David Herz for President
Because America is Already Great
The only liberal Republican Candidate

Thoughts of Mr. Herz

The Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

The source of the “crisis” in Gaza is finally becoming clearer to the West. This source - the jihadi mission to establish a world caliphate - is currently on view in Hamas' struggle to exterminate the Jew, this on the way to subjugating the rest of the world in the name of Islam.

But this is only a symptom of a larger crisis. Put simply, this crisis is the Western abandonment (if it ever really possessed them) of humanitarian values in favor of empty forms and farcical bodies, bodies which assume the mantle of humanitarian concern only when it fits a particular agenda.

Just a few days ago, the United States Senate passed Senate Resolution 526. In it, the Senate:

Laments all loss of innocent civilian life.
Condemns the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council's July 23, 2014 resolution calling for: (1) an investigation of Israel while not mentioning Hamas's continued assault against Israel, and (2) an investigation into potential human rights violations by Israel in the current Gaza conflict without mentioning Hamas's assault against innocent civilians and its use of civilian shields.
Supports Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas's rocket assault and destroy Hamas's tunnel system into Israel's territory.
Condemns Hamas's terrorist actions and use of civilians as human shields.
Supports U.S. mediation efforts for a durable cease fire agreement that ends Hamas's rocket assault and leads to Gaza's demilitarization.
Supports additional funding to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missiles and enhance Israel's defensive capabilities.

I wonder at the depth of this lamentation as the world has stood aside and watched the fires spread which brought 200 million to early graves in the last century. But more than this, I decry the perceived necessity to declare what should be patently obvious: “We, of the West, think a peace-loving country should be allowed to defend itself.” To me, this is akin to “We affirm the right of a goalie to wear a cup.”

And where is the humanity in a durable cease-fire if the cease-fire is characterized by Hamas' continued persecution of the population in Gaza. Demilitarization itself will not stop any reign of terror.

What must be understood is that Israel stands at the front of a clash of ideas about civilization. This is difficult for the West to understand because most of us have been raised in a tradition that long ago rejected states based on religion. We have come to accept a live and let live attitude. We also tend to think that others think as we do. In this case, this mixture is the basis of much death and suffering.

We can not see the obvious, that a certain vicious stream of Islam is at war with our Western values. This is a stream that sees world submission to its view of Allah as the only way forward, and is willing to kill and even terrorize and manipulate its own people in order to move this agenda forward.

What we must realize is that we cannot fight this ideological war with conventional weapons alone. Complete military domination is only the backdrop against which a campaign of deprogramming and indoctrination can take place. And we loath such words as we like to think of ourselves as liberals the rightness of whose ideas is self-evident.

But if we want a humanitarian solution, we must replace the dominant Palestinian ideology with one which fosters “an ethic of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings.” The program of hate must be eliminated and the Western value of respect and value for human life must be brought to the fore.

This is a tall order, perhaps impossible, but worth the effort. If it succeeds, it could bring with it an Arab spring that proceeds to summer. To accomplish this, Gaza must be occupied completely and for the immediate term, in both a military and civil sense. It must be placed in the hands of a strong, ethical governor. He and his staff must scrub Gaza of every hint of militarism and hate. Streets named after “martyrs” must be renamed, textbooks fostering lies and hate must be destroyed, sermons demonizing the other disallowed, loudspeakers on mosques dismantled, and choice and freedom (except perhaps to spout and pursue evil) guaranteed.

Unfortunately, the United Nations is unequal to this task. It must be undertaken by the strong and the righteous. It is best done by a Jew, the display of whose strong hand just might influence Hamas. It is a difficult task, but there are precedents. It is the path by which General MacArthur gave us modern day Japan. It is the path - perhaps the only path - that can give us a second liberal democratic state in the Middle East, and another true model for representative government in the region.


July 4, 2014

At this time of celebration of America's Independence, I am inspired again by the courage it took to declare certain “truths”:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

To the crown, attendance of the Second Continental Congress was an act of “treason and rebellion.” We were at war when the Declaration was adopted and the Continental Congressmen put themselves at risk by signing. But I don't think they could help themselves, This was the expression of a vision within their grasp, but at the same time a bold act that would in time bring a new and vibrant model of republican government to this world.

As we look around the world, we should note how exceptional the realization of this vision was and remains. The notion that our fellow countrymen are born equal to us is quite remarkable in human history. Our country was born into a world of monarchies and empires. To this day, there are castes, and slavery, and attempts by religions to dominate the political sphere.

The notion of unalienable rights remain unrealized in most of the world. In 77 countries, homosexuality is a crime. Fewer than a third of the world's countries are considered to have a free press. There are still 30 million slaves in the world. “Three-quarters of the world's approximately 7 billion people live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion.” It seems our right to expression has not met the ideal our founders envisioned.

This week, the intolerance has been painfully real for me. It was witnessed in the finding of the bodies of three teenage students, two the age of my son, in Israel abducted and murdered simply because they were Jews. These people were deprived of their unalienable right to life simply because of who they are. Unfortunately the impetus to these killings remains as the widely held hatred of the other fostered by certain religions and peoples. America is still seen as the Great Satan. September 11 is still celebrated by Al-Qaida. ISIS, the “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” have declared that they will liberate Spain. Riots break out in France when police carry out an identity check.

But the past few weeks have also brought us acts of bravery, of which I would like to highlight two in the hope that they will inspire us all to stand up for these “unalienable rights.” Two Israelis, who happen to be Arab, Yihye Zakaria Mahameed and Mohammad Zoabi stood up and denounced the kidnapping of the three students. They are now faced with threats of violence and death for celebrating life.

It appears to me that what we in the west hold as self-evident is not so evident to others; these are rights that we must be ever-vigilant to strengthen and maintain. And this is my blessing for the American people. We should stand proud, especially today, of the rights enjoyed by the people of our republic and of free nations the world over. We are where we are today because of our stand against tyranny and our willingness to put lives on the line for humanity's “inalienable rights.” May we be ever blessed by our Creator to be the light of freedom and act accordingly.


It Takes a Community to . . .

Questions on the design of society's institutions, the theory being that the presence of a stronger sense of community will maximize desired outcomes.

I have been taken recently by questions of how the compartmentalization of societal functions (e.g. education, housing, caring for the elderly or infirm, trading or conducting business) results in an approach to those functions that neglects a basic foundation of human existence, which is that we are hard-wired to be part of communities. (I've actually been so taken by this that I'd like to make it my work until I am elected, so this is also a shout out to any of you who are rethinking the design and structures of cities you run or live in, and want a partner in effecting positive change.)

A google search for the phrase “it takes a community” returns 1.7 million results that suggest that community is important not just for educating a child, but for dealing with addiction, taking care of the elderly or infirm, making Halloween fun, tackling truancy, protecting the environment, serving a veteran and achieving just about anything positive that involves another human being in this world.

My desired outcome is informed, empathetic, concerned, successful citizens leading meaningful lives, with a certain percentage (I'll kick it off at 5%) committed to effecting positive change in the world.

I think our neglect of the power of community to effect this outcome results in a piece-meal approach that in many cases serves to exacerbate existing problems. For instance, we may want people to understand history or engage in scientific study. To do this, we could choose to hand out and demand the study of certain textbooks, or we could put children in contact with our scientists and the keepers of our most recent history.

We may also want to give working people, retired people, and people of limited mobility an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the younger generation, incidentally creating meaningful connections across age groups. If we think in terms of community structures, this suggests creating spaces shared by these groups rather than facilities strictly separated. It may also suggest the localization of structures and the limiting of community sizes to ensure a genuine connection between people. A congregation of 20 worshippers has a decidedly different feel than one of a thousand. Or in more secular terms, a runners' group has a different feel than the community of people running a marathon, though the group may provide a powerful space to prepare one for the big race.

I look at a place like Detroit (it's probably more of an idea to me than a place as I've never been there), and I want to redesign it (or any of a thousand other American cities or towns) or at least encourage the establishment of structures within it so that strong communities may form to support all community members in achieving their desired outcomes, which I hope align a little bit with my own.

So I throw this out to my people, and ask that you take a look at the communities which provide the contexts that allow you to thrive, and would appreciate your thoughts on how we can empower others to create communities to help them do the same. My guess is that many of us take for granted the ease with which we create and draw on the communities which empower us (our families, our facebook groups, the people at our regular coffee shop), but I suggest that our ease in creating the structures that support us is not so common.

I come from an education bias. I'd love to hear from people with other perspectives as well, and would especially appreciate citations to research that relate to the benefits or costs of community, and approaches that start at the local level.

If you think these thoughts are wrong-headed or mis-directed, I'd love to hear that as well. I do get some of the circumstances that make achieving this redesign interesting: that budgets for schools, community centers and support of retirees may come from different places; that government subsidies for individuals (Section 8, WIC, etc.) may need to be rethought and allowed to be reallocated to communities; and even that union contracts may have to be revisited to allow people to paint or clean their own schools or community centers.

As to immediate measures, I look for instance at Detroit because it is relatively flat, providing a lower housing density and more open spaces. One could select even as small as a block at a time to try to create populations that can work with each other. Considering the deterioration in various neighborhoods, it is possible that even one well heated house in reasonable repair can serve as a magnet for community activity, which could be anything from hosting a pot-luck meal, providing space for hobby groups to meet, working in a garden, to having children read with an elder member of a community (there appears to be a direct correlation between reading proficiency at ages 10-11 and prison populations 20 years later; I suspect this might be good for the senior as well; I hope people will point me to some relevant research). It might be that mentoring others in a business setting has positive effects on family life or rates of addiction, I have no idea, but I think decent data will suggest initiatives that make a difference, and that this can well drive the how, which could and probably should take as many forms as there are communities.

Last, if you are involved with a government or organization that is looking in this direction, I'd like to be a part of the effort. Please be in touch at [email protected]


The LAX shooting

This is in response to the article, There is Nothing Random About the LAX Shooting, by Charles P. Pierce in Esquire

Here's the thing. We can admit that the ready availability of guns correlates with a greater amount of gun violence. However, we have a constitutional provision that guarantees the right to bear arms, a provision written with our own revolution against tyranny in mind, one in which citizen soldiers took on a government to assert their inalienable rights. To register with the government every firearm gives it the ability to confiscate the ability to revolt against the next iteration of governmental tyranny. Perhaps this seems to many a distant eventuality that does not justify current access to arms; but it's there in the constitution and such change should be pursued at the constitutional level, where change is slow and deliberate, not the knee jerk reaction to current events.

Yes, guns make it easier to kill people, but there are many other factors we can address without changing the constitution, factors as simple as diet, the tacit acceptance of a certain social contract, access to mental health care, the effects of one size fits all (or I'd suggest doesn't fit anyone) schooling, the effects of poor parenting, ineffective policing, or the militarization of our police forces, basic training in self-defense, or crazy gunman preparedness.

For every person who picks up a gun and starts a shootin', I'd guess there are a thousand more who feel similarly broken or enraged, whom society has failed, but who simply don't express their anger or illness by shooting. The shooting is just a symptom of a larger social disease. Where is the desperate outcry to prevent the destruction of potential by the crack-pipe, alcohol, abuse, or even well-meaning government programs that strip people of their dignity?

There is really nothing random in our creation of dis-empowering dependencies either, and they do a lot more damage to the human spirit and our potential as a nation, and our willingness to take care of each other. We might actually have fewer shootings if we actually personally took on making a difference, instead of irrationally expecting another half-baked law to provide some remedy.


Policing

One of my boys - Uri - has really taken to a show called American Guns. For the most part, I think this is great. The Wyatts and their crew are a great example of people living their passion. There are lessons about negotiation, fair play, employee management, good business, family relations, safety, history, and respect. The show really has a lot going for it. There is a particular respect for people who serve, which I really dig

One of the things the Wyatts do at their shop, Gunsmoke, is make guns. If you want it, and it shoots, they'll find a way to make it. If it's special to you, they'll make it more special. If it's fashion you want, you can have a gun to match your team colors or your purse.

So I found myself surprised that one item of beauty they made so disturbed me. Actually I am disturbed that they chose to make this one gun ordered into a thing of beauty. It was a sniper rifle. I can almost understand a police department determining it has a need for such a weapon, but I can't understand making it beautiful.

It is bad enough that two of the five thousand dollar cost of this weapon went to the paint job, but that's for the people of Avon to take up with their police chief. But the sole purpose of this gun is to kill humans. It's use represents the nadir of human society, the point where society and policing have failed, where reason and good counsel have been incompetent to bring a person back from the abyss, where the troubles and disturbances of a lifetime have caused a person to act with such reckless disregard of life that we justify a police chief ordering its termination with extreme prejudice. This at it's best. At worst, the use of such a weapon could be the end consequence of shoddy policing causing a managable situation to escalate.

I don't want a cop taken in by the beauty of a weapon like this when he is about to snuff out a life. I'd rather see a reminder on that weapon that the target is someone's child, a unique soul who, until that trigger is pulled, can choose a different path, who might indeed be contemplating it, or who could with the right talking down. Perhaps a picture of that cops own child should be pasted to the side of a sniper rifle just to remind him that he is about to kill someone's child, father, brother, or husband.

But perhaps just as disturbing was the appearance of Avon's snipers in fatigues to come test the rifle. It's time to stop the militarization of our police forces. Our police are here to protect and serve. That includes each and every one of us. There is no one out there against whom “society” needs police protection.

This is not to say that special weapons, training or uniforms don't have a place. They are appropriate in certain situations, but the default position should be one of familiarity and a feeling that we are all on the same team. And my guess is that a lot of police training emphasizes this. That said, those who run the police show should also be aware of the impression that those they serve are left with, and adjust their presentation to make sure the right message is received.