Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Jews

Merry Christmas, dear Reader.

You don't have to reciprocate, of course, but you could say Thanks.

Like, "Thanks for the Jewish guy we're celebrating."

Or, "Thanks for sharing with us the idea of a redeeming Messiah in the first place."

But if you're a more secularized gentile, "Thanks for White Christmas and the greatest hits of Irving Berlin," will also do.

If you work in an industry that would normally require your presence today or tomorrow, you could say "Thanks" for the Jewish guy or girl willing to pick up your shift, too.

This holiday season tends to bring out both the best and the worst in humanity.  We turn yuletide spirit into a competition to see whose lawn can be the brightest, whose gifts can be the fanciest, and whose wishes can be the most Christmas-y, i.e. the "It's Christmas, goddamnit, not Happy Holidays!" meme, as if for everyone, Christmas is the theme.

For us Jews, it's a holiday -- that's true. 

But for most of us, the holiday is about you.

So while you're spreading Yuletide Cheer, telling all that Christmas is here, take a moment to thank a Jew.

2,000 years later, we're still making Christmas wishes come true.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

JFNA GA 2012

Check out the November issue of the Jewish Journal of Ocean County to read my take on the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly held November 11-13 in Baltimore, MD.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Observations on the 2012 Election

1. We're four years away from a European-style social democracy. (Can't take credit for this one - just agree with it.)

2. The economy is already sounding the death knells, shuddering and sputtering its way to an inevitable crash.  Thanks to Quantitative Easing (because who remembers Weimar?) it'll be given a better shot in the arm than anyone needing any kind of life support once Obamacare comes into full force.  And, like those seeking medical care in 2014 and beyond, that shot in the arm is going to be more euthanizing than envigorating.  Get those wheelbarrows ready, folks; we'll have some bread to buy!

3. Count on your tax dollars (backyard sheds full of them) going towards making sure your kids stay in college longer - because it isn't like there'll be jobs for them when they graduate.  Then again, what am I saying?  Thanks to a fully federally funded educational system from teet to thirty, this generation is going to be fully qualified to obtain the career of their dreams: Mid-Level Bureaucrat. 

4. Have a disease?  Joints wearing out?  Getting older?  Don't have the energy to hold a full time job?  There's a new treatment that goes something like this: Stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

5. Think Obama already did enough middle east butt-kissing the first time around?  This term will usher in a newer, deeper level of political appeasement, known as "negotiating with the mentally insane". 

6. That MTA "See Something, Say Something" campaign is going to take on a whole new meaning when Iranians are granted visas and direct flights to the US.  The sad fact is, thanks to our increasingly socialized government, we are poised for an influx of radical Islamists - akin to what occurred in the EU in the mid 90s.  And we all know how well that's turned out

7. Start apologizing to the American military now.  They've lost their minds, their limbs, and their lives to protect your right to empower a man who is willing and happy to leave them to slaughter.  Parker and Stone may have joked about Operation Human Shield, but it is Obama who has made it a reality.

8. Our nation is composed of approximately 60,085,524 selfish individuals, the majority of whom operate under the assumption that because they made the needs of a so-called "interest group" their priority when voting, they are the Mother Theresas of their generation.  What they don't understand is that by voting for the needs of a demographic instead of the needs of a a country, they put the self-interests of a few ahead of the interests of the many...thereby putting themselves on the same level as all those self-serving politicians they claim to hate.  But if you call them selfish, you're racist/sexist/homphobic and/or declaring a "war" on them.

9. Orwellian will now be re-termed "Obamanian" because two government programs are good, but four are better.

10. Conversion to Judaism may just beat out backyard bomb shelters in the category of "methods of survival".  Currently, Israel stands as the only nation with leadership that understands that you can not negotiate with someone who holds as sacred the belief that you are better off dead-and they have the nukes to prove it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Let Them Eat Obama, and other musings on Yuppie Liberals

Do you ever get the feeling that contemporary political discourse has been hijacked by a bunch of flakey ideological yuppies?

If Seth Rogen's latest tweet wasn't enough to convince you that Gen-Y granola crunchers (who only pick up their grains at the like of Whole Foods or the organic market in a smog-ridden metropolis on either coast) think they have a handle on key domestic and foreign policy issues of our time (Gee, Mr. Million-Dollar-Pothead-Actor Seth, perhaps you don't care that your tax dollars that bailed out GM were used to create jobs China) check out the fluff over at begging Young Voters, Don't Give Up on Obama.

Written by Jack Schlossberg, JFK's grandson (cha-ching!), a sophomore at Yale University (cha-ching!), the thinly-veiled plea for Obama 2012 begins with a Catcher in the Rye reference.  (I guess this kid is too young to remember the disastrous results last time Holden Caulfield was held up as a cultural icon - and, no, I'm not talking about that South Park episode where the Colorado foursome couldn't get over the fact that they "read a book for nothing".)  If the evocation of Salinger isn't daftly immature enough, try these gems on for size:

I was too young to vote in that election, but after volunteering for the Obama campaign, I felt what many first-time voters and volunteers felt after the last election: proud, accomplished and significant.

So, this is your first election and you're already telling us how to vote because you felt good after manning a phone bank? Thanks for that mega-experienced viewpoint.  Tell me, did getting hung up on feel as good as feeding the homeless on Christmas Eve?

Four years later, what was once to us the novel and exciting adult world of politics now seems bitter and partisan. 

Did you miss all those "Bush = Hitler" signs hanging around the campaign offices and rallies the last time around?  You're only now catching on to the cynicism?

Just because our politics and government can disappoint us sometimes doesn't mean we should forget how far we've come.

In all that time, you've graduated high school and started college!  Like most college students today, you're still living off of your parents' money.  Unlike most college students, you're doing it at an Ivy League university (instead of some random state school whose name will be meaningless on a resume) and thanks to those family connections, you're already getting published by major news organizations, which means you might be one of those ten college graduates in your class who might get a job when they graduate.  Geez, I'd say you've accomplished more than Obama in the past four years - unless, of course, you count his improved golf score.

According to Schlossberg, Obama's top accomplishments are listed in the following order:

Adult children can now stay on their parents' health insurance until their 26.  

That is, unless Mommy and Daddy lose their jobs because, in this sinking economy, not many businesses want to incur the increased cost of health benefits that are rolling down the pike with the enactment of Obamacare.

Obama has increased funding for Pell Grants and promised to keep student loan interest rates low.

Because college degrees are proving so viable in today's economy that, by the time this kid graduates, he'll need a PhD just to get a job mopping floors.

Obama repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so now "anyone can join the military regardless of their sexual orientation."

Kind of funny coming from a kid who attends a university that just relented after 40 years, finally allowing the ROTC back on campus because, well, they had to; the President ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which was their only viable excuse in a post-9/11 world to not support the training and education of future military at their university.  (PS, Gays could join the military before the repeal of DADT; depending on their feelings about going public regarding their sexuality, they may have chosen not to.  There is a difference.)

"When Congress refused to pass the DREAM Act, Obama changed policy administratively, enabling immigrants who came to the country as children to avoid deportation."

"Changed policy administratively" that one of those fancy, Ivy League terms for "abusing power to push legislation"?  In this case, it meant pushing legislation so the children of illegal immigrants who did not pay taxes to support their child's public education or medical costs could remain in the country.  (What is it with socialists continually justifying the lack of willingness of certain groups to pay their "fair share"?)  You do the math.

Not to be outdone, Schlossberg reiterates the same leftist talking points about the "Republican war on women's health" (without any citation to actually define this so-called "war") and the "broken economy" inherited from George W. Bush (again, without any factual citation - because the theory has been grossly repudiated), adding the punctuation point that Obama has "preserved the possibility of home ownership and jobs for us." factual citations here, either.  No remark on the fact that in four years the unemployment rate has yet to go below 8% (despite Obama's promises), that home ownership is stagnate at best, and that an entire generation of potential homebuyers are too busy being unemployed to go house hunting.

But if the pride in being a dependent on parent and government money, followed by the complete lack of factual evidence supporting any criticism of Republicans hasn't already convinced you, here's Schlossberg's thesis:  His generation should support the President because, "Obama has acted aggressively on the issue most important to my generation: climate change." 

Just to insert a bit of logic into the conversation, here are a few fun facts about our environment-loving President, thanks to the fine research of Randall Hoven over at American Thinker:
  • He killed the Keystone pipeline. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put that at "more than 250,000 permanent jobs in the long run" that were killed.
  • He put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf (19,000 jobs), restricted Gulf drilling overall, and outright banned drilling in the eastern Gulf for 7 years (230,000 jobs).
  • And of course, no drilling in ANWR or offshore on the east or west coasts. But Obama is not against offshore drilling everywhere; he provided $2B in loans to Brazil to drill offshore there.
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates that new EPA regulations will result in two to twelve percent of coal plants being closed.
  • Obama is not against all energy companies -- just those that actually produce energy. You might have heard of Solyndra, a solar-panel company that received over $500 million in government funding, then went bankrupt. Other government-funded "green" companies that went bankrupt: Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Mountain Plaza, and Olsen's Mills. Obama has the reverse-Midas touch when it comes to green energy. (Or maybe it has to do with his "green jobs czar" being a self-described communist.)
  • If your child was having an asthma attack and you found yourself without an inhaler (they're not called breathalyzers), you could have made a quick trip to the local drug store and got one over-the-counter. Not anymore. Now you will need a prescription, and it might not work as well.
  • And of course, "pro-choice" Democrats are not so pro-choice when it comes to light bulbs.
  • Business regulations too numerous to mention: the EPA's climate change regulations, OSHA's "occupational noise" regulation, the EPA's new ozone regulations, Dodd-Frank, the EPA's training requirements for renovation projects, etc.

  • So, let's get this straight:  The grandson of a former President who is in the midst of obtaining an Ivy League education (aka Jack Schlossberg) believes that you should support the man who has single-handedly done more to destroy the economy of the United States through "environmentally based" legislation because "our generation cares about healing the earth."

    If the ideological love-fest hasn't smacked you in the face quite yet, Schlossberg ends his plea for Obama with remarks about ending racism.  Yes, we have gone from giving amnesty to illegals and hugging the whales to a full-on United Colors of Benetton commercial.  Comparing the election of Obama as the first black president in '08 to his own grandfather's election as the first Catholic president in 1960 is his defense of the need to "fight for change" that doesn't happen overnight.  Change takes time.  That's why you should give Obama another four years. 

    Here's where the nuts in the granola truly begin to kick in.  This yuppie has no problem with Obama's March that has burned a path of economic destruction across the country, because for this rich white kid (wait - I thought that was a Republican stereotype?)  the "fight for change" is an ideological one that involves ending racism and fostering unity across the country and the world, a battle gloriously led by Benevolent Barack.  Politics for this kid is not about real-world pragmatism that focuses on keeping jobs in the market so workers can put food on their tables, simply because this kid never had to worry about starving a day in his life.  He's far too busy with other, more important concerns, like fluffy rabbits and melting ice caps.  Schlossberg is too busy praising the creation of electric cars to realize that, the way the economy is going, most Americans won't ever be able to afford one.

    When Seth Rogen tweeted that Romney's "Keeping America American" was a popular slogan among the KKK in the 1920s, he was aiming for political punch in 140 characters or less.  The fact that the KKK notoriously supported eugenecist and Mother of Modern Birth Control Margaret Sanger in the 1920s is as easily lost on the liberal Rogen as is the fact that the precious "fight for change" that was the Civil War in Schlossberg's eyes was a bloody war fostered by his own slave-owning political party of choice.  (And while we're talking forgetting history, let's also talk about the irony in a Jewish American actor and a Kennedy being on the same political side - especially given the fact that good ol' Grandpa Joe Kennedy was once farmed out by the Democrat FDR administration to warn Hollywood Jews to stop picking on Hitler, lest they be blamed for getting America into the war.)  What mattered was the style of the comment, not the substance - the quick and dirty irony in the ownership of the slogan - to crunch at the ideological battle that rages in the liberal yuppie mindset. 

    What folks like Rogen and Schlossberg don't get is that "Keeping America American" to a Romney jobs-first campaign can be just as easily interpreted as, "We want to keep American corporate jobs in America.  We want those American-created jobs to go to Americans, who worked hard to escape terrible circumstances in their former countries and want to do it right, right here."  They don't get it because they can't fathom that someone would dare possess a different perspective than their own.  And they certainly won't hear of it; the granola crunching is just too loud. 

    Besides, people like Rogen and Schlossberg have bigger First World battles to fight (like crowning political messiahs) than to actually read a little, or give a damn.  After all, they've got the dimes to spare.  Those of us who actually know our history will recall that it was the insanely rich upper class who felt smart and snippy enough to tell the unemployed masses, "Let them eat cake." 

    Funny; Marie Antoinette could've easily tweeted that one on the way to the guillotine.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    The Light's Out in this City

    Today while skimming Facebook I found the following meme linked by FreedomWorks:
    The metaphor, made popular by President Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention, was pulled by the former leader of the free world from a sermon made by Puritan Governor John Winthrop, who quoted the following verses from the New Testament book of Matthew:
    "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."
    A powerful teaching, Conservatives have run with Reagan's quoted message, turning it into the mantra for American perfection and a clarion call to voters every four years since 1980.  I am not one of them.

    The easy cop-out for most Reagan-quoters at this point is to bring up the ancient question of "dual loyalty" implying that I, as a Jew, somehow feel a conflicted loyalty between America and Israel.  As with any stereotype, the assumption of conflicted allegiance is just plain wrong.  But, the fact that I am Jewish informs my reasoning as to why the "Shining city upon a hill" metaphor is as abused as it is used in the political right wing.

    How so, you ask?  Let's start with the source.  Most Jews have the chutzpa to admit that Jesus was, indeed, a Jewish guy.  (An Israeli living in Roman-occupied territory if you'd like to get political.)  So, being a Jewish guy, he spoke like a Jew to other Jews (all called "Jew" and "Jews" from the territorial name "Yehudah" Romanized down to "Judah"..."Ju"..."Jew"...a-ha!), Matthew 5:14-16 being no exception.  The "light of the world" metaphor in verse 14 comes from Isaiah 49:6, "...I will make you a light of nations, so that My salvation shall be until the end of the earth."  Moving onto the mountain metaphor, Jesus could be referencing the patriarch Abraham who infamously chose the challenge of the mountainous path (as opposed to his cousin, Lot, who chose the valley) only to be tested with the potential sacrifice of his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah - contended by some to be the ancient location of what would become Jerusalem, the Biblical "shining city on a hill".

    In the context of Matthew, Jesus was instructing his audience of Jews on the mountain to do exactly what Jews since Abraham have been doing: To lead by example.  To rise above the horrific behavior of the world around them and set an example, illustrating that people can "turn the other cheek" (to quote from the same passage) care for one another and live in peace. 

    2,000 years later, more than a few world leaders have abused this Jewish teaching for their own personal benefit - and I fear that is what is happening again.  While I can't define Reagan's intentions behind the quoting of this verse in the context of American identity (and don't seek to accuse him of nefarious purposes) I can clearly see the arrogant nature behind the metaphor's current use, and it saddens me.  My Jewish soul tells me that words meant to harken an ancient, definitive calling to selfless service were not meant to be used in an expression of arrogance or pride.  Which is exactly what this metaphor has become in the minds and voices of too many Americans, disenchanted with the disenfranchised attitude of the Left.

    The idea behind being a "shining city on a hill" is to stand as an example to others, of service and sacrifice; of hard work and sincere effort; of a desire to provide a helping hand; of the willingness to be the bigger person for the sake of the common good.  Too little of that is talked about in the pomp and circumstance of political power.  Because of that, the true message of being a "shining city on a hill" has given way to the idea of a super-nationalism that has America being fashioned as a great and singular world power that should be idolized (not learned from) and even worshipped as the "greatest nation on the earth."

    Isaiah 49:6 begins with the word "I".  This is HaShem (God) talking to Israel: "I will make you a light."  The lesson in being a light - having the willingness to stand alone in order to set an example - is that standing alone does not necessitate the pompous attitude of superiority as much as it demands the attitude of a servant devoted to a higher calling.  The time for American imperialism is over; if conservatives want America to anywhere near represent a "shining city on a hill" they need to shelve their pride and focus on re-making America into what it once was: a nation of freedom-lovers who valued humility more than glib remarks and cheap political gain.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Comparatively Speaking...

    You've heard all about it.  It's all over the usual lefty outlets, both Jewish and non: Mitt Romney hates kibbutzim.

    While the Forward reported it as "Mitt Slams the Kibbutz", the LA Times elected to go for a softer headline ("Contrasting joy of individual action, Romney finds ... the kibbutz?") only to open their critique by asserting that Republicans hate collectives and Mitt Romney stupidly elected to reference a collective form of living located in the world's foremost political hotbed.  Because, as we all know, Romney's out to pick on those Israeli Jews -- usually demonized by the same left-wing media that seems to now suddenly feel bad for them, because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"...right?  Wait a second...

    What Romney actually said was, America is not a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we’re all in some little entity, instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises..."

    And he's right.  America isn't a kibbutz or a collective of any kind.  So... where's the insult in this?

    And therein lies the rub.  The same leftists who don't want to be compared to anyone, who constantly argue for equality in all forms, are also the same folks who consistently look at the world through a comparative lens.  Go figure: Marx's entire theory is based on the idea that one group somehow has it better than another.  In this case, Leftists clamoring for an argument in an election season accuse Mitt Romney of asserting that Americans have it better because they are free to do as they please, instead of being beholden to the needs and desires of the larger group.  In the left-wing mindset, this comparison has a default meaning: When an individual's desires take priority over those of the community, the individual is just some sick, sad, corrupt bastard looking to profit off the suffering of others.

    I guess that's why all those illegals are flooding across our borders year after year; so they can be used and abused by evil individualists.  All those legal immigrants who work and save for years to bring their families to America for better educational and employment opportunities are just slaves to the individualist machine.  They'd be so much better off living in countries where they're judged by their economic class, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.  

    Wait a second.  I thought only "rugged individualists" (as the LA Times likes to call them) are the ones judging folks by all those superficial criteria.  That's what the Leftists say, comparatively speaking.

    Romney didn't insult Israel or kibbutzim.  Romney stated what was a fact about America that has increasingly been reduced to a political platform.  Why?  Because American culture has allowed the Left to usurp the conversation with these ridiculous and dangerous comparative notions that are completely irrelevant to the American way of life.  

    Interestingly, I have yet to read a critique of Romney's so-called "gaffe" that dares to mention the article recently published in The Guardian regarding the comeback of Israeli kibbutz life.  The report that has been all the rage in the Jewish Left's social media sphere declares that, "After decades of declining numbers, bankruptcies and privatisation, Israel's kibbutz movement is undergoing a remarkable revival, with rising numbers wanting to join the unique form of collective living."  Continue reading and you'll find out that the living isn't as "collective" as it used to be:
    Most kibbutzim have implemented reforms to become commercially viable and stem decline. Liberalisation – including permitting differential incomes and home ownership – has increased their attractiveness to newcomers reluctant to commit to pure communal principles.

    Only about 60 of Israel's 275 kibbutzim still operate a completely collective model, in which all members are paid the same regardless of their allotted job. Most of the rest have introduced wage differentials for people employed by the kibbutz – but, more importantly, many members now work outside the kibbutz and contribute a proportion of their salaries to the collective.

    Other measures have included selling kibbutz businesses, charging for meals and services, and recruiting agricultural labourers from south-east Asia. The changes, necessary for survival, have been painful, particularly for a generation of kibbutz pioneers wedded to a socialist-Zionist dream.

    Pardon me while I play the part of Jewish commentator stepping outside the box: Mitt, what can the American government learn from the correlation being made between commercially viable economic reforms and increased participation in kibbutz life?

    Then again, I suppose that's a comparison the Left doesn't really care to make.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    To the young leftist...

    There are a lot of things folks on the left-side of the political spectrum just don't get when it comes to human nature.  I was reminded of this fact just this week as I read reactions to the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare that flooded the Internet.  With the spirit of freedom in mind, I'd like to highlight a few important facts young leftists ought to keep in mind:

    1.  Human beings have free will.  No matter how many laws you write, you cannot overwrite free will.  It is programmed into our systems at birth. 

    2.  You cannot force good will or compassion.  Building off of our first fact, it is impossible to make one person or a group of people "like" or "be nice" to another person or group.  Again, just because you legislate or mandate "niceness" doesn't mean you can force a human being to be nice, just like you can't tax "meanness" and expect it to go away.

    And while we're on the topic of money, let it be said that the socialists who continually complain about capitalists being greedy are the same folks who have no problem holding money over someone's head in order to get them to do their bidding.  So much for economic equality.

    3.  It is impossible to socially engineer existence.  We are not a planet of Barbie dolls with government acting as the puppet-master.  Again, that pesky free will thing just keeps popping up.  Probably because free will is what drove the colonists to push for independence and millions more to leave regions of persecution in order to seek a better life in a country where they could, indeed, exercise their free will.  (Hint: That country has not and never will be Russia.)

    The idea that you can somehow force people to do something they don't want to do in order to fit the social order that you've decided upon is the kind of nutbag idea that motivated the creation of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Islamist Iran and all of those other lovely oppressive regimes that we've either had to destroy for the sake of humanity or are currently seeking to destroy the free world.  Just because you think your taxes on insurance, sugary drinks, or junk food aren't the equivalent of imprisoning thousands of innocents doesn't mean they won't lead down the same path.  Stalinist Russia wasn't born in a day.

    4.  Human beings need to put their faith somewhere, but government ain't it.  Don't think you're some kind of cutting-edge hipster because you choose to put your faith in government instead of religion.  You're still that lonely person looking for something to believe in; the only difference is, your icon is a political personality instead of a televangelist.  What?  The toned-down suit and fancy college lingo makes that big of a difference?  Keep setting those standards high! 

    Blind faith in human leadership is the reason America exists.  Our founding fathers had a keen experiential understanding of the fact that putting your faith in some untouchable leader had destructive consequences.  So, they intentionally set up a government that divorced idol worship from political office.  Of course, real leadership is a test in humility.  When George Washington was elected President, John Adams suggested that we refer to him as His Majesty the President, a title Washington was quick to decline.  But, humility is a personal choice that some leaders have been quick to ignore.  There goes that pesky free will thing again. I guess when someone is given authority (or takes it by force) they have the choice to let it go to their heads and even use it to do as they please.  And if they please, they will go ahead and usurp your freedoms in the process.

    Which makes them worthy of your faith again what way?

    5.  Ignorance isn't bliss.  Most of the leftists who think they are so "in the know" about politics don't, in reality, know much of anything when it comes to law and governance.  The Constitution is "old" and therefore not worth reading.  Sources of news and information span the range of blatantly biased sources (like HuffPo) to the user-built Wikipedia and user-generated feed Reddit.  I can guarantee you that 9 out of 10 leftist hipsters have never heard of Pravda and think the Berlin Wall is something their old history teacher had a chunk of on their classroom desk.  Yet, in acts that illustrate their ultimate immaturity, they feel free to make sweeping judgements against anything they've been told is unpopular and place their allegiance the way a teenage girl proclaims their undying love for the latest boy band.  When questioned, they call on their arsenal of biased, uninformed media the way tweens recall Facebook posts in he-said, she-said school hallway wars. 

    The scary thing is, in a world where the Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court can change his mind based on a fear of what popular media says other people think, turning a political discussion into a glorified Facebook fight is perfectly justified.  This removes our government from the realm of facts and ethics and into the shallow cesspool of primetime pop culture.  (In related news, E! is in the works to produce The Secret Life of the Supreme Court; Kim Kardashian is rumored to break up the Roberts' marriage in the first season, but dump Johnny in the season finale cliffhanger.  Shooting will begin in Malta over the next two weeks.) 

    6.  You are the master of your own universe.  It is no coincidence that one of the greatest social issues of our time involves mothers breastfeeding grown children:  We have an entire wing of our political spectrum filled with young voters looking for an open teet. 

    A few months ago I ran a seminar at which we were all asked to introduce ourselves and talk about our educational/career backgrounds.  Afterwards, our guest speaker came up to me and actually complimented me on the renaissance-like career I've forged for myself since graduating college.  "In my day, colleges were about giving a student a well-rounded education so they could graduate into the real world with the ability to do any number of things successfully.  Today, they're about pumping out workers for specific jobs and when those jobs aren't there, these kids don't know what to do." 

    He was right.  Generation-Y, by and large, has absolutely no idea how to make it in their world on their own and educational institutions are doing nothing to foster the kind of thinking that leads to success:  individualism, integrity, and ingenuity.  From the age of five, the majority of these kids have been told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it through public education.  They've been pushed through classes for the purpose of maintaining test scores and enrollment by institutions that are more focused on statistics-based funding than real education.  The truth is that those federal dollars they crave have a price attached in the form of curricula crafted by political agenda.  (What?  The leftists in the Department of Education holding money over heads in order to get what they want?  Dance, puppet, dance!)  And while that agenda has taught Generation-Y that Heather can have two mommies and black people are cool, it hasn't done much in the way of creating productive citizens that can "ask not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country."  But, hey, at least they can march in a gay pride parade or plant their butts in a city park for a few months.  Those contributions are doing a boatload for our economy.

    The truth of the matter is: Only you can choose your future.  If the fears you have about paying your bills are leading you to put your faith in your government, ask yourself this question: Isn't it funny that the same people telling you to rage against the evils of capitalism are the ones holding money over your head?


    Monday, June 11, 2012

    "Why isn't everybody mediocre like me?!"

    I hate whiney liberals.

    Scratch that - I hate whiney people, period.

    And Yahoo! TV's Claudine Zap is currently at the top of the list.  In one of the latest click-topping hits on the Yahoo news bar, Zap covers/comments on the fact that conservative pundit Glenn Beck apparently just struck a deal doubling his radio show salary.  Apparently, this news isn't comforting to Zap who finds Beck's raise ironic, "...especially considering that the conservative pundit isn’t even No. 1 in his morning timeslot."  Apparently, he's only THIRD. 

    Pardon me while I scoff at the idea that the Bronze medalist in talk radio might qualify for a raise, even if it is less than the deal Gold medalist Rush Limbaugh inked four years prior.

    And if you still don't get the injustice behind Beck's deal (oh, which, by the way, includes his digital businesses and related advertising - something the old deal didn't, but, whatever) think of it this way: "Most Americans, however, are not getting a Beck-sized salary bump. A survey by Adecco showed only a third of Americans received a raise last year."

    That's right: Not everyone in America got a raise.  But, Beck did.

    (In a related sidenote, I wonder if Ms. Zap knows that not everyone in America got to leave work early to play golf this year.  But, Barack Obama did.)

    Zap goes on to compare Beck's 100% raise to the Ford Motor Company's average raise of 2.7% of an employee's base salary, neglecting to mention certain facts like:

    a. The Ford Motor Company has to abide by a Union contract with that "average worker" that grants them overtime pay for work done outside of their contractual shift.  Said contract also provides payment for health benefits, paid time off, and other perks like signing bonuses and profit sharing checks.  (Those who are self-employed, like Beck, have no such guarantees with any deal they sign, choosing instead to pay for their own benefits, time off, and retirement investments themselves - a pay structure so commonplace in the entertainment industry that you'd think Ms. Zap would have easily taken that into account.)

    b.  The "average worker" at The Ford Motor Company doesn't need to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain a security detail for themselves and their family because they constantly receive death threats for voicing their opinions publicly.

    To give her critical knife a twist, Zap concludes her scintillating coverage by observing that Beck knows how to "hustle his brand" and "use his [radio] show to shill for his other products," like his books and website which, "the Wall Street Journal estimates revenue from those side businesses will bring in $40 million this year."

    Speaking of media personalities who use one public platform to advertise their other products, Ms. Zap also covers the Kardashians on her Yahoo!TV blog.  She neglects, however, to mention exactly how much money they throw around per episode.  Some people can just get away with everything in this world, I guess.

    Some people, like average online "news" bloggers, who unwittingly praise celebrity waste on one hand while criticizing conservative successes on the other.  What's more, they turn these celebrity wasteoids into demigods to be worshipped while condemning conservative stars (celebrities in their own right) for achieving financial success by using "logic" best exemplified by arguments seen on reality TV.  "Beck's getting more money than an auto worker!!"  Seriously?  Who are you going to compare Kim Kardashian to, then?  A maid at the Plaza Hotel?

    Leftists travel in packs of double standards which is why they come off like those annoying kids in school who spent their time sucking up to the cool clique while feeling free to tell the nerds what to do.  In the end, they're just a bunch of whiners, always looking towards others to define what they themselves lack and, in turn, criticizing the successful folks for managing to do just fine on their own.

    Beck got a raise because Beck, regardless of his political opinions, is good at business - a quality that Zap, as a media writer with nothing much but Yahoo behind her name, probably lacks but desperately needs.  But, the cool kids on the block don't like Beck, so Zap's going to admire Kim Kardashian instead.  Gee, I wonder what Zap and her readers can learn from a girl like Kim.

    I'm not quite sure, but I hope Zap has a good collection of butt firming sneakers at home.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Love Labor Lost

    One could legitimately argue that Bill Clinton (the Liberal) sounded the death knell for American Labor with NAFTA.

    While large labor unions like the AFL-CIO protested the North American Free Trade Agreement, they continued to endorse the same Democrats who created and voted to enact the US job-killing legislation: Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc.  The irony continued into the Obama Administration with AFL-CIO's President Richard Trumka issuing a statement against the proposed "NAFTA-Style" US-Korea Trade Deal, accusing the deal of being the latest in a long line of government trade deals that "sap economic growth and domestic job creation."  Yet, the union's endorsement of Obama remains as strong as ever.

    Perhaps the hypocrisy of these unions - that continue to endorse candidates who propose job-killing legislation - is the source of their own demise.  A Harris Poll conducted in 1994, right as the dust was settling in the ugly NAFTA battle, indicated that "nearly half (44%) of members of union families rate the labor unions negatively."  And this was after the unions lost their battle against NAFTA.

    Why would union members rate their labor orgs so negatively after these orgs had gone to battle against the most anti-worker legislation in modern American history?

    The poll goes on to cite that "...substantial majorities criticize [Unions] for being too involved in politics (70%), being more concerned fighting change than bringing it about (65%), and stifiling individual intitative (59%)."  54% criticized unions for "not giving them their money's worth" and "not working for legislation that would help all working people."

    The bottom line: Workers weren't getting enough bang for their buck.  In fact, workers felt that the unions harmed, not helped their careers.  So, when push came to shove, they chose to back Clinton in the battle.  After all, he was the guy the unions told them to vote for in the first place.

    The Harris Poll ended with a suggestion: Unions needed "new leadership, fresh thinking and new strategies."  If a hypocritical attitude isn't enough, unions desperately suffer from a complete cultural disconnect, clearly evidenced by their need to defend themselves on long-dead battles fought at the dawn of the 20th century.  (In case you hadn't heard, now it's the 21st.)  Yes, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was horrible ...which is why we now have workplace safety regulations.  Yes, our ancestors used to work 20 hour days... which is why we now have anti-sweatshop labor laws.  Do you ever get the feeling that it is time to give labor unions a gold watch, a pat on the back, and a room in a retirement home?

    Labor unions fight the Marxist fight to standardize humanity, totally ignorant of the fact that they're "stifiling individual initiative" in the process.  In other words, while people may need people, they don't want to be like other people.  Socialism has continued to fail in America because, unlike Europe, once we've achieved our goal as a collective we're happy to go our separate ways. 

    Labor's larger ideological failure can be summed up using one great American axiom: We aren't out to re-shape the nation because, well, if something isn't broken, why fix it?  The great notion that we can be socially engineered into perfection can only be upheld so long as those touting that notion are perfect in and of themselves.  When all you can manage to be is a hypocrite out to stifle individual freedoms, you've become the political equivalent of a modern-day televangelist.  No wonder common liberals are often referred to as "Kool Aid Drinkers" - you'd need to be drugged to bow to that kind of taskmaster.

    Walker won the recall in Wisconsin because he enacted legislation that gave union employees the freedoms the union had taken away.  The proof is in the pudding: If the union had been worth a damn, they'd have retained their membership and Walker would have been out the door.  Labor has lost the fight in America, but it isn't because of government, or big business, or any other faceless, nameless target on the union bar's dart board.  Labor has failed because Labor is an ideology that tells the individual, "You aren't good enough."

    And, as any capitalist can tell you, that's not a good slogan for business.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    On Socialism and Jews

    The idea that all Jews are socialists is a stereotype.  Depending on who you are and where your ideology falls on the bell curve of political thinking, Jews are either socialists because they are anti-American or they are socialists because Jews have a longstanding religious tradition of tikkun olam.  Both of these theories exemplify the hyper-generalized thinking that derives from stereotypes which are, in and of themselves, hypergeneralized end-results that justify the means of their creators.  All Jews are no more anti-American than all Jews are pro-saving the world.  The only thing All Jews are, are individuals who happen to identify themselves as Jewish.  The definitions from that point on, more often than not, belong to the end user rather than the creator themselves.

    As to why All Jews tend to be stereotyped as socialists, well, that theory has never quite been examined in full.  Probably because no one with a solid interest in the theory can drum up enough of an objective opinion when it comes to the hot-button phraseology.  To be interested in socialism to begin with, one is either definitively pro or definitively anti-socialist.  That perspective alone is enough to kill polite conversation, let alone anything bordering on serious repartee.

    But, what if you weren't necessarily biased?  What if you had no relative tie to the swath of Jewish immigrants pouring into the Lower East Side from Eastern Europe in the late 1800s?  After all, that's where the theory began, right, that All Jews are socialists?  So many of them were reds that they established a daily paper in their own language, the Forverts, to get their message to the masses.  Of course, history will show that for as many Jews who were socialists, just as many weren't, but they're the boring part of this story.  For the real historian (not the political muppet) the question is, what motivated socialism among Jews in the first place? 

    Well, if you lived in a ghetto and were forced to listen to a group of Rabbis tell you how to live and you grew up thinking you could never leave that ghetto because the hoards of gentiles who tended to raid that ghetto, destroy homes, rape women, and steal your livelihood would probably come after you and kill you, you'd probably be looking for an answer to your problems, too.  What better answer than an ideology that preaches that the little man deserves to have as much money and power as the big maccas?

    It really is that simple, and it really has as little to do with overthrowing America as it does with a religious notion about repairing the world.  It boils down to seeking out a life-saving methodology.  The irony is:  Who knew socialism would be the ideology responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Jewish lives over the course of the 20th century?

    At the time, it sounded better than the ghettos and the pogroms.

    So, the most I could possibly say about the Jewish embrace of Socialism is: Hindsight is 20/20.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Compare Soviet Russia's propaganda about collective farming (second film - about 1 minute in):

    with the reality of collectivization as experienced by those under Soviet rule:

    Enough said?

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    The Great Dictator 2.0

    Okay, so I'm not the first person to draw a comparison between Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator and Charlie Chaplin's infamous portrayal of The Great Dictator.  But, as an American who's only seen the preview of the upcoming flick once, I'd like to think myself at least slightly ahead of the curveball Baron Cohen has thrown Hollywood's way.

    While the Academy scrambles to correct their own PR faux pas, I'm tempted to do a little proactive analysis.  This, of course, could be a very dangerous thing; critics, after all, are writers who react.  While we may scribble like scribes, prophets we are not.  In true Biblical fashion I can only say that my validity should be put to the authentic prophet's test:  If what I say comes to pass, then I am right.  If not, I will still write.  Either way, I will hold fast to my refusal to pick your next Powerball numbers.

    My hypothetical analysis of Baron Cohen's latest foray into the spotlight goes something like this: 

    Charlie Chaplin used satire to mock the greatest dictator of his time, Adolf Hitler.  Exhibiting a flair for the modernism of his day, Chaplin embraced the self-consciousness of his work, breaking the fourth wall to address his audience with an impassioned plea for real-world action against a real-world dictator.

    Enter The Dictator 2.0. Chaplin broke the fourth wall in cinema 72 years ago. Today, in true postmodernist style, Baron Cohen is breaking the fourth wall in real life. And he's destroying contemporary culture's foundation of political correctness, brick by brick.

    How, you ask, is he accomplishing such a feat?  Today, we have far surpassed the thought-provoking irony of an actor's fourth wall.  With reality television becoming a staple of everyday life, the fourth wall is nothing more than the illusion of a flat screen TV.  For anyone to turn their art form into a platform they've got to think outside the box.  Arguably, it could be said that Baron Cohen isn't doing anything new.  The British actor has already proved a willingness to dwell outside the boundaries of belief with characters like Borat strutting down the red carpet.  He's exemplified his willingness to pick on stereotypes of people groups with characters like Bruno and Ali G.  At the outset, it would seem that the most postmodern thing that can be said about The Dictator is that Baron Cohen is doing nothing new. 

    However, with the character of the Dictator, Baron Cohen is reaching past the shock value of nameless, faceless stereotypes: Now, he has a particular target in mind.  Perhaps this is why, unlike his previous characters, The Dictator ia known by a proper title, instead of a proper name.  This time, Baron Cohen's seemingly impersonal characterization is quite personal, indeed.

    The title of the film is not its only irony.  While coverage of the film thus far attributes the inspiration of the film to a novel by Saddam Hussein, one can't help but think that if the dead Iraqi dictator were the butt of the joke, the Academy wouldn't be so afraid to laugh: "'Unless they’re assured that nothing entertaining is going to happen on the Red Carpet, the Academy is not admitting Sacha Baron Cohen to the show.'"  Dead Dictators aren't funny:  Didn't the Brits get the memo?  (Obviously Mel Brooks didn't.)

    Perhaps the Academy wouldn't be so hesitant to let Baron Cohen walk the red carpet as a stark-raving mad Middle Eastern dictator if a certain stark-raving mad Middle Eastern dictator weren't threatening impending nuclear devastation while exercising his power over the European oil supplies and global economy. 

    After all, how much of a threat can Saddam be now?  The Academy probably couldn't respond to that, inasmuch as they're having a problem explaining exactly why they banned The Dictator's appearance in the first place.

    In true Sacha Baron Cohen fashion, he has taken the Academy's stick and turned it into a carrot, announcing, “Admiral General Aladeen will deliver a formal response tomorrow morning [Friday] to being banned from The Oscars by the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Zionists.”

    This tongue-in-cheek phraseology exhibits more than an industry-old stereotype.  While Hollywood would like nothing more to decry "Woe is me, another Mel Gibson," they can't: The anti-Semitic, anti-Israel ruminations of a certain stark-raving mad Middle Eastern dictator won't let them. 

    You mean, there are certain folks out there -- stark-raving mad, extremist Middle Eastern-types, who *gulp* don't like Jews?  But, certainly, a good British boy with an honored place in Hollywood wouldn't start breaching a politically incorrect topic like that.  How inappropriate, you can hear them whispering in the Academy's hallowed halls, We may walk the red carpet, but we do not live in a red STATE!

    True to form, Baron Cohen has yet to break character.  He has, however, used his character to break down the wall of political correctness that has shielded Hollywood and all its lovers from the reality of the world situation.  The only question is: Why?

    For Chaplin, his plea was an honest one:  He truly believed that unless the evil of Hitler was stopped, the entire world would suffer the consequences of Nazi ideology.  Turns out, he was right.  So, what is Baron Cohen's goal with this performance?  Is he simply the comedian going to great lengths for self-glorification, or is he using his art to draw attention to a greater cause than himself?

    I suppose only time will tell.  But in an era when the voices of hatred are growing louder while the leaders of great nations scramble for cover, one can't help but find a glimmer of much-needed sanity in Baron Cohen's insane portrayal.  My own validity is dependent upon the test of time as well.  In the meantime, I can only cheer: Sacha, tear down this wall.

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    The Evil Cycle of Thought that Argues "The System is Broken"

    Contrary to popular belief, "The System" that is, our free market capitalist republic, is not broken.  The system has been grotesquely abused by the people in its employ and intensly maligned by its enemies.  As a result, the public is led to believe that the system is the problem and therefore the solution is to destroy the system and replace it with a new one.  No group is more susceptible to this mode of thinking than voters in the prized 18-30 year old age group. 

    Raised in the Clinton era, we were taught that even impeachable offenses weren't worthy of full prosecution.  Instead of forcing Clinton to pay for his crimes by removing him from his position, Congress gave the President a metaphorical slap on the hand and allowed him to continue serving in the highest office in the land.  The media's response to Clinton's crimes sealed the deal.  Carefully turning public attention away from the fact that the President lied while under oath, the MSM turned Clinton's Oval Office escapades into comedic fodder.  Clinton the man became the dirty joke of the week and the Office of the President suffered the battered reputation.  It was the system that had failed; Clinton was just caught with his pants down.

    The same can be said for the gross abuses of corporate bosses, practitioners of crony capitalism that work the free market system to serve their own self-interests.  The socialists who point out the crimes of corrupt corporate bosses are no better; they, too, abuse the system to serve their own nefarious purposes.  Instead of recognizing bad behavior for what it is, the choices of individuals are re-defined to be the failures of an entire economic system.  Therefore, the system must be destroyed.

    To blame "the system" is as idiotic as it would be to blame the hot stove for the fact that the child who touched it now has a burned hand.  The stove didn't burn the child any more than the system decided to fail those who put it in place.  The success or failure of any system is dependent upon the choices made by those who are in charge.  To put it in layman's terms: Garbage in, garbage out.  But, recognizing this fact requires the acquisition of personal responsibility.  Personal responsibility carries with it the obligation to participate and the concept of accountability.

    And when a President doesn't have to be held accountable for his actions, why should you?