Censorship Diminishes Freedom

I just read a story in the New York Times that said a number of book publishers are turning away manuscripts received from “conservative” authors, in particular Trump and anyone affiliated with the former president’s administration.

Some blowback is coming from employees of the publishers who believe that any writer who supports Trump or any of his policies should be treated like a criminal, unfit to write and be published.

What the hell is this country coming to? Are we going to have book bonfires in coming months? Is censorship the ultimate demise for any books that are contrary to liberal ideology? Is dissent forbidden if it is not liberal based? What about all the protest for freedom of speech in the 60s at Berkeley? Has all the blood, sweat and tears affiliated with those efforts faded away in history?

I have great problems with the censoring of books by publishers and anybody in a position to do so. First of all, I am perfectly capable of deciding which books would be detrimental to me personally. I would never censor a book for another adult. That should be up to him or her to decide. But to have employees working at publishing companies effectively censoring what they feel is inappropriate is beyond the pale.

Just because Trump and some of his followers believe the elections were unfair, does not justify censorship of their opinions. I would remind you that 70 million Americans voted for the president. Note: just so all of you know, if I never heard the name Trump mentioned again, I would be very happy. Yet, I would never suggest he be censored.

Liberals have taken over our country and respond harshly to anyone who disagrees with them. They hate Fox. They hate Republicans. They hate anyone who questions their ideology. They brand anyone who doesn’t endorse their proposals regarding women, minorities and proposed legislation misogynists, racists and un-American.

Book publishers are going down a treacherous path, one which will degrade all Americans and rip apart a freedom that is basic to our country. Allow others to express their themselves even if their ideas are objectionable to you personally. You will be better informed by doing so and you will be protecting a cornerstone of our republic.

One more point that should be noted is that schools, and in particular colleges, are taking it upon themselves to censor not only historical books but new books on subjects that some might find objectionable. The best colleges are those that allow freedom of thought that represent both sides of the aisle and both sides of social acceptance. I’m often flabbergasted when I hear college professors and their students protesting to ban books, veto open discussion in classrooms and not allowing certain speakers an opportunity to express their opinions on campus. Once again, I recall Berkeley because that institution worked very hard in the 60s to protect our right to express ourselves.

Covid Report Card

Now that America is apparently inching towards the end of the pandemic, it might be worthwhile to critically consider what has happened since the Spring of 2020. Who has done a good job and who has not?

Let’s begin with some negative observations.

Frankly, the US and the world were not prepared to battle the Covid flu. One hundred years passed since the last major outbreak of a deadly virus, and it seems like doctors and researchers learned little since then and were caught by surprise by this new outbreak.

Billions of dollars were spent on research pertaining to various types of diseases including cancer and other maladies over the years. But comparatively speaking, far less was spent investigating deadly viruses. This strategy is questionable considering that Covid-like viruses could literally wipe out mankind. Donors were misled into directing their charity towards far less existential medical threats.

For the most part, the battle against Covid has been led by Anthony Fauci, the Center for Disease Control, state governors and the president of the United States. Differences of opinion have resulted in questionable actions that ultimately led to more infections and deaths in certain situations, and overreaction at other times.

For instance, the initial response time when Covid first appeared was not commensurate with the danger of the disease. Borders should have been closed immediately and masks and distancing should have been mandatory by law.

The disease is not as deadly to young people as it is to older people. Therefore, government mandated actions should have been calibrated accordingly. For instance, our children, perhaps, should not have been kept out of school for so long. Some say the danger of contracting the disease is less than the damage to their educational advancement by being taught offsite. The politicization of the issue by teachers has been disgraceful. In hindsight, very few children die from Covid, so the restrictions need not have been so harsh for them.

Conversely, elderly people were/are very vulnerable and need to be protected by government action. It’s horrendous that so many seniors in nursing homes were killed by the virus. The actions of governor Cuomo, if deemed to be true, were negligent at best, resulting in thousands of deaths.

Many countries, in particular China and members of the European Union, were overly concern with the optics of the disease and not so much the effect of it. It makes no difference who ignited the Covid flame. All nations should have been working together on day one to stop the its spread. National reputation is not more important than saving lives.

It’s unclear what actions should be taken by federal and state governments at this time. This is causing confusion and hesitancy on the part of Americans. Is it safe to fly commercial? Should every traveler be vaccinated before taking a flight? Should kids be back in school? Can you get the disease more than one time? There are scores of other questions in the minds of Americans. The answers have been slow to arrive.

Politicians never stopped being political during Covid. It’s shameful that these people have not been able to work together to help fight the pandemic for the common good of all mankind.

Here are some positive perspectives.

The end is near. Americans are being vaccinated in droves. Assuming most people get vaccinated, Covid will dissipate in the near future, experts believe.

First responders should be beatified. Our nation would have really had a big problem without all the brave doctors, nurses and medical personnel who risk their lives every day.

The vaccine was developed in record time. If this had been delayed, millions more Americans would have perished. Kudos to the pharma companies.

In this age of tele-schooling, moms and other caregivers should be recognized for their sacrifices.

Restaurants and all food suppliers should be complemented for keeping us fed safely.

It’s not over yet. There is a chance of another wave of the disease. The vaccine should make this contingency less likely. All nations should be working together to finally stamp out this menace.

Justice Triumphs

The trial of Derek Chauvin is a mixed blessing for our country.

On the one hand, the death of George Floyd, a black man, caused by a rogue cop is a tragedy. And the violent action by protesters leading up to the trial was America at its worst.

In the end, a guilty verdict that was based upon facts depicted in a video of Floyd’s death was justice being done at its highest level. It was a great victory for our legal system.

Now Americans and our lawmakers must do the really hard work. Coming to agreement about the size and authority of the police throughout the country is now up for discussion. Everyone agrees that deadly force should not be used unless there is an existential risk to anyone including the cops themselves.

How does this become a reality and a law? What is the definition of deadly force (kneeling on someone’s neck and suffocating him certainly qualifies)? How do you train the police to follow the rules? Are there too many cops? Should there be more black officers on the force?

There is, of course, another side to this sordid affair. It is the protest that always precedes and sometimes follows the adjudication of “racially motivated” actions by the police. Protest is legal and beneficial if it is not violent. Bad behavior by all criminals must be rooted out and accused individuals must face a jury. If protest is violent, Pandora’s box opens, and societal strife occurs.

Looting, fighting and incitement of strong emotion are not productive. Calling out antisocial behavior is totally acceptable if no one is hurt in the process. Many Americans are tired of rogue mobs disturbing the peace and destroying their neighbors’ homes and businesses. And by the way, the police have responsibility to keep the peace. So, the funding for cops is directly related to cops accomplishing their mission.

I hope that those who say there is no justice for victims of hate crimes remember this day. A guilty white man was easily convicted by the facts of killing a black man. A diverse group of our peers caucused and found the defendant guilty in about 10 hours. When the facts are undeniable and proven, guilty people go to prison.

When the emotional intensity of improper police actions is taken to an even higher level that is fraught with racial innuendo and often labeled as a hate crime, it does not improve our society.

The liberal media and misguided politicians are fanning the flames of hatred in this country. We don’t need reporters, senators or congresspeople trying to stir up violent behavior with inappropriate rhetoric. Consider Maxine Waters’ outrageous comments.

It’s time to settle down and finish the excellent job that George Floyd’s jurors started in Minneapolis.

The New Liberal America

The new ultra-liberal and politically correct America is upon us with a vengeance.

We are under the complete control of Democrat Senate and House members, who are preparing to run the table by “packing” the Supreme Court with four new liberal judges; first they must change the laws that apply to SCOTUS. When this occurs, if it does, Democrats will have an unprecedented grasp over every aspect of government, justice, society and finance.

Other events, some not popular with large swaths of Americans, are about to take place as well. The most liberal congresspeople want to de-fund police departments. A majority of Americans think this is an absurd proposal, as the people who will suffer the most are people of color in urban areas. This is happening as inner-city Americans look to ravage their own neighborhoods. Peaceful demonstration does not draw the same media coverage.

Similarly, the liberal press and radical congresspeople are giving license to this violent protestation around the country, currently taking place in Minnesota.

Every racially defined death that occurs among millions of police incidents each year unleashes a rash of unruly protest that destroys property and incites even more confrontations between protesters and the police. To make matters worse, minority areas are the battlegrounds, which makes absolutely no sense.

Protesters and activists never miss an opportunity to tag a dispute to some kind of racial issue that stirs up the masses. These repetitive and dangerous outbreaks are beginning to perplex sensible members of white and black America.

But there is much more than we can expect. Overly generous entitlements are being proposed by Congress every day. Lawmakers have taken a patrician attitude dealing with poverty, income disparity and the lives of the poorer classes of Americas. They believe they can fix racial issues by authorizing more financial support.

The fix is always more money thrown at the problems of minorities in urban areas, without sufficient study, debate and compromise. The money is flowing at a greater rate each day without quid pro quos. Long term, entitlements will only set the stage for more poverty and dependence on government assistance. The true answer is more jobs, not more cash.

Joe Biden promised to bring us together. Critics are now saying that he is yielding the government to the most radical members of his party. We should expect Democrats to use every opportunity to include social support as part of each new initiative. The inclusion of welfare money in the infrastructure law is an example.

Republicans may have to rely upon wise members of the majority party to save the day. The very few moderate Democratic members may be the ones who will put a stop to frivolous and unwise laws that waste our resources and increase the power of the majority over the downtrodden as well as the affluent class.

Israel Does US Dirty Work In The Middle East

[This essay was inspired by two articles published by the New York Times.]

“[The US and Israel] agree that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons … My policy as Prime Minister of Israel is clear, I will not allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of elimination of Israel…”

This is a quote from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel’s policy of deterring Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It is very similar to the US policy. And yet, Biden wants to renew a deal that would provide a path to an Iranian nuke in the not too distant future. Does it make sense? Not on your life.

Once again Israel has saved the day in the continuing efforts by the US and Israel to deprive the rogue state of Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In this regard, Netanyahu moved against Iran by sabotaging its underground nuclear fuel producing center at Natanz, the facility that manufacturers devices that enrich uranium.

The US said it was not involved in this operation, nor had it been aware of an imminent attack. The event occurs just as the US, several European nations and Iran are set to meet in Vienna to try to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal that President Trump abrogated during his tenure.

The damage done to the facility is extensive and will likely delay Iran’s goal of developing a nuke by several months. Netanyahu has been an opponent of the Iran deal since it was first signed and may have tried to upend the talks about a new deal.

Israel and Iran have been fighting a shadow war for some time. This has taken place in the desert near Natanz, along shipping routes in the Persian Gulf and in Tehran where the country’s leading nuclear scientist was assassinated, purportedly by Israeli agents.

Needless to say, the Iranian government is apoplectic about these “treasonous infiltrations.” The Islamic Revolutionary Guard is responsible for security of the nuclear facilities and the scientists who work in them. Heads will likely roll in response to this attack.

The real question is why does Israel appreciate the danger of an Iran nuclear program, while Biden wants to negotiate with the ayatollahs? Both countries have stated policy’s that they will work tirelessly to not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons, yet Israel is the only country to take positive action to assure that Iran never builds weapon of mass destruction. Once again, Israel is doing the dirty work in the battle against Iran. The original nuclear deal with Iran would have enabled Iran to build a nuke in about ten years.

Granted, Iran is in Israel’s backyard and has been threatened continuously by Iran. Israel believes that Iran poses an existential threat to it and must work towards de-nuclearization of Iran.

Given that the Biden administration has remained closed mouth about the attack in Natanz, it seems disingenuous to be dealing with Iran while Israel, our most loyal ally, is subversively at war with Iran.

The US owes Israel a debt of gratitude for supporting our interests in the region.

“Build the Wall” Says One Progressive

Bret Stephens, columnist at the New York Times, wrote a thoughtful and courageous piece that endorses the “wall” that Donald Trump began to build to stem the tide of illegal migrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to Stephens, a true progressive, a wall will be needed to gain control of our southern border.

Stevens’ characterization of the flood of immigrants is “people who have been driven by fear or want from their homes in Mexico and Central America, and who are willing to take grave risks and pay exorbitant sums to make it to the US.” He goes on to say that Biden’s concept of compassion was an inducement to recklessness on the part of desperate people.

Stevens takes a moment to remind his readers of his disgust with Donald Trump, and that walls are ugly, defensive, suspicious things created by closed minded civilizations. Thanks Brett, we understand your hesitancy to recommend anything proposed by the last president, even if it would be helpful to progressive dogma.

We need a deterrent to stem the tidal wave of immigrants, 170,000 in March, up 70% over February’s number and the highest in 15 years. Stevens also endorses the word “crisis” to describe the situation on the border. The Biden administration refuses to do so. Detainees are being treated terribly by local officials. This encompasses an inordinate number of children.

The US according to Stevens is risking a version of the European crisis of 2015 that inspired Brexit and the popularity of far-right groups that eschew a humane policy to deal with migration.

Many moderate Americans would consent to an immigration policy that includes citizenship for the illegals currently in the country, if the US can end new illegal immigration. Democrats can expect no help from Republicans without this quid pro quo.

The US cannot be a security zone for persecuted people from around the world. We cannot increase our population by another ten million illegals already in the country. Resources are being drained by this group and not available to Americans who need assistance.

It was great to see that at least one progressive has considered the value of the wall on the southern border. It may not be an answer in and of itself, but it should be a part of any immigration policy that Congress proposes. I laud Bret Stephens bravery in taking a stand that is unpopular with his followers and colleagues at the Times.

How Is Biden Doing?

Joe Biden has no shortage of major issues to contend with. The animosity between Democrats and Republicans has not decreased since he was elected making progress partisan. Covid is still rampant although deaths have been have declined materially. But there are very different perspectives regarding the continuing strength of the pandemic. The Biden administration is ramping up entitlement spending and accomplishing some of it by adding on to aid that was originally earmarked for individuals and small businesses. And finally, Iran, Russia, China and North Korea are stirring up trouble and testing the new president and his yet unannounced diplomatic objectives.

The far left in Congress and many among the administration corps are encouraging actions that could have a lasting and destructive impact on any number of situations. For instance, Biden has begun to negotiate with Iran, even though it is through backdoor mediation.

The problem is that Iran’s leaders are not truthful. The country is dedicated to building weapons of mass destruction with which it will create havoc with its neighbors. Its goal is to dominate the Arab world by increasing the reach of the Shia sect of Islam. The destruction of the Sunni sect is high on the list of objectives as well. Moreover, Iran intends to increase its influence in the region by playing a major role in expanding terrorism cells in peaceful countries that will encourage regime changes.

There is no upside to negotiating with Iran. We would be dealing with liars and religious zealots. Why aren’t Biden’s aides pointing out the situation to the president? Why aren’t they identifying the downsides of dealing with Iran to the commander in chief. Surely, his enthusiasm for negotiating with the ayatollahs would ebb if he had a complete assessment of the dangers involved in doing so.

Covid is not ended. Many people still need to be vaccinated. Many people are ignoring strong advisories to wear masks and distance themselves from others. We don’t know whether there will be another surge of even stronger versions of the flu. We don’t know if vaccinated individuals can become sick a second time. We don’t know how long the vaccine will protect us before we need to receive another dose. There are many hotspots in other countries that could re-infect us. We are going to be tempted to attend indoor and outdoor sporting events. Restaurants are being allowed to feed more and more people indoors. And there are many nations throughout the world that need the vaccine desperately. They make international travel dangerous to say the least. Finally, our leaders have not been able to come to terms with teachers about the return of children to school.

In spite of a booming stock market and capital market, the Biden administration is proposing more and more aid, and entitlements. The long-term impact of this strategy is dubious, especially since the programs are funding social programs, and not entirely dedicated to creating well paid jobs. The welfare system is growing. More and more people are being paid to stay home during an improved job market and low unemployment. Is it political correctness at its worst and an effort to re-distribute wealth? I think yes to both. They will be funded by increasing taxes and printing money, both of which will hurt our economy.

The constant barrage of bad behavior has been stoked in Russia, China and North Korea. These countries are our enemies. They want to destroy our capital system and our society. Biden should proceed carefully before making any long-term deals with them.

It feels like America is making some progress. Everyone wants to return to normalcy, but it would be a disaster to move too quickly and risk further suffering and death.