Monday, April 12, 2021

The U.S. Isn’t The “Greatest” Nation 

April 12, 2021 – 6:30 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

Is the U.S. the “greatest” nation in the world? I used to think it was, but now I don’t. Other nations have evolved and we are still stuck in a time that has long passed. For us to be the “greatest” we need to re-envision this nation as one that: 

Cherishes all life after birth; feeds the hungry; provides homes for the homeless; helps those with disabilities; values truth, facts, and character; provides inexpensive and accessible healthcare for all people; fights disease; gives women the right to be in control of their bodies; provides the ability to afford decent housing and ability to raise children in healthy environments for all; provides free/low cost quality education at all levels from pre-school through graduate school; treats all people of all races and backgrounds as equals in all areas of society; does not impose a specific religion or religion at all onto others, and keeps religion out of politics; values empathy, kindness, and compassion; treats women and people of different LGBTQ orientation or gender identity as equal; values science, education, and intellectual thinking; welcomes immigrants; ensures a minimum level of employment and annual pay for all people to provide for a decent standard of living; provides for the elderly so that they may live their senior years with dignity; ensures safety in products and services; ensures clean air, water, and streets; fights disease; provides policing that focuses on community and not on harm and discrimination; ensures that people are free from fear from guns and other forms of violence; treats animals humanely; cares about the environment and climate change; values the arts; taxes people and businesses fairly; provides equal justice to all, regardless of race, economic position, or other social status; diminishes the number of people imprisoned; cooperates with other nations for progress; provides mental health care to those who need it; provides quality public transportation, parks, and other public services; ensures that all citizens have equal and easy access to the ballot box; ensures that all children have what they need to thrive; shies away from conflict and war; represents the best democracy can offer. 

This is the kind of nation in which I want to live. When we can check-off each of these items, then we will be able to call ourselves the “greatest” nation, but not until.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

 Judaism 101: What Are the Jews All About Anyway? 

March 30, 2021 - 1:30 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

As we celebrate Passover, I find many folks asking me about Judaism and being Jewish, not understanding how it all works. So I wrote this Judaism 101 piece. Read it if you want to understand the basics of Jews and Judaism.

The Jews first began as the Hebrews during the Bronze Age 5,000+ years ago. They became the Canaanites and then became Jews with Abraham, the “first Jew” and the father of the Jewish people, who lived in 2000 BCE (before common era, i.e. BC). Later, the Jews became a united nation under Moses, who brought the Jews out of Egypt where they had been enslaved for 400 years. Moses took them into Israel in 1300 BCE and brought forth the concept of a monotheistic religion, based on the 10 basic rules for leading a kind and moral life. The Torah is the 5 books of Moses. It is claimed that Torah writings were started during the Moses journey to Israel, and then completed later, along with the subsequent Prophets and the Writings. Together, these books are the “Tanach” (the “Jewish Bible”). Originally written in Hebrew, then translated into Aramaic, and then into Greek, Latin, and working up the chain more recently into English in the King James Bible in 1600 CE (common era, i.e. AD). I have read it in Hebrew, and it loses a lot in translation. First, in Hebrew one can see that many. many different writers wrote portions over long periods of time, as the language changes. Second, the translations are often poor. Did you know that in the Jewish Bible the word for God starts with “Gods,” yes plural, moves into “My Lord,” and ends with the word that cannot be spoken for God – it is the present tense of the verb to be in Hebrew, so it literally means “the state of be-ing.” God is not anthropomorphized and is not in human form. And in the beginning, there wasn’t “a void” as stated in English, there was “chaos,” and from it came order. Big difference. And it’s not “vanity, vanity, all is vanity”; it’s “futility, futility, all is futile” – rather existential. 

The 12 tribes of Israel were delineated, and the Jewish kingdom began with David’s conquer of Jerusalem and King Solomon in 1000 BCE, when the First Temple was built in Jerusalem, starting the Jewish Biblical era. It went through the 6th century BCE, with the fall of the Temple by the Babylonians and the exile of the Jews to Babylon. 400 years later, the Jews returned to Israel and built the 2nd Temple and a new era of Jewish renaissance began again, with Greek (Hellenistic) and Roman influence. This period ended with the fall of Jerusalem by the Romans, the destruction of the 2nd Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people again from the land of Israel in the 1st Century CE. In 1948, after the Holocaust, the Jews re-established the nation of Israel yet again with the birth of the modern State of Israel, once more bringing together and connecting the Jewish people with the land of Israel, and engendering yet another Jewish return from dispersion and a new Jewish renaissance. Jewish history is a series of destruction, death and dispersion (slavery, confinement, etc.), return, renaissance, followed by destruction, death and dispersion again, repeating the cycle until 1948. For Jews, the yearning for return to the land of Israel in freedom is indelibly etched into our psyche, with the goal of ending the ongoing cycle and living permanently as a sovereign people in Israel. 

Here’s the crux of Judaism: There are two critical writings that came to be after the Biblical period: the “Talmud” (“Mishnah” and “Gemara”) and the “Midrash,” and Jews have for thousands of years defined ourselves as Talmudic, not Biblical. This is the key and must be understood in order to understand Judaism. The core of the Talmud and other writings and books of Jewish thought and prayer is that Judaism is not about “faith,” but about questioning and debate, interpreting and challenging. Great minds over the millennia (the great Talmudic scholarly Rabbis in Judaic history) would debate the meaning of the Jewish Bible, and its relevancy throughout the centuries. The Talmud is like Facebook. One great Rabbi writes an interpretation and another disagrees and another joins in the debate, and so on, and these debates go on for centuries with new great Rabbis adding their viewpoints to the discussions and counter-discussions. So, living strictly by the Jewish Bible had long passed with the fall of the Jewish Biblical era. Instead, Jews came to understand the Jewish Bible as a series of stories (what my Rabbi calls Jewish mythology), to be interpreted and used as a foundation for debate on issues, without right or wrong answers, without absolutes. And God is contemplated as conceptual, and not human. It is in the process of debate (as shown in the Talmud, et. al.) that we come to understand what makes sense in a changing world. 

As I once asked a learned Orthodox Rabbi many years ago, “Do we believe in afterlife?” He responded, “We don’t know, but if it helps you to believe in that, go ahead; if it doesn’t, then don’t – you need to decide what makes your life fulfilled and what gives you purpose.” I also asked him if we believe that the Jewish Bible is true and factual. He said, “Who knows, but that’s not the question. The question is what can you learn to improve your life by the stories? How do the stories inspire you?” I even asked him if there is a God, to which he replied, “There is no answer to that – you can choose to believe or not believe, and you can define God in a way that fulfills you. You need to answer that question for yourself.” Finally, I questioned why God would have asked Abraham “where are you?” Wouldn’t an omnipotent, all-knowing God know? The reply I received was simple: Do you think God asked this as a matter of physically finding Abraham, or is this more interpretive, in that we each must each ask ourselves “where am I and how do I fit” in this complex world?  I’m often asked if Rabbis (which means teachers) have the answers. No, they are highly educated people who have the questions and the understanding of The Jewish Bible, the Talmud, et. al. to guide us with the debate to help us each determine the meaning of these texts in our own lives. For Jews, religion is about finding meaning and relevance, not about absolute answers. Attend a Jewish synagogue service (as J.D. and I often do each week), and you’ll hear the Rabbi’s interpretation and questions about the weekly Torah portion and what it might mean to us. Not dictums, not imperatives, but personally interpretive, and always up for debate. 

Jews have 3 languages: Hebrew, the ancient Jewish language, ubiquitous to all Jews, and hence the language that was re-introduced as the spoken language with the creation of modern Israel; Yiddish, the common language of the European Jews – Ashkenazi Jews (Ashkenazi means German) – based on the German language; Ladino, the common language of the Spanish, African, Middle and Far Eastern Jews – Sephardic Jews (Sephardic means Spanish/Portuguese and Moorish, with ties to the Arabic world) – based on the Spanish language. They all used the Hebrew letters, and Yiddish and Ladino were developed by the Jews in the diaspora after the fall of the 2nd Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people. As an example, my father, first generation American, born in New York City but spoke Yiddish as his first language, and at family gatherings when I was young, Yiddish was the dominant language, although they also spoke Hebrew, but that was for synagogue. When both sets of my grandparents were together, they would often communicate in Yiddish (and read the Yiddish newspapers). 

From the original Hebrews 5,000 years ago, through the Biblical period, to the 2nd Temple period, and then to the diaspora (dispersion), and the recent creation of modern Israel, Judaism and our people have evolved (and certainly we have wandered). Many think that Jews think and live according to the Jewish Bible as in the Biblical period of the 1st Temple. We do not and haven’t for the millennia (except for the Chassidism – the ultra-orthodox who wear the black coats and hats, which is a recent movement which began in the 18th Century in the Ukraine as a spiritual revival sect that broke-away from mainstream Judaism to attempt a more “Biblical” type of living). There are three things that ultimately bring Jews together: the 10 Commandments, which are good rules for living a moral life, and the “Shma,” in which Jews state the core belief in the singularity of God. These are the two foundations, along with “Tikun Olam” (fix the world) – the belief that each Jew should seek to continually improve the world, generation to generation (“L'dor V'dor”), and move humanity forward. 

We are a progressive people, and we celebrate life ("Le Chaim” – to life); we are in the present, not worshiping death or reincarnation, not worshiping ancestors nor worshiping the here-after. The only rewards are those during our lifetimes and how we improve the lives of those around us. And we believe that joyfulness, such as enjoying family and friends, sex (yes, sex), good food and drink, laughter, music, dance, or other ways to experience happiness, are positive and should be pursued. Life is meant to be enjoyed, shared, and fully lived without fear. “Sin” and retribution is not a Jewish concept, and hasn’t been for a long time. We believe that we have been given the ability to experience joy in so many ways, and we should not shy away from it. 

For American Jews, who came to America from the 1820’s to the 1920’s in the millions, these immigrants changed the face of modern Judaism, and the face of America itself in music, art, literature, education, social and physical sciences, technology, medicine, law, politics, and progressive thinking. These Jews created new American Judaic movements (e.g. the Reform Movement) and the American Jewish renaissance, which adapted Judaism to the new and modern world in our hemisphere where intellectual and educated discourse is generally admired. 

So, when non-Jews present arguments utilizing the Jewish Bible as “fact,” I point out that it’s our Bible, and we look at it from an altogether different set of lenses. If they want to understand an issue, read the Talmud, and see how the great Jewish minds have debated the issue from different angles, rather than quoting the Jewish Bible as literal and definitive. Think of it, how often do you hear a Jew quote the Jewish Bible as literal to advance an opinion? I know this is hard for folks who think in terms of religion as absolutes and the writings as verbatim. In Judaism, it’s all up for debate as we take nothing on face value nor on “faith” – faith is a concept foreign to Jews (let’s repeat that, faith is a concept foreign to Jews) – but on thoughtful and intellectual questioning and discussion as to how things fit, or don’t fit, into our lives as things change, often with inconsistencies, nuance, and ambiguities, which is part of the process of ongoing Jewish learning and debate. We learn from the past, but we don't live in the past. 

Jews are also a people of law. For thousands of years we have had our own sophisticated court system and sets of laws upholding justice. We believe in written law and adjudicating in Jewish courts in peaceful ways. Even in the U.S. today, Jews have our own separate court and legal system, consisting of groups of Rabbis as judges who can settle issues between Jews in areas of marriage, divorce, family and other matters, based on Jewish law. These judges also convert people as part of the conversion process. I went before the “Bet Din” (Jewish court) in Oregon to finalize my divorce many years ago. J.D. went before the Bet Din for his conversion. And, J.D. and I were married by our Rabbi according to Jewish law long before same-sex marriage was legal in the U.S. Many aspects of the U.S. court system are based on the Jewish system (e.g. juries, evidence, defendants, etc.) which Jews have used over the millennia. 

And, in Judaism we do not proselytize (and we don’t like when others try to proselytize us). Being Jewish is traditionally matrilineal (although today it has changed to be either matrilineal or patrilineal). It’s a birth right. Converting to Judaism is a very rigorous course (need to learn Hebrew, Jewish history, the Jewish Bible, Talmud, et. al., and need to discuss and debate with a set of Rabbis), and Rabbis will only convert those who genuinely want to become Jewish and understand the complexities and layers of the religion, the culture, and the people. It takes years of study. Once Jewish, by birth or conversion, one cannot stop being a Jew (we can’t make ourselves not Jewish). Moreover, Jews have the “right of return,” which means that any Jew who emigrates to Israel is an automatic citizen of Israel (if they want). That, too, is part of our birth right (and conversion right), so that Jews know that there is a “home” in which they will always be accepted and safe. 

Jews have multiple first, middle and last names. We have our names in the nation in which we live (e.g. American names), but we also have our Hebrew names (and for some, Yiddish or Ladino names as well). My Jewish marriage license ("Ketubah") lists J.D. and me according to our Hebrew names (mine given at birth, J.D.'s at conversion), and we signed the license in Hebrew with our Hebrew names. 

Judaism requires literacy, as every young adult (or convert) must study, debate and read from the Torah to the congregation, and provide their own interpretation of the Torah reading to the congregants, demonstrating literacy and command of Judaism and interpretative skills for bar/bat mitzvah. I remember one day when my youngest daughter came home from evening Jewish school. I asked what they did in class. She told me that they debated the question of the existence of God in a post-Holocaust era. She said it was a good discussion, and of course, without conclusion, and she did not come to any conclusions herself but would continue to think about it. We still debate that question. 

Finally, and of great importance, Jews don’t expect others to think about religion as we do. We’re different, we appreciate that religion is very personal, and we’re tolerant, as we know that Judaism is not the best fit for most people (and really, we’re good with that, and we don't like the term Judeo-Christian as we are a unique and stand-alone religion, not incomplete, not tied to other religions), and we think that religion of all kinds does not belong in the secular space. We do not impose our religious beliefs into secular law, and clearly distinguish between our religion vs. the secular world in which we live. For Jews, religion is a private matter. At the door to my house, there is a "Mezuzah" on the doorpost (you'll often see those at Jewish homes). It's a small case that contains words from Torah. It signifies that one is leaving the secular world and entering a Jewish home, giving clarity to the distinction and separation. Coming home, one often touches it as a symbol of recognition of an understanding of the secular outside the door, the Jewish inside the door. 

And, perhaps most importantly, we appreciate that Judaism far transcends religion – it’s also a people, a shared 5,000+ year history, a rich culture, cuisines, rituals, languages, and a plethora of ideas and customs that make Jews different and that unify us in giving our lives purpose. We have Jews of all kinds, from all nations on the globe, of all colors (yes, there are many black and brown Jews from Africa and the Middle/Far East), with differing ideas about their individual views and practices of Judaism, yet all one people. We talk about ourselves as “Am Yisroel” (the people of Israel), as we define ourselves as a singular people in ways well beyond written texts. I did my genetic test and it came back 99% Jewish of Ashkenazi background (with 1% “other”). Oy, for that I spent good money? And I still want to know what the “other” 1% is! 

Mind you, there are certain Jews who may disagree on some of the points here, and that’s good. We love to talk amongst ourselves. As we say: discuss (and we are a talkative bunch who do not subscribe to the notion that silence is golden – remember Tevya in “Fiddler” debating with God and questioning God’s role, and ultimately tossing aside tradition for a new way of defining Judaism for himself?). 

So, for Passover, as we celebrate the exodus from Egypt, we are thankful for our freedom. Was there a Moses and did he lead the Jewish people across the sea and through the desert? Who knows. But the better question is what do we learn from the story of the Exodus? For Jews, we learn to abhor slavery and we celebrate the coalescing of the Jewish people and a religion founded on the rights of all peoples to be free from tyranny and injustice.

Friday, April 9, 2021

 It’s National Pi Day!  

March 14, 2021 – 6:15 am ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

March 14th is National Pi Day (π)! It’s 3.14 (which is pi) and also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Using Pythagoras’ theorem (500’s BC), which was “proven” by Euclid (300’s BC - Euclid was the founder of geometry and of the proof methodology), and Archimedes (200’s BC), discovered the irrational and infinite geometric decimal we now call pi. Pi was only recently named in the 1700’s by a Welsh mathematician (William Jones), because pi is the first letter in the Greek word perimitros, meaning perimeter (or circumference for a circle). These Greek geniuses, along with Al Kwarizmi (Persian poly mathematician in the 800’s who created the quadratic equation and the field of algebra - from the Arabic term al-jibar), and others in the far and middle east, and then in Europe, allowed for later discoveries of trigonometry, calculus, matrix algebra, descriptive and inferential statistics (which is based on many trigonometric functions, algebra and calculus), and other forms of mathematics. 

Without these discoveries, our lives today would be much different as we wouldn’t have the math (and hence the science) needed to create a modern world. And let’s not forget Albert Einstein who created modern physics (building on Newton, who also created calculus, and Galileo who were the first to discover the laws of physics). Einstein worked with Emmy Noether, who created abstract algebra (Noether’s theorem), necessary for modern physics (and to think, both Einstein and Noether were Jews who had to flee from Nazi persecution). In Archimedes’ honor, on Einstein’s birthday, I think we should celebrate Pi Day by eating lots of pies. Maybe I’ll have 3.14 pies (peach, cherry, apple, and a small slice of blackberry). 

BTW, at my company, at our corporate office, we named each conference room after a great mathematician - Euclid, Al Kwarizmi, Noether, Newton, and others, and of course, Karl Pearson, the creator of statistical testing, including the correlation coefficient, chi-square, and the t-test, and who brought more complex probability measurement analytics front and center in the discipline of statistics (that was my area of my Ph.D. program). We had very large framed posters on the walls in their respective conference rooms with their faces (ancient drawings/paintings/old photos), a description of each mathematician, and the most famous formula each created. We paid homage to these great minds, and they inspired us to think of new and creative forms of data analytics. Within the company, we had our think tank, whose only role was to create new ideas and concepts in multivariate data modeling technologies (we created a cutting-edge inferential cognition system which integrated behavioral, demographic, geographic, psychographic, econometric, financial, transactional, and many other complex data sets to develop algorithms and advanced intelligence through data interactionism). And it was fun (albeit hard work. So hats off to Archimedes and the discovery of pi, and to some tasty pie eating.

Don’t  Want a Vaccine? Willing to Face the Consequences? 

March 3, 2021 - 1:30 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

To those who don’t want to get vaccinated: It’s your choice, but understand the consequences you face. In the upcoming months, the majority of the nation will be vaccinated, including me (I got my second shot last week). With so many people vaccinated, the nation will open up and get back to a more “normal” way of living (schools, offices, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports venues, travel, etc.). The vaccinated people will be protected from the virus and will go about living their “normal” lives (albeit still taking precautions such as masking). But the unvaccinated people will be in a strange situation. Unless they continue to remain in their homes and limit their exposure to the outside world, they will contract and spread the disease at higher rates among themselves as they attempt to live “normal” lives like the vaccinated, only without protection from the virus. We’ll have two groups in the nation: the protected who will thrive, and the unprotected who will infect each other, and many of whom will die. (Of course, this is all dependent on the mutations, which is an altogether different set of challenges.) 

You see, the vaccine is like a special power which some will have and others won’t. If you’re in a plane that is going down, do you take a parachute or reject it? If you’re on a ship that is sinking, do you take a life vest and get into a lifeboat or reject it? If you’re in the emergency room with appendicitis, do you have the doctor conduct surgery or reject it? Do you trust the airplane pilot or do you plunge to your death? Do you trust the ship’s captain or do you drown in the icy waters? Do you trust the surgeon or do you die in agony from the ruptured appendix? It’s the same with the COVID vaccine. Do you trust the medical community and protect yourself from the deadly virus or do you open yourself up to a contagion that may kill you? 

For me and for my family, we choose to protect ourselves and not face disease and death. For us, it’s simple. We want the special powers. But, you may prefer disease and death. And do make sure that your wills and insurance policies are up-to-date for you and your family. These may very well soon be needed for those within the group of people who don't want to be vaccinated. Your choice. Just understand the consequences you face.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

 The Sickness Called the GOP   

February 4, 2021 – 3:15 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

What’s wrong with the Republican party? How can it possibly accept people within its ranks who espouse the most vile hatred, violence, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, etc.? And through nut-job conspiracy theories and lies. Rejecting an election, attempting to overthrow the government and murder leaders, unwilling to follow through on impeachment, willing to “go easy” on those who attempted a coup and assassination, and rejecting the most fundamental values and principles of our Constitution. Some say they are afraid. Some say it’s all part of the political drama. No, it’s not that at all. Instead, it’s quite simple. The GOP has nothing left other than bigotry, lies and conspiracies, and these kinds of players and activities (including the orange man), and their enablers, represent who the GOP is today, not the fringe, but the essence of the party, waving their Q-Anon, Confederate and Nazi flags. Unlike the Democrats, the GOP has no COVID plan, no economic plan, no jobs plan, no education plan, no infrastructure plan, no racial justice plan, no immigration plan, no health plan, no environmental plan, no foreign policy plan, no voter rights plan, no racial, women’s, LGBTQ equality plan. None. The two-party system is no longer about debating different views on important issues. It’s about one rational party with plans and activities to improve the nation, and one wacko party of nut-jobs and enablers with no plans and only conspiracies and violence. 

So what do people like us do? How do we manage through this insanity? Well, we push through. We offer unity, but we push through with or without the GOP. We waste no time appeasing. We do what is right for our nation. And we consistently understand that our job is to ensure that we support the Democratic party leaders and we work to win at the ballot box each and every time through voter registration and engagement. We can’t control the soulless and pathetic morass of the GOP. They’re toxic. But we can consistently out-vote them. Let Biden, Harris, Pelosi and Schumer, along with the new administration, take on the fight in D.C., and let the judicial system take on the guilty, from the orange man to every co-conspirator who incited the coup and engaged in all kinds of illegal activities. That’s their task. 

For the rest of us, forget the noise. It’s only a distraction. Instead, let’s take on the fight in every district in the nation to ensure continued blue waves on each election day. That’s our task. 

In November, 2021, we have 4 special U.S. House elections, along with many Governors, other state leaders, Mayoral and other local positions on ballots throughout the nation. And in November, 2022, the entire U.S. House and 34 U.S. Senators are up for election. Let’s get busy. That’s how we rid the nation of this GOP insanity.

Black History Month Represents Centuries of Slavery, Hatred and Bigotry  

February 1, 2021 – 10:45 am ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

It’s Black History Month. As white people, we need to envision and understand the history, starting in 1619 in Point Comfort, Virginia with the arrival of the first 20 African slaves brought onto the shores of this continent. This nation was built on the backbreaking work of enslaved black people for the following 250 years, and many of the nation’s founders and writers of the Declaration of Independence and subsequent U.S. Constitution were themselves slaveholders, unwilling to recognize the horrors of slavery and the institutional persecution of black people, and they baked racial inequality into the Constitution. Racism has always played a fundamental role in our nation since its inception. 

By the 1860 U.S. Census, there were 4 million black slaves in the U.S. just prior to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865 following the end of the Civil War (1861-1865). Eleven southern states initially created the Confederate States of America in 1860 and began the Civil War. The Confederacy existed for less than five years until 1865. And the Confederate (aka rebel) flag was created in 1863 and lasted less than two years. These states declared themselves to be independent of the U.S. after Lincoln was elected, so as to form a separate nation with highly limited central government and with the institution of black slavery at its core. Although based on centuries of brutal slavery and racism, the Confederacy was defeated in those five years, thus ending hundreds of years of the horrific institution of black slavery in the U.S. The end of the Confederacy should have marked the beginning of the inclusion of black Americans into the concept of “we the people.” 

But it didn’t. 

Institutionalized and systemic racism and white supremacy continued and grew in different forms and not restricted to the southern states. Slavery may have been abolished, but the disdain and cruelty towards black people immediately exploded following the passage of the 13th Amendment, with the formation of the KKK in 1865 in Tennessee, and years of continued riots of white people against black people, starting with those in New Orleans and Memphis in 1866. The following year, the Jim Crow laws era emerged and lasted 100 years until 1965, where denial of civil rights and horrific acts against black people, including mob lynchings and destruction of black homes and businesses, were the norm. As a part of it, came the destruction and massacre of vibrant black communities throughout the nation, including Greenwood, Tulsa (OK) in 1921 and Rosewood (FL) in 1923, to name just a few. 

Throughout the U.S., segregation, inferior housing and schools, lynching, redlining and ghettoization, economic subjugation, denial to medical access, political oppression through poll taxes and other forms of denying black people access to vote, and a deep-rooted cultural bias against black people and their ability to be free and equal remained and continues to be a part of the American experience. 

The modern civil rights movement of the 1960’s pushed the issue front-and-center and moved it forward. We saw black leaders being fire hosed and even murdered, including Medgar Evans (1963), Malcom X (1965) and MLK (1968). We saw children being attacked for going to school, and ordinary people being beaten or killed simply because they wanted black people to be treated not as lowly and dispensable, but as full human beings. And we saw the rise (and ultimate defeat) of Alabama Governor George Wallace as a serious national Democratic and then 3rd party presidential candidate, running on a segregationist platform.

Although advances were made, the 1960’s civil rights movement did not eradicate the multi-faceted institutional and systemic racism that remains part of the American psyche. Certainly, the Trumpian display of white supremacy and other racist beliefs are a reaction to having had an educated, eloquent, dignified and admired President Obama. And yet, we continue to see the ugly face of racism alive in our culture with racist policing and privatization of prisons, and in the full support from its enablers in the U.S. Congress and in other government bodies throughout the nation. We have seen the horrific racist response among many white people to the BLM movement, unwilling to stop the horror we see of black injustice through cell phone videos. 

And now, just a few weeks ago, Confederate and Nazi symbols of white supremacy were weaponized in our Capital through a violent act of insurrection by the supremacists, angered by the rejection of Trumpism and a Biden/Harris win, which the haters see another positive step for POC which should be battled. 

White supremacy is alive in America. And it’s our job as white people to grab our chisels and actively chip away at its foundation. We start by educating ourselves on black history and face the realities of that history, and America’s role in dehumanizing our fellow black citizens, from Point Comfort in 1619 up through today at the nation’s Capitol. For 400 years, white America has been and is racist. It's time for us to end that cycle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Sham of Trickle-Down Economics   

January 22, 2021 – 12:45 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

Let's look at this objectively. Trickle-down economics has failed. We've learned that when tax breaks are given to the wealthiest Americans and to the large corporations, those dollars do not quickly move back into the economy. No, they are hoarded. Sure some are invested in the market, but that has not produced a growth in wages, employment or consumer spending. Corporations often keep those windfalls and boost up their equity, and don't increase jobs and wages as a result. 

After all, we are a consumer based economy. Economic growth occurs when we have a stable and growing working and middle class that engages in purchasing of consumer goods and services, so that money quickly flows through the system. The rate of that flow broadens our economy.

When average consumers have more money, they spend it on new washing machines, cars, services, travel, homes, clothing, furnishings, restaurants, etc. And they do it on a significant scale. This creates jobs, wage increases and small business and corporate profits; it results in a robust economy. But when only the wealthy have more money, this cycle of growth doesn't occur. How many more washing machines, cars, etc. does the top 1% purchase? Not many, and consumer spending, the lynchpin of economy, stagnates. These windfalls do not move money back into the economy, and they money is hoarded in investments and corporate equity that typically do not trickle down. They don't result in job growth, wage increases, and other indices of economic growth. 

And, the stock market is not a measure of overall economic prosperity; it's an indication of what the market believes the future earnings will be among the listed companies on the various exchanges. And corporate earnings are very different than employment, wage, consumer confidence, housing starts and prices, etc. that are far more important measures of a nation's economic health. And when the super rich and large corporates don't pay taxes, the rest of the nation has to foot the bill, taking more away from the average consumer to spend. 

That's why the tax restructuring under the last administration added incredible wealth to the top 1%, but not to anyone else. With Janet Yellin at Treasury, and with the new Biden/Harris administration, let's hope that we relegate the trickle-down concept to the flat earth and blood-letting ideas of the past, and get busy on restructuring the current tax code to encourage growth among the working and middle class. Economies that are robust are dependent upon a robust working and middle class, with good wages, low unemployment, and low inflation, where the working and middle class pay disproportionally less in taxes than those at the top (and no taxes for the poor). Let's turn this around and get our economy on track to become a healthy and vibrant one. It's good for the average consumer and it's actually good for small business and the large corporations. In this new era of "truth." let's start talking truthfully about how to grow our economy.

A Future for Donald? Probably Not 

January 17, 2021 - 10:30 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

Imagine if Trump had simply waited in November for all ballots to be counted, gave a polite and conciliatory concession speech, and then quietly finished the remainder of his term. Things would have been quite different for him, his family, and for the GOP. He could have blamed COVID for his loss, claiming that his base didn’t trust the mail and were afraid to go to the polls because of the pandemic; he could have blamed the RNC for not raising sufficient campaign funds; he could have blamed whomever and whatever he wanted. He could have boasted about the number of states he won and the specific Senate and House races he kept in the GOP camp. He could have positioned himself as a “winner” with 75+ million votes, albeit insufficient to win the election. He could have focused on stopping the Democratic wins for Senate in Georgia. And, he could have told his base that he will be back as President in four years, jump-starting his next campaign with a roll-out schedule of fundraising events and rallies. His base would have remained loyal and Trump would have owned the GOP. 

But he didn’t. Of course he didn’t. 

He is a sociopath and a narcissist, and his psychiatric defects and history show us that nothing ever ends well with Trump. In an article I wrote after the election, I said that he would self-destruct in short order, because that’s what he does. He leaves behind a trail of lies, ruin and devastation, law suits, betrayals and animosity. He does not have the capacity to self-introspect, calmly and with expert guidance put together a plan that elevates him. No, he always goes for the gutter, turns on his allies, and winds up in bankruptcy court, civil court, divorce court (and soon criminal court), with everyone from friends to employees to contractors to his wives, all opposing him one way or another, destroying his reputation and wealth. Trump is consistently the ultimate loser and idiot, humiliated in the end. And that’s exactly what happened since the election. 

Now, he has incited insurrection and a coup against the United States, where people died, endangered the lives of the Congress, Vice President, and police, alienated the vast majority of Americans (his approval rate is an abysmal 26%), lost the allegiance of the leaders of the GOP as many have turned their backs on him, been rejected by businesses of all kinds who are running away from his “brand” and refusing to fund the GOP, and rejected by his bankers who are calling his loans and unwilling to re-finance. His family is ostracized (Ivanka and Jared were rejected from their country club of choice!) and afraid to go back to their homes in NYC or elsewhere. It looks like the whole family will all be sheltering in Mar-a-Lago – won’t that be cozy – and the city is going to start proceedings against them for staying longer than 21 days, as per city ordinance. And, they have lost their ability to use social media and to communicate to their base. America is tired of hearing from them. Moreover, the Trumps no longer have attorneys willing to represent them. No one wants to work with them anymore. 

Their political, financial, legal and social futures look dim, and they are isolated simply because Trump could not contain himself and finish his term with maturity and grace. And now he’s impeached again and soon going to trial in the U.S. Senate, along with other potential Federal and state arrests and trials. Poor Donny and his clan. Things aren’t looking good right now. Instead of becoming the new American King and Emperor, which he most likely thought would happen with the insurrection (he is so self-absorbed that in his mind it was a real possibility), he has been relegated to history as the worst U.S. President ever and will soon face a barrage of criminal accusations. 

More importantly, we are witnessing chaos within the GOP. It is splintering from all angles. Sycophantic supporters are running away in droves, and the reliable mega-donor financial backers dwindling. There are talks of 3rd parties, new right-wing media outlets (FOX news viewership is down 20%) and other divisive activities within the GOP to create schisms within from the very far right to the middle. And finally, the notion of “truth” as a core value emerging in the post-Trump era is becoming the new calling for the nation. These recent events have become a wake-up call.

All because of Trump’s inability to behave like an adult; all because his enablers kept silent until they were forced to deal with a domestic terrorist attack and attempted coup. The nation is finally and openly crying out that the emperor has no clothes and that his enablers need to be punished. My, my, my, how the mighty do fall.

 The Great Divide in America   

January 4, 2021 - 2:00 pm ET

By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (

This explains a lot … A recent and serious Vanderbilt University study (Political Science Professor Larry Bartels’ “Ethnic Antagonism Erodes Republicans’ Commitment to Democracy”) revealed something critical. The 2020 study compared people who are Republicans vs. Democrats in a national sample (n = 1,151) on a series of value statements. It found that Republicans are likely to believe that the most significant threat to the nation is that white people are diminishing in power, and POC and non-white immigrants are gaining in power. And, the study revealed that Republicans are prepared to engage in activities that that are counter to democracy and law so as to maintain white dominance, including the use of force. The study revealed that they do not view democracy as a critical value to uphold, and view anti-democratic actions as acceptable mechanisms for maintaining white control, even violence. Democrats, on the other hand, are very different and typically reject white supremacy, and they believe that democracy and law are of the highest value. This gap is real. For the majority of Republicans, it’s not economic, it’s not political ideology, it’s not positions on issues; no, it’s pure unbridled racism (and bundled into that is hatred of those who are not Christian and do not follow the white model of supremacy). And that is why Republicans have and continue to allow Trumpism to thrive, and there are no facts nor counter arguments to which they care to hear. This is America.

We have to face this serious divide. It’s ugly and pernicious. So let’s be clear, as a group, Republicans of all types today are more concerned about maintaining white supremacy than in upholding the Constitution and its democratic values and laws. This is alarming, and I believe the most serious threat to our democracy. The notion that we can all come together as a nation and heal seems insurmountable. Even in the midst of a national crisis like COVID, which should have brought us together for common cause, it only divided us further along these lines. Republican voters don’t care that Trump and his cohorts engage in illegal and unconstitutional activities, including attempting to upend the election. They don’t dismiss the insane conspiracies. Instead, they embrace these as rationales for promoting white dominance. They don’t follow what we expect as “normal” behavior from the electorate. And none of the outrageous activities and statements they see their leaders say or do evoke outrage from them. They don’t care, as first and foremost they are supremacists, and any path to maintain supremacy they view as justifiable.

I don’t know the solution, and I hope minds smarter than mine can find a path that takes us away from this divide. But to do that, we all need to begin to understand the basis of the chasm: the willingness of Republicans to dismiss democracy and law in the name of white supremacy. This is not a “difference of opinion.” There is no collective reasoning that can coalesce based on a shared belief of democratic values. And without common ground, it becomes impossible to govern. We are in an untenable bind, and all we can do at this point is to call it out for what it is and hold Republicans, from our families, friends and communities to elected Republican officials at every level, accountable for the culture of supremacy and anti-democratic values they have engendered. This study touches at the core of our national angst and it does not bode well for the future. Frightening.