Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Restricting the Voter, The Democratic Party's "Israel" Plank, When to Keep Your Mouth Shut and Sid's Summer Trilogy Continues

Tightening up on Voting Opportunities

The results of the Presidential election and the make up of the new Congress will depend, to a great extent, on who gets out to vote.  State governments which are controlled by Republican governors and legislators have gone out of their way to fight the practically non-existent problem of "voter fraud" by tightening up early voting opportunities and identification requirements at polling places.  This is a ruthlessly calculated voter suppression scheme designed to deter minorities, college students and senior citizens from voting in the numbers they did in 2008.   These groups usually vote Democratic.  Some of the restrictive laws have already been rejected by courts but it is unlikely that they will be taken off of the books before Election Day. 

Early Voting Being Reduced in Many States

The proper thing to do would be to postpone the November election until all of the litigation challenging these laws is resolved.  All the cases can be consolidated  and put before the Supreme Court without delay.  Only after they have rendered their decision should the election take place.  If this is done quickly, the election date may not even have to be delayed.  (If this were happening in a third world country where we were encouraging the development of democracy, we certainly would not permit such a contaminated election to take place.)

These corrupt laws exist in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and a host of other states. If their existence determines the election's result, it would be a even sorrier blot on American democracy than the 2000 debacle in Florida where a faulty ballot gave the state and the Presidency to George W. Bush or the 1960 election where the questionable tally of Illinois' votes gave that state's electoral votes to John Kennedy, giving him the victory.

It is highly suspicious that many state governments controlled by Republicans all decided simultaneously to tighten their voting laws at about the same time, using the same tactics and the excuse of "voter fraud."  One legislator, the G.O.P. Assembly leader in Pennsylvania, even announced that the passage of his state's bill guaranteed the defeat of President Obama in the Keystone State, mincing no words about the purpose of the legislation.

It is clear that these legislators jointly conspired to keep students, seniors and minorities away from the polls using the excuse of "voter fraud." 
If a clever investigative reporter can pin down the meeting, or the correspondence, which resulted in their jointly doing so, I wonder if the possibility exists of bringing criminal charges of conspiracy to corrupt the election process against these G.O.P. legislators.
Jack Lippman

Why wait until Election Day to vote?  If your state permits "early" voting, mark down the dates and vote that way, or even better, request an "absentee ballot" now, so you can vote from the comfort of your home.  After all, it may rain on Election Day.

What's Behind Democratic Party's Puzzling Plank on Israel . . .  If Anything?

The “planks” which political parties adopt at their conventions are not necessarily the views of the candidates.   They are attempts to tell the parties’ members what things the party stands for and also cater to the party members' and supporters' ideas so that there is something there for everyone.  As the membership of political parties changes and as the part of the electorate to which the party wants to appeal changes, there may be subtle changes in party platforms. They are sales pitches and should be taken as such.  The candidates, as I have said, do not necessarily adhere to them.


The omission from the Democratic 2012 platform of mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, something whch had appeared in the 2008 platform and the absence of which resulted in many (including this blogster) complaining, caused a last minute floor vote correcting that omission from the 2012 platform.  The following 2008 language was then added to the 2012 platform, over an unexpectedly large "Nay" vote from the floor:  Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”  The Republican platform contained similar language.

Spurred on by this, I reviewed both the 2008 and the revised 2012 Democratic planks dealing with Israel. I was startled to find that the following passage from the 2008 plank, dealing with the resettlement of Palestinian refugees and future borders, also was absent from the 2012 platform: The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”  I feel this is an important omission, probably more significant than the failure to mention Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Perhaps these omissions were Democratic attempts to appeal for the votes of Americans of Arab or Muslim background as well as other voters with pro-Palestinian leanings with the assumption that Jewish votes were already safely secured.  More ominously, I hope it does not represent a subtle change in the attitudes of those who make the decisions in the Democratic Party. 

Today's Democratic Party is no longer the party of FDR, Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey's Farmer-Labor coalition, Lyndon Johnson or even Bill Clinton.  The role of "big city bosses" and labor unions in turning out the vote has diminished;  the Party's identity seems to be in flux and it is important for Democrats to be watchful of changes taking place within their party.  Many long-time Republican voters were surprised to wake up one morning to find that their party had been hijacked by its extreme right "tea party" wing. Democrats must not let similar extremism take over their party.

But, as I have said, the platform's "sales pitch" and the candidate’s positions are not always synonymous and President Obama has assured all Americans that our support of Israel’s security will not waver, and the Democratic plank was generally strongly supportitive of Israel, as was the Republican party plank.  (The major difference between the 2008 and the 2012 G.O.P planks in regard to Israel is that the 2012 plank omits the 2008 statement that the U.S. Embassy should be moved to Jerusalem, something their 2012 candidate has nevertheless been saying.)


Republican efforts to paint him as someone who is "throwing Israel under the bus" are merely pathetic attempts to reduce traditional Jewish voting patterns, with the aim of securing a G.O.P. victory in November.  The President's efforts to achieve some stability in the ever-changing Arab world can only serve to hasten the day when Israel and the Palestinians can sit down and negotiate realistically.  

And as for the Iranian threat to Israel, the unprecedented sanctions the President is imposing on Iran stand an excellent chance of curtailing their nuclear program, and if they do not, I believe that the inevitable Israeli attack on those facilities will not lack American support, regardless of the President's reticence, for political reasons, to come flat out and say that.  

What do you think of this as a party platform that you could wholeheartedly support?

(I considered including both Republican and Democratic platform planks on Israel from both the 2008 and 2012 conventions on the blog, but decided against doing so because of their size.  I encourage you to read these "planks" by "googling" the appropriate platforms.)
Jack Lippman


Sometimes Ya Gotta Know When to Keep Yer Darn Mouth Shut

The remarks of the former Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman concerning fundamental Christianity and Israel made at the Democratic convention remind me of other  comments which were better left unsaid. 

Mitt Romney on his recent visit to Israel compared the economic achievements of Israel with those of the Palestinians and attributed them to "cultural" differences.  

  During the G.O.P. primary campaign,  Newt Gingrich commented on what amounted to the artificiality of "Palestinian" nationality.   There are good arguments to back up both of these comments, but in the real world, such things can be thought, but are better left unsaid.  That is the diplomatic thing to do, and to be expected of those who aspire to national leadership.  Wounds do not heal if you rub salt into them.

Alan Siegel's comments to a right-wing journalist at the Democratic convention about the sincerity of fundamentalist Christian support of Israel have some basis in fact, which can be supported to some extent if you read Christian literature about the "Rapture," the second coming of Christ, Israel and Armageddon or search into it by "googling" the words Rapture and the Jews on your computer.  As with most things theological, however, these subjects are open to interpretation.

                                      Alan Siegel and one artist's interpretation of the "Rapture"

As firmly as Siegel may believe what he said, these are things which one just doesn't talk about.  Even fundamentalist Christian leaders, some of whom might even share Siegel's belief, know better than to talk about them to "mixed" audiences.   I will be charitable and assume that Siegel made his comments because he either had too little sleep or too much wine.


Sid's Corner

Sid Bolotin

When my personal muse learned of the planned gathering of the Bolotin clan on Cape Cod, she assured me that it would provide much fodder for my story-writing upon my return. And like all such goddesses she has proven true. This is the fourth and comes from a totally unexpected experience.

I believe that most, if not all, parents desire that each of their offspring grow up, soar through life financially self-supporting, and be a mensch…Yiddish for a person of integrity.

When asked, I satisfy any questioner with my answer that my youngest son is in commercial real estate…finding and managing properties for his clients; that my stone mason-carpenter middle son grows perennials on his farm in Vermont; and that my oldest is a financial estate planner.

Although these responses satisfy the inquirer, it’s taken years for me to get into some of the depth of what they actually do…much like an archeologist sifting through layers of information.

Attending my oldest son’s recognition of performance in Met Life’s ceremonies at the Ritz Carton in Naples, Florida in April 2012 brought out details of his day-to-day actions. Which, when added to overheard conversations on his always-on Blackberry, revealed much of his personhood.

My hands-on work at the farm, coupled to chats with my middle son’s clients, has exposed me to details of his daily efforts along with his personhood.

Insight into similar details of my youngest son’s career had been limited to snatches of one-sided conversation whenever he spoke with clients on his never-off Blackberry while I was in his car, or a casual mention of an impending or completed deal…until this trip to the Cape.

When one of my youngest son’s clients learned that the last nine of us were still on the Cape near his two-home retreat overlooking the dunes of the National Park Service’s Cape Cod National Seashore in Truro, he insisted, almost demanded, that all of us must visit for an impromptu lobster fest. 

Lighthouse at North Truro on Cape Cod

We were heading back to our rented house in two cars after a day trip to Provincetown and easily sidetracked into the National Seashore. The rutted, flooded, dirt road was so uneven that we had to park my daughter-in-law’s low-slung convertible and return for the girls after delivering the boys in my son’s SUV.

After fifteen minutes of slow, torturous, up, down, and sideways maneuvering we arrived at the enclave.  My son sternly admonished me to behave, to watch my p’s and q’s, and not display any of my dry wit…especially any jokes about him as a child. He then explained that his client, Don, was the CEO of a global enterprise that plans, engineers, and builds massive food-processing plants all over the world…adding that Don became a client twenty years ago when looking to expand his sparse beginnings in his parents’ garage and was now a close friend as well.

Accepting my solemn vows to be a good boy my son allowed me to exit the car to greet Don, who appeared to be in his late fifties and sported a broad, welcoming smile. I gaped at the house before me perched on steel stilts about fifteen feet above me and eagerly accepted Don’s suggestion that I use the elevator, leaving the double flight of stairs to the youngsters.

After a quick tour of his magnificent main house we marched one hundred feet closer to the ocean on the boardwalk to the guest house, perched precariously on its own stilts atop the crest of the eighty foot high dune. Both houses were Zen-like in location and interior design…like something seen only in highest-end architectural magazines. The brilliant white, old fashioned, oversized, porcelain bathtub sitting on a bed of grey river stones created a Zen garden atmosphere in the master bath. Both houses’ glass walled thrust above the coastal pines provided panoramic vistas of the surrounding barrens and the beach below…including a sighting of four seals and a broaching whale. After some moments sipping wine and zoning out on the view from the expansive deck, we returned to the main house to cook the feast that Don had provided.

Twenty-one lobsters, supplemented with tuna tips, striped bass, haddock, scallops, and dozens of ears of corn were cooked by my two daughters-in-law as Don beamed his enjoyment at our pleasure in a kitchen seen only in culinary design magazines. As the cooking finished up, Don’s daughter, a neurosurgeon and his son, an architect-to-be, joined us from their day at the beach.

Honoring my vow to my son I conversed appropriately and discovered that Don and I shared an engineering background, that his daughter was changing careers to become a doctor, and that his twenty-four-year-old son had already been performing successfully as an on-site project manager for Don’s enterprise. Don also chatted at length with my oldest son, the financial planner.

After stuffing ourselves to the gills we began our goodbyes. And, as I was congratulating Don on the magnificence of his houses and the achievements of his successful children, I was taken aback when he clasped my hand in both of his and spoke at length about a man’s success being measured by his children’s personhood, not his material possessions. He then strongly expressed his admiration for my youngest son’s professionalism, friendship, and personhood. In that instant this world-renowned CEO and I connected as father-to-father, and I luxuriated in learning more about who my youngest son is…a mensch, a person of integrity.

(This is the final episode in what I am choosing to refer to as Sid's Family Summer Trilogy.  If other readers have similar stories they would like to share, feel free to submit them.)


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Jack Lippman
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