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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 March 22, 2010 / 7 Nissan 5770

Welcome to 1937

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Surely Americans are the most historically amnesiac of peoples. Oh, we love antiques and historical re-enactments, colonial Williamburgs and Currier & Ives reproductions. Not to mention historical romances, preferably of the ripped-bodice genre. But we're antiquarians rather than historians; we search for artifacts rather than meanings. We love history so long as we don't have to do anything as strenuous as drawing parallels between past and present.


Why heed the past, that old nag? Ours is a New Order for the Ages, as it says on the dollar bill. This is the New World, which we tend to confuse with a blank world. Here we were to be born again as an entirely new species, the American. We assumed we could leave history safely behind in the old world, forgetting that we brought so much of it with us.


We forget the uses of history, and so, in Santayana's endlessly repeated phrase, are condemned to repeat it. There's a reason his saying is endlessly repeated. It needs to be. Phrases become cliches because they apply. Again and again. We're like the hero of the movie "Groundhog Day," who is condemned to go through the same series of events time and again till he finally catches on.


Consider this scenario:


Banks and investment houses founder, then fail. Jobs disappear; production nosedives along with the stock market. A new president is elected in the midst of this financial meltdown. A popular, intelligent and articulate leader, he sets out to restore economic stability and confidence in the future. He proposes a raft of new programs.


Some of them make sense — like unemployment insurance, public works programs, reorganizing banks and insuring the deposits of those that can be saved. Others don't — like having the government take control of a huge swath of the private economy, setting wages and prices, burdening businesses with new taxes and then expecting them to expand.


For a while things seem to be working. Unemployment persists but eases. Credit begins to flow again. Things are looking up. But then the president, seemingly unaware that some parts of his program are at war with others (like higher taxes vs. incentives for investment), gets carried away. He becomes obsessed with a single idea, one objective among so many. Public confidence in his leadership begins to dwindle. The more speeches he gives plugging his great idea, the less popular it — and he — becomes. But he plunges ahead anyway.


The president grows desperate in pursuit of his grand dream and refuses to compromise, confident his party has the votes to push it through Congress. Instead, the candidates he backs begin to lose elections. And the more moderate members of his party drift away from his wilder proposals, lest they displease the voters back home.

Letter from JWR publisher


Sound familiar? It should. It's the stuff of today's headlines. Though the calendar may say 2010, in many respects it could be 1937, the year of the Roosevelt Recession. That's when another, even more charismatic leader lost his gift for practical politics, and became a prisoner of his own ideology. Convinced he had to seize control of the Supreme Court in order to save his social and economic programs, Franklin Roosevelt proposed a court-packing plan that never caught on. Americans were much too attached to the idea of an independent judiciary to subvert it. It seems we're more devoted to constitutional custom than some of our Great Reformers believe.


The year 1937 would prove the low-water mark of FDR's long, long presidency. Coming off one of the great landslide victories in the history of American presidential elections in 1936, he proceeded to lose touch with the American people. Hubris would produce its usual result.


Outwardly, the New Deal may have seemed confused and contradictory by 1937, but inwardly it was even more so. Having come to a fork in the road, FDR decided to take it. He cut back on the public works programs that had eased unemployment while continuing to attack "excess profits" when even minimal ones would have helped business recover. The result was a recession within a depression.


Now it is Barack Obama, obsessed with remaking, extending and generally complicating the county's system of heath insurance, who has jeopardized or at least neglected all the rest of his social and economic agenda. Now he, too, finds himself flailing. He may indeed be uniting the country — against his ideas. And he may yet delay recovery as long as FDR did in 1937.


The taxes and fees embedded in the administration's cap-and-trade and health-care plans undermine confidence in the economy's recovery, but Barack Obama and ever more desperate company in Washington careen on, determined to do something, whatever his gigantic make-over of the country's health-care system turns out to be. The calendar may say 2010, but it feels like 1937 all over again. All that's missing are the men's double-breasted suits and ladies' strange hats. For Democrats, unhappy days may be here again. Welcome to Groundhog Year.


Useful thing, history. If presidents would learn from it.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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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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