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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

August 2020

History in Perspective


We are currently living during a belated focus on history. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought our attention to the systemic racism that has dogged Black communities since the failure of the Reconstruction, after President Lincoln was assassinated.

Formerly considered "historic" statues and memorials firmly planted in countless town squares and courthouses have been revealed to be frauds, not post-Civil War memorials at all. We now know that all of these memorials more...

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Democracy Requires Integrity and Honor


Our Founding Fathers envisioned a system of governance based on division of powers and rule of law. The consent of the governed was to be by election of qualified voters: initially, White men who had some property.

The assumption was that men with property would have skin in the game, be literate, pragmatic, and thoughtful. Another assumption was that voters would want their officials to be men of "honor," but the founders knew that honorable men would not always use thei more...

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Earning Their Spurs


At the annual Al Smith fundraising dinner in New York in October 2019, former secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, joked about his experience in the Trump administration:

"I?m not just an overrated general. I am the greatest, the world?s most overrated?I would just tell you too that I?m honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I?m the Meryl Streep of generals?And frankly that sounds pretty good to me. more...

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Filling the Leadership Gap


Without his political rallies to pump up his ego, President Trump has resorted to lengthy daily "Press Briefings" in which he endlessly congratulates himself, while elbowing out the scientists on the podium and butting in when they do speak. The dog-and-pony show on April 13 was a jaw-dropping two-hour rant, angry and spiteful about how unappreciated he was after the New York Times reported his failure of leadership, despite briefings and alerts to the danger of the pandemic. His intelli more...

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New Attention to Ethics

In this glaringly unethical presidency, the issue of ethics and violation of ethics is front and center in the news. Ethics have to do with doing the right thing. All ethical government officials take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. The Constitution makes clear that those with power must not abuse that power for personal gain, the definition of political corruption. The Constitution?s remedy for removing an official for abuse of power (corruption) is impeachment. When such removal involv more...

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If Right Doesn?t Matter?

In an impassioned conclusion to the Senate Impeachment Trial, Representative Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor against President Trump, got the Senate?s attention. "If right doesn?t matter, we?re lost." You know you can?t trust the president will do what?s right for this country," he said, "You can trust he will do what?s right for Donald Trump. He?ll do it now. He?s done it before. He?ll do it for the next several months., he?ll do it in the election if he?s allowed to. This is why if you find h more...

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If Right Doesn?t Matter?


In an impassioned conclusion to the Senate Impeachment Trial, Representative Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor against President Trump, got the Senate?s attention. "If right doesn?t matter, we?re lost." You know you can?t trust the president will do what?s right for this country," he said, "You can trust he will do what?s right for Donald Trump. He?ll do it now. He?s done it before. He?ll do it for the next several months., he?ll do it in the election if he?s allowed to. This is why if yo more...

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The Gaslighting Phenomenon


A new term has now entered our lexicon: "gaslighting." In a 1940 movie called "Gaslight," an evil husband and his housemaid/mistress attempt to drive the wife mad by making her think that lies were true. They played tricks on her, hid things that she knew she had not lost, and finally almost convinced her that she no longer could tell truth from deception. Gaslighting now means that people can no longer tell truth from even an obvious lie. Gaslighting also requires people to aid in the d more...

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December 2019

America?s Gift to the World


When everything that the US has done to create and support a global world order is being challenged, both here and abroad, it may benefit us to review exactly what we accomplished. Knowing this might help us restore it after the next election.

Political scientist Michael Mandelbaum published a book in 2005: The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World?s Government in the 21st Century. Mandelbaum claims that the US has functioned as a de facto world government from more...

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America?s Gift to the World


When everything that the US has done to create and support a global world order is being challenged, both here and abroad, it may benefit us to review exactly what we accomplished. Knowing this might help us restore it after the next election.

Political scientist Michael Mandelbaum published a book in 2005: The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World?s Government in the 21st Century. Mandelbaum claims that the US has functioned as a de facto world government from more...

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All Roads Lead to Putin


House speaker Nancy Pelosi noted recently that in the Trump Whitehouse, all roads lead to Putin. This is, of course, one of the elements in the Trump impeachment investigation: if our President is in the thrall of a "foreign prince" (founding fathers warning), accepting gifts or bribes, or violating the constitution to the benefit of such foreign prince, he must be impeached and removed from office.

From the 2016 election campaign to this moment, Trump has shown a peculia more...

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August 2019

A Public/Private partnership To Reduce Gun Violence.


A short letter to the San Francisco Chronicle proposed a brilliant solution to our national plague of gun violence. The writer proposed that we nation-wide mandate liability insurance for all gun owners, as we now do for automobiles, Both are capable of human injury, death and property damage,

All that is needed is for our Congress to mandate liability insurance for all gun owners. The private enterprise insurance companies might like this mandate (lucrative for them) and more...

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The Abortion Hypocrisy


No one should force a pregnant woman to have an abortion, a practice in China years ago to address population explosion (the one-child policy). But forcing a pregnant woman to bear an unwanted child is "involuntary servitude." The key concept here is force. If men and women in a modern society are legally equal citizens, how is it that the radical branch of the Republican Party has been relentlessly trying to eliminate the 1973 law that permits women to make decisions about their own bod more...

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Democracy Thrives on Centrists, Not Radicals (part 2).



Foreign Policy. Only 10% of voters care about foreign policy issues, until we are at war, when 20% start to care. Democrats often think that our values matter in foreign policy issues. Republicans more often consider pragmatism, and are more inclined to recognize that there is no "world order" other than in our imaginations.

We need a mix of these two views: never forgetting that values do matter, but knowing that nations don?t have "friends," they have "allies" o more...

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Democracy Thrives on Centrists, Not Radicals. (Part 1.)



I find Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, newly elected to Congress, bright, daring to think the big picture, and with certainties that characterize the young. Demonizing her, as so many on the Right do, makes more of her significance than the reality. Her Green New Deal is not a program; rather, it is a grand roadmap which we must try to reach in the next 20 years. This is no pie in the sky either; our country, and many others in the world, are already heading in the direction of a fossil more...

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Women and "Pollution"


Women in modern, reason-based societies know that menstruation (monthly bleeding) is a normal process that marks the beginning and end of fertility. When I was a girl, it was often called "the curse," but one does not hear that today.

I would never have given any more thought to this topic if it had not returned in the news: a Nepalese woman and her two small children died when freezing overnight in a "seclusion hut." Around the world, remnants of this primitive custom re more...

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September 2018

The Me Too Movement in Perspective

As our political world is once more roiled by allegations of abuse of women, this time a woman who has come forth (obviously reluctantly) with an account of an attempted rape by a drunk schoolboy when the two of them were teens. She was 15 and he 17, but that boy is now a man, a judge, President Trump?s nominee for the Supreme Court.

If this were the only question about this nominee, Brett Kavanaugh?s behavior, it could well be dismissed as an example of "boys will be boys," and t more...

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