Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sound the Alarm

To anyone who reads history and cares about a free society, today should be a particularly haunting day. A respected member of the press denied credentials because he asks tough questions of the President of the United States. And the President continues to call the media “the enemy of the people.”

The President ridding the Department of Justice of those conducting an investigation of wrongdoing in his Administration. The President, with support of the Senate Leader, threatening retaliation if the independent and equal legislative branch does its job of oversight and investigation.

Military troops called to the border to “defend” against a non-existent “invasion,” although now that the mid-term election is over, we may see the “invasion” miraculously disappear and the troops called back to the barracks.

This is a playbook like those followed in Russia, Venezuela, Turkey, North Korea and other oppressive regimes, not democracies. History teaches that those who are silent in the face of this onslaught on democracy are complicit in it.

When I write or say comments like this, many people call me an alarmist. I plead guilty. I am an alarmist.

The thing about being an alarmist is that it is a thankless characteristic. If the development you express alarm about comes true, it is a terrible situation. An alarmist who sounded the alarm for the right reasons takes no pleasure in that. On the other hand, if the subject of your alarm does not come true, people say “See, there was nothing to worry about. You’re an alarmist.” But how do we know if, but for alarmists sounding the alarm, the catastrophe would have happened?

We know that the alarms sounded in Europe in the early 1930’s were largely discounted. The late California senator Alan Cranston, then a journalist, tried to sound alarms. So did William Dodd, the historian who became the first U.S. ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s reign and whose family is the subject of Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts.” Many called them alarmists.

I am sure there were alarmists in Rwanda whose alarms were attributed to hyper-sensitivity, or worry, or to being, well, alarmists. Same in Cambodia as Pol Pot came to power. Likewise in Kosovo.

No, I don’t think genocide is coming to the U.S. But we are seeing behavior that portends a threat to freedoms and democracy. Actions and words detailed in the first paragraphs above, combined with a myriad of other disturbing behavior, poses a real threat to the country and, by extension, to the world.

It is time for good alarmists who know their history to sound the alarm.


  1. The erosion of liberal democratic values in the U.S. … upheld by moderate democrats and republicans since the second world war … is indeed frightening.

    The world needs more Canada

  2. As always you manage to put our thought and concerns so eloquently!

  3. With all due respect, you should be more alarmed with some radical democrats recently elected and their hatred of Israel.
    The US has some very real hate growing towards Jews. It can’t be all blamed on a bombastic President. I noticed most divisiveness start between race and classes 8 years ago.

  4. “In the Garden of Beasts” was an frightening book. Noting the use of it in your 'alarm' is too bewildering for me to understand. I ask that you kindly remove me from your random thoughts.

  5. Alan, had a conservative reporter treated a liberal President with such disrespect would there be such alarm. From here it looked like the reporter was overly combative and lacked even nominal civility. Even the young woman.

    Why not instead focus on how good the Trump administration is toward Israel and the Jewish people. Far more compelling and productive than more demo/left/msm resistance. All this other noise is just fluff, not the end of the world.

  6. Very, very scary! Unfortunately, those who need to understand this are too ignorant and too stupid to do so. Very, very scary!

  7. Funny how political bias works … I have mine, and you obviously have your’s … as is clearly evident in which way you decide to interpret each of these Trump actions. For example:

    Accosta was a total grandstanding boob, who shoved away a young, female intern who was going to pass the microphone to another reporter after Accosta had asked and debated the President for longer than any other reporter (as he is wont to do, and which gets him all sorts of brownie points on CNN and MSNBC).

    His job is to seek truth and ask questions of those in power, not to grandstand, take up everyone’s time and actually consider himself on par with the President by openly debating him during a formal press event. Accosta did not comport to any journalistic codes of conduct (he never does), and his inappropriate behavior was done during a press event where the president took over 3 dozen questions (almost all hostile) and answered the media for over an hour and-a-half.

    I think your concerns about the 1st Amendment would be better aimed at what’s happening in our public universities or in the public square, where people voicing right-leaning opinions are sometimes violently shut-down.

    And re: DoJ/FBI … have you not read the actual, primary source information about the real-time thinking and scheming of those working in these Departments, who were seeking an “insurance policy” for the candidate (then President-elect) that they “despised”? Sessions proved incapable or unwilling to clean up the obvious, partisan corruption that had taken root during Obama’s tenure in both the DoJ (where he called the former AG Holder his political “wingman”), as well as to publicly expose the confidential unmasking scandal that was happening within the Obama Administration (particularly Susan Rice and Samantha Powers — who unmasked dozens of confidential wire-tap sources).

    And with 80% of Los Angeles Unified pupils being Hispanic, most of whom don’t speak English and many being from illegal immigrant parents, is it truly out of bounds for the Commander-in-Chief to place troops at our border to secure it for lawful entry (since Congress under Dem’s and GOP control haven’t done ANYTHING about “catch and release”, fraudulent asylum requests — 98% which never return for their court dates, etc.)?

    I could go on, but suffice it to say that your latest thoughts reveal your own deep-seeded biases. It isn’t your alarmist tone that concerns me. It’s your total lack of self-awareness, simply going with the popular flow to criticize everything Trump does. I choose to question conventional wisdom before simply parroting it, and I thought you did, too.

    I hope you take this criticism in the respectful terms in which I have tried to offer them, because I truly value your insights about Israel and other unique observances.

  8. Thank you for voicing an alarm that many of us have been feeling (and that some have been voicing) for a long while now. The complete abandonment of truth in favour of political expediency is alarming. The utter desertion of any notion of civility in discourse (public & private) is alarming. The use of the bully pulpit for raw bullying purposes and no other is alarming. The suppression of the free press is alarming. Like you, I could go on and on.

    Let’s all pledge (north of the border; south of the border; and around the world) to raise and continue to ever stridently sound the alarm … and more than that, to individually & collectively do what’s necessary to put out the hate-filled bonfire of racist, misogynist, anti-pluralist, and anti-democratic bullying in the USA that belches forth from the current US President and that is creeping, creeping, creeping around the globe.

  9. Jim Acosta acted very inappropriately and deserved getting his credentials pulled. He is as big a bully as Trump BUT he is not the President who was patient up to a point at that exchange (even surprisingly so for him) when Acosta just wouldn't shut up.
    As far as the new appointee as interim AG - lets see what happens before everyone thinks the sky is falling. As far as the Mueller probe - two years in and an army of investigators and lawyers - time to put up or shut up. To me the bigger threat to democracy was the monkey business that set off the Mueller probe, the comments from Rosenstein (just a joke - ha ha!) about wearing a wire, the tarmac meeting and Lois Lerner. I think there was a much greater politicization of the levers of power under the Obama administration and its continuation at the start of the Trump Presidency than whatever has occurred from the Trump administration.
    We do live in scary times because of the incredible polarization of America and the rhetoric from BOTH sides, eg "press is the enemy of the people" vs. the ridiculousness of the Dems behavior at the Kavanaugh judiciary committee hearing.
    So my summary opinion - lets all tone it down at least 30 degrees and talk about something less controversial like the weather. (Well maybe that's not a good idea either!)

  10. Well concerns as well. These are very dangerous times and I am not reassured that our system of checks and balances, our institutions, will be up to the task of protecting democracy.

  11. I hope that the troops stay and the border is protected.

    Do you not believe that we need a border?

  12. I’ve been saying this to most of my friends. They seem to have their heads stuck in the sand. Especially, after the Tree Of Life incident. They don’t want to believe or deny it can happen to Jews in America. After Charlottesville, Trump unleashed the “dogs of war”.

  13. Well put, Alan. And, you are not alone as an alarmist. Many of us feel the same way.

  14. You're so right. this is all scary - let's hope our vote will count for something and the new congress will actually be able to oppose this evil being.

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