Posts Tagged ‘election’
During the Republican National Convention, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a statement that has stayed with me. He said that President Obama is not a bad man. He is just a bad President.
I do not agree with the latter part of that statement. He is not a bad President. More on that later. What I want to focus on first is that he is not only not a bad man – he is a good and decent man. A caring individual who truly wants to serve the American people and has tried to do so to the best of his ability for the past four years .
Whether he has been successful at any level is a matter of debate. But one can certainly not fault his sincerity or intentions. He is a good man. One that deserves our respect, not only as President of the United States, but as a Mentch.
This was amply demonstrated by a press conference held yesterday in New Jersey. Democrat President Obama stood next to Republican Governor Chris Christie and promised the people of New Jersey and all other victims of Hurricane Sandy that the U.S. government will do everything it can to alleviate their pain. He promised that red tape will be eliminated and that the government has learned from past experiences how to more expeditiously serve the victims of natural disasters. That remains to be seen but I somehow think it will happen. Especially now when his re-election may depend on it.
But I would posit that it would happen anyway. The President cares about the victims and is determined to help them as quickly as possible. To that end Governor Christie has praised the President. From Matzav:
“I have to give the president great credit,” Christie, who delivered the keynote address at Romney’s nominating convention, said on the Fox News Channel. “He’s done, as far as I’m concerned, a great job for New Jersey.”
Just as the President is a good and honorable man, so too is Governor Christie – giving the President credit when it is due despite his harsh political attack against him during the convention. It is to the shame of Matzav that they have politicized this. Instead of joining Governor Christie in recognizing the “great job” he’s done for New Jersey, the home of Lakewood Yeshiva, they used the following headline for this story:
Very disappointed in Matzav. One can only surmise that they actually hate the President. It is as though they think he is some sort of closet anti Semite! If they don’t hate him why do they use the most unflattering picture they can find whenever he is the subject of one of their posts?!
I know all the reasons given as to why they don’t like him. Reasons that I do not agree with. Matzav has much company along those lines. But there is no excuse for politicizing a tragedy like this.
Let us examine for a moment the charge that he is some kind of anti Semite. It can’t be for his lack of support of the state of Israel. Because as I have pointed out many times that wouldn’t be true. Is it because of his former association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (he was his pastor) – who is demonstrably anti-Semitic? That argument may have played well during the first election 4 years ago. But any claims to that effect now are simply wrong and so ridiculous that one would have to be blind deaf and dumb to believe it.
The fact is that he not only respects the Jewish people, he respects those of us who observe the Mitzvos. So much so that he actually goes out of his way to make sure observant Jews in his administration do not violate Halacha. If that is a surprise to anyone they should read an article about the President’s relationship with his Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew. From theForward article:
When Jack Lew was appointed chief of staff to President Obama in January, many in the Jewish community wondered how he could observe Shabbat in such a demanding position.
Luckily, Lew has the most powerful man in the world to keep track of time as the sun starts to dip low in the sky on Friday afternoons.
“I saw the president on many occasions on Friday afternoons look at his watch, and ask: ‘Isn’t it time for you to get going?’” Lew said, “or, ‘Why are you still here?’ The president was not checking the clock “because he doesn’t think I can keep time,” Lew said. Rather, the extra care on this issue reflects the President’s wish “to remind me that it’s important to him, not just to me, that I be able to make that balance.”
Lew, who is Orthodox, revealed the details about his keeping Shabbat in an extraordinary interview with the Forward that touched on his need to observe the Jewish holy day.
“And he’s respected that time and again,” the chief of staff said of Obama.
So much for his anti-Semitism!
One thing this storm has done is to give the President an advantage in the election this coming Tuesday. If there are no glitches, the President gets to look Presidential. This is something Romney can’t do. He is only a candidate. He can replace campaign speeches at political rallies with humanitarian drives for victims of the hurricane. But that is not the same as standing with the governor of the most devastated state and promising them all the federal help he can – as quickly as he can. Romney cannot look Presidential because he is not the President. Yet (if ever).
This will surely tip the close race in the President’s favor. But I hope it doesn’t. Although as I said above, I don’t think Obama is a bad President, I don’t think he is the best President for the country right now for reasons I stated in my post endorsing Romney. Reasons having to do with the economy and foreign policy.
We need a change at the top. That is still the bottom line for me. I am grateful for the service the President has given to this country and for the good and decent man that he is. But it takes more than that to be a good President.
Does Romney have what it takes? I’m not sure, but I don’t think four more years of Obama will change the domestic and foreign situation for the better all that much. It’s time to let someone else try. I don’t think anyone world say that Romney is not a good and decent man – much the same way the President is. Let’s hope he’s elected and makes a better President.
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The head of the European Jewish Association has called on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of the country’s Jews in the wake of the election to parliament of an anti-Semitic party.
“We are not presuming of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions, however we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement.
On Oct. 28, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, making unprecedented gains in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, garnered 12 percent of the vote, after winning less than 1 percent in the previous election, in 2007. The percentage means that the party can control a parliament faction for the first time.
Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok has called in the past for purges of the approximately 400,000 Jews living in Ukraine, as well as other minorities. The party has held several protest rallies against the presence of Jews in Uman, in the center of the country.
I’m sitting here with my kids on Monday night and, aside from the glow of the laptop, the Sabbath has come early this week. Outside Hurricane Sandy is pounding our New Jersey town of Englewood. Earlier in the day we saw trees bend like twigs and wind gusts tearing pieces of our roof clear off. This evening we said Psalms for all the people of the Northeastern United States to be safe and studied the Biblical portion of the day, appropriately, Abraham arguing with G-d to protect the inhabitants of his area condemned to destruction through the elements.
Just yesterday I was fully engaged in my campaign for the United States Congress. Winning, elections, and victory were on my mind. Boy, what a difference a day can make. Today, I just want my family and the 50 million people in the storm’s path to be safe. We just read of a man of 30 who lost his life when a tree fell on his house in Queens, NY. We read of two boys in New York State who lost their lives in similar circumstances. We’ve seen photos of people’s homes blown away. In Manhattan, a giant crane dangles and there is no telling whom it might hurt.
Does winning matter now?
As the storm approached I wondered what it all meant. I am a religious man and believe all to be providence. There are no coincidences. A freak storm, hitting New Jersey of all places, in late October, is so rare as to seriously raise eyebrows. And just a week before such momentous elections that will determine the future of our nation and who will be our President?
I cannot divine the mind of God and we would obviously all have been much better off without this storm. And while, by far, the most important thing is for everyone to be safe, and for the families of those who lost loved ones to be comforted, the storm’s arrival does suddenly put everything in perspective.
For the past few months America has been bitterly consumed by an election that has torn the country asunder. To an extent it’s understandable. While the tone has been at times quite negative, the stakes in this election are very high and the consequences for whichever visions wins very great. It’s understandable that passions are so intense.
Yet, along comes Frankenstorm, just days before the election, and knocks everything about the election clear off TV, newspapers, and the internet. Just try to find a candidate anywhere campaigning. President Obama and Governor Romney have both suspended their campaigns. Our own efforts here in New Jersey are focused on how we can help those who have most suffered in the storm. The only thing that matters now is people’s safety and wellbeing. Suddenly there is no talk of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, tax cuts and entitlements. There are no attack ads and there are no advocacy ads. All the talk is about protecting life, keeping people safe, and being there for each other.
In my book that’s coming out next month, The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering, I reject any belief that suffering is redemptive. I will not dignify human agony with according it some higher purpose. All suffering is awful and any good that comes by its means could be achieved far more effectively through something positive. Better there be no storms, better there be no danger. But to the extent this awful thing is here, perhaps God, in His providence, is telling us that unity is what life is all about and we’re just too darn divided.
Yes, I would prefer that we come together in the wake of something positive than negative. We don’t need hurricanes, we don’t need 9/11’s, we don’t need the murder of American Ambassadors in Benghazi to remind us that we’re one nation, one people, with one heart. Much better to unite around a man walking on the moon, a space shuttle lifting off, and Americans winning gold medals at the Olympics. Better to unite around inspirational stories of diseases being cured, people in danger being rescued, children who are hungry being fed. But to the extent that our country is way too divided, let’s internalize the message, just before one of the most partisan elections of all time, that there is nothing in life as special as unity, nothing more beloved by God than oneness among His children, nothing more inspirational that differences being put aside as humanity unites to protect life.
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Are supposed negotiations with Iran the “October Surprise” intended to win the election for President Barack Obama, an Iranian trick for buying time, or both? The answer is both. It’s an incredibly transparent ploy though with the cooperation of the mass media such a gimmick might well have some effect.
Here’s the scenario we are supposed to believe: Obama’s sanctions (the tough Obama) have severely damaged Iran and so Tehran is looking for a way out. At the same time, though, Obama’s flexibility in dealing with possible enemies wins them over (the empathetic Obama). Thus, Obama’s greatness as a statesman might solve this problem of Iran’s nuclear drive short of war.
Let’s note some of the evidence that this ploy meets the needs of both sides in the conflict. For Obama, it is a potential electoral gain at the last minute in a hard fought election in which his foreign policy has come under severe questioning. For the Iranian regime the development buys even more time as it continues to go full-steam ahead with its nuclear drive.
If the Iranians are really sophisticated about American politics they understand the advantages for themselves:
–There will be pressure against new sanctions for the next six months or more since it could be said in the United States that these would damage a promising initiative.
–It might help reelect Obama who is significantly softer on Iran. If the Iranians believe that a President Mitt Romney might launch a U.S. attack or support an Israel one—I don’t believe this but probably they do—that makes helping Obama win a top priority.
–Since the talks wouldn’t be until next year, Iran has to give up nothing to make the initiative. Note, too, that during the last five years Iran has repeatedly proposed different diplomatic formulae both in terms of meetings and potential compromises only to retract them or make clear that Tehran’s terms are going to be unacceptable.
According to the Times the agreement is “a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term.” In other words, nothing has happened for four years and suddenly we have a deal. Sound suspicious?
All this involves then is an Iranian offer to start talks, talks which could break down in a few hours or go on for years without result. Of course, the first Iranian demand will be for easing the sanctions.
Note, too, that the Obama Administration officially denied the report—hey, we’re not playing politics with foreign policy!—and then leaked that it was true to its friends in the media.
The new situation can also be used to paint Republican candidate Mitt Romney as a potential war-monger. In the words of the New York Times:
It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election. Mr. Romney has repeatedly criticized the president as showing weakness on Iran and failing to stand firmly with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat….
Moreover, the prospect of one-on-one negotiations could put Mr. Romney in an awkward spot, since he has opposed allowing Iran to enrich uranium to any level — a concession that experts say will probably figure in any deal on the nuclear program.
One key issue is the difference between the U.S. and Israeli positions. The Obama Administration says that Iran can have all the fixings of a bomb as long as it doesn’t build one or that Tehran must be stopped short of having everything in place. The problem with the first option, of course, is that Iran could secretly or quickly assemble bombs (including those that might be delivered by terrorists); the second option is tougher to enforce, less likely to be negotiated, and more likely to bring military action.
As the Times rightly points out, for Romney, “The danger of opposing such a diplomatic initiative is that it could make him look as if he is willing to risk another American war in the Middle East without exhausting alternatives.”
The story continues:
It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven’t had such discussions,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who led negotiations with Iran as under secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration.
So in other words, the U.S. government is under pressure to talk as long as Iran wants, even if Iran is moving ahead on its nuclear program at every moment during the long, drawn-out, and inconclusive chatting.
There is, of course, no solution. Sanctions won’t stop Iran from building nuclear weapons and long-range missiles able to deliver them onto targets. Diplomacy won’t work, except possibly for the fig leaf of having Iran own all the pieces for those weapons and simply promising not to assemble them. War is unattractive for the United States and, despite all you’ve heard, Israel, too. Does a scenario of the next U.S. president launching a major, long-term military operation against Iran seem likely–especially after the near- or non-completion of controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan– whether or not you’d like to see that happen?
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The Central Elections Commission approved a budget for the upcoming elections on Sunday.
The commission chairman’s salary, drivers, security personnel, polling station ushers, vote counters and security guards will cost a total of NIS 246,781,000, an increase of over 40 million shekels from the previous election budget.
Sandwiches for volunteers who will man the poll centers will cost NIS 1,320,000 on election day, according to a report by Maariv.
Palestinians held local elections in 93 communities in Judea and Samaria. This is the first time since 2005 that elections have been held in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas boycotted the election, and Fatah expelled 70 people from the Fatah movement for daring to run as independents against Fatah.
Another 179 communities canceled elections as power-sharing arrangements were made between the clans, and there were no elections in 82 other communities, because there were simply no candidates.
Elections were not held in Gaza.
4700 candidates ran. 25% of them women.
515,000 people were eligible to vote.
Results are expected to be announced on Sunday. Voter turnout was around 54%.