President Reagan’s Christmas Message – 1981

President Reagan’s Christmas Message – 1981

In a world of political correctness and the culture wars, in the time of the ACLU, and its like, trying to remove any Christmas spirit from the public arena, the Christmas address to the nation by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is refreshing.

Merry Christmas to all, and God bless us, every one!

 

THE CHILLING EFFECT OF THE BUSH/SCHWARZENEGGER FREEZE

THE CHILLING EFFECT OF THE BUSH/SCHWARZENEGGER FREEZE

Adam Smith’s key insight was that both
parties to an exchange can benefit
and that, so long as cooperation is
strictly voluntary, no exchange
can take place unless both parties do
benefit.

Milton Friedman
__________________________________

George Passantino of the REASON FOUNDATION wrote an
article today in the FlashReport about the proposed
freeze in interest rates which will protect borrowers
who made bad decisions and will punish investors who
invested in mortgage-backed securities because they
believed in the sanctity of contracts.

It is easy to call yourself a supporter of economic freedom
and the rule of law amidst a rapidly rising economy. Now
with dark clouds of the recent rise in mortgage
foreclosures—and more expected on the horizon—political
expediency has eroded the support for free markets in
some of its perceived champions.

Even self-proclaimed devotees of the late Milton Friedman,
President George W. Bush and California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger, sound more like critics than
Friedman supporters.

In the wake of a perceived mortgage crisis both have
attempted to use the coercive power of government to
solve the problem. Both plans center on agreements
with the largest mortgage servicing companies to
“voluntarily” freeze interest rates on adjustable rate
mortgages for a set period of time.

Upon Friedman’s death, President Bush remarked that
“Milton Friedman has shown us that when government
attempts to substitute its own judgments for the judgments
of free people, the results are usually disastrous. In
contrast to the free market’s invisible hand, which
improves the lives of people, the government’s invisible
foot tramples on people’s hopes and destroys their dreams.”
Perhaps the President should re-read his talking points and
share a set with the Governor.

There are several flaws in the approach to “voluntarily”
freeze rates. First, it is disingenuous to call the plan
completely voluntary. When a government seeks a
“voluntary” commitment in one hand, you can be sure
that the hammer of regulation is hidden behind the
back in the other hand.

Moreover, such a freeze is tantamount to a moral bailout.
While it may not necessarily be a financial bailout of the
S&L magnitude, it bails out lenders and borrowers from
bad decisions and forces someone else to shoulder the
cost. Behind each mortgage is a pool of investors that
make life decisions, such as retirement planning,
based on an expected return of those investments.
Forcing these investors to eat a loss by government
fiat is fundamentally unfair. Moreover, this tramples
the rule of law and the sanctity of a contract. And, of
course, as the regulatory feeding frenzy grows,
you will no doubt see a host of new efforts to clamp
down on lending practices and in doing so eliminate
the access to capital that so many families depend upon.

Equally troubling, the proposals seem to try to encourage
responsible borrowing by only applying to people that are
current on their notes but who can’t afford the rate
adjustment. It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize Economist
to figure out that thousands of families that actually can
afford the rate adjustment, and who made those decisions
willingly, will nonetheless seek relief by claiming that they
will not be able to afford it. And what constitutes not being
able to afford it? Does a family that goes out and finances
tens of thousands of dollars worth of home entertainment
equipment and luxury automobiles and whose monthly
debt obligations have increased dramatically qualify for relief?

Perhaps most troubling of all is that this move to freeze
rates and ratchet down the industry with new, tougher
regulation completely misses one fundamental reason
that so many Californians have turned to adjustable rate
mortgages and other exotic loans. The price of
housing in California is simply too high.

Is it any surprise that five of the ten areas with the
highest foreclosure rates nationally are in California,
or that in some markets there are more foreclosures
than new homes for sale?

If Schwarzenegger and Bush want to stay true to their
philosophical allegiances to Friedman, they could start
by tackling the root causes of the affordability crisis
that has driven so many families to secure loans
that are a poor fit for their unique conditions.

According to statistics from the California Building
Industry Association, California homes were on par
with national prices as late as the 1970s. As
development became more difficult in California,
prices relative to the nation began to shoot upward.
Now, California home ownership rates are 10%
lower than the nation.

If California really wants to ensure that people have
a home to live in, we need to make housing more
affordable. New regulations on mortgages or short
term freezes will not do that.

The price of regulation—both in hard dollar fees
and in the costs of time—can easily add $50,000
to the cost of each home. That can account for
$300 or more in each monthly payment. In many
jurisdictions, the cost of regulation is much higher
than that.

At the same time the costs of regulation are increasing,
anti-growth activists have become experts at utilizing
the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
and other well-intended laws to stop development
or force substantial delays which also results in
significant costs. The longer a home takes to build,
the more it costs in interest and construction expenses.
On top of that, finding land that is suitable for devel-
opment is increasingly difficult, and when land is found,
political pressures typically mount against “affordable
housing.” While such conditions exist in varying
degrees around the nation, there is a uniform need
to address them.

While it may seem politically appealing for government
to directly help people keep their homes, as Friedman
said of government intervention, the results are usually
disastrous. Both Schwarzenegger and Bush would do
well to focus, instead, on underlying cost drivers of
the housing market that are truly governmental in origin.

People, faced with home prices they simply cannot
afford, have far too often found refuge in loans that
probably don’t fit their personal economic conditions.
While no amount of intervention can eliminate the
obligation that anyone has to fully understand
and honor the terms of the contract they sign, it
would nonetheless be helpful for government to
eliminate or reduce some of the cost drivers that
they developed and which have helped fuel this perfect
storm.
____________________________________
George Passantino is a Partner in Passantino Andersen
Communications, LLC and a Senior Fellow at the Reason Foundation.

 

CHANUKAH REFLECTIONS

CHANUKAH REFLECTIONS

By Yoram Ettinger

1. THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY:

*Mattityahu son of Yochanan, the priest led rebellion – 166/7BC

*Yehuda son of Mattityahu – 166-161BC

*Yonatan son of Mattityahu – 161-143BC

*Shimon son of Mattityahu – 143-135BC

*Yochanan Hyrcanus son of Shimon – 135-104BC

*…

*Mattityahu Antigonus – 40-37BC

2. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Alexander The Great – who held Judaism in high esteem and whose Egyptian heir Ptolemy II translated the Torah to Greek – died in 323BC following 12 glorious years at the throne. Consequently, the Greek Empire disintegrated into five, and thirty years later into three, kingdoms: Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. The Land of Israel was always militarily contested by Syria and Egypt (and Gaza was always a main invasion route!). In 198BC, Israel was conquered by the Syrian kingdom. In 175BC, a new king assumed power in Syria, Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies, who viewed the Jews as pro-Egyptians and held Judaism with contempt. In 169BC, upon his return to Syria from a military victory over Egypt, he devastated Jerusalem, massacred the Jews, forbade the practice of Judaism (including the Sabbath, circumcision, etc.) and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple. The 167BC-launched rebellion against the Syrian (Seleucid) kingdom featured the Hasmonean (MACCABEE) family: Mattityahu, a priest from the town of Modi’in, and his five sons, Yochanan, Yehuda, Shimon, Yonatan and Elazar. The heroic (and tactically creative) battles conducted by the Maccabees, were consistent with the reputation of Jews as superb warriors, who were hired frequently as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Rome and other global and regional powers.

3. INSPIRATION TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S “REBELLION AGAINST TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD”. The Maccabees were a tiny minority of “rebels” – condemned by the “loyalists/pragmatists” – rising against an oppressive super-power. They were condemned as “the enemies of peace” and “extremists.” They prevailed due to their principle-driven, determined and can-do state-of-mind. They demonstrated the victory of the few over the many, right over wrong, moral over immoral and truth over lies. The Maccabees have become a role-model for America’s Founding Fathers, including Paul Revere and the organizers of the Boston Tea Party.

4. INSPIRATION TO PATRICK HENRY’S “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH” and NEW HAMPSHIRE’S “Live Free Or Die”. The Maccabees’ sacrifice and political incorrectness has preserved and inspired today’s Jewish religion, language, culture and sovereignty. They followed in the footsteps of Abraham, Phineas the High Priest, Joshua & Calev, King David and Elijah.

5. AN EARLY VERSION OF “IN G-D WE TRUST” was the Maccabees’ battle cry, which adopted Moses’ battle cry against the builders of the Golden Calf. A literal translation of the battle cry is “Whoever trusts G-D; join me!”

6. CHANUKA’S UNIQUENESS. Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday which commemorates a Land-of-Israel national liberation struggle, unlike Passover (Exodus from Egypt), Sukkot/Tabernacles & Shavouot/Pentacost (on the way to the Land of Israel), Purim (Persia), etc. Chanukah is the longest Jewish holiday (8 days) with the most intense level of Light (8 consecutive nights of candle lighting).

7. ORIGIN OF THE NAME, CHANUKAH: THE HOLIDAY OF EDUCATION. According to the first book of Maccabees, Yehuda (who succeeded Mattityahu, the priest) ordered the Jewish People to observe an eight day holiday on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, 165BC, in order to commemorate the INAUGURATION (CHANUKAH in Hebrew) of the holy altar and the Temple, following Syrian desecration. A key feature of Chanukah is EDUCATION of the family (The Hebrew word for education is CHINUKH, spelled with the first four of the five letters of Chanukah). The Hebrew word, Chanukah, consists of two words, CHANU (they rested/stationed) and KAH (25), which refers to the fact that the Maccabees re-consecrated the Temple on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (purging it from the idolatries installed by the Seleucids). Some have suggested that the celebration of Christmas on December 25th and the celebration of the New Year 8 days later (January 1) have their origin in the 25th day of Kislev (which always “accompanies” December) and the 8 days of Chanukah as well as the 8 days of circumcision.

8. HOLIDAY OF LIGHT AND REMEMBRANCE. The first day of Chanukah – the holiday of light – is on the 25th day of Kislev, the month of miracles (e.g. Noah’s Rainbow appeared in Kislev). The first and last Hebrew letters of Kislev equal (in Jewish numerology) 26, which the total sum of the Hebrew spelling of Jehovah. Moses completed the construction of the Holy Arc on the 25th day of Kislev, as was the date of the laying the foundation of the second Temple by Nehemaya. The 25th (Hebrew) word in Genesis is LIGHT (“OR” in Hebrew). A Jewish metaphor for the Torah is light. The 25th stop of the People of Israel – on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land – was Hashmona (same root as Hasmoneans in Hebrew). Chanukah commemorates the victory of Light (Maccabees) over Darkness. While light stands for remembrance, darkness (Chashecha in Hebrew) stands for FORGETFULNESS (Schichecha in Hebrew, spelled with the same Hebrew letters as Chashecah/darkness).

9. ORIGIN OF THE NAME, MACCABEE. Yehuda’s middle name was Maccabee, derived possibly from the Hebrew word MAKEVET (The Power Hammer), which described Yehuda’s tenacious fighting capabilities. It may have derived from the Hebrew verb CABEH (to extinguish), which described the fate of Yehuda’s adversaries. Another possible interpretation of the name is that MACCABEE is the Hebrew acronym of “Who could resemble you among Gods, Jehovah” (“Mi Camokha Ba’elim Adonye” in Hebrew).

10. LEGACY OF THE MACCABEES: Faith, moral clarity, long-term vision, defiance of odds (the few against the many), willingness to sacrifice short-term convenience on the altar of long term national security, and awareness that nations who do not adhere to their roots and are not willing to sacrifice for Liberty forsake their future and do not deserve Liberty. NO FREE LUNCH FOR SOVEREIGN PEOPLES, especially in violent and unpredictable neighborhoods.


11. CHANUKAH DEMONSTRATES THAT WISDOM IS SUPERIOR TO KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.
According to Jewish definition of intellect, “Khokhma” (faith in divinely inspired wisdom, morality and capabilities) is superior to “Beena” (human understanding and interpretations) and “Da’att” (human intelligence/knowledge). The Greek/Syrian culture was based on the superiority of human knowledge and (tenuous) moral standards. The Greeks/Syrians felt constrained, and therefore threatened, by Jewish faith in divine (permanent) morality. Chanukah demonstrates the victory of divine morality over convenience-driven human definition of morality.

12. EIGHT DAYS OF CHANUKAH REPRESENT THE COVENANT BETWEEN G-D AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE, DIVINE CAPABILITIES AND OPTIMISM. Chanukah terminated the prohibition of circumcision, hence one of the causes for the 8 day duration. Chanukah represents the renewal of that covenant between G-D and the Jewish People. The ancient Temple Menorah consisted of seven branches, which commemorated the seven days of creation. The Chanukah Menorah has eight branches, reflecting the additional level of divine capabilities over and beyond human expectations: The victory of the few over the many and the lasting of one day supply of oil for eight days. Some have suggested that the eight day celebration was designed to make up for the holiday of Tabernacles, which could not be celebrated by the Maccabees due to the war. The shape of the digit 8 represents infinity: No end to divine capabilities to enhance human fortunes, as evidenced by the survival of the Jewish People against all odds. The root of the Hebrew word for the digit 8 (“Shmoneh”) is “oil” (Shemen), which is also the root of “Hasmonean” (Hashmonayim in Hebrew).

13. A LESSON TO ISRAEL’s LEADERSHIP: Shimon the Maccabee – who succeeded Judah and Yonatan the Maccabees – responded to an ultimatum by the Syrian/Greek Emperor Antiochus (Book of Maccabees A, Chapter 15, verse 33): “We have not occupied a foreign land; We have not ruled a foreign land; We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.” Thus responded Simon the Maccabee to Emperor Antiochus’ ultimatum to end “occupation” of Jaffa, Jerusalem, Gezer, Ekron and Gaza.

14. KEY GEOGRAPHIC SITES OF THE MACCABEE LEGACY, the cradle of today’s Jewish State: Modi’in, Mitzpah (Nebi Samuel), Beit Horon, Ma’aleh Beit Horon, Hadashah, Beit Zur, Ame’os, Michmash, Judean Desert, Jericho. Other than Modi’in, the rest are beyond the “Green Line.” Are they currently “occupied” by the descendants of the Maccabees???

15. CHANUKAH-PASSOVER-PURIM. The heroes of Passover and Purim had no choice but to defy their enemies. The Maccabees turned down physical peace in return for spiritual assimilation. They refused to sellout the cradle of Jewish history. They were willing to pay any price for the protection of their values and heritage. Chanukah symbolizes the victory of conviction and roots over short-term convenience and over opportunism/cynicism (sometime presented as “realism” or “pragmatism”).

16. SEVEN CHANUKAH (“Inauguration” in Hebrew)-LIKE EVENTS: Chanukah of the Creation (Genesis 2:1-3), Chanukah of the Sanctuary (Numbers 7:1-11), Chanukah of the First Temple (Kings 1, 7:51, 8:1-11 & 62-66), Chanukah of the Second Temple and the Ingathering (Ezra 6:13-18), Chanukah of Jerusalem’s Wall (Nehemiah 6:15-16), Chanukah of the Temple Priests in 165BC (Maccabees 1, 4), Chanukah of the After World. Some attach the significance of each Chanukah to a corresponding day of the Creation.

 

Up Close and Personal: The Shunning of Israel

In the Chesler Chronicles, Phyllis Chesler tells about how the assembled Arab Foreign Ministers at Annapolis refused to shake the hand of Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. She further relates what a disaster for Israel this “summit” meeting was:

At the recent Annapolis meeting, behind closed doors, up close and personal, the assembled Arab foreign ministers refused to shake hands with Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister. She asked her Arab counterparts, especially her Saudi counterpart, why they did not want to shake hands with her. “I am not plague-ridden” Livni said. According to the Dutch minister, all the Arab ministers backed away from her as if “she were Dracula’s sister.” (These details are contained in both today’s Washington Post and in Guysen International News.)
My friend and colleague, Dr. Nancy H. Kobrin, had only three, chilling words for me about this: “Zainab Bint al-Harith”. That is the name of the Jewish woman long and falsely alleged to have poisoned the prophet Mohammed.

In addition, the United States, Israel’s strongest ally, apparently just circulated the Annapolis resolution to members of the UN Security Council—but without first showing anything to Israel’s Ambassador, Dan Gillerman who was, at the time, busy celebrating the General Assembly’s November 29th, 1947 resolution that created a Jewish state. What a difference sixty years can make! (These details are contained in the New York Sun).

Livni and Gillerman have just both been publicly shunned. Israeli diplomats will have to grow bionic skins in order not to suffer the effects of such interpersonally cruel behavior. But look: Israelis have been kidnapped, blown up and wounded for life by Islamist terrorists. It can always be worse but the two kinds of assaults are intimately connected. The fact that the world allows the state sponsors of terrorism to isolate and shame Israeli diplomats also allows and even encourages terrorist fanatics to continue their murderous rampage. One breeds the other; this is the cycle of violence.

Israel’s civilian supporters have also been shunned, both behind closed doors and in public. May we all continue to bear this mistreatment with honor, patience, grace, and faith. And, as we count our blessings, let us also remember that Israel is a nuclear power whose military prowess has already proved essential in the battle against Iran and Syria—and that Saudi Arabia is also well known for refusing to extend its hand when it comes to aiding other Muslims.

The significance and consequences of the Annapolis meeting are far worse than I have so far suggested. But many people understand public slights more than they understand diplomatic negotiations; however, for those who primarily focus on the latter, let me stand on the shoulders of others and point out that 1) Israel- and Jew-hating Arabists in the State Department have won one more round; President Bush refuses to publicly criticize the Saudis and has also failed to appoint diplomats who might do so privately.

Worse: As former Minister Natan Sharansky has just pointed out, while Iran may be perceived as a threat to the stability of Arab national despots, democracy is perceived as the second biggest threat to their continued rule. Sharansky also notes that Mahmoud Abbas has absolutely no power. Thus, what is the point of forcing Israel to negotiate with the powerless diplomat when the United States has failed to bring Hamas, which controls Gaza, to the table in Annapolis?

In addition, Ted Belman of Israpundit has sent me Carolyn Glick’s rather ominous report. Apparently, and not coincidentally, U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones just had an unprecedented meeting with the President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, in which Jones demanded that the Israeli Court “interpret Israeli law in a prejudicial manner in order to demonize Israeli opponents of Palestinian statehood and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria.”

Why Israel is caving-in to its previous commitments to its people is something I fail to understand. They say that when you know a friend is about to commit suicide you must do everything possible to prevent it. I feel the same about Israel. We must do all we can to prevent Israel from committing suicide.

Chesler concludes:

According to David Bedein in Frontpage, Prime Minister Olmert “stood down from his opposition to international supervision of the agreement’s implementation. Nothing remains of the principle established by Yitzhak Rabin, which was maintained by all Israeli prime ministers, that only Israel would decide whether the Palestinian side had met its commitments.”

Finally, according to Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook HERE, one day after Annapolis, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority re-broadcast a map in which Israel was completely absent and the Palestinian state occupied what is now Tel Aviv, Ber-Sheva, Jerusalem, and Haifa.

And he’s the “good guy.”

Here’s what I have to say to the Israeli people: Vote Olmert out of office as quickly as possible. Do not, God forbid, assassinate him. President Beinisch: How dare Mr. Jones tell you what to do? Tell him to go to Hell—which is right next door in Sudan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. To Jews and to our supporters and to freedom-loving people everywhere: Hang in, hang on, trust no one. Be prepared for anything.

I agree totally with Ms. Chesler. Israel is being sold out. Olmert must be replaced.

UPDATE:For “What was agreed to at Annapolis will destroy Israel”, see Israpundit.