Monthly Archives: December 2016


Two shopkeepers, each across the street from the other, are discussing how poorly the sales markets have been recently and how their stores have been suffering accordingly. After the first store owner goes through a whole litany of his problems and financial losses, he asks the second store owner: “And how’s your business doing?” “The worst its been in the last 30 years” replies the second man. “Its been that good?” exclaims the first store owner in startled disbelief. Welcome to the world of how negative thinking powers a sense of peacefulness and adds serenity if not huge accomplishments to people’s lives. We’ve all been indoctrinated, or brain-washed if you will, to focus on positive thinking  as the ultimate method of achieving success and happiness. But positive thinking can be the ultimate betrayer of one’s hopes and dreams, should they fail to be achieved. Its far more positive to focus on all the negatives that lay in one’s path as a means of anticipating, preparing for, and coping with all the obstacles one will almost certainly face during a lifetime.

The power of negative thinking begins with the belief that the worst possible out-come will occur in any of life’s situations. Your boss will hate your output and you’ll likely get fired; your teen-age daughter who just got her driver’s license and is out driving her car at night for the first time will almost certainly smash into a telephone poll and get herself killed; all your investments will ultimately turn to shit and you’ll be financially ruined, etc. When in almost all cases the worst fails to materialize, the ensuing feelings of relief will be absolutely euphoric. And in those very few cases where the worst does actually occur, at least you will be mentally prepared for the outcome. Which, of course, will likely be of small comfort. As I’m writing this, I’m remembering an event that occurred in my development many years ago. A senior-aged couple had emigrated from South Africa and bought a house in our community. The husband had all their money tied up in investments back in his old country. For some unfortunate political reason, everyone of these investments went belly-up at the same time, and the couple was left virtually penniless. The husband was at home when the bad news came. He called his wife who was out shopping to tell her what had happened, and that he could not live with the shame and grief of losing everything, and was going to kill himself. His wife pleaded and begged him not to do this…. until she heard the gun shot go off. Sometimes no type of thinking can fix an ugly situation.

The contrast between the benefits derived from the power of negative versus positive thinking is no better illustrated than in the just concluded presidential election. Trump employed negative thinking in his march to the White House versus Clinton’s positive thinking in her march to defeat.  First, almost all pollsters and political pundits predicted that Clinton would coast to an easy victory while Trump was certain to lose. This led the Clinton camp to run a lackadaisical campaign, believing success was a foregone  conclusion. She would barely make one campaign stop a day, if that, and made no stops in  some states such as Wisconsin which she lost by a whisker. Positive thinking would lead to over-confidence and ultimately to defeat. Trump, on the other hand, was in a panic of negative thinking since everyone was saying how he would lose. This drove him into a frenzy of campaigning making at least 5 or 6 stops day-in and day-out. The potential shame of coming all this way only to lose at the end was more than his ego could bear. On the Monday night before the election, he made an appearance at one A.M. in Michigan to an estimated crowd of 20 thousand people, while Clinton was home safely in bed. The power of his negative thinking eventually turned the tide of the election in his favor.

A recent movie out, which is sure to be an Academy Award nominee, if not winner, called “Manchester By The Sea” points to an excellent illustration of the tragedy that can occur when the worst scenario is not anticipated. It’s a deeply sad movie about the loss that can result from even the smallest of unanticipated careless acts. A loss from which there is no recovery. A man who is happily married with 2 small children that he lovingly adores, is sitting in front of his fireplace one Saturday night drinking beer, while his wife and children are upstairs asleep. He runs out of beer and decides to walk to a nearby convince store to buy more. Half-way there he can’t remember if he put the fireplace screen back in front of the open fire. He plows on anyhow, but when he returns he finds his house being consumed by a blazing fire. His wife has escaped, but his 2 children are trapped inside and burnt to death. Apparently he had not put the screen back in its place and a flaming log had rolled out onto the floor and caused the fire. It’s a tragic sequence of events that he can never forgive himself for. When his now ex-wife meets him one day, and tearfully tells him she’s willing to forgive and take him back, he runs away saying “there’s nothing left” inside of him. He goes through the rest of his life doing odd-jobs as a handyman, in a zombie-like state. All from the simple failure to foresee the worst possible out-come.

One can hope for the best but should always anticipate the worst. At least that’s my take on what the universe has to offer as as we plow through our time on this planet. Steve Jobs once proclaimed that all our worries can be minimized when we know that death awaits us in the end. That’s generally true-except when the event is the loss of one’s child.

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Ever wonder why so many evangelicals voted for President-Elect Trump. It’s estimated that as many as 80% of those considered bible thumpers voted for Donald Trump. For a self-professed serial philanderer; for someone who was openly sleeping with his mistress while still-married to his first wife; for a person who over the years has made the most vulgar, disparaging and lewd remarks concerning women and then chalked it up to “locker-room talk;” for someone who has never displayed the slightest sign of compassion or empathy toward anyone or anything besides his own ego; and on and on. Yet those supposedly immersed in religiousness, by huge margins, chose him to be leader of the country. I believe the reason lies in 2 primarily contentious issues- abortion and gay marriage.

In the 45 years since Roe V. Wade become the law of the land thanks to a ruling by the Supreme Court, and women were allowed to legally terminate unwanted pregnancies in safe medical facilities, there have been an estimated 60 million abortions performed in those facilities. But holier-than-thou bible thumpers, primarily throughout the South and most of the Mid-West have never relented in their opposition to abortion on demand. They have managed to have state legislatures slowly but surely chip away at these freedoms to the point that in some states, such as Texas, women seeking a legal abortion are having increasingly difficult time. Almost to the point of impossibility. But that’s still not enough. The holy grail of the bible-thumpers would be to have the Supreme Court overturn Roe V. Wade so that these states could flat-out criminalize the option of any woman to abort her fetus. Supposedly, a woman that elects to have an abortion, and any doctor that performs this procedure, plus the nurse assisting that doctor, could all be sent to jail for felony murder. Think of almost 60 million women over the last 45 years that could be charged. They couldn’t build jails fast enough to house this growing felonious population.

Now with Trump some 40 odd days away from entering the Oval Office, this evangelical dream-of-dreams is about to become reality. Trump has already posted a list of potential anti-abortion judges, one of whom he will appoint to the currently open seat on the Supreme Court. After that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is in her mid-eighties, and a pancreatic cancer survivor, will likely retire from the Court giving Trump the ability to appoint another judge that would be willing to overturn the Court’s historic abortion ruling. The anti-abortion forces on the Court will then have sufficient numbers to reverse the evangelical despised Roe V. Wade decision. The dark forces of the middle ages will then be able to descend upon the land to snuff out any glimmer of enlightenment.

Of course, overturning RoeV.Wade won’t, in itself, criminalize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. It will be left up to state legislatures to enact laws in their states that result in such action. It’s a virtual certainty, however, that such anti-abortion laws will quickly be legislated throughout the entire South and most of the Mid-West. You might think that this is not that big a deal since a woman in say Kansas, which has just outlawed abortion, can always fly to New York or California  to have the procedure performed. And this is true for a woman of means. But for a poor woman, who can’t afford the air fare and other travel expenses, this is not an option. And most abortions are performed on women too poor or too broken to be able to raise a child. Welcome to post-Trump America; better known as the new dark ages.

After abortion, the item most on evangelical minds is gay rights and especially gay marriage. If the bible-thumpers had their way, homosexuals would forced to return way back into the closet. There is still a lingering hope among “God’s people” that overtly gay behavior will no longer be tolerated in American society; and that, especially, gay marriage will be banned outright. And who knows? If Trump gets to appoint enough judges to the Supreme Court, that scenario could also materialize. You could then have the anti-abortion and anti-gay rights Feds and local police entering everyone’s bedrooms to assure that no disapproved social behavior or discussion is taking place. It would go hand-in-glove with the generally white supremacist thrust of the entire Trump campaign. The “alt-right” movement as it’s so benignly called, in lieu of fascism American-style. But I think that’s a whole other topic for another blog.

Some time during the recently concluded election contest, Trump made a campaign visit to Liberty University, the evangelical college run by Jerry Falwell Jr. During his speech to students and faculty, Trump, the great biblical scholar, referred to a section of the New Testament, as “Two Corinthians.” The proper heading for that sub-section, however, is “Second Corinthians.” Soon after, social media, and especially Twitter, lit up like a Christmas tree. One person wrote-“Two Corinthians go into a bar….” To me, that short post perfectly summed up the complete mendacity and phoniness of the entire Trump campaign. And remember, you better not be discussing with your mate the possibility of having an abortion, while lying in bed at night. Or engaging in any type of homosexual behavior. Because chances are, the Feds will be peeking in, once the age of Trump pervades over the land.

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One of the acknowledged foreign policy failures of the out-going Obama Administration was its inability bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and with it, an independent, self-governing Palestinian homeland. It wasn’t for lack of trying, however. Early-on, Obama designated former senator and foreign-policy mediator George Mitchell to negotiate with both parties toward achieving that goal. But after nearly 8 years of fruitless negotiations, both sides are as far apart as they ever were. Which is primarily due to the continued unquenched thirst and resultant gulping of liquid from the poisoned well of bitterness, hatred, and acrimony by both Arab and Jew. And with virtually no prospects of any improvement in the foreseeable future. Thus, one of the hottest zones of instability and chaos on the surface of what we call Planet Earth, continues unabated.

One could go back thousands of years to the early biblical times of Abraham, who supposedly sired the beginners of both the Jewish and Arab nations, to search for the root causes of all this vitriol. Or, perhaps, a better starting point would be at the time when a Hebrew rabbi named Jesus walked the Earth, and Israel existed as a Jewish homeland, about 2000 years ago. That was also a time when Rome had conquered and occupied most of the western world, including Israel and the Mid-East. Which, in short order, caused the Israelites to become highly rebellious of living under the tyranny of a Roman dictatorship. Which, further caused the Roman Army to drive most of these rebellious Israelis out of their homeland, with the preponderance of Jews resettling in Europe. This, in turn, led to thousands of years of anti-semitic hatred and discrimination against European Jews, culminating with the Holocaust of the 20th century. It also resulted in the collapse of the State of Israel as a homeland for Jews. The void was filled by Arab Moslems who moved onto land formerly occupied by displaced Israelites.

After the horrors of WWII, including the slaughter of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, the United Nations, with the United States and Russia, who were still allies, leading the way, agreed that Jews world-wide, deserved to be given back their homeland, as a refuge from further atrocities. The U.N. voted to recreate the State of Israel on its historic lands where world-wide Jews could migrate to if they so desired. Most European Jews, who, somehow, miraculously survived the Holocaust, did immigrate to the new State of Israel. The problem was, however, that over centuries of the Jewish Diaspora, Arab Moslems had moved onto lands previously occupied by displaced Jews. Creating a homeland for the Jews meant displacing most Arabs that had lived on Israeli land for centuries. Most went to neighboring Arab states such as Lebanon where they were forced to live in poverty-stricken camps, mostly in tents, with the barest essentials of food and water provided to them. It seemed that most Arab countries, for all their outrage over Palestinian displacement, were not eager to allow these same Palestinians to assimilate into their general populations.

Anger and outrage ran rampant among surrounding Arab nations to the point that they decided to immediately go to war with the new infant state of Israel. Crush the baby in its cradle before it could grow. But again, another miracle. The infant survived and defeated its Arab neighbors. The hostility among Arab countries only continued to become more virulent, however. A second war broke out in the 1960s, and again Israel defeated its opponents which consisted of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. This time, however, Israel had captured the Arab occupied West Bank, which in the 1960s belonged to Jordan, and which had been discussed by world powers as becoming a separate Palestinian state, existing side-by-side with Israel. Yet a third Israeli-Arab war war was initiated in the 1970s, and for a third time the Arabs failed to crush the Jewish state. Finally, the Egyptian president at the time, Anwar Sadat, realized that enough was enough. Courageously, he made an historic trip to Israel, signed a peace treaty, and established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. For his courageous peace initiative, however, he was soon assassinated by Islamic terrorists. Jordan, some time later, also made peace with Israel.

But peace within Israel was not to be. Palestinians sadly turned to terrorism in an attempt to drive the Jews out of Israel. The large number of serious attacks by Islamic terrorists against Israel and the resultant Israeli retaliations that have killed thousands and thousands of Jews and Arabs alike, are too numerous to mention here. They could fill an encyclopedia. Some of the more shocking ones were the murder of 11 Israeli athletes attending the Olympics being held in Germany in the 1970s, the murder of more than 30 school children in Northern Israel, the shelling of Israeli civilian population centers by the Hamas terror organization that controls the Palestinian Gaza strip, and quite recently, the murder of a 13 year-old Israeli girl by a young Palestinian that sneaked into her bedroom at night, and slit her throat while she was sleeping. The list goes on and on.

The Obama Administration’s diplomatic thrust for these 2 warring parties, has come to be known as the two-state solution. Establish an independent Palestinian state on the Israeli-occupied West Bank that would supposedly live in peace with Israel. But the reasons that just wouldn’t work could also fill an encyclopedia. First, Israel has established numerous settlements on the West Bank that house hundreds of thousands of Jews. They are protected by the Israeli Army. The Palestinians are never going to tolerate the existence of these Jewish encampments in their midst, and the Israeli government is disinclined to remove these settlers. Next, the Palestinians are insisting on the so-called right of return-the right of those Palestinians or their heirs, that were displaced in 1948 to return to their lands in Israel. That, of course, is also never going to happen. And so the beat goes on, as the stalemate based on out-right hate continues to dominate.

There is only one sane answer: a one-state solution combining Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza into one united country comprised of Moslems, Jews, and Christians. But, of course, that would require all parties to stop quenching their thirsts by drinking from the poisoned well of vitriol. To stop hating one another and start respecting the dignity of each others religious choices. A willingness to live in peace and harmony, instead of hate,  fear, and violence. Not likely to happen in the next succeeding generations. But perhaps through a process of evolution, it could occur over the next several hundred years. Or not.

Categories: Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Economics, Israeli-Palestinan Relations, politics | Leave a comment

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