At a Jewish American Heritage Month reception last night in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden talked about Jews, power, and influence.
“The truth is that Jewish heritage, Jewish culture, Jewish values are such an essential part of who we are that it’s fair to say that Jewish heritage is American heritage,” Biden said, according to the pool report. “The Jewish people have contributed greatly to America. No group has had such an outsized influence per capita as all of you standing before you and all of those who went before me and all of those who went before you.”
“You make up 11 percent of the seats in the United States Congress. You make up one-third of all Nobel laureates,” he said. “So many notions that are embraced by this nation that particularly emanate from over 5000 years of Jewish history, tradition and culture: independence, individualism, fairness, decency, justice, charity. These are all as you say, as I learned early on as a Catholic being educated by my friends, this tzedakah.”
“The embrace of immigration” is part of that, as is the involvement of Jews in social justice movements.
“You can’t talk about the civil rights movement in this country without talking about Jewish freedom riders and Jack Greenberg,” he said, telling a story about seeing a group of Jewish activists at a segregated movie theater in Delaware. “You can’t talk about the women’s movement without talking about Betty Friedan” or American advances in science and technology without mentioning Einstein and Carl Sagan, or music and Gershwin, Bob Dylan and “so, so, so many other people.”
“I believe what affects the movements in America, what affects our attitudes in America are as much the culture and the arts as anything else,” he said. That’s why he spoke out on gay marriage “apparently a little ahead of time.”
“It wasn’t anything we legislatively did. It was ‘Will and Grace,’ it was the social media. Literally. That’s what changed peoples’ attitudes. That’s why I was so certain that the vast majority of people would embrace and rapidly embrace” gay marriage.
“Think behind of all that, I bet you 85 percent of those changes, whether it’s in Hollywood or social media are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense, the influence is immense. And, I might add, it is all to the good,” he said.
Inside the beltway, there is a pervasive sense of impending doom. The rest of the country may not much care, but sequestration is here. According to warnings by the Obama administration, failure to avert these automatic spending cuts will lead to planes falling from the skies, bridges collapsing, federal penitentiaries moving to a voluntary self-incarceration policy, and the Jersey Shore returning to the airwaves.
There’s been an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, a Rose Revolution in Georgia, and a Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that helped launch last year’s Arab Spring. Is democracy sweeping the globe at last? Well—not yet, according to our author, a former editor at Foreign Policy who has been doing some globe-sweeping of his own (93,000 miles, give or take) over several years spent reporting for this volume.
An anti-Occupy Wall Street movement (who call themselves "Occupy Occupy D.C.") protested bird killing wind turbines today at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. The group gathered "to highlight the threat that wind, a celebrated alternative energy source, poses to the American bird community," according to a press release sent out by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sponsors Occupy Occupy D.C.
In 1942 George Stevens made a romantic comedy for MGM called Woman of the Year. Based on the journalist Dorothy Thompson, one of the subjects here, it concerned the obstacles to marital bliss faced by an emancipated woman and her former colleague turned husband. With Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as the combative partners, everything turned out well.
For the first time in 30 years, it looks as if the United States will see an increase in its nuclear power output:
The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.