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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘House’

Jewish Reaction To Romney VP Pick Divides Along Ideological Lines

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Anointing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney attached a name and face to his fiscal policy.

Jewish Republicans, including the House majority leader, say they are thrilled with Wisconsin’s Ryan emerging as the ticket’s fresh face, hailing the lawmaker as a thoughtful and creative budget guru bent on taming out-of-control federal spending.

Ryan’s name is well known to Jewish community leaders who have been grappling with the Republicans’ chief budget shaper since the party retook the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010.

The Washington groups that deal with budget policy have had many interactions with Ryan, who as chairman of the House Budget Committee authors Congress’ proposed budget. They have not been happy ones, though speaking on background, the first thing Ryan’s Jewish and Democratic interlocutors emphasize is that he is as affable and gracious one on one as he appears to be in public.

Many of them see Ryan’s plan threatening Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are cornerstones of care for the Jewish elderly, a population growing faster than among most other religious and ethnic groups.

Ryan and his defenders argue that his proposals will drive down costs by spurring competitive pricing and save popular entitlement programs from eventual bankruptcy.

Outside of his leadership on budget issues, Ryan, 42, has not been preeminent in many of the areas that traditionally have attracted Jewish organizational interest.

Elected in 1998, he visited Israel in 2005 on a trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Along with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), he has joined Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, as the “young guns” heralding a more robustly conservative Republican Party, one that appeals more to the Tea Party insurgents who fueled the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.

Cantor has often pointed out the diversity embodied by the trio – Cantor is a Southeastern observant Jew, Ryan is a Midwestern Roman Catholic and McCarthy is a Western Protestant.

“Having worked closely with Paul, I’ve seen firsthand the energy and commitment he brings to pursuing the kind of pro-growth economic policies we need to create jobs and reduce our massive debt,” Cantor said in a statement. “Quite simply, Mitt Romney could not have made a finer choice for the future direction of our country.”

Ryan has followed Cantor’s lead on foreign policy, co-sponsoring signature pieces of legislation that the majority leader initiated, most recently one that enhances security cooperation between the United States and Israel.

“America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy, with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law, but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism,” Ryan says on his congressional page.

William Kristol, the leading neoconservative thinker, was among those touting Ryan. And according to Politico.com, Dan Senor, Romney’s top Middle East adviser known for his close ties to the pro-Israel community, will be advising Ryan ahead of his convention speech in late August and his debate with Vice President Joe Biden, which is scheduled for Oct. 11 at Centre College in Kentucky.

Ryan has not interacted extensively with the small Jewish community in Wisconsin, but those who have met him say he’s an eager student of the Middle East.

“He’s thought a lot about those issues, although he might not be an expert like he is on the nitty gritty of the budget,” said Nat Sattler, who has been active in Wisconsin Republican politics and has met Ryan at Republican and pro-Israel events. “Knowing his ability to suck up information, I’m sure he is becoming an expert.”

Ryan has backed cuts to the overall foreign assistance budget, though he favors funding at current levels for Israel. AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups generally are committed to maintaining foreign assistance funding overall, not just for Israel.

It is in the area of domestic spending that the clashes between Ryan and the Jewish organizational community have been evident.

In 2011, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs – the two leading policy umbrellas addressing economic issues – were blunt in a joint letter to Congress members slamming plans that originated with Ryan that would transition parts of Medicare, the medical program for the elderly, to a Medicare Exchange in which a variety of private plans would be made available.

My Zaidy

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

When I think of how to describe my Zaidy to someone who has never met him, I find myself at a loss. I don’t know how to put my grandfather’s presence into words in a way that will sufficiently describe the picture I have of him in my mind. The fact that my most vivid memories are from when I was quite young make the task no easier. He was, simply, “Zaidy.” Regardless of profession, history or future, he just was. His presence was one of the few things I was fortunate enough to take for granted as a little girl, in a way that marks the very sweetness and innocence of childhood – that I was important to the adults around me.

The memories I have of my grandfather are quite jumbled and out of order. He was very much the stereotypical grandfather, tall and thin, who I can easily imagine on the threshold of a country house, side by side with grandma, waiting to greet the grandchildren who are visiting for the weekend.

From the time I knew him; he had white hair and walked with a cane. He was a respectable figure, a successful stockbroker and active community member. Most important to me, however, was the grandfather figure he filled so well.

I have many fond memories of the lessons my grandfather would teach me, among them geography and basic multiplication. Other memories include the songs he would sing to me as I sat on his lap in the den, the coloring books he would buy for my sisters and myself, and the prayers he would say with us as he’d put us to bed when we slept over. I remember many early mornings when I’d wake up to the comforting sound of my grandfather going about his morning routine, which included the hum of his electric shaver and the newscaster’s voice from the radio. I remember the delight I felt when I met my grandfather on the avenue when I was out with my parents, and how important I felt walking home with him, hand in hand, while he taught me the meaning of the postal zip code.

From when I was quite young, my grandfather tried to teach me about the workings of the stock market, perhaps as a response to my asking him about his work. At five years old, I couldn’t quite understand any of it, and when he tried me again at eight years old I didn’t do much better. I have a vague memory of a family trip to the New York Stock Exchange, where my grandfather most likely gave the family a tour, or at least some explanations, which I just as likely didn’t understand.

Tied in with all the intellectual lessons I learned, or was meant to have learned from my grandfather if I could have understood at that age, are several stories, which, when put together, give me a vague sketch of my grandfather’s life.

My grandfather was born in Holland, where his parents had moved with their children for hope of greater financial opportunity than that which was available in their original hometown. When my grandfather was a young boy, the family moved again, from Holland to America, where they lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I believe he worked at a local grocery or general store some time during his young adult years, after which he built himself up further with lots of hard work and some luck.

My grandfather had three siblings, all of whom I met, though one died when I was quite young. I am told that my mother brought me to see him when he was sick in the hospital, but I can’t clearly picture the scene. His sister and remaining brother both look somewhat like him, a resemblance I became more aware of after my grandfather died. It was quite a shock for me to notice that; seeing my great-uncle at a wedding ceremony of a cousin, looking like my grandfather – with the addition of a white beard. The closest my grandfather ever came to having a beard was when he was sick in the hospital at the end of his life, but that is not the image that first comes to mind when I think of my Zaidy.

Awkward Timing

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” where we answer any and all questions sent in by readers. It’s a lot like all the other “ask the expert” columns, except that, whereas the other experts are interested in giving you a well-researched answer, our interest is more in meeting our deadlines so we can get back to looking for our car keys. Most of the time, we tackle advice questions, but once in a while we have to take a break from those, because of the lawsuits.

Dear Mordechai,

Why do garbage trucks always come in the wee hours of the morning?

A.S., Monsey

Dear A.,

They want to beat traffic.

I don’t know how it helps, though. It’s not like they don’t stop in front of every house anyway.

Actually, it depends what you call “wee.” To me, the “wee hours of the morning” is anytime before noon. I think they like seeing you run out with your shirt half buttoned and one shoe on, screaming “Wait!” and holding a full, dripping garbage bag over your head, like they’re not coming again in three days. This is why they always make enough noise to wake you up.

For years, I always assumed that garbage trucks went around all day, and that they just passed my house early in the morning. But so far I’ve lived in several different places, and wherever I’ve lived, they somehow managed to get there between the hours of 5 and 8 in the morning. So I’m beginning to think those are the only hours that they work. I guess they know that if they did it during the day, people would be chasing them down the block half dressed all day long, and it would take them forever to get anywhere.

Another reason they take garbage early in the morning is that in total, it amounts to less garbage for them to take, because:

A. Chances are you’ll forget to bring out the garbage the night before, and

B. If you do remember, the garbage will sit out on the curb all night, and the longer it sits there, the more chance there is that people will drive by and say things like, “Hey, a broken toaster! I can use one of those!”

Dear Mordechai,

Why do there seem to be more Hatzolah calls on Shabbos?

Y.S., Queens

Dear Y,

Obviously, it’s because you’re in charge of your own kids. And by “in charge,” we mean letting them watch themselves while you take a nap. When do you suppose they came up with that contest to see who could jump off a higher step? There is only one way that game ends. Unless there’s an adult sleeping in the basement.

Another reason more people call Hatzolah is that Hatzolah members are more up-to-date on what you can and can’t do on Shabbos. For example, let’s say your kid is hurt – would you be able to drive him to the hospital? Or do you have to make him drive himself? Hatzolah knows these answers. My heart actually goes out to the people who live where there is no Hatzolah, and are never sure what they’re allowed to tell the non-Jewish ambulance drivers straight out, and what they have to hint to them.

“My son broke his arm.”

“So you want us to take him to the hospital?”

“Um… My son broke his arm.”

“Okay, I think the father is going into shock. Load him in as well.”

Dear Mordechai,

Why do things never work out when you try to show someone something?

A.J., Silver Spring

Dear A.,

I blame their negative energy, and the look on their face that says, “Really? This guy dragged me away from what I was doing for this?” And it never helps that he starts off with, “Okay, but this better be quick.”

This also happens when you’re trying to show someone something cute that you just discovered your kid can do. Your kid doesn’t want to perform for this guy. It’s usually something mundane that you would never make a big deal about if a bigger person did it, and the kid knows that. He’s thinking, “I didn’t learn to walk so I could perform. I learned to walk so I could stop dragging lollies across the carpet. I never would have shown you if I knew you were going to sell tickets.”

J.E. Dyer: Ronald Reagan, 1982 – “A Test of Wills and Ideas, a Trial of Spiritual Resolve”

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Thirty years ago, on 8 June 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the British House of Commons, giving a speech that has since become one of his most famous.  In it, he proclaimed that “the march of freedom and democracy … will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

On this anniversary of that seminal speech, it’s worth taking a few minutes to review its quintessential Reaganisms.  Chief among them is his optimism – not a ditsy, foolish optimism, but a considered optimism about the biggest of things: the course of history and man’s future.

Equally important is his vision, which is part and parcel of the optimism.  Out of all of the Cold War’s premier analysts, Reagan was virtually the only one who foresaw the imminent end of Soviet communism, and who could utter this line in 1982:  “It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.”  We were living at a turning point, and it was the one Reagan described in his next lines:

We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West but in the home of Marxism- Leninism, the Soviet Union.

“Democracy,” he said, “is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower.”

A third and very important Reaganism is his willingness to identify evil and speak about it without demur.  The House of Commons speech mirrors in tone Reagan’s 4 March 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, in which he spoke this remarkable sentence:

[L]et us be aware that while [the Soviets] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

Ideological statism is not a mere cultural alternative; it is absolutely evil.  Reagan had no doubt of what was right and wrong in this regard:  “It would be cultural condescension, or worse,” he said, “to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy.”

But Reagan’s refusal to gloss over evil never produced discouraging rhetoric.  It was always accompanied by a hard-nosed optimism about what was good in the Western culture of freedom and restraints on the state.  The contrast he invariably made, as in this speech, was between the power and effectiveness of human freedom, on the one hand, and the sclerotic, overstretched unsustainability of despotism on the other.  He knew, long before we began speaking of it today, that all attempts to put the people under harness and dictate to them the features of their lives end in oppression, poverty, and despair.

The political particulars of this next passage may have changed over time, but the underlying sense of it resonates today:

If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma–predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

To both of those questions, Reagan’s answer was no.

Reagan’s address to the House of Commons

8 June 1982

We’re approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention — totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none — not one regime — has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.

J Street Endorses Senator Feinstein, Seeking to Access the Mainstream

Friday, June 1st, 2012

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein accepted the endorsement of J Street’s political action committee.

Feinstein (D-Calif.) joins Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) as Senate candidates who have received JStreetPAC’s endorsement for the 2012 election cycle.

“Senator Feinstein joins a long and growing list of American politicians who recognize that there is significant political support to be found from Americans who support Israel and deeply believe that American and Israeli interests would be better served through active American diplomacy to achieve two states,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

Feinstein, who is Jewish, has backed assistance for Israel, but in some areas she has departed from pro-Israel orthodoxy. She sponsored legislation in 2006 that would ban the sale of cluster bombs to countries that would use them in highly populated areas, which likely would have included Israel.

The legislation was defeated after a strong lobbying effort by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2010, Feinstein drafted a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she emphasized that “for too long,” Israel’s “expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined confidence.”

J Street has tried to recover from a blitz in 2009 and 2010 by right-wing groups targeting politicians who associated with the group; a number of Jewish Democrats now distance themselves from J Street.

Endorsing Feinstein, a Jewish Democrat whose influence as the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has helped shore up support for a tough posture on Iran, could regain some of that lost clout. However, J Street also endorsed Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in his losing 2010 reelection bid.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, five Jewish Democrats have accepted J Street’s endorsement: Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Overall, in addition to the four Senate candidates, J Street is endorsing 47 House incumbents and eight House challengers.

US Congress to Give Israel $680 million for Iron Dome

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The US Congress is expected to pass legislation giving $680 million to Israel to pay for more Iron Dome anti-missile systems.

This is above the $3 billion in military aid granted to Israel yearly by the United States, and the second time the US has provided funding for Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems device this year.

In the next few weeks, the Israel Air Force will receive a shipment of the advanced Arrow-2 missile interceptor, built by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Iron Dome bill brought before the House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon, R-Calif.

Iran Supplying Weapons to Quell Syrian Unrest

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron has accused Iran of providing weapons for Syria’s suppression of the 10-month long civil unrest.

”There is now growing evidence that Iran is providing a huge amount of support,” Cameron disclosed to the House of Commons. ”There have been interceptions of some shipments by Turkey which are particularly interesting,” he continued. ”People should also know that Hizbollah is an organization standing up and supporting this wretched tyrant who is killing so many of his own people.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iran-supplying-weapons-to-quell-syrian-unrest/2012/01/19/

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