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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan 31, 2014/ 30 Shevat, 5774

State of the Union: All drift, no real direction

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | How sum up the president's speech Tuesday night? It's not easy, since the president himself didn't. It seemed to have no focus, no single theme, no unifying thread. It was the political equivalent of a long shopping list composed by a not very well-organized househusband. The warp and woof weren't so much interwoven as thrown together in no particular pattern that left no particular impression, except to make the evening drag on approximately forever. ("Is it over yet?") It seemed like midnight when it was still the shank of the evening.

After the speech, the commentators called on to discuss it on television in their usual oh-so-deep way, the legion of Charlie Roses and Sean Hannitys out there in cyberspace, seemed to be stifling yawns between their Profound Observations and the kind of witticisms that aren't. Even the professionally serious, the kind of nerds whose boredom threshold is normally a mile high, seemed a little tempted by ennui but, alas, not enough to just shut up and go away.

Whenever anything of remote interest appeared on a distant horizon of his text, the president seemed to have an immediate response: change the subject. His signature accomplishment, aka Obamacare, got barely a mention -- other than a misleading reference to how wonderfully it was working. Surely not even Mr. Obama, an intelligent man, can believe that.

Instead, all the president's efforts to efface his signature from his Signature Accomplishment having failed so far, he, yes, changed the subject. With just a lick and not even a promise of improvement. As if to say we'd all wasted enough time on this post-mortem and it was time to Move On.

At that point, a flickering old black-and-white image of another president's State of the Union address -- Richard Nixon's last -- appeared in the dim recesses of our wandering attention. ("One year of Watergate is enough!" --R. Nixon, 1974.) He would resign seven months later. Whenever a CEO, whether of a government, a corporation, a university or any other entity that owes the public an accounting, declares that enough has been said/investigated/exposed where this topic is concerned, Innocent Observer can be confident it hasn't been.

If there was anything memorable about this year's State of the Union, maybe it was what wasn't. What was missing? Maybe it was that intangible essence another president -- George Herbert Walker Bush -- called "the vision thing." Leave it to a president who didn't have much vision to identify it in three typically vague words. And as the prophet warned, where there is no vision, the people perish. If there was a vision somewhere in this president's wasteland of words Tuesday night going on into Wednesday morning, maybe it was the president's bemoaning the inequality of American life, which he keeps insisting is growing.

Never mind that the statistics, those tricky reflections of the factual, don't back him up. According to the Congressional Budget Office, income inequality in the United States may be slightly higher than the average for the past 30 years, but it remains less than it was during, say, the last couple of years of the Clinton administration, if that matters. And it doesn't.

The CBO adds that, according to its Progressivity Index, the U.S. tax code remains as progressive as at any time during those last same 30 years. And that, as of 2006, the federal government's tax-and-spending policies combined have managed to redistribute $1.2 trillion in income from the 40 percent of younger, richer Americans to the bottom 60 percent of younger, poorer ones. And, yes, the top 1 percent of earners in this country still pays a larger share of the federal income tax than the bottom 90 percent combined. As for the elusive but revered concept in this country called Social Mobility, the IRS reports that its data, collected between 1999 and 2007, still show that Americans can move up remarkably fast. And move down the same way.



But what's all that to a president who prefers anecdotage to numbers? Ever since Tocqueville summed up all of American politics as a constant tug between the equal but opposite drives for liberty and equality, there have always been politicians/demagogues who want to champion one at the expense of the other. There will always be plenty of Americans who feel their talent, labor and genius aren't sufficiently recognized and rewarded, and they're the natural prey of the separate but equally ambitious Barack Obamas and Ted Cruzes of American politics.

Tuesday night, Mr. Obama was the epitome of the chief executive who makes a shambles of policy, whether health care or foreign affairs, and calls it a Signature Achievement. It was Tacitus who had a chief of the freedom-loving Caledonians (the Scots don't seem to have changed much) say of the Romans, they make a desolation and call it peace. This president makes a desolation and calls it Progressive.

There were so many things missing from this year's State of the Union, an exercise in small ball when it proposed anything much at all, that it's not easy to identify the biggest gap. A vision for the future? A stamp of personal responsibility, a reference to the national destiny? You know, the kind of words that are more than words, like those of FDR or Ronald Reagan in their time.

As the president droned on, there was no sense of the Rendezvous with Destiny that Franklin Roosevelt invoked for his generation, and which would meet it soon enough, at home and abroad.

Maybe there was no sustaining vision of the future in this president's speech because he seemed to have none of the past. What ever happened to that shining City upon a Hill the Puritans -- and Ronald Reagan long after -- still strove for? As when the Gipper remembered, dreamed and spoke like this:

"... I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still...."

So do many of us. Still. And so do countless other Americans. And countless others in the world who want to be. What happened to that stirring vision? Was there even a trace of it in the speech and ordeal our selfie-in-chief treated us to last, never-ending Tuesday night? It may have been called a State of the Union address, but it seemed mainly about the state of himself, his administration, his executive orders, and his limited little plans for a nation once without limits.

Even when he told Congress he would bypass it to rule by fiat -- excuse me, executive order -- his actual decrees sounded piddling: a new retirement savings plan offered through the federal government, or a raise in the minumum wage for federal employees. Even when he plays the fascist, this president sounds small-bore. If the rest of his speech had any ideas, they were warmed-over ones he'd failed to see to completion before.

To sum it up: All drift, no real direction.

Paul Greenberg Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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