Biden Plans To Re-Enter Iran Deal

Originally published February 24, 2021

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/4107-biden-plans-to-re-enter-iran-deal

 I can assure you that the president…is not looking to the last presidency as the model for his foreign policy moving forward.” Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said this in response to a tariff question, but it is indicative of the Biden administrations defining policy principle: Anything Trump did, reverse it.

This includes charging right back into the atrocious Iran Deal (more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan. of Action, or the JCPOA), which guaranteed Iran a path to a nuclear weapon by 2025 and unlimited leeway to fund terrorism without sanction.  One of the best moves of the Trump administration was pulling out of that deal, and curbing Iran’s continued aggression in the region.  

As a refresher, Trump’s victories in Iran are not limited to pulling out of the Iran Deal.  2020 alone saw a great reduction in Iran’s capabilities, with the deaths of the Ayatollah’s number two (Qasem Soleimani) and top nuclear scientist (Mohsen Fakhrizadeh). Trump put together a coalition against Iran in the Middle East when he orchestrated the Abraham Peace Accords.  Trump’s sanctions have cost Iran a trillion dollars – which is a trillion less dollars going towards ballistic missiles and funding terrorists, both of which were allowed under the Iran Deal.

“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” said Ned Price, U.S. State Department spokesman.  What’s never mentioned is that while the United States pulled out of the deal, other nations remained in it, meaning that Iran would still have to comply with the terms of the deal.  However, they have not been compliant, and Iran’s Foreign Minister has admitted so.

In December, Javad Zarif said, “The US must implement without preconditions its obligations under the JCPOA. It has to show its good faith, it has to establish its bona fides, then Iran will go back in full compliance with JCPOA.”  Iran will not comply with the deal unless there are “assurances” that the United States will not leave it again. This puts the Biden administration on the defensive, as it wants to get into the deal more than it wants to exude strength.

This lack of strength is all the more evident after the Biden administration did not retaliate after Iranian-backed forces attacked a U.S. base.  According to U.S. News and World Report, “The U.S. and its Kurdish allies in Iraq believe Iran was complicit in a deadly rocket attack Monday against an airport housing American forces near the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil that killed at least one contractor from the U.S.-led coalition and injured a U.S. service member among many others.”  When asked, Jen Psaki claimed that the White House has not “determined attribution at this point,” meaning they will not blame Iran.  Three days later, Ned Price put out his statement about re-entering the deal.  (Needless to say, if the same events occurred under Trump, the narrative would be that he was disregarding his intelligence agencies and betraying Kurdish allies.)

Zarif smells blood in the water, and is ready to attack.  On Iran’s state-run PressTV, he said that at the negotiating table, Iran will not only demand immediate removal of 1600 sanctions, but also the $1 trillion loss that occurred because of those sanctions.  “Whether those compensations will take the form of reparation, or whether they take the form of investment, or whether they take the form of measures to prevent a repeat of what Trump did,” he said.  Zarif clearly knows that the best way to get what he wants from the Biden administration is to bash Trump.

The reaction to the news about Biden re-entering the Iran Deal was quick and predictable.  Those who were against it before are against it now, and vice versa.  Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement, “And so, it begins: The Biden administration said today that it is ready to meet with Iran and other signatories to the dangerously flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The US also eased travel restriction on Iranian diplomats at the UN. We’re already making concessions to Iran even before Iran comes into full compliance with the JCPOA. The Biden administration is reverting right back to the counter-productive policies of the Obama-Biden years.”

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted, “Returning to the deeply flawed Iran deal would be a huge mistake. The regime continues to threaten us, spread terrorism, and cause chaos in the region. The Biden Administration is playing into the Ayatollah’s hands.”  Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Newsmax, “If we’re prepared to take a deal at any cost, we’ll get a really crappy deal again.  Frankly, American security can’t afford that.  Stability in the Middle East will be destroyed.”

On the other side of the aisle, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, “The Iran nuclear deal’s original terms made the world a safer place. That’s why restarting the agreement through “compliance for compliance,” rather than trying to hold out for a new/different deal (as Trump, Iran hawks wanted) is the best path.”  

The Iran Deal was a disaster.  Democrats and their media counterparts only focused on the nuclear part of the deal, completely ignoring all the other issues.  Iran could fund terror, build up its non-nuclear arsenal, and continue its egregious human rights violations and still be compliant with the deal.  Nuclear weapons are, of course, of paramount importance, but those other issues should have never been negotiated away. Additionally, by the next U.S. administration, the terms of the deal will have expired, and Iran will be back on its way to nuclear capabilities. 

The best aspect of the Trump administration was its foreign policy.  The worst part of Biden’s resume is his foreign policy.  Instead of swallowing his pride and admitting that Trump did a few things right, Biden is taking the United States, and the world, down a road that ends with a re-emboldened Iran – one that will have even more cash to fund whatever it wants.  

Cuomo Must Go

 Originally published February 17, 2021

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/4053-cuomo-must-go

If possible, this week yielded even more revelations about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s massive nursing home scandal. Based on the evidence available to the public, Cuomo deliberately covered up nursing home deaths to avoid prosecution by the Trump Department of Justice. New Yorkers should demand his resignation.

As reported by the New York Post on Thursday, February 11, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo, admitted that they deliberately hid the number of nursing home deaths requested by the New York State Legislature in August 2020. According to a video conference call of a meeting with State Democratic leaders, DeRosa claims that this was “right around the same time [that then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football. He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes.” DeRosa, attempting to explain her actions, claims that Trump made this partisan because he was “going after” Democratic Governors. However, what she fails to mention is that each of the governors that Trump is “going after,” like New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer all had similar nursing home policies as New York, and all had high nursing home death rates. No Republican governors fit that mold. Trump’s inquiry was not political, it was factual.

DeRosa claims that after Trump directed the DOJ to investigate New York, “basically, we froze.” “Froze” is apparently a euphemism for cover-up. As the Associated Press reported last week, “More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York State were released from hospitals into nursing homes early in the pandemic under a controversial directive that was scrapped amid criticism it accelerated outbreaks.” And so 9,056 recovering patients were sent to nursing homes all over the state.

Cuomo claimed that this was done because they did not want the hospitals overwhelmed. However, the hospital ship that the Trump administration sent over, as well as the Javits Center and other overflow facilities went largely, if not completely, unused. There was no overflow issue in New York between the end of March and the beginning of May, when Cuomo’s nursing home directive was in place. Recovering patients could have been sent to those facilities, yet over 9,000 patients were sent to nursing homes that contained people who were most vulnerable to COVID: the elderly.

Nor is it an excuse that the science was not yet clear that the elderly were more susceptible to the virus. By the middle of March, before Cuomo made the directive to send patients back to nursing homes, it was scientifically proven that older people were hardest hit. Cuomo also blames the Trump administration’s CDC, even though CDC guidelines at the time specifically mentioned that COVID-positive patients should only be sent to nursing homes if they can be quarantined from the residents. Cuomo’s directive had no such provision.

Cuomo, of course, is denying complicity. In a statement on Monday, he claimed that “All the deaths in the nursing homes and hospitals were always fully, publicly and accurately reported” and that the discrepancy was a “categorization” issue. This issue has been known for close to a year, that New York counted nursing home deaths differently than the other 49 states. That didn’t stop Cuomo from previously claiming that New York had low nursing home death numbers. It also didn’t compel Cuomo to comply with the State Legislature’s demand for more accurate data. Like most political scandals, making the hard call is usually not the issue. The issue is the cover-up. Now that Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, is in the White House, will Andrew Cuomo be prosecuted for deliberately hiding information from the federal government to avoid an investigation into his actions? Assuming that the Biden DOJ has no interest in that, what recourse do New Yorkers have?

Former Governor George Pataki says the time is right for a recall effort, despite the fact that New York (unlike California and 38 other states) has no mechanism to recall Cuomo. “I only think it should be used in extraordinary cases, but when you really have lost confidence in the leadership in your state,” says Pataki. “I think the opportunity should exist for the majority of the people to say we want something different.” Cuomo, who is in his third term and already expressed interest in a fourth one, can be impeached, but it is unlikely the Democrat-majority legislature will go against their own.

A mechanism to get Cuomo out of office is neither unprecedented nor only about COVID. In California, an effort to recall Governor Gavin Newson has reached 1.4 million signatures. COVID seems to be the final straw for many Californians sick of broad policy that has been destroying their state. New Yorkers have similar complaints. Increased crime, increased homelessness, high taxes, and fleeing residents and businesses have been occurring for years. This nursing home scandal may finally be the catalyst to ending Cuomo’s decade-long reign in the state.

As previously described, a few weeks ago in the column entitled, “Cuomo News Isn’t News,” none of this was a secret. Janice Dean was publicizing this for months. Conservative news sources pointed out the discrepancies. Yet the media treated Cuomo like a deity. He had a book deal, Emmy award, and near universal praise from the mainstream. New Yorkers need to see past the lies and deception and view Cuomo for who he is: a failure who has led New York to doom.

Democrats Set Precedent They Will Come To Regret

 Originally published February 10, 2021

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/4013-democrats-set-precedent-they-will-come-to-regret

This past week, the Majority Democrats took a truly unprecedented step when they removed Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments after the Republicans chose not to do so. To be against such a removal is not to be pro-Greene; the situation is not nearly that binary. No one who is against the House Democrats’ action should allow himself to be tarred with the same brush that the media is attempting to paint Greene with.

The best way to understand Greene, and many of the conspiracy-prone members of the Republican Coalition, is to go deeper down the rabbit hole of The Matrix analogy. It has long been a right-wing argument that to “take the red pill,” as Neo does in The Matrix, is to “free your mind” to the lies and deception all around you created by the media, Hollywood, universities, and the Democrats. While it is certainly true that, once you grow to understand how these institutions operate to steer the American people to the left, you see things very differently, it is not where the story ends.

In the sequel to The Matrix, we see many more characters of varying degrees of “faith.” The society is a complete “red pilled” society, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements. Some think that the protagonist, Neo, is a god. They pray to him, they beg him to watch over their children, and they bow to him. Others think that he is merely a very gifted individual, but not the savior. This analogy can extend to how Republicans view the world, as well.

The mainstream media, like the Matrix, is an elaborate lie designed to trick people into agreement and complacency. This can be seen in nearly every story that they choose, or don’t choose, to cover. From COVID to Climate Change to racism to student loans, everything is calibrated and curated to achieve their cultural and political ends. This is not conspiracy-speak. Molly Ball in Time Magazine lays this out and celebrates how this coordinated effort gave Biden the election. So when people see through this by “taking the red pill,” they can sometimes get carried away.

This is what drives so many people, Greene included, to ridiculous conspiracy theories such as QAnon (coverage of Q itself is incredibly specific and always manages to be prevalent at times where it can hurt and embarrass as many Republicans as possible). A conspiracy theory that claims that Democrats are Satan-worshipping pedophiles makes more sense when the people who tell you it’s a lie also cover up for child-abuse at the hands of Democrat super-donor Jeffrey Epstein. It’s hard for ABC to have credibility with this crowd when they buried Amy Robach’s story about a Harvey Weinstein accuser for three years.

Marjorie Taylor Greene was caught up in this in 2017 and 2018 when she lost all trust in the media to properly inform her about President Trump. While this disillusionment is completely justified, what she did next was not. In addition to praising Q, she has expressed belief in other online rhetoric, such as there was no plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 and that California wildfires were started by satellites funded by the Rothschilds. These are crazy and untrue conspiracy theories.

That doesn’t mean that the opposition research into Greene or the coverage of her is journalistic objectivity. The media needed a new villain to make the face of the Republican Party, and this freshman Congresswoman from a deep-red district who got in because of an eight-person primary was the perfect candidate. So headlines from The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times screamed that the Republican Party was now “the Party of Marjorie Taylor Greene,” despite having no power within the caucus.

Contrast this with the actual new faces of the Democratic Party, the Squad, who debuted in the last election cycle. Republicans didn’t elevate them to leadership positions, Democrats and the media did. Ilhan Omar appeared on the cover of a Time special issue of powerful women in May of 2018 alongside Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was deemed “the future of our Party” by DNC Chair Tom Perez. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appeared with both Omar and Ocasio-Cortez on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. All of this was in the very beginning of their terms in Congress. The Right did not elevate them, the Left did. Anyone who has been paying attention to these Representatives can see that they spread more hatred, lies, and division to a far wider audience than Greene ever did. Yet they continue to be praised and elevated into greater positions of power and authority within the House and the Democratic Party.

What was the Republican reaction to the revelations about Greene? Mitch McConnell said that Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer” to the GOP. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a statement that he “condemn[s] those comments unequivocally.” Then the Republicans went to Greene to hear her side of the story.

As she stated on the House floor, she was angry about the Russian collusion conspiracy theory propagated by the media and Democrats for years that she got sucked into other conspiracy theories. “So later in 2018,” she said, “when I started finding misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it.” She essentially went too deep into the “rabbit hole” of the Red Pill. She believed the conspiracies that form as an alternative to media lies when they “curate” the truth. She then, according to her statement, had a change of heart.

As these events occurred a few years before she was elected, the Republicans decided to give Greene the benefit of the doubt and allow her to keep her committee assignments. Whether or not that was the right move is a debate worth having, but irrelevant because of what happened next. The Democrats, as the Majority Party, stripped her of her committee assignments.

This was an unprecedented and radical move by the Democrats, who have never applied the same punishment to their own. They didn’t punish Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib when they spout anti-Semitic tropes and blood libels on Twitter. They didn’t punish Maxine Waters when she told people to “gather a crowd” against members of the Trump cabinet when they are seen in public. They didn’t punish Chuck Schumer when he told a mob outside the Supreme Court that Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “won’t know what hit [them] if [they] go forward with these awful decisions.” They didn’t punish Adam Schiff for his countless CNN appearances where he claimed to have evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia in 2016, something that the Mueller Report completely debunked. They don’t punish any of their Members who spout lies and conspiracies while in office, let alone prior to their terms.

So now they’ve broken that seal. Like nuking the Judicial Filibuster in 2013, which led to Trump and Republicans nominating and approving 234 federal judges, including three Justices of the Supreme Court, Democrats will one day come to regret doing this, as well, when Republicans find themselves in the Majority again. The only thing that is guaranteed, however, is that if Republicans do go ahead and strip a Democrat like Ilhan Omar of her Foreign Affairs Committee position, the Media will say that the only reason they did so is because of her race, religion, and sex. This will cause more distrust, sending more people to seek out alternative sources, find more conspiracy theories, and start this whole thing all over again.

Cuomo News Isn’t News

 Originally published February 3, 2021

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/3977-cuomo-news-isn-t-news

 This week, New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo for massively undercounting the nursing home deaths that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suit came as a shock to many New Yorkers who have been idolizing Cuomo this past year. Anyone who was watching alternative media sources, however, was aware of this “news” for months already.

Back in April, when the virus ravaged the nursing home population in New York, many questioned Cuomo’s executive order to force nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients. This was done on March 25, where the order stated, “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” New York was one of only five states to have an order that required that, and those five states had the highest death toll in the country during the first wave of the pandemic.

When Cuomo finally reversed himself in May, he said that nursing home deaths were among the lowest in the country. “Whatever we’re doing has worked, on the facts,” said Cuomo. “Look at how many residents we have in nursing homes, look at the percentage of our deaths in our nursing homes vis-à-vis other states, we’re down by like number 34.” That data was false, as reported by the Daily Caller on May 15.

As Andrew Kerr reported, “New York has omitted an unknown number of coronavirus deaths in recent reports regarding residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities, the New York State Department of Health acknowledged in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.” This is due to New York’s unique method of counting COVID nursing home deaths. New York is the only state that did not count a COVID death as a nursing home death if the death occurred outside the nursing home, even if it originated in a nursing home. Once the patient was loaded into the ambulance, that was no longer a “nursing home patient.”

If not a downright lie, this is at least incredibly misleading. Yet the Cuomo team touted their accomplishments for months. Any criticism of their policy was deflected to the media’s favorite punching bag, President Trump. On May 23, Cuomo blamed the Trump administration for his own nursing home policy. “What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.” This was not official CDC COVID policy, as Cuomo claimed. This was a directive that was not specific to COVID, and 45 out of 50 states “followed the science” and kept the elderly as far away from the virus as they could. Additionally, those CDC guidelines required strict hygiene requirements that were not met in many New York facilities.

Meteorologist Janice Dean of Fox News has been on top of this story for over six months. Both her father-in-law and mother-in-law were in an adult care facility where they contracted the virus and died. On July 22, Dean said, “That order stayed in effect for 46 days during which time over 6,000 patients with the virus were placed into these facilities housing our most vulnerable.” She said this the day after Cuomo declared victory against the virus and claimed that other states were messing up the virus response. “The problem is you have it now increasing in 40 states across the nation,” Cuomo said in late July. “How do you keep the virus in 40 states from coming into New York? We now have people coming to New York fleeing from the other states because it’s the ‘safe’ state.”

In August, the Associated Press reported that in at least one New York facility, four deaths were reported where the actual number was 21. “That statistic that could add thousands to the state’s official home care death toll of just over 6,600,” the AP wrote. “But so far, the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to divulge the number, leading to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.”

In October, Cuomo was in full cover-up mode. His claim that “it just never happened that we needed a nursing home to take a COVID-positive person,” was so false that even CNN fact-checked him. “Cuomo’s assertion that ‘it never happened’ is false,” they reported. “According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, “6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to [nursing home] facilities” following Cuomo’s mandate that nursing homes accept the readmission of COVID-positive patients from hospitals. Whether or not this was ‘needed,’ it did in fact happen.” Also in October, Cuomo released his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which debuted at #7 on The New York Times Bestseller List. When that happened, Cuomo tweeted, “Let’s learn the lessons of the spring to be smart in fighting back this virus now.”

In November, Cuomo was given an Emmy for his daily briefings. Also in November, daily cases in New York began to trend upwards again. The media coverage of Cuomo remained glowing, as all their COVID ire was directed at President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Now that President Trump is out of the White House and President Biden is in charge, the media needs a new COVID villain. Attorney General Letitia James may have provided that in an attempt to clear the way for her own gubernatorial run. No Democrat, aside from Barack Obama, had as high an approval rating as Andrew Cuomo has enjoyed this past year. As the saying goes, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” A cynic could look at the release of this report from the AG’s office and see political opportunity.

Politics aside, Cuomo has botched the COVID response and the vaccine rollout in New York State. He covered up his own ineptitude while getting wealthy off of book deals and media accolades. But nobody should pretend that this is “news”; it isn’t. Cuomo’s failures have been present throughout this crisis; they were just buried beneath the sycophants who turned a blind eye to his incompetence.

Biden Begins Term With Scandals And Lies

 Originally published January 27, 2021   

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/3941-biden-begins-term-with-scandals-and-lies

President Joe Biden began his term as President last week to much of the fanfare of the media. Many “objective” journalists were gushing about the “return to normalcy” that is occurring. By “normalcy” they must mean an era where, when the President lied and abused power, those falsehoods and scandals were ignored by the media. However, the American people deserve to have a record of what is occurring during the Biden administration.

Scandal 1: National Guardsmen Sleep in Parking Garage

For some reason, the National Guard was deployed to Washington, DC, despite there being literally zero issues on Inauguration from the right (although Antifa did destroy property in Portland and Seattle). Instead of sending these men home, the Biden administration decided to keep the ones who passed their political loyalty test (yes, members of the National Guard were background-checked to make sure they weren’t Trump supporters), but didn’t adequately care for them. As a result, some 5,000 Guardsmen were made to sleep in a parking garage with one electrical outlet, no Internet access, and one bathroom (with two stalls). Most of the Democrats who used these men for a photo-op the previous day forgot about them, but some Members of the House, like freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, brought them food. Multiple governors ordered the return of the National Guard to their states. An investigation should be held to determine what went wrong.

Scandal 2: Biden Violates Own Mask Order

Mere hours after signing an executive order requiring masks on Federal property, President Biden went to the Lincoln Memorial and delivered a speech, maskless. When asked about this by Fox News Channel’s White House Correspondent Peter Doocy, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed that Biden was “celebrating” and there are “bigger issues to worry about at this moment in time.” Biden’s daughter and four of his grandchildren were also seen violating the mandate.

For months, when President Trump went somewhere without a mask, the explanation was that there was no risk due to testing and/or social distancing. The rebuttal from the Left was always: “the President must lead by example.” However, now there is a signed Executive Order by the President of the United States that was violated. Biden not only did not lead by example, he violated his own mandate, as did at least five of his family members.

Lie 1: A Presidency for All Americans

The website JoeBiden.com claims in large letters: “A Presidency for All Americans.” Based on the executive orders signed this week, this is a lie. Biden signed orders to rejoin the Paris Accords (which 55% of Republicans and 26% of Independents oppose), canceled the Keystone XL pipeline (which killed 11,000 jobs, including 8,000 union jobs, and 51% of respondents oppose), pushed transgender athletes into sports (which 54% of respondents oppose), and halted construction of the wall on the southern border (which 86% of Republicans support). So while he calls for unity and says he’s President for All Americans, his actions say otherwise.

Lie 2: He’s a Catholic

Joe Biden’s faith is a large part of the mystique surrounding his presidency, which is ironic because it was the same thing that condemned many on the right, most recently Justice Amy Coney Barrett. A Washington Post headline read, “Joe Biden’s Faith Is All About Healing.” CNN headlined, “Biden’s Catholic faith will be on full display as the first publicly churchgoing president in decades.”

When asked by Owen Jensen of EWTN Global Catholic Network if Biden would uphold the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy, both of which prevent federal funding of abortion at home and abroad, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly. He started his day attending church with his family this morning, but I don’t have anything more for you on that.”

Taken at face value, one would assume that Biden’s faith is only relevant because of Catholic doctrine. According to the Vatican website, Catechism 2271 states, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

Later that day, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Biden will overturn the Mexico City policy. The use of Catholic faith as a shield when he does not follow Catholic doctrine is a lie.

Lie 3: Starting from Scratch with COVID

The Biden administration received an incredible gift from the Trump administration: a COVID vaccine only possible through Operation Warp Speed. By the time Trump left office, the seven-day average was 912,000 vaccinations per day.

Multiple sources inside the Biden administration told CNN that the Trump team did nothing regarding vaccine rollout. One source said, “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch.” Another commented, “Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence.” Biden proclaimed that through his leadership, 100 million vaccines will be administered in 100 days.

However, that’s far lower than it should be, considering a million doses a day is where the nation is right now. Additionally, Dr. Fauci specifically said, “We’re certainly not starting from scratch, because there is activity going on in the distribution.” (Some reporters, angry that Fauci contradicted the administration, began to refer to him as “Trump holdover” on social media). CNN published a source that lied, claiming that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch,” where a simple check on how many vaccines were distributed on Trump’s last day (around 1.5 million) would clearly refute that.

These are only a few examples of the distortions, misrepresentations, fabrications, and incompetence that plague the early days of the Biden administration, but you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media. The Washington Postdiligently “fact-checked” President Trump, but claim they do “not have plans to launch a Biden database at this time.” This is not surprising, as these same “firefighters of truth” claim that Obama ended his two-terms as a “scandal-free administration,” a massive lie for anyone who paid attention.

Do not expect to be told the truth from either the Biden administration or mainstream sources for the next few years. But, the American people did vote for a “return to normalcy.”

The Orthodox Community Does Not Need A Post-Trump Reckoning

 Originally published January 20, 2021

https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/3904-the-orthodox-community-does-not-need-a-post-trump-reckoning

By the time this article is published, the Presidency of Donald J. Trump will be over. For many on the conservative Right, whether they agreed or disagreed with Trump on a variety of issues, this is the end of federal conservative policies for at least two years, likely longer. Many articles were written last week that the American Orthodox Jewish community needs to reckon with its support for the President. This is not necessary, as Trump’s successes need not be forgiven, and his failures need not be apologized for by his voters.

The Capitol Insurrection on Wednesday, January 6, which has been disavowed ad nauseam by Republicans, was the impetus for the myriad of articles demanding repentance from the Orthodox community writ large, a community that has outsized support for President Trump. Whether or not these authors were in favor of the President prior to January 6, and they were not, is mostly irrelevant. They used their platform to villainize and demonize their fellow Jews. This alone is a major issue. The Jewish community has enough issues without allowing political differences to pit us against each other. In 2021, this is largely unavoidable, but those who participate in such action should tread very carefully. Criticizing a public persona is one thing; but if their intention is to get their fellows to see the error of their ways, mass public shaming in an era where any criticism of political viewpoint only leads to stubborn defensiveness is certainly unwise, if not foolish.

The YU Observer published a piece by RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Ezra Schwartz. (Author’s note: Rabbi Schwartz was the Rabbi of the Mount Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights for the seven years that I lived there, and a rabbi whom I greatly respect.) Rabbi Schwartz’s low opinion of Trump was never a secret; he hosted an open forum in 2016 for people who were upset about the election results. His article extends that opinion to the attendees of the January 6 rally, or anyone who did anything but condemn it completely.

“There is a need to address the Orthodox Jews who participated in the rally,” wrote Rabbi Schwartz, “those who celebrated the event even silently, those who sympathized with its goals if not with its implementation, and even those who in their Monday morning quarterbacking fell short of voicing uncompromised condemnation of the entire event. In short, what happened on Wednesday should force our community to recalibrate our moral compass and take careful stock of whether we are being true to hashkafas haTorah (the outlook of the Torah). I believe that the event needs to be reacted to with the strongest possible condemnation.” Rabbi Schwartz was not discussing the insurrection into the Capitol; he was saying that anyone who fell short of completely rebuking the rally itself needs to recalibrate his or her moral compass.

His reasoning is specious at best. He claims that he is “sickened by the image of my brothers and sisters, people wearing yarmulke and tzitzis, skirts and snoods,” who were standing “arm in arm with those wearing sweatshirts that state ‘6 Million Were not Enough.’” There were literally tens of thousands of people at the event. If Rabbi Schwartz sat on the first base line at a Yankee game, and a neo-Nazi was sitting in the bleachers, would he be “arm in arm” with that person? Even if there was one religious Jew who marched “arm in arm” with a neo-Nazi, does that condemn every Orthodox Jew who voted for Trump? This is ridiculous. There is a massive difference between those who attended the rally and those who stormed the Capitol, and an even greater difference from those who fell short of unequivocally condemning every aspect of the rally and actual neo-Nazis. To paint with such a broad brush is irresponsible.

This activism extends beyond publication. Rabbi Yosef Adler, Rosh Yeshiva of the Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) and the mara d’asra of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck chose to change the prayer for the American government said on Shabbos. Rabbi Adler, in a statement this week, admits that past rabbanim have prayed for the welfare of governments that displayed open hostility towards Jews, like Roman and Russian governments. Nonetheless, he chose to “instruct all gabbaim to replace the President in this t’filah” and instead pray to “uplift the Vice President.” He did add that after the inauguration, they can return to praying for the President.

Rabbi Adler chose to make a massive political statement on the last Shabbos of the Trump presidency. What will that accomplish? Will Trump voters feel closer to t’filah, or further away? Is this change enough vengeance to quench the thirst of the Trump haters, or will this merely make them desperate for more modifications? How about a prayer to evict Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who challenged the Electoral College results? Why pray for Mike Pence, as he was a loyal Vice President to Trump for the duration of his term? Many who long to see Trump kicked out from office for the past four years would have balked at the idea of a President Pence as well, so why pray for his welfare?

Perhaps Rabbi Adler could learn a lesson from Rabbi Jonathan Muskat of the Young Israel of Oceanside. In December 2016, after Obama chose to not veto an anti-Israel resolution in the UN, Rabbi Muskat wrote, “I don’t see how I can recite a prayer that explicitly blesses President Obama anymore in shul. At the same time, I am aware of the danger of not reciting a prayer for the government when you don’t like the government’s policies. Where do you draw the line? Honest and vigorous political debate is good, but not when it is time to pray.” He therefore modified the prayer to bless “not the leaders of our government, but bless the United States and its citizens and ask God to place in the hearts of our leaders compassion to do good with us and with all of Israel.” That is far more unifying than just pretending that Trump doesn’t exist.

The disgusting actions of criminals on January 6 has Trump haters in the Orthodox community crawling out of the woodwork, eager to pounce on their hatred and blame their fellow Jews in the process. Steve Lipman, in last week’s Queens Jewish Link, completely dismissed Trump’s incredible pro-Israel record because Trump is a “sociopath.” Two shuls in the Five Towns said that they would stop carrying the Five Towns Jewish Times after they published a front-page picture of a columnist at the rally, even though they specifically mentioned that she left before the violence broke out. Another columnist resigned from the paper, even though the editor apologized.

How many people said the same about Democrats when they burned cities this past summer? How many decried calls for violence when celebrities like Madonna claimed she wanted to “blow up the White House” or when Johnny Depp questioned when was the last time an actor killed a president? How many said not to vote Democrat because Nancy Pelosi wondered why there weren’t uprisings all over the country because of Trump’s immigration policy? Did they blame her when an ICE detention center in Washington State was firebombed? Did they blame Maxine Waters for the threats to the lives of multiple Republicans after she proclaimed, “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” Did they blame Bernie Sanders when one of his supporters shot Republican Steve Scalise, shouting “This is for healthcare” after Sanders said that the GOP Healthcare bill would kill millions of people?

What is the standard? Should supporters of a politician be held accountable for not only everything that person says, but everything every other supporter of that person does? That is not just dangerous territory, it’s impossible. Orthodox Jews don’t need to reckon after Trump. They supported him, and they’ll either support or not support the next candidate. Unification doesn’t occur when you demand repentance from your fellow; it occurs when you embrace those around you, even when you disagree with them.