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Otto Lidenbrock

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Member since: Wed Jun 20, 2018, 07:20 PM
Number of posts: 581

Journal Archives

"I Know Joe Biden: Rabbi Michael Beals"

The story I’m about to share with you about Joe Biden is special — in fact, I’m fairly certain I’m the only living person left who actually witnessed it firsthand.

It was about 16 years ago, and I was a young rabbi, brand-new to Delaware, on my way to lead a shiva minyan — a worship service following a death of a Jewish person. I was from California. Back then, I didn’t know Claymont, Delaware from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

A quick bit of background: When someone passes away in the Jewish faith, we observe seven days of mourning, called shiva. We gather a group of ten Jewish adults together — a minyan — to say the Mourners’ Kaddish. It usually happens in a person’s home — somewhere intimate.

In this case, the deceased individual — her name was Mrs. Greenhouse, of blessed memory — had not been a person of means. She had lived in rent-controlled senior housing in a tall high-rise building off of Namaans Road. Her apartment had been too small to fit everyone into, so we conducted our worship service in the building’s communal laundry room, in the basement of the high-rise.

We assembled the ten elders together, and it was in this most humble of places that I began to lead the kaddish. Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened, and who walks in but Senator Joe Biden, his head lowered, all by himself.

I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock. Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service.
At the close of the kaddish, I walked over to him and asked the same question that must have been on everyone else’s mind: “Senator Biden — what are you doing here?”

And he said to me: “Listen, back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign. Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”

Now, the number 18 is significant in the Jewish faith — its numbers spell out the Hebrew word chai, as in “to life, to life, l’chayim!” But it’s also a humble amount. Joe Biden knew that. And he respected that.

There were no news outlets at our service that day — no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries. Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.

Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came to that service because he has character. He came to that service because he’s a mensch.

And if we need anything right now when it comes to the leadership of our country — we need a mensch.
I know this is such a simple, small story. But I tell it to as many people as will listen to me.

Because I think that, in their heart of hearts, when people are trying to think about the decision they’ll make next year — this is the kind of story that matters.

Joe Biden is a mensch. We need a mensch.

Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Thu Nov 14, 2019, 11:37 AM (15 replies)

A penny for President Zelensky's thoughts

A new world leader, young, no political experience, has the threat of Putin in his region and dragged into an impeachment scandal thousands of miles away.
Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Wed Nov 13, 2019, 12:49 PM (5 replies)

I think it is time the most electable Democrat in the country joined the race

- Knows how to win
- Doesn't need on the job training
- Respected around the world
- Restores moral leadership
- Knows how to build walls (for people to live within!)

Campaign Slogan: #hindsightis2020
Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Mon Nov 11, 2019, 07:17 PM (8 replies)

Mike Pence's Hypocrisy on Whistleblowers (VIDEO)

Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Thu Nov 7, 2019, 02:48 PM (0 replies)

Mayor Pete staffer Nina Smith with an important message after a smear attempt




Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Mon Nov 4, 2019, 09:24 AM (9 replies)

Should Beto's exit be a signal to other struggling candidates to call it a day?

Let me be clear firstly, I have no issue with anyone running but now less than a hundred days to Iowa and just two more debates in 2019 to go, the field should be clearing up IMO.

In someone like Michael Bennet's case I feel sad because he is a fine man and a principled Democrat. But he hasn't made the last few debates and his polls have never grown. He has never had any traction. Then you have Cory Booker and Julian Castro who tackle issues of social justice as well if not better than anyone else but whose campaigns were on life support as they needed to raise a certain amount by a certain date just to keep going. And still have issues with qualifying for the next debate.

Beto didn't resort to that - his campaign didn't have the means or path ahead so that was that. It didn't work out for him now but he has a bright future whichever path he takes. I actually respect him more now because it takes humility to drop out. Especially when everyone had high hopes.

Therefore perhaps it is time for others to admit that if he dropped out despite having the energy and excitement among his base, despite qualifying for all the debates up to now, despite being a target of the Republicans, despite having the strongest financial numbers initially, despite having an element of name recognition...then the ones who don't have any of that need to follow his lead.
Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Sat Nov 2, 2019, 03:03 PM (13 replies)

The brother of the Vice President of the United States is a genocide denier

Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Tue Oct 29, 2019, 07:23 PM (4 replies)

Business Insider Poll: Undecided general-election voters most like Andrew Yang

Obviously not too much stock in this since only democrats get to choose who is on the democratic ticket but since there's a new name at the front I thought it would be worth sharing the rationale.

Biden, Yang, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, were notably the only Democrats with net positive support among undecided general-election voters in the past three Insider polls, which ran September 25-26, October 3-4, and October 16-17.

Typically, we concentrate only on the fraction of Democrats who would be satisfied in the event a contender became the nominee. But because of additional polling questions we ask related to impeachment, we also knew which respondents had not yet decided whether they would support a Republican or a Democrat in the 2020 general election.

It's a subset that is of particular interest as Democrats argue for appeal beyond their party, and its support seems elusive for all but two contenders.

Of the 268 undecided voters who knew of Yang, 46% said they would be satisfied with him as the nominee and 24% said they would not be satisfied, giving him positive net support of 21 percentage points among general-election voters who knew him and had not decided whether to vote Democrat or Republican.

Yang is possibly the most politically distinct candidate in the race — and this particular survey result shows how much it works in his favor.

A political outsider, Yang is making waves in the primary by drawing on his unique expertise as an entrepreneur and businessman to sound the alarm about the rise of mass automation in America — a problem that, in his view, few other 2020 candidates or politicians have substantively addressed or tacked.

Across the three Insider polls, Biden had positive net support among undecided general-election voters of 7 percentage points among the 620 voters who knew of him, with 42% of voters supporting him compared with 35% who didn't support him.

The third-best-performing Democrat, Buttigieg, has a net positive support of 2 percentage points, with 32% of general-election voters supporting him compared with 29% who do not — within the poll's margin of error.

General-election voters polled by Insider don't overwhelmingly support most other Democrats. Our polling found that:

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have slightly negative net support among general-election voters at 2 percentage points underwater. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's net support is negative 1 percentage point. (All of those candidates' levels of net support are within the margin of error of the poll.)
Sen. Kamala Harris is underwater by 13 percentage points, and Tom Steyer and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro are both underwater by 14 percentage points.
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke is underwater among general-election voters by 17 percentage points, and Sen. Cory Booker is underwater by 20 percentage points.

Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Fri Oct 25, 2019, 08:17 PM (5 replies)

The Pete Buttigieg/Justice Kennedy story shows how manipulative Twitter can be

The other thread on this subject regarding Mayor Pete raised a significant problem I have with this primary. We're seeing people getting thousands of retweets and likes for cutting passages, even sentences out of context to smear a candidate they don't like.


You notice there is no link provided. Just a screenshot of a paragraph. And a user added *gotcha* caption.

Here is the link to the full story: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a29565248/pete-buttigieg-supreme-court-restructure-president/

Mayor Pete has been open about wanting to restructure the Supreme Court. He is weighing up a number of proposals.

Going into the 2020 Democratic presidential race, Pete Buttigieg made reconsidering the Supreme Court’s structure part of his presidential agenda in what some have called an “overhaul” plan, despite other candidates not discussing it much. Therefore, it was only natural that Cosmo’s entertainment editor, Emily Tannenbaum, brought that topic to the forefront during Buttigieg’s recent visit to Cosmopolitan’s offices.

“As a bisexual woman, the structure of the Supreme Court is a real concern to me, and you’ve proposed pretty drastic changes with the way it’s set up and how many people are on the bench,” she said to the presidential candidate. “What specifically is the first thing you’d change and how would you do it?”

Buttigieg’s answer? Well, he’s very worried the Supreme Court is becoming “yet another political body,” and he wants to depoliticize it ASAP. First things first, he would appoint a commission to make the Supreme Court “less political.” It’d be their job to give a “road map,” and based on their recommendations, Buttigieg said he would go to Congress with a proposal.

“When I look at the Supreme Court, I can’t help but remember that my marriage only exists by the grace of a single vote in that body,” he said, emphasizing the importance of keeping the court as independent as possible.

Now naturally justices are nominated based on their closeness in philosophy to the president of whichever party. There is no way to rid the court 100% of having political bias in some way or another because there are going to be more liberal justices working with (or against) more conservative justices.

The obvious answer people think of is to add more numbers to the court. But the obvious fallacy of this is whichever party is in control at whatever time will be at advantage and when the hands of power switches so does the advantage. It could ruin the credibility of the court.

He then proposes two more ideas before saying he's still thinking about it and reiterates a commission will ultimately be needed.

From there, he said he’s got options, depending on what ideas the commission recommends. “One of them would be to have 15 members, but 5 of them can only be seated if the other 10 unanimously agree,” he said. “The idea here is you get more justices who think for themselves.”

Another idea is rotating judges on and off the bench. Yet another is term limits, which have come up among the Democratic presidential primary candidates already. “You know, Supreme Court justices, they used to just retire like everybody else,” Buttigieg said. “But now, we have these strange scenarios of people clinging, almost seeming to cling on for dear life because they want to make sure that they leave the bench under the right presidency.”

If all else fails, though, Mayor Pete is open to having a “conversation about an amendment.”

“The reason I’m introducing these very bold ideas is to elevate our imagination about them,” he clarified. “But I’m not arriving in office saying I have the answer on this one.”

That first idea is where the Justice Kennedy part comes from. The process now is your nominee needs to get through the senate and if your party holds the senate there should be no problem no matter how much of an ill-character the nominee is. However this idea says he needs to get through the senate and then approved unanimously by the other ten justices. Now a flaw with this idea is that if a nominee is voted through the senate the justices should have no objection since *again* they're not supposed to get involved in the politics. But someone who has a record of being a moderate voice is clearly the type of justice that works for this idea.

Kennedy might not be the right example but since same-sex marriage was decided by one vote and Kennedy voted for it, it's a bit more understandable why Pete brought his name up.

Ultimately he does not want the court packed with more Justices like Kennedy. It's just in this particular idea to make the court more independent he is saying it's not just about getting as many of your ideological picks. The five justices who make this idea unique would need to be ideologically fitting for the party that holds the majority of the senate (liberal or conservative) even if the other side doesn't like it, but independent enough to get a yes from each of the ideologically split supreme court (liberal and conservative). That's the story.
Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Thu Oct 24, 2019, 09:28 PM (10 replies)

Is Lady Bird Johnson the most underappreciated First Lady in modern history?

I believe her husband is the most fascinating personality to ever be President. His life was like one big contradiction when you study him deeply. And partly because he died so soon after leaving office and relatively young(ish) for a president so there's so much hearsay about the man.

The LBJ Library Youtube channel is a goldmine of historical treasure. There are lengthy videos following President Johnson's activities and candid chats but it's Lady Bird's content that struck me. There are 85 Home Movies featuring Lady Bird beginning in 1940! 20 videos captured on the Johnson Ranch in Texas showing a side of a president you don't really see. Have a look at these videos for example:

I know Lady Bird was admired during her time for her work on American scenery but it occurred to me that she lived a long life - almost forty years passed between President Johnson's death and her passing. Yet she never really gets spoken of much. Even when she was still living. I really recommend watching these videos if you're an LBJ junkie because it's the softness of Lady Bird that almost humanises a man who I don't think even Robert Caro will fully ever understand.

Posted by Otto Lidenbrock | Wed Oct 23, 2019, 02:47 PM (1 replies)
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