Monday, December 11, 2017

Can Bad People Do Good Things?

President Trump's declaration about Jerusalem, delivered as part of an excellent and uncharacteristically presidential speech (and following on the heels of Mike Pence's incredible speech at Israel's UN celebration last week), is a fascinating phenomenon. It's really brought some antisemites out of the woodwork, from the appalling London Times cartoon depicting a kippa-wearing Trump smashing a dove to death against the Western Wall, to Linda Sarsour's declaration that Jerusalem is definitively not the capital of Israel and that Trump does not speak for her (to which someone wittily responded, "No, Hamas does!")

Was it a good thing for Israel? Virtually everyone I know agrees that the answer is clearly yes. While it isn't as concrete as we would hope - it is far from certain that the embassy will ever actually move, and the next President could easily walk this all back, without having to formally revoke it - it is a tremendous political boost. Furthermore, the fact that everyone and their mother warned that this would result in hell being unleashed, and yet nothing particularly significant happened as a result, clearly demonstrated that histrionics can often safely be ignored. And the claims that this destroys or even harms the chances of peace are nonsense. In the extremely unlikely event that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is ever attained, it will not be due to Israel have demonstrated a willingness to concede things, but rather due to it having been proved that Israel is here to stay, and the Palestinians accepting that the Western Wall is the Western Wall.

Still, some very fine people that I know were not in a celebratory mood. The reason for this was that Trump is not a particularly savory individual, to put it mildly. Aside from being petulant and childish and vain and having no regard for truth, he is a rather nasty person who has taken joy in being extremely offensive to many people, especially women. So how can one celebrate his acts - and indeed, how can it even be possible for such a person to do something worth celebrating?

While I understand how these people feel - imagine if it was Yosef Mizrachi, a person of similar character traits - I believe this attitude to be mistaken. One person protested, "This is not what the good Lord meant when he promised this land to Avraham and his descendants. Not like this." To which I responded, "That's what Satmar said."

It would be nice if the world was black-and-white, divided into good people and bad people, with good people always doing good and bad people only doing bad. But the reality is not that way. The world is complex and people are complex. Rarely is someone thoroughly good or bad, and even if they are that way, they can sometimes do things that are at odds with this. 

Our history is replete with celebrations of good things that were accomplished by not very good people. To give some extreme examples, as has been pointed out, King Ahab, who married a non-Jew, encouraged idol worship and stood silent while his wife killed a prophet, was told by a prophet that he would lead troops to miraculous victory. Omri, identified as a greater sinner than all the wicked Jewish kings before him, merited a long-lasting dynasty because he added a city to the Land of Israel despite the fact that his intention in adding that city was to eliminate Jerusalem as the focus of the Jews! Herod rebuilt the Beis HaMikdash. There are many Jewish boys named after Alexander, in gratitude for all that he did for the Jewish People, notwithstanding the fact that he was something of a despot. We appreciate the good, even when it is accomplished by different people than we would have hoped for.

Furthermore, the inverse is certainly true; good people can do bad things. Most people would agree that Rav Steinman is a selfless, caring person (there is an amazing account of his refusing to accept back-pay because he had already been mochel it), and yet his repeated opposition to charedim receiving the education necessary to earn a living is to be lamented. Rav Chaim Kanievsky is revered as a righteous scholar, and yet he defended the monster Elior Chen. So if good people can do bad things, why can't bad people do good things?

There is an odd mix of people denouncing Trump's speech - the Palestinians (though the response from the rest of the Arab world is muted), the Europeans, the UN, Democrats, and both Satmar Rebbes (at last, something that they can finally agree upon!). But we don't need to agree with them. Regardless of what kind of person Trump is, his speech was Good For The Jews.


Don't forget to book your Chanukah tour at The Biblical Museum of Natural History, and see our new exhibits! Book online at www.BiblicalNaturalHistory.org!

168 comments:

  1. Aside from being petulant

    Snooze.

    and childish
    snooze

    and vain

    Snooze

    and having no regard for truth

    LOL. Diversity is our strength! There's no such thing as race! Homosexuals are just like you and me! Islamic immigration makes us stronger! There are no inherent mental differences between men and women, but a man can be born with a woman's brain because SCIENCE!

    he is a rather nasty person who has taken joy in being extremely offensive to many people, especially women.

    With no exceptions that I know of, the people he takes pleasure in being offensive to, are bad people.

    Compared to most western leaders who take positive pleasure in wreaking havoc in their own countries and around the world based on their sick egalitarian religion, Trump is a saint.

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    1. Another perfect example of the phenomenon. Gavriel M likes Trump's policies, so it must be that the women whose vaginas he grabbed must have been bad people who deserved it. Ditto for the small businessmen who he ripped off. They had it coming. I'm sure that the 14yo who Moore assaulted must have deserved it too. Trump and Moore just doing their jobs to punish evil wherever it is found. How altruistic of them!

      Quite sickening, but par for the course.

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    2. Stephen Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Rafael Cruz, Heidi Cruz, are all "bad people?" He has been offensive to an incredible number of people, are you really willing to declare them all bad? Or does "bad" in your book mean anyone who is on the wrong side of your "saint" at the moment? Disgraceful.

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    3. I'll never forget when he said regarding McCain "I like people who weren't captured." What a slap in the face to prisoners of war and those missing or killed in action. I wonder how their families felt. Bad people, of course.

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    4. Gavriel M likes Trump's policies, so it must be that the women whose vaginas he grabbed must have been bad people who deserved it.

      What he said was that if you are famous, sexually loose young women allow you to do things to them that would be considered sexual assault if they were done by less famous, less rich or less attractive males. Nowadays, I lead a pretty sheltered life, but that accords pretty well with my memory of how things worked at school and university. I'm pretty sure that goes a fortiori for the entertainment industry.

      I'm sure that the 14yo who Moore assaulted must have deserved it too.

      LOL. Triggered. She's already been proved to be a liar. All you have is that Roy Moore who appears to have mild Aspergers, waited to find a bride until his 30s then sought out younger women because like any self respecting man he didn't want to be where a bunch of other guys had been and didn't want some crazy cat lady. At most, he tried to get to second base with a woman who wasn't sure whether she was ready. Whoopdedoo. Just because you subscribe to Maoist sexual ethics doesn't mean everyone else has to.

      Ditto for the small businessmen who he ripped off. They had it coming.

      Oh noes! Dome of his business practices were questionable. That's much worse than sending 4,486 Americans to die for nothing in Iraq like Troo Conservatives do.

      Stephen Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Rafael Cruz, Heidi Cruz, are all "bad people?"
      Ted Cruz is OKish on a good day. The rest, yeah.

      I'll never forget when he said regarding McCain

      McCain is a warmongering, treasonous blowhard who trades off the fact he was captured. Ordinary Americans were delighted someone finally told him to shove it.

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    5. So...in other words everyone you don't like is a bad person. What a very convenient worldview.

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    6. What he said was that if you are famous, sexually loose young women allow you to do things to them that would be considered sexual assault if they were done by less famous, less rich or less attractive males. Nowadays, I lead a pretty sheltered life, but that accords pretty well with my memory of how things worked at school and university. I'm pretty sure that goes a fortiori for the entertainment industry.

      Kristin Anderson was deep in conversation with acquaintances at a crowded Manhattan nightspot and did not notice the figure to her right on a red velvet couch — until, she recalls, his fingers slid under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh and touched her vagina through her underwear.

      Anderson shoved the hand away, fled the couch and turned to take her first good look at the man who had touched her, she said.

      She recognized him as Donald Trump: “He was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows.”

      ...

      After business concluded, Harth and Houraney were on tour of Mar-a-Lago along with a group of young pageant contestants – Trump wanted to “see the quality of the girls he was sponsoring”, Harth recalled – when he pulled her aside into one of the children’s bedrooms.

      “He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again,” Harth said, “and I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’ It was a shocking thing to have him do this because he knew I was with George, he knew they were in the next room. And how could he be doing this when I’m there for business?”

      At most, he tried to get to second base with a woman who wasn't sure whether she was ready. Whoopdedoo.

      On a second visit, she [a 14 year girl] says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.

      “I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.

      ...

      I used to be a little entertained by your quirky opinions, but now I see that you simply a morally degenerate person (at least your online persona is).

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    7. Gavriel M, it would have helped if you read the second half of the sentence you quoted, which is where the main point was located. It wasn't about McCain, but rather about disrespect for thousands of POW/MIA. You also do not represent 'ordinary Americans' as a vast majority are repulsed by your false messiah.

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    8. David,

      Your hatred of Trump is so great that you take literally a statement about grabbing body parts that can't even be grabbed. But that's normal for Trump haters. All logic, all facts, and all sense of proportion go out the window. And when Gavriel responded to you by pointing out that in that video Trump clearly said women let him touch them (shocker!), you switched subjects and stopped discussing the video.

      And I like how you stand up for all the morally pure female teenagers out there. In your world, Moore and Trump live in Victorian England, touching highly innocent women who faint at even the thought of men touching them. Are you aware, by the way, that Charlie Chaplin's first two wives were 16? Are you aware that a 1968 movie nominated for Best Picture had a naked 16-year-old in it? Have you heard of the Sexual Revolution? Have you read about the number of contemporary teenagers who know more about the world than 60-year-old women did 50 years ago? Please stop pretending.

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    9. Your hatred of Trump is so great that you take literally a statement about grabbing body parts that can't even be grabbed.

      Wow, really? This defense is worse than Trump's.

      But that's normal for Trump haters. All logic, all facts, and all sense of proportion go out the window.

      You have the causality backwards. I always vote Republican, but could not vote Trump.

      And when Gavriel responded to you by pointing out that in that video Trump clearly said women let him touch them (shocker!), you switched subjects and stopped discussing the video.

      I apologize for saying this, but this is completely idiotic and makes you look like an idiot. He admits sexually assaulting women on the video. That is why he denied actually doing what he said and claimed it was "locker room talk". Yes, he was able to [insert appropriate word] their vaginas because he got them before they could figure out what the hell to do to get away from this sex assailant.

      And I like how you stand up for all the morally pure female teenagers out there.

      My God, you are hitting every absurd justification for rape every invented. People who have sex voluntary can still be raped.

      I'm amazed at the number of readers of this blog who class child sex abuse as normal behavior. I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the number of anti-Vaxxers. It thought that this was a fairly intelligent forum, but I guess not. I'm thinking that unfortunately Jewish education needs a serious reform. I knew about the tolerance of racism, but not about the sex abuse apologetics.


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    10. Science supports differences between men and women. Don't blame science for crazy leftism.

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    11. Only those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome take the P-grabbing comment literally, as if he was telling the aptly named Billy Bush that he runs around grabbing body parts.

      Funny, he didn't grab on Nancy odell, did he, despite explaining to Billy that he tried (and failed) to hit on her.

      Use your brain. The nbc tape was an attempt to prevent Trump from becoming president. Not a Harvey weinstein style dam-breaking exposure.

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    12. David Ohsie: While I find your innocence genuinely touching, I'm afraid I'm going to have to explain something about the birds and the bees. Among humans and other primates we observe a thing called 'seduction'. This happens when one primate (usually, but not always the male) wants to engage in sexual activity and the other doesn't. At this point, the intiator will engage in various verbal and physical actions to cajole the other. If it works, the eventual fun is positively proportional to the amount of resistance that had to be overcome. If you want to learn more about this fascinating area of human behaviour you can go to any second hand bookstore and pick up a romance novel for two or three shekel, or you could just ask your wife to let you look at hers.

      Now, all that being said, seduction - as well as being not a thing that good Jewish boys should be doing outside marriage - is prone to problems because
      (a) Some men are extremely inept at seduction.
      (b) Some women are harder to seduce than others.
      (c) The same woman is harder or easier to seduce from day to day based on numerous unknowable factors.
      (d) The same seduction techniques that work on one woman will spectacularly backfire on other women.

      So, inevitably, a lot of feelings get hurt. Now, the view of Troo Conservatives and the Maoists who tell them what to think is that while buggery is normal and adultery is venial, unsuccessful attempts at seduction (or even successful attempts that are regretted in retrospect) are so heinous that they can only be classed with racism and homophobia in the list of crimes that should destroy your entire life. Apart from the obvious concerns one might have about launching hysterical witch hunts against unavoidable side effects of normal heterosexual behaviour, we can also observe the following:
      (i) Eyewitness testimony has been shown time and time again to be unreliable because people misremember events they witness or which happened to them, even without any desire to consciously lie.
      (ii) If you tell women who have messed up their life that all their problems stem from a messy sexual encounter 40 years ago, which, in retrospect, was a highly traumatic assault, they will likely go along with it.
      (iii) If people have a strong incentive to misremember an incident that happened decades ago because, in so doing, they will be hailed around the globe for being so 'brave', then it's likely they will do so.
      (iv) Sometimes people - get this! - lie.

      All of which makes one question whether replacing traditional sexual morality with Maoist holiness crusades is really a good idea. Google, for example, Ryan Lizza. What goes around, after all, comes around.

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    13. Student v: That is exactly what he said and what people said about him long before he was a candidate.

      According to you Trump himself must be suffering from Trump derangement syndrome because he has taken to denying that it was really him on the tape saying those supposedly innocent things:

      "Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording's authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all. Most of Mr. Trump's aides ignored his changing story. But in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that
      he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women's genitals. "We don't think that was my voice," Mr. Trump told the senator, according
      to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president."

      As I mentioned, I support trumps judicial nominees, I am against the ACA, and I think that the corporate tax rate needs to be cut. I could not vote for Clinton, but I could also not vote for Trump. I also believe that Trump is a guilty of sex abuse.

      Use your brain.

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    14. David,

      Maybe, just maybe, we have a different definition of child abuse than yours. Incidentally, ours happens to be closer to Torah values (considering that a woman is a full adult according to halacha at age 12), but we'll leave that aside.

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    15. Ridiculous. If we are going to be insanely literal about his lockerroom talk then let's really be literal. He said they let you do anything when you're famous which is largely true and which means they consent to it.

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    16. Gavriel M: Reading is fundamental. The first example was simple sexual assault exactly as Trump describe on tape. Trump himself disagrees with your assessment of the episode as "seduction", since he was not married at the time and still denies it and others say they never saw such behavior, which you regard as commonplace.

      With regard to the fallibility of memory, the episode was contemporaneously related to others. Thank God people like you are a shrinking minority. Even deep red Alabama could not abide your sickness to vote for Moore.

      "Kristin Anderson was deep in conversation with acquaintances at a crowded Manhattan nightspot and did not notice the figure to her right on a red velvet couch — until, she recalls, his fingers slid under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh and touched her vagina through her underwear.

      Anderson shoved the hand away, fled the couch and turned to take her first good look at the man who had touched her, she said.

      She recognized him as Donald Trump: “He was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows.”

      At the time of the incident, which Anderson said took place in the early 1990s, she was in her early 20s, trying to make it as a model. She was paying the bills by working as a makeup artist and restaurant hostess. Trump was a big celebrity whose face was all over the tabloids and a regular presence on the New York club scene.

      The episode, as Anderson described it, lasted no more than 30 seconds. Anderson said she and her companions were “very grossed out and weirded out” and thought, “Okay, Donald is gross. We all know he’s gross. Let’s just move on.”

      Over the years, Anderson, now 46 and a photographer living in Southern California, recounted the story to people she knew, casually at first.

      One friend, Kelly Stedman, told The Washington Post that Anderson told her about the encounter a few days after it happened."

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    17. David Ohsie:

      The age of consent in Germany and Portgual is 14, in Japan is 13, in France, Denmark and is 15 etc. For the entirety of Jewish history until a century ago most Jewish women married before they were 16, in Islamic countries it was even lower (Ha Gaon Rav Qaffiq zal married his wife when she was 11 [!]). For crying out loud, the actual sitting president of France literally right now entered into a sexual relationship with his now wife at 15 when she was 39. Age of consent laws in Anglo Saxon countries are a leftover from unhealthy and inaccurate Victorian ideas about sex and as literally everyone knows they are not enforced because if they were enforced there would be no space in prison.

      A thirty year old man courting post-pubescent women in their teenage years is not a child molester. Even you know that. What has happened is that the Republicrat party has taken Roy Moore's unexceptional preference for younger women, his evident incompetence at wooing them, and one claim by a woman who has already admitted forging her evidence, and which anyone isn't even that bad (, he tried, she said no, he drove her home, he said something stupid) in order to portray him as a 'paedophile'. This is simple breathtaking in its breathtaking hypocrisy given that these are the exact same people who never miss an opportunity to tell us how wonderful 'the prophet Muhammad' was, and who demand we idolize the gay community, where in 'twink' culture 14 is already considered getting on a bit.

      As a for the Trump stuff, again, meh. I'm amused about the po-faced priggery of those who, with the other side of their mouth, advocate on behalf of acceptance for ever more exotic and bizarre forms of sexual deviancy. The alleged incident you are obsessing about seems to me a simple lie as are a very high proportion of rape allegations, the usual reason being to cover up for infidelity.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape

      But none of this matters. NeverTrumpers don't have to keep to a consistent argument about why they hate Trump. One day it's because he's rude, another because Russians, another because wimmin, another because racism, another because Jerusalem. The reasons change, the screeching rage remains. The real reason is simple. Trump wanted to be president and he worked out he could do it by directly appealing to people who have had their face endlessly ground into the dirt for 50 years. That might seem like a good thing, but if you're one of the people doing the grinding (or cheering from the sidelines) then, obviously, it seems wholly outrageous.

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    18. The age of consent in Germany and Portgual is 14, in Japan is 13, in France, Denmark and is 15 etc. For the entirety of Jewish history until a century ago most Jewish women married before they were 16, in Islamic countries it was even lower (Ha Gaon Rav Qaffiq zal married his wife when she was 11 [!]).

      I don't want to spend too much time on this, but you have created your own alternative facts as usual. I'll just highlight some:

      The age of consent is Maryland (where I live) is 16, but it is 14 for people with less than a 4 year age difference. The age of consent in Japan is 13 at the national level, but 'many prefectures also have local "corruption of minors" or "obscenity statutes" (淫行条例) which raise the de-facto age of consent to 16-18, unless they are in a "sincere romantic relationship", usually determined by parental consent. For example, the effective age of consent in Tokyo by local statute is 18. The age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys with parental permission, and 20 otherwise'.

      So the who purported large difference between Japan and US is a made up out of whole cloth.

      Rav Kafih was 14 when he married and that was because he other would have been forcibly converted to Islam as an orphan. I don't know how old his bride was.

      Yes, a 30+ year old man engaging in sexual contact with a 14 year old is sexual assault.

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    19. Ridiculous. If we are going to be insanely literal about his lockerroom talk then let's really be literal. He said they let you do anything when you're famous which is largely true and which means they consent to it.

      I don't know what is insanely literal about it. He said he did it and many others independently agree and spoke about his assaults on them others many, many years ago. The fact that he thought that they were "letting him do it" doesn't meant that they actually consented. He can testify to his own disgusting and criminal behavior, but not to their states of mind. We now know from what they told their friends contemporaneously that they did not consent.

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    20. @David Ohsie and Gavriel M Neither of you discuss the minumum age for marriage per Gemorah. Per halacha can a 65 year old 'marry' a 13 year old ? How about a five year old ? When according to Gemorah are they allowed to consummate ?

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  2. Unfortunately, in making your larger point, you slander a great man. Trump tells the truth to a far greater degree than any other politician in my lifetime, is not afraid to do the right thing, is very smart, and is making amazing improvements to this country (to say nothing of restoring American pride). Yes, he insults people, but you cannot (and should not) be civil when your political opponents are vicious. And I'd like to know where you get the notion that Trump insults women more than men. Evidence please?

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    1. Unfortunately, in making your larger point, you slander a great man.

      The problem in a nutshell. "Great men" can commit sexual assault (as well as ripping off small businessmen who he could outlawyer).

      I question whether great men have to lie to themselves about winning the popular vote when they lost, about having the biggest inauguration ever when they didn't, etc.

      But even if he is a great man, he can be a sex assailant.

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    2. I don't understand this reply. We don't know Trump assaulted anyone. We know he has acted immorally as a married man -- as did Napoleon, Martin Luther King Jr., and, l'havdil, David Hamelech (and numerous others). Great men can make mistakes.

      Trump does not deny that he lost the popular vote, and Trump initially said he had the largest inauguration based on numbers that were provided to him by an outside agency. He received faulty information. (If the media really cared about truth, they would have asked "Which outside agency?" But they never did -- because they don't care. They, like all Trump haters, simply want to destroy him.)

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    3. This is such an idiotic statement. There are literally dozens (and probably hundreds) of times that he has lied very explicitly and with zero shame. If you mean he lies less than the Clintons then that is setting the bar really low, and again your statement is simply idiotic. What an embarrassment that the Frum world is so taken by this vulgar stupid man.

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    4. "We don't know Trump assaulted anyone."

      Before we go on, allow me to ask you a question about your definition of "know". Do we know the following?

      1) O.J Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

      2) Bill Cosby drugged and raped many women.

      3) Harvey Weinstein sexually abused and raped multiple women.

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    5. On the popular vote, he said: "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally". Generally, great men don't have to lie to themselves like that.

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    6. Okay, clarification. Trump does acknowledge that he lost the popular vote. His failing is that he insists it happened because of the millions who voted illegally. Never mind that pesky few of these illegal voters have been found so far.

      In the face of overwhelming evidence, he maintains that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever, and reportedly has returned to asserting that Barak Obama was not born a U. S. citizen. Would that he were like David Hamelech and confess his mistakes.

      On the question of whether he lies more frequently or less so than other politicians, I refer you to sites like Snopes and Politifact. Their reports on statements of fact from both sides of the aisle--and their willingness to call out a lie no matter who tells it--are valuable resources.

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    7. Shlomo,

      Examples please?

      David,

      And you know millions of illegals didn't vote how? And I'm interested: Does the fact that Napoleon routinely exaggerated the number of people he killed in battle disqualify him from being a great man in your eyes?

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    8. David,

      We have accusers, no proof. And these accusers suddenly popped up out of nowhere at a very suspicious and convenient time -- one month before the election. But let's suppose for a second that Trump kissed a few women who felt uncomfortable afterwards. I hardly find that behavior to be terribly damning considering the culture we live in.

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    9. Yehuda,

      You are being willfully ignorant for what I can only presume to be partisan reasons. The fact is that Trump has *for decades* been known to be a sexual creep. And we're not talking about "kissing a few women" - the language he used on the Access Hollywood tape is not one I'd want to introduce to this discussion, but you are almost certainly aware of it.

      You may also be interested in this highly extensive list of instances of sexual and related misconduct by Trump, compiled by a Republican.

      Face it: the man is a disgusting, sexist, racist, vile serial liar. He did one (mildly) good thing on behalf of the Jews, which we can appreciate, but that doesn't make him a good person. Or anywhere near it.

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    10. If not for the vote in California, Trump won the popular vote by 2,000,000. Anyway, it's the electoral vote that counts. It seems that the Electoral College worked exactly the way the Founding Fathers intended in preventing the urban elites from dominating the political process. Also, I think the 17th Amendment, providing for direct election of Senators was not such a great idea. The old way, having State legislatures appoint Senators, did a better job of diffusing Federal power.

      Trump may be a coarse bulvan, but, Racist? not a racist bone in his body. Sexist? I defy you to name a company or political entity the same size as the Trump organization that has more women in senior positions. Liar? Well, he does seem to tamper with the truth occasionally but he does what he says he's going to do. that counts for something.

      Also, on a personal level, people who know or have done business with Trump attest to his being sharp but honest in business, pleasant and personable in demeanor as well as sympathetic and generous. Trump might be problematic as a President but he's the kind of guy you'd want as a friend.

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    11. Wow, this comment is historical revisionism at its finest! The guy hasn't even been in office for a year, and people already forget...Zakhor v'Al Tishkakh!

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    12. Elliot Shevin

      I don't know much about Politifact. Snopes can be a valuable resource and is certainly very useful, but I suggest some care when reading their articles. I once checked the Twitter page of each of their contributors, and every single one of them is an unabashed, far leftist. They are also outspoken in their hatred for Trump.

      As for Trump, I'm satisfied so far with his policies. His ridiculous public statements can be cringe-worthy, but I find them refreshing in light of the annoying politically correct culture we live in. I am willing to accept that he has done some bad things if he is making significant positive changes in public policy. There is a line where positive changes don't matter anymore, but I don't believe Trump has crossed it yet.

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    13. Yehudah, please answer my question. I need to understand first what you consider knowledge and proof; otherwise we are talking at cross purposes.

      Before we go on, allow me to ask you a question about your definition of "know". Do we know the following?

      1) O.J Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

      2) Bill Cosby drugged and raped many women.

      3) Harvey Weinstein sexually abused and raped multiple women.

      If you are saying that Trump is an innocent as Simpson, Cosby and Weinstein, then we can agree.

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    14. And you know millions of illegals didn't vote how?

      "If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense."

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    15. Yerushalmi,

      Your link doesn't work. And I have no idea what you're talking about. I have never heard anyone ever suggest that Trump is a sexual creep, let alone that anyone has thought him to be so for decades. And what he said on that infamous tape is standard talk in Hollywood -- or have you not watched TV or a movie recently?

      Face it: You are being over a grave aveirah called motzi shem ra. Perhaps you should ask mechila.

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    16. I have never heard anyone ever suggest that Trump is a sexual creep

      Then you are entirely ignorant of the subject and should sit this one out. Even Trump doesn't claim that the accusations don't exist. He just doubles down on his bad behavior by calling them all liars, despite the fact that they related their tales to acquaintances long before he became a candidate.

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    17. The link works for me. It lists two dozen instances, some going back decades. Try it again.

      And I'm shocked you haven't heard about, for instance, the way he bragged about having committed adultery and gotten away with it, or how he's spoken about how hot his own daughter is and how he wishes he could marry her - both items known for many years.

      As for "standard talk in Hollywood" - putting aside the fact that Trump never lived in Hollywood, how is that supposed to be a good thing?

      Delete
    18. David,

      I have followed Trump fairly closely and don't recall anyone ever calling him a sexual creep.

      Yerushalmi,

      I didn't say "Hollywood talk" is good, but it doesn't raise anyone's eyebrows in mainstream America. In other words, for better or for worse (as frum Jews, we would obviously say for worse), entertainment figures routinely say the most vulgar things in the world and people don't even bat at an eyelash.

      It therefore is highly hypocritical for a leftist to laugh at a vulgar statement one day and the next day to act shocked simply because that person is running for president on the opposing party's ticket.

      In other words, Trump is utterly mainstream, morally speaking, for a person who came from the entertainment world. And he should be judged in that context.

      And to return to my main point: When I said Trump is a great man, I mean a great man in the world of politics since I believe he is doing amazing things for America and standing up to America's internal enemies. He is a great man (in my opinion) the same way you might say Mozart or Napoleon are great men.

      Mozart was a musical genius who inspires millions and Napoleon was a military genius who brought liberal values to much of Europe. Were they great moral paragons in their personal lives? I don't know. (Certainly Napoleon wasn't.) But surely one can call them great men nonetheless.

      Delete
    19. If not for the vote in California, Trump won the popular vote by 2,000,000. Anyway, it's the electoral vote that counts.

      1) You miss the point. He legitimately won the electoral vote and should be president. The point is Trump lies to himself and others that he won the popular vote. He has lots of others of these types of lies to himself and others. He is more "odd man" than "great man".

      2) If you selectively cut out a different 12% of the US population you will get the opposite result (BTW its 1.5 million).

      Delete
    20. David,

      1) Trump was merely repeating what Kansas's Secretary of State Kris Kobach said. He presumably is a liar too because... you say so. You get your facts from the media which is heavily liberal and heavily dishonest. All Democrat politicians and most Republican politicians have a vested interest in millions of illegals staying in this country. I wouldn't trust a single thing they have to say on the topic. Is Kobach telling the truth? I don't know. But you don't either. You can mock me with china teapots all you want. I think Kobach is a solid person, and I don't think repeating what he says makes you a "liar." At *most*, it makes you someone who is following a minority opinion.

      2) Does Weinstein deny what he is alleged to have done? Trump does. OJ Simpson was found guilty of murder in civil court. (He also wrote a detailed book about how he would have committed the murder had he done it.) Trump never was found guilty in court and never wrote a book about how he would touch women if he had. I won't comment on Cosby because I am not familiar with the details of that case.

      Your analogies, therefore, are fairly poor in my opinion.

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    21. #1 is stupid. Repeating unfounded info is the same as originating it.

      On #2: OK, so you did not think that OJ was guilty until his civil trial and you also doubt Weinstein and Cosby since neither has admitted wrongdoing. I think that is enough to end the conversation with. Trump is as guilty as OJ after his acquittal and Weinstein and Cosby.

      Delete
    22. David,

      FWIW, Trump never said he grabbed women by the vagina. If you think he did, watch the video again.

      Delete
    23. 1) What is "unfounded" supposed to mean? Kobach's statement is unfounded but the New York Times' isn't? Kobach is a public official who is quite knowledgeable about illegal immigration. And again, even if the opinion is a fringe one, repeating it does not make you a liar. If someone says "Oswald" didn't kill JFK," would you call him a liar?

      And I am very curious how you came up your chiddush that repeating information from a public official is the same as making something up from whole cloth. That's a new one.

      2) You didn't read what I wrote. I wrote that the likelihood that OJ killed his wife is quite high since he was found guilty in a court of law and essentially wrote a book about how he did it. I also wrote that Weinstein does *not" deny doing the things he is accused of. Finally, I said I am unfamiliar with the Cosby situation and therefore won't comment on it. It would be nice if you responded to what I actually wrote.

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    24. [Apologies for the vulgarity of this comment, but I don't know how else to approach it.]

      MK, perhaps you are not experienced with American English slang. The word "pussy" in this context means vagina:

      Trump: Yeah that's her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

      Bush: Whatever you want.

      Trump: Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything.

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    25. 1) It makes you a liar or an idiot when you claim stuff that isn't true.

      2) So before his civil court loss and after his acquittal you would say he was innocent. That is very poor judgement. Weinstein does deny. You can write that the sky is polka-dot, but that doesn't make it true.

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    26. David,

      I am aware of what that word means. But nowhere in that statement does he admit to personally doing that, to be completely fair to him. He said you can do anything when you're a star. He didn't say he did it.

      Delete
    27. The plain meaning of his words is that he is explaining from experience what you can get away with when you are a star like him. It was not not a deposition and this is not a court of law where you make all possible inferences in favor of the accused.

      Delete
    28. I would say there are two defenses. 1. He clearly didn't mean that stars can do it against the women's will. He clearly meant that since you're a star, women are more than willing to let you do that. 2. Even if he did, he never said he personally did it.

      Number 1 is obvious. I'm not even sure why you would interpret it otherwise. I hear your point on Number 2 -
      it is less obvious.

      Delete
  3. As I sent an email pointing a friend who shares the dismay to your post, I realized a significant lacuna. It would have been useful had you addressed "מגלגלין זכות על ידי זכאי וחובה על ידי חייב -- they roll in merit via meritorious people, and obligations via the guilty." Especially in light of both the daily evidence otherwise and the examples from Tanakh that you provide.

    It's like retelling theodicial stories, the person who was missed their job at Cantor Fitzgerald the morning of 9/11 because they went to selichos, took their scared daughter to preschool that morning, attended a beris... Both those stories and the notion that only bad comes from the guilty are notions that sound good only as long as your anecdotes show the proper selection bias.

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    1. I second this question. I was just wondering about this issue recently (having nothing to do with the President). I have considered that maybe this was said regarding hashgacha tachtona (reward and punishment type divine providence for individuals) and not hashgacha elyonah(perfection of the world type providence). Of course, I can't prove that.

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  4. I really don't understand why you view this as a good thing. there was nothing concrete about this pronouncement. He still said that the final borders of jerusalem will be decided in a peace deal. nothing has changed. it was totally symbolic. all we got for it is protests, stabbings, and strained ties with moderate arab countries just at the time when useful alliances with them were beginning to form. No other countries in the world are going along with it, aderaba it is causing them to take actions against us.
    shalom katz

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  5. There is an opinion that since Adam HaRishon and Etz HaDa'as are good and evil mixed. There is no more pure good or evil...

    However this is mystic and not really belonging in this blog.

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    1. Nothing mystic about it. Everyone does both good and bad and many who do lots of good also do terrible evil.

      Delete
  6. The whole notion of "good" and "bad" people is what enables various kinds of abusers to continue their abuse. After all, such a "good person" could not possibly have done *that*. There are many, many examples, but here is one on videotape: https://www.jta.org/2016/05/03/news-opinion/united-states/undercover-video-of-hasidic-principal-handling-boy-prompts-sex-abuse-probe

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  7. I guess I'm gonna be a contrarian in disagreeing with virtually everyone you know who agrees with you on the ramifications here. I fail to see how this advances the cause of peace or does anything good for Israel. We here on the US are not even changing passport policy where we don't put "Israel" for Jerusalem passports. You're right that Trump's speech has not (yet) had major ramifications but the ramification it has had is instigating Palestinian riots which have resulted in a few deaths. It's not that the speech was the end of the world as doomsdayers predicted (Actual experts like Aaron David Miller said that we couldn't really know what the ramifications could be). It's that it increased tensions -- however slightly -- and didn't do anything for the causes of Israel or peace.

    Now, that is not to say that the president made the wrong move. You can say that its ridiculous that the US hasn't recognized Jerusalem as the capital, and we ought to do so just as a matter of making clear we care about the matter of facts, as long as the fallout is not too great. Rationalism in and of itself is a cause we ought to be promoting to the consternation of partisans on all sides. Time will tell if such a case is right or wrong. I am actually inclined to agree with it.

    But that being said, as you noted, the president is not a good person or one who cares a great deal about facts; indeed, he is one of the greatest forces in the world for antirationalism. If he did the right thing here, even if it was just to rile up his base, I am perfectly willing to acknowledge it as a good day for facts...but I only wish my allegedly also-rationalist friends on the right would acknowledge how we're in a very bad 4 years when it comes to facts generally.

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    1. Trumps lies are white lies--exaggerations about quantities and sizes for self-aggrandizement. However, as a general rule, his lies make very little difference in terms of policy. On the other hand, Obama's deception about the "Affordable Care Act," was an extremely damaging lie perpetrated against the American public.

      Delete
    2. Trump has said that the GOP tax bill will hurt him personally. Swallow that one and you may well vote for him again, making it more likely that he'll be setting policy beyond 2021. So, no.

      Delete
    3. "It increased tensions," he says.

      When were the tensions ever eased?

      The tensions are a constant and they can't increase or decrease because of what the Fakestinian movement seeks.

      Your strategy is simply a strategy of surrender to a bully. And there is no reason the same threats can't or won't (or aren't!) applied to all manner of other things by these same bullies in order to bring about the same surrender until here is nothing left of us except our pure "avoid increasing tensions" morality-system that we carry with us to our collective grave.

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  8. While I agree 100% with the sentiment, I don't think this speech is particularly celebration-worthy.

    Trump has not instructed the State Department to allow us to start writing "Israel" on the passports of our children born in Jerusalem. In fact, the State Department refuses to acknowledge that Jerusalem is in Israel even while it acknowledges that it is the capital (how's that for twisted logic?) The embassy has not actually moved, nor will it move within the next six months. And given the history of Trump's promises, I highly doubt it will actually move at any point in his presidency.

    So, in fact, nothing has changed since last week. His speech was empty rhetoric, like almost everything he does. Was it a positive event? Sure. But it's something like +1.5 on a scale of -100 to +100. Better than 0, but nothing to write home about.

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    1. Well, it hasn't even been a week yet. Let's give the State Department some time to effect a policy change.

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    2. If it were merely a matter of "not yet", I wouldn't be saying this. The State Department has explicitly stated that nothing has changed and nothing will be changing.

      Delete
  9. It seems insanely arrogant and foolish for you to say Rav Shteinman is categorically doing something bad regarding chareidi education. You may have the right to disagree with his approach, but he obviously thinks he is doing the right thing. I think we can put him at least at your level to the point where we don't dismiss his side just because you disagree. Like you say, things aren't always so black and white
    I honestly hate when you talk and think that way, it seems to me to be a major flaw of yours, and I think you are an otherwise very good person.
    Someone please defend RNS if you disagree.

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    1. What he said is "his repeated opposition to charedim receiving the education necessary to earn a living is to be lamented". If you disagree, then Rav Steinman is not a good example.

      I think that his point was that the fact that someone is truly a Tzaddik doesn't mean that he can't use his power to harm others, even if unwittingly.

      Do you have the same objection to the Rav Kanievsky example with Elior Chen?

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    2. "You may have the right to disagree"

      May have?

      Anyway probably a Freudian slip. Taking your comment at face value, care to explain how one can possibly rightfully disagree with a policy decision and at the same time should be called "insanely arrogant and foolish" for calling that policy decision a bad one?

      It would seem that when you state his right to disagree, it is an empty platitude for the sake of virtue signalling, but in reality you do not believe he, nor anyone, has the right to disagree.

      Delete
    3. Do you not agree that there's a big difference between saying "he is wrong" vs. saying "I believe he is wrong"? For RNS to state in absolute terms that what Rav Shteinmen zt"l did was bad is what I consider arrogant and foolish.

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    4. "Do you not agree that there's a big difference between saying "he is wrong" vs. saying "I believe he is wrong"? "

      LOL no.

      When someone says "He is wrong" - The "I believe" part is implicit. Saying "I believe he is wrong" is almost redundant. Of course that's what you believe. Otherwise why did you write it?
      How would those words in any way change what was said? He's saying it's a bad policy. That he believes (not you, nor I, nor anyone else, but he himself) it is a bad policy. He has a right to that belief. And I have a right to agree or disagree with that opinion. And no crime was committed. What's going on in your head my man?

      Saying an "I believe that" disclaimer before every stated opinion does not change the opinion, its tone, or the meaning behind the stated opinion.

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    5. I disagree with you that it does not change the tone. And I am pretty sure tone is a subjective thing based on the reader, so just because you feel it doesn't affect the tone doesn't mean others feel the same way.
      I agree for many people the "I believe" part can be redundant, but I also think there are many people out there who are absolutely convinced they are correct and leave no room for others to maintain a valid opinion. Maybe I'm not giving RNS the benefit of the doubt, maybe you are giving him too much. Either way, it would be nice to hear from RNS himself that he doesn't feel he holds the objective truth on this matter. And I think his writings would be more accepted if he did make this type of tone adjustment.

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    6. I think what you are claiming is not really how the English language works, I think you are being hypersensitive to the opinions of certain great rabbis getting challenged, and not only does Rabbi Slifkin not have to make such a disclaimer before his posts or statements, but it would be very odd if he did. It wouldn't make any sense if he did.

      You taking his stated opinion to mean "I have the objective truth" is an issue with you, not him. I also struggle to understand what you see as the overall problem even if that was what he implied. Everyone believes their own opinion is true. Otherwise why would they state it?

      "Absolutely convinced he is correct"
      Should he be less convinced about his own correctness? Would that make it better? How so? I'm sure all opinions lie on a spectrum, some of which the author is more convinced of and some of which he has less conviction about. What difference does it make where a particular opinion falls out on that spectrum? It is nonetheless and in any case his stated opinion.
      I don't see why that cushions the blow for you if you don't agree. And I certainly don't see why he should have to feel less certain about it to make it ok to hold as his view.

      Delete
    7. I'll give you an example and if you disagree, we'll leave it at that. I see a big difference between someone saying "The Lubavitcher Rebbe will be the moshiach" as opposed to saying, "I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe will be the moshiach"
      I'm curious to hear if you consider those to have the same exact connotation

      Delete
  10. I've been thinking about this quite a lot lately, and have concluded that in most cases, it's unwise and unfair to disregard the good done by those who also do bad--and there are precious few who do only one or the other.

    I can't see ignoring Bill Cosby's comedy and activism, Lance Armstrong's grit and philanthropy, and Rabbi
    Barry Freundel's scholarship, even as I condemn their evil acts.

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    1. That is somewhat reasonable. The problem is where people say "he did all this good; I can't believe that he did all that bad". The other problem is that when you publicly celebrate the good done by those who have done harm to others, it harms those who were harmed. If you ask survivors of abuse, the public denial of the facts is often more painful than the original abuse. It is one thing to privately appreciate, but public honor needs to be withheld.

      Delete
    2. It is one thing to privately appreciate, but public honor needs to be withheld.

      What is a fair modus operandi in these cases? Silence? Nuance? Thank you.

      Delete
    3. I don't think that either silence or nuance is called for when a person sexually abuses others and then denies it. I think that shaming and shunning are needed at least until there is an admission, contrition, punishment and perhaps some level of forgiveness. Then we can perhaps begin to talk about nuance in some cases.

      Personally, I don't think that there should be anything called a Carlebach minyan. What to do with the music is a good question.

      Delete
  11. This was a regrettable and ill-considered post. The best defense one can offer on your behalf is that you are an Englishman living in Israel and involved with your books and your museum, and obviously do not fully grasp politics, let alone American politics.

    Presidents are intensely polarizing figures. For every Trump hater there was an Obama hater before him, and a Bush hater before that. Were they all "Bad Men"? No President in American history, other than Washington, did not have tens of thousands (and later, millions) of people who despised him and thought him "bad", for one reason or another. It is the nature of the job. For you to speak of "bad men" concerning an American President is ludicrous and frankly, calls your judgment into question.



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    1. DF, I'm American who pays attention to politics and a consistent Republican voter, and I disagree. It is true that Presidents are polarizing and that many people hate Trump because they simply disagree with him. That doesn't mean that a President can't be a bad person. It happens to be that he is one by his own admission.

      OTOH, while I disagree strongly with many of Obama's policies, he was a much better man than Trump. If you feel the need to even things out from a partisan perspective, I do believe that Bill Clinton abused women as well (and probably did much worse with Juanita Broaddrick) and is also to be condemned for it (and I didn't agree with Clinton's policies either until he turned into a semi-Republican and signed a bunch of Republican bills).

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    2. This is funny. You're throwing a tantrum because someone you like is being disrespected. How do you think that makes your judgement look?

      Delete
    3. DF, You have completely mis-characterized what was said in the article. You argue that all presidents are polarizing but that doesn't make them bad men. Setting aside the fact that Trump is the first president to use polarization as a strategy by catering only to his base (as shown by his latest 32% approval rating, which neither Bush nor Obama fell to in their first term), it's not just this polarizing behavior that make him bad. As the article points out (and which you seem to have ignored), Trump has taken lying to a new level, is disrespectful of anyone who won't kowtow to him, can't handle the least bit of criticism, knows little about the job and refuses to learn, and brought to the office a history of being a dishonest and shady businessman. If you want to be in denial about that, that's your issue, but don't try to whitewash him.

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    4. Hey, DF 2.0, could you pick a different pseudonym when posting here? It's confusing and not polite to use one already in use.

      Delete
    5. Another example of a Frum person debasing himself in defense of this disgusting human being. Unfortunately, the parallels to Evangelicals is all too clear and painful...

      Delete
    6. David,

      Where are all the stories of Obama helping people the way Trump has over the years? And what do you do about the numerous testimonials by people like Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman (both frum Jews) who swear to Trump's unusual kindness?

      I'll grant you that Obama has made fewer immoral public statements over the years (although Trump has made virtually none since becoming a politician). I'll also grant you that Obama has been more faithful than Trump. But there are many other parts to a man's character, and concerning all those other parts, I don't see why you think it so obvious that Obama is a better man.

      I, for one, would pick Trump over Obama 10 out of 10 times if I was in a bind and needed help of any kind. I actually think Obama is a rather cold and distant person.

      Delete
    7. Where are all the stories of Obama helping people the way Trump has over the years? And what do you do about the numerous testimonials by people like Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman (both frum Jews) who swear to Trump's unusual kindness?

      Let me repeat the point: The same person can do good things and horrific things. Trump has a lot money and so can do many kindnesses to people, especially if he thinks it will help him. He donated money to politicians of all types to curry favor with them.

      That doesn't make up for the fact that some of his money was made by defrauding others who are much poorer than him. Trump University was a fraud. He secured services from small businesses and then refused to pay them what he promised. He forced them to settle for less through through threats of litigation. He also misused his own charities for personal purposes and was forced to return money. If Trump donated money to any org I was involved in, I would return the money.

      He is also has committed sexual assault many times.

      I make no claims about Obama being a warm fuzzy or currying favor with those around him. I only claim that he was a decent human being who tried to use his skills to help those around him, did not have any scandals related to him or any of his staff while in office (which is unusual and almost certainly reflects a moral standard above that of the average politician), did not commit financial or sex crimes as Trump did. IMO, he pursued a lot of bad policies and I didn't vote for him, but I believe him to be a generally good person.

      With regard to testimonials generally: rapists can gather testimonials. Criminals have friends as well as victims. As pointed out above, Rav Kanievsky endorsed Elior Chen.

      Delete
    8. Trump is a billionaire, yet two stories of kindness have been repeated ad nauseum. Two, that's it.

      Delete
    9. BTW, here is one the "stories" that you missed. Because Obama is not as shameless of self-promoter and faker as Trump is, you might have missed it:

      "Barack Obama gave away more than $1 million while he was President of the United States, more than half of which went to charities supporting children, according to a Forbes analysis of his tax returns from 2009 to 2015. ...

      It is difficult to know exactly how much Donald Trump gave to all charities over the same stretch because he has not released his tax returns. But filings for the Donald J. Trump Foundation reveal that he gave $0 to his own charitable foundation from 2009 to 2014, the most recent year on record. (He donated $2.8 million from 2001 to 2008.) After he stopped giving in 2009, other donors gave $4.4 million to the Trump foundation over the next six years, which Trump in turn doled out to various groups, apparently fooling some recipients into thinking the money came from him.


      https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/02/06/obama-donated-over-1-million-to-charity-as-president-heres-where-the-money-went/#77f482a8459e


      One of President Trump’s golf courses paid back more than $158,000 to Trump’s charitable foundation this year, reimbursing the charity for money that had been used to settle a lawsuit against the club, according to a new tax filing.

      The March 2017 payment came after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, launched an investigation into how the Donald J. Trump Foundation collects and disburses funds. The inquiry is ongoing.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-golf-course-reimbursed-president-trumps-charity-amid-ongoing-investigation-into-the-foundation/2017/11/20/5e7ff63c-ce05-11e7-81bc-c55a220c8cbe_story.html?utm_term=.9bd7ff6a7c8e

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    10. David,

      Repeating that Trump has committed sexual assault doesn't make it so. He has denied committing assault, let alone "many times." I thought Judaism believed in being dan l'kaf zechus.

      Most of the stories regarding Trump's kindness had nothing to do with currying favor. He is just a genuinely a good person. Which is why he spent four hours paying David Friedman a shiva call. Which is why he regularly called the New England Patriots owner over the course of a year after he lost his wife to see how he was. Why is why he privately would donate money through Mayor Giuliani for the families of NYC policemen.

      As far as Trump University is concerned, 98% of students who filled out course evaluations rated it favorably. There was even a website with 10,000 of these evaluations and I personally read through about 100 random ones. The notion that students were defrauded is, I apologize, laughable.

      It is true that over the course of 40 years in business, Trump seems to have played hardball with a few small businesses. I hardly find that to be an irredeemable crime.

      So because rapists may get good testimonials, therefore Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman (and numerous other Trump employees who worked for him over many years) are liars? I don't follow.

      As for Obama: You're right. No sexual scandals plagued his administration. As you have said, even bad people get some things right.

      Lastly, I find it amazing that you would cite a Washington Post story about Trump and expect me to believe that it gives an accurate portrayal of the facts. Why don't you cite Pravda?

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    11. Keep listening to talk-radio, that ought to keep you informed of the "facts." Talk about Pravda. Oh, and btw before you start waving around things like "Dan l'kaf zechus" you should actually look up the mishnah in avos and see the mefarshim there. You'll find that it doesn't apply as you think it should.

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    12. Repeating that Trump has committed sexual assault doesn't make it so. He has denied committing assault, let alone "many times." I thought Judaism believed in being dan l'kaf zechus.

      I think that we settled this already. He is as innocent as Cosby, Weinstein and OJ after his acquittal.

      Most of the stories regarding Trump's kindness had nothing to do with currying favor. He is just a genuinely a good person.

      Let me clarify. I don't doubt that he has been sincerely nice to some people. The whole point of this is that criminals, especially sex abusers, are not monsters who you can easily pick out. They can be good in many ways and still do terrible and harmful things.

      Lastly, I find it amazing that you would cite a Washington Post story about Trump and expect me to believe that it gives an accurate portrayal of the facts. Why don't you cite Pravda?

      I think that this pretty much sums it up. Shut off sources of information not in line with your world-view and live with alternative facts.

      Delete
    13. Also: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/us/politics/donald-trump-trump-university.html?_r=0

      Delete
    14. Trump or Obama, or any other president, not only do not need our defense, but no defense, period, will ever be good enough for the tens of millions who hate them. The sole relevant point is that its laughably juvenile to refer to a US President as a "bad man." In this מדינה של חסד, (regarding the presidency) we have no idea what a "bad man" is. Talk to people who lived in Communist or third world countries, and they would find such a suggestion the most immature, unsophisticated thing they've ever heard of. Some people here are really showing their ignorance.

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    15. David,

      "I think we settled this already." Who's we? I think you should ask Trump mechila for being motzi shem ra.

      The Washington Post is not any more a source of information than Pravda was. If you wish to continue reading and believing propaganda, that's your prerogative, but I feel bad for you.

      Delete
    16. David,

      I'm afraid you simply can't comment on Trump's alleged lack of charity since he hasn't publicized his tax returns. His campaign claimed he gave away $102 million between 2009-2014. If that's true, your point is moot. As for Obama, he also gave $221 million to the PA right before he left. Thankfully, Trump froze those funds. I guess being uncharitable has its benefits. :)

      Furthermore, I will be completely upfront in saying I have not studied all of the recent sexual assault scandals in depth. But it is my [maybe misinformed] understanding that the allegations against Trump are far less severe and/or recurrent than the cases of OJ Simpson, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. I would add another distinction in saying that Trump is the most polarizing figure in America right now, and the media despises him. As such, he is the easiest target of exaggerated or false sexual allegations. By the way, I didn't vote for Trump (or Hillary).

      Delete
    17. @DF
      Your mishmash of replies ("tens of millions hate him anyway so what can we say - and there are worse people out there) speaks much more to your own confusion on the subject than to our "ignorance." Is he the worst person ever? Of course not. No one is claiming he is. Are you saying that anyone who is not a brutal third-world dictator can't be a bad person? Forgive me if I don't take this argument seriously.
      Are you claiming anyone who is hated and loved by millions of people *can't* be a bad person? That's patently ridiculous and refuted by the fact that plenty of historical villains are beloved by many of their own tribe.
      The bottom line is your argument is confused and ill-defined so it's hard to actually respond to it.

      Delete
    18. Yehuda, you are throwing around halachic terms like "motzi shem ra" and "dan l'kaf zechus" while obviously lacking any real knowledge of their parameters.

      Delete
    19. I wasn't claiming that Trump gave little charity. Even if he gave no charity, it would be odd, but I would not say he was a bad person. Someone else was asserting that his great charity made him a great person. As you mentioned, we can't know that, but we know that he stopped giving to his own charity, made it seem like donation from his charity were donations from himself, and misused funds from his charity for personal purposes. That said, even if he was super charitable, that doesn't make up for sex assaults.

      I think that most people are in your position (and it was my position not long ago) of thinking that sex abuse (both child and adult) was fairly rare and not committed by most normal people. If a person was a normal person, then they were probably not guilty. It turns out that women (and children) just were just not speaking publicly. Once galvanized, adults go public with stories that they had told their acquaintances which they were realized were not one-offs and that people would actually pay attention.

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    20. DF: You are correct that Trump is not Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot, etc. I think that is the wrong bar to meet.

      Let me put it this way: should Nixon not have been impeached and then forced to resign before conviction? After all, his crimes were far less severe than those of the people mentioned above.

      Do you think that we should tolerate as President someone who murdered his wife or husband on the grounds that one murder would be a great record for some countries?

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    21. I would add another distinction in saying that Trump is the most polarizing figure in America right now

      Donald Trump is the President of the USA and the de-facto leader of the free world (though in practice it seems that others are filling that role). He also spouts half-truths (I'm being generous) at an alarming rate and spends a lot time watching TV and picking fights with his "opponents" on social media (including elected members of government and foreign US allies).

      He's the most un-statesmanlike President in recent memory and also seems to be one of the least popular at the ~ one-year mark.

      If he gets a lot of media attention, there's a real good reason for it.

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    22. Joe Q,

      I agree with you. That doesn't however address the fact that the media is indeed insanely biased against him, and the fact that he is a polarizing figure. Whether it's his fault or not is a different question.

      Delete
    23. David Ohsie - wrong, very wrong. Apples must be compared to apples. We don't judge whether Trump or Obama was a "good" man or "bad" man by comparing him to private citizens like you and me. We compare him to World Leaders, of the dominant world powers. Hence, for precisely the reasons I wrote above, it is laughably absurd to think either of these men, or any US president to this point, a "bad" man.

      In addition to that obvious point, you seem inexplicably focused on womanizing as the sole barometer of who is "good" and who is "bad." By your definition, in the second half of the 20th century alone, all the Democrats with the exception of Carter were all "bad." Indeed, these men did more than just chase women; they committed adultery, and while actually in the White House. I hope you begin to see how absurd your position is.

      Finally, and again, to state the obvious, if one chooses to judge world leaders by the same standards that apply to ordinary men, then it is not mere womanizing alone that must be scrutinized. Harry Truman was profane. Jimmy Carter was arrogant. And - since, for some strange reason you think presidents should be judged by actions they took BEFORE they became president - many of them were at one time drunks and gamblers. By your way of thinking, all the presidents since Washington were basically one big rogues gallery.

      It doesn't work. The whole premise is flawed and ill-conceived. You can hate the president, that's your right as an American, but the "bad" man thing just looks ridiculous. Meanwhile, all I can say is from the other side of the aisle, the president had a great first year. Here's to 7 more.

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    24. DF/David -

      We can perhaps add Thomas Jefferson, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as well (probably more) to the list of bad people that should have been precluded from the presidency. All have had sexual assault or rape allegations made against them.

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    25. I don't know of allegations against Bush 43 or Reagan. Bush 41 has definitely engaged in unwanted touching at least in his post-presidency years.

      Thomas Jefferson engaged in all kinds of conduct that would not be acceptable today. Undoubtedly if Jefferson owned slaves today, treated them as badly as he did (he had his overseer use copious corporal punishment to try to drive up the rates of production in his nail factory), and fathered children with them, he would be disqualified from being President.

      Anyhow, I'm not sure what your point is. If any of those people did what Trump did and ran for President, I would not vote for them either.

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    26. David Ohsie - wrong, very wrong. Apples must be compared to apples. We don't judge whether Trump or Obama was a "good" man or "bad" man by comparing him to private citizens like you and me. We compare him to World Leaders, of the dominant world powers. Hence, for precisely the reasons I wrote above, it is laughably absurd to think either of these men, or any US president to this point, a "bad" man.

      OK, so you think that Nixon should not have been forced to resign and someone that murders only one other person should be elected President. Most people disagree.

      In addition to that obvious point, you seem inexplicably focused on womanizing as the sole barometer of who is "good" and who is "bad."

      Not womanizing. Walking up to women and sexually assaulting them by putting his had on their vagina. It is not the only thing that disqualifies someone, but it is one thing that should. I never said that adultery should disqualify someone from the presidency.

      I also don't think that being arrogant, using profanity or having a chemical dependency makes you bad at all even as a non-President (although I wouldn't want a President with a current chemical dependency).

      I don't hate the President. I like some of his policies. His Supreme and Circuit court nominations are great (not so much on district court). The Corporate tax needed to be be cut. But as the post states, he also has huge flaws including criminal activity which he was not held to account for.

      I think that Pence could have done the same and hasn't sexually assaulted women.

      There's going to be a referendum on the Presidency next November. Things could change, but they don't look too good now. Trump could be much like Bill Clinton: geting some success at the cost of handing the Congress over the other party (although Clinton was able to keep his personal popularity while Trump has not been able to).

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    27. David Ohsie - there's much I can say in response, but at this point its kind of silly, and far more importantly, last night the president released Shomom Rubashkin, correcting a historic miscarriage of justice. Even all the haters have to clam up now. His first year had already been a stunning success, but now - wow. Truly, this President is special.

      (That was my last comment on this thread. Kindest regards.)

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    28. "Thomas Jefferson engaged in all kinds of conduct that would not be acceptable today."

      Agreed. He's also not the best example to use, as his case is documented history and it was much worse behavior.

      "Reagan"

      Selene Walters accused Reagan of raping her. According to Slate, here's what happened:

      "I opened the door," Walters told the magazine. "Then it was the battle of the couch. I was fighting him. I didn't want him to make love to me. He's a very big man, and he just had his way. Date rape? No, God, no, that's [Kelley's] phrase. I didn't have a chance to have a date with him."
      Walters--like Broaddrick--did not file charges. And Kelley maintains that Walters shared contemporaneous accounts of the encounter with friends.
      Ronald Reagan successfully stonewalled the Walters story when the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times picked it up briefly in April 1991. And remember, this was three and a half years before his Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. The weekend the book was released, a reporter asked Reagan for a comment about it as he entered church. "I don't think a church would be the proper place to use the word I would have to use in discussing that," he said. Not exactly a denial.


      "Anyhow, I'm not sure what your point is. If any of those people did what Trump did and ran for President, I would not vote for them either."

      You assume as fact the very thing that many on this blog are questioning is a fact: that Trump did it. The point is, based on allegations, do you believe Reagan raped someone? If not, why do you believe based on allegations that Trump did it?

      "He said he did it and many others independently agree and spoke about his assaults on them others many, many years ago. The fact that he thought that they were "letting him do it" doesn't meant that they actually consented." (This is from a response of yours to Student V)

      Again, your argument assumes as fact the very thing that people on this blog are questioning. If the allegations are not true or exaggerated, then all he was saying is that women are willing to let stars do whatever to them. This statement has a lot of truth to it by the way, which is further evidence that this is what he actually meant. Actually, even if the allegations are true, his point is still that women are willing to let stars do things to them that they wouldn't as easily allow 'non-stars' to do - again, a largely true statement. Do you disagree that stars have easier access to women then people who are not stars?

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    29. "Thomas Jefferson engaged in all kinds of conduct that would not be acceptable today."

      Agreed. He's also not the best example to use, as his case is documented history and it was much worse behavior.

      "Reagan"

      Selene Walters accused Reagan of raping her. According to Slate, here's what happened:

      "I opened the door," Walters told the magazine. "Then it was the battle of the couch. I was fighting him. I didn't want him to make love to me. He's a very big man, and he just had his way. Date rape? No, God, no, that's [Kelley's] phrase. I didn't have a chance to have a date with him."
      Walters--like Broaddrick--did not file charges. And Kelley maintains that Walters shared contemporaneous accounts of the encounter with friends.
      Ronald Reagan successfully stonewalled the Walters story when the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times picked it up briefly in April 1991. And remember, this was three and a half years before his Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. The weekend the book was released, a reporter asked Reagan for a comment about it as he entered church. "I don't think a church would be the proper place to use the word I would have to use in discussing that," he said. Not exactly a denial.


      "Anyhow, I'm not sure what your point is. If any of those people did what Trump did and ran for President, I would not vote for them either."

      You assume as fact the very thing that many on this blog are questioning is a fact: that Trump did it. The point is, based on allegations, do you believe Reagan raped someone? If not, why do you believe based on allegations that Trump did it?

      "He said he did it and many others independently agree and spoke about his assaults on them others many, many years ago. The fact that he thought that they were "letting him do it" doesn't meant that they actually consented." (This is from a response of yours to Student V)

      Again, your argument assumes as fact the very thing that people on this blog are questioning. If the allegations are not true or exaggerated, then all he was saying is that women are willing to let stars do whatever to them. This statement has a lot of truth to it by the way, which is further evidence that this is what he actually meant. Actually, even if the allegations are true, his point is still that women are willing to let stars do things to them that they wouldn't as easily allow 'non-stars' to do - again, a largely true statement. Do you disagree that stars have easier access to women then people who are not stars?

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  12. Your comment is ridiculous. Slifkin is not entitled to refer to the "American President" as a bad man because you don't agree? Or because others thought that Obama and Bush were terrible? (What exactly IS your argument here?) Why in the world is he not entitled to think he is a terrible, no good rotten liar? Sheesh. Giving up morals for Trump is one thing, but any jettisoning any semblance of reason is another thing entirely.

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    1. Obviously, this comment was directed at DF.

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  13. Voters make choices based on the available candidates. In the 2016 general election, one candidate had demonstrated deep mendacity, corruption, and criminality to those who paid attention. That candidate and party rejected any restrictions on abortions, even at the moment of birth. That candidate profited from a sweet uranium deal with Russia, made state secrets available to hackers foreign and domestic, and had a questionable relationship with a married female aide. The other candidate, who got elected, was...gasp!...not a philosopher king, but showed some potential to reverse years of national decline.

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  14. I am disappointed by Rabbi Slifkin’s column today. The use of the term “bad people” or “bad person” shows lack of thought. What exactly is a “bad person?” We all know the extreme cases- murderers, Nazi’s etc. But to use this term in a non-extreme case creates all kinds of problems. What percentage of “bad” and what quality of “bad” must a person have to preclude them being considered “good”? If a person was uncouth, offended others, did not treat women well but then threw his body on a suicide bomber and saved a hundred people, was he “good” or “bad”? Obviously, we need to talk about good and bad deeds instead of good and bad people in all but the extreme cases. Furthermore, Rabbi Slifkin needs to realize that Trump and the Republicans are all that stands between Israel and an increasingly anti-Israel Democrat party. Israel’s position will be in great jeopardy should his opponents gain power. So, as far as Israel is concerned, his deeds are hard to criticize. Since this could be a matter of life or death for many Jews, one must be careful with labeling such a person as “bad”.

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    1. Larry

      Great comment - I could not agree more.

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    2. I am disappointed by Rabbi Slifkin’s column today. The use of the term “bad people” or “bad person” shows lack of thought. What exactly is a “bad person?” We all know the extreme cases- murderers, Nazi’s etc. But to use this term in a non-extreme case creates all kinds of problems. What percentage of “bad” and what quality of “bad” must a person have to preclude them being considered “good”? If a person was uncouth, offended others, did not treat women well but then threw his body on a suicide bomber and saved a hundred people, was he “good” or “bad”? Obviously, we need to talk about good and bad deeds instead of good and bad people in all but the extreme cases.

      Umm... Wasn't the point of the post to question the notion of an entirely good or bad person? (That said, "did not treat women well" is a euphemism for sexual assault).

      Furthermore, Rabbi Slifkin needs to realize that Trump and the Republicans are all that stands between Israel and an increasingly anti-Israel Democrat party. Israel’s position will be in great jeopardy should his opponents gain power. So, as far as Israel is concerned, his deeds are hard to criticize.

      Amazingly, Israel just survived 8 years of Obama.

      Since this could be a matter of life or death for many Jews, one must be careful with labeling such a person as “bad”.

      Didn't you just get finished saying that a person who commits evil acts can still jump on a grenade? Why not be honest?

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    3. David,

      The title of this post is "Can Bad People Do Good things?" and concludes with "So if good people can do bad things, why can't bad people do good things?" Hence, Trump is an inherently bad person by default, but he can sometimes do good things.

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    4. "Amazingly, Israel just survived 8 years of Obama."

      Strawman. Just because Israel has survived does not mean that his policies weren't dangerous, which they were. There's no telling what future effect those policies will have, and what a continuation of those policies will do to Israel and to the world.

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    5. David,

      The title of this post is "Can Bad People Do Good things?" and concludes with "So if good people can do bad things, why can't bad people do good things?" Hence, Trump is an inherently bad person by default, but he can sometimes do good thing


      I agree 100%. He is a terrible person (a unconvicted criminal, really) but I like his Supreme Court nominations and most of his other Article III court nominations. I don't claim that he must be innocent of sex assault because I like his nominations.

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    6. "I don't claim that he must be innocent of sex assault because I like his nominations."

      Nor do I. The issue I take is in calling him "a bad person," as opposed to just recognizing that he has done bad things and good things.

      In a comment above somewhere, you write, "The whole notion of "good" and "bad" people is what enables various kinds of abusers to continue their abuse." Exactly. Why does this not apply in reverse when calling someone "a bad person?"

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    7. David,

      "I don't claim that he must be innocent of sex assault because I like his nominations." Oh, I'm with you. But you are going much further than that. According to you, it's not that he might not be innocent but that he must be guilty.

      Delete
    8. @MK, you are correct. I should say that Trump has committed crimes that should preclude him from being President and his relationship to basic facts is so shaky that it is scary. That doesn't mean that he hasn't also treated some people properly or that every decision he makes as President is wrong. I agree with some of the things he's done (judicial nominations, cutting regulation, etc).

      Delete
    9. @Yehudah, I think him very likely guilty because the various accusers related their experiences to their friends long before he was president, because he candidly said that he would do these actions, and because these kinds of behaviors are not uncommon because people used to get away with them (and among the non-rich and famous are still getting away with them). It would be very unlikely that all of these accusers independently created similar lies many years ago on the off chance that he might be come president. The various defenses presented here are absurd and only make sense to a partisan for Trump.

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    10. "The various defenses presented here are absurd and only make sense to a partisan for Trump."

      Some of the defenses here are absurd. But I would say the hasty accusations here, and the misrepresenting of what Trump actually said only make sense to someone biased against Trump.

      Delete
    11. MK, your lawyerly reading of the trump video is unlikely. See my other comment on the topic.

      Delete
    12. Just because Israel has survived does not mean that his policies weren't dangerous, which they were.

      It is incumbent on you to produce the evidence, not for me to rebut what hasn't been proven. Nevertheless, there 2 gaza wars and no demands to stop using the Apache helicopters or other American arms. More importantly, there was the continued recognition and payoff of Egypt under the Camp David accords despite the coup that put the current regime in power in an arguably illegitimate fashion.

      I think that the Republicans today are marginally more pro-Israel than the Democrats, but that is offset by the fact that we have a cipher in the White House who may have to act in time of crisis with very little knowledge of the situation.

      One think that you should understand about US politics is that both parties as a whole are still beholden to pro-Israel interests for a variety of reasons. That has not always been the case, and it probably won't last forever, but that is the situation right now.

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    13. Please see my response to your comment there. No lawyerly interpretation is necessary.

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    14. "It is incumbent on you to produce the evidence"

      True, but my point was that the fact that Israel has survived under Obama is a strawman.

      The list of anti-Israel policies under Obama is literally endless and is a matter of public record. I didn't think I would need to be provide evidence of what is so well documented and I'm honestly not even sure where to start. His undermining of Israel in his Cairo speech? His proclaiming that he wouldn't allow Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities? His constant undermining of Israeli settlements? His pushing of an unprecedented anti-semitic UN Security Resolution which has significant implications for the Arab-Israeli conflict? His covert release of hundreds of millions of dollars of frozen funds to a corrupt PA as he's leaving office? His refusal to congratulate Netanyahu after he won? His use of anti-semitic language when referring to the Israel/Jewish lobby? His participation in the Iran Nuclear Deal which would allow Iran to get nuclear weapons and become the most powerful force in the Middle East?

      "Nevertheless, there 2 gaza wars and no demands to stop using the Apache helicopters or other American arms."

      First, I never said Obama undermined Israel in every single possible move. Second, I think this would be a poor example of a pro-Israel President, and it doesn't come close to outweighing all of his anti-Israel policies. Nevertheless, your statement is false and out of context. In 2009 Obama withheld the shipment of several Apache helicopters, and he personally stepped in to prevent the shipment of Hellfire missiles in 2014 in the middle of a war. He also accused Israel of heavy handed battlefield tactics. According to a WSJ report, Israel received weapons from the Pentagon behind the White House's back.

      "More importantly, there was the continued recognition and payoff of Egypt under the Camp David accords despite the coup that put the current regime in power in an arguably illegitimate fashion."

      I'm confused here. Why is this evidence that Obama is pro-Israel or not anti-Israel?

      "I think that the Republicans today are marginally more pro-Israel than the Democrats"

      The Obama administration was the worst administration in US history toward Israel. It was borderline anti-semitic. I believe Hillary would have been a continuation of those policies based on her rhetoric as Secretary of State.

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    15. "More importantly, there was the continued recognition and payoff of Egypt under the Camp David accords despite the coup that put the current regime in power in an arguably illegitimate fashion."

      I'm confused here. Why is this evidence that Obama is pro-Israel or not anti-Israel?


      As part of the Camp David accords, the US gives aid to Egypt. This is a motivator for Egypt to keep up its end of the bargain.

      More importantly, the current regime in Egypt is much more friendly to Israel than the one that it replaced. Supporting it over the alternative was very beneficial to Israel. Since the regime came to power illegitimately, had the the aid could have been withheld, but wasn't.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-egypt-military/obama-ends-freeze-on-u-s-military-aid-to-egypt-idUSKBN0MR2GR20150401

      The Obama administration was the worst administration in US history toward Israel.

      Again, silly. Have you ever heard of James Baker? Going back farther, Eisenhower forced Israel to withdraw from its Sinai gains because of oil. From wikipedia:

      When Israel refused to withdraw its troops from the Gaza Strip and Sharm el-Sheikh, Eisenhower declared, "We must not allow Europe to go flat on its back for the want of oil." He sought UN-backed efforts to impose economic sanctions on Israel until it fully withdrew from Egyptian territory. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson and minority leader William Knowland objected to American pressure on Israel. Johnson told the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles that he wanted him to oppose "with all its skill" any attempt to apply sanctions on Israel.[306] Dulles rebuffed Johnson's request, and informed Eisenhower of the objections made by the Senate. Eisenhower was "insistent on applying economic sanctions" to the extent of cutting off private American assistance to Israel which was estimated to be over $100 million a year. Ultimately, the Democratic Party-controlled Senate would not cooperate with Eisenhower's position on Israel. Eisenhower finally told Congress he would take the issue to the American people, saying, "America has either one voice or none, and that voice is the voice of the President – whether everybody agrees with him or not."[306] The President spoke to the nation by radio and television where he outlined Israel's refusal to withdraw, explaining his belief that the UN had "no choice but to exert pressure upon Israel".[306]

      You are correct the Obama did oppose the conduct of the third Gaza War and did not want new shipments of arms that he felt were being misused. As pointed out above, America had not traditionally just let Israel do whatever it wanted. What Obama did not do is to cut off Israel altogether by prohibiting the use of Apaches and stopping the delivery of spare parts. He also didn't touch Iron Dome. If you redefine opposing any aspect of what Israel does as anti-Israel, then the US is anti-Israel. This is a silly definition.

      Obama was probably less pro-Israel than many other Democratic politicians and I was opposed to him for this reason among many others. That is not the same as saying he was anti-semitic or anti-Israel or that Hillary would have been like Obama.

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    16. "As part of the Camp David accords, the US gives aid to Egypt. This is a motivator for Egypt to keep up its end of the bargain."

      This Washington Post article lists 5 reasons for the US to cut aid to Egypt, and 5 reasons to continue the aid to Egypt. Oddly enough, not one of them has to do with the desire to help Israel. In addition, the article maintains that Obama left the door open to reassess the aid. Not exactly a firm decision to help out its ally Israel.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/08/15/the-cases-for-and-against-cutting-u-s-aid-to-egypt-explained/?utm_term=.cac44b6555fa

      While it is certainly possible (even probable) that this had a positive effect for Israel, it is far from certain that Obama had Israel's best interest at heart. In any case, it doesn't detract from all of the dangerous anti-Israel policies Obama had.

      "Again, silly. Have you ever heard of James Baker? Going back farther, Eisenhower forced Israel to withdraw from its Sinai gains because of oil."

      We can argue back and forth about who was worse. It's missing the point. The point is that Obama's anti-Israel policies were dangerous for Israel.

      "You are correct the Obama did oppose the conduct of the third Gaza War and did not want new shipments of arms that he felt were being misused. As pointed out above, America had not traditionally just let Israel do whatever it wanted. What Obama did not do is to cut off Israel altogether by prohibiting the use of Apaches and stopping the delivery of spare parts. He also didn't touch Iron Dome. If you redefine opposing any aspect of what Israel does as anti-Israel, then the US is anti-Israel. This is a silly definition."

      I didn't claim that - I was simply rebutting your preemptive rebuttal. What is indeed silly is to use a case where Obama was outspokenly opposed to Israel's defensive war, and where he did in fact step in personally to block the delivery of American arms to Israel, as evidence that Obama is not anti-Israel.

      "Obama was probably less pro-Israel than many other Democratic politicians and I was opposed to him for this reason among many others."

      It's quite amazing how you can refer to all of my examples as merely "less pro-Israel." As if undermining Israel at almost every opportunity is "less pro-Israel." As if effectively making the United States the number one funder of terrorism by giving $150 billion to Iranian mullahs, as well as giving it access to nuclear weapons, effectively guaranteeing it will become a regional power, while simultaneously and publicly pooh-poohing the idea that Iran is anti-Israel/anti-Jewish, is simply "less pro-Israel." As if leaking Israel's deal with the Saudis to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010, thus rendering the deal broken, is merely "less pro-Israel." As if leaking classified Israeli information about Israel's attempt to attack Russian weapons received by Syria is "less pro-Israel." Etc.

      As for Hillary, one need only look at her publicly accessible statements to find out what her policies toward Israel would be. It's not rocket science.

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    17. Just one comment: "While it is certainly possible (even probable) that this had a positive effect for Israel, it is far from certain that Obama had Israel's best interest at heart."

      This is an extremely naive PoV. Almost nothing in this world is pure or altrustic.

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    18. I'm not sure how you derived that I believed that from my comment. But I appreciate the condescending quibble.

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  15. Many of the commenters here seem to confuse opinions with facts. President Obama believed that a shift towards socialized health care was a good idea. Some people believed different. Neither are liars, just having different opinions.

    Trump is a bad person. He is a person with whom most good people would not like to do business or enjoy a meal. He lacks compassion and mentchlichkeit. You may think that McCain is not a good politician, his policies may not be in line with you. But making light of his suffering is nasty, whether you are a republican or a democrat.

    However, Gavriel M is a serious case. He actually has a narrative to explain why a 30 year old trying to get with a 14 year old is not that bad. I don't know what he must have suffered in his life to reach such a warped conclusion, but he has my sympathies

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    1. Gavriel M thinks (or at least claims to think) that freeing black slaves in the US was bad and that Jim Crow was good. It's par for the course.

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    2. Obama told the American people 25 times that they could keep their doctor if they liked their doctor. That was a lie, and he presumably knew it was a lie. He also told the American people that cops discriminate against blacks. That is a bold lie, and had he spent 15 minutes looking up the facts, he would have known that. But he didn't bother looking up the facts because he is mean-spirited and mean-spirited people always like to think of whites as racists.

      And your statement about eating a meal with Trump is almost funny. Say what you want about Trump but even his haters (those who know him personally) say he has great charm in private.

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    3. I agree that Obama engaged in typical political lying about the impact of his policies. In that, he was no better than Trump or any other Democratic or Republican politician. Unfortunately this is how democracy works.

      Cops any many others certainly discriminate against blacks in the US. Not all and not all the time, but it is definitely there. I don't know what universe you are living in.

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    4. 1) My great great grandmother as 15 when she married my great great grandfather who was in his fifties after his first wife died. Nothing wrong with it then, nothing wrong with it now. But in any case, the woman who claimed he tried to pull something when she was 14 is a self-admitted liar.

      2) Obama repeatedly helped spread the lie that Michael Brown was shot while saying 'hands up don't shoot', long after it was clearly demonstrated to reasonable people that he was shot in the act of trying to wrest a gun out of a policeman's hands while high on drugs. As a result of these lies, billions of dollars of property damage was caused, 10,000s of thousands of innocent people in Ferguson have had their life savings (in the form of property value) wiped out and eight police officers were murdered by angry blacks. Obama has never apologized and never will because he is an actual bad person.

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    5. David,

      I don't know what universe you leave in. Again, it's wonderful how you repeat assertions as facts. How about you read "The War On Cops" and get back to me?

      And I didn't know democracy required lying. That's a new one for me.

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    6. "Cops any many others certainly discriminate against blacks in the US. Not all and not all the time, but it is definitely there. I don't know what universe you are living in."

      Of course there are isolated cases of discrimination by police. There are also isolated cases of police brutality in general, to which Obama or the media appear to take no issue with unless it is against a black person. But you don't make a national issue about isolated cases to which you can't even point to a single specific example. Obama had no evidence that Zimmerman was guilty or racially motivated, yet implied just that in the middle of an ongoing investigation. That's immoral.

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    7. I thought it was pretty well-documented that blacks in the USA are in general more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be searched if they're stopped, more likely to be shot while unarmed, etc. Are we seriously questioning this?

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    8. My great great grandmother as 15 when she married my great great grandfather who was in his fifties after his first wife died. Nothing wrong with it then, nothing wrong with it now.

      Why do you bother to state such absurd BS that you yourself don't believe in. Of course it is bad now for 15yo to a 50yo for many, many reasons and you would never allow it for your own children. (It was probably terrible back then too, but there were lots of terrible things that people put up with out of either necessity or ignorance). This is in addition to the fact that sex assault is not marriage.

      If you are going to troll, at least make it entertaining, not sickening. Talk about Techeiles or idolatry or something. [I guess I should take my own advice and avoid responding to your trolling.]

      Delete
    9. To Joe Q and David Ohsie - you're living in La La Land. Apparently you just read "statistics" created by people with an agenda, and then just naively accept them at face value. Trial lawyers laugh themselves to sleep, and build palaces on the beach, off folks like you. You understand that statistics are just a third category of lies, right? And you also understand that in practically every case that actually goes to trial, the police are acquitted, right? And you further understand that the police, which you seem to think is a nest of racists, is OVER represented by blacks in proportion to the population, right?

      Moral of the story: You can believe whatever you want to believe, and you obviously do. However, you should learn to be a little more skeptical, and apply some critical thinking, to what people try to pass off as "facts." In this world of sheker, very few things can be taken at face value. Everyone has an agenda, you and me included.

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    10. DF, if you think that from 1964 until now was enough time to completely eliminate the mistreatment of blacks by whites in all US jurisdictions, you are living in La La Land. As an example, there were still "whites-only" high school proms into the 2010's at least in some parts of the south. The "whites only" prom, while horrible on it's own, is not as much of an issue as the fact those in power in those localities supported such "white-only" activities and would also use their power in other discriminatory ways. You are over-generalizing from your own experience in your location and education level (although we all know that a certain amount of racism is unfortunately tolerated by the Orthodox). Attitudes towards blacks are diverse.

      Your assertion that statistics are just lies means that you live in a convenient world of your own making along with whatever alternative facts you find comforting. Statistics are only tool we have to deal with the behavior of large numbers of things of any time. If you don't believe in statistics, then you don't believe in the ideal gas law. Like any other form of evidence, it can misused (like the fact that when we throw things straight up in the air and they come straight back down was thought to be evidence that the earth can't be rotating on its axis).

      Your use of statistics (wait, aren't they all lies?) is a good example of their misuse. The fact that many police are black doesn't mean that there aren't policemen who exhibit racist policing. More importantly, you are combining all police in all localities into one big pot. For example, see this website an chose Abeline, TX. Blacks are 10% of the population and 3% of the force.

      There's more here including the effects of profiling which can be done by white or black police officers and may even be rational in some cases but is still has costs to the law-abiding caught up in it's net. There also qualified immunity which means that lots of cases where the average person would say "whoa, that was really bad" are legally considered immune to lawsuit. In summary, the issue is very complex. What is very unlikely is that there is not racist policing anywhere in the US or that it or profiling have no deleterious effect. The magnitude of that effect and it's importance is something worthy of consideration.

      The part about the police being a "nest of racists" is a strawman of your own devising. I don't think that at all.



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    11. The website: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/safety-justice/police-department-officer-demographics-minority-representation.html

      Delete
    12. Thank you for demonstrating perfectly why statistics are meaningless. And if your "evidence" of "mistreatment" of blacks today in the United States (pop. 323 million) is a couple of tiny separate prom dances somewhere in the south - - well, I think you've pretty much showed how weak your case is. Meanwhile, if I cared to, I can point to many more examples of reverse racism, and many more examples of what you would call a "hate crime" where whites were the victim. Wake up. Its 2017.

      Delete
    13. Blacks are more likely to be shot by police relative to their proportion on the population, they are less likely to be shot by police relative to their frequency of being in altercations with the police. This suggests that police are less likely to use lethal force against blacks and this is confirmed by anecdotal cases of e.g. a police officer simply lying on the ground and allowing himself to be pistol whipped because he didn't want to be the next victim of a witchhunt.

      The bottom line is that every time someone actually tries to produce a case of a black who was wrongfully shot by the police it is either (a) a hoax or (b) a black police officer (cough affirmative action hire cough).

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    14. Gavriel M suprises me by saying one thing that may be correct, but then ruins it at the end by making wild unsupported claims.

      It is true that the statistics don't unequivocally support the notion that blacks in the US are shot by police more frequently than non-blacks due to discrimination, and there is some evidence of "depolicing" as a result of the concern for this.

      It is also true that racial profiling (e.g. Driving While Black) drives up the number of police interactions with Blacks so that even if a lower percentage result in a shooting, Blacks are still shot more often just for being Black.

      Unfortunately Gavriel M is unable to process that a thirty year old man having sexual contact with a 14 year old is wrong, so he's not anywhere near being able to processes the subtleties of this issue.

      The bottom line is that every time someone actually tries to produce a case of a black who was wrongfully shot by the police it is either (a) a hoax or (b) a black police officer (cough affirmative action hire cough).

      Philando Castile was wrongfully shot. While the officer was acquitted of criminal charges (which have a very high bar), he was rightfully fired from his job. It was a bad shooting.

      Walter Scott was shot by a white officer who pleaded guilty to civil rights charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison just a few weeks ago.

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    15. Thank you for demonstrating perfectly why statistics are meaningless.

      Missed that part. Can you elaborate.

      And if your "evidence" of "mistreatment" of blacks today in the United States (pop. 323 million) is a couple of tiny separate prom dances somewhere in the south - - well, I think you've pretty much showed how weak your case is.

      No that was just an anecdote to show that even though it is 2017, Jim Crow in explicit forms still live on in some parts of the country.

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  16. Regardless if you support Trump or do not, he has not received fair treatment from the press and mass media. That should concern ALL Americans. He is not guilty of sexual misconduct because some women claimed he did something to them many years ago. Come on. He is innocent until proven guilty. Also, maybe Trump knows what he is doing visa via Yerushaliam and peace in the Israel region. It would be a mistake to underestimate his abilities and acumen.

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    1. He is not guilty of sexual misconduct because some women claimed he did something to them many years ago. Come on. He is innocent until proven guilty.

      ACJA: Assuming your moniker is somewhat accurate, I'll give you a bit of a pass as a member of an older generation who is having trouble assimilating information about sex abuse.

      The presumption of innocence is an important legal doctrine, but it doesn't mean that you are actually innocent. The charges leveled against Trump have passed the statute of limitations and so will never directly investigated or litigated in a criminal context, although there are some attempts to take civil action against Trump for falsely calling his accusers liars.

      You are correct that he is not guilty because some women made claims against him. He is guilty because he actually performed these acts; his own candid admission and the claims of these women are evidence of his guilt.

      The fact that these happened many years ago is not a defense. Many of the women in fact reported the abuse at the time to their acquaintances. They did not report them to the authorities for the same reason that you now doubt them; these kinds of crimes were not taken seriously.

      For small sample of of cases of authorities not dealing properly with abuse claims, see below:

      1) Harvey Weinstein was investigated by police in 2015: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-harvey-weinstein-allegations-groping-battilana-20150410-story.html

      2) Jerry Sandusky was investigated by police in 1998: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/sports/ncaafootball/aftermath-of-1998-sandusky-investigation-raises-additional-questions.html

      3) Here is a "Rabbi" who sexually abused multiple students. He was not arrested until after a victim won a civil suit against him: http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-new-haven-rabbi-arrest-0727-20170726-story.html

      4) Here is a woman who reported a rape and was prosecuted for doing so. I turned out that her attacker was serial rapist: https://www.propublica.org/article/false-rape-accusations-an-unbelievable-story

      5) Here is an article with both the rape story of #4 and this gem: In 2001, a 13-year old in White Bear Lake, Minn., reported being abducted and molested. "You keep lying and lying and lying and lying," a police detective told her. In 2015, a physical therapist in Vallejo, Calif., reported being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. The police called her story a hoax. One lieutenant said that she "owes this community an apology." In both instances, video footage later surfaced affirming the victims' reports.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/opinion/sunday/sexual-assault-victims-lying.html

      There are plenty more.

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    2. Trump has received more than fair treatment from the media. While running for his party's nomination, he received for more coverage than his opponents combined. The attention paid to his outrageous statements and childish behavior, though mostly covered for television ratings, prevented any of his more respectable opponents from gaining traction.
      As president, he is his own worst enemy. He alone is to blame for his silly tweets, his picking fights with other, insulting members of Congress whom he needs to get bills passed, and his repeatedly looking foolish as a result of refusing to learn about policy or the issues. Don't blame the media for reporting Trump's own actions. They shouldn't have to cover for him or make excuses (though that is what FoxNews does daily).
      His actions regarding Yeushalayim are for pure expediency, playing to his evangelical base. He hasn't thought through their implications,and he hasn't followed up with real deeds. He doesn't care how he gets a peace deal or whether it would be good for Israel. He just wants any deal he can get so he can boast about it.

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    3. @DH "He is guilty because he actually performed these acts; his own candid admission and the claims of these women are evidence of his guilt." AFAIK Trump has denied attacking or molesting the women who have made allegations. He has claimed his recorded comments that I think you are referring to was locker room talk. Maybe it was or maybe it was not. Maybe he is guilty of lying, but not actually committing molestation.

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    4. (I assume you mean @DO)

      He denied publicly what he admitted privately when he realized it looked bad. That is not very strong evidence of innocence. I would also point out that he has now started denying that it was him on the tape which contradicts all of the explanations here that he we obviously joking. Since the accusers shared their stories privately long ago, you are essentially backing a conspiracy theory.

      Delete
    5. @DO (I meant DO, not DH before) - You make some very good points. There is too much smoke, so maybe there is a fire. I get it.

      Delete
  17. Rabbi Slifkin's column, and the big pushback from the commenters, is a good microcosm of the election. Individuals, such as R. Slifkin, blithely *assuming* that everyone shares their opinion that Trump is a "bad" man. The fix to this is education. The more one reads, the more one realizes it's a big world out there, and not everyone shares the same opinion. Shame on Rabbi Slifkin for trying to pass off his opinion as fact, but Kudos to him for not ducking the criticism.

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    1. You are correct. Not everyone thinks that touching a womens vagina without permission or ripping off people much poorer than you is bad. Some call it normal behavior.

      That said, R Slifkin's point is actually confirmed. People have a lot of trouble accepting that people that they support could have done really bad things. Because the can't compute that, they ascribe goodness to those whom they support and badness to those whom they don't.

      A more honest person would say "I wouldn't let that guy anywhere near my family members or do business with him, but I really need those supreme court appointments". In fact, many Trump voters did that, but it is hard to be that way. People don't want to admit that they are sacrificing one principal for another.

      Delete
    2. David,

      Or maybe people just happen to disagree with you and think Trump is a genuinely good person. Incidentally, do you hold all Hollywood people in contempt? Do you turn off your television when you hear vulgar jokes? Do you ever watch late-night shows or sit coms? Did you get upset at NBC for hiring Howard Stern to be a judge on a family show like "America's Got Talent"? And I wonder what you think of people like Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Or is Trump the only man from whom you expect morally pristine behavior?

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    3. I hold them all in contempt. Your whataboutism is pathetic.

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    4. Don't blur the line between sexual promiscuity (from our PoV) and sexual assault.

      I don't expect morally pristine behavior from anyone just because they are good people (for example the Gemara says that *no one* is reliable trustee in sexual matters). Otherwise good people can be criminals and assault people. This is exactly the problem that we run into in fighting sex abuse in our community. How could that great teacher be an abuser since he is such a good teacher?

      To answer your last question, no I think that Trump, Moore, Franken, Conyers, Weinstein, Cosby, etc. all need to be held accountable regardless of their politics.

      Delete
    5. David,

      You're right. Sexual promiscuity is much worse!

      Delete
    6. Yehuda:
      You are actually seriously saying that sexual promiscuity is worse than sexual abuse?

      Delete
  18. We're all well aware and ashamed of how religious Jews have sold out their morals like the Evangelicals. We sometimes like to pretend to ourselves though that it's not true...

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    Replies
    1. Or maybe you're missing something.

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    2. Of course, there are deep learned reasons that you cheer the vulgarian. How can I even hope to plumb the depths of your childish tribalism?

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    3. When 90 of a religious group (evangelicals) support a certain man (in many cases enthusiastically) perhaps you should wonder why. Maybe you're missing something.

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    4. I definitely spend my days and nights trying to divine why 90% of Evangelicals believe certain things...(facepalm).

      Delete
  19. I'm not American but I do follow American news pretty closely. Watching the Trump phenomenon unfold "from afar" (and brought somewhat closer in threads like these) has been fascinating.

    My own view is that Trump, while admittedly shrewd and hard-working, has low empathy, a short attention span, an inability to accept blame, and an all-consuming interest in his own popularity. But what has interested me the most is watching Trump's fans line up behind him, despite his distinctly un-presidential behaviour.

    This really lays bare the "tribal" divisions within the USA. At the end of the day, if it were a Democratic president who had these flaws, Republicans would be all over him. But because Trump is from the right "team", even though he has been remarkably ineffectual as President, nothing actually seems to matter.

    ReplyDelete
  20. another example is stalin. ymsh
    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/CENTER-FIELDI-guess-we-wont-get-Jerusalem-either-on-a-silver-platter-517863

    Similarly, Alterman knew how to say thank you to whomever helped the Zionist cause – regardless of their other sins. He, along with the rest of the Jewish world, toasted the UN Partition Plan, even though it passed thanks to the evil dictator Joseph Stalin, who delivered five votes from the USSR and its satellites.

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  21. Here https://cross-currents.com/2017/12/22/whats-worse-sexual-harassment-adultery/ is a post and a discussion in the comments that deal with what is frequently absent from the discourse -- the Bain Adam Lamakom factor. I believe that it is incorrectly absent from this discussion too.

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  22. You assume as fact the very thing that many on this blog are questioning is a fact: that Trump did it. The point is, based on allegations, do you believe Reagan raped someone? If not, why do you believe based on allegations that Trump did it?

    I don't "assume as fact". There is strong evidence for that fact.

    With regard to Reagan, it is certainly possibly. It would be good if someone would do some good reporting on this including following up with the person who the accuser claimed to mention this to contemporaneously. The evidence is lower quality than that against Trump because there is no admission, one accuser, and no reporting of contemporaneous testimony, but that doesn't automatically make it nothing.

    "He said he did it and many others independently agree and spoke about his assaults on them others many, many years ago. The fact that he thought that they were "letting him do it" doesn't meant that they actually consented." (This is from a response of yours to Student V)

    Again, your argument assumes as fact the very thing that people on this blog are questioning.


    No, my default assumption about people is that they have not sexually assaulted anyone. If they boast about it, then that pushes me to believe they have. If multiple accusers then claim the same along with contemporaneous testimony of the same, long before the accused became involved in politics, then that clinches it.

    But you missed Student V's argument. He said that if I were to believe that trump did it based on his admission, I should also believe that they consented after the fact. To that, the answer is that he knows what he did, but he doesn't know whether they really let him. It turns out they didn't.

    If the allegations are not true or exaggerated, then all he was saying is that women are willing to let stars do whatever to them.

    If you posit that the moon landing never happened, then all the footage is faked. If you posit OJ's innocence, then all the blood was planted by the police. What is your point?

    This statement has a lot of truth to it by the way, which is further evidence that this is what he actually meant. Actually, even if the allegations are true, his point is still that women are willing to let stars do things to them that they wouldn't as easily allow 'non-stars' to do - again, a largely true statement. Do you disagree that stars have easier access to women then people who are not stars?

    He was talking about himself.

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    1. "The evidence is lower quality than that against Trump because there is no admission, one accuser, and no reporting of contemporaneous testimony, but that doesn't automatically make it nothing."

      Trump didn't either admit it. Additionally, Reagan didn't admit it - but he didn't deny it either. Trump denies it. The evidence is not that much lower quality.

      "If they boast about it, then that pushes me to believe they have. If multiple accusers then claim the same along with contemporaneous testimony of the same"

      If he is one of the most polarizing Presidents in American history, and possibly the most hated by the media, in a time when it is beyond easy to ruin a man's life by claiming sexual assault, then that pushes me to accept a possibility that people are exaggerating testimony, or outright lying.

      "But you missed Student V's argument. He said that if I were to believe that trump did it based on his admission, I should also believe that they consented after the fact."

      I understood his point completely, and I understood your answer.


      "If you posit that the moon landing never happened, then all the footage is faked. If you posit OJ's innocence, then all the blood was planted by the police. What is your point?"

      If you think faked moon footage, and the police framing OJ Simpson by planting blood is comparable to some people exaggerating or making up testimony of sexual assault at a time when it is extremely easy to ruin a man's life by simply claiming that he sexually assaulted them (and not just any man - President Trump), I believe we found our problem.


      "He was talking about himself."

      You miss my point. Granted, he was talking about himself (as well as other people). He's a star. Do you deny that Trump, as a star, had easier access to women than your average Joe?

      I imagine there would have been many times when it would've been very easy for him to have sexual contact with someone with their consent. If you agree, then it would make sense that this is what he is talking about. If you disagree, I believe we discovered the root of our argument.

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    2. MK, I'm not really going to repeat why what you are saying is senseless because you are repeating yourself and not addressing what I wrote. But you added the stupidity that famous/rich people don't sexual assault others because they can easily form sexual relationships. This is even more absurd than your other claims.

      Delete
    3. David,

      If you didn't just utterly misconstrue my point, I would have been tempted to believe you that I was accidentally missing some major point you were making. Ciao.

      Delete

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