About admin

A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at http://advocates-wvox.com. Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel rjg727@comcast.net Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

Immigrants and Their Descendents from the Great Immigration 1880-1917

The Immigrants and their Descendants from the Great Immigration 1880-to 1917

8-11-16

Richard J. Garfunkel

I am constantly amazed at the virulence of the “new” ethnic-based Eurocentrics. I can almost understand the Southern Baptists and the States’ Rights advocates who are descended most directly from the earliest white settlers; English, Scottish, Welsh, Dutch and German Protestants, who were enamored with the white man’s burden and learned of that supremacist tradition at their mother’s knee and in the churches. It existed all over the English-dominated World from India to the American colonies, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Burma, the Middle East, Singapore and Micronesia. The Raj ruled with an idea and rationale of moral, racial and intellectual superiority.  That is what they knew and believed. They saw the culture and habits of Native peoples, and on one hand, despised, feared and looked down upon them, and on the other hand, ruled by “divide and conquer.” That existed certainly in India until 1947 and here until 1776.  They learned from their defeat here!

But, what of the later immigrants? First in the late 1840’s, were the next wave of Germans, who were quite often Catholics, escaping from revolutionary Europe and the policy of “Kultur Kampft” (culture’s struggle) under Bismarck and then the Irish Catholics escaping the potato famine and the oppressive British rule. The Germans were used to conservatism and many became the backbone of the new Midwestern Republicanism. Culturally they were used to a strong, male-dominated family and thus supported a strong central government. They were hard working and felt comfortable with other citizens of British and Dutch orientation. Also, the country had many Germans (Lutherans) living here from the time of the Revolution, when many had come here as soldiers for hire, or mercenaries (the Hessians from Hesse-Cassel, and others from outside the most militarized state in Europe)). As for the Irish, they hated the British and became the immigrant heart of the Eastern Cities and gravitated to the Democratic Party and eventually took over Tammany Hall in NYC and virtually reinvented politics in America.

What amazes me is that many of the grandchildren of the last great European immigration from Eastern and Southern European immigrants have forgotten their roots. The heart of these people, who are mostly Catholic, along with some Jews, were helped and assisted by the Democrats from Wilson to FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ and beyond, are now the “New” Republicans.  They forgot the Wagner Act, which allowed unions to collectively bargain, they have ignored the efforts of the Democrats and the unions to end discrimination regarding housing, education, and the work place, where their grandfathers and fathers couldn’t get a job in a Fortune 500 company, a law firm, or practice in a hospital. They have ignored the efforts of the liberals who opened the doors of education for them and for their daughters. Who supported Social Security, Medicare, the Minimum Wage, anti-discrimination in the work place, the fight for equal pay for equal work, Choice, and women’s healthcare, Ttile ( and hundreds of other benefits that helped the children of immigrants? They have ignored the age-old efforts of the Democratic Party in opposing the exclusion of these people from all of our “closed” institutions. This history has been chronicled in 10’s of thousands of books and millions of articles. But, how often do I read from some of these same people that the Democrats keep the poor in economic shackles. How short are their memories! Isn’t ironic, that the South, which was the home of home of Southern-based, Jefferson branch of the Democratic Party, which supported slavery and sustained Jim Crow is now the new home of the most conservative Republicans and the reddest states in the Union.  Many of these people seemed to have forgotten discrimination and bigotry and where it has stemmed from.  What happened? Do these children of immigrants now think that it is their turn to be the next generation of bigots and haters who believe in Social Darwinism, “the end justifies the means,” and “divide and conquer?” it is a sorry state of affairs when they forget the remarks of George Santayana, who sagely wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

The Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment 8-11-16

Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment

Richard J. Garfunkel

8-11-16

Speaking of the Constitution, I have been reading how the Right-Wingers are the last bastion to avoid the shredding of the Constitution.  I answered one of these arm chair geniuses!

It is interesting how the right-wing dunderheads are now experts on the US Constitution. I am always amazed when the average citizen starts to opine on Constitutional Law.  I’m sure that these “novitiate” experts know the difference between “Strict Construction,” and “Loose Construction.” Of course they know the history and the impact of Marbury v Madison, Dartmouth College v Woodward, McCullogh v. Maryland. Of course, they understand the nuances of the Heller Decision or McDonald V. Chicago? Maybe they understand the impact of Scalia and the 5-4 decisions on gun ownership, and the fact that in the “strict” analysis of the Founder’s debates on the Bill of Rights, there is no mention of the right of an individual to own a firearm.

 In other words, it wasn’t discussed.  But these brilliant “legal beagles” would know that the compromise on the Constitution was over the fear of a Federal “standing” army, and thus the rights of the states to organize their militias. In fact, few people could afford to own arms in 1789, and when the Militia “mustered” arms were passed out and strictly regulated and returned. There is nothing said about individual firearms or the innate right to own them.  Maybe that is how Justice Scalia saw it, but there have always been gun control laws from Dodge City to the Firearm’s Act of 1934. Or if you need clarification, read about the Hughes Act. If anyone was a “loose Constructionist,” it was Justice Scalia, who re-wrote the “originalists” concept of gun ownership.  But, if you don’t believe me, read Federal Period historian, Professor Carol Berkin’s book, “A Brilliant Solution,” Inventing the American Constitution. While you are at it, maybe you should be curious about “search and seizure,” Fourth Amendment Rights, and then learn the meaning of Escobedo v. Illinois, and Miranda v. Arizona.

Why don’t you write Professor Yale Kamisar at the University of Michigan Law School , who co-authored the “Criminal Justice in Our Times,” and is the co-author of the definitive American law school text book, “Modern Criminal Procedures,<” in its 12th edition.  But, what about your expertise on schools, starting with the impact of Plessy v Ferguson, to the Rowley Case, Myers v Nebraska to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka? Maybe you understand the “free exercise” clause and the “exclusionary rule?”

But what of executive power and orders.  Maybe folks believe that President Obama has used his Executive Orders to violate the Constitution. Well Obama’s EOs were 244, the lowest for a two-term president since William McKinley. You maybe interested in the fact that here are the following list of Executive Orders going back to FDR: Bush 43 291, Clinton 364, Bush 41 166, Reagan 381, Carter 320, Ford 169, Nixon 346, Eisenhower 484, Truman 907, and FDR 3721.  By the TR used the EO 1083 times. But you are protecting the Constitution!  

Trump: Unqualified and Unhingerd 9-26-16

Trump: Unqualified and Unhinged!

9-26-16

Richard J. Garfunkel

Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire and tribune of the people, who has an unparalleled record of making unfulfilled and phony promises and claims about his accomplishments, his business acumen and his charitable giving in the first debate, had his proverbial “feet held to the fire.” As the poet has said, “talk is cheap,” but, in his case, his specious remarks have contained hundreds of examples of fraudulent claims, broken promises, and unexplained reversals. In the tradition of Charles Ponzi and Barnard Madoff, we have learned that his so-called foundation raises money from others and is a vehicle for him to pay for trinkets and services he wants, under the aegis of charitable giving. As for his claims of generosity, in investigation after investigation, there is little, or no, evidence of any example of personal generosity. Of course, maybe there is some evidence contained in his income taxes filings, but, it seems we have to take his word about it, because he believes that his filings are none of the public’s business, and therefore remain a deep, dark, secret. The public should ask about his connections to Chinese Debt and his connections to Russia’s Putin. Maybe in those tax returns is the key to his connections!

As for his business practices, aside from his numerous bankruptcies, the seizure of many of his properties, the 4000+ times he has been in court, what about the economic wreckage he has left in the wake of his failures and scams? There is ample evidence that he has defrauded numerous investors, partners, vendors, customers and clients?

But, aside from Trump’s outlandish and specious claims about his education, his economic brilliance and farcical and unrealistic economic plans, what of the man, his character, sincerity, morals or his vision of America? We have been able to peek into his nefarious business career and partially pierce the chrysalis, which has protected the truth around his so-called generosity. But, is his economic empire just a “House of Cards?”

As for his character, it has been on view for many years and as a result of this recent campaign alone, hundreds of well-known, and publicly responsible, Republicans have defected from supporting their party’s flag bearer. Has any Republican candidate ever experienced that in the past? Almost never in memory. Which newspaper in the whole country will endorse him? Any? So far, we have seen of his two of his most vocal backers, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, prime examples of flawed personalities. Gingrich, who was basically removed as Speaker of the House, and Christie, who may yet face impeachment, are two of the few. But, what of Senator Ted Cruz, who excoriated him in the primaries?  Trump slandered his wife and his father, and Cruz endorsed him. What a triumvirate of vexatious and insincere public servants. Could anyone want worse?

But, what of his sincerity? He has been insincere on his on his positions regarding; Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Choice, trade, and imports. At times, he heaped praise upon, the Clintons, Colin Powell, and even President Obama. But, expediency is Trump’s middle name and his reversals are so many, that even the media has become bored with their recital. Now, after almost eight years of being the leading exponent of “Birther Issue,” he has again reversed himself. Trump told us that he was having “his people” look into the past of President Obama. He constantly fanned the flames of the specious complaint that the Barack Obama was an “illegitimate” president, because he wasn’t born here. Not only did he make and repeat that spurious and empty smear, but he also challenged the president’s faith as a Christian. But, what of Trump’s real faith? Has he ever gone to church, except to be married? Where is evidence of his Christian morality? Is it with his multiple marriages and affairs? Is it with his faux charity or even his intemperate use of language and insults? What makes him a G-d fearing individual? I would like to see one iota of evidence.

So, the issue of truthfulness and veracity has come up often in his outrageous campaign, which has been laced with vituperation, insults, and mocking references to women, the disabled and minorities. Has any candidate, in the collective memory of any living American, been so often caught in lies by the fact-checkers? It is almost become a worn out cliché with regards to his disregard for the truth, established history, his own personal conduct, and recorded statements. Even when he is confronted by his own image giving testimony, he and his own campaign ignore that reality! When has that ever happened in the past? The editorial pages of the country’s leading newspapers have chronicled his unparalleled mendacity to the extent that most Americans have heard enough. It seems, his idolaters couldn’t care less. No matter what he says or does is irrelevant to them.

Therefore, how can any sane American support this brigand, con man, serial adulterer, sexual predator and mendacious liar? Almost every candidate for the presidency has been a decent person with an accomplished record of achievement and public service. Often the choice comes down to political party or vision of the future. We entrust a person of either party with the idea that our future is in stable hands, no matter what their philosophy is. But, what is Trump’s philosophy? Does anyone really know? Again is there a sincere bone or nerve in this man’s whole body or mind? That is the question that should be asked by every voter. He is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not a Liberal or Conservative. He is not a protectionist or a free trader. He is not an internationalist or an isolationist. But, he is a valueless demagogue who believes in nothing but power, control and self. It is all our choice, let’s not blow it.

Donald Trump and his Willing Executioners in the Visual Media 8-26-16

Donald Trump and his Willing Executions in the Visual Media?

Richard J. Garfunkel

8-26-16

If one wants to know why the country allowed the rise of Donald Trump, a con man, a swindler, a sexual predator, a fraud, a serial adulterer and mendacious exploiter of half-truths. Just look at the mainstream visual media and look at how they have cravenly sought ratings, ignored the truth of this character, refused to do the research, and were unprepared with the answers to their own questions. Who were the enablers? Joe Scarborough and his feckless, moronic collection of nobodies, the self-important Chris Matthews, who is so over-the-hill it has stopped being funny, and people like Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper. Just last night Cooper confronted Trump with his nefarious background of racism with regards to his business practices on housing.

Was Cooper prepared? Of course not. He asked Trump about the charges of red-ling and racism with regards to his rentals. Trump, of course, answered with bald-faced lies, protestations of innocence, a false narrative that not only begged the issue, and acted like it was a tempest in a teapot that happened decades ago. Cooper instead of being prepared with the real facts about Trump, his violations, the citations, and the fact that the Trump companies ignored their own agreements and had to be sued again by the government, just folded like an empty suit. Trump talks of being able to reform the system. He talks about his fairness, his friendship and support of minorities. He talks of political reform. But, where is the media on his admissions of buying political votes and favors? Where is the media regarding the reality that Trump has perverted the system? Where are the questions on his politic contributions, like his $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation? Does that smack of hypocrisy and outright mendacity?

This has been going on for months. Not only have so-called news people, who are just high paid talking heads, ignored the reality of this character, they have given him a  “pass” on almost all that he has written and said. In fact, he is treated like a rational person, who is reflecting the true, inner feelings of a significant percentage of the public. But, is he really rational? Have they really explored his duplicity, which has almost reached the level of schizophrenia? What of the truth about his draft physical and the possibility of his phony 1Y status, regarding his so-called bone spurs at age 21? What of his “recent” doctor’s letter, which asserts that he would be the “healthiest man” ever to serve as president? That letter has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. Why were there no real questions about the doctors, their certification, when it was written, and is it really legitimate? What of his wives and the real stories of his first divorce, which is in the public record? What of his current wife’s Sapphic photos, her illegal work in America with a visitor’s VISA, her phony resume, and her plagiarism? Doesn’t all of that count? Can one imagine if this happened with Michelle Obama?  What of his phony books and his specious, ghost-written tome, “The Art of the Deal,” where he talks of his sexual exploits and his totally invented business background? Did the media spend more than five minutes with his ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, who even though he signed a non-disclosure, and was willing to tell the public about the “real” Donald Trump? What of his phony claims of charity? Where are the records? Who was promised “what,” and was “what” ever really delivered? Why has it been left to the Washington Post, the NY Times and other print media to reveal his double-dealing  with his so-called charity, his collapsed gambling empire, his phony Trump University and Institute, his 4000 litigations, his 169 times in Federal court, his father’s arrest in a KKK riot, his father’s slumlord empire in Queens, NY, and their business history of racial profiling, red-lining and discrimination? He even has made phony claims about what benefits he offers his employees. Are there any follow up and research into those lies?  Has anyone really focused on his former investors, partners, suppliers, and clients, and how they have been stiffed? Isn’t his business practices and history a reflection of his character and honesty? That is his record, why isn’t that a “free-fire” zone which should be exploited? Isn’t that information the key to his qualification for office? Where are the talking heads on these issues? This is a man who has lied about his marriages, his four bankruptcies, his business practices, and his previous political and social positions. He and his handlers even deny and constantly spin and amend his own statements. He started his campaign with a thug as his campaign manager. He then went to Paul Manafort, who has been connected to illegal cash payments, an avoidance of taxes, connections with Putin, the Ukraine, and the Russian Mafia. Finally when the heat was raised to furnace proportions he dumped him. But, what of the business connections between Manafort, Putin and Trump? Where has that issue gone? He now has as the head of campaign management team, an out-and-out racist and misogynist, in the personage of right-wing’s prime hitman, Steven Bannon of Breitbart. Who will be next?  Of course, one of the last pieces to this Trump puzzle, is in the words of Winston Churchill about Russia, “…(Trump) It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; …” Isn’t that the real issue of this campaign, aside from the fact that Trump is a bigot, unqualified, and unhinged. The real Trump is hidden in his “House of Cards,” debt-ridden, financial empire and taxes. That is where the connections, the obligations, and the duplicity will eventually be revealed. The sooner the better.

An Open Letter on Politics 10-14-16

An Open Letter on Politics

October 14, 2016

An Open Letter to my Friends,

Linda and I are working hard on this most critical campaign. We are the Precinct Captains in our community, the Cascades. We have 50+ volunteers, who are making calls, vetting Democrats and Independents, and leafleting their separate villages, which we did this morning. They will be working at early voting sites (15 in Palm Beach County), and will be handing out palm cards at our polling place. In between, Linda has been handing out applications for vote by mail (VBM) ballots, and encouraging people to “early vote.” Vote by Mail has started in Florida. Early voting begins October 24th and lasts two weeks.  In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the Governor refused to extend registration. By court order, reflective of a suit by the LWV, the registration period was extended by six days. It was another effort, in the long litany of voter suppression, authored by the Republican Party, in state after state.

This isn’t just an effort to an elect another Democrat. This isn’t just a contest between both parties and two mainstream advocates for their philosophical positions. This is not even a contest for the “heart and soul,” of America. This may be the most important election since 1860, which decided whether we would dissolve as a nation or 1940, whether we would remain an isolationist nation, and allow the fascist brigands in Europe and Asia to enslave all of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

This is a struggle against a person, who is neither a Democrat, nor a Republican. This is a contest between Hillary Clinton (aside from one’s personal feelings), who is one of the smartest, most experienced and most exceptionally qualified individual to run for office, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Hillary Clinton has the patience, fortitude, experience, the strength of character, and the judgment we can trust. She faces an opponent, who has no personal barriers, who has no political philosophy, except self, who has no knowledge of the domestic needs of our people, who has trashed our Allies, our treaties, our trade agreements, our trading partners, our armed forces and the leaders of his own, so-called, party. Anyone who gets in his way; hundreds of former members of Republican administrations, going back to Nixon, women who have accused him of improprieties, and thousands of partners, investors, vendors and customers, have felt his anger and wrath, through verbal abuse and threats of litigation. He has been threatening people into silence for generations. But, his reputation as a con man, draft-dodger, tax cheat, swindler, serial adulterer, and a sexual predator are well known. What is really dangerous about this man is that he is unprincipled, unfit, unqualified and unhinged. Therefore, to place this man in charge of our Justice Department, near the nuclear button, or to make an appointment to the Supreme Court, is not only dangerous, but frightening. He has courted the support of American Nazis, the KKK, White Supremacist hate groups and dangerous elements of the gun community. He is now making allusions to a conspiracy amongst International Bankers, code words for age-old anti-Semitism. He has fostered hatred and violence towards minorities, immigrants, women and religious groups around the world. He has no answers of plans for job creations, healthcare, education or our infrastructure.  He has two ideas; tax cuts for the wealthiest, and that he alone can solve all our problems! 

I hope that all of you would write a personal letter to 100 of your friends and colleagues and tell them the criticality of this election. I would also suggest that in your letter, you ask these friends to send out a letter to their own circle of friends and colleagues. The choice is clear, the danger is great, and the time to act is now.

Speaking of American Elections-10-20-16

Speaking of American Elections!

Richard J. Garfunkel

10-23-16

From 1900 through 2012 there have been 29 presidential elections. In those 29 elections, the average winning percentage was 52.86%. In the first 15 elections, from 1900 thru 1956 the average winning % was 54%. In those 29 elections, the 10 highest winning percentages were: 61.1%, 60.8%, 60.7%, 60.3%, 58.8%, 58.2%, 57.4%, 56.4%, and 55.2%. Of the top 10 winning races, the average was 58.6%.

In the first 15 elections from 1900 through 1956, seven of these “landslides” happened, with largest of them by FDR in 1936 and 1932, Harding in 1920, Hoover in 1928, and T. Roosevelt in 1904. From 1960 through 2012, in 14 elections, the average victory was 51.6%. Since 1960, three of the top 10% victories, were LBJ in 1964, Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 1984.

Since 1988, the winning percentages, in the last seven elections, or approximately 25% of our elections since the beginning of the 20th Century, has been 49.74%. Therefore, on an average, there were more votes, collectively, against the seven winners.

As for incumbents since 1900, there have been 19 elections when there was an incumbent, either by winning the election, succeeding the incumbent because of the death of the president, or in the case of Gerald Ford, the resignation of Richard Nixon. In those 19 elections, the incumbents (including FDR’s three races as an incumbent) received 50.3% of the vote. This included the defeat of Taft in 1912 (23%), Hoover in 1932 (39.7%), Carter in 1980 (41%), and Bush #41 in 1992 (37.4%). Where there has not been an incumbent, there have been ten races. The average victory since 1900 in those races has been 52.46%. Barack Obama, in 2008, won with 52.9% of the vote.

Of course, there are issues of whether 3rd party races have affected the outcome of some races or whether there have been questionable results in a state, or states, which have affected the outcome of a specific election. In the case of two of the four elections, where an incumbent lost, the 3rd party challenge had a significant affect. In 1912, with Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party, his vote certainly helped Woodrow Wilson (41.8%) defeat WH Taft with 23% of the total vote. In 1992, the 3rd Party challenge of Ross Perot (18.9%) helped Clinton, who defeated G HW Bush with 43% of vote. Perot also drew 8.4% in 1996, but that would not of affected Clinton’s victory.  In 1980, Jimmy Carter received only 41%, and 3rd party candidate, John Anderson’s 6.6% vote would not affected the outcome.  In other races, as 1968, where Nixon beat Humphrey by less than 1% of the popular vote and won the Electoral College vote 301 to 191, George Wallace polled 13.5%. Neither candidate was an incumbent, both were former Vice-Presidents, and the Wallace vote was a Southern, segregationist, anti-northern Democratic vote. One could assume, that if Wallace was not in the race, the majority of that vote probably would have stayed home or gone to Nixon. In 1960, John F. Kennedy won a very close race by less than .5%. Some people claim that his 8,858 vote victory in Illinois was questionable. Interestingly, the Social Labor candidate had 10,560 votes in that state, approximately 22% of his national total of 47,522 votes. Who is to say whether that the 8, 858 votes were fraudulent, or whether the 3rd party candidate took votes from Kennedy! He also won Texas by 46, 257, a much larger number. If he had lost the electoral votes (27) in Illinois or Texas (24), he still would have just over the 270 Electoral College vote, winning threshold.

In 2000, GW Bush lost the popular vote .5% against Al Gore and won the Electoral College vote with 271 votes. Most experts believe that the 500+ vote margin in Florida was affected by the infamous hanging “chads,” and the idea that these votes would have been cast for Pat Buchanan, in a heavily Democratic and Jewish precinct is quite questionable. By the way, the 3rd party candidacy of Ralph Nader only polled 465,000 vote or less than a 3rd of a percent, but in Florida he polled 32,971, or about 7% of his national total, and the most votes he received in any state of the Union. More concerns were expressed in 2004 when GW Bush won re-election by 2.5%, but, only edged Gore in Ohio by 14,676 votes. There were many questions about that vote, and if those 20 Electoral votes would have been shifted to John Kerry, he would have with the same 271 Electoral College votes.

The bottom line with most of these races are that they are usually pretty close. In fact, except for a few cases in the last 66 years, most races (11 out of 14) have been decided by a majority vote of less than 53.5%.

I am voting for Hillary!

 

 

An Open Letter on Healthcare 10-20-16

An Open Letter on Healthcare Coverage

Richard J. Garfunkel

10-20-16

Our healthcare coverage is the best in the world and it is the most expensive in the industrialized world. Until Medicare, healthcare was unaffordable to most seniors. People were healthy until they died. When they got sick they died. Until comprehensive healthcare plans, with groups, only people working for firms had health care coverage for hospitalization. Medicare and company-sponsored healthcare coverage made doctors wealthy.

1)      Medicare is a single payer system for seniors

2)      Every industrialized country in the world has a single payer system for all their citizens

3)      Healthcare insurance has always been expensive and it is expensive today

4)      There are 267 million non-elderly Americans

a)      56% are covered through their employers and that coverage could range from $16,000 to $30,000 per family. The majority of those covered pay a co-premium of 25% and many have high deductibles. This coverage is not inexpensive and premiums continue to increase

b)      18% are not insured

c)       21% receive coverage through Medicaid and other public programs

d)      6% have individual or family plans

5)      Obamacare has made coverage available to millions who cannot afford coverage

6)      Healthcare coverage is provided by private companies, and their CEOs are incredibly well compensated.

a)      The top 20 executives in for sectors made an average of the following:

1)      Insurance $15 million per year!

2)      Provider $21 million

3)      Services $20 million

4)      Supply chain $30 million

7)      Of the leading insurance companies here are the top CEO’s compensation:

a)      Centene Corp $19 million

b)      Aflac $15 million

c)       Aetna $15 million

d)      Cigna $14 million

e)      Anthem $13.5 Million

8)      Obamacare (ACA) is coverage from insurance companies not the government

9)      Obamacare (ACA) upgraded many policies which were not doing the job that was promised

10)   Healthcare coverage in the years after the passage of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act,) the pace of the cost of healthcare slowed to its lowest pace in 50 years

11)   Company provided healthcare plans have traditionally raised premiums at 2 to 3 times the rate of inflation.

12)   Healthcare is a right for all Americans

13)   The GOP has no answer to healthcare coverage for the 23 million covered by the ACA

14)    They have no answer for 10s of millions denied coverage by Red State governors

15)   No one is forced to take Obamacare (ACA).  All Americans have right to search the market.

16)   Obamacare (ACA) needs to be adjusted  as was Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Therefore, no one can expect, under a privately-based system of healthcare, inexpensive plans which have coverage without caps, exclusions, and limitations. No one in our privately-based system

Why Should Anyone Vote Republican? 10-24-16

Why Should Anyone Vote Republicans?

Richard J. Garfunkel

10-24-16

We keep on being exposed to the media and Republican “spinmeisters” who are talking about “down ballot,” voting and splitting one’s ballot. I ask why? What has the Republican-controlled Congress done over the past six years? Can anyone really answer? Recent polls have indicated public sentiment. The Gallup Organization rates the Congress with a Job Favorability level at 20% with 76% disapproving. But, what does Real Clear Politics say about the same reality: their average of six major polling groups, including Fox News, says 14.7% approve what Congress is doing and 77% disapprove.  The Congress is a creature of the leadership and the leadership is Republican.

By voting for the average Republican incumbent or challenger you get the following: more inaction on jobs, infrastructure, education, civil rights and liberties and tax relief for America’s wealthiest. You also get a Congress that is against healthcare for all Americans, but has no alternative plan. You vote for a Congress that will repeal the Federal Inheritance Tax, which affects a tiny percentage of the wealthiest 1% of all Americans ($12 million plus in assets). You also vote for a Congress that is completely against women’s health, including: Choice, Birth Control, and Planned Parenthood. But, what about the minimum wage, the sanctity of Social Security and Medicare? What about their plans for de-regulation? Does that mean more fracking in watershed areas? Does that mean less clean air and more reliance on dirty coal? But what about education? Does that mean more undermining public education, lower salaries for teachers or support for Charter Schools?    

So, we keep on hearing from the Trump Talking Heads, that this election is about the dispossessed American, the terrible recovery, the decline of America, how weak or armed forces are, and that Washington is broken. But, who broke Washington? Along with those fables, how come the moderators have zero knowledge of our history? What happened from the beginning of the Progressive Era from Teddy Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson? What were the working, social, and economic conditions of the era? Were they in need of change? Of course. But, who opposed that change? The same people who oppose progressive reform today!

These news readers, seem to have forgotten our advancement from the days to the Crash and the great progressive gains from FDR through Truman, to the Great Society and up and through President Obama. Did they conveniently forget who created twice as many jobs? Did they forget how well markets did under Democrats and how wages went up for most Americans. Did they forget how the GOP de-regulators and tax cutters gave us most of the recessions, since Truman and the Savings & Loan trillion dollar debacle, the quadrupling of the National Debt under Reagan and Bush 41? Maybe they have no clue.

How come it is ancient history that in 2008, we were in the midst of another economic meltdown caused by unregulated markets? Is there any connection to the recent Wells Fargo scandal? You can bet on it.  So here we are in the midst of a campaign, where the American public has to confront these myths. Is the average American suffering? No! Is this the worst recovery since the Great Depression? No! Are there job losses authored by Wall Street, which has nothing to do with NAFTA? Yes! Is our military 2nd rate? Of course not! Is Washington broken? Yes, and who is the cause? One doesn’t have to look much further than the GOP leadership, which has failed to schedule hearings for Federal Judges and numerous other presidential appointments. Almost a record have not been confirmed. So who is filibustering, not addressing problems of jobs, education and our infrastructure? Is it the Democrats, or the candidates the GOP supports? Splitting one’s ballot will bring more gridlock, obfuscation and regression. Don’t do it!

 

 

How to Save American Democracy and the Current Electoral System! 10-29-16

How to Save American Democracy and the Current Electoral System!

Richard J. Garfunkel

10-29-16

The Open or the Universal Primary System, which is now in use in California, should be adopted by all states and should be used in all elections from Governor to the local level. This system calls for a run-off system of the top two candidates if a candidate does not reach 50% of the vote in the first round. The Open Primary allows any registered voter, not matter how they are registered, to vote. This allows Independents and others to determine who will be elected. Even if it is a one-party state or state assembly district, anyone can run and it eliminates the current system where often 5% of the dominant party’s electorate chooses their “unopposed” candidate in the general election. This would basically eliminate or reduce the “out of proportion” influence of “splinter” factions in both parties. In an Open election, any number of candidates, of either or no party can participate.

The Presidential Election process should institute these reforms immediately. The Primary system should be moved to no earlier than May and the early caucus in Iowa and the first primary in New Hampshire should be eliminated by rotation. The primaries should be regional and completed in no more than two months. Preferably they should be completed in June and July and the political conventions should be held in August and the campaign should last no longer than 2.5 months. Campaigning should officially start after Labor Day. Strict limitations on when campaign monies can be spent should be instituted. No candidate can be allowed to lend money to their campaign. Every contribution should be a “gift.”  At the end of the campaign, no money can be kept by a candidate. It either has to be returned to contributors or contributed on a proportional level to state parties or to the running the running of the next federal election.

Each party should be allowed to appoint at least 25% of its delegates as Super Delegates. That total can reach as high as each party wishes. This should reduce the impact of expensive and meaningless primaries. In 1960 there were 16 primaries and only five were basically contested. In fact, only Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oregon had any discernible results. In state presidential primaries there should not be allowed any cross-over voters. In other words, only registered members of a party can vote in their own primary. This prevents the process of the non-party voters influencing the nomination of another party.

As for fund-raising, no person is allowed to form a committee until January of the election year and any money donated from PACs, assuming Citizen’s United is not reversed by the Supreme Court, can only raise the same amount of donation limit of which a candidate is currently allowed, which is $2700 per person. That amount can be raised to $5000 per person and be adjusted each election cycle. There should also be strict limits on what an individual can spend on their own campaign. No election should be dominated by billionaires who can spend unlimited amounts of their own money.  Every contribution to a PAC should be public information. The era where an individual can give an unlimited and secret amount to a PAC should be ended.

The campaign should last from after Labor Day to Election Day and there should be consideration of allowing proportional distribution of Electoral College votes to Congressional Districts or a percentage of the statewide vote. If a state is split evenly, the Electoral College votes could be split in half. Or if a candidate wins all of the Congressional Districts, they receive all of the Electoral College votes. The votes should automatically be attributed to the winning candidate, with the elector only allowed to change their vote if there is a vacancy caused by death or resignation before the official certification of the election.

 

The American Divide and the Return to “Normalcy” 11-19-16

The American Divide and the Return to “Normalcy!”

Richard J. Garfunkel

11-19-16

In the simplest terms, America is divided culturally, politically and racially. Throughout our history America has been divided, one way or another, between North and South, rich and poor, White and Black, urban and rural, and the educated and the uneducated. As one breaks down these divisions, one could easily understand that there were always divisions between the ruling, majority Protestants and others (Catholics, Jews, etc.). Up until this past election, often the majority of the wealthiest white Protestants (today, mostly Evangelicals, Baptists and even some allied upper-class Catholics and Jews) used wedge issues, which they hardly believed or even supported, to mobilize the poor white Protestants and others to vote for right-wing, anti-government (Tea Party) candidates. There is even a dramatic shift in religious affiliation in America.

The Pew Research Center has determined that in 2014, Protestants, of all denominations, made up only 46.5% of the population and of that figure 31% are non-white. As with Catholics, not only has their percentage declined to 20.3% of the population, but 41% of all Catholics are non-white. America’s population as a Christian nation has dropped from 78.4% in 2007 to just over 70% in 2014.   

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men

With this in mind, we are still nominating white Protestants for the presidency and many of our federal offices, (Tim Kaine is Catholic), and the Republican Party and Donald Trump certainly exploited religious and racial themes in this past election.

These issues were often Choice, separation of church and state, race, guns, education, affirmative action, housing, women’s rights, stem cells and Gay rights. In electing these right-wing Members of Congress, Governors and legislators, they achieved what they really always wanted: the continuance of economic hegemony. These other issues hardly affected them in the first place. If they needed an abortion or stem cell therapy or even drugs of choice, they could easily pay for that need.   

In our history, the Chinese and Japanese Exclusion Acts of 1882 and 1907 reflected distinct divisions and legislative mistrust of Asians by Eurocentric, American Christians. Certainly that racial divide was seen in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the security frenzy in California and the West Coast. Justified, or not, the Japanese Internment was certainly a consequence of the age–old fear of the “Yellow Peril!”

There were always tensions in the Southwest between Mexican (Latinos) and Anglos (Whites), and when there was a large Puerto Rican immigration to the United States in the post WWII period, there was cultural and racial fear and resentment in NYC (“West Side Story”). There were problems over race regarding refugees from Cuba, Haiti and with re-settled boat people from Cambodia, along with large influxes of Filipinos, Koreans and Vietnamese in the wake of our Asian wars. Racial animosity wasn’t unique to the South, and there were race riots in the North, especially over a swimming incident on a Lake Michigan Beach in 1919 which led to a frenzy of violence that injured hundreds and killed 38. Even during WWII, in Detroit, huge White protests ensued over the promotion of Black workers in a defense plant. Earlier, problems between Blacks and Whites began on Belle Isle, a large Detroit recreation area, which caused a riot where hundreds were injured. Much of this tension began with the Sojourner Truth Federal Housing Project. Racial protests began over Black defense workers being moved into a housing project near a white, Polish-American area of Detroit. Later, evidence connected this incendiary situation to a Nazi plot to foment racial tensions in the United States during WWII. Nazi propagandists had a field day in Germany exploiting the tension and violence emanating from these race riots. Japanese propaganda also exploited racial animosities by telling non-white Americas to resist in enlisting or working for the defense effort. There were also riots in Los Angeles (the Zoot Suit violence), Mobile, Alabama and Beaumont, Texas.

Obviously race has evoked a sharp divide in America. There were 1,111 lynchings in America between 1890 and 1899, and there were 1,790 more between 1900 and 1949.  One can just imagine how many Blacks were murdered in the South from the earliest beginnings of slavery until 1890. Let us not forget the 1863, “Draft Riots” in NYC, which, according to Princeton historian, James McPherson, 120 people were killed, uncounted multiples of people were injured, and hundreds of Blacks were forced to flee the city. The total damage, in contemporary dollars was estimated to be over $95 million. Many of these people, killed and injured, were Blacks and eleven were even lynched. The book, “The Gangs of New York,” written in 1928 by Herbert Asbury (made into a movie in 2002) claimed over 2000 were killed and 8000 were injured. But, these figures are unverified.  

Aside from this ugly history, racial problems continued up into the 1960’s with riots in Watts, Los Angeles, Newark, NJ, Liberty City, Miami, Fl, and in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant in NYC. The amount of local incidents is almost unable to be calculated. Other cultural divides even involved popular music and Black-oriented Jazz. Even in 1939, the renowned Black soprano, Marian Anderson, was banned from singing, in front of an integrated audience, at Constitution Hall, by its owners, the Daughters of the American Revolution, a well-known, conservative group of “blue bloods,” who believed that they owned America, because their ancestors arrived either on the Mayflower or were descendants of American revolutionaries. Eventually, she did sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 and heard on the radio by millions of Americans. This cultural divide spilled into the 1950’s when rock and roll music started to incorporate Southern Black-styled music, and there were protests over people like Elvis Presley and his clones. Even some radio disc jockeys decided to destroy rock and roll 45’s as a protest against this type of “Negro” music permeating into the culture of American youth. These divisions reached into the heart of American’s divide over sexual morality, which included sex education in the schools, birth control information, its dissemination and eventually the sale of condoms and the use of the Pill. This nonsense went on into the middle 1960’s when I witnessed the arrest of Bill Baird, in Boston University’s Hayden Hall, over his dissemination of condoms.

Today, there are deep divides over Gay Rights, Women’s Rights, Black domination of football and basketball (college and professional), Latino and Asian influence in professional baseball, and minorities in the arts, on television, in the theater, and for sure in music.

The mantra of “Taking America Back,” was a not so veiled reference to the return of America to the domination of White Protestants. Certainly the backing of the KKK and other White Supremacist groups, including White Nationalists and Nazis, reflected this xenophobic view on immigration, people of color, (Asians, Africans, Arabs), and religious bigotry towards others (Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and the unaffiliated, or non-believers.)   

Below is a contemporary list of the “Take America Back” theory:

1.       Exercise fidelity to the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and founding ideals.

2.       Promote and achieve a return to American self-belief as a force of nature. As any leader knows: you can’t expect others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.

3.       Re-engage with cultural institutions. It is time to compete for control of the cultural institutions that for the past four decades have been the forums and seedbeds of the Left. From Hollywood to popular music to teaching to journalism. The days of the cultural elites playing unopposed … they’re numbered.

4.       Put an end to the culture of complaint and entitlement. We need to put the professional offense-takers out of business. They’re designed to intimidate us, to remove our confidence, to make us afraid to even look at someone the wrong way, to make all our visceral convictions suspect. The days of promoting grievance and envy … they’re over.

5.       Stand up to bullies. America cannot allow itself to continue to be bullied by the anti-bullying crusade. It’s time to punch the bully’s nose.

6.      Embrace rugged individualism. Rugged individualism is not an exercise in political nostalgia – it is a genuine solution for the myriad problems facing the United States in the 21st century. American national character must be understood in light of what it is: a self-made society. The world needs America to be a country of self-reliant warriors, not pussycats.

 Of course, what was not articulated in this “Take America Back” manifesto was the following: a roll back in Choice, birth control, Women’s Rights, Obamacare (the ACA) or affordable healthcare options for all, freedom of expression (note the comment on culture: Hollywood, music, journalism). Of course, this revisionist group seems to believe that the Constitution only speaks for them. In other words, let us rollback all the judicial decisions that they disagree with which supported Affirmative Action, integration of the schools, the military, the work force, housing, and America, worker’s rights, Social Security, Choice, Title 9, the rights of the disabled, and all the sexual harassment decisions.

 Sinclair Lewis wrote in 1935, his novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” a satirical novel about the electoral takeover America. In summation- “In 1936 Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, wins the election as President of the United States on a Democrat platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness, and promising each citizen $5,000 a year. Portraying himself as a champion of traditional American values, Windrip easily defeats his opponents, Senator Walt Trowbridge and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Though having previously foreshadowed some authoritarian measures in order to reorganize the United States government, Windrip rapidly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of Windrip and his “corporatist” regime. One of his first acts as president is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress, which draws the ire of many citizens as well as the legislators themselves. The Minute Men respond to protests against Windrip’s decisions harshly, attacking demonstrators with bayonets. In addition to these actions, Windrip’s administration, known as the “Corpo” government, curtails women’s and minority rights, and eliminates individual states by subdividing the country into administrative sectors. The government of these sectors is managed by “Corpo” authorities, usually prominent businessmen or Minute Men officers. Those accused of crimes against the government appear before kangaroo courts presided over by “military judges”. Despite these dictatorial (and “quasi-draconian”) measures, a majority of Americans approve of them, seeing them as necessary but painful steps to restore American power. Others, those less enthusiastic about the prospect of corporatism, reassure themselves that fascism cannot “happen here”, hence the novel’s title.
 

So, this is what we all face. Do we turn to “strong man” rule or a return to states ‘right’s bigotry? Do we go back in time when Jim Crow ruled? Do we go back to where women were expected to be barefoot and pregnant? Do we go back to when women were restricted to certain, specified, areas of employment? Do we go back to segregated schools and housing? Do we go back to all-white civil service unions or quotas on who and what races can play on college and professional teams? Do we want to roll back Title 9 which gives women the same rights to participate in sports as men? The choice is out there. This election wound up being about “Take Back America!” The history of the 20th Century reflects the disastrous consequences of super nationalism and institutional racism. We saw it all happen before with the failed political philosophy of “Divide and Conquer,” “Social Darwinism”-the survival of the fittest, and “The ends justify the means.” We fought and won World War II over these issues, and let us not surrender to them in the 21st Century.

 Therefore, any sign of weakness in our resolve, will be met with strength on their side. We must continue to organize and to educate. We must stand tall with regards to all our critical advances in social and economic justice since the New Deal. We must not allow the “Take Back America” cadres to dominate the American conversation or narrative. We must continual to tell our side of the story, which has been pro-worker, pro-education, pro-equal rights and opportunity, pro-women, and pro-social advancement. We lost the election because too few really understood the “real” issues. Therefore, it is incumbent on ourselves not to let this happen again.