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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 August 24, 2011 / 24 Menachem-Av, 5771

The Grand Illusion: It's Coming Right on Schedule

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Charles Mackay published his classic study "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" in 1841, but it remains regularly relevant to the affairs of man.

No wonder. For its author's purpose was "to collect the most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and gregarious men are, even in their infatuations." How little has changed.

Back in 1841, it might have been assumed that such manias arose randomly, in keeping with the rising and falling tides of men's passions. But thanks to the genius of American politics, this country has found a way to schedule extraordinary popular delusions and mass manias exactly once every four years, regular as the calendar, predictable as an eclipse. In this case, an eclipse of reason. These quadrennial fits are known as presidential elections.

By now this grand seizure lasts much longer than a year, for it extends from the prairie fires of enthusiasm just ignited in Iowa this month through the (not so) Spontaneous Demonstrations at our national political conventions -- and then on to the Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat election night. Stage by carefully delineated stage, the campaign proceeds like any other disease whose progress can be predicted.

The venerable Tocqueville compared an American presidential election to a great flood that sweeps over the whole landscape, covering all before it in paroxysms of enthusiasm, before it recedes as abruptly as it arrived, leaving all as before.

Some are wise enough never to mistake a politician riding the flood tide with a messiah who will perform miracles of hope and change: "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." --Barack Obama, June 3, 2008.

There is nothing like an American presidential campaign to inspire such bouts of grandiosity. For how can a presidential candidate, who is cheered and feted every day by the adoring masses, resist being carried away by his own inflated aura?

As for the hero-worshippers among us, their name is Legion. True believers, they tend to swallow the slogans whole. (Hope! Change!) They may awake only much later, as from a trance, sober up, and look around at what their adoration has wrought. And grow bitterly disappointed, especially in the candidate they were once wild about.

How long can a political mania last before it begins to ebb? Much depends on the degree of individual resistance to popular delusions and the madness of crowds. Or as Charles Mackay said of the moral epidemics he'd studied, men "go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one."

The better balanced among us never join the herd at all, as if they had some natural immunity to crowdthink. Or have learned from experience not to join the lemming-like rush over the nearest cliff.

At those times when popular delusions multiply and the madness of crowds mounts, as at the onset of an American presidential campaign, the best any observer of political manias may be able to recommend is a little salutary neglect. It can do wonders.

Whole empires, like the British one, were acquired almost in an absence of mind, then lost when imperial policymakers started to make plans and impose them on their colonies. Like the decision by crown and parliament to try taxation without representation in His Majesty's American colonies. Bad move. Said colonies reacted by becoming free and independent states.

Not an easy people to cow, His Majesty's subjects on this continent. They put up with abuse after abuse, but finally could take no more, and decided not to remain subjects at all -- for reasons recounted at length in our Declaration of Independence.

The only Rx this old-timer can offer for the quadrennial malady about to sweep the Republic once again, right on schedule, like a carefully scheduled nervous breakdown, is to take the ephemeral headlines with a strong dose of calm. And as much perspective as old Clio herself, muse of History, can supply.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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