Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

“Goodbye, America” Updated

April 15, 2012

In 2010, I posted Goodbye, America where I asked whether America was at a turning point, beyond which recovery from the critical mass of leftist momentum which has infested it would be impossible.  Since then, millions of Americans, led by Tea Party adherents, have realized this danger, if only in the widely apparent looming menace of the ever-increasing national debt.  And subsequently in 2010, Americans voted for Republicans in large numbers to begin to turn the tide in the right direction and stem the oncoming disaster.

But now it appears we are indeed beyond the turning point:

First, the positive results at the federal level from the big-talking, newly elected Republicans have been minimal, at best, even granting that they took over only the House of Representatives.   Indeed, the bureaucratic juggernaut continues apace, working to weaken the United States, in so many areas.  Just a few are the restrictions on energy production and usage [shuttering coal-fired power plants (and sending the unused coal to China) and the Keystone XL pipeline being but two examples], promoting hate and class warfare, and a hardly discussed disastrous foreign policy based on funding and aiding our avowed enemies [such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its kin in Turkey, in addition to China].  Not to mention the further explosive growth of the national debt.

Second, many polls, rather unbelievably to many of us, indicate that enough voters are blind enough and indoctrinated enough to predict that Obama will be reelected.  On one hand, I have not met anybody who could have voted for him the last time but did not, and will do so this year.  And I have heard some of his 2008 voters say they won’t vote for him this year.  That would suggest that he is likely to lose.  But on the other hand, in recent years, polls have been more accurate with their advance bad news than I would prefer to admit.

And now the alternate choice is the “moderate” Romney, not in any way conceivably an “extremist”, a label that some might use as an excuse to avoid voting for him.  But it also doesn’t give great hope that he will do much more than slow the tide, rather than stemming and reversing it.  Which makes the likelihood of a second term for the incumbent an even more alarming indicator of the state of mind of the populace.

Most unfortunately, many voters now are only too happy to do their part to destroy traditional America, with its values of individualism and freedom, as they believe the the socialist/European statist model and its attendant stagnation is superior and preferable.  This sad state of affairs has resulted because that is what the leftists and socialists who predominate in the country’s media, entertainment, academic, and bureaucratic establishments have told us to think for several decades now.  And also contributing is, of course, with relatively few exceptions, the rather weak presentation of those on our side.

Americans have until early November to wake up and vote accordingly.  Is anyone optimistic?

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A Chink in the Democrats’ Jewish Voting Bloc — A Taste of More to Come?

September 23, 2011

In early 2008, I asked, “Who will leave the Democrats first: Blacks or Jews?”.  The congressional election in New York’s 9th Congressional District in New York City, won this month by Republican Bob Turner, provides a preliminary answer.  The election represents a significant chink in Jews’ solidly Democrat voting record.  That district has been termed the most heavily Jewish of any CD, and is estimated at 30% Jewish.

The election result is considered to stem from the Democrats’ abysmal handling of the economy and Obama’s visceral and manifest hostility to Israel.  That Obama would be no true friend of Israel was manifest to many of us four years ago, but others are slowly realizing that in fact he is not.  But for the Jewish vote to truly be competitive in future elections, many more voters will have to come to that conclusion, and further, that Obama’s Islamophiliac and anti-Israel attitudes are rather consonant with much of today’s Democrat party.

On the other hand, the Democrats’ nomination of a black presidential candidate, and a successful one at that, has since further cemented the Democrats as the black community’s overwhelming choice.  That remains true despite the tremendous damage, economic and otherwise, that the combination of that party and that president has inflicted on both the black community and the country as a whole.

The only contingency that might tend to pry black allegiance from the Dems lies in the remote chance that further stark Obama failure, and a concomitant threat to other Dem officeholders up for reelection, causes the party to drop him from its 2012 ticket.

Indeed, both groups, Jews and blacks, are now bound to the Democrats by tradition. It has been claimed that people change their spouses more often than their political parties, and it certainly appears that the tradition issue is a powerful factor in the Jews’ and blacks’ allegiance to the Democrats.

Republicans and conservatives assert that, in fact, their policies better benefit the lower economic classes, including blacks, and all Americans, by providing the means and incentives for individuals to succeed on their own, and creating more wealth and prosperity for the society as a whole.

Jews, on the other hand, are more represented in the upper economic classes, yet still vote Democrat virtually on a par with blacks, essentially against their economic interests. That is the basis for the old saying, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” and the concept remains essentially valid decades after the saying was coined.

Of course, the vast majority of Jewish immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were exceedingly poor. Thus their Democratic affiliation may have made sense at that time. However, their emphasis on education, entrepreneurship, and entry into the professions has resulted in a great American success story. This, in turn, has resulted in the rise of many of them to economic success in this country.

But they still vote overwhelmingly Democrat. A minority can be found among prominent Republicans and conservatives in government and politics, as well as other fields.

In addition to the tradition issue, Jews’ allegiance to the Democrats stems from their liberal/left wing views, particularly on social issues, such as abortion and concern for the poor.

Although some Jews have a concern for the well being of Israel, many do not, and the number who do is probably decreasing. And among many of those who do care about Israel, their level of concern is not great. But, given those limitations, the dissonance between the positions of those Jews who do care about Israel and the Democrat party is increasing significantly.

The Democrats have become a haven for the anti-Israel sentiment prominent among the left wing, and at least some Jews realize that the Democrats’ philosophy of a more flaccid projection of U.S. power internationally – as evidenced by their desire for disproportionate reductions in the defense budget — may gravely redound to the detriment of Israel and the United States, too.

So, who will leave the Democrats first: Blacks or Jews? Although many in both groups have good reason to, a rational outside observer would probably conclude that the Jews have more reason to.

But it’s still a toss-up. Increasing numbers of blacks may realize over time that the Democrats don’t serve their group or individual interests; most Jews may already realize that the party does not serve theirs in any tangible way, but their Democrat affiliation serves them on a psychological level, as they see themselves as on “the right side,” or with the party that “does good.”

Jews Hope their Prayers Won’t Be Answered

September 6, 2011

Or, What’s the Matter with the Jews?

Last year, in Is Rabbi Ovadia the Only Jew Who Reads the Prayer Book?, I noted the absurdity of the situation where so-called Jewish leaders inveighed against Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s comments that were entirely consistent with traditional Jewish prayers.

Unfortunately, though, the problem is broader than simply Rabbi Ovadia’s comments and his critics.  In fact, when it comes to Israel, the dominant attitudes of the American Jewish community are stark variance with the Jewish liturgy.

The Siddur Sim Shalom includes the language in the Birkat HaMazon, “Rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, soon, in our day.” It does not say “Rebuild West Jerusalem.”

A side note – is it not interesting how the media routinely refers to all sorts of cities in Iraq and elsewhere in the Moslem world as “holy cities”, but somehow you have never heard them refer to Jerusalem as a holy city?)

In the Musaf Amidah we pray, “May it be your will… to lead us in joy to our land and to settle us within our borders.” I have also seen the language “Restore us to our homeland.”  None of the liturgy says “settle us within the 1949 armistice lines” or the non-existent “1967 borders.”

I do not know which is more rote, the recital of these traditional prayers that the mendicants actually hope will not be fulfilled, or their votes come election day for the Democrat lever.  (Granted, of course, that many of these “liberal” paragons of Jewish values never set foot in a shul.)

Several years ago, the book What’s the matter with Kansas? received wide note for asking why Kansans seemed to vote against their interests by voting Republican.  The answer was that the Kansans really were voting in line with their interests.  (If that was not obvious when the book was published, it certainly should be now!)

The  analogous yet more trenchant question is  “what’s the matter with the Jews?”  Large majority of American Jews continue to vote Democrat in the face of the continuing overwhelming evidence that the Democrats are in step with the Islamo-leftist axis, constantly working against the interests of American Jews and Israel.   (That it is also working against the interests of America as a whole and the western world is also true, but that is a somewhat different point to defend.)

Two additional recent datums illustrating the point are that every Democrat in the Congress opposed the recent UN Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act bill to restrict UN funding of anti-American, anti-Israel or anti-semitic activities.  The Obama/Hillary Clinton administration also opposed another recent bill that would stop it from giving money to the Palestinian Authority that could be used for terrorism, as Hillary said that would keep her from being able to do her job.

In sum, when leftist Jews berate Jewish conservatives or the Israeli government as betraying Jewish values, be assured they are simply displaying their own confusion between Jewish values, which their nemeses are likely upholding, but which they do not share, and their own, very different, leftist ideology.

In fact, it is an arrogant and erroneous display of chutzpah to assume that Jewish values are represented by American liberals or the Democrat party.  The primary area in which these people display any kind of liberalism is in their acceptance of the hatred displayed by their fellow “liberals”/leftists towards Israel, Jews, and Republicans and conservatives.

Is Rabbi Ovadia the Only Jew Who Reads the Prayer Book?

September 7, 2010

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s ill wishes towards Israel’s Palestinian Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Authority and its Holocaust–denier President, elicited disdain and disavowals from much of the leadership of Israel and the Jewish world.

Rabbi Ovadia’s “words do not reflect the approach of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor the position of the government of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Jewish Theological Seminary and related groups said, “As leaders of the Conservative/Masorti movement, we deplore these recent comments of Former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef”.

ADL leader Abe Foxman said, “We are outraged by the offensive and incendiary comments made by Rav Ovadia Yosef.”  And the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations added, “We are disturbed by the reported comments of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.”

Why these entities have reacted this way is an interesting question.

This is even putting aside the paternalistic attitude of superiority so commonly used to justify ignoring the constant barrage of hate and incitement to genocide that emanates from many of Israel and Judaism’s enemies, both from Palestinian Arabs and others (most notoriously, Iran).   And that vitriol is not voiced just by an individual — but is promulgated by their governments and their leaders, including Israel’s purported “partners for peace.”

But I was gratified to learn that I was not the only one who found the situation peculiar.  In a letter published on the Jerusalem Post’s website, Chana Pinto accurately and articulately pointed out that in our prayers, Jews beseech G_d to defeat our enemies.  For example, the Amida includes “Frustrate the hopes of those who malign us,” and “Let all your enemies be speedily destroyed.”

So is Rabbi Ovadia the only prominent Jew who reads the prayer book?  Are the other Jewish leaders ignorant of our prayers in the prayer books they themselves publish? Are they akin to America’s legislators who now routinely pass multi-thousand page bills without reading them or knowing what is in them, much less understanding and reflecting on their implications?

Or is it that these other Jewish leaders are aware of their prayers, but Rabbi Ovadia is the only one who means it when he says them?

Perhaps if the Conservative leaders and their Reform counterparts (who,  of course, also attacked Rabbi Ovadia) are so offended by their own prayers, they should change them.  If Obama and his Democrats can ram their unwanted legislation down the throats of Americans, perhaps these Jewish leaders can change our prayers to be more consonant with their political and worldly sensibilities.

This controversy over the Rabbi’s remarks reminded me of a similar hypocrisy that occurred during George W. Bush’s presidency.  Bush was well known to have been inspired by his faith and G_d during his time in office.  And he was routinely and vitriolically mocked and criticized for doing so.  Many Jews  were among those so criticizing him.

But reference the “Prayer for Our Country,” a commonly recited Shabbat and Festival prayer in Conservative (and other) American congregations.  The prayer includes the plea to G_d, “teach them (our ‘leader and advisors and all who exercise just and rightful authority’) insights of Your Torah so they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security…may forever abide in our midst”.

So these Jews who criticized Bush for being inspired by the Bible were criticizing him for doing precisely what they were praying for him to do!  Just as today Rabbi Ovadia is pilloried for asking for just what we ask for in prayer.  In both cases, of course, the prayers may have been so rote as to be less than sincere.

But the key answer to the question as to why so many people claimed offense at the Rabbi’s remarks is two-fold.  One is that throughout the world, most people don’t want Israel to prevail in its struggle, and Israeli and Jewish leaders are sensitive to that sentiment.

Second, and more important, is the widespread and tragic refusal by Israelis, Jews, and westerners in general, to acknowledge that Israel is at war.   Israel is at war with Palestinian Arabs, not just the Gazans. (Hey, if it’s not a state of war, why do we need peace talks?  Does this enemy to whose defense the Israeli government and Jews throughout the world are rushing even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state?  Last time I checked, no.  And the enemy even says that it never will.)

Related to the refusal to acknowledge the state of war is, on the part of many, a lack of understanding of what war actually entails.  That results in horror when the enemy is killed, injured, or even inconvenienced (e.g. think “checkpoints” and “blockade”).

As has been learned over the course of  human history, Israel will never achieve the security of peace until it defeats its enemies.  And as has also been true throughout human history, Israel will never be able to defeat its enemies by being nice to them, or even by loving them.  Love bombs don’t work.  Real ordnance is needed.

And if G_d provides help, all the better.

Goodbye, America (II)

July 29, 2010

There is a bit more to add to my article last week (https://markgold.wordpress.com/goodbye-america/) lamenting the imminent demise of the United States of America as we have known it. I stated that our government is working at full intensity to destroy traditional America, with its values of individualism and freedom. It attacks our patriots and our friends, and coddles our enemies, foreign and domestic. And we are likely past the tipping point; the many forces opposing traditional America have become entrenched and have surpassed critical mass.

Further evidence of this sad state of affairs was provided this week by the vacuous, yet politically motivated and unjustifiable decision by the federal judge Bolton enjoining the Arizona illegal immigrant law from even taking initial effect. Regretfully, her decision is all too emblematic of destructive action against the rights of the citizenry by an all-too-pervasive left-wing activist judiciary.

I noted last week the optimistic view that the November elections would enable the country to reverse course.  However, even in the unlikely event that these elections bring many true patriots to Congress, it is wholly unrealistic to think that the new Congress would be able to reverse the anti-American direction the country has been taking. At best, it could slow down the march to ruin, given the continuing executive branch regime (and courts).

A much discussed example has been that the next Congress could repeal the recently passed health system “reform” law. That is absurd and wishful thinking of the highest magnitude. That Obama would sign such a repeal of his signature initiative? Of course not; he would veto any repeal bill! It could be repealed over his veto only with a two-thirds vote by both houses, which ain’t gonna happen.

Sorry for the bad news folks.

If Only Businesses Were Like the IRS…

March 24, 2010

This tax season got me wondering:  What if private enterprise treated its customers as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (and its Congressional and Executive branch masters) treats us taxpayers?

For example, if your phone company treated you as the IRS treats us, this is how your billing would work:

While the company knows the details of your calls, you would be required every year to add up the costs of each call, and list and report them by categories the company arbitrarily devises.  If you leave some out, or add the numbers wrongly, the company could come after you, get you to pay the right amount, fine you, and even get you incarcerated.  (While the IRS knows most details of your income from the burdensome reporting it imposes on payers, it won’t tell you what it knows until after you tell it what you think.  Of course, it could tell you what it knows it the first place, but that would relieve you of the burden of compiling the information, and would give a semblance of being taxpayer friendly vs. bureaucrat friendly, so that is out of the question.)

You would have to report your calls separately on different forms by often meaningless categories, such as short, medium, or long distance calls, to odd or even numbers, type of phone, length of call, and whether made or received.  Ridiculous?  Then why do we have to separate dividends from interest from wages from long term capital gains from short term capital gains, from business income, and on in finitum?  And again, when the IRS already knows these answers?

The company would give you outdated forms for reporting, having never adapted them to recent decades, much less the present.  For example, it might tell you to list all your text messages on a worksheet, then put the total on the main form, rather than taking the trouble itself to adapt the form to current requirements.  That is how the IRS treats items such as “qualified dividends” and capital gains distributions today.  But again  — the IRS already knows the answer; as a taxpayer, you are simply a targeted victim for the game of “gotcha.”

Perhaps the phone company, as does the government, would want to use its billing rules to encourage certain behaviors.  They might assess a penalty for calls made while driving – for which you would have to fill out extra convoluted forms.  And then, if you go over or below certain thresholds, you have to start your reporting over because all the numbers change.  The IRS is especially fond of that technique – whether your income is above or below certain thresholds determines whether various deductions (e.g., for IRAs) are allowed, or penalties are applied (e.g. alternative minimum tax).

Like the IRS, your phone company — and every other major company you deal with — would give you a hundred page booklet with instructions as to how to comply with their fiats.  But you might need extra forms to comply, and you would be on your own to procure them.

Another analogy to the IRS treatment would be a supermarket that scanned your purchases, but made you add them up yourself  — and would possibly prosecute you as a shoplifter/criminal if your total came up short.  Presumably, the store would allow the supermarket division of TurboTax to set up in the parking lot, where for an extra fee they could help you calculate what you owe.

The store would also give you a hundred page booklet of instructions.  After all, its management might have decided that special rules must apply to anyone who purchases two cans of anchovies and seven bottles of beer.  The booklet would be full of special rules for similarly rare or trivial situations.

State governments are hardly better.  They search for their own way of gratuitously exacting pain, and not just financial pain.  The Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, orders its taxpayers to repeatedly write their names on the same page of the return – reminiscent of having to write the same thing over and over on an elementary school blackboard.

You would think that all taxpayers would have realized by now that any desire to be forced to deal more extensively or exclusively with government agencies – such as via further government regulation of health insurance or other businesses — is insanity.  But, sad to say, that apparently is not the case.