Sunday, January 20, 2013

Four Score and .....

So went to see Spielberg's latest historical piece, Lincoln last night.  An early scene when a couple of new recruits as well as veteran black soldiers are speaking with Honest Abe and repeating his words from the Gettysburg Address.  His reaction is to move them along back to their companies and kind of laughs at the idea that they would have memorized his speech.  The rest of the movie we see how Lincoln uses his position as Chief Executive to push through his agenda as well as his struggles on all fronts.

What I really got out of this was his concentration on the end game.  He focused on a single large opportunity that he felt would move the country forward.  Everything else was trivial.  He totally bought into his belief and as the countries leader, felt that it was his obligation to move forward. 

There are two Presidents who I remember in my lifetime who had to play similar roles.  Reagan had his Supply-side trickle down economics.  Coming out of a recession, putting those theories to work including tax reform, interest rates came down and the economy exploded. Using the increased revenue, Reagan outspent the USSR and watched the wall come crumbling down.  Of course not everyone was able to rise up and participate, but that would be impossible to orchestrate from the White House.

George W. Bush came into office after the largest expansion of global growth since the Industrial Revolution.  Things were getting soft and then the country was attacked.  He had to put the economy to the side and focus his leadership on the War on Terror.  We could let things stay soft at home, but to lose focus on the position of the US on the world stage, would have made thing worse over the long run.  Mission Accomplished, was a bit premature, but as President, you have to move those chess pieces based on probability.  That is the name of the game.

What will we be looking back on in 87 years from today?  What moves are the leaders of our country making now to keep the United States a prosperous and strong world leader?  If you want my two cents, well, they are not up to the challenge.  Things may change, but Hope is not a strategy that has worked in the past, and probably won't in the future.

Thank you for letting me take a few seconds of your time today.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why Not?

So, I grew up in a typical surburban Jewish home where my religious education ended on my 13th birthday.  Whatever I learned, was quickly put away into those childhood memories that pop up every once in a while to remind you that once upon a time, far away in your past, there were events that somehow were supposed to mold you into the adult you are today.  Sure I could parse my way through a prayer here or there, and most other reform congregations that held events for family members also played the same tunes, so I felt some connection.

After I got married, we lived in a nice part of NY that had multitudes of more serious of my faith.  I'm not talking about Boro Park or Riverdale, but a good enough size to have a couple of Kosher butchers and 6 or 7 houses of worship. The crowd we hung out with were from the Camp Ramah/USY with a touch of Solomon Schechter. That kind of sent me into a deeper introspection of what Judaism really is and what's in it for me.

For those of you who do not have children, its hard to describe the change you go through.  You start to look back on your youth, and make decisions on doing the opposite.  Not that it was bad, but you always want more for them.  My platform was looking back into Europe in the 1930's.  It did not matter if you were not practicing or were a full out frum, if the name fit, you were getting the yellow star of flair. So why not?  Why not show your kids that being a Jew was difficult and different?  Why not stop with the bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza?  Why not spend 3 1/2 hrs every Saturday listening to the classically trained hazzan spout the same tunes over and over?

Trying to get on the Kosher train, Shabbat observance, Daily minyan treadmill is not a few steps here and a few there.  It seems to be no-limit hold'em; show me your cards or fold.  For many years wanting to play at the big table but not having the self confidence to step up and buy in, creates a pseudo-Judeo movement.  That's where I am today.  No pork or shrimp, Minyan on Sunday morning, if no kid's activities on Shabbat, then I'm in.

Thank you for letting me take a few seconds of your time today.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mayans got it wrong

Well, 2012 ended and 2013 began and we are still here.  I've got a couple of observations to post over the next week or two, so stay tuned.  It's Sunday morning so got to get on my horse and off to minyan.  Explaination coming later.