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Archive for the ‘media’ Category

The Pope’s Contribution

Time magazine has named Pope Francis “Person of the Year” for 2013. The Pope’s face graces the December edition of Time. So it begs the question, “What criteria determine their pick?” As far as I can ascertain, its “the person who most influences or impacts the world” in the prior year.

TimeMagIt’s not about position or popularity, or political agenda. In fact, I recall when Time named the Ayatollah Khomeini “Person of the Year.” I remember because it angered me. Yet, under Time’s stated criteria, it made sense. It was 1979 and the plight of American hostages imprisoned in a takeover of the American Embassy there by Islamic extremists relentlessly gripped the world’s attention until they were released.

This year’s pick of Pope Francis angers me also, albeit for different reasons. I am angered now as I was when Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Angered because these men did nothing to warrant their awards prior to receiving them. In the case of Pope Francis, he hasn’t been Pope long enough, or done enough in the office, to have influenced much of anything.

Yes, he embraced a few disfigured people and he initially shunned fancy digs for more modest ones. But he also dished, just days ago, Capitalism. You know, the economic system that provides 60% of all contributions to the Catholic Church thereby allowing it to be the largest landholder in Manhattan, and the United States generally.

Really, what else has he done?

So, the award couldn’t have been given based upon the stated criteria, just as the Nobel Peace Prize couldn’t have been given Barack Obama for creating peace. In both instances, the choice of those men was, and remains, an affront to every thinking person. Whatever the rationale behind Time’s choice, it wasn’t about the person who most influenced or impacted the world in 2013 because that simply does not apply to Pope Francis.

The selection committee of Time Magazine has an agenda. I don’t profess to know what it is. What I do know for certain is that each day that passes by trust in the media withers away.  Instead of maintaining the honorable position of “The Fourth Estate” they have been corrupted becoming deceitful and manipulative.

This reality is just the latest reason why, in a world of rapid change and power struggles, thinking for yourself is the surest guarantee that you will remain your own Person of The Year rather than become enslaved to someone else’s agenda.

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A Jew Stands for Coptic Christians

I am a Jew. As such, I have heard the refrain “Never Forget” my entire life in relation to the Holocaust. Like other Jews, I always took it as a caution to be aware that under the right conditions, it could happen again. To the Jews. But as I hear and see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East and particularly in Egypt, I fully understand that the admonition goes far beyond we Jews. It is a mantra that every compassionate human being must recite because we, as a species, remain capable of horrific persecution and devastating destruction.

MikeNot all of us, of course. At least not in the moment.

In the moment that perverse banner is being carried by the Muslim Brotherhood as they seek to exploit the political unrest in Egypt by scapegoating Christians, burning their churches, looting their places of business, raping their women and executing them simply because they are seen carrying a bible.

There is not a Jew alive whose stomach should not turn and whose body should not feel a chill at the familiarity of these events. Been there. Done that.

So what is the issue? The issue is, “Do we as Jews have the courage to stand in solidarity with Christians of the Middle East?” “Do we as Americans retain yet enough of what has made us a beacon of light throughout our history to now shine that light on the atrocities being inflicted upon Christians?” “Are we as humans still able feel the pain of others who, though outwardly different from us, are inwardly the essence of who we truly are?”

There is only One of Us. Today, we are all Coptic Christians.

I have never understood how so much of the world sat silently by and turned a blind eye while Hitler and the disease called National Socialism embarked upon its campaign of annihilation. I am sad to say that I have begun to understand it.  Today, the silence of our media and paralysis of our Administration are eerie portents of what may follow.

We are each responsible not for the carnage being inflicted upon Christians in Egypt, but for our silence in the face of it. God help the Muslim Brotherhood extremists who are looting, burning raping and murdering.

But who will help the silent?

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What Hitler Knew

In Rose, Michigan, a 6th grade student is groomed for two years then raped by a 40-year-old pedofile teacher at the public school. The teacher is then tried and convicted by a court of law and sentenced to 15-30 years. The School Board, the local Lutheran Church and the faculty stand in support of the pedofile.

SilenceIn Ontario, Canada, a mother with an autistic son moves into a new neighborhood and receives an anonymous letter in her mailbox suggesting she euthanize her son and donate “whatever non-retarded body parts he has” to science because the sounds the child makes when playing outside are “not normal” and disturbing. The letter further states that no one is ever going to employ or love him. The surrounding community is silent.

Al Jazeera, a purported “news” channel owned and operated by the nation of Qatar, began cable broadcast today into 49 million homes in the United States. Not only is this the network that promoted and broadcast tapes by Osama bin Laden, but Qatar is currently the outcast Arab nation that is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda and atrocities in Egypt, much to the public dismay of its Arab neighbors who deem the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. What the Arab world deems terrorist, the United States welcome into its homes and families.

If Adolf Hitler knew one thing it was how reluctant people are to take a stand against what they know in their hearts to be wrong. Behavior can defy reason and decency and yet we humans, all too readily and in the end tragically, remain mute for fear of reprisal.

There is historical instruction on this issue. And its not WWII but rather the biblical Book of Esther. Esther, a Jew, is married to the King of Persia who is unaware of her heritage. When the King’s Ambassador and confidant Haman attempts to eliminate all the Jews, Esther’s uncle Mordechai tells her to go to the King and plead for intervention to reverse the decree. Esther, fearing for her own life should she reveal her Judaism to the King, at first declines Mordechai’s request. In reply, Mordechai tells her that if she seeks her own personal safety at the expense of her People, the Jews will die but inevitably so shall Esther. His admonition: Your silence will cost you the very thing you seek it to protect.

Whether the issue is a pedofile teacher, a cruel and cowardly neighbor lacking all compassion, or the media outlet of our sworn enemy being invited into our children’s minds, silence in opposition will cost you the protections and peace you hope it will bring.

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Oprah and The Herd

I never understood the fascination with Oprah Winfrey. Not ever. I was always perplexed by why she became the go-to source for so many women (and a fair amount of men) on what to read, what to wear, whom to emulate, and the list goes on. She became a cultural icon… but for a culture that was dying from lack of standards, principles and values. Now, with the release of the movie “The Butler” and her marketing efforts to promote it, she has revealed herself to be devoid of decency and at ease with re-writing history to serve a political agenda.

sheepBy equating the horrific torture and murder of Emmett Till with Trayvon’s Martin’s death, I can only conclude she will say absolutely anything, regardless of its veracity, in order to get ratings and attention for herself and her commercial ventures.

We are living in tenuous times when up is down and deceit is deliberately sold us as truth. There is bad news and good news. Which do you prefer first?

Well, in the absence of your vote, allow me to choose.

The bad news is that any individual who does not think for themselves and verify, to whatever extent possible, the facts of what we are being told is abdicating their individuality and humanity in lieu of becoming one of the many in a national herd of sheep.

The good news is that there is still time, albeit ever decreasing, to take back the reins of personal power and responsibility in order to demand that those who have failed to uphold and protect the Nation as is their job, be removed and replaced by others who value integrity and liberty.

We must hurry. The Middle East is crumbling. Tensions with Russia are escalating. Our government oscillates between incompetence and full-blown deceit.

If we are to break the patterns of history which have repeatedly ended in enslavement of the many by the few under such preconditions, then those of us whose eyes are open and hearts are committed to a higher calling must now stand and be heard.

Are you following the herd or in search of the truth? If it be truth, what are you doing about it?

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Obama: Administration by Intimidation

Words like credibility and gravitas get tossed around a lot and in the process land in places they don’t belong. Sometimes, however, they land dead on. Such is the case with Bob Woodward. I think for those of us who lived through Watergate, and were at least old enough to grasp the fact that something politically earth-shattering was occurring, “Woodward and Bernstein” are names tattooed on our brains.  Since their extraordinary investigative journalism led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon, Bob Woodward has spent decades rightfully earning a certain amount of respect for the seriousness with which he continues to approach reporting, and critiquing, our politicians and our nation.

ThreatWhich is why his comments during a Fox News interview today are so important and why the White House reaction and response are so deeply disturbing.

Woodward, based upon his decades-long access to and writing about every President since Nixon called President Obama’s approach to the sequestration issue “mad”…as in insane. Needless to say his comment landed with a thud at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Questioning the sanity of a sitting President is bold under the best of circumstances. But with a President as “thin-skinned” as this one (again Woodward’s language, not mine) and as intentionally insulated from criticism by a generally fawning press, it turns out to be dangerous.  The response to Woodward’s comment came from a high level White House staffer who chewed Woodward out for thirty minutes on the phone then followed up with an email warning him he would “regret” what he was saying publicly.

This President and those who surround him govern by bullying, disregard and hubris. I’ve written about their approach long before this latest incident. What I find so disturbing, as should every American, is the now fully unmasked disregard this President has come to exhibit for the dignity, sanctity and scope of the office to which he was elected. Further, he seemingly couldn’t care less about the desires and preferences of the citizens who put him there.

Bob Woodward has verbalized what many of us have thought for some time now. Either Barack Obama does not care about the destruction of the United States or he intends it to happen. Either way, he is mad. And either way, Bob Woodward has had the courage to call it like it is.

Finally, credibility and gravitas in action.

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A Lesson From Israel

A Palestinian terrorist breaks into the home of an Isreali woman asleep with her two children. He is wielding a knife and a pipe. His intentions are clear. Absent a miracle, the horrific scene from Itamar where the Fogel family was slaughtered in their sleep will be repeated. I am uncertain whether this qualifies as a miracle or just good defensive planning…but the mother, Yael Matzpun, trained in Krav Maga (an Israeli defense technique) battles her attacker, secures him in a bathroom, and calls for help. Upon trying to escape the bathroom window while refusing to put down his weapons, the terrorist is killed by the arriving IDF forces.

I have a few politically incorrect questions.

1.  Where are the stories of Israeli men, breaking into the homes of Palestinian women and children with the intent to slaughter them in their sleep?

2. What is wrong with a culture/religion that breeds such men, labels them martyrs and celebrates their atrocities?

3. How amoral or blind has the worldwide media become that it sees no distinction, or lacks the courage to articulate, the difference between the basic humanity of these two societies?

If you approach it like a quiz, the answers are 1) there are none; 2) it is perverse; and 3) very amoral and cowardly.

There comes a time when those with eyes to see and ears to ear are called upon to use their voices to speak truth to power. We are living in such times. The world should cease deluding itself while labeling terrorists as freedom fighters. Both use violence to achieve their ends but that is where the commonality stops.

Freedom fighters seek autonomy and a free society. Terrorists seek death and total destruction using fear as their means of achieving it. The people living in Gaza have an autonomous society (Hamas is their “democratically” elected government) that is free of Jews. It is not enough because neither freedom nor autonomy are their goals. Their goal is murdering every Jew until none remain then obliterating the Jewish homeland.

The terrorist who broke into the Matzpun home to carry out Hamas’ mission is where he belongs; Yael Matzpun is a hero whose children are alive as I write this because she knows who she is dealing with; and I have called it as I see it.

To hell with political correctness.

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Moral Equivalency in the Middle East

Moral equivalency is only possible in a world where there is no God. Without belief in a Supreme Being, all values are subjective. Absent a fixed, higher order of what we generally term “good” or evil” all values are subjective. Therefore, what is good to one may be bad to another.  Once you begin down that slippery slope you inevitably arrive at moral relativism.

Such is the case with Leftism, its media and reporting on the Middle East.

Yesterday, I was part of a web conference call with Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University speaking from Jerusalem where he is a Shalom Hartman Institute Engaging Israel Research Fellow. The purpose of the call was to give a real time update on conditions in Israel as that country enters the 8th day of conflict with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization based in Gaza.

Professor Troy described the psychological impact upon himself, his children and the citizenry in general when sirens sound, giving them 60-90 seconds to find shelter from incoming rocket attack. He also described how quickly life returns to “normal” once the threat has passed. How his children continued on to their soccer practice, shopping excursion and hike as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He lamented how after two or three such occurrences over a three day period his 15-year-old daughter had at first been reduced to tears but by day three, seemed to have accepted it as a part of life.

In particular, he expressed compassion and remorse for the loss of civilian life, particularly the children, on both sides of the conflict. Which brings me to my point. As a Jew, I know many Jews and a fair amount of Israelis. Nowhere among all of them do I ever hear anything but sorrow over the loss of civilian life. As with Professor Troy, they always express particular sorrow over the loss of life when children are the victims.

Yet, this is not the case in reverse. Hamas, and the Palestinian people, celebrate the loss of innocent life, regardless of age. They celebrate not only the loss of Israeli lives, they celebrate the loss of their own when it’s in service to killing innocent Israelis. As I post this, the most recent example is the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv this date where 21 civilians have been wounded with Hamas taking credit for the attack.  In Gaza, they are passing out candy and celebrating in the streets. This is not the aberration for Gaza and West Bank inhabitants under such horrific circumstances. Disgustingly, it’s the norm.

As for moral equivalency, the Western media makes no distinction between the two societies. Yesterday I watched a U.S. news anchor condemn Israel for bombing a building in Gaza that housed a known Hamas leader and some Palestinian “journalists”…one of whom lost part of his leg in the bombing. Where was that anchor to condemn Islamic extremists when terrorists beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl, a Jew, while he was still alive then posted the video through Al Jazeera?

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir summarized the pain Israeli’s experience best when she said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. But we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs.”  I know of no such morally equivalent sentiment ever expressed from any representative of Hamas. Such is the obscenity of the moral equivalency expressed by the world in relation to this conflict and its two participants.

If the world does not recognize and stand for what is good while identifying and standing against what is evil, then Israel’s continued existence is not all that is at stake here. It is the continued existence of humanity.

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Warning From Afghanistan

Yes, the recently published photos from Afghanistan showing U.S. soldiers posing with maimed body parts of Taliban killed in action is disturbing on many levels. It’s disturbing that the L.A. Times is so lacking in editorial discretion and politically motivated that it would publish the photos. Unfortunately, blood sells papers (and assures traffic to websites, television programs as well as movies) and the “gore of war” supports those who advocate for immediate withdrawal of our troops from that conflict. It’s certainly disturbing that U.S. soldiers would behave in such a fashion.

But mostly, it’s disturbing that humanity has arrived at an acceptance, almost normalization, of extreme violence. We not only act it out in various ways but have an unhealthy interest, also normalized, in following the stories and watching the visuals. While humankind has always been violent, our misuse of the technology has done much to create this normalcy bias. We have grown accustomed to the infliction of pain and suffering and somehow, accept it as part of who we are.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the capacity for compassion and unity. It is our birthright. However, it is a choice we must consciously exercise. Being human, with all of the potential for what that entails, requires that we be deliberate in our use of those potentialities and aspire to our highest good.

Violence and war will be part of our reality so long as we “nourish” such thoughts and accept as normal the acting out of them. Each of us must be vigilant in our own lives that we are not contributing to the inevitable end product of the misperception that we are separate form one another and that it is possible to harm another without harming ourselves.

If the story and photos out of Afghanistan are repugnant to you yet you are fighting with a friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor… you are being part of the problem not the solution. The remedy for what ails the world starts with each one of us and radiates outward.

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NBC’s Ethical Demise

The latest disclosure in the Trayvon Martin killing appears to be that NBC selectively edited then aired the 911 call made by George Zimmerman resulting in the impression that Zimmerman voluntarily identified the suspect as “black” rather than responded to the dispatcher’s question as to whether the suspect was “black, white or Hispanic?” So the facts turn out to be different than the illusion.

Funny thing about facts. They often do that.

As a former practicing attorney, I can tell you that the facts are seldom apparent. They require a diligent and determined effort if they are to be uncovered. It’s why we have pre-trial investigations, a formal process of discovery, trials by judges or juries who act as arbiters of the facts as presented. Even after all of that, we remain conflicted when the death penalty is at stake because we know, in our hearts, that even after the most thorough effort sometimes facts, and therefore the truth, still remain undetected.

But undetected facts are quite different than deliberately obscured facts.

What one or more persons at NBC did in editing that 911 call was deliberate. It was either a knowing falsehood, with the intent to mislead, or it was incompetence. Either way, there’s no justification and no excuse for the damage done.

I frequently speak professionally to organizations on ethics. In fact, I developed a system called Ethics-To-Go© because, in a highly technological and rapidly shifting world where trends change daily, we need “user-friendly” ways to hold onto what we value.

Everywhere you look, we are deficient in ethics. There is an absence of ethical behavior in both our public and private leaders. These individuals, however, are not the cause. We are. We get the leaders we deserve. So long as we do not demand of ourselves the highest ethical (and moral) behavior we can expect no more from those who aspire and rise to positions of authority and power. They are merely our reflection.

NBC, by its malfeasance, has contributed not only to the lowest common denominator but also to the violence erupting nationally. By their act they bolster those who believe this crime was all about race rather than about fear and aggression and in so doing, fan the flames of racial hatred and violence.

Thus far, there are several take-a-ways from this as yet unfolding story.

  1. We are not a nation of vigilante justice.
  2. Violence begets violence.
  3. Allowing the process to unfold is critical.
  4. Manipulation of the truth results in staged chaos.
  5. We cannot reply upon the media.

I suspect there are more take-a-ways yet to come.

In the meantime, let’s be grateful that there’s enough light around to illuminate all this darkness. Let’s also be committed to being the Light so we enlighten ourselves and others. It is only by embracing personal responsibility that we can hope to someday get the leaders we want and deserve.

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Chaos and the Trayvon Martin Killing

There are two kinds of chaos. One works in your favor and one against. As we go through personal and global change on so many levels, it’s helpful to be able to distinguish them so you know which one to embrace and which to avoid.

I’ll call one “natural chaos” and the other “staged chaos.”

Natural chaos is the byproduct of anything, or anyone, moving from one state of existence to another. All life exists as a pattern or series of patterns. (In fact, we know that when a pattern is detailed and self-repeating it’s called “fractal”). When an existing pattern is caused to change any aspect of itself, the period of re-organization or self-organizing is chaotic by definition. This is because in the absence of one pattern, and in advance of the formation of a new pattern, a period of uncertainty ensues.  Natural chaos is internal in origin, whether internal to a single organism or a society. It is also a necessary and natural phenomenon indicative of dynamic transition.

Staged chaos is externally driven by applying excessive pressure or strain upon an existing condition for the purpose of confusion and disruption leading to disintegration and/or destruction. It is artificial in origin and manipulated to affect a given outcome. Staged chaos is man-made. It is most often and easily seen in the breakdown of a society where a few individuals band together to create conditions that ultimately benefit them at the expense of the many. Staged chaos is also generally accompanied by force and/or violence.

We humans periodically go through evolutionary leaps in knowledge (information) and conscious awareness (spiritual insight). Such leaps are natural and re-occurring. We are in just such a leap now and so we are experiencing the resulting natural chaos both personally and as co-inhabitants of a global community. The leap is tenuous and fraught with challenges but it will lead to new understandings of both our physical and spiritual existence.

However, it’s important to distinguish between what natural development is causing us to do and what political agendas, powerful financial organizations and tyrants would cause us to do.  The way to make this distinction is to ask yourself if external force and artificially generated pressure are the means to the end. If the answer is “yes” then avoid such chaos. Refuse to participate. Refuse to be manipulated. When the mob says “Go” make certain you remain very, very still.

When you are able to make this distinction for yourself, and when in each situation use your Free Will to choose your response, you will remove yourself from the effects of staged chaos. You will no longer be the puppet dancing to someone’s pulling of the strings.

So, now, which type of chaos is accompanying the Trayvon Martin saga?

And how will you respond?

 

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