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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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 Feb. 18, 2013/ 8 Adar, 5773

Magical Fairyland budgeting

By Mark Steyn



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "I'm also issuing a new goal for America," declared President Obama at his "State of the Union" on Tuesday. We'll come to the particular "goal" he "issued" momentarily, but before we do, consider that formulation: Did you know the president of the United States is now in the business of "issuing goals" for his subjects to live up to?

Strange how the monarchical urge persists even in a republic two-and-a-third centuries old. Many commentators have pointed out that the modern State of the Union is in fairly obvious mimicry of the Speech from the Throne that precedes a new legislative session in British Commonwealth countries and Continental monarchies, but this is to miss the key difference. When the Queen or her viceroy reads a Throne Speech in Westminster, Ottawa or Canberra, it's usually the work of a government with a Parliamentary majority: in other words, the stuff she's announcing is actually going to happen. That's why, lest any enthusiasm for this or that legislative proposal be detected, the apolitical monarch overcompensates by reading everything in as flat and unexpressive a monotone as possible. Underneath the ancient rituals – the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod getting the door of the House of Commons slammed in his face three times – it's actually a very workmanlike affair.


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The State of the Union is the opposite. The president gives a performance, extremely animatedly, head swiveling from left-side prompter to right-side prompter, continually urging action now: "Let's start right away. We can get this done. ... We can fix this. ... Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done." And at the end of the speech, nothing gets done, and nothing gets fixed, and, after a few days' shadowboxing between admirers and detractors willing to pretend it's some sort of serious legislative agenda, every single word of it is forgotten until the next one.

In that sense, like Beyoncé lip-synching the National Anthem at the Inauguration, the State of the Union embodies the decay of America's political institutions into a simulacrum of responsible government rather than the real thing, and a simulacrum ever more divorced from the real issues facing the country. "Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion," said the president. Really? Who knew? "Now we need to finish the job." Just one more push is all it'll take.

What's he on about? The annual "deficit" has been over a trillion for every year of Obama's presidency. The cumulative deficits have, in fact (to use a quaint expression), increased the national debt by $6 trillion. Yet Obama claims Washington has "reduced the deficit" by $2.5 trillion, and all we need to do is "finish the job." Presumably this is a reference to allegedly agreed deficit reductions over the next decade, or quarter-century or whatever. In other words, Obama has saved $2.5 trillion of Magical Fairyland money, which happily frees him up to talk about the really critical issues like high-speed rail and green energy solutions. These concepts, too, exist mainly in Magical Fairyland: if you think Obama-approved taxpayer-funded "high-speed rail" means you'll be able to board a train that goes at French or Japanese speeds, I've a high-speed rail bridge to Brooklyn to sell you.

Take, for example, the "goal" Obama "issued": "Let's cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years." What does that even mean? How would you even know when you've accomplished that "goal"? What percentage of energy used by my home and business is "wasted"? In what sense? Who says? Who determines that? Is it 37 percent? 23 percent? So we're going to cut it down to 18.5 percent or 11.5 percent by 2033, is that the "goal"?

Barack Obama is not the first president to "issue" "goals." John F. Kennedy also did, although he was more mindful of the constitutional niceties:

"This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.'"

That's a goal! No wiggle room. A monkey on the moon won't count, nor an unmanned drone. We need an actual living American standing on the surface of the moon, holding Old Glory, by Dec. 31, 1969.

Whoever's writing Obama's speeches these days either has a tin ear – you don't "issue" goals, you set them – or he has a very refined sense of the ersatz nature of contemporary political discourse. Old-school monarchs issued "edicts." One thinks of King Charles the Bald in his Edict of Pistres in AD 864, announcing, among other things, that henceforth selling a horse to a Viking would be punishable by death. No doubt the odd equine transaction slipped through the regulatory net, but historians seem to agree that the sale of mounts to Norsemen certainly diminished. And, more to the point, his courtiers would have thought Charles the Bald was an even bigger schmuck than they already did if, instead of an edict, he was issuing a new goal to reduce the sale of horses to Vikings by 50 percent by the year 884.

These days, the edicts are issued by commissars deep in the bowels of the hyper-regulatory state, and most of them are, like King Charles, a little too bald in their assumptions of government power to be bandied in polite society. So, in public, the modern ruler issues goals, orders dreams, commands unicorns. People seem to like this sort of thing. No accounting for taste, but there we are. "America moves forward only when we do so together," declared the president. I dunno. Maybe it's just me, but the whole joint seems to be seizing up these days: the more "activist" Big Government gets, the more inactive the nation at large.

But the president's sonorous, gaseous banalities did serve notice that the Republicans don't want to get too far behind on his "goals." He's right that Washington "moves forward" like a pantomime horse lurching awkwardly across the stage and with the Republicans always playing the rear end. A "bipartisan" agreement means that the Democrats get what they want now and Republicans at some distant far-off date. Try it: New taxes and government programs now, alleged deficit reduction of $2.5 trillion a decade hence. Illegal immigrant amnesty now, alleged rigorous border enforcement the day after tomorrow. Washington has settled into a comfortable pattern: instant gratification for spending binges that do nothing for any of the problems they purport to be solving, assuaged by meaningless commitments to start the 12-step program next year, or next decade or next century. No other big spender among the advanced democracies lies to itself about the gulf between its appetites and its self-discipline.

"Tonight, let's declare," declared the president, "that in the wealthiest nation on Earth..." Whoa, hold it right there. The "wealthiest nation on Earth" is actually the Brokest Nation in History. But don't worry: "Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime."

"Should"? Consciously or not, the president is telling us his State of the Union show is a crock, and he knows it. Under Magical Fairyland budgeting, Obama-sized government "shouldn't" increase our debt. Yet, mysteriously it does. Every time. Because, in a political culture institutionally incapable of course correction, that's just the way it is.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Steyn is a syndicated columnist. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2013, Mark Steyn

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