The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

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115 Responses

  1. C. Kanoiy says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky’s rabid post should find no sanction on a website such as cross-currents. His calling more than half the electorate greedy and dumb just because he disagrees with the election outcome only indicates that he lacks a basic appreciation for Democracy and does not respect the will of the people.

    Democracy is what makes America great. Caring for the poor and unfortunate is not dumb, it is tzedek and social justice. Making sure that all Americans have healthcare is not a freeby but a moral calling. Trying to get immigrants to “self deport” is a lack of respect for a tzelem elokim while giving them a path to citizenship will lead to American prosperity.

    47% of America may not pay income tax, but they do pay social security and medicare tax, they pay sales tax, and many pay state, city or real estate tax. Many of these people are veterans or seniors who have served this country and many of them vote Republican. They are not freeloaders.

    America is the greatest country and will G-d willing remain remain so.

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    I begin by saying that I voted for Romney, which makes me have some intelligence according to the author of this article. However, I cannot understand how a practicing rabbi can write and speak with some one sided bias, totally lacking any understanding or sympathy with those who do not share his class, income or ideas. This is not a Jewish way to talk, it is bigotry and should never be given a platform on a decent blog. There are many decent Democrats and just because they don’tg share his idea of what this country needs, they do not deserve the ridicule and comtempt he shows. You should ask mechnila for such prostkeit.

  3. Mr. Cohen says:

    I hope Rabbi Steven Pruzansky keeps permanent records of his writings.
    One day his essays should be published as a book.

    I would like to see more of his writings in Cross Currents.

    G_d bless Rabbi Steven Pruzansky for seeing the world accurately and speaking truth after truth after truth…

  4. Eli says:

    The arrogant attitude that “I am the only one who can be right because I don’t agree with the other side’s arguments, therefore the other side MUST be completely and utterly stupid” is, well, just [deleted]. I also don’t buy the Obama line, but Iam humble eenough to respect those who disagree with me. Let us not forget that while we do only follow one halachic opinion at the end of the halachic process, the other opinions are all recorded and accorded equal respect and not regarded as dismally stupid just because the final decision did not favor them.

    And when you speak about Obama’s election signalling the end of traditional American values, and the great disservice done to American interests by allthose infinite freebies he’s throwing out there, I wonder why Emma Lazarus’ words were chosen to be inscribed on tbe base of the Statue of Liberty supposedly representing what America stands for: Give me your tired your poor/ your huddled masses yearning to breath free. I guess that wasn’t to indicate that we would DO anything for them, no no that would disinscentivate, wouldn’twant to transgress that terrible sin.

  5. Joe Hill says:

    Rabbi, Israel is in the same galus as America is in.

  6. Moshe Hillson says:

    Compare Rabbi Pruzansky’s essay with Toby katz’s last post on this site:

    Jews and Civilization


    She says exactly the same thing, but she shows that we Frum Jews are also guilty of the same short-sightedness.

  7. Dovid says:

    Lesson from this election for Karl Rove and Rabbi Pruzansky:
    America has changed.
    The rich white guys no longer get to be the deciders.

    When I voted for Romney yesterday, it was because of Israel.
    But I held my nose.

    Thank You, Rabbi Pruzansky, for reminding me (with your elitism and lack of compassion)why.

  8. Daniel Rubin says:

    The frum community and Donald Trump, standing side by side, as foretold in the prophecy.

  9. chakira says:

    I am reading your blogpost, and comparing it to today’s Rush Limbaugh show. It seems like there are many parallels, from the specific numbers cited, to the rhetorical question of who can compete with free stuff. Probably, you listened to the most recent show and cribbed liberally. If not, you’ve still been influenced by the Hashkafot of this decidedly unorthodox Rebbe.
    Lets compare.
    Limbaugh: “It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus.” RSP: “The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff. ”
    Limbaugh: “You want to hear a statistic that is somewhat surprising? Romney received two and a half million fewer votes than McCain did. Now, who would have called that? Who in the world would have? I think Obama’s vote tally was down ten million from 2008, and we still lost. ”
    RSP: “As I write, with almost all the votes counted, President Obama has won fewer votes than John McCain won in 2008, and more than ten million off his own 2008 total.”
    Limbaugh:”A bunch of libs are salivating over that. They think the economy is gonna come back no matter what, and that Obama’s big government is going to end up being the explanation for the rest of our lives as to how that happened. Just like in Japan, just like in Greece. But look, you bring up Greece and you bring up Europe, and they’re where we’re headed. Their problems are acute.”
    RSP “The road to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and to a European-socialist economy – those very economies that are collapsing today in Europe – is paved.”
    Limbaugh “Romney presented a picture… This is very frightening stuff to me. He presented a picture of the traditional view, the traditional roots, the traditional way things work in this country.”
    RSP “the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate”
    Limbaugh: “The reason that Obama won is he did not go to the people who have some intelligence and are liberal and they already knew who they were voting for. He didn’t go to the women that already knew who they were voting for, or the Hispanics who already knew or the blacks. He went to the homeless shelters. He went to the people who were on welfare, that he was paying their salaries. He went to the people who are, you know, on unemployment but they got their benefits extended. He went to the people who really don’t understand how the economy works.”
    “you’re basically saying what I’m saying, that Obama corralled the uninformed vote”
    RSP “the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is dumb – ignorant, and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent ”

    Looking at all these parallels, coincidences and turns of phrase, I just wonder whether listening to Rush is the best use of your time. While you have internalized his talking points, you haven’t internalized those of another political commentator, Solomon, who said לב מלכים ושרים ביד ה. Indeed, explicit engagement with Jewish texts kind of falls out of this piece as you work your way through it. Yes, theres a shout out to “Torah” and “shul” but not more than I’d expect from a Reform rabbi or someone with little knowledge of Jewish texts. When I look to Rabbis for guidance on political issues, I’m personally looking less for what I can find on the radio and more for what I can find in a shas or tanach. I’m looking for someone to synthesize my Jewish values, not to import some other values into Judaism. Maybe you should return to the drawing board and reimagine this post in light of Jewish texts. For example, I am currently learning the laws of doctors in Yoreh Deah. How does the Halacha that a doctor may not overcharge relate to the current Healthcare debates? Why doesn’t the Shulchan Arukh have a real concept of medical malpractice outside of חייב בדיני שמים? I’d be interested to know how people more knowledgable than me relate all the values and ideas expressed in the Halacha to our current attempts to hammer out some kind of agreement in the political sphere. That’s where I think Rabbis could come in. Not as parrots. Not as endorsers. But as folks who’ve internalized a lot of Torah, seen lots of arguments in responsa and drush, and come up with good ideas of how we should actually do things in our real day to day lives.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    Put aside for a moment whether or not today’s America is unworthy. Consider what we would do if we all became 100% convinced that it was unworthy. Most likely, we’d complain a lot and do nothing to either fix general society or remove ourselves from it. That’s the power of inertia. Then, consider what if the whole Western world had warped values.

  11. DF says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky, a brilliant man, is right on the money. The republic is in irreversible decline. We must remember that America was an EXPERIMENT. Unlike any other country, it was created in essentially a labratory, by perhaps the greatest collection of social thinkers the world has ever seen assembled at any one time. Benjamin Franklin said at the time that when the people finally realize they can vote themselves money, it will herald the end of the experiment. And in 2012, the people have figured it out.

    The elephoant in the room, of course, are the African Americans. Not once did I see any newspaper in this country broach the reality that Obama, is for all intents and purposes, an affirmative action president. His grades and law school application papers would have either proved it forever or removed all doubt – and yet Obama has kept them hidden, with the complicity of the press. White Americans who oppose Obama are routinely labeled racist, yet concerning blacks, 95% of whom – 95 percent! – voted for Obama, we hear nothing. This is not some small ethnic group that can be forgiven for throwing a few votes to one of their own. The black population is almost 40 million. How to explain the huge Republican gains in Congress only 2 years ago, and the huge victory of George Bush only 8 years ago, against the very same media and hollywood onslaught, if not for the lack of an African-American on the ballot in those years. And yet for this huge part of the population, voting on the basis of race is actively encouraged. Yes, there are other factors, but all of them pale next to the millions of blacks (and not a few guilt-laden whites who still think this is Selma, Alabam circa 1951) who voted in a man on the basis of nothing other than his color. For shame.

    Smart people will start making plans for Aliyah today.

  12. BTG says:

    This screed is unbecoming of the Rabbi and Cross-Currents. You couldn’t get such and unhinged rant on the National Review website, let alone a blog that’s suipposed to balanced and represent the frum community positively. I am not even going to argue the contents of the post which are laughable (you could have posted it with different letters, like a ransom note – it would have been more fitting). The author and editors would have been better served heeding Lincoln’s practice, when writing a nasty letter to an opponent, to destroy the contents before sending.

  13. AM Zuck says:

    I find it quite ironic that every point in this article can easily be tweaked to have been written in 2004 by a rabid Democrat confused as to how George W. Bush won a 2nd term:

    A) Curious how an incumbent President was re-elected despite increasing sectarian violence and no exit strategy in Irag.
    B) Pondering how poor people in red states could be so “dumb” as to vote for George W. Bush instead of for their economic interests. (Have they gotten “smarter” over the last 8 years)?
    C)Bush causes the rest of the world (other than Israel) to look down upon and lose respect for America, diminishing our global influence.
    D)Vote for Bush, a man of limited intelligence, instead of John Kerry an educated war hero.
    E) Hispanics and women voted for Bush, even so his surrogates and appointees (including congressional republicans) rejected immigration reform and sought to ban abortions and contraception without exception.
    F)George W. Bush is an evangelical to whom the New Testament is his Torah (l’havdil) and he will lead us into war in order to bring the Second Coming.
    G)People in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama etc.. aren’t open to new ideas and those states are not competitive at all. (“What’s wrong with Kansas”)
    H) George W. Bush will allow hawks in Israel to conduct an attack on Iran that may lead to global nuclear war even so both Israeli and US military experts believe such an attack is doomed to fail and will not accomplish its strategic objectives.
    I) America used to be a place that took care of the poor and downtrodden and now leaves them to the whims of Wall Street.

    Did I leave anything out?
    I voted for Romney, but these are serious sour grapes.

  14. Sarah Elias says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky made some very excellent points. Less invective might have made his essay more palatable and persuasive.

  15. Aaron says:

    What a “brilliant” analysis! All Republicans are altruistic and smart and all Democrats are greedy and stupid. Therfore it would be best to move to Israel where all the people are (presumabley) altruistic and smart.

  16. Disenheartened says:

    It doesn’t get much more frustrating that this. I’m upset that it seems that my status as a religious Jew depends on my voting record. After all, no one “in their right mind” could vote for Obama, right?

    Please, let the doomsday prophecies flow. They came in droves when Obama was first elected, just like as at the election of any not-Republican-enough candidate, status-quo maintained. It’s almost laughable to hear the rhetoric from the same people that, when he was elected the first time, screamed out “the end is nigh!” and now that he’s been reelected, they scream louder “now, the end is really nigh!” The sad reality is that in reality, nothing has changed; still, they cry out prophecies of doom and devastation as a result of the election.

    Romney was a terrible choice for the conservative ticket. He’s filthy rich, fraught with background problems, and changed his mind whenever necessary to win votes. I at least hope that the Republicans will finally get their act together and, in 2016, present me with a candidate I can actually support. That is, of course, provided that the world doesn’t end like every good conservative hopes it does… perhaps only to be able to point then a finger at the president in triumph because “I was right!”

    This post reflects the truly sad state of politics in the frum community. We’re not thinking any more, not questioning enough. I hope that my “frumness” would be decided on important things like observance of halacha, limud Torah, and dveikus to the Ribbono Shel Olam, not on my voting record or on my stance on politics. It is incredibly disheartening to realize that although the students of Shammai and Hillel argued on a few points, although the Rishonim and Acharonim disagreed on many points, when it comes to politics, chas v’Sholom that someone disagree and not vote Republican. Have we not lost one of our most critical assets with the shutting of our minds to non-similar political opinions?

  17. Sal Samovitz says:

    Is this some kind of joke? A parody?

    —“Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.

    Oh please.

    — “The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff.”

    Oh brother.

    —“Ronald Reagan himself could not win an election in today’s America.”

    Of course that’s true, since he would not even be nominated in today’s Republican party (after all, he raised taxes, and Obama’s Fed Tax rates are much lower than his were).

    Also, incidentally, and for the record, the numbers show that more sheer numbers of voters voted for Democratic House members than GOP members (as well as, obviously, Senators and Pres). (“The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress.”)

    I am not sure why I keep this publication on my “favorites”…I think I should stop, the contributors are truly out to lunch…

  18. Sharona Cohen says:

    For people who voted for Romney, as I did, I see two possible responses to the the outome of the vote. To the fact that half of the US electorate (slightly more than half, in fact) disagrees with us. One response would be to reflect and at least consider the possibility that there are other intelligent America, who care about the country just as we do, who see things differently. Perhaps it’s not all cut and dry on which side’s view is correct about the best approach on the key social, domestic and foreign policy issues that face our country. The other response would be to simply dismiss the half of the country that disagrees with us. To label them “dumb”, ignorant”, “unintelligent,” and simply write them off as “takers” who vote for no reason other than that they want free stuff. It pains me that an Orthodox Rabbi would adopt the second approach even privately, let alone espouse it publicly and proudly.

  19. Shaul says:

    This is one of the most anti Haredi pieces that I have ever read. What does R. Pruznanzsky say to the thousands of klei kodesh and other members of our community who depend on food stamps and other “big government” programs? That we should starve?

  20. nopeanutz says:

    I’m surprised that R-Pru did not mention that Romney might have lost because he ran on the line in 1/2 dozen states with Republicans who have apologized for rape. And although Romney attempted to distance himself from those Republicans, the party did not succeed in getting them off the ballot. In other words, when the few thousand undecided voters in this country that get to choose the president went to vote, Romney’s name was still next to theirs. That’s not a good association for socially conservative Democrats, progressive Republicans and the few undecided voters left that get to choose the President.
    The bottom line is that we may never know what role voter preferences played in this election, because the Republicans so badly bungled it. The election wasn’t about Sodomy versus Virtue, like Rabbi Pruzansky pretends. Instead, it was about Rape (blanket abortion bans) versus Hope (however unreasonable).

    Republicans had a platform based on ideology and dogma (creation, definition of a baby, definition of marriage, relative “values”). They’ll have to fix it if they want to win in 2012.

  21. YS says:

    The tone and some of the arguments in this piece are bad enough. But does the writer not realize how absurd it is to suggest, in an article like this, that moving to Israel is the answer? Israel is actually way ahead of the US in the 47% game. In Israel there’s a fast-growing community that’s against contributing to the work force from an idealogical standpoint, which makes it much more dangerous to the economy than the Hispanics and other minorities in the US.

  22. Charlie Hall says:

    “the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.”

    And good riddance.

    In the Old America, robber barons could plunder the poor and middle class with impunity; the Progressive era’s reforms changed that. Too many of today’s Republicans want to repeal many of those reforms.

    In the Old America, ethnic minorities — including Jews — were not welcome in certain neighborhoods, certain restaurants, certain jobs. While there are few actual bigots among today’s Republicans, many want to effectively gut the Civil Rights laws that helped to end those days.

    In the Old America, immigrants were considered Dangerous Influences and had to be kept out. Six million of our brothers and sisters died because they had nowhere to flee as a result of that attitude. The partisan divide on immigration today is striking, and nobody in the Republican Party is calling out nativist bigots like Rep. Steve King.

    In the Old America, people died because they could not afford health care. Today’s Democrats voted to end that part of old America; today’s Republicans want to maintain that part of old America.

    Good riddance to Old America.

  23. MP says:

    A shocking and disturbing post. Andrew Sullivan, who is no great fan of the current incarnation of the GOP is nevertheless right on the money in his post this morning:

    “But the person who fuses Manichean political warfare with theological certitude cannot, will not, abandon that stance for pragmatic purposes – because there is no greater evil than pragmatism for the fanatic. A political party can adapt and change; a fundamentalist religious party loses its entire authority if it admits error, because its message is based on religious texts that are held to be inerrant. The biggest obstacle in front of today’s GOP threfore remains theo-political fundamentalism, and how it can be overcome.”

    Rabbi Purzansky seems to have fallen deeply into this trap, and cannot imagine a way out. The first rule when you find yourself in a hole is Stop Digging. Verbally castigating and attacking the majority of Americans (literally!) for their choice in the election is not going to make the Republican party relevant again. Try convincing “the electorate is dumb – ignorant, and uninformed” of anything.

    It also does not pay to lie. The “CBS Coverup” is just absolute nonsense. Obama’s response in the video, verbatim and unedited, on September 13th: “Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this [the Benghazi attack] came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.” There are two ways to criticize Obama for this response: 1. the word Terrorism is magical and must be invoked, loudly and repeatedly to make a point or 2. nothing Obama says will satisfy.

  24. Aryeh Leib says:

    Yasher Koah to Cross-Currents for publishing this article. We spend way too much time mired in political correctness and too little time addressing reality. The reality is that half the electorate is apparenlty more concerned about free contraception and food stamps, than the threat of terrorism or massive debt. It does not take a genius to see that the government’s coffers will run dry some day and that continually raising taxes will have diminishing returns. I’m sorry if the Rabbi offended people, but those who voted for Obama, did much worse than that to the rest of us.

  25. Eitan says:

    Shame on Cross-Currents for publishing something so hateful and divisive (not to mention factually inaccurate – but it would take me far too long to get into all that and its almost irrelevant – no amount of “rightness” justifies this kind of speech).

    You want to know the real reason Romney lost? It’s because, on the national stage, it is still critical to win over some of the moderate/independent vote, and there is nothing moderate about the Republican party these days. The republican party has moved so far to the right, forcing candidates to move rightward to win the nomination and making it that much harder to pivot to the center (which Romney’s head of campaign himself mentioned as critical to winning a general election). Republicans need to stop pointing fingers outward and look at the direction and future of their party. They will not win another national election until they begin to move back towards the center.

    The biggest light of hope after this election is that, as divided as our country is, the moderate voice is still powerful. There are sill people in this country who want collaboration, cooperation and less negative rhetoric. These voices still have more power than all the Pruzanskys in the world, no matter how loudly or angrily they may shout.

  26. yankel says:

    “inescapable conclusion” I managed the escape of the century. I managed a different conclusion. It wasn’t that hard. Just try aa little.

  27. Andrew says:

    Well … at least Rabbi Pruzansky doesn’t forbid CC to open the comment section.

    Otherwise, another sad day for CC.

  28. Charlie Hall says:

    The mention of Valerie Jarrett’s birthplace is absolutely inexcusable. She was born in Iran to two US Citizen parents; she is a natural born US Citizen and was never an Iranian Citizen as Iran does not have birthright citizenship. Her family left Iran when she was a small child.

  29. Charlie Hall says:

    The Republican Jewish Coalition national exit poll showed that Obama won among Orthodox Jews, 48%-44%. We clearly do not all agree with Rabbi Pruzansky’s assessment of the situation.

  30. David Stern says:

    This article was forwarded to me by a work colleague, a traditional Jew who’s not Orthodox but checks this website weekly. He wanted to know if the author of the article is a really a pulpit Rabbi in an Orthodox synagogue because he couldn’t believe that an Orthodox rabbi would spout such vitriole. I read the article and I agree with him. I’m all in favor of articles representing different viewpoints, making strong arguments, criticizing, and provoking discussion. But this article is beyond the pale. Rabbi Pruzansky is free to hold his extremist views, and free to publish them on his own blog. But I question why this well-respected blog would demean itself by publishing his extremist statements. Writing that 51% of the US population (and the 70% of the Jewish poloulation that voted for Obama) is “dumb — ignorant and uninformed” and don’t care about real issues but just want to get free stuff is highly offensive and beyond the pale of reasonable discourse.

  31. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I too voted for Romney so I guess the good Rabbi would would bestow upon me the mantle of enough intelligence to speak.

    The piece actually started off decently, making a couple of cogent points worthy of discussion. However, beginning with his “second reason” our intrepid Rabbi descended into a cesspool of hubris, bigotry, and racism the likes of which I’d more expect to hear from Jeremiah Wright. Ironically, as the Rabbi goes on to impugn the intelligence of more than half of America, he seems to have missed looking in his own back yard.

    I certainly wouldn’t generalize the way Rabbi P. did, but one only need spend a little time on Facebook or various blogs to witness the wave of irrational vitriol that was directed at the president during the campaign from our own ranks. People who are supposed to be near the top of the educational and intellectual ladder were parroting unfounded memes as if they were 8 year olds on the the internet for the first time. I, someone with no particular desire to see Obama re-elected, found myself constantly defending him from inane, mindless slander emanating from OUR community. For some religious folks it appears that the same suspension of disbelief required for their extreme “piety” was at work here too. And for some Rabbis, it seems, it’s easier to shoot blindly into the crowd than open their eyes and look around them.

  32. SM says:

    What is so extraordinary about this piece is not its breathtaking condescension about other peoples’ choices, or its endless whinging. It is the proposition that only the writer and those who think like him can properly interpret Torah. The use of religion to castigate those who disagree is neither American or democratic (small ‘d’). It is the language of the Mullahs.

    Fortunately, where I live, Rabbis could not say such things and be respected or taken seriously. If the author would really like to leave his home in despair at the idiocy of his own society and come to Europe, he would learn a salutory lesson that his no doubt extensive education has thus far quite failed to teach him. Namely, that mutual respect and toleration of fellow citizens produce elections which are not riven with hatred and that not everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot or a knave. I suspect these lessons are available in America as well, but sometimes a man has to leave the familiar behind to learn the most obvious lessons of all.

  33. Dovid says:

    Since when did Rav Rush Limbaugh become our Gadol Hador?

  34. JT says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky claims that America voted for President Obama because Americans (a) like free stuff, and/or (b) are stupid. As someone who didnt vote for the President, I still feel like I can clear up some of the Rabbi’s confusion on the question. I know many people who did vote for the President, who are highly intelligent and pay the highest tax rate. Here is why they did so:

    (1) Obama got us out of one unpopular war and is in the process of getting us out of a second;
    (2) Obama sent Navy Seals into Pakistan to kill Osama B Ladin, something Pres Bush did not do, and something Romney said he would not do
    (3) Obama imposed historically harsh sanctions on Iran, crashing their economy, and helped Israel engage in a covert war against the Iranian regime which slowed down their quest for a nuclear weapon (see Stuxnet etc.)
    (4) The voters did not want to increase the defense budget to buy things the military hasnt even requested when we are running trillion dollar deficits
    (5) The voters believed that gay people should be allowed to marry other gay people
    (6) The voters believed that decisions to abort during the first trimester should be made by individual women, not the government
    (7) The voters believed that people with preexisting conditions should have access to affordable health coverage
    (8) The voters agreed with 99.9% of climate scientists that global warming is a problem that we should address.
    (9) The voters thought that the financial crash was caused by an unrestrained banking system, and wanted to move back to regulating the industry in the ways that worked so well following the Great Depression.
    (10) The voters resented strident class warfare of the type espoused by Rush Limbaugh and Rabbi Pruzansky against 47% of the population, many of whom are the poorest, most drowntrodden, least powerful, AND hardest working members of society.

    I hope that helped clear up some of the confusion about why people voted for President Obama. You may not agree with some of these positions, but they are clear headed, logical reasons for favoring the President. The Republican party has some good ideas to offer America. They will start winning national elections again only after they jettison some of their worst ideologies, and stop using hyperbolic language that turns off so much of the electorate.

  35. lawrence kaplan says:

    Charlie Hall: Don’t you see that your constant and unvarying knee jerk pro-democratic and anti-Republican comments are just the reverse mirror image of RSP? He can’t see anything good in the “New America” and anything bad in the “old America;” you simply reverse his position.

    Cross-Currents: After having published the sensitive, thoughtful, and moving essay of RYA on the film Bat ha-Rav to publish the angry and contemptuous rant of RSP is really descending me-igra rama le-bira amikta. And I supported Romney.

  36. Leah says:

    I daven in Rabbi Pruzansky’s shul and this article has hurt me to the point that I’m questioning whether I can even go to Shul this Shabbos. I gave extensive thought to who to vote for in this election — it was a very close call for me — but in the end I voted for Obama because I see some improvement in the economy and I’m optomistic that this trend will continue in his second term. I know Rabbi Pruzansky is a strong backer of Republicans and supported Romney. And that’s fine. We’re all entitled to our positions and to disagree respectfully with others’ viewpoints. But to read this — and to see my Rabbi say that because I voted for Obama I must be ignorant and all I’m intersted in is free stuff, is incredibly demeaning and offensive. I want to respect Rabbi Pruzansky — he has many talents and much Torah to offer — but I’m just having a hard time doing so after he hurls such insults at people simply for how they voted.

  37. L. Oberstein says:

    Boruch Hashem, the responses so far are very encouraging. They show that there are still many orthodox Jews who can express themselves with reason and who believe in social justice and tzedek tzedek tirdof. These are not Reform ideas by the way, neither is Tikkun Olam. I am heartened that almost all of the respondents thus far have their heads screwed on. A number of us did indeed hold our noses and vote for Romney out of our feelings that Israel is our number one priority. I do not think that Rabbi Pruzansky begins to understand how hard it was for some of us to vote for the Republican Party in its present situation. If only this were the Republican Party of Nixon who proposed national medical care or if we had Republicans like Javits or Dirkson leading the party, I could easily vote for them.
    I seem to recall that Abe Foxman was driven out of his shul because the rabbi harassed him from the pulpit week after week because the rabbi had a different point of view. Was that not Rabbi Pruzansky, and if so, why do the baalebatim of the largest shul in Teaneck go along with it? In Baltimore, we just don’t talk or act that way. Our rabbi, Binyamin Marwick, said that we should vote with the security of Eretz Yisroel in mind. For most of the shul, myself included, that meant voting for Romney, but it did not drive out those who believe that the defense relationship between the US and Israel under Obama is stronger than ever and that support for the Likud is not synonymous with support for Israel. The orthodox community is osid litein es hadin for the blatant prejudice and pernicious prejudice that is so common on the orthodox internet sites. Do you think no one notices and no one keeps score? A frum Jew should be an elevated person, as I heard from Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, a ben torah is a “nichbod”. Such a person does not write and preach what this rabbi did on this site.Hashem Yeracheim if this is what our leaders do.

  38. Frum women says:

    Thank you Rabbi Pruzansky for not being afraid to speak the truth. Kol Hakavod to you!
    This president has done nothing and has promised 4 more years of nothing. Strengthening my relationship with Hashem is the only comforting place to turn, as has been and should always be the case. I can only pray that this is the coming of moshiach and that Klal Yisrael will be safe.

  39. Girl Number 20 says:

    Now Romney can go back to baptizing victims of the Holocaust to become posthumous Mormons….

  40. Shlomo says:

    To all of you who disagree so vehemently with the rabbi:

    You are no different from Klal Yisroel of previous generations. Throughout our history, there have been many leaders who were chastised and assaulted for speaking out against the deeds of our people. I see this instance to be of a very similar nature. I’m not suggesting that you MUST agree with the rabbi, your thoughts are your own. But you cannot deny that you are completely disallowing yourselves from considering his words! Remember, Rabbi Pruzansky has dedicated his life to the service of G-d and to the betterment of the Jewish people, and his opinions deserve our respect. His blunt and abrasive words (and they ARE blunt and abrasive) are the result of his care and frustration that he so deeply feels. Stop feeling attacked and start listening. Don’t view him as a troublemaker, but rather as a concerned leader. The least you can do is consider them. And stop taking everything so personally.

  41. Jeff Schwartz says:

    I voted for Romney and was also disappointed by the election outcome. But like any reasonable person, I accept that there were some valid reasons to vote for Obama and I don’t cast aspersions on the motives of those 50+ million people who voted for him. How anyone, let alone a Rabbi, could write such insulting and offensive things about half of the US population (including 69% of the Jewish electorate) is beyond me. Doesn’t Rabbi Pruzansky read every Shabbos in davening the words of Shlomo Ha’melech that “Deracheha Darchei Noam” – the ways of the Torah are pleasant, and all its pathways are peaceful? This article is the anithesis of that teaching.

  42. Michael says:

    Menachem Lipkin, why do you feel this was a one-sided phenomenon? Look at some of the more “rational” reasons for supporting Obama provided by “JT” —

    (1) Obama got us out of one unpopular war and is in the process of getting us out of a second;

    Obama is in the process of decreasing the US military so that it is incapable of prosecuting two military engagements at the same time. He is so clueless about his own military that he claimed in debate that it has fewer bayonets than it did in WWI. He was off by a factor of 3. Is an uninformed pacifist as commander in chief good for Jews or Israel?

    (2) Obama sent Navy Seals into Pakistan to kill Osama B Ladin, something Pres Bush did not do, and something Romney said he would not do

    Doesn’t that qualify as a “meme” suitable for an 8-year-old? Bin Ladin wasn’t there when Bush was looking for him, and of course we only found bin Ladin because of intelligence-gathering methods Obama condemned. Romney, of course, never said he would not pursue bin Ladin. He said that he wouldn’t move heaven & earth just for one person, because Al Qaeda, not bin Ladin alone, was the enemy. He was right, as the administration found out in Benghazi.

    (3) Obama imposed historically harsh sanctions on Iran, crashing their economy, and helped Israel engage in a covert war against the Iranian regime which slowed down their quest for a nuclear weapon (see Stuxnet etc.)

    … which explains why Netanyahu is demanding red lines, and why he was so poorly treated by the White House. Right? CNN is now touting Israel’s left campaigning against Netanyahu because Obama dislikes him so much.

    (4) The voters did not want to increase the defense budget to buy things the military hasnt even requested when we are running trillion dollar deficits

    FactCheck.org says this is false. “Romney won’t increase total annual defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product compared with fiscal year 2012… Obama would use the money now spent on the war in Afghanistan for deficit reduction and/or non-defense spending.”

    Romney believes defense spending should be tied to GDP and be a major part of the government. Obama would rather spend that money on “green” initiatives with companies that fail.

    (5) The voters believed that gay people should be allowed to marry other gay people

    Agree completely.

    (6) The voters believed that decisions to abort during the first trimester should be made by individual women, not the government

    Voters, in other words, were duped by a leftist media instead of studying the issue. The most any President could do is stack the Supreme Court with justices who don’t create “rights” out of their own imagination, and return the issue of abortion to individual states — the same states that currently decide whether or not gays should marry or what the speed limit is.

    The current debate isn’t about the first trimester, as JT’s Obama-supporting friends were led to think, but the third. The Democratic Party platform supports abortion into the third trimester. Third trimester abortions can “fail” in that the baby is born alive. At that point, some doctors allow the baby to die, or worse, and Obama was the only member of the Illinois legislature to oppose the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, a bill requiring that doctors care for a baby born during an abortion consistent with what would be done for any live birth.

    Think about it. Abortion doctors all too often let babies die on the outside when they failed to kill them on the inside. Obama supporters elected someone who claims to be concerned for the most vulnerable and votes against their protection. [News Flash: Red state citizens are more charitable than Blue state citizens. Nine out of ten of the most charitable states voted Romney.]

    (7) The voters believed that people with preexisting conditions should have access to affordable health coverage

    Again, that’s true. Obama voters believed this so intensely that they didn’t mind not having a job as long as they could have that coverage. Those of us with jobs, of course, already have coverage for pre-existing conditions. But now it’s going to be too expensive to keep full-time workers, so fewer of us will have these jobs. But at least we’ll have that coverage! [News Flash: Employers are already reducing their full-time work force, especially in the lowest-paying jobs, due to ObamaCare.]

    (8) The voters agreed with 99.9% of climate scientists that global warming is a problem that we should address.

    In other words, the voters agreed with the current winds of political correctness, and with Obama’s unique methods of addressing it: first, throw money at “green” companies (run by his favorite donors) that will spend the money on custom showers before collapsing, and second, destroy the existing US energy industry, bankrupt coal plants in particular, veto a pipeline bringing oil from Canada, and increase our dependence upon Arab oil. [News Flash: Romney voters were more likely than Obama voters to have done a “green” home improvement in the past five years. Obama voters believe government should do good things for them, Romney voters believe in getting it done.]

    (9) The voters thought that the financial crash was caused by an unrestrained banking system, and wanted to move back to regulating the industry in the ways that worked so well following the Great Depression.

    No doubt about that. That’s why the stock market tanked the day after he was reelected — it’s working really, really well.

    (10) The voters resented strident class warfare of the type espoused by Rush Limbaugh and Rabbi Pruzansky against 47% of the population, many of whom are the poorest, most drowntrodden, least powerful, AND hardest working members of society.

    The Obama voters, in other words, support rank hypocrisy. The 1% anybody? Portraying Romney, who gives away 30% of his income to those less fortunate, as unconcerned with anybody but the rich, is nonsense — and Romney’s statement to donors that a lot of people love their entitlements and won’t vote to lower taxes on those of us who actually work, was correct.

    In other words, JT’s shallow meanderings actually support Rabbi Pruzansky. I don’t think the tone was appropriate, and agree with Menachem that the bad-mouthing of Obama often called him a Kenyan or Muslim. But if this is why Obama’s supporters voted for him, Obama voters really were pretty dumb.

  43. Dave says:

    I’m quite surprised by the “horror” with which people are responding to this piece, and I had to stop for a moment to think whether they are responding to the same article I just read.

    I did not see any bigotry or racism in this article. Nor did I see “condescension,” unless expressing a viewpoint forcefully automatically means being condescending. And most importantly, Rabbi Pruzansky did not say that anybody who voted for Obama is dumb.

    His point, if I understood it correctly, is that there is a growing tendency in American society away from the traditional American values of hard work, personal responsbility and industriousness, and toward a sense of entitlement. Given such a tendency, the Republicans’ message of “get government out of the way so people can work hard and make a living” is losing ground to the Democrats’ message of “tax the rich so we can give it to everybody else.”

    Agree or disagree, but I don’t think he committed any crimes by writing this.

  44. Allan Katz says:

    ‘Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate’

    Conservative virtues and values sound very Jewish and appealing to the Rabbi, yet he fails to ask -who do these values serve , and understand that while people do bear some responsibility , it is often more about the existing structural environment. He prefers the simplicity and satisfaction of holding individuals responsible for whatever happens: crime, poverty, school failure, what have you. He concentrates on the particular people involved — their values, their character, their personal failings — rather than asking whether something about the system and structural arrangements in which people find themselves might also need to be addressed.
    For eg the famous Protestant work ethic is prominent: children should learn to “work hard and complete their tasks well and promptly, even when they do not want to,” Who benefits when people are trained not to question the value of what they have been told to do but simply to toil away at it – and to regard this as virtuous?
    Are self-discipline and hard work are always desirable. In the classroom and the workplace, a lot of tasks simply aren’t worth doing, and efforts to promote conservative values like perseverance are more about perpetuating current power arrangements than about benefiting the person who’s supposed to internalize someone else’s values and apply him- or herself on command. – Alfie Kohn

  45. yankel says:

    Leah, you daven to H-Shem in Shul, not to the Rabbi. It might be easier for you to find a different shul, but don’t blame G-d for one of his self-annointed prophets’ attitudes.

  46. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Considering the comments, I’m wondering why no one from Cross Currents has explained what their thinking was in printing this article. Do the moderators have any second thoughts about their decision?

  47. msw says:

    The American Empire? That term in itself is bad enough without the rest of the article to go with it.

  48. Dovid says:

    An historical irony: Orthodox Jews traditionally accuse Reform Judaism of diluting Judaism by slavishly copying Goyish ideas. Now we have an Orthodox version of this.

  49. Yonatan says:

    What have I learned from Rabbi Pruzansky’s brilliant evaluation of the election? Let’s see, I worked all my life and paid into social security and now I am scum for living off my Social Security (Hey! That makes me part of the 47%). Jewish values of help those who are unfortunate are wrong – unfortunate people need to fend for themselves. We should cut off all food stamps, all Social Security. No health care. People who are not insurable because of pre-existing medical conditions, don’t deserve insurance or health care. We are all stupid and ignorant. Our heros should be people like Rep. West, Senator Todd Akins, Rush Limbaugh. I am so glad the Rabbi set me straight!

  50. Yonatan says:

    I left out of my last post, I voted for Romney – also holding my nose!

  51. dr. bill says:

    Many have captured my POV. Independent of the analysis; the last sentence predicting “…Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.” whatever “Old America” means is staggering. IMHO, it has subtle undertones, bordering on kefirah.

  52. Jeff Schwartz says:

    Well, this article has accomplished one thing. After a bitter election that divided so many against one another, including in the orthodox comnunity, 90% of the readers of this blog seem to agree on one thing — Rabbi Pruzansky’s approach is the wrong one! So kudos to CC for bringing us all together.

  53. Bob Miller says:

    Orthodox Jews have a right to question and assess whether or not our host society is hospitable to our values or to us. Our life environment here years, decades, or centuries ago may be becoming irrelevant now.

    A small point: having starkly demonstrated that so many of us will vote Democratic no matter what, what political leverage can we have to advance our moral and foreign policy interests?

  54. Al Gerson says:

    Yesterday I read this same article on Rabbi Pruzansky’s blog. What troubled me even more than the article (which in itself was plenty troubling) was the fact that the comments there are almost uniformly positive. People writing short one-liners like “Great article!”, “You’re the smartest!”. Could it possibly be that our community really applauds such hate-filled and arrogant writing? Then someone pointed out to me that the article is also posted on this site, and that this site (clearly unlike a certain other blog…) allows comments that disagree with the writer. After reading the nearly unanimous views of the comments here denouncing this article I feel much better about the intelligence and decency of our community. Much credit to Cross Currents for allowing the readers to talk back and express their views.

  55. A. Schreiber says:

    I am amazed at the intolerance displayed by some of the commenters here. Do they not believe in the right to have an opinion? In America, the most patriotic thing one can do is dissent – as we heard so often during the Bush administration – and to express your opinion clearly and forthrightly. Rabbi Pruzansky has done no more than express the views of tens of millions of Americans; nearly half the country as a whole, and the views of the majority of many states. Claims that Rabbi Pruzansky’s “tone” is off-putting is simply thinly-disguised bigotry against “the other”, people with opposing viewpoints. Any commenter trying to censor or surpress the Rabbi’s views ought to be embarassed.

  56. Shimon says:

    With Rabbi Pruzansky, if you can overlook the harsh tone, there is wisdom to be found in his words. It is the harshness which is unfortunate and as someone noted, Divre Torah Benachas Nishmaim. This has been a problem for many years with the rav. Many of us can remember his article years ago in the Jewish Voice which came off (actually it was) terribly anti-Israel. Then too, you had to look behind his terrible hurt and frustration with what Israel was doing to its own citizens and you could see wisdom.

  57. Yehuda says:

    Well said. What a sad story for the millions of Americans who want to stick to American principles but will be forced to see their own country transform into another totalitarian nation.

  58. Hat says:

    “That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is dumb – ignorant, and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism”

    He just called the majority of voters unintelligent. That would probably include some from his congregation.

  59. L. Oberstein says:

    The Republicans are all sitting around fuming and blaming everyone but themselves for their loss of the election. I think that Romney would have made a good Chief Executive and I did vote for him this time, as did a lot of the other people who commented on this post. We did so for the sake of Eretz Yisroel, not because we bought the right wing philosophy. I didn’t think that Romney himself believed what he said at times in his campaign but he had to do so to win the nomination. He would have been a Massachusetts Moderate and he could have been a successful President. He lost because the Republicans represent white males and that group is no longer the majority.Only one in three white males voted for Obama. If the Republicans want to be a majority party, they have to adapt to the voters, not the other way around. Angry white people who want to bring back the good old days and are against government programs except for the ones they benefit from are a minority.
    Also, the lack of moderation and the angry and in my opinion racist hatred of the President is not becoming intelligent people. Yet, I hear it and see it on the Internet all the time. It is poshut, disgusting. OK, Obama is just a flawed human being, as we all are, but he is not the embodiment of everything evil about the world. I listen to many of my peers say the most ridiculous things and do not respond because it is pointless.
    There is a disappointed minority in the frum community who believe that tzedek, tikkun olam and social justice were not terms invented by Reform rabbis. I keep my mouth shul when I hear racist diatribes but they are not becoming intelligent people and they seem to make the most noise.

    Now, we have to daven that President Obama will continue his strong military cooperation with Israel, that he will not be petty and pout and harbor ill will at the State of Israel because of the opposition of less than 30% of the American Jewish Community.Of course he won’t,because governance is based on national interests and not on friendship, as long as Israel is a strategic ally, it will benefit from American cooperation. My fear is not of Obama but of the rest of the world that doesn’t have a Jewish community as politically involved and a large Christian community that is pro Israel. Jews remain the largest donors to the Democratic Party and their voices will still be heard. Let’s daven that Iran will somehow be forced to back down before a nuclear war is forced on Israel. That is what we should care about now, not narishkeit.
    I agree with the following comment and hope to hear some response from the Editorial Board
    Joseph Kaplan
    November 9, 2012 at 7:32 am
    Considering the comments, I’m wondering why no one from Cross Currents has explained what their thinking was in printing this article. Do the moderators have any second thoughts about their decision?

  60. C. Kanoiy says:

    Perhaps cross-currents could feature an article or study documenting and explaining why it appears that so many in our community seem to have an irrational hatred and fear of President Obama. This is a president who is surrounded by Jewish advisors, has an Orthodox chief of staff, has appointed a Jewish Supreme Court justice, has given unprecedented amounts of money for Israel’s defense and yet many in our community think he is some sort of anti-Semite and are genuinely afraid of him. Is it racism, the right wing slant of Chareidi journalism , talk radio? Whatever it’s causes this is a discussion worth having.

  61. YJA says:

    First, I don’t agree with all the name calling. Second, it’s hard to talk politics becuase we are forced genaralize and catagorize large segments of our population. For example, I believe this subject (“the welfare state”)is comprised of both hard working indivuals who seek opportunity and those milking the system.

    I tend to look at the root cause of every problem. I don’t think that all Americans want to have an honest and educated discussion about root causes….we all tend to think about what a proposed or anticipated changes may mean to ourselves….irrespective of the greater good. This is what this election was all about. And the fact that their “is the 47%”, regardless of how we got here, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy to continue the “welfare state” path.

    The frustration for me personally is that our country is at a critical breaking point between our economy and our national debt…ALL other issue take a back seat. We can’t sustain our current path, period. Many of the issues go away when the economy is humming along (i.e. Clinton years). In general, it’s hard for me to understand why this view is not universal and why we are not having an honest discussion about the root causes. It leads me to believe that there is general ignorance of basic economics within a large percentage of the population. Does that make everyone “stupid”? No. But nonetheless, many wonder, “how bad does it have to get before we change our direction?”

  62. YM says:

    I voted for Mitt, but I disagree with Rabbi Prusansky’s conclusions.

    If the Republicans had supported immigration reform and had made a greater effort to court Catholic and socially conservative Hispanics, Mitt would have probably won. As it is, he received slighly less than 1/2 the votes cast. He didn’t need that many more votes to have won.

    In the American system, each party has to put together a coalition that is greater than 50.0% of the voting public. The Republican coalition doesn’t have enough members to win over someone like President Obama, whose get out the vote effort was able to deliver, both in 2008 and in 2012, much higher participation rates from African-Americans and young people age 18-28 than had participated in previous Presidential elections.

    I don’t think that most people who voted for President Obama did so for “free stuff”, but I do think that liberals make excuses for people who are not trying to be the most successful people they can be be.

  63. Raymond says:

    I have not yet read all the many comments here, but in just kind of skimming through them, I was surprised at the negative reaction of so many people to Rabbi Pruzanky’s column. My experience in reading his article was altogether different: I felt vindicated that my views on the disaster that was November 6th, is completely in sync with a man of his stature. IT made me feel like I am in line with Orthodox Jewish thinking, even if I am personally not religious. Now, I understand that speaking the truth as he did, offends some people, but it seems to me that one of the hallmarks of Torah Judaism is its uncompromising commitment to the truth.

  64. AA says:

    Nothing could have saved the American economy anyway.

    The US’s main product, labor, has been so grossly undercut by Far East wage scales. They are 10% of ours.

    The US needs to sink much, much further before wages come into parity with world levels.

    It does not matter who captains the sinking ship.

  65. mycroft says:

    “Studies will invariably show that Republicans in Congress received more total votes than Democrats in Congress, but that means little. The House of Representatives is not truly representative of the country. That people would vote for a Republican Congressmen or Senator and then Obama for President would tend to reinforce point two above: the empty-headedness of the electorate. Americans revile Congress but love their individual Congressmen. Go figure.”

    Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives actually received slightly more total votes than Republican candidates, according to one tally 53,952,240 to 53,402,643.

  66. Tal Benschar says:

    One thing I noticed about the reaction here is that no disputes a central point made by R. Pruzansky: that America is in decline. To my mind, there are two basic corollaries (my translation of nafka mina) of this observation:

    1. Domestically, it seems that the era where Jews could do well economically, with significant “disposable” or “extra” income for such things as yeshivas, shuls and other mosdos is coming to an end. These institutions depend upon a large group having significant extra income — $40k to $100k in yearly tuition, for example, depending on location — as well as gvirim with much more than that to fund the difference and pay for buildings, etc. These people are now the target of the “tax the rich” philosophy, and will find it harder and harder to support these mosdos. (Acc. to our President, someone who makes $250,000 a year qualifies as rich. A baal ha bayis who lives in the greater NY area who has, say, five children in yeshiva and is paying full tuition, is not “rich” in any meaningful sense, but the government now considers him so.)

    Furthermore, apart from the fact that economic success will be harder, more and more of the economy and other institutions will be dominated by the government. In a country where separation of Church and State is treated as a Constitutional mandate, that means that for many of these things, governmental support is an impossibility. (Unlike some Europeans countries, where yeshivas do get some tuition support.)

    2. Internationally, Israel is heavily dependent, militarily and diplomatically on the United States. The United States is a declining power, viewed as ineffectual in many parts of the world. Its people are tired of foreign wars, and the treasury cannot pay for it in any case. ($16 Trillion in debt is real money after all.) And while there remains a great deal of good will towards Israel in many parts of America, that is in decline — especially so among the left wing and minorities, who are now in the ascendancy.

    Exhibit A is the “God and Jerusalem” plank at this year’s Democratic convention. The majority voted against it, but then the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party, in calculated, political move right out of Orwell, declared it would be passed anyway. That might have been good politics short term, but politicians surely noticed it.

    And speaking of minorities, while the more traditional minorities (blacks, Hispanics) were, perhaps, on average, lukewarm to Israel, there is now a sizable group from Middle-Eastern and South Asian countries who are negative and even hostile towards Israel. I think I saw a statistic somewhere that there are now more Muslims than Jews in America. Again, politicians will notice this, they know where their bread is buttered.

    IMO, Israel would do well to work on being more independent from the U.S., and supporters of Israel would do well to encourage this.

  67. Bob Callahan says:

    The liberal media is the only reason that obama was re-elected.. Liberals have short memories when it comes to media help which In Bush’s case was harmful…. When it comes to obama it’s a hands off and even some idiots(candy crowley) help him out with lies… Read below as most just skip over this as it does not seem important, but it is very………

    The mass media’s complicity in Obama’s re-election cannot be denied. One example suffices. In 2004, CBS News forged a letter in order to imply that President Bush did not fulfill his Air National Guard service during the Vietnam War, all to impugn Bush and impair his re-election prospects. In 2012, President Obama insisted – famously – during the second debate that he had stated all along that the Arab attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was “terror” (a lie that Romney fumbled and failed to exploit). Yet, CBS News sat on a tape of an interview with Obama in which Obama specifically avoided and rejected the claim of terrorism – on the day after the attack – clinging to the canard about the video. (This snippet of a “60 Minutes” interview was not revealed – until two days ago!) In effect, CBS News fabricated evidence in order to harm a Republican president, and suppressed evidence in order to help a Democratic president. Simply shameful, as was the media’s disregard of any scandal or story that could have jeopardized the Obama re-election.

  68. david luchins says:

    My friend Rabbi Alderstein, asked me to respond to this article , but I shall refrain, because “the only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner”

  69. Bob Miller says:

    As long as opposing opinions, including those expressed without incendiary language, are all tossed off as hate, there is no possibility of discussion. To those in high and low places who try to impose their views on us sheep, discussion itself is a threat to be squashed. Don’t be surprised when some political radicals go after our Tanach and Gemara as “hate speech”.

  70. mycroft says:

    “Domestically, it seems that the era where Jews could do well economically, with significant “disposable” or “extra” income for such things as yeshivas, shuls and other mosdos is coming to an end. These institutions depend upon a large group having significant extra income — $40k to $100k in yearly tuition, for example, depending on location — as well as gvirim with much more than that to fund the difference and pay for buildings, etc. These people are now the target of the “tax the rich” philosophy, and will find it harder and harder to support these mosdos. (Acc. to our President, someone who makes $250,000 a year qualifies as rich.”

    Whether or not someone who earns more than $250K is rich is irrelevant -they are certainly in the top few percentage of American households. Much more important for Cross Currents is the point that our institutions are dependent on very high incomes-making Yahadus affordable to the top economic earners only. If the price of mosdos is pricing many people out of Yahadus is that a worthwhile exchange?
    I would prefer if this blog kept to Jewish/Orthodox issues without entering the political thicket.

  71. Zehava says:

    Some comments here have tried to turn things on their head and claim that the numerous comments here that disagree with Rabbi Pruzansky are trying to censure him or cut off all discussion. I see nothing of the sort. I see people who have read the incendiary and insulting article and want to be counted among those who strongly disagree with the substance and tone of the diatribe. Count me among those.

  72. Jon says:

    For Jews to vote for Obama, an enemy of the State of Israel and therefore an enemy of Jews, seems to me to be the most nonsensical act of all time. To vote for one’s own demise makes absolutely no logical sense. For Jews to side against personal freedom after all their centuries of suffering makes no sense. To vote for Obama when he’s a dove on Iran, which wants to decimate i.e. wipe out, their homeland makes no sense, either. God has taken away the land of Jews a few times before in the past because they turned away from Him. It can happen again. I believe God has higher standards for His chosen people. As the chosen people of God, you have a duty to support moral candidates. As a group, Jews supported the most anti-God candidate in the history of the United States. The United States has protected Israel for decades, just by inferred use of force. Jews supported someone who can’t be trusted to defend Israel. What a tragedy. Sure, it might be good for Jews to go home to Israel as a show of support. But if things keep going like they are, there will be no Israel to go home to. Iran is belligerent and determined. They have the support of Russia and China. They are fanatical, but not insane. God Bless.

  73. Charles Hall says:

    “no disputes a central point made by R. Pruzansky: that America is in decline.”

    To the contrary, I disputed that point very aggressively in one of my earlier comments. I’ll expand further: The US has by far the largest economy of any country in the world. It has by far the largest military and the only one able to project power anywhere in the globe — there is in fact only one other country with even a single modern aircraft carrier (France); the US has eleven (with one scheduled for decommissioning and two under construction). The US continues to lead the world in scientific research. The US continues to be the #1 destination for immigrants as we continue to steal the best and brightest of the rest of the world. The US continues to lead the world in religious tolerance. And the US will finally, during Barack Obama’s second term, guarantee that all its citizens have access to health care, something that every other First World country has done.

    America was never an “empire” in the usual sense. But it has not declined and it isn’t anywhere near a fall.

  74. Charles Hall says:

    ‘These people are now the target of the “tax the rich” philosophy’

    In fact, tax rates were far higher under Ronald Reagan than they will be if all the Bush tax cuts were to be allowed to expire. Was Reagan also an enemy?

    “In a country where separation of Church and State is treated as a Constitutional mandate, that means that for many of these things, governmental support is an impossibility.”

    France is the most militantly secular country in Europe, having separated church and state in 1905, yet pays for the entire cost of secular studies in Jewish Day Schools. The US Supreme Court has ruled that there isn’t an explicit constitutional bar in the US, but (1) 38 states including New York have explicit constitutional provisions (the infamous Blaine Amendments) that prohibit state funding of religious schools, (2) the federal government, which doesn’t face such a provision, plays a minor role in funding education and that isn’t going to change without a very large federal tax increase, and (3) every time Americans have had a chance to vote on public funding of religious schools, they have voted it down, usually by landslide margins. A 1967 proposal to get rid of New York’s Blaine Amendment (interestingly, promoted by Democrats allied with Sen. Robert Kennedy and opposed by most of the state’s Republicans) garnered only 28% of the vote.

    “an enemy of the State of Israel and therefore an enemy of Jews”

    Israel’s Defense Minister has publicly stated numerous times that there has been no President of the United States who has been as supportive of Israel’s security as has Barack Obama.

    “he’s a dove on Iran”

    Iran now faces the most draconian economic sanctions any country has ever faced in peacetime. It has also had to deal with the first modern cyberwar. Furthermore, both President Obama and the Democratic Party Platform have explicitly threatened military action if it does not give up its nuclear weapons program. (The Republican Party Platform was silent on that.) If that is “dove” I don’t know what “hawk” would look like.

    “They have the support of Russia and China. ”

    In fact, both Russia and China voted for the UN sanctions on Iran despite the large Muslim populations in both countries. That was one of the many great foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama administration. Unfortunately we have to throw the dissidents in both Russia and China under the bus in order to preserve Russian and Chinese support for the sanctions, but we have prioritize.

  75. Charles Hall says:

    “proclaim to women that their abortions and birth control would be taken away.”

    In fact, the Republican platform did include a plank that would have had the effect of banning all abortions.

    “In New Jersey, for example, it literally does not pay for a conservative to vote.”

    Chris Christie might disagree with you on that one!

  76. Shanks says:

    DF: “Benjamin Franklin said at the time that when the people finally realize they can vote themselves money, it will herald the end of the experiment.”

    No he didn’t, that’s not true. (I’d give you a link but it’s against the rules.)

  77. Toby Katz says:

    “Also, the lack of moderation and the angry and in my opinion racist hatred of the President is not becoming intelligent people. Yet, I hear it and see it on the Internet all the time. “[–L. Oberstein]

    I read a great many conservative articles and columns on the internet and in actual magazines and books. I have not seen any racism, although on the liberal sites I have seen and heard many accusations of racism. Could you please give me a link to a couple of the racist anti-Obama sites you came across? Thank you.

  78. yankel says:

    Nobody mentioned the comment about the new immigrants to the US. I live in Lakewood and the Hispanics living here are hard-working, saving individuals who are true examples of the American dream, willing to sacrifice for a better life for themselves. I would not advance the racist canard that therefore all Hispanics are like that. But the xenophobic belief that this is impossible, and any other race must be lazy, as well as the basic idea of judging people by their race, stands in the way of acceptance of these facts.

  79. Yaakov Menken says:

    I have to join with those appalled by the double standard. Were Obama a Republican, his association with a minister known to say things anything close to what Jeremiah Wright emerges with on a regular basis would end his career. Were Biden a Republican, his comment about “puttin’ y’all back in chains” would end his career. Were Obama a Republican, the way he injected himself into police work and prejudged both Police Sgt. James Crowley and George Zimmerman would end his career.

    Instead, we get cries of “racism” when John Sununu says Obama was too lazy to prepare for the debate, says that “Obama isn’t 3/5 of the president Mitt Romney will be,” or, taking note of Obama’s self-proclaimed sports prowess, says “The only track record Obama has worth mentioning is probably the one he set in high school gym class.” We get cries of “racism” when Republicans remind voters of the inflammatory statements that Obama made to black audiences about Hurricane Katrina. We get cries of “racism” when anyone mentions that Obama’s political career started with the help of the cofounder of the Weather Underground, and refers to that as Obama “palling around with terrorists.” And to top it all off, the absence of black support for the Republican candidate is touted as proof of racism, rather than black support and pride for the first black President, combined with a drumbeat of the above fed to Americans daily by a media dominated by proud leftists. Never mind that Herman Cain was a viable Republican candidate until his own personal failings ended his bid.

    Racism from Republicans cannot possibly compare. To echo what Bob Miller said above, “As long as opposing opinions, including those expressed without incendiary language, are all tossed off as hate, there is no possibility of discussion.” Specifically in the last two election cycles, the Democratic Party has become the party of race-baiting and selective blindness; perhaps that will change now that Obama has run his last race, but I’m waiting to see signs.

  80. Tal Benschar says:

    In fact, tax rates were far higher under Ronald Reagan than they will be if all the Bush tax cuts were to be allowed to expire. Was Reagan also an enemy?

    Merely repeating Obama talking points does not make it so. When Reagan came into office, the highest tax rate was a staggering 70%. He repeatedly worked to reduce it, and by the time he left office, the top tax rate was 28%. The top rate is higher now and will get higher still if Obama has his way. (BTW, I don’t consider Obama an enemy, merely someone who has a very different vision of where he wants America to be than I do.)

    Not to mention that the overall tax burden on business, not to mention the regulatory burden was less. Overall, Reagan was a far more business-friendly president than Obama ever will be. The ability to earn “extra” income to be used to either pay yeshiva tuitions, or for those so fortunate, to donate large sums to yeshivas, was greater under Reagan and his Republican successors.

    France is the most militantly secular country in Europe, having separated church and state in 1905, yet pays for the entire cost of secular studies in Jewish Day Schools. The US Supreme Court has ruled that there isn’t an explicit constitutional bar in the US, but (1) 38 states including New York have explicit constitutional provisions (the infamous Blaine Amendments) that prohibit state funding of religious schools, (2) the federal government, which doesn’t face such a provision, plays a minor role in funding education and that isn’t going to change without a very large federal tax increase, and (3) every time Americans have had a chance to vote on public funding of religious schools, they have voted it down, usually by landslide margins. A 1967 proposal to get rid of New York’s Blaine Amendment (interestingly, promoted by Democrats allied with Sen. Robert Kennedy and opposed by most of the state’s Republicans) garnered only 28% of the vote.

    You are only partially correct. The Establishment Clause is binding on the States under Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947). A funding system for religious schools such as in France would violate the Establishment Clause. You are correct that the Supreme Court has upheld voucher systems in some circumstances (albeit usually only for inner-city areas where the public school has failed), and there is a good argument to be made that a voucher system could be constructed that would pass Constitutional muster.* You are also correct that both the Blaine Amendments and active political opposition (mainly from teachers unions) are major impediments to public funding of religious schools.

    But, more importantly, your comments do not dispute my basic point: public funding of yeshivas in this country is very, very unlikely, whatever the legal/political/historical reasons. Hence if the Orthodox community wants to have the ability to fund its institutions, it needs private money, and lots of it. That requires a robust private economy, and tax rates which allow those who are either comfortable or even “rich” to have extra income for the purpose.

    To the contrary, I disputed that point very aggressively in one of my earlier comments. I’ll expand further: The US has by far the largest economy of any country in the world. It has by far the largest military and the only one able to project power anywhere in the globe — there is in fact only one other country with even a single modern aircraft carrier (France); the US has eleven (with one scheduled for decommissioning and two under construction). The US continues to lead the world in scientific research. The US continues to be the #1 destination for immigrants as we continue to steal the best and brightest of the rest of the world. The US continues to lead the world in religious tolerance. And the US will finally, during Barack Obama’s second term, guarantee that all its citizens have access to health care, something that every other First World country has done.

    America was never an “empire” in the usual sense. But it has not declined and it isn’t anywhere near a fall.

    Surely a statistician such as yourself understands the difference between an absolute state and a direction. All you have proven is that right now American is the largest and most powerful country in the world. It also has severe debt, is overextended militarily, has a stagnant economy and is about to decommission a significant part of its naval power. I am not saying that America is collapsing tomorrow. I am saying that the decline has begun.

    (If you don’t mind a bit of derush, Chazal say that the Ummos ha Olam count their days acc. to the sun, but the Jewish people acc. to the moon. The sun rises and sets and then you are finished — the next day is a new day. The moon, OTOH, waxes and wanes and then comes back. Non-Jewish societies rise and fall, and when they are done, something else replaces them.

    The Torah calls the afternoon period bein ha arbayim — between the evenings. Now sunset is clearly the onset of evening. In what sense is early afternoon an evening? Rashi (Shemos 12:7) explains that, once astronomical noon passes, the sun starts to tilt towards the west, and the shadows and darkening begin. So afternoon is a time of continual darkening until sunset and nightfall.

    IMHO, America is definitely in the afternoon of its day. How long that will last, and what the next “day” will bring, I cannot say.

    Iran now faces the most draconian economic sanctions any country has ever faced in peacetime. It has also had to deal with the first modern cyberwar. Furthermore, both President Obama and the Democratic Party Platform have explicitly threatened military action if it does not give up its nuclear weapons program. (The Republican Party Platform was silent on that.) If that is “dove” I don’t know what “hawk” would look like.

    If you think Obama and his administration are going to go to war with Iran over its weapons, then you are naive in the extreme. That said, I would strongly prefer for many reasons that no war result. While the sanctions regime is good (although it could be stronger), Obama’s real sin was not supporting the student revolution in Iran. The best hope for avoiding either war or a nuclear-armed Iran is to foment an internal revolution in that country. As I have written elsewhere, the sanctions are not an end in themselves, they are simply a means of convincing the country to do what we want. That would be far easier if Iran had a regime change. On that one, Obama dropped the ball. (Not to say Romney necessarily would have done better.)

    ______
    *Although I note in passing that such an argument would more likely be accepted by Justices appointed by a Republican president than a Democratic one. I rather doubt that Justices Sotamayor and Kagan would agree to uphold such a scheme.)

  81. Tal Benschar says:

    Whether or not someone who earns more than $250K is rich is irrelevant -they are certainly in the top few percentage of American households. Much more important for Cross Currents is the point that our institutions are dependent on very high incomes-making Yahadus affordable to the top economic earners only. If the price of mosdos is pricing many people out of Yahadus is that a worthwhile exchange?
    I would prefer if this blog kept to Jewish/Orthodox issues without entering the political thicket.

    Mycroft, you are missing the point here. Religious institutions require private money, at least in this country. No matter how you structure things, SOMEONE has to fund the yeshivas. So even if you come up with a way to make yeshiva tuition more affordable for families (a worthy goal, and something that is already done in some places), that means that those with means will have to support the institutions even more. That requires both a vibrant economy to let these people make the money, and a tax system that leaves over enough money for the purpose. I am dubious that either will happen in the next four years, and beyond.

    To put it differently, there is a big difference between, say, health care and religious education. If the government nationalizes the former (as it is on its way to doing), then while we will all suffer dealing with the mediocrity of such a system, at least there will be an alternative. If government nationalizes education, there will be no religious education.

  82. C. Kanoiy says:

    Yackov Menken you write that Obama’s association with his pastor should have ended his career. Would you apply the same standards to the many Frum candidates who sit through droshas describing America as the “trefe medina” and black people as “cananite slaves” and worse?

  83. mycroft says:

    ““racism” when John Sununu says Obama was too lazy to prepare for the debate, says that “Obama isn’t 3/5 of the president Mitt Romney will be,”

    The 3/5 is exactly the figure of the 3/5 compromise in the original US constitution that treated slaves as 3/5 of a person for representation and taxation. Using that figure referring to a black person either reflects ignorance or reflecting a racist belief. I find it strange to have a defense of Governor Sununu who represents the pro-Palestinian anti-Israel side of Governor Romney’s advisers-Governor Romney certainly had pro-Israeli supporters see eg John Bolton but Governor Sununu was far from pro-Israel.

  84. nunyabidness says:

    “Iranian born Valerie Jarrett” – born in Iran to AMERICAN PARENTS.

  85. mycroft says:

    “Mycroft, you are missing the point here. Religious institutions require private money, at least in this country.”
    Agreed
    “No matter how you structure things, SOMEONE has to fund the yeshivas.”
    I wish the term yeshiva were limited to its original use as an advanced place of higher religious Jewish education-assuming you mean day schools as Yeshivas-serious discussion of the trade offs that have been made in the past 75 years or so by the displacement of talmud torah system with a day school movement that is currently mandatory to be part of the Orthodox community. This requirement prevents non above average income earners and non above average academic students from being part of the Orthodox community. BTW-the use of the term yeshiva for day schools has probably led to an imitation of the European Yeshiva model for all. In Europe the Yeshivot were only for the elite.

    ” So even if you come up with a way to make yeshiva tuition more affordable for families (a worthy goal, and something that is already done in some places), that means that those with means will have to support the institutions even more. That requires both a vibrant economy to let these people make the money, and a tax system that leaves over enough money for the purpose. I am dubious that either will happen in the next four years, and beyond.”
    It is not the tax system-the elites have not had as much proportion of national income since the gilded age. In past few decades the median Americans real salary has hardly increased-no one close to a median income can afford an Orthodox lifestyle-day schools etc. Where is our discussion about that. Torah should not be limited to the elites.

    “To put it differently, there is a big difference between, say, health care and religious education. If the government nationalizes the former (as it is on its way to doing), then while we will all suffer dealing with the mediocrity of such a system, at least there will be an alternative.” Not an appropriate Cross-Current discussion IMO-but check the life expectancy in the US versus other countries-eg European, Canada,Israel and see where the US is and compare to the amount spent per person on healthcare in those countries and see if our system is really good for the median American patient.

  86. Yaakov Menken says:

    Yes! If “C. Kanoiy” can escape the bonds of personal cowardice, use his real name, and then find recordings of a frum candidate’s Rav calling black people “cananite [sic] slaves,” then yes, of course I would agree that person shouldn’t hold office — but I don’t have to. Were a Jewish candidate saddled with something like that and the tapes became known, he’d have never held office. Obama was given a pass on something that would have killed the career of most any other candidate.

    As far as America having been the “trefe medina,” that’s like saying the Confederate states supported slavery, and hardly comparable to Wright.

    But is C. Kanoiy going to now use a consistent standard? Well, of course not, since no such person exists.

  87. Josh Greenberg says:

    Yaakov Menken,

    I know well of a Rav of an Agudah shul in Flatbush who during his derashos regularly uses derogatory terms for black people. If you insist on specifics I can identify this Rav by name and the precise derogatory terms that he uses, although I suggest that discretion is warranted here. But I assure you that I’m not proceeding on hearsay. I have heard this Rav on more than one occasion use such language during Shabbos derashos. Will you be consistent and now say that any member of that Agudah shul who has heard these derogatory terms in the Rav’s derashos and who has a close relationship with this Rav is, for those reasons, unfit to hold public office?

  88. Charles Hall says:

    ” not to mention the regulatory burden was less”

    Not true at all regarding the financial sector. When Reagan left office, interstate banking was still highly restricted, the Glass-Steagall Act was still in effect, and credit default swaps were subject to insurance regulation.

    “is about to decommission a significant part of its naval power”

    The aircraft carrier about to be decommissioned was first launched in 1960. No US aircraft carrier in history has ever lasted that long. And as I said, there are two under construction.

    But it isn’t at all clear that the US needs ten aircraft carriers. No other country has more than one. They were designed to win a future Battle of Midway, but that was really never an issue at any time after World War II as neither the Soviet Union nor China every developed aircraft carriers that had the same kind of mission. And the one country that did, France, never had more than two. The REAL reason to keep building aircraft carriers is to avoid shutting down the Newport News shipyard, because if the skilled workforce gets dispersed, we may never be able to build another.

    “IMHO, America is definitely in the afternoon of its day.”

    Three decades ago it was Democrats who had a depressing view of America’s future, and Republicans led by Ronald Reagan who promoted the idea that it was “morning again”. Today the roles are reversed. That alone may be sufficient to explain last Tuesday’s results. Americans are optimists at heart. I share that optimism.

  89. Charles Hall says:

    “I read a great many conservative articles and columns on the internet and in actual magazines and books. I have not seen any racism, although on the liberal sites I have seen and heard many accusations of racism.”

    For the record, with the exception of a very small number of people on the far fringe with a very small number of incidents, who clearly are not representative of mainstream Republicans or even the right wing of the Republican party, I have seen nothing that I can identify as actual racism. There has been a lot of other beyond the pale stuff — the Marxist/Muslim/Kenyan nonsense in particular — but nothing like the racism of the southerners who within my lifetime closed entire school districts in order to avoid integration. (That such is in fact considered beyond the pale by all today is one reason that I disagree with Rabbi Pruzansky about the Old America. I’m old enough to have attended a public elementary school that was segregated *de jure*.)

  90. Yaakov Menken says:

    Is Josh Greenberg “C Kanoiy”? [No, I know they’re not.] It’s like an echo with a real name, and I commend Josh for using his. But it remains as I said. Do I think a Rav should be using those terms? Of course not. And were a Jewish candidate saddled with something like that and the tapes became known, he’d have never held office. I am quite certain that the political opponents of any member of that Rav’s shul wouldn’t hesitate to lack the discretion Josh suggests.

  91. Reb Yudel says:

    I do find it odd the claims by some here that Obama’s election will increase the deficit — Romney’s web site offered a tax cut that would add $5 trillion to the deficit, and the only proposal he offered to make up for that was to cap itemized deductions — something that would decimate the charitable sector.

  92. L says:

    I am just curious how many people have left shuls due to feeling as though there is no place for them either in their congregations or within Orthodoxy, because they do not ascribe to the extreme political views of a rabbi. The thought that people could be made to feel unwelcome in a beis knesses or within the frum world entirely, simply because they are in favor of universal health care (which our Israeli brethren are the beneficiaries of–I don’t hear too many Zionistic rabbis, including Rabbi Pruzansky, railing publicly against the injustice of that system), or because they are opposed to drastic spending cuts to social services that are depended upon by so many of our most vulnerable citizens, or because (and who’s bold enough to even admit this out loud?) they find the idea of abortion laws stricter than what the Torah itself mandates to be frightening, to say the least.

    Rabbi Menken, many people on this site (myself included) choose to use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons related to protection of their privacy. Not all of us are public figures who are comfortable sharing (or are even paid to share) our personal views on what are often very controversial topics in the frum world with our names attached. For some of us, our personal views may be at odds with those of our neighbors, employers, and rabbis. I fail to see why a desire to maintain privacy should render someone’s opinion suspect, or illegitimate.

    [YA – I’ll answer this one. First of all, do you think that it is any LESS risky for public figures to take positions? Please think again! Next – I don’t think he meant that the comments of anonymous bloggers are illegitimate. Nonetheless, we do take them less seriously. When you know that you will be called out for a lie or for sloppiness, you are less likely to lie or be sloppy. There are no consequences to anonymous bloggers for either of those faults. Writers on CC have limited time available. If they are going to involve themselves in a debate, they are more likely to invest time with an interlocutor who is on an even playing field in terms of the consequences of bad thinking.]

  93. L. Graber says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky’s comments about the US political scene are bad enough. But then he proceeds to denegrade all of the Israeli political parties (“markedly poor alternatives”) and takes a swipe at Netanyahu. (“[Netanyahu] has never distinguished himself by having a strong political or moral backbone”). Shocking that Rabbi Pruzansky is certain that he knows better about what’s in Israel’s best interests than any of the Israeli political parties or than the Israeli PM, a man who fought on the front lines in the 67 War and the Yom Kippur, whose brother was kileld fighting on behalf of Israel, and who has devoted his life to the security of Israel.

  94. Reb Yid says:

    Where does one begin.

    The fact that so many on this board ignore the tone of this post is, indeed, part of the problem.

    As to the erroneous content–too much to critique, but a few rejoinders:

    As I write, with almost all the votes counted, President Obama has won fewer votes than John McCain won in 2008, and more than ten million off his own 2008 total.

    Actually, the votes continue to trickle in. Obama already several million votes ahead of McCain. Many absentee and provisional ballots to be counted in places like Ohio, Arizona, California, New York and New Jersey (the last two because of Sandy) that will continue to widen Obama’s final lead over Romney.

    Nate Silver’s excellent 538 blog today analyzes the current vote totals by state (compared to 2008), and addresses the areas where many votes have yet to be tabulated.

    What else:

    55% of those with a post-graduate degree voted for Obama, versus only 42% for Romney. I suppose by the blogger’s estimation these Obama voters are all “dumb – ignorant, and uninformed.”

    Oh yes, there’s the “free stuff” that people want. Except that you’re forgetting lots of other free stuff, like some who want their primary source of income–investments–(mostly the province of the wealthy) to be taxed at 15%, far lower than the rates that the rest of us stiffs pay.

    There’s the not so small fact that, although the two Presidential candidates are both in the “1%” bracket, one of them realized that the growing disparity between him and the 99% needed to be addressed and could relate to other Americans of different income brackets. The other not only justified the status quo but, indeed, argued for further “free gifts” for the wealthy. He was so completely out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans.

    And then, of course, the bloggers “sour grapes” of America’s decline, that the “old” is being lost, etc. We’ve heard this all before in America. We heard it when the Irish moved in, then the Italians, then from the German Jews when the Russians and Eastern European Jews came in. And so on. This is the gift of America–a nation of immigrants that continues to regenerate because of its ability to attract a diverse lot from around the world. Kein Yirbu.

  95. Ed Pro says:

    This article is spot on. When the takers run out of other folks work and the money it produces the country will crash. What a sorry ending for folks that came to this country and worked hard.

  96. Steve Brizel says:

    I wish to offer a less pessimistic and differing POV on this issue. Take a look at the post mortems among leaders in the Republican Party-then ask yourself how many Democrats were elected President between 1964 and 192-Carter in 1976 as a backlash for Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Clinton, Reagan and the Bushes were all successful because they were not perceived as extremists by the majority of the American public. Extremists in the Democratic and Republican Parties have a poor track record with the silent majority of the American public. Like it or not, the hard right of the Republican Party with its emphasis on the social issues and the Tea Party have painted themselves into a corner whereby they view ideological purity as more desirable than winning elections-in the same fashion that the Democrats did between 1968 and 1992.

  97. Robert Lebovits says:

    I live in that part of the US of A famously known for people “…clinging to their guns and religion…”. I disagree with Rabbi Pruzansky’s assertion that we are no longer a center-right nation; around here conservatism in all its permutations is thriving. In fact, the MOST obvious conclusion that can be derived from this election is that there are really two Americas – only modestly comingled – vying for political control of the entire land mass from one Democratic coast to the other. I don’t know if there has ever been more division since the Civil War, but I would bet the sense of alienation experienced by the losing side has not been worse. The tenor of the rabbi’s post reflects the pain and sorrow of someone who fears for the future of the country he cares for and would wish to protect. He is not alone, neither in his feelings nor in his vision, for all the reasons noted by other commenters. Nevertheless his basic analysis is flawed.
    No, Rabbi Pruzansky. Gov. Romney did not lose because he did not garner enough votes. Pres. Obama won because his leadership reflects the aspirations of an ever-so-slight majority of the American people. If a decline in our greatness ensues, it will be the result of our dimunition as a nation deserving of greatness in HKBH’s eyes.

  98. Bob Miller says:

    Toby Katz wrote above, “I read a great many conservative articles and columns on the internet and in actual magazines and books. I have not seen any racism, although on the liberal sites I have seen and heard many accusations of racism.”

    The accusers in this case often favor policies that keep racial minorities in a permanent state of alienation, grievance and dependency (on government in general and the Democratic Party in particular). The Republican convention this year took pains to showcase its minority officeholders and candidates who shook off the mental shackles, or never had them, and progressed to great things.

    Who today is more racist than The Rev. Wright, his buddy Louis Farrakhan, and Al Sharpton. Are these, perchance Republicans? Do Democrats as a group reject people like this, or the opposite? When Farrakhan came to Indianapolis to be a featured speaker at the funeral of Rep. Julia Carson (D), having been invited by her family, the local liberal newspaper did not dare, or maybe want, to say anything critical about his sordid past. That told me a lot.

  99. ASC says:

    If Rabbi Prusansky needs a community as his poster boy of America’s decline, there’s one in New York State where about 70 percent of the 21,000 residents live in households whose income falls below the federal poverty threshold. Median family income ($17,929) and per capita income ($4,494) rank lower than any other comparable place in the country. Nearly half of the households reported less than $15,000 in annual income.

    About HALF of the residents of this community receive food stamps, and ONE-THIRD receive Medicaid benefits and rely on federal vouchers to help pay their housing costs.

    Only a minority of households speak English as their first language. And as if to prove the rabbi’s point that its residents do not share the traditional American values that attracted immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, none of its children attend public schools or are exposed to the classics of American literature or mark great patriotic holidays like July fourth or Thanksgiving.

    The name of this village is “Kiryas Joel,” which I think is Spanish for “free money.”

  100. Judy Stein says:

    Great point, ASC. But I’d add that the community you point out that most closely fits as the poster child for the behavior that Rabbi Pruzansky chides voted mostly for….Romney. 58% of people in Kiryas Joel voted for Romney, 42% for Obama.

    And to add another point, Rabbi Pruzansky seems to be a fan of ethnic stereotypes so I’ll play that game to point out yet another defect in his argument. Asian-Americans are reported to have voted 73% for Obama. That’s even higher than the percentage of Latino votes (71%) for Obama. Yet Asian-Americans, according to the ethnic stereotypes, are hard-working, intelligent, educated, and are not just looking for “free stuff”. So how does Rabbi Pruzansky explain (or, more likely, dismiss) their overhwheming support for Obama?

  101. Alex Schindler says:

    Kudos to Professor Charles Hall for his well-reasoned and succinct rebuttals of claims in the article. And commenter “Chakira” seems to have succeeded in identifying if not the genesis of some of the errors of fact or useless invective, at least its proximate source. I also appreciate those commenters who expressed their discomfort with rabbis making their congregants uncomfortable knowing that they are now beHezqath dumb-and-greedy, or in general with the aggressively ad hominem style — a criticism many Romney supporters had the intellectual integrity to make as well.

    As for Professor David Luchins, I second the request that you write a rebuttal — not to be a sore winner, but to show the Orthodox community how a dissenting political opinion can be expressed with facts, data, analysis, and a distinct lack of vitriol.

  102. ASC says:

    To be fair to Rabbi Pruzansky, other great Americans have also worried that new immigrants do not share our values and as a result contribute to the decline of America.

    In fact, one of them famously wrote, “[P]resently, Americans who thought they were secure in their own city, were aware of an advancing shadow. A subtle atmosphere of deterioration became evident. In the top lofts of buildings, sweatshops had been installed, which noon and night poured into the streets an alien stream — not a
    glad, hopeful-eyed immigrant rejoicing to be in America and at work, but something darker.”

    The writer, unfortunately, was Henry Ford, and his subject was Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.

    Ford continues in a vein that I think the rabbi and his supporters might appreciate: “There is a mass of moving stories (mostly written by Jews, by the way) pretending to describe the glowing hearts with which these throngs look out upon America, their intense longing to be American, their love of our people and our institutions. Most unfortunately, the actions of these people and the utterances of their leaders give the lie to this fair picture which, as Americans, we would fain believe. The resistance offered to Americanization, consisting in the limitations put upon the Americanization program, has been sufficient to convince all observers that, so far as the Jewish invasion is concerned, it is not their desire
    to go the way America is going, but to influence America to go the way they are going. They talk a great deal of what they bring to America, hardly anything at all of what they found here. America is presented to them as a big piece of putty to be molded as they desire, not as a benign mother who is able and willing to make these aliens to be like her own children. The doctrine that the United States is nothing definite as yet, that it is only a free-for-all opportunity to make it what you will, is one of the most
    distinctive of Jewish teachings.” (The International Jew, p. 298)

  103. Robin Benoff says:

    Chazak chaZack for being so forthright and such an outspoken advocate of Israel and aliya.

  104. David F. says:

    While I can understand why some take issue with Rabbi Pruzansky’s direct manner of writing, and why others are troubled by his actual sentiments, I can’t say that I share their sentiments. His points, while perhaps inelegant, are all worth contemplating. One need not agree with each one to understand that he’s making some important points and that we’d best not sit back and believe that all is well in the good ole USA. It’s not and there are multiple reasons for this. The national debt is spiraling out of control, the economy is not doing well at the moment, far too many people are jobless, and Israel is being threatened by a terrible enemy who seeks to obtain weapons that will make it possible to wipe it off the face of the earth.
    These are all facts and scary ones at that. Could Romney have fixed all these problems? Of course not. Can Obama? Also not. Yet, for many of us, the prospects of another four years under a president who has dissappointed in so many of these areas is not a happy one. I, too, was very disillusioned when Obama won and many of feelings mirrored those of Rabbi Pruz.
    I commend him for taking the time to put his thoughts to paper, place his name on it knowing that he would offend many, and reminding us that we have much to daven for especially now. His article certainly reminded me in no uncertain terms that אין לנו על מי להשען אלא על אבינו שבשמים!

  105. David Gold says:

    Thank You Rabbi Steven Pruzansky for your well thought, explained and detailed analysis of the current socio-political situation in the United States of America.

  106. L. Oberstein says:

    105 comments is a record as far as I can recall! I am so glad that we live in the liberal democracy of the USA where there is freedom of speech and of conscience. Even speech that offends is allowed . I would not want to live in a world of certainty where only one political or religious philosophy was allowed. Judaism is a great religion. We may argue but we don’t kill heretics or even socialists.
    The sour grapes of the losing Party are not becoming adult behavior. Get over it and move on. Could it be that there are even readers of Cross-Currents who agree with Grover Norquist or who welcome the Fiscal Cliff rather than “compromise” on their conservative beliefs. America is great specifically because we have tolerance and believe in compromise. I have heard on the radio more than one expert say that Dwight Eisenhauer and Ronald Reagan could not get nominated in today’s Tea Party Republican Party. That is why I wonder why any thinking Jew would so throughly go over to one side that they would not see the fallacy of fanatic clinging to either political party. Rabbi Pruzansky stepped over the line by demeaning millions of Americans who do not share his opinion. I think he is wrong but I never would say he is stupid or lazy.

  107. Queen Esther says:

    @L. Oberstein – Raising taxes on the “rich” will destroy more jobs. If Republicans “compromise” on this point, America will continue on its inevitable decline and go off the fiscal cliff. I don’t see serious spending cuts, which would avoid raising taxes, coming from the liberal democrats. Where is there any “compromise” coming from them?

  108. Queen Esther says:

    Rabbi Pruzansky is warning the Jewish people just like many did in the ’30’s. He is one of the few Rabbis that speak out on the dangers of the Obama administration. He is to be commended and heeded. And just like in the 30’s people did not believe those who were warning them. (This is not to say we are headed for the same fate – but the possibility exists.)

    As the psalmist so wisely stated, Psalm 115:4 – “Which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not;” like the idols they served.”

    President Obama told his base, “Vote for revenge.” Mitt Romney said, “Vote for love of country.” The people voted for revenge. I suppose that’s what we will get.

  109. Queen Esther says:

    The Obama campaign used Alinsky style tactics against Romney- smearing the other side and calling them liars, the “war on women,” “binders,” class warfare, etc. They used these tactics because Obama could not stand on his record of high unemployment, 16 trillion in debt (6 trillion of his own making in the last 4 years – the most of any president,) failed foreign policy (Islamic fundamentalism spread throughout the Middle East), more people in poverty, triple A credit rating downgraded, etc. Rabbi Pruzansky should be commended for his courage to stand up for the truth.

  110. Gail Abramson says:

    This essay is painful. It is pessimistic. It is powerful. And, alas, it is the truth. While I think that newer immigrants have been painted with too broad a brush, and that many have the same aspirations our grandparents did when they came to these shores, everything else rings true.

  111. HESHY BYLMAN says:

    Re: L. Oberstein.
    You are dead wrong, as are all the other Lib commentators, re: Reagan.
    Reagan most certainly would have been nominated even by the Tea Party people. He was no less conservative in any of his positions than Mitt Romney, certainly. However, there is no way on this earth that he could have won the Presidency, given the current dumbed down electorate. Think about that – focus on it – If Romney was good enough for the Tea Party people, Reagan certainly would have been.

  112. Reb Yid says:

    The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted. As I write, with almost all the votes counted, President Obama has won fewer votes than John McCain won in 2008, and more than ten million off his own 2008 total.

    To shed some much needed light (and sugar) on this sourest of sour grapes:

    The votes keep on coming. And coming. Apparently this blogger, in his haste to judgement, is not aware that counting votes takes time. Some states vote by mail. Many others have provisional or affidavit ballots to tabulate. And then there’s the not small matter of areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

    To make a long story short, President Obama currently has 6 million more votes–far eclipsing McCain’s 2008 vote total, with a dozen more states yet to certify their ballots. Some of those, including Arizona, Oregon, California, New Jersey and Colorado, will further boost Obama’s totals and overall margin (currently at 51% to 47%).

    And then there’s the not small matter of New York, which has also yet to certify its totals. The overall Presidential vote is currently down 2.25% (and shrinking), or a little under 3 million votes, from the 2008 Presidential totals. But New York’s differential here–far lower than any other state, at -16%, accounts for 1.2 million of that total (or 41% of the total deficit). We can safely assume that Hurricane Sandy accounts for the bulk of this difference, and that surely the President would have picked up many hundreds of thousands of votes.

    Facts are stubborn things. I will post the link to these data, which is from David Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Report, but in case the editors decide not to post it, Google “David Wasserman” “redistrict” and “spreadsheet”.

  113. Queen Esther says:

    Reb Yid – There was massive voter fraud in this election. I don’t know if we will ever know the true vote count.

  114. Queen Esther says:

    Interesting article in WND. Excerpt from this article – “Did Obama win with any kind of mandate? No. Despite all the vote fraud, despite a mass media that buried scandal after scandal while vilifying Obama’s opponents, despite a massive and growing welfare state buying off voters by the millions with endless giveaways, despite a political narrative unrelenting in its viciousness and dishonesty, …….Obama won with only a 3 percent margin.”

  115. Reb Yid says:

    QE–are you aware of the voter ID laws that were passed with the explicit intent of suppressing the vote and intimidating voters who would tend to vote Democratic? We have the heads of the Pennsylvania and Florida Republican party on record about this–it’s no secret.

    Or that certain states tried as much as possible to curtail early voting? And that some sent out voting information in Spanish that indicated the incorrect date of the election? And that some had to stand in line for more than 6 hours to cast a ballot?

    The truth is, if the US was like many other countries and made Election Day a national holiday (we could simply combine Labor Day and Election Day) we would see far more voters.

    Of course, you can be sure that one party and one party alone would do everything in its power to block this.

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