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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Mazur’

Paper Clips And Cemetery Stones

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Small things make a difference. For example, as an old folk tale has it, a pebble in your shoe can cause more pain than a rock in your pocket.

And wasn’t it New York’s Mayor Giuliani who demonstrated that big city crime and grime could be reversed by first righting the little things – the broken windows of urban blight and the “squeegees” at red traffic lights?

So, too, every alert businessman knows that profitability depends on controlling costs, and that discipline includes – indeed, begins with – the small things. Things like paper clips.

Take a moment to think about it. After outfitting any office with the ordinary staples of daily usage, such as notepads, pencils and, yes, staples, at least one such item might never (or, at the least, hardly ever) need re-purchasing: paper clips. Treated properly, they come with a limitless life expectancy and infinite usages. Even when abused, as when a small one is used to grope too thick a bunch of papers, paper clips often will rebound into a somewhat fit, albeit crippled, shape.

Almost weightless and normally untethered, there is a permanence of place for clips and their box. Applied without intrusion and removed with nary a scar, availability is nevertheless maintained in rough balance despite random flows in and out. It all works with awesome, wondrous spontaneity due, I would suppose, to the existential nature of the paper clip.

Some might challenge the near perfection of the paper clip, but in my view the re-circulating alternatives fall short of the ideal. The rubber band? Yes, it circulates, but it also too easily stretches out from normal use, or wears down and breaks long before any self-respecting, non-abused paper clip.

The old-fashioned, non-electronic alternative to e-mail known as the “inter-office envelope?” Forget about it. Not the slightest chance that the readily torn envelope and its string enclosure could approach the useful life of the resilient clip.

No, the paper clip represents unrivaled, world-class durability, adaptability, and so much more. This incredibly practical tool suffers from no apparent defect. There’s just nothing to fix or improve, due to its simple, circulatory essence. Which is why I write of it (perhaps too much) here and at this time.

Now is, after all, the traditional time of year when many Jews remember and respect departed family and friends through the ritual of visiting their graves. So much so, that, typically, two or three times each September, Sunday drivers re-enact pre-Quickway Sunday traffic jams of, say, 1949-1952. “Old Route 17″ reappears within the narrowest possible cemetery roads (more precisely, walkways or horse trails) blocked by cars obliviously parked or going the wrong way against one-way streets. If you’re lucky in the course of such anarchic confusion, your car’s progress will stall near an old fashioned “unveiling” where a folding table might offer a shot and a slice. (That’s honey cake, stranger.)

It’s all very personal, how and what one does in front of their deceased. Some touch or lean upon the tombstone, where others dare not; some stand silently, while others speak aloud as if to the living; some pray, others stare, still others cry.

It’s doubtful that such behavior has been studied very much, if at all. Probably best described as highly idiosyncratic, it seems odd that the visitors’ common exercise is for the most part uncommonly performed. Excepting certain prayers said by those who formally pray, for most it appears that their only shared practice is the somewhat quaint act of placing a stone marker atop the visited gravestone.

While its significance is felt, its purpose seems largely unknown. As an exercise, ask around for its meaning or history, and you should hear, with one exception, one uncertain answer after another. The one exception, as you may have guessed, is “I don’t know.”

No matter, what we do know is that stones are left behind, regardless of reason.

For decades, it was the easiest of rituals to perform. No longer, however. Perhaps not yet widely recognized, let this alert you to another shared cemetery experience that in recent years has grown to become a common problem: finding stones. Haven’t you noticed? They’re gone.

Maybe not as catastrophic as an office without paper clips, a cemetery without stones is more than a mere annoyance. Though harmless, it’s still upsetting. Search as you may, other than the smallest and thinnest of pebbles, a reasonably small stone is nearly impossible to find. At least once in the past few years have you not asked yourself (or anybody or nobody in particular) “Didn’t there used to be plenty of stones here?”

The Win-Lose Trap

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Opponents of President Obama do not lack for reasons to criticize him or his administration. Not justifiably among them, however, would be the contention that Obama the candidate had misled the country regarding his intentions.

Despite little bits of dishonesty (expected of all seekers of public office) for the most part he promised departure from past policies in nearly every area of public concern. It was labeled “Change” and the country bought it under a restrictive no-return policy – to be emphatically enforced without reservation if he wins a second term.

He told us he would sweet-talk Iran, reset relations with Russia, reduce unemployment, provide universal health care, and much more. What he didn’t say was what he’d do if his initial forays failed.

He didn’t – and still doesn’t – tell us how we might need to accommodate a nuclear Iran; or what we can do to restore the trust of the Poles and other East Europeans after ditching their missile defense system; or how many more public trillions will be flushed before job creation incentives are directed toward the private sector; or that employer-provided health benefits will be taxed as income to the employees.

What appears more remarkable than those and other policy failures, to the astonishment of any objective observer, is how the media heavyweights with their signature left/liberal bias are protecting him to an extent possibly never before seen. Certainly not in recent times.

Clinton, Carter, LBJ and JFK were to varying degrees criticized and even exposed by their media acolytes for various things – but not this guy. Beginning with the tax problems of his appointees and continuing to date (for example, his administration’s dropping the case against the New Black Panther Party despite video evidence and its sponsoring the major domo of the Ground Zero mosque as a State Department representative), there’s been no outcry about anything.

Think of it: Jimmy Carter was hassled for wearing a sweater, yet Emperor O prances about covered in oil from the Gulf spill with barely a harsh word from his supportive elite. CNN, Newsweek, The New York Times – have they not even a shred of shame anymore?

Contrary to logic or experience, there are no significant signs of voter remorse among those who elected the president, notwithstanding the slippage of his approval ratings. Generally, liberals and a good many independents remain unrepentant if somewhat disappointed (still pointing the finger of blame at Bush for any and every problem) despite having good cause to rethink their support for Obama.

This is particularly true for Jews, who clearly have reasonable grounds to mistrust Obama’s policies and his demonstrated instincts. After the black vote (over 90 percent), the Jewish vote (78 percent) for Obama was the highest of all demographic groups. Presumably, that level of support will go down, but probably – and inexplicably – not enough to make a difference in Florida and other key states.

So, as summer closes and we enter the off-year election season, what can be expected? Should Obama’s opponents be especially careful of what they wish for?

Early indications show that Republicans will likely gain control of the House or Senate but that could well become a case of battle won/war lost. Indeed, it’s a prospect about which Obama, Rahm Emanuel and the rest of the gang may not be too unhappy. Their priority (if not sole concern) is Obama, not the Democratic party.

Of course, were there to be any effective congressional opposition, two years of untidy partisan bickering probably wouldn’t be all bad. It surely would slow down or preclude adoption of the Obama agenda, in whole or in part.

However, the unintended consequence of such limited power will no doubt bestow upon the president a convenient gift toward his reelection effort: the opportunity to blame congressional Republicans for whatever are the hot-button messes of 2012. Is it not Rahm Emanuel’s credo to exploit every disadvantage and setback? This regime can find opportunity in each crisis. Don’t expect less.

Moreover, it’s fair to say that, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party has not nominated a generally attractive presidential candidate – one capable of generating enthusiastic support from independent and Democrat voters – since General Eisenhower. That’s nearly sixty years!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-win-lose-trap/2010/08/18/

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