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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘the government’

Civil Administration Planning Council Approves E1

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

On Wednesday, the Civil Administration Planning Council rushed through approval on the plan to build 3000 apartments in E1, between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.

The government apparently has suddenly begun pushing approval of the project forward in response to the Palestinian’s unilateral move in the United Nations General Assembly where they acquired nonmember observer state status.

While not only is the plan to build an additional 3000 housing units for Israelis good for Israel and a small step towards resolving the housing crisis, it has effectively put the Palestinians in panic mode, as they have begun to realize that Israel has punitive measures it is prepared to take against the Palestinians for their unilateral actions against Israel.

How the Government Class Lives

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Take a ride to a welfare neighborhood some fine morning, evenings are best avoided even in the safest such places. Don’t go in expecting Detroit. Even much of Detroit doesn’t look like Detroit. Newark and Oakland aren’t even there yet. Detroit is what happens when the load is too big and there’s no one left to carry it. Most welfare neighborhoods are still located in cities where there is someone left to pick up the tab.

You’ll see less charred buildings and more towering multistory housing projects. Some of these are the ugly bestial fortresses that date back to FDR’s championing of affordable housing. One such monster, the Knickerbocker Village, former home of the Rosenberg spies, had to be evacuated in the recent hurricane and residents lived without heat and power for weeks.

30 years later they began to run to 20 story gray and brown towers reek of hopelessness. When power company workers came to restore power to the Brooklyn shoreline, they were sent to these places first in the hopes of calming mob reaction. Instead televisions came raining down from the upper floors forcing the workers to flee for safety. But don’t expect that to happen during your visit. That sort of thing is reserved for major holidays and power outages.

More recently the trend has been smaller homes that look almost like normal housing, except that there are too many of them lined up all in rows that go on forever, and even the red brickwork and white doors quickly darken with neglect, fumes and that intangible pollutant that comes to all places where the people have nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to.

There are businesses in the welfare neighborhood, but they aren’t really independent businesses. The bodegas, cheap corner groceries stores lined with ads for cigarettes, or government ads against them, with malt liquor ads and posters for a local performance by a rap group, Hong Kong crooner or Latin singer, get most of their business from food stamps. The bodegas, despite their name, are usually run by Indians, Koreans, Arabs or Bangladeshis. The few things they sell for real money are, in order, lottery tickets, beer and the occasional magazine.

70 years ago the small corner store was part of an economic ladder. Today it’s as static as the rest of the neighborhood. Sometimes the owners make the jump to a welfare supermarket, that deals almost entirely in food stamps. Mostly though they are family businesses whose owners import some of their endless stock of cousins from the home country as unpaid labor. Sometimes the cousins marry into the family and open another one of the stores with money advanced by the patriarch of the clan, and with most of the profits going to him.

Then there are the check cashing places, where welfare checks are deposited, and money is sent home to Haiti, Mexico or Puerto Rico. These places too would dry up and go out of business without a steady supply of government money.

There are clinics, a surplus of them, running on government grants, taking in government money from their patients, and consisting of the usual uncomfortable multicultural mix of balanced groups, most of whom resent each other. There may be no supermarket in the neighborhood, no store that sells fresh fruit and vegetables, no bank or clothing store that sells anything more upscale than t-shirts and sneakers, but there will be several clinics specializing in every conceivable illness a local could come down with. And several that they can’t.

Of the few independent businesses in the area, there will be a restaurant or two, cheap and dirty, where families troop in at night and old men sit during the day, there will be churches that young people rarely go to, and there will be 99 cent stores selling things for more than that. There will be schools, large buildings, and a variety of community centers, day care centers, libraries, prep places for students; all funded by the government. There will be places for teens to sit playing video games after they leave school, full of inspiring posters about achievement. And there will be social workers to help residents fill out forms for more benefits.

The Working Class and the Government Class

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Forget all the talk about whether we will or won’t go over the fiscal cliff. We ourselves are the fiscal cliff and have been for some time now. The real fiscal cliff is not the point at which we run out of money, our credit rating sinks lower than Enron and or everyone is fighting over jars of cat food at Wal-Mart. The real fiscal cliff is when even the dumbest person in the country is no longer able to deny what the packs of robbers and thieves he appointed to steal for him have perpetrated for their own benefit in his name. And that fiscal cliff may never come.

Soviet leaders used to promise their people that one day they would live under true Communism. Under our hybrid system, many Americans already live under Communism. And the rest of the country pays for it. As the number of people living under Communism grows and the number of people subsidizing Communism shrinks, the fiscal cliffs begin coming in faster than Wile E. Coyote on jet-powered rocket skates.

Our class warfare is not determined by paycheck size. The United States has only two classes. The working class and the government class.

The working class extends through the lower class, the middle class and the upper class, and everyone of every income level who derives their income from gainful employment. The government class similarly extends from the poor to the middle class to the rich, and consists of those whose chief source of income is the government; whether it’s welfare checks, government jobs or crony capitalism.

Not everyone in the working class is a saint and not everyone in the government class is a parasite. There are plenty of corporations who care only about short term profit and create social problems that the rest of the country has to live with. Immigration is a classic example. And there are also plenty of government employees who perform vital and even heroic functions. Your local firefighter and member of the armed services are obvious examples.

The government class is dependent on the working class, deriving its income from their income. The government class turns from the symbiotic to the parasitic to the extent that its demands on the working class become unsustainable and exploitative, that its functions grow bloated, its spending programs reek of corruption and its government contracts emerge out of backdoor deals with friendly politicians.

The government class can never be productive, because it is not a creative force, it only provides secondary non-innovative services to the working class, but it is legitimate to the extent that it performs vital functions on behalf of the working class with their consent and in an economically sustainable fashion. When it violates these principles, then it becomes a parasite sucking the life out of the working class.

It is not just the government employee who is a member of the government class. The welfare class is a subgroup of the government class. And the welfare class is not only parasitic, it is the axis around which an entire parasitic constellation of the government class revolves around.

The classic welfare family has become the income generating center of the government class. They are the “wealth creators” for an entire infrastructure of social services built around them from the government officials who process their aid forms to the social workers who provide them with benefit counseling to the employees of those clinics who provide them with health care, and the extra teachers hired to help raise standards at their perpetually failing schools, the drug counselors who help them get clean and the police officers who break up their fights.

All or almost all of these people are members of unions. Those unions have their own employees. Those union employees have their own politicians. The politicians provide grants to the community social welfare infrastructure and generous benefits for union contracts. All this money and influence spins around the welfare family, but they only benefit from a minute fraction of it.

Around their dungheap, fly community groups and a horde of other private non-profits, “advocating” for them while operating on government grants. The buildings they live in are affordable housing projects built for them by the government, and cleaned, managed and repaired for them by government employees.

ObamaCare: The Propaganda Machine Revs Up

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

A television commercial airing in the greater-LA viewing area for the last week depicts a middle-aged woman – not a senior; a tad zaftig; with dark salt-and-pepper hair – lauds Obamacare as the reason she is alive today.  Her story involves having a preexisting condition, which prevented her from getting private insurance.

From the standpoint of actual truth, of course, the condition would not have prevented her from having access to Medicaid or to California’s medical assistance programs.  And, what Medicaid does or doesn’t cover is the government’s fault, and could be changed (or exchanges for clients with preexisting conditions created) without implementing Obamacare.

At any rate, I don’t know if this transparent propaganda is airing elsewhere.   I have been unable to locate any information about it on the web.  I believe I recall seeing it on The Weather Channel, but have probably also seen it elsewhere, e.g., HGTV, the afternoon news on the local ABC affiliate (ABC-7), and possibly during a sappy Hallmark Channel movie.  I don’t recall seeing it all during the Thanksgiving weekend football marathon.  Its target audience is presumably women.

So, Californians, if you have seen this commercial, please let me know anything you have identified about it.  My goal is to figure out who produced it.  I’m sure we know who paid for it – the American taxpayer – but there’s so much crony-ish revolving-door-ism going on with advertising agencies and the Obama administration that it would really be nice to know who’s responsible for this ad.

Placing propaganda in entertainment

Many readers are no doubt aware of the millions in taxpayer dollars that the Obama administration has contracted out to PR firms for the purpose of hawking Obamacare to a reluctant public.  Quite a few readers probably also know that California has contracted with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide to sell its state insurance exchange – and all the benefits of wholly-government-managed “health care” – to skeptical, resistant, or simply exhausted Californians.  A key product of this enterprise is the notorious bright idea of getting Hollywood to include Obamacare themes in the story lines of popular TV series:

And Hollywood, an industry whose major players have been supportive of President Obama and his agenda, will be tapped. Plans are being discussed to pitch a reality television show about “the trials and tribulations of families living without medical coverage,” according to the Ogilvy plan. The exchange will also seek to have prime-time television shows, like “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and Univision telenovelas, weave the health care law into their plots.

“I’d like to see 10 of the major TV shows, or telenovelas, have people talking about ‘that health insurance thing,’ ” said Peter V. Lee, the [California insurance] exchange’s executive director. “There are good story lines here.”

A cozy industry hits the government jackpot

What fewer readers may be aware of is the multitude of connections between the PR firms, advocacy groups with a financial interest in Obamacare, and the Obama administration.  For example, the advertising firm Porter Novelli, which was awarded the $20 million contract from HHS to urge Obamacare on American taxpayers, was founded by William D. Novelli, who was later the CEO of AARP – a major advocate of Obamacare – from 2001 to 2009.  (Novelli’s successor at AARP, Barry Rand, was a big Obama donor in 2008.)

As numerous news outlets noted at the time the $20 million contract was awarded, Catherine “Kiki” McLean was a senior partner and managing director of Porter Novelli.  McLean is a Democratic Party operative who worked for the campaigns of Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, as well as the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.  McLean was hired by Porter Novelli in June 2009.  Since 2010, Porter Novelli has been awarded $49 million in HHS contracts.

In October 2012, meanwhile, Susan Hayes, Porter Novelli’s “global head of healthcare” – their senior executive responsible for health care PR, brands, advertising, etc – left the firm to work for Obama for America, the president’s reelection campaign.  This departure was reported 20 days before the 6 November election, although it is not clear exactly when Ms. Hayes left Porter Novelli.  Apparently, she was able to log at least three weeks on the job.

Equality in Service to One’s Country

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Once upon a time in America, there was a military draft. That meant that every single able bodied young man in America was required to serve in the army. Reaching the age of 18, they would have to register with a draft board and get a draft card.

I remember that period very well. When I was 18 the draft was in full force. So was the Viet Nam War. And both stayed that way until the end of the Viet Nam War. After which President Richard M. Nixon abolished the draft in America. That is how things stand now. This – the greatest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth is protected by an army of volunteer soldiers.

But ‘back in the day’ I was indeed subject to be drafted into the army and sent to Viet Nam to flight in what many of us (including my Rebbe Rav Ahron Soloveichik) called an immoral war. All was not lost however. There were ways to get out of it legally. Although there were many young Americans who resisted the draft in an assortment of illegal ways (like surreptitiously crossing the border into Canada) there were quite a few legal ways to get out of serving in Viet Nam. One way was by joining the US Coast Guard for example. One could also get a deferment and finish his education.

We Yeshiva students had the best ‘gig’ of all. The Selective Service Act (the draft) provided complete exemptions for divinity students. That meant that as long as someone was studying in a Yeshiva or Seminary they were exempt from serving in the army. In fact all clergy (priests, ministers, and rabbis) were exempt – as were those of studying for those positions. It was called a 4-D exemption.

Yeshivos all over the country were packed with students who otherwise might not have been there. The beauty for those who were there for purposes of dodging the draft was that the Yeshivos allowed them to attend college towards their original goals of seeking a career -and still be a member in good standing at the yeshiva.

I mention all of this in light of the continuing story about drafting Charedim into the Israeli army. The rabbinic leadership is resisting this full force. One of the arguments they put forward is that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) doesn’t really need them. That those who serve now are more than enough. That drafting Yeshiva students is simply a ploy to destroy the Torah World. From an article in YWN, here is how Agudat Israel party member Rabbi Meir Porush put it:

[W]e are dealing with (the holy of holies of the people of Israel),” the destruction of yeshivos R”L, the government permits itself to publically declare the draft of bnei yeshivos is a matter of a few months

Porush added the state did not even bother to explain to the court that in actuality, the IDF cannot compel the avreichim to serve for in reality; they will prefer to fill the nation’s prisons before agreeing to abandon the benches of beis medrash

Porush condemned the prime minister’s “immoral position”, for he feels that without the frum community Mr. Netanyahu would not have been elected yet now, he turns his back on this very same tzibur. Porush adds the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will become the first prime minister in the state’s history who rejects the study of Torah as the “profession” of the avreichim and therefore, is working to compel their draft into military service.

Porush explains the actions of the administration is tantamount to a declaration of war against the chareidi tzibur and on this matter there cannot and will not be the slightest compromise towards accommodating the position of the government.

How odd. From my perspective it is Rav Porush’s attitude that is wrong – and perhaps even immoral. Prisons?! It is better for Yeshiva students to sit in jail than to serve their country?! He uses hyperbole and exaggeration to make his points and concludes that the Israeli government has declared this a war against Charedim?! And he says that Prime Minister Netanyhau is immoral?!

First of all let me explode that myth. There is a sizable minority that is willing to comply wit the draft. According to an article in Ynet, 66% percent of Charedim believe Yeshiva students should be exempt from the draft. That means 34% of Charedim think that Yeshiva students should serve in the IDF. So much for declaring a war on Charedim.

What makes Rav Porush’s postion immoral for me is the gross inequity of exempting only Yeshiva students. The claim that they are not needed is nothing more than spin. What he means of course is that there are enough secular and Dati Leumi (MO) IDF members so that it is unnecessary to draft Yeshiva students.

That is ridiculous. The way the draft should work is that every single young man no matter what strata of Israeli society he comes from has an equal chance of being drafted. Sure – the way things have been structured until now required the government of Israel to fill its quota only with secular and Dati Leumi Jews.

But in an ideal and equitable world that should have never happened. Every single able bodied young man should register with a draft board. Why should only secular and Dati -Religious Zionist boys be put in harm’s way? Is Charedi blood redder? Is secular and Dati Leumi blood cheaper? The system is unfair from the get go. That Charedi Yeshiva students have all been exempt until now doesn’t mean that this unfair paradigm should continue.

This is why the government has changed the law and has made everyone subject to the draft. It is about fairness and has nothing to do with being anti Torah!

What about a divinity exemptions – like the one that existed in my day in America? Yes. I think there should be some Yeshiva students that are exempt… as there should be students of other disciplines that are vital to Israel’s existence. But it can’t be full exemptions to every single Yeshiva student as was the case in the America of my day.

There are 2 major differences between America and Israel. One is that Israel is and has been under constant siege from the very first day of its existence. It is under direct deadly conflict with its neighbors who threaten to annihilate it daily. The other is that its population is too small to allow that many exemptions. Especially to only one segment. America – even at the height of the Viet Nam War was huge! …and easily could fulfill its draft quota.

That said, I suppose that a fair and equitable draft in America should have included Yeshiva students too. Perhaps. But the Viet Nam War was not a popular war. It was not a war for survival. There were very few young people who supported that war. And no one clamored that this exemption wasn’t fair. It was widely accepted and respected.

Israel simply does not have enough manpower for the luxury of mass exemptions. Especially when there are so many young soldiers that have given up life and limb for their country. Israel is in a war for survival. Unlike America of the Viet Nam Wra era – popular opinion in Israel today is on the side of military service.

Charedi Rabbanim counter that it is the Torah study of Yeshivos that actually protects the country. I do not argue the point. The importance of the spiritual army does not however preclude the need of a physical army with a fair and equitable draft.

I think it is a gross misrepresentation for Rabbi Porush and other Charedi Rabbonim to suggest that the motive of the Israeli government is tantamount to declaring war on the Torah. Are Hesder boys also part of that war? This is not about fighting Torah. This is about fairness.

With 34% of the Charedi world agreeing that Yeshiva Bachurim should not be exempt, I’m sure that the government of Israel can devise a way for an equitable solution to this problem. There are over 60,000 students studying in Yeshivos and Kollelim. The better students can remain with their “4D” exemption. 66% of them. 34% can voluntarily subject themselves to the draft. That’s over 20,000 new Charedi recruits. That – at the very least – is the right thing to do.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Post-Ceasefire, Outraged Citizens Take to Streets

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Outraged residents of the beleaguered cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, and Kiryat Malachi took to the streets, decrying the government’s decision to enter into a ceasefire with Hamas.

Many of whom had been holed up in bunkers for eight straight days of rocket lobbies and emergency alerts in their cities, the residents demanded protection from the government and urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to conduct a ground war in Gaza.

Resisting War, Terrorism, And Genocide (Third of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

For the most part, we Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best we can. For the most part, we generally understand that all humans have free will. Saadia Gaon included freedom of will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”

For Israel, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not the curse. Israel’s authoritative charge must always be to strive in the obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation, by using intelligence and by exercising disciplined acts of national will. In particular circumstances, where such striving would be rejected, the outcome, however catastrophic, can never rise to the dignifying level of tragedy.

The ancient vision of authentically High Tragedy has its origins in fifth century BCE Athens. Here, there is always clarity on one overriding point: The victim is one whom “the gods kill for their sport, as wanton boys do flies.” This wantonness, this caprice, is precisely what makes tragedy unendurable.

With “disengagement,” with “realignment,” with “Palestinian demilitarization,” with both Oslo, and the Road Map, Israel’s corollary misfortunes remain largely self-inflicted. The uninspiring drama of a Middle East peace process is, at best, a surreal page torn from Ionesco, or even from the Jewish genius of Prague, Franz Kafka. Here, there is nary a hint of tragedy; not even a satisfyingly cathartic element that might have been abstracted from playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides. At worst, and this is the more plausible characterization, Israel’s potentially unhappy fate has been ripped directly from the demeaning pages of irony and farce.

Under former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Israel had acted and lived a peculiarly portentous form of comedy, an unabashedly high-budget low drama, one that relied on concocted contrivances of plot, and on correspondingly low levels of credibility. At the end, in Gaza, Olmert acted correctly with Operation Cast Lead, but it was a limited or tactical rather than strategic reaction. Moreover, it was intended only to reverse his own earlier, and, by then, irremediable errors.

In farce, matters generally end badly, but for a last-minute rescue called, in dramatic theory, deus ex machina. But no “god in the machine” will rescue Israel. To recall a far more specifically Jewish commentary, one may also consult the words of Rabbi Yania: “A man should never put himself in a place of danger, and say that a miracle will save him, lest there be no miracle….” (Sota 32a; Yoreh De’ah 116).

It may be that Israel’s prime ministers never actually did expect a miracle, but then we must inquire as to why. Upon what precise manner of reasoning or faith did so many Israeli leaders base their flagrantly vacant and vacating policies?

In Judaism there can never be any justification for deliberate self-endangerment. In classical Greek tragedy there can never be any deus ex machina. In true tragedy, the human spirit manages to remain noble in the face of an inescapable death.

But if there is anything at all tragic about Israel’s prolonged security descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the word: “goat song.” For Israelis, this particular theatrical resemblance to paganism should be disturbingly hideous. After all, it comes from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus.

Aristotle understood, in his Poetics, that true tragedy must always elicit pity and fear but not pathos. Always, pathos is unheroic suffering. The great Greek philosopher had identified tragedy with “good” characters, those who may suffer because they commit some grave error (hamartia) unknowingly.

Whether a policy is named Oslo or Road Map or something altogether new makes no difference. The sordid promise of peace with a persistently murderous adversary is always a delusion. To be sure, protracted war or terror or genocide hardly seems a tolerable or enviable policy outcome. But even this difficult fate remains better for Israel than the undiminished Arab/Islamist plan for a second Final Solution.

The futile search for ordinary solutions by the people and government of Israel should never be dismissed by non-Israelis with anger, disdain, or self-righteousness. One can hardly blame them for denying such terrible and unjust portents. Any such denial is manifestly human.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/resisting-war-terrorism-and-genocide-third-of-three-parts/2012/11/21/

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