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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 Aug 20, 2012/ 2 Elul, 5772

Our Roman election: Pols trying to pacify and distract the masses

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | “Under a democratical government, the citizens exercise the powers of sovereignty; and those powers will be first abased, and afterwards lost, if they are committed to an unwieldy multitude.”

— Edward Gibbon, “The History of the Decline and Fall

of the Roman Empire”

The period of the American Revolution coincided with publication of Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1776), and ever since we’ve been vigilant for signs that the United States was following in Rome’s footsteps.

There’s no need to exhaust the already exhaustive list of parallels. But as we approach the political conventions and are already worn down by ceaseless partisan bickering, the mind easily finds its way to Rome’s Colosseum, where powerful political families sought to entertain, pacify and distract the multitudes.

We may no longer feed Christians to lions, but the operating premise feels fresh enough. Keep attention riveted on the circus, and people may not notice their discontent. Or the corruption in their midst.

Says Gracchus to Falco in “Gladiator:”

“Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them, and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom, and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it’s the sand of the Colosseum. He’ll bring them death — and they will love him for it.”

The public’s tolerance for blood was somewhat heartier in those days. We don’t literally slay our political opponents. Our weapons are more discreet — coded words and strategic messaging rather than swords and tridents. Bloodletting of a higher order.

Similarities otherwise are plentiful. During the heyday of the empire, as today, only the very wealthy could run for high office. Aiding and abetting our chosen few are scores of handlers, bundlers and private funders. The widespread fear of corporate control of the political system under Citizens United turns out to have been a lesser threat than a few individuals wreaking havoc or imposing their own utopian vision by writing checks large enough to fund small nations.

At least one needn’t worry long about principle, given that whatever designs are in play will be largely ignored and/or quickly forgotten. Such is the attention span of the populace, which, through a collision of economic realities, complex issues and the amped-up expectations imposed by new technologies, has lost the ability to focus long on anything.

Lost for good is time to consume and cogitate at a pace that permits much sense. In this environment, the politician’s imperative is to say as little of substance as possible and to say it often. For the media, in perpetual competition for buzz, blog traffic and Twitter feeds, the mandate is to say as much as possible, as often as possible in a steady stream of consciousness.

At the end of the day, a few honed and shiny nuggets will have been embedded in the collective psyche. But is anyone the wiser, and will the best candidate win? Will substance prevail, or will the war of words so baffle and mystify that the legions will cast their ballots for the candidate who most resembles them? Or for the person whose words somehow managed to penetrate the wall of noise that surrounds us all and push just the right button?

Mitt Romney had that dog on top his car that time. Can’t vote for him. Barack Obama palled around with terrorists. Where was he born, anyway?

What day or column would be complete without a few words from Joe Biden? Latest to the Colosseum, a few (accidental or well-chosen) words from the vice president: Romney’s plan for financial regulation will “put y’all back in chains.”

Biden, who often slips a few IQ points when he drops below the Mason-Dixon line, was addressing a mixed-race audience in Danville, Va. Was he free-associating? Did the vice president see African American faces and reflexively think of slavery? Or was he just being Joe? Once in South Carolina, trying to establish a common bond with his audience, Biden said that he, too, was from a slave state. Way to connect, Joe.

Already, the consensus seems to be that, aw, you know Joe. He’s just a blue-collar boy from Scranton, Pa., who speaks his mind, is all. Besides, say Democrats, Republicans started the metaphor by saying they wanted to unshackle the private sector. Biden was simply extending the metaphor.

Whatever the case, the point has been made, the suggestion placed, the people have been distracted. And so it goes . . . and so it went. And they conjured magic, and they took away their freedom and the mob roared.

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