Thanksgivukkah — the perfect storm

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A “perfect storm” occurs when circumstances that normally operate independently from each other occur at the same time, with each heightening the other’s impact.  Starting at sunset tonight, we are about to see the nexus of four circumstances that normally operate independent of each other, especially since two of those circumstances have never before occurred.  Two of the four are symbolic events; and the remaining two are entirely real, with possibly cataclysmic outcomes.

I refer, of course, to the fact that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap, an event that will not occur again for something between 600 and 70,000 years (depending who’s doing the calculations).  This holiday nexus overlaps with two real-world occurrences, the first of their kind in America:  Obamacare, which threatens to undermine America’s still-vaguely-capitalist economy, and Obama’s agreement to allow Iran, a totalitarian Islamist state with an apocalyptic religion and visions of world domination, to go ahead with its nuclear program.  The real world events are deeply disturbing to those who love America and Israel (the only true democracy in the Middle East), but perhaps Someone is try to send us a sign insofar as they occur in the year of Thanksgivukkah.

Tying these four seemingly disparate strands together requires understanding fully what these strands are.  I won’t bore you by repeating everything you know about Obamacare and the deal with Iran, since each can be summed up in one or two sentences.  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, however, deserve somewhat more detailed treatments.

Obamacare saw President Obama and his democrat minions use outright fraud to take over the American healthcare and insurance system in such a way as to throw most Americans off the insurance that 85% of them found satisfactory, and to dump them in an exchange that sees them lose their doctors and hospitals, all for significantly more money.  It was manifestly meant to be a way-station to socialized medicine (complete with death panels), but the government’s ineptitude with regard to the exchanges meant that Obama and Co. tipped their hands as to the fraud before they were ready to do so.

Obama’s deal with Iran gives Iran permission to continue its uranium enrichment program to something just short of full weapons potential, and unlocks the money that the mullahs need to maintain their despotic hold over their country and that Iran needs to continue with its nuclear program.  Obama did this after years of telling Israel not to strike at Iran’s weapons program when it was still possible for Israel to do so, using the fraudulent promise that he would protect Israel from Iran’s frequently expressed genocidal intent towards Israel.  (And no, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent for Iran.  Iran subscribes to an apocalyptic form of Islam that differs significantly from the Christian view of the apocalypse:  unlike Christians, who wait for the apocalypse, Iranian Shiites believe that it is their responsibility to bring it about.)

Put simply, we are looking at two possibly apocalyptic events, one that has the power to downgrade America irrevocably to the status of a poor, socialized nation, and the other that could witness Israel’s destruction and decades of turmoil and death in the Middle East.  Knowing this can leave anyone feeling lost, hopeless, and abandoned.  But I do believe that the concatenation of these events with both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving means something.  That all of this occurred now might be a coincidence, or it could be part of something larger — a Divine plan, for those religiously inclined — from which we should draw hope.

Lighting the Hanukkah menorah

For those who think of Hanukkah as a holiday that involves lighting candles, spinning dreidels, and giving gifts (the “Jewish Christmas”), let me take a few minutes to tell you about the miraculous military victory that Hanukkah commemorates, a victory that every Israeli must surely be thinking about today given Obama’s Munich-esque deal with Iran.

In 168 B.C.E., Greek soldiers in modern-day Syria (and isn’t that symbolic too?) seized the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by dedicating it to Zeus.  Jews passively accepted this desecration for fear of incurring Greek wrath.  Human nature, though, is human nature, and you cannot appease a tyrant.  Within one year, Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek emperor, declared that observing Jewish ritual was a capital crime.  Instead, he said, all Jews must affirmatively worship the Greek gods.

As before, most Jews acquiesced, but they raged inside.  The smoldering tinder of Jewish resistance burst into flame when Greek soldiers in the village of Modiin tried to force the Jews to bow to an idol and eat pork.  Realizing that where the leader goes, the others will follow, a Greek officer focused his efforts on Mattathias, a High Priest.  Mattathias refused to acquiesce to the Greek demands.  In fear, another villager offered to violate Jewish law on Mattathias’ behalf.  Mattathias, rather than being grateful, was outraged.  He killed first the appeasing villager and then the Greek officer.  Mattathias, his five sons, and a handful of villagers then killed the remaining Greeks.

Outlaws now in Greek-controlled Israel, Mattathias, his sons, and their followers hid in the m0untains and began a guerrilla campaign of resistance against the Greek occupiers.   The fight came at a terrible cost.  Mattathias and several of his sons died in battle, leaving only one of his sons, Judah Maccabee to carry the fight to its conclusion.  As was the case with the American revolutionaries fighting their seemingly quixotic battle against the might of the British Empire (the most successful military in the world at that time), it seemed impossible to believe that the Maccabees (or Hasmoneans) could win — but they did, driving the Greeks from their lands and restoring the Temple to its rightful glory.

When the Maccabees re-claimed the Temple in Jerusalem, they knew it had been defiled by Greek religious practices, including the slaughter of swine on the altar.  They believed that they could purify the Temple by burning the ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days and eight nights.  The problem was that they had only enough oil left for one day and one night.  Nevertheless, the triumphant Maccabees lit the menorah and a great miracle happened there (nes gadol haya sham):  the menorah burned for eight days and eight nights.  It is this miracle that the Jews celebrate when they light the menorah every night for the eight days of Hanukkah.

The Hanukkah story is a wonderful story of faith, commitment, and bravery.  It is also a reminder that tyrannies, even those that appear to have unlimited power, are fundamentally unstable.  A committed band of people can come together to topple them.

Thanksgiving

And as for Thanksgiving, that tale too, deserves to be retold, since Progressives in the past 40 years have watered it down to a story about noble Native Americans rescuing fanatically religious Pilgrims who, having broken bread with the indigenous people, returned the favor by slaughtering them.  As Rush Limbaugh tells annually on his radio show and demonstrates in both See, I Told You So and in his best-selling children’s book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans, that story is bunk.  The real story is much more interesting and lays the foundation for America’s robust development. Here is my précis of Rush’s factually accurate, extremely important telling of American history:

The Pilgrims set sail for American aboard the Mayflower on August 1, 1620.  Their reason for leaving the world they knew and striking how for this unknown wilderness was religious freedom.  While still aboard the ship, their leader, William Bradford, had them enter into a biblically inspired agreement that came to be known as “The Mayflower Compact.”  It established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

When the Pilgrims landed on the northeast tip of what came to be America, Bradford said that they found themselves in “a cold, barren, desolate wilderness.”  They were in an isolation that was anything but splendid, one without food or shelter.  In that first long, cold winter, says Rush, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure.

In the spring, the native population came to the Pilgrims’ rescue, teaching them how to harvest the land’s plant and animal bounty, an act of great kindness and humanity, and one that deserves to be remembered.  As Rush says, that is the beginning and the end of most American’s understanding of the Thanksgiving story.  Chapter two in every child’s history book is “and then the Pilgrims eventually killed the Indians.”  There is much, much more to the story, though.

When the Pilgrims had left England, they had entered into an agreement with their merchant-sponsors in London.  That agreement called for the Pilgrims to pool all their resources — their land, their crops, their meat and furs — and to draw from those resources according to their need.  Karl Marx would have recognized this:  “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

Things did not go well.  Indeed, William Bradford, who was now the colony’s governor, realized that, just as the Pilgrim’s first winter proved deadly, so too would this experiment with communism.  Bradford later summed up precisely what had happened with this first “commune”:

The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; -that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and ove as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let pone objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

Put in modern English, what Bradford said was this:  The ancient writers loved the theory of a commune, assuming that the doctrine of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” would result in universal happiness.  Put into practice, though, communism bred laziness, jealousy, and discontent.  The most deleterious effect was seen on young men — the most important workforce in any agriculture society — who resented deeply having to expend their labor for other men’s families without any return on effort.  Redistribution of wealth ultimately meant less labor in an agrarian society, with the inevitable and dangerous decrease in the food supply.  People work cheerfully, industriously, and productively only if they know there is the possibility that outcome will correlate to effort.

Made wise by experience, Bradford abolished the commune and, instead, assigned to each family a plot of land for which it was solely responsible. The result was predictable.  “This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”  Or, as Rush said, “supply-side economics.”

Because the Pilgrims had a personal stake in their labor, they worked hard, and produced surplus crops that they traded with the Indians or sold to British merchants.  Soon, this small band of wanderers in a far-off outpost of the nascent British Empire had created a profitable, growing, and quite attractive little society.

Paspajak Patrol

So, where are we now?  We are witnessing two events unfold, both of which have the potential to wreak terrible destruction on healthy, functioning, open democracies.  And we have those two events unfolding during the once-in-a-lifetime convergence of holidays that celebrate a military victory over tyranny and an economic victory over socialism.  These holidays celebrate defining moments in history.  They show that, no matter how dark things appear, people of passion, intelligence, and faith can “repair the world” (hebrew:  tikkun olam).  A great miracle happened there, in Jerusalem; a great miracle happened there, in the Plymouth colony; and we cannot reject the idea that great miracles can still happen, whether in the Middle East or in America.

We lose under only two circumstances:  we are wiped off the face of the earth (something all tyrannies have tried against the Jews, but thankfully without success) or we give up (something that too many disaffected, disheartened conservatives keep threatening to do).

Call it coincidence or call it a sign from a higher power, but the fact remains that, as Israel and her friends in America watch Obama try to include America in the Axis of Evil, and as we Americans watch a concerted effort to socialize the American economy, destroying America’s fundamental character and greatness, tonight and tomorrow serve as powerful reminders that, with faith and courage, a small band can destroy a great tyranny and that the socialist experiment can be undone with a return to greatness.

To everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, I wish you a very happy Hanukkah, as we take eight days to remember that miracles do happen and that tyrants are overthrown.

And to everyone, American and non-American alike, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, a day on which we count the myriad blessings in our lives, both big and small, and we remember that, while socialism may temporarily mute the striving, creative, dynamic, productive, energetic parts of human nature, it cannot destroy them.

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  • Mike Devx

    As Thanksgiving approaches, I want ti say, a time of crisis can be a time of renewal, too.
     
    Bradfprd did not just wake up the morning after the Pilgrims landed, and announce he was abandoning socialism.  No… they had to suffer first.  They had to enter the crisis.  Out of the crisis, that time, came renewal.
     
    Israel can be seen, by choices over the last few decades including the choice of leadership of such people as Tzipi Levni, and allowing their military infrastructure to decay in the 2000’s, as having become complacent.  Obama’s hostility and his nefarious actions concerning Iran make it clear that Israel is entering a crisis period.
     
    Obama could not have been elected if America were the country it used to be decades ago.  We too are entering the crisis period.  Crisis has a way of forcing us all to accept hard, cold truths of reality that we might rather not face up to.
     
    But out of crisis can come renewal.  Thanksgiving is a good time to hope that as nations, Israel and America will emerge from crisis renewed, and better for having overcome.

  • Charles Martel

    I had a wonderful dream last night…
     
    I was on a golf course when Gerald Ford, healthy and hale, suddenly appeared. He placed his ball and teed off, shanking the sucker something awful. “Fore! “Fore!” he screamed at the party in front of him, which apparently was about to become the target of his errant ball.
     
    SMACK! The speeding orb hit hard against Barack Obama’s head, dropping the mom jeans-wearing nancy boy into a heap. “Get Biden on the phone,” snapped a Secret Circus agent. “Tell him he’s the leader of the Free World now!”
     
    Alas, my delightful reverie ended all too soon when my doofus boxer, Baxter, decided to lick my face.

  • Texan99

    You’ll love this.  More unintended consequences:  some bright soul at a hospital figured out it would save the hospital money to buy qualified Obamacare coverage for their sickest, poorest patients and have the hospital pay the premiums itself.  After all, these are very needy people, the very ones the new law is supposed to help.  They’re in dire straits and probably can’t afford the premiums.  And it would be very wrong to deny coverage to these desperate patients merely because they’re sick, right?
    No, the Obama administration and insurers are up in arms about the proposal, because it will upset the balance of the risk pools, dumping all those expensive sick people in.
    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/11/will-hospitals-buy-aca-insurance-for-their-uncovered-patients.html
    I’ve been turning this over in my mind.  If sick people can scrape up many thousands of dollars a year to buy exchange insurance, that’s OK with the White House.  If they can get subsidies from taxpayers and not pay anything out of pocket, that’s OK with the White House.  But if hospitals pay for it, even if it saves the hospitals money overall, that’s terrible, because then sick people will pour into the exchanges and get covered at last.  Weren’t the sick people who couldn’t otherwise get insured the whole point of this exercise?  Wasn’t it a terrible problem that poor, sick people were dumping their problems on hospitals via EMTALA and leaving the taxpayers holding the bag?
    I’m really losing sight of what wonderful thing we’re accomplishing with the ACA that justifies the destruction of my individual-market health insurance policy and the requirement that I pay $5K more a year to replace it with something similar but inferior.

  • Ron19

    Bless us, Oh Lord, and these Thy gifts which we receive, from Thy bounty.  So be it.
     
    Aka, rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub!

  • SADIE
  • Duchess of Austin

    Happy Thanksgiving and the happiest of Hanukkah wishes to you all.
     
    Regarding thoughts on socialism….it occurs to me that this is relative common sense, and the proof is in the Soviet pudding, in our lifetimes.  If you know that the excess of your productivity (whatever it is) will be confiscated by the state and redistributed to your slacker neighbor, who has six kids and has never had a job in his life, why would anybody want to produce more than it takes to ensure your own survival (and maybe your family)?  Isn’t that what it really boils down to? 
     
    You work hard, you are productive, and then you see it given to someone you KNOW doesn’t carry his weight.   Maybe I’m just not the commune type.  Maybe I’m not that generous, or maybe I don’t want the government to decide for me just whom I should be charitable to….charity cannot be forced.  Either you give from the heart, or you don’t give at all.  The bottom line is that communalism is forced charity…either forced at the point of a gun, or the threat of being shunned by the community at large.
     
    The Soviet Union had a crappy economy and we all know it.  Lines for everything…..equal misery and deprivation under the state.  Gee, I want some of that.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I had some good quotes, but Obama took them.
     
    http://biblehub.com/psalms/33-16.htm
     
    So I have to use the bible Psalm 33:16

  • https://picasaweb.google.com/102427392960537405774 Kevin_B

    Happy Thanksgiving and Hannukah to those whose celebrate it (and those who don’t).
     
    I’m neither Jewish nor American, so I don’t celebrate either, but I think I can see the history, the meaning and the value of these celebrations – they certainly have a place for those who have reason to celebrate them.
     
    Also, very interesting historical accounts in this post Bookworm, that I really enjoyed reading and getting to know about. Thank you for that.

  • sabawa

    I second Kevin B’s comments re: the history lesson outlined by Bookworm.  Very interesting.  I find it rather wonderful to realize that, as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.  Garbage has been around since the beginning of man…..so, you go on thinking you’re uber-clever with your nasty schemes, Mr. O., but you’re part of select group of very bad people who will be remembered for failures and self-worship.  It will eventually all be for naught.
     

  • Libby

    Excellent post, Book. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving and Hannukah!

  • jj

    The only problems with democracies (one of which we are not) and healthy, functioning, open republics (which we are) is that they permit audience participation.  Every one that’s ever come along has been destroyed from within.  Can anyone doubt that we’re both (the US and Israel) engaged in precisely that process?

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Socialist economies don’t *really* create economic equality. The Soviet Union very quickly found it necessary to pay the higher-skilled and more-productive workers more, both in money terms and in various benefits and psychological factors such as public recognition…and, of course, the leadership received extremely valuable benefits, not denominated in money, but still of great economic value.
    The nature of socialism, by making the influence of the State omnipresent, will distort the recognition of WHO is “more skilled” and “more productive,” of course, rather like internal corporate politics will dominate the reward system in a long-lived and badly-managed corporation with a strong monopoly or near-monopoly position but on a much greater skill. It will distort the handing out of rewards, but it will not create anything approaching “equality.”
    POWER is always and everywhere translatable into wealth, but the degree of this translatability varies from system to system. Under socialism, the translatability is very high…under a capitalist system with a minimal state it is low…under a complex social-welfare-and-regulatory economy, it is somewhere in the middle. People who accumulate power in the name of “economic equality” may occasionally be satisfied with the psychic rewards of the power itself; but more generally they (and if not themselves, their successors) will translate the power into wealth as well.
    See Jousting with a Phantom for related thoughts on the fallacy of believing that the Obama-items *really* believe in “equality of outcomes.”
     
     

  • Caped Crusader

    Hanukkah is an inspiration to all people who love liberty!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Sources informed me of the peculiar nature of the Pilgrim “experiment” some time ago. When the natives helped the Pilgrims, that was under some guy named Massachusetts something or other. The people the Pilgrims ended up fighting and killing weren’t Massa and his faction, but rather ‘other’ tribes and factions, whether splintered off or not controlled by Massa.
     
    So basically, Massa was a capitalist and someone like Bush. A person who believed in the humanity of “Other” people and that they share a common goal that can be accomplished via mutual cooperation. The other natives thought like pirates and crooks. They were like the Obama backed unions when they see Tea Party members and other people cleaning up parks and other things. They mobilized to kick these foreigners out, because NoBody was Going to Take their Jobs away. Even if that meant a dirtier land.