be immigrants. We want safe zones in Syria. We want to live in our own country without being slaughtered.” So much for the anchor’s failed attempt to invite criticism into a moment of praise.

I rest easier tonight not because my President bombed a country and flexed a muscle. I rest easier because he saw those children, as did I, and his heart hurt.  Oh yes, and because last night he said to bullies everywhere, “No. Not on my watch.”                 Carole

President Trump’s False Idol

Who someone admires tells you a great deal about them and their guiding principles. It’s why I am so disturbed by President Trump’s admiration for Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was a bully, to put it mildly. He believed in force, physical and otherwise, as a means of exercising power; he bought and sold slaves; he decimated native Americans such that they suffer to this day from the remnants of his policies; he instituted the system of civil patronage positions that remains the bane of our governmental bureaucracy; he punished by way of tariffs; he set himself up as an authoritarian, dictatorial President who destroyed his opposition while accumulating great personal wealth. Andrew Jackson was a bad President who stood for much of what Americans have come to find repugnant.

This is President Trump’s role model of choice?

I was neither for nor against candidate Trump. Mostly, I was appalled that both he and Hilary Clinton were the best we could come up with in a nation of 350 million people. And I posted my perspective, here, more than once. But once elected, I believed that respect for the Office of the Presidency warranted a period of grace to allow for fact-based evaluation of the man’s ability to act in the best interest of the nation. I want our President to succeed at moving the country in a better and more prosperous direction.

I simply don’t want us to achieve that end at any price.

With the disclosure of President Trump’s admiration for Andrew Jackson, I am deeply concerned that the price we may pay for more “prosperity” will be an almost total disregard for what originally made America great: the throwing off of the yoke of privilege, the rejection of kingship and the adherence to a system of checks and balances that made public servants accountable to each other and the People.

In 2016, enough of the country was desperate for a new direction and the resurrection of national pride that we voted into office a man who was unapologetically in support of both. But desperation causes people to act without first thinking through the ramifications of their choosing. Similarly, in 2008, half the country wanted Barack Obama as President but did not care what his guiding principles were, either. They bought a slogan “Hope and Change” without questioning what change meant to the individual touting it.

Words can mean different things to different people and actions based upon those differing definitions have corresponding consequences.

Candidate Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”; but, greatness can be defined differently depending upon your vantage point and the use of one’s greatness depends upon one’s guiding principles.

Andrew Jackson defined greatness as a means to decimate, control and bestow favor based upon his personal predilections, prejudices and lust for control and personal wealth. He is an astonishingly poor choice for a role model.

It is unlikely that now, having gone public with his admiration for Jackson and recent laying of a wreath at Jackson’s gravesite, that President Trump will change his mind about who he venerates. So it is now the job of us, the citizenry, to keep a close vigil upon our President’s definition of greatness as well as his use of the means at his disposal for getting us there.  It is just possible for the price of “greatness” to be more than the nation can afford to pay.

The Pope and Polarization

Polarization is not a political problem.  It is a human one.

As this nation turns into something just short of “armed camps” against one another… black vs. white; rich vs poor; left vs. right; Republican vs. Democrat; Trump vs. #NeverTrump; straight vs. LGBT etc., there is its global counterpart. Russia vs. the U.S.; Democracy vs Socialism; Muslim vs. Christian and now, the old canard and ultimate absurdity…the New Testament vs the Old Testament (the Torah).

In Italy, there is growing concern with the Pope’s use of verbiage and catch phrases that harken back to a time that preceded the progress made in closing the gap between Christianity and its predecessor, Judaism.

Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, the former chief rabbi of Milan, has written an open letter to the Pope expressing what he and many others have been feeling about statements by the Pope.

“The biblical dichotomy between Old and New Testaments, Laras argues, signals “the resumption of the old polarization between the morality and theology of the Hebrew Bible and of Pharisaism, and Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels.”

The rabbi also underscored the Church’s “embracing of Islam, which is all the stronger as the Christian side is more critical toward Judaism, now including even the Bible and biblical theology.” He also identified an undercurrent “of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism.”

How absurd it is that religious belief and the institutions it has spawned, should become the disseminators of the disease of polarization. Polarization spawns fear of the “other” and it is this fear which allows the few to remain in control by pledging to dominate, control or eradicate the opposing force.

Power by the few over the many is as old as recorded human history. And for all that time there has been a yearning by individuals to throw off the yoke of such control and live as we were created to live: sovereign and autonomous.

Yet, when so many aspects of our global persona are at figurative and literal war with one another, we have lost our inherent sense of oneness and succumbed to the manipulators of fear. Our misperception is what enables them to continue their control.

Only with the realization that whether it be by governmental or religious institutions, no human being was ever created to be held captive by or subservient to another…will we be set free. Only by refusing to be manipulated into intolerance of others to the point that their mere existence becomes the basis for our fears and the justification for our hatreds…will our eyes be opened to truth of oneness.

I respect the right of anyone to choose a path to God other than the one I choose. What I do not respect are religious leaders who use their bully pulpits to spread a political or biased agenda that moves people in the direction of slavery to antiquated thinking.

There are no secrets to power. There is only each individual’s awakening to the truth of free will, which is much more than a religious precept. It is the right of every human being to think for themselves and, by so doing, create a world where creativity trumps control and where polarization is an extinct concept replaced with tolerance.

There is but one unifying principle and one testament:  Love.

Carole

Slavery in America

The black population of Milwaukee is the best example I’ve ever seen of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

slavery

Milwaukee is the 7th poorest city in America. Its unemployment rate among African Americans is 37%. The last time Milwaukee had a Republican mayor was 1908. Yes, 1908. Since then, it has had either Democrat or Socialist mayors. I don’t use the term Socialist loosely. I mean mayors who ran as Socialists.  For 38 of those 108 years the mayors were Socialists.

Now in both theory and practice, there is very little difference between the policies of Democrats and Socialists. Both believe in the collective over the individual. Both believe in massive government programs. Both believe in dis-empowering the individual by keeping them dependent upon 1) the belief that they cannot make it without government assistance and 2) that it is the responsibility of the rich to give up their earned wealth to those who have less and for government to mandate that redistribution.

The effect of 108 years of Democrat/Socialist administration has brought poverty, dis-empowerment and rage to Milwaukee.

Why?

It is human nature to feel good about personal power. It is human nature to feel free to chart one’s own course in life. It is human nature to resent dependency and to feel anger at who, or what, perpetuates dependency.

Progressivism and Socialism are the mainstays of the modern Democrat party. In fact, Hillary Clinton defines herself as “an early 20th century Progressive.” What this means is that she advocates for the very programs that cause outcomes, dependency and dis-empowerment, which run counter to human nature.

Food stamps, Section 8 housing, ObamaPhones, ObamaMoney, endless unemployment income not tied to re-training or efforts to seek employment…these and more keep people, particularly African Americans, dependent upon the very people who falsely claim to be helping them.  And those kept dependent will hate those who give them “things” while denying them the opportunity to become independent and earn their own way in the world. You cannot give enough things to people who are enslaved to get them to like you. However, apparently you can give them enough to get them to vote for you.

This is the “rock and the hard place” between which the poor of Milwaukee finds themselves. They are not alone. The 10 poorest cities in America — Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, St. Louis, El Paso, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Newark – have all had Democrat mayors from 27 to 108 years!!  They continue to believe the fiction and the lies that their masters tell them and then rely upon those lies to re-elect those masters.

If the language sounds like slavery…well it is. This pattern is modern-day Progressive, institutionalized, slavery as sure as the slavery of the plantations of the pre-Civil War South.

I was never a registered Republican. But I am a Conservative because Conservatives believe in the power of the individual. They are not hard-of-heart nor do they believe that everyone must fend for themselves. They simply believe that those who truly cannot fend for themselves should be helped first by fellow citizens through local communities and houses of worship before responsibility for such assistance falls to government, as a last resort.

Conservatives understand that a person would rather learn to fish than be given a fish…would rather a hand-up than a hand-out. Once you assist someone in standing on their own two feet you empower them.  But when you make someone reliant upon you, when you reinforce a false belief that they cannot make it on their own or somehow need fixing because in some way they are broken…that person will resent you for the condescension and, in the long haul, hate you for the crippling effects of your misguided caring.

This is the rage of Milwaukee. This is the rage of Black Lives Matter. This is the natural and deadly end result of the Progressive approach to government.

The solution to the rage boiling to the surface in our cities is personal empowerment. It is an end to LBJ’s futile and fictitious War on Poverty to be replaced by a Rush to Empowerment. It is the lifting of the veil of illusion that government programs designed to keep people minimally fed and sparingly housed will lead to anything other than cultural paralysis and uncontrolled rage.

We can solve this. But in order to do so we have to, as with any enemy, call it by its name. Its motto is Social Justice. Its goal is slavery.

Its name is Progressivism.

Carole

The Dream of Communism

Decades ago I had the opportunity to travel to Russia. It was still the Soviet Union at that time and not a favorite vacation spot for many in the Free World (except, of course Bernie Sanders who chose to honeymoon there!). But, my opportunity was part of a package sea/land tour through Scandinavia and what is referred to as the “North Cape” which happened to include an overland trip to Moscow and Leningrad and so I booked the tour.

RussiaFlag

I distinctly recall the distress my travel plans caused for my maternal Grandfather and Grandmother who had each escaped Russia and Poland respectively, as little children…my grandfather being a stowaway on a boat that crossed the Atlantic.  “Grandpop” as I called him, sat me down and with tears in his eyes said, “Carole, why do you want to go back? We fought so hard to get out.”

No matter how I explained that “times had changed” and that as a lover of travel this was all quite exciting to me, he remained sad and uneasy until I left…and until I returned home.

My experience in Russia was not what I imagined. My Visa was stamped with a “j” for Jew and those of us who were Jewish on the tour were segregated out away from the others at times and treated royally…along with the oft repeated explanation, “See how well we treat our Jews!”  Despite these assurances, a Russian woman cashier at a market refused to check me out when she saw the Star of David on a chain around my neck. She indicated she didn’t want my money.

Despite what you may think, this isn’t a  post about anti-Semitism. As we exited the Soviet Union after three days of touring, we were given the option of either flying back to Copenhagen where the ship was docked or taking a side trip to Hamburg, Germany. I didn’t need to think about it for a second. I bypassed Hamburg and headed straight for Denmark.

I had seen enough Communism and Socialism in the Soviet Union in three days to last me a lifetime.

When we landed in Copenhagen, having flown out Aeroflot, the Russian state-owned airline, I disembarked from the WWII surplus plane and, at the bottom of the stairs…and the feet of two Russian stewardesses, got down on my knees and kissed the ground in Denmark.

Moscow had been oppressive. The people and the city were “grey.” The city was grey with pollution. The people were grey with oppression. Food was scarce. People whispered questions to us about what life was like in the United States. We were watched and guarded everywhere we went. Red Square was “closed for renovations” and my request to visit the Summer Palace of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarista Alexandra was denied. One of the novels that had been in my suitcase entering the country and taken by a custom’s officer was never returned.  Women in grey “babushkas” sat atop huge tractors in Moscow repaving streets.

Yes, I had seen enough Communism and Socialism to last me a lifetime.

So imagine my wonder at all the people who were rallying and supporting Bernie Sanders and who have segued to yet another Socialist, Hilary Clinton. In fact, an entire Democrat Party that champions Socialist values and governance.

Such misguidance can only come from 1) misinformation; 2) lack of direct experience or 3) illusion. Perhaps all three.

Communism and Socialism have never worked and never will. They subsume the rights of the individual to the will of the collective for the benefit of the few. Nowhere can you point to their success. Yet, millions of young Americans have been sold a bill of goods and even brainwashed through revisionist history controlled throughout public education and, in the case of higher education, by the deadly combination of Leftist academics and foreign money.

We are a people adrift because we have untied ourselves from the anchor. That anchor is the U.S. Constitution.  Without it, we are cut off from the governing principles and constraints that have made this the most remarkable, however brief, experiment in individual liberty ever to have graced this planet.

No, we are not a perfect Union. But the words in the Preamble to the Constitution express the “why” of that effort: “In order to make a more perfect Union…”  We were not perfect and we weren’t claiming we could be perfect. But brave men and women had risked “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” for the right to try. And so they did.

Now, having come so far, on the backs of so many, we seem to have lost sight of greatness and devolved to a place where Clinton, Trump, Progressivism, and Socialism (Communism light) are our highest goals and the highest good.

Grandpop escaped. I went back out of naiveté. Our nation is going there by submission to the lowest common denominators. I’m glad my Grandfather isn’t here to see the precious opportunity he risked his life for being destroyed through willful ignorance and traded away for government promises that enslave and the illusion of protections that eventually become prisons.

Carole

How To Overcome Fear

You can be made to physically torture your friend.

Fear1

If you think that assertion is impossible then you’ve never heard of the Milgram Experiment.

In 1963, a Yale psychologist, Stanley Milgram, devised an experiment in an attempt to show the difference between Germans and Americans as it pertained to acquiescence and obedience in performing the kinds of grotesque acts made known during the 1961 Nuremberg War Criminals trial of Nazi SS Officer Adolph Eichmann.

Milgram set out to discover if the Germans were psychologically and culturally inclined towards obedience in simply following orders, as had been the common explanation for the German populace’s general permitting of, and participating in, the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

Milgram’s findings were shocking and deeply disturbing; but, for the purpose of understanding our current circumstances, they are also enlightening.

What Milgram found was that if two people who knew each other were physically separated and unable to view one another, and one was directly under the control of an authority figure, that individual could be directed to torture the third party in ever increasing increments even to the point of death.

So why is this half-century old experiment instructive?

People who crave power, wealth and control have always sought newer and better ways of manipulating and enslaving the masses of humanity who wind up doing the “heavy lifting,” thus allowing for an elite segment of the population in every generation to prosper at the expense of the many. Our generation is no exception.

The newest and to-date most effective delivery system for affecting this end is the Internet. Government, in cooperation with the media, are able to rapidly disseminate the facts of their choosing, generally misinformation or disinformation, to a public that consumes this information with little to no critical thinking. But this fact alone would not achieve the intended outcome were it not for two additional components.

First is the fact that what the government and the media disseminate, generally, are fear-based memes. These are ideas that are intended to confuse, conflate, and overwhelm for the purpose of generating a climate of fear.  Fear is the best mechanism of control. Fearful people are desperate people who will seek any means to alleviate their desperation. The most common means of choice is anger. An angry person acts on offense by striking out at another rather than owning their own voluntary submission to fear. It’s always easier to blame someone else rather than take responsibility for one’s own action or inaction.

The second fact is that the Internet allows for anonymous anger in all its gradations…frustration, aggression, rage, hate and vitriol.  This is the key to why and how Milgram’s findings are relevant and helpful if we are to alter our current trajectory.

Vitriolic hate speech is now everywhere on the internet. It has escalated exponentially during this election cycle. I do not believe it began with Mr. Trump. I believe he is the inevitable result of what was surreptitiously begun decades ago by the Progressive (Socialist) movement and which reached its zenith during the Obama administration, as our President began to make targeted and unveiled attacks upon his political opponents.

Two such examples are the President’s mocking of the Tea Party, a single issue political organization that simply sought a revision of the tax code. Yet, Obama thought nothing of mocking them in derisive and divisive language (“Tea Baggers”) or, in his speech to LaRaza saying, “We are going to punish our enemies and reward our friends” when referring to political opponents of his policies. This type of demonizing and divisive speech brought out of the closet, and sanctioned at the highest level, permission to get personal and condescending with one’s opponents.

When you combine theses three factors 1) the quest for control by fear-based means; 2) internet anonymity and, 3) permission to hate one’s adversaries you have created an environment where a Donald Trump can rise to the level of Presidential candidate and thereby make it permissible for anyone to openly express their fear, and ensuing anger, by way of personal attack and hate speech.

My point is not about for whom you should vote. My point is about taking back control of your own mind, jettisoning fear-based behavior, and realizing that you are being used. I realize that doing that is only half the problem. The harder part is what to do once that’s accomplished.

When I was in law school I had a run-in with a Professor who tried to have me removed from the school. He had a history of harassing students and then, through misuse of his power, frightening them into performing certain favors for him that were outside the scope of the professor/student relationship.  One particular semester he set his sights on me. He intimidated and frightened first year students into doing his bidding or, in the alternative, suffering the consequences of his threats. While this pattern of behavior had been successful for him in the past, I was older than the average first year student and refused to comply.

He filed a formal grievance against me conjuring up false accusations. Rather than submit to his established position of power, I hired a Constitutional attorney to represent me in the hearing on his petition. After protracted hearings, the hearing judicial body concluded that 1) I had done nothing wrong, and, 2) that I should none-the-less offer him a public apology. When I inquired of the panel why was an apology in order for a finding of no wrongdoing they refused to provide the basis yet formalized their finding. I refused.

As a consequence, my graduation date from law school was delayed a year as I had to 1) make up his course in summer session which was the only time the required course was taught by a professor other than him and 2) I became so ill as a result of what I had gone through that I was out sick for one year with a stress related disease before I could return and complete my law school education.

Shortly after I returned to school following my illness, another Professor Emeritus, of national renown, summoned me into his office. He offered me a deal. He said that if I never spoke outside the school of what had occurred, he would allow me to do an extra-credit paper for him for which he would give me the three credits I had missed in having to drop out of the other Professor’s course following the hearings.  When I asked him why it was contingent upon my not speaking of the incident outside the school, his reply was that “you are about to enter a very select profession and we don’t tell on our own.”

There I was studying Socrates, and the most honored legalistic principles humankind had ever created, and one of the icons of that profession was trying to bribe me into keeping silent the shame of this higher institution of learning and by so doing violate the very ethics it was teaching. I refused his offer of a deal.

Fear didn’t work on me. Yes, I paid a price in delaying my graduation. But I retained my ethics, my dignity and my truth. It was a price I’d pay again any day.

Perhaps it’s because I was raised by a father who taught me, by example, that authority, in and of itself, is not to be honored. That respect is earned not freely given. Or perhaps it’s because there is something in my nature that hungers for justice and ethical behavior.  To some extent, it’s probably a combination of both.

More importantly, and of greater influence, is my belief that we are all autonomous beings with the ability to know truth and rightful action if only we demand of ourselves the courage of our convictions.  Without a belief in autonomy and the courage to stand for it in the face of fear, we are all 1940 Germans turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the subtle, and not so subtle, atrocities that surround us.

In the Milgram Experiment there were only two participants who, as the voltage of the electric shocks escalated, adamantly refused to inflict more pain. All the other participants deferred to authority, however abhorrent. Which would we have been?

I am certain of my answer. Do you know yours?

Carole

 

Hate Works Until It Doesn’t

Michelle Obama, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders incite violence.

divideThe only difference between their respective deliveries is that Trump is overt while Obama and Sanders are covert. If not exactly covert, then let’s just say that the First Lady and Senator Sanders are more nuanced than Mr. Trump.

The examples of Donald Trump inciting violence are fairly easy to identify. When, for example, he speaks at a campaign stop to thousands of people and encourages them to “beat the s—t out of” a protestor…it’s a pretty clear cut case of inciting violence. He has repeatedly taken heat from the media and his opponents for statements such as those as he spews forth variations of them fairly frequently and without abandon. You cannot encourage someone else to be blatantly violent, commit an assault and battery, then disavow that you incited it.

Less overt, but as damaging, is the approach used by Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama. They prefer conveying ideas, both truthful and deceitful, that are known triggers which carry strong emotional charges for certain people or groups.  This approach is more psychologically subtle but no less violent in its outcome.

Today, Mrs. Obama spoke at City College in New York. In this speech she said the following:  “It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful black young women, head off to school, waving goodbye to their father, the president of the United States; the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: to get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

Mrs. Obama lives an extraordinary luxurious life. Some would say to excess. Yet she never misses an opportunity to pour salt in a national wound well on its way to being healed prior to her husband’s Presidency. She invokes slavery as the root (no pun intended) cause of her personal suffering in having to live in the White House.  (As for her husband’s father, well, there’s a much broader and more damning picture of the man than she selectively chose to give).

Apart from the division and anger her “White House built by slaves” reference causes, it’s also not quite true.  The White House main residence, as well as foundations of the house, were built largely by enslaved and free African-American laborers, as well as employed Europeans. Much of the other work on the house was performed by immigrants, many not yet with citizenship. [Emphasis added].

The first Lady’s selective knowledge (available to anyone on Wikipedia) serves her agenda, which is to continue to bear the resentment she feels towards her country…and to make certain she keeps that resentment alive in others.

Bernie Sanders is a lifelong theoretical Socialist (leaning heavily towards Communist) who in hypocritical fashion lives quite the capitalist life. When inciting his followers, his ideas are expressed within a context of one who sees the Unites States, and those who treasure its uniqueness, as blight upon the world and the major contributor to its suffering. And while Sanders accuses Trump of “literally inciting violence among his supporters” Sanders himself has no qualms in his speeches about turning all those who support capitalism and free markets into boogeymen who his mostly young and idealistic followers then feel justified in railing against and beating up…as they did yesterday outside the Trump event in San Jose.

Like the sins of omission and commission in Catholicism, there are direct and less direct ways to spread hatred and incite violence. Donald Trump’s style may be the most easily identifiable but it is by no means the only game in town.

This is not a pitch for Hillary Clinton. She participates in a different kind of evil. It’s just that in this season of inciting hatred, she’s an amateur by comparison…hardly worth a mention here.

The real harm, whether the incitement is overt or covert, is to the nation in ways as yet beyond the grasp of most people motivated by the divisive and hateful rhetoric. The real harm is that the turning upon one another starts slowly, and in isolated venues, but it will end with neighbor against neighbor. It will end with us cannibalizing ourselves at the altar of hate and all for the benefit of the very few who seek riches by any means, control at any price and power by way of brutality.

The caution is very old.  In Mark 3:25 it says, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

There are people in both parties who know the power of that caution and they are using it against you to advance their own agenda. Your well being is of no concern to them. They are selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical people lusting for power. Some wear custom-made $5000 suits; some were ties stained with their last meal and some wear couture dresses. So long as you continue to think there is a difference between them is how long you will allow their agenda to divide you from your fellow citizens, people you have more in common with than not, and to feel baseless hatred of them for no real reason.

Carole