My Interview With David Blumberg–Conclusion

I have had the pleasure recently of interviewing financier David Blumberg.

Interviews, like the beautiful holiday of Rosh Hashanah, eventually do come to a conclusion.

The first part of this three part interview was his personal story. As a republican in San Francisco that is also gay and Jewish, with a partner that is gay, Jewish, and French, David’s story of how he became a republican is compelling.

David has expressed that while democrats play identity politics, republicans focus on the republican message. In other words, outside of being a republican in San Francisco, he does not see his story as astonishing.

Nevertheless, questions about his sexual orientation comprised the second part of the interview, if only to lessen their relevance.

While it is perfectly acceptable to ask him about his lifestyle, it is not the only thing he discusses. He will happily and proudly discuss it if asked, but his passions are the same political issues that many republicans focus on.

Therefore, rather than treat my interview with him as interviewing a gay, Jewish republican, I preferred to approach it as the shocking story of a republican couple living in San Francisco, who, oh by the way, happen to be gay and Jewish.

The third and final part of this interview delves into David’s insights on the fundamental economic and political issues facing the United States today.

8.) Without giving an endorsement unless you choose to do so, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the five main republican candidates?

I supported Rudy Giuliani because I thought he had the right policies and demonstrated experience both on national security issues as well as complex economic and operational topics.  I thought his turn-around of NYC was nothing short of remarkable and would be a great model for what needs to happen to the Federal Government and in many State Houses and Chambers of Commerce.

Now I support John McCain wholeheartedly.  I think he will make a great president.  He has the maverick streak like Teddy Roosevelt and the experience of war and military operations and many years as a leading Senator.   He is a man of principle who also takes good counsel.   I like his policy positions on most major issues – national security and economics.

9) With regards to foreign policy, what have we done right, and what have we gotten wrong, in the last 8 years, and what steps need to be taken to improve the situations that require improvement?

Too long a response – for another time.  Generally, I think the US and the world are better of because of what the Bush Administration has done.  There are challenges to be sure and mistakes were made, but the first term was marked with some game-changing wins and great statements of principle backed up with appropriate action.  The second term of the administration has been less successful, except for the Iraq War – which has gone on to become a great victory – due to the change in tactics of counter-insurgency lead by General David Petraeus – a hero if there ever was one.

10) What were the main challenges you faced in your life? What were your greatest successes, and what do you need more time to accomplish?

Too long a response required.  More later…

11) Where were you when 9/11 happened? How did it affect you, how did your life change if at all?

I was in Singapore.  It was surreal watching the TV as the planes hit.  At first I thought it was a TV horror movie.  The Singaporeans were very hospitable, sympathetic and supportive.  I immediately thought the attacks should and would finally awaken the Western governments to the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.    I was confident we would react and take action to go after the rogue states that supported terrorism globally.

12) You are a finance person. The American dollar seems to be in free fall. Should government get involved, and is this even a problem at all? If so, what needs to be done?

No, I think the government should generally preserve a stable dollar and minimize its monetary interventions.  I tend to favor Milton Friedman’s recipe which said keep monetary policy steady and let cycles work themselves out.

10) Who are your three favorite American political leaders of all time?

Washington, Madison and Lincoln

11) Who are your three favorite world political leaders of all time?

Our biblical patriarch Joseph, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher

12) What would be the main qualities and criteria you would look for with regards to potential Supreme Court justices? Could they disagree with you on major issues, and still be qualified? How do you feel they should rule on the two second amendment cases in front of them?

I favor a rather strict constructionist approach to judicial interpretation.  I resent judges legislating from the bench.  I think that legislators should write and pass laws and judges should decide whether they are consistent with the Constitution.   Judges who want to legislate can be either right wing or left wing, but neither are justifiable in my view.

13) Many Jews see Judaism as being in lockstep with liberalism, even though the highest form of Tzedakah involves helping someone achieve self-reliance, a very conservative philosophy. How do you explain the synthesis between Judaism and political conservatism, or at least republicanism, to others?

Your point about the paradox of Jewish attitudes on “liberalism” is apt.  We should teach tough love, love of liberty, independence and what many used to think of classic American self-reliance. The other point that is not well understood by most Jews and other Liberals is that liberalism is a slippery slope to ever greater state control of the economy and the lives of individuals.  Hence, liberalism is closer to fascism than most adherents can fathom.  Jonah Goldberg’s book on Liberal Fascism is a great exploration of that topic.

14) Former Attorney General John Ashcroft once said that if the law conflicted with his religious beliefs, he would resign. Alabama Justice Roy Moore refused to obey a law requiring that he remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom, based on his beliefs. Has American law ever conflicted with your religious beliefs or other deeply held beliefs, and how did you or would you handle this conflict?

I am a supporter of more religion in the public square, not less.  I am convinced the Founding Fathers wanted to prohibit the establishment of one official American Church, such as the Church of England, but I doubt they intended the extreme concept of separation we now have in place.   I used to object to Christmas as a National Holiday, but I am now comfortable with the concept that we live in a country with Christian origins and Judeo-Christian ethical heritage.

15) Do you support the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action? Do you feel that it may be necessary to take pre-emptive action against Iran?

Yes and Yes.  In fact it was Al Gore’s renunciation of the pre-emptive doctrine – here in San Francisco, when he spoke to the Commonwealth Club in 2002 that finally convinced me to leave the Democratic Party.  As he spoke I thought, if the US President lacks the capability to preempt an attack on the US, who will defend my family, our country?  Must we wait until they attack again  so we can then  sue them in the International Court of Justice?

16) What Americans call 9/11, Israel refers to as every day life. Israel is then asked to show restraint. What is your view on Israel taking pre-emptive action, including a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary? What about with regards to the disputed territories such as Gaza? What about against Damascus, who funds Hezbollah?

Israel is to Western Civilization (Europe and North America) what the canary is in the coal mine – a clear, but fragile warning sign of potential danger.   Israel has through necessity developed the culture of self defense and self reliance.  It is a basically healthy culture and one that minimizes self indulgence and drama.  Israel needs to act preemptively and so does the rest of the world when facing the rising menace of radical Islam.  This is even more true in the age when weapons of mass destruction (Chem, Bio and Nuke) are so widely produced and to often transportable to rogue regimes and/or to terrorist organizations whether through commission or omission.

17) San Francisco is often a whipping boy for political conservatives. Given that you live there, what are the biggest positives and negatives of San Francsico, and what needs to be improved?

The gorgeous geography and temperate climate are the best parts of Northern California.  I also enjoy the ethnic, cultural, religious mixture, although I would prefer more political and intellectual diversity.  I would like the City in particular to be a more family-friendly and child-friendly place.  I would like to cut taxes and wasteful spending on feather-bedding and entrenched interests of businesses, unions and Non-governemental organizations that all depend on government for their sustenance. I would like to reduce the ridiculous level of government red-tape and intervention in every nook and cranny of the economy – housing for example.  The market would solve many of the politician-made problems that afflict all the residents of the beautiful Bay Area.

18) Attempts to partially privatize social security and fix the ticking time bomb of medicare have been met with hysteria about throwing old people on the street and leaving them to die.Again, given your expertise in finance, do you favor any privatization of social security? If not, why not?

Yes, I favor the plan broadly known as the Ownership Society that President Bush has proposed.  For example in the realm of retirement savings the proposal would provide a voluntary path enabling personal retirement accounts that could earn market returns, tax free and compounded for decades – like 401Ks on steroids.  It is simple, functional and necessary.  The demographic forecasts show that we must reform the broken Social Security system soon, or the problems will scale out of control and become exceedingly expensive or even intractable.  Medicare and health care in general are similarly broken and need to be reformed, mostly by ridding us of the distortions of government “fixes” from the past that have resulted in third party payer systems that distort incentives, create a waste layer of insurance and create more bureaucracy and paperwork.  A better system would be much simpler with middle class and richer folks mainly buying only catastrophic health care insurance and paying out of pocket for normal needs.  Of course our advanced and wealthy society could also offer a safety net for the truly poor and in need.  They could obtain very low cost or even free health are if they are at the lowest levels of income.

We are a far wealthier society now than in the 1930s when many of the New Deal programs such as Social Security and Medicare were conceived and implemented.  As the times have changed and our society has evolved, the programs need to be revamped as well.  The best thing politicians could do is stop ruling from the grave.  They should sunset most laws they pass.  Then future generations could decide to enact new laws to meet the evolving needs of tomorrow.

19) How do you think the USA can win the War on Terror? What do you do in your daily life, if anything, with regards to this issue, whether it be portfolio divestments, certain voting patterns, plane flights, or anything else?

I think knowledge of and recognition of the problem is a key first step.  Then the world view of tough love and an understanding that in a world of bullies the best defense is not diplomacy.  Diplomacy works within the context of mutual respect and commonly accepted rules of engagement, justice,  and morality.  The world view that we must adopt and embrace is that consensual government is the G-d given right of every human being and that we must strive to help everyone obtain it.  We don’t need to declare war on every dictator all at once, but we should make it very clear and repeat it constantly that we are on the side of freedom and liberty and limited government.  We should support opposition groups who press for human rights and other freedoms while suffering under dictactorship.

I try to speak up for freedom and against the intrusion of government into every corner of our lives.  I speak out against terror and the soft complicity of appeasement and pacifism.  I work in the political process as a volunteer and a donor.  I contribute to philanthropic and educational endeavors that promote the freedom agenda on a global basis. We need to elect politicians who understand the fundamental issues and will work to protect our freedoms and support those of others.

20) Without delving into your personal life, what would you want Americans to know about you as a person? 100 years from now, what would you want people to remember about you, and what would you hope the history books say about you?

I would want Americans to know that I was raised by parents and grandparents and immigrant ancestors who were deeply grateful to this country for the liberty and opportunity it afforded us.  In addition to the values I learned from my family and community, I would want others to know that institutions such as the Boy Scouts, Temple Beth Israel Sunday Religious School, Reform Jewish Youth Group, and various Public Elementary and High School experiences helped instill in me the same love of country and respect for freedom of prior generations.

I would want them to know that this country has given me and my family much, and we have given in return by serving in the armed forces, paying taxes, voting, holding public office, contributing to non-profit institutions and building a great free society.

There is yet much to accomplish for as the Talmud says, Life is short, the task is great and the Master is demanding.  Further, we should plant trees for those who will follow us in generations yet to come.  And as Rabbi Hillel said some 2,000 years ago, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I?  If not now, when?”

It was an absolute pleasure interviewing David Blumberg. We can all learn a lot from him about tolerance and acceptance. More importantly, we can learn much from him on politics and economics.

I suspect that the world we live in will only become more open minded in many areas. His being gay will most likely elicit a shrug of the shoulders, if it does not already. Being gay and Jewish is fairly ordinary, since many Jews tend to be liberal, and therefore less worried about religious pressure.

Yet no matter how open a society we become, the one type of diversity that remains lacking is ideological diversity. I believe that years from now, people will look at David, and ask one question.

How in the heck does a nice guy from San Francisco end up a republican?

Luckily, David already answered that question for us.

I wish David and his partner Michal much success in life. The republican party is grateful for their support, and the Tygrrrr Express is thankful for their insights.

I am most happy to have David’s friendship. Now if only he could use his political connections to get Tammy Bruce’s phone number for me. I keep hearing she is a lesbian, but then again, if she rejects me for being heterosexual, wouldn’t that be discrimination?

Even a fine mind like David Blumberg is not going near that conundrum.


2 Responses to “My Interview With David Blumberg–Conclusion”

  1. CaroleM says:

    One of my longtime friends from high school always claims… he is a lesbian trapped in a man’s body….


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