Author, Lecturer, Ethicist

 
 

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May 31, 2016 - Hillary Clinton - An Endorsement with a Difference

An endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States; a wholehearted endorsement with what I believe is a unique difference.


May 22, 2016 - While BDS is NOT a Gastric Condition, It IS a Bloody Pain in the Rear

Ever hear about the "BDS" movementDon't confuse it for "IBD" -- Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  This piece, by the way, is NOT about medicine . . . it's about Israel.


May 16, 2016 - Life Without Asterisks

What would Life Without Asterisks be like?    Answer: Either one heck of a lot more truthful or one hell of a lot more mendacious - take your pick.


May 9, 2016 - George Katzman Lionizing a Liberator

Professor George Katzman passed away at age 96.  He was a mentor and a mensch, a student and a warrior, and likely, the man who shot the lock off the gate at the Dachau concentration camp.  This week, a remembrance of one of the greatest members of "The Greatest Generation"


May 2, 2016 - Trump and Cruz - The Difference Between a Diarrhetic and an Emetic

A choice between having Montezuma's Revenge or barfing.  What are Republican voters to do?  I have an either/or suggestion . . .


April 26, 2016 - Pesach and Foreign Policy

This posting deals with the Jewish celebration of Pesach (Passover) and the many, many, modern lessons this ancient holiday has to teach . . . including a most prescient one about foreign policy.


April 17, 2016 - The Narcissism of Small Differences

Ever get the gnawing feeling that civilization is becoming unhinged?  Believe it or not, Sigmund Freud predicted it about 100 years ago.  Read on...


April 12, 2016 - A Memo to Those Who Believe It's Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Frequently, I am asked to respond to an essay or article - what do I think?  I rarely do because of extreme time constraints.  However this time, I will respond to one.


April 3, 2016 - Mitch McConnell - Hoist With His Own Petard

To be "hoist with one's own petard" means to fall prey the very trap one set for one's enemies.  Just ask the current Senate Majority Leader what that means - especially when it comes to the Supreme Court vacancy.


March 25, 2016 - Who's to Blame - We All Are

How in the world did we get to the point where Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are serious contenders for president?


March 22, 2016 - Thinking Can Be Nothing Short of Miraculous

A tale from theMiddle Ages which is not only true, but has a message and lesson most suitable for this season, this week, today and tomorrow.


March 14, 2016 - Fighting BS With a Marshmallow

By now, we all know that The Donald deals in as much B.S. as anyone on the political scene. Sometimes the best way to deal with it is with a marshmallow.


March 4, 2016 If a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words, What About Two

A very brief piece featuring less than 50 words, two very meaningful pictures and one important question.  See if you can answer the question.

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February 29, 2016 Send in the Clowns - With Apologies to Stephen Sondheim

I've had Steven Sondheim's Send in the Clowns playing again and again in my head.  Could this have anything to do with Donald Trump?  Maybe yes, maybe no.


February 23 - Pete Gizinski for President

Who is "Pete Gizinski" that we should vote for him?  Then too, who in the world is Donald Trump that anyone would vote for him?


February 14, 2016 - Constitutional CPR

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has added a dimension of urgency that wasn't there 36 hours ago.  The future of the SCOTUS is truly at stake.


February 08, 2016 - On My First Day, I'll

Seems to me that in order for presidential wannabes to fulfill their "first day" promise, that day will have to consist of a minimum of 15,000 hours?  How's that?


February 01, 2016 -  A Memo to Members of the Fourth Estate

If, G-d forbid, Donald Trump manages to win the Republican nomination for President of the United States, it will have as much to do with the media as with those who cast ballots.


January 24, 2016 - Weather Is Not The Same Thing As Climate

Climate change is a terribly important issue for everyone on planet Earth.  And yet many of those seeking to become POTUS deny it is occurring.


January 19, 2016 - Criminal Intent

Targeting all Muslims - as current Republican presidential candidates have suggested - is an act fraught with potential criminal intent.


January 6, 2016 - Give Me Imbruvica or Give Me Death

Unconscionably high prices for life-preserving drugs continue.  For many, it's become a question of life or death.


December 28, 2015 - History May Not Repeat Itself, But It Certainly Does Rhyme

American politics in the last days of 2015 has a lot in common with politics of the 1780s, 1840s, early 20th century and 1940s . . . to our peril.


December 20, 2015 - Every Breath He Takes

There is less oxygen, less sanity, less reporting on things that truly matter, like the potentially planet-saving covenant agreed to in Paris.  But the media persists in covering 45's every wheeze and sneeze, while neglecting news and notes we need to know.


December 14, 2015 - Chanukah 101

Chanukah is a very minor, almost secular celebration.  At the same time, it teaches a truly valuable political lesson or two.  Explore the real history behind the myth.


December 07, 2015 - Shame - A Soul Eating Emotion

Years and years ago, psychiatrist Carl Jung referred to shame as "A soul-eating emotion."  Were he around today for the Republican primaries, he would undoubtedly have pointed to Donald Trump as a prime example.


December 1, 2015 - When One Person's Terrorist is Another's Hero

Yet another act of domestic terror.  And yet, even before all the evidence is in, even before the gunman's motive has been made clear, some are calling him a hero!


November 23, 2015 - Thanksgiving - The Ultimate Repast for Refugees

This Thanksgiving, most of us will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate, this most American of all holidays.  You can bet that one of the major topics of conversation will be what to do about all those Syrian refugees.


November 15, 2015 -  Will We Always Have Paris

Victor Hugo once wrote "Whoever plumbs the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo."  Today, his words are more fraught with meaning then he ever could have imagined.


November 8, 2015 - The Subtext

Bibi Netanyahu flies to D.C. for an official meeting with Pres. Obama.  But, "The Subtext" of the talks have changed all due to a fellow named Ram Baratz.


November 2, 2015 - Manatech, Menshevik and the Great Wall of China

The most recent Republican debate was short on enlightened responses, long on sophomoric questions and devoid of serious challenges.  Neither the candidates nor the moderators came off very well.


October 25, 2015 -  Amateurism's Allure

While one may understand why the two leading contenders for the Republican nomination are, politically speaking, rank amateurs, it is nonetheless daunting and a cause for great concern.


October 18, 2015 - Which Debate Did You Watch?

This past Presidential Debate had its' moments, however in monitoring what the various media sources had to say about it, it would seem that there were at least two terribly different debates going on.


October 11, 2015 - Thinking  Outside the Box

There is an ancient Chinese (or more likely, modern British) curse which goes "May you live in interesting times."  We certainly are.  Think about the current historic political logjam in the House.  Who in the name of Henry Clay is going to be the next Speaker?  Who in Hell would want that toxic gavel?


October 04, 2015 - Definitely Not Ready For Prime Time

Yogi Berra, Sam Goldwyn and future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are all masters of the malaprop.  The only difference is that unlike Berra and Goldwyn, McCarthy is Definitely Not Ready For Prime Time.


September 28, 2015 - Cat Crap  and Capitalism

How is it possible that a pill, which costs less than a dollar to produce and until recently cost "only" $13.50, now will setyou back $750.00?


September 20, 2015 - Laudato Si

This blog post is adapted from my sermon for Kol Nidre. For nearly 40 years it has been my custom that at Kol Nidre, I address G-d directly while the congregation essentially eavesdrops on the conversation.  This year's sermon deals with Pope Francis' Encyclical on Climate Change.


September 15, 2015 - A Fool and His Questions

"Touchstone," a character in Shakespeare's As You Like It  deftly claimed that "The fool doth think he is wife, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.  It is in that of being a wise man who knows himself to be a fool that I pose several questions.


September 05, 2015 - The Lord Made Me Do It

Back in the 1970s, Flip Wilson's catchphrase, "The Devil made me do it!" was all the rage.  Seems like today, the phrase has changed. . . xcept it isn't at all funny.


August 30, 2015 - Of Redwings, Tylenol and Other   Deadly Weapons

One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all have to take off our shoes at an airport.  259 mass shootings since 1/1/15 alone and no change in the regulation of guns. 


August 23, 2015 - Inspect This

A headline in a recent AP story claimed that the Iranians will be inspecting themselves.  If it were true, it would be terrible. But is it true? . . . only if you care to believe it is.  The facts seem to paint a different picture of reality.


August 16, 2015 People Who Live in Glass Houses . .

So DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz cannot explain the difference between Democrats and socialists.  Well neither can those who hate Democrats . . . or firmly believe that Democrats are socialists. 


Ever notice that in many cases, a single act in a lifetime of activity can be used to define - if not tarnish - an individual forever?  Just ask Jane Fonda . . . or John Kerry . . . or Jerry Brown . . . or just recently, Chris Christie. 


August 2, 2015 - Sister Joan Explains It All in 85 Words

Well, the Republicans are at it again; trying to outdo one another in their hatred of - and gross desire to destroy - Planned Parenthood.  They call themselves "pro-life." In reality, they are merely "pro-birth" - anything after that is of lesser interest or importance.  That's the sum and substance of Sister Joan Explains it All in 85 Words.



July 21 2015 - Go Set a Watchman

This week, a long piece that's a little Harper Lee and a lot Ali Khamenei.  Believe it or not, there is an ironic connection between Lee's Go Set a Watchman and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- the Iranian nuclear deal.


July 12, 2015 - Trump . . . Harrumph

This is the first -- and so help me God the last - piece I will ever devote to Donald Trump. 


July 4, 2015 - Celebrating the 4th of July With Jefferson Monroe Levy

This is the 4th of July; a day which should cause the chest to swell and the heart to skip a beat as we contemplate the audacity, the will, the sheer brilliance of people like Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Hancock.  And then there is the marvelously-named Jefferson Monroe Levy, who in his own way, played a pivotal role.  His story and what he accomplished form the basis for Celebrating the 4th of July With J.M. Levy.


June 29, 2015 - The Week That Was . . . And the Week to Come

A couple of days ago, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the historic case Obergfell et al v. Hodges, making gay marriage legal. Predictably, there were a lot of people cheering; even the White House was blazoned with the LGBT colors.  And just as predictably, there were a ton of people predicting the end of the world.


June 21, 2015 - A Nation Sits Shiva

With the horrific terrorist act at Emanuel AME church, we are all, once again in shock and disbelief.  We are indeed, a nation in mourning.  This blog post, we delve into the pain, the anger and the welter of different responses.


June 14, 2015 - The Fertile Cresent -Hardy

From the "Where-in-the-Hell-Do-These-People-Come-From-and-How-in-the-Hell-Do-They-Ever-Manage-to-Get-Elected-Department," meet Nev. Rep. Cresent Hardy.  


June 7, 2015 Ted Cruz and Larry Pratt - You Can Tell a Man Who Boozes By the Company He Chooses

From almost the moment he came on the national scene, Barack Obama was scored for his so-called relationships with Bill Ayers and JeremiahWright; that since he knew and associated with them, he must think just like them.  Well, if what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, what are we to make of Senator Ted Cruz and Larry Pratt.  Larry who?


May 31, 2012 -- Rick Santorum - Doin' the Wingnut Walk

He's baaaack!  Yes indeed, once again, Rick Santorum is running for president.  Despite all the new-found populist rhetoric, he's still the same wing nut he's always been.  Some in depth opposition research on the man who would be Pope . . . uh President.


May 24, 2015 -- Can You Say Cognitive Dissonance

"Cognitive dissonance" is a term most of have heard of . . . even if you're aren't sure how to define it. It plays a big role in explaining modern politics . . . especially when it comes to the politics of climate change.


May 17, 2015 -- A Memo to His Holiness, Pope Francis

The Pope has made several pronouncements within the past days and weeks that have ruffled quite a few feathers.  And although I do not agree with everything he has said, in the main I say "more power to you." In making these statements, he may well have performed his first miracle.


May 11, 2015 -- What Some People Won't Believe

For every conspiracy, there are tons of "true believers."  But for the most part, no matter how weird the conspiracies may be, they are generally rather benign when it comes to public safety.  Now comes Jade Helm 15, which could become quite serious.


May 3, 2015 -- All 'Bout Bernie

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is now officially in the race for the Democratic nomination for POTUS.  In random chat with about 2 dozen people, I've found that aside from saying "Oh, he's a Socialist," hardly anyone knows squat about him.  Much of this long essay is culled from my 2010 book The Jews of Capitol Hill.  Sen. Sanders' entry in the race is a very, very good thing . . . but not necessarily for reasons that are at first apparent.


April 26, 2015 -- A Memo to Gov. Brown

California is now in the 3rd year of a historic drought; experts say it is "extreme to exceptional."  The last time it was this bad (the 70's), I was on Governor Brown's staff, working as an environmental ethicist.  I address my old boss with a handful of suggestions as to what he and his administration might consider doing to address this looming catastrophe; things we never considered nearly 40 years ago.


April 20, 2015 -- The Endangered Super Majority

History records tons of cases in which majorities oppressed and annihilated minorities.  Occasionally, as with modern Iraq and Syria it's the opposite: the minorities runs roughshod over the majority.  Here in America, today, we have a super majority who claims they are endangered by the minority.  How's that . . . and who are they?


April 12, 2015 -- Silly Season is Upon Us

Back in 1861, London's The Saturday Review ran an anonymous essay entitled "The Silly Season."  For decades, Silly Season connotedthat time of the year when news was slow and stories weird. Nowadays, it isn't a season; it's all year long. And in reality, its just another name for "campaign season."


April 5, 2015 -- Three Cheers for Nancy Detert

State SenatorNancy Detert (R-Venice) is hardly a household name.  'Tis a pity, 'cause she should be.


March 30, 2015 -- Everybody Hates  Obamacare -- Just Ask Ted Cruz and Cathy Rogers

Two members of Congress who keep up the anti-Obamacare drumbeat despite the fact that Senator Cruz has announced he's going to be accepting Obamacare for himself and his family, and Rogers has received more than 8,500 Facebook postings from constituents who swear by (not at) the Affordable Care Act.  So what do they have in mind to replace it with?  In the single word of Buster Keaton, Damfino . . .  Haven't they ever heard of inconsistency?


March 22, 2015 -- Edna Ferber -- The Triumph of Archetype Over Stereotype

This blog post we delve into one of America's greatest, most prolific writers, and perhaps figure out a thing or two about ourselves


March 10, 2015 -- Old Doc Logan Must Be Spinning In His Grave

I don't know about you, but I'm livid over the letter those 47 Republican senators sent to the leaders of Iran.  It seems to show that their hatred of President Obama may be greater than their fear of Iran possessing nuclear weapons.  It may also be that in sending that letter -- and in inviting P.M. Netanyahu to speak before Congress without prior presidential assent, they are in violation of the Logan Act -- a veryserious matter.


March 9, 2015 -- I'm Not a Scientist, But . . .

There are all kinds of extraordinary discoveries being made in astrophysics, quantum mechanics and astronomy that are incredibly humbling.  And from where I sit, being humbled ever now and again is much to be desired.


March 1, 2015 --Congressional Republicans Are All a Bunch of Marxists

 In 2014, Republicans promised that if elected to take over Congress, their theme song would be Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go.  Well, they got their wish, but now they've taken to singing a Marxist refrain.


February 22, 2015 --A Memo to All  Those Contemplating Throwing Their Hat Into the Ring

The late Mario Cuomo once sagely noted that "We campaign in poetry.  We govern in prose."  It's a good lesson for those who contemplate throwing their hat into the ring.


February 15, 2015 -- The Punter

G.B. Shaw once noted that "America and England are two countries separated by the same language."  When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "punted" on the question of whether or not he believed in evolution, he unknowingly proved Shaw correct.


February 9, 2015 -- Barack Obama Channels Augustine of Hippo and Gets Scourged For His Efforts

President Obama addressed the annual National Prayer Breakfast and had "the audacity" to mention the Crusades, the Inquisition, American slavery and Jim Crow as examples of Christianity being perverted for inhumane reasons.  Predictably, he had his head handed to him by his detractors, who seemed to have paid attention to a mere 51 words of a 2,878-word address.


February 2, 2015 -- It's Still Ironic

Nearly 5 years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Ironic, Isn't It? dealing with Mike Huckabee's position on gays and gay marriage.  Yesterday, he held forth on the same issue on State of the Union with Dana Bash.  After watching him, I felt compelled to write an update


January 25, 2015 -- The Politics of Beauty . . . The Beauty of Politics

Many people are fed up about the kerfuffle over Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel appearing in a selfie together . . . that it's stupid, childish, etc. ; That's the politics of beauty.  Then there's Speaker Boehner's invite to Israeli P.M. Netanyahu to address a joint caucus of Congress; that's the beauty of politics.