It’s The Economy Stupid

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “It’s The Economy Stupid.”

It is incredible that our leaders, economic advisors, and near endless pundits didn’t see what was surely coming down the road in terms of an overheating economy, inflation, and a spiraling national debt now over $30 trillion and growing. Despite economic signals even visible to the layman, the Fed continued to promise to hold the interest rates near zero “for years” to come. The cheap money and free-wheeling government spending became an avalanche with almost no adult in the room willing to stand up and say, “Stop the money madness! Government handouts are not free!”

Aside from the recklessness with which our economy has been handled, let’s not forget that there is a proxy war going on between the superpowers in Ukraine for the last four months, including a frightening blockade on grain shipments (i.e. food terrorism) to tens of millions of people. Further toward the east, China is upping the ante vowing to “fight until the end” for sovereignty over Taiwan. And in the middle, Iran is dismantling the IAEA nuclear monitoring cameras, adding high-speed centrifuges, increasing uranium enrichment, and threatening Israel and the West. Let’s just say all is not copacetic in the world, while a congressional select committee continue to focus on what happened on January 6, 2021 with the U.S. Capitol riots.

People are not blind, deaf, and dumb to what’s going on with the childish gamesmanship, politics of hate, and plenty of recklessness that is driving much of the national debate and (in)action in the country. 

(Credit Photo: Blink O’fanaya; adapted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/blinkofanaye/14913895723/)

Synagogue Politics

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Synagogue Politics.”

Clearly, the mobile sanctuary and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and now our synagogues are “Houses of G-d,” where we go to pray, learn Torah, and worship Him, and where He resides among us.  Sure, G-d is everywhere, but the synagogue/Temple is a unique, special, and spiritual place where we as community dedicate ourselves to G-d and worship Him. It should go without saying that the synagogue is not a place for petty politics, protests, or other antics.

As Jews, we are supposed to make a “Kiddush Hashem” (sanctification of G-d’s name) and not Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d), and so my hope and prayer is that people in this synagogue and in every synagogue, can “let go” and instead “let G-d.”

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal, Image for Illustration Only)

People of Ukraine

It hit me today—with all the news about Russia preparing to invade Ukraine and devastate its people, unprovoked, there is nobody talking about the people of Ukraine. 

Our leaders and news media are so misguided and focused on the geopolitics of the thing, all they talk about is what the U.S. and EU will do in terms of some measly sanctions.

But they have completely forgotten the innocent people there—44 million of them—who face death and occupation. 

Where is our leadership????

Where are the speeches about the innocent people?  About freedom?  About democracy?  About human rights?  

Where is the United Nations????

They are supposed to safeguard and maintain peace and security around the globe.

Where are the outspoken liberals who call out occupation, apartheid, and human rights abuses????

Not a word from anyone. 

It’s incredible how prejudiced, biased, discriminatory and corrupt all these people can be. They can be brainwashed, bribed, and bought to speak out for those when it will somehow fit their agenda or benefit them!

But when the Russian or Chinese powerful aggressors are at the doorstep of Ukraine or Hong Kong/Taiwan—where is anybody to speak out?

Last night, I imagined the people of Ukraine sitting in fear, in worry about what will happen to them, their families, their homes. 

Do the world leaders care anything about the lives of real people—men, women, and children—or only about how any conflict makes them look, and how they are polling, and the next election?

Morality and conscience–is it on life support or dead in this narcissist world of the powerful and elite. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dancing on the Head of a Pin

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Dancing on the Head of a Pin.”

We’re all different, and we all have something to say and contribute to solve life’s challenges. While some of us may think that they are better than others, the reality is that we are all human, fallible, and subject to life’s circumstance and G-d’s mighty hand. However, too often, we let ego get in the way, and instead of taking on the huge, almost insurmountable challenges that we face, we end up fighting about who’s in charge and who gets the credit.

As we face the daunting challenges confronting America, Israel, and the world, we need effective “servant-leaders,” who are guided by a genuine moral compass and faith in G-d to take well-reasoned actions and not to punt the problems down the political road. Real leadership means leaving your ego at the door; it means self-sacrifice, compassion, creative thinking, and bold problem-solving. Big challenges can be dealt with, but we’ve got to have the right measure of ourselves, strength of character, and unity of purpose to finally overcome them.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Rock and Roll” With Chabad

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Rock and Roll With Chabad.”

People are often blocked from moving forward by uncertainty, indecision, insecurity, self-doubt, hesitancy, worry, and fear, yet one man, such as Jacob, can stand up and move that big rock off the well if he just sets his mind to it and tries!

The bottom line is that when people say it can’t be done or to wait because it will take an entire village of shepherds to simply move the rock from the well, instead we can see that even one determined person can “rock and roll,” make a difference, and start to make something special and meaningful happen.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Menachem Begin, Hero of Independence and Beyond

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Menachem Begin, Hero of Independence and Beyond.”

While David Ben-Gurion was the politically savvy founding father of the modern-day State of Israel, Menachem Begin was the military genius who brought the Jewish people from British subjugation to being a free people in our own land.

In the end, the Jewish people’s fight for freedom from oppression and for an independent homeland, even the willingness to accept a partitioned land along with the desire for peace, required both the political fight that Ben-Gurion brought to the world’s governments as well as the military struggle that Begin was expert at against both the British overlords who refused autonomy under the mandate and to the Arabs who refused partition. Further, this underscores the stark contrast between the Jewish struggle and that of the Palestinians who have incessantly rejected negotiation and any opportunities for autonomy and peace, including at Oslo, Camp David, and Taba, as well as after Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 that was followed by Hamas’s terror tunnels, kidnappings, incendiary balloons attacks, and rocket barrages on Israel civilian population centers.

(Credit Photo: Israel Government)

The Worst Leadership

Way too many “leaders” like this: 

I must see where my people are going, so that I can lead them.

These are leaders that are much more followers than any sort of leaders.

Or worse yet are leaders that lead people in the wrong (bad) direction.

In fact, these leaders “sin,” but also they cause others to sin as well. 

They are bad apples and serve as bad examples to others too! 

A good leader is a shining example and mentor and these people are gems to find! 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

Art imitates life. 

When we had heroes in the real world there were also superheroes on television, movies, video games, toys, and more. 

But alas leadership in our times has seriously fallen short.

Who is there to really look up to as a model for us to respect and follow? 

It seems like everywhere these days we are confronted by: 

– Failing leadership 

– Poor decision-making

– Party politics

– Obstructionism

– Finger-pointing

– Fraud, waste, and abuse

– Bullying and sexual harassment

– Bribery and kleptocracy

– Big time narcissism 

There are few if any heroes these days!

It’s sad for us as well as for our children.

I hope we see Batman and Superman and other superheroes again: strong in the physical sense but primarily a symbol for strength of character/integrity and for the fight of good over evil in this world. 

The void is painful for our times and is going to impact our near term future as well.  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going In Circles

One administration comes and another goes. 

The new executive orders and legislations reverse the old ones. 

– Keystone Pipeline

– Travel Ban from potential Terrorist Countries

– Paris Climate Accord

– Membership in World Health Organization

– Deregulation 

– Taxes

As a country, we are (borderline) bipolar!

And like a pendulum, we swing back and forth getting nowhere and driving the rest of the world crazy.

Can’t we actually move forward without the perennial one step forward, one step back nauseating dance we keep doing. 

Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are moving forward and they are not waiting for us to figure out what we actually want and get our national act together to move decisively and definitively forward.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)