Photo courtesy of USAF/ Museum of Aviation.

What the Eclipse Taught Me About the High Holy Days


Every year my family and I go on a summer road trip. This year we chose to travel to Casper, Wyoming to experience the Totality of the Great American Solar Eclipse, 2 minutes and 26 seconds when the moon totally covers the sun. The temperature drops, the birds go silent, night falls, the stars come out and you have a 360 degree panorama of sunset. It is nothing less than a physical encounter with God.

We viewed the eclipse with a gathering of both veteran and amateur astronomers. These astronomers taught my family more about the universe’s planetary system in three hours than we could have otherwise learned in a lifetime.

The tension was mounting as we counted down the seconds to experience the unimaginable. With 80 percent of the sun being covered by the moon, we could feel the temperatures dropping and the wind picking up. At 90 percent we could sense the sunlight growing weaker like a winter day in the late afternoon. With a minute to go until Totality we noticed the western horizon darkening as a giant shadow raced towards us. It was impossible to see the leading edge of the 1720 mile-an-hour moon shadow as it engulfed us.

And then all at once the crowd roared “ooh” and “aah” as the moon completely covered the sun in the most spectacular sight I have ever seen in my life.

The moon, physically invisible up until now, was perfectly positioned over the sun as white wispy streams of light poured out of the entire 360° circumference of the sun beyond the edges of the darkened moon. It seemed as if it took up the whole sky.

The stars came out, along with Venus and Saturn. We were living Totality! It was the fastest and most spectacular 2 minutes and 26 seconds of my life.

We didn’t want it to end. Like the shofar blast at the end of Yom Kippur Day at the Neilah service when you just want to forever hold onto your breakthrough to God and His loving embrace.

It was a paranormal experience. Despite all my preparation for this instant, it was totally surreal. Everyone around us was in an altered state. Stunned. Euphoric. Holding onto the moment. Even the veteran eclipse chasers were overcome with awe. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of God revealing His presence on Earth.

The astronomers told us that before you go into Totality you have to have a plan. How would you make the most of the 146 seconds? What are you going to see, record, and think? Everybody had to know how to budget their time. Do we do that in life every 146 seconds? Shouldn’t we? Most of the time we don’t use our time this planned out, assuming for sure we will get another 146 seconds, hours, days or months.

I wish I could always be in this state of mind of total reality. No one was daydreaming. Smart phones were out of view.

I also made it a point of saying the Shema. I wanted to lock in this moment forever and anchor it to my relationship with God. I looked at my children and wife, Rochel. They were in their own world trying to process this.

We wanted to grab this for eternity. I will never let this moment go and will always thank God for it. But in truth God gives us Totality every second with all the blessings that fill our lives if we would just stop and consider.

Today God gave us a rare gift from on high. I hope to take it with me to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, into my Sukkah, and for the rest of my life!

I want every day to be Totality with my Creator. I want to be aware. I never want to daydream, rather to be excited by life always. I want to be striving for things that are so important and meaningful that pettiness and disappointment have no space in my mind.

The eclipse taught me that you can have the sun, moon and earth on different orbits and in a rare synchronistic moment, they create a phenomenon that seems beyond probability.

So too in our lives when we are challenged and trying to solve so many dilemmas. After much effort the moving pieces all come together in a harmonious solution that is beyond our imagination. In fact, sometimes we look back on our lives and come to realize that certain situations have resolved themselves, eclipsing the issue we were so worried about.

Isn’t that the ultimate message of the Days of Awe? At-one-moment – atonement! May you too reach Totality in your life.

 

Rabbi Aryeh Markman is Co-Director, The Western Wall Experience and Executive Director, Aish LA. Reprinted with permission from aish.com.

 

Screenshot from Twitter

Trump retweets eclipse meme posted by anti-Semitic Twitter user


President Donald Trump retweeted a meme of himself “eclipsing” Barack Obama that was posted originally by a Twitter user who had made an anti-Semitic post.

The meme, which the president retweeted Thursday morning, features images of Trump and and his Oval Office predecessor. By the fourth image, Trump’s photo completely covers one of Obama with a caption reading “The best eclipse ever!”

Trump was retweeting Jerry Travone, who had posted an anti-Semitic tweet four days ago. Travone told NBC News that he found the meme elsewhere on social media.

We have enough of these jews where I live lol someone else take them . They just can’t drive https://t.co/vEUrFgMKCc

— Jerry Travone 🎦 (@JerryTravone) August 20, 2017

In the anti-Semitic tweet, Travone was responding to a Sky News article titled “One in three Jews thinking of quitting UK” that analyzed a study done by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism group. The study also found that one in six British Jews felt unwelcome in their home country.

Travone wrote: “We have enough of these jews where I live lol someone else take them. They just can’t drive.”

Trump has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism on Twitter before. During the presidential campaign, he tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton on a background of dollar bills. The tweet also included a six-pointed star with the words “Most corrupt candidate ever!” The tweet was later deleted.

In July, Trump tweeted a video of himself beating up a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his head. The video was traced back to someone who had made anti-Semitic comments on Reddit.

A multiple exposure image shows the solar eclipse from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Aug. 21. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The eclipse was exhilarating. Life-changing? Not so much.


The thing that truly pushed us over the top, that led us to undertake an epic 48-hour, 1,500-mile road trip at the height of the farming season, was The New York Times. The paper’s special section on the 2017 solar eclipse landed on our doorstep a week ago Saturday, and after reading the lead piece, I plopped the pages on the dining room table and told my wife: “Let’s do this.”

Dropping everything for a rare opportunity to view a near-total eclipse seemed like a great adventure, if a bit heedless. But as the date drew closer and my attention was transfixed by the travesty in Charlottesville, it began to feel like something more. The eclipse testimonials I read in the Times and saw online described the experience of two-plus minutes of daytime darkness as nothing short of transformative.

Maybe this eclipse, the first to traverse the entirety of the United States in 99 years, could effect something similar on a national scale. Maybe that was even it’s purpose — the universe, by putting on a show of astronomic awesomeness, would remind us all of our fundamental oneness at a moment when racial and political tensions are at a boil. Maybe it could even be enough to jolt us from the perilous path we seem to be following. 

In fact, something sort of like the opposite happened. 

A few days before our departure, a friend who had an unrelated road trip planned told me she was going to head west rather than south toward the path of totality. Her husband, a curly-haired immigrant with a funny name, had no intention of crossing the Mason-Dixon line when white supremacists were on the march. 

I scoffed inwardly at this. I’m a fourth-generation American and the son of a U.S. Army veteran. I grew up in the Northeastern suburbs and about the only incident of real anti-Semitism I’ve encountered was when a fat bully called me a dirty Jew at the town skating rink when I was all of 10 years old. The idea of avoiding whole swaths of the country because some neo-Nazis had provoked a riot in Virginia appalled me. 

But as it happens, I’m also married to a curly-haired immigrant with a funny name. And my wife wasn’t nearly as cavalier about the idea of watching the summer sky go black with a bunch of Southern strangers. So she started searching for fellow organic farmers in eastern Tennessee and managed to find one who would let us watch the show on his land. And so, on Sunday afternoon, after wrapping up five hours at the farmers market, we got in the car and drove 12 hours through the night to White Pine, Tennessee. 

In the morning, I found myself eyeing the other guests over a motel breakfast buffet of reconstituted eggs, white flour muffins and some meat-like product served up on a small flotilla of Styrofoam — all cardinal sins to an organic farmer from Connecticut. The crowd was entirely white, and I found myself drawn to a stocky, well-built man in green camo pants and Carhartt boots. He had a broadly similar bearing to the sorts I had seen yelling about Jews in the streets of Charlottesville. And as insane as I know it to be to make inferences of that sort based on nothing more than a man’s physique and choice of trousers, this was Tennessee, where nearly twice as many voters pulled the lever for Donald Trump in November as for Hillary Clinton.

As I sipped flat coffee, and much to my own amazement, I found myself wondering which of my fellow eclipse chasers were among the majority of Republicans still standing by the president despite his equivocating remarks on the Charlottesville rally.

So it was with some measure of relief that we arrived at the farm two hours later and, stepping inside the house, noticed that week’s issue of the Sunday Times on a table. Never before had the cultural signifier of a newspaper provided me a comparable rush of comfort. 

And the eclipse? For a few glorious minutes, we found ourselves transfixed by the transient beauty of nature. The brilliant flash of white light that marks the beginning and end of those two minutes or so of totality felt like an otherworldly jolt. But transformation? A renewed sense of fraternity with my fellow Americans? It was not to be. 

As the final curtain of darkness fell around 2:40 in the afternoon, we heard whoops and cheers from the neighbors. (Us farmer types observed the proceedings in reverent silence.) In the distance, we heard the thundering echo of fireworks. Our host’s wife, an Asian immigrant with an engineering degree from the University of Texas, dismissively informed us that setting off colorful explosives is the ritual of choice when marking most occasions in Tennessee.

And then it was over. The white light flashed again, daylight returned, the crickets silenced, the neighbor’s lawn mower picked up right where it had left off. 

And we, barely 10 hours after arriving in Tennessee, got back in the car and aimed ourselves north — exhausted, exhilarated, but, like the world around us, mostly unchanged.


Ben Harris has reported for JTA and other publications from more than 15 countries. He runs an organic farm in Connecticut.

The sun is obscured by the moon during a solar eclipse as seen from an Alaska Airlines commercial jet on Aug. 21. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Eclipse travelers greeted with anti-Semitic banners on Oregon highway overpasses


Signs with anti-Semitic messages were hung on highway overpasses in Oregon ahead of Monday’s eclipse.

The banners were hung on two northbound highways, which were heavily travelled by California tourists heading to the state to get a better view of Monday’s expected solar eclipse, according to local reports.

The banners read, “UNJEW HUMANITY,” “Eclipse Whitey,”  “Jewish Financing Available” and “Resist Racial Eclipse,” the Oregon Statesman Journal reported on Saturday. They were taken down later on Saturday.

Neo-Nazi Jimmy Marr of Springfield, Oregon, who goes by the Twitter handle @GenocideJimmy, appeared to take credit for the banners Sunday evening on social media, Oregonlive.com reported.

Beth Dershowitz of Sacramento told the Oregonian in an email that the banners upset her, her husband Michael, and their children during their family road trip on Saturday. She said her husband took photos of the banners to show state transportation officials.

“I cannot believe that we still have to face this vicious anti-Semitism in such a public place in 2017,” she wrote. “We want to expose this hatred so people stop pretending like it isn’t happening in our own backyards.”

In June, a sign blaming Jews for the Sept. 11 attacks was hung from a pedestrian bridge over an interstate highway in Portland, Oregon.

Photo courtesy of USAF/ Museum of Aviation.

A solar eclipse deserves a blessing


We are on a fantastic journey, over which we have precious little control. As our universe expands, we are pushed deeper and deeper into space. We travel along, like some pebble carried with the tide. Our own galaxy, like hundreds of millions of others, rotates, and it does so at about 168 miles per second. On one of the spiral arms of our galaxy, our solar system has its own rhythms. Within the solar system, our home planet goes around our local star, the Sun, and our moon orbits around our home planet, even as the Earth and the Moon spin too.

Once in a while, in the midst of all this motion, the Moon travels between the Earth and the Sun in such a way as to block the light of the Sun from reaching us. It casts a shadow on our planet. The blockage may be partial or complete. We call this event a solar eclipse. In a total eclipse, when the Moon obscures the entire solar disk, the fullest form of the Moon’s shadow, the umbra, lasts no more than a few minutes in any one spot, but the effects are stark as darkness literally covers the Earth and the temperature drops.

We will ooh and ah as the eclipse begins, but we know that this too shall pass. All that was will be again and soon. Normalcy will return. One might think that it would be an occasion for a blessing, a b’rakha. After all, Jews seemingly have blessings, or b’rakhot, for every event and circumstance, from the sublime to the mundane, and from the time they arise to the time they go to sleep. And there are well recognized blessings for similar occurrences. For instance, when one sees a comet or lightening, there is Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheynu melekh ha’olam, oseh ma’aseh v’reyshit (Blessed is the Eternal One, Sovereign of the universe, maker of the works of creation). When one sees something beautiful like a tree or an animal, one might say Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheynu melekh ha’olam, she’kakha lo b’olamo (Blessed is the Source of wonder, Ruler of the cosmos, that such things are in the world). There are blessings on reaching the ocean, on smelling fragrant grasses and spices, even on witnessing an earthquake. But traditionally, there is no blessing for an eclipse. Why? To answer that question, we need to understand some science and some Judaism.

An eclipse is, of course, a phenomenon entirely the product of natural forces. It depends primarily on a few basic facts. First, at present and on average, the Sun is about 400 times farther from the Earth than is the Moon and, in a grand coincidence, the Sun’s diameter is about 400 times larger than that of the Moon. So, in general, the Moon now is just the right size at just the right distance to be able to block light from the disk of the Sun. Second, the orbit of the Moon is tilted slightly to that of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. For there to be an eclipse, the Moon’s path must intersect with the Earth’s orbital (ecliptic) plane. Third, neither the orbit of the Earth around the Sun nor that of the Moon around the Earth is circular. Rather, both are elliptical. This means that one satellite or the other is sometimes closer and sometimes farther from the object around which it rotates.

Knowing the orbits of the Earth and Moon, astronomers can calculate when solar eclipses have occurred in the past and can predict when they will occur in the future. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) has created a catalog of solar eclipses of all varieties reaching back four thousand years and looking ahead another millennia.

Though solar eclipses may be visible up to five times a year somewhere on Earth, they are still a relatively rare event at any particular place on the planet. The last total solar eclipse to be seen in the lower forty-eight states of the United States cast its shadow over several states in the northwest part of the country on February 26, 1979. The next one will be on August 21, 2017. It will be observable as a total eclipse in a path extending east and south from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. We won’t have to wait as long for the total solar eclipse that will follow. It will be visible from Texas to New England on April 8, 2024. The paths and dates for future total eclipses in the U.S. can be seen here.

Mentions of eclipses appear long ago in the early annals of human records. From Mesopotamia, for instance, we have references to the Ugarit Eclipse dated to 1375 BCE and the Assyrian Eclipse of 899 BCE.  In the East, in China, eclipses were described in writings from the Shang Dynasty and the Bamboo Annals regarding events in the fourteenth and ninth centuries BCE, respectively. Further west, in Greece, the epic poem Odyssey credited to Homer refers to the obliteration of the Sun and unlucky darkness, perhaps inspired by an actual eclipse in 1178 BCE. Later in the sixth and fifth centuries, BCE, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides and the poet Xenophon spoke of eclipses, generally in connection with military engagements. Indeed, the interval between lunar eclipses, known as the Saros cycle, was apparently recognized by astronomers in Chaldea (now southern Iraq) as far back as 800 BCE.

So, it is quite surprising that eclipses are not mentioned directly either in the Torah or the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, which were written, edited and canonized in the first millennia BCE. Are eclipses not mentioned because they were unknown to the authors and editors or were they simply understood to be natural and not supernatural phenomena and, therefore, not worthy of mention?

The curious absence of any mention is highlighted, perhaps paradoxically, by two passages, in the Tanakh, one in the book of Joshua and the other in the book of Amos. According to the book of Joshua, during a battle between the Israelites and five Amorite kings at Gibeon, the Sun stood still for twenty-four hours, presumably to allow the Israelites to win. (See Josh. 10:1-15.) Recently, some Israeli scientists have advanced the idea that the author of Joshua was really referencing an eclipse on October 30, 1207 BCE. This seems more than a plausible stretch, though. Putting aside whatever evidence may or may not exist concerning the historicity of the battle itself, to sustain their argument, the scientists must first translate the Hebrew word “dom” not as it has traditionally been understood as describing the Sun becoming  still or stopping, but as the Sun having been merely clouded over or darkened. True, translations are often, subjective, but then the scientists must also essentially disregard the biblical claim that the event lasted an entire day, not the very few minutes that would mark the duration of a total solar eclipse. (See Josh. 10:12-15.) If the author of Joshua was trying to describe a rare solar eclipse, the author could easily enough have noted the growing darkness and the re-emergent light and cast the scene as an omen for Israelite victory. But the author made no mention of an eclipse’s effects or progression, and claimed an entire day of shining sun to be unique – which indeed it would have been.

In the book of Amos, the prophet was railing against those who would defraud consumers. (See Amos 8:4-10.) He said that God would not forget the miscreants’ misdeeds and that punishment would come by making the Sun set at noon and darkening the Earth on a sunny day. Again, some might argue this is a reference to an eclipse, but, here, too, the description is wrong and the rhetorical point seems to echo an earlier message about the “day of the Lord,” a time when Israel would be saved. (See Amos 5:18-20.)

The earliest clear references to eclipses from Jewish sources appear to be the philosopher Philo and the historian Josephus, both of whom lived in the first century of the Common Era. In one work, Philo recognized eclipses as the “natural consequence” of rules governing the Sun and Moon, but also stated that they were “indications” of doom, such as the death of a king or destruction of a city. (See here.) In his treatise on the history of the Jews, Josephus mentioned an eclipse and did so as part of a story about Herod’s treatment of the high priest Matthias and Herod’s death. A reader could infer that the eclipse was an omen of Herod’s demise, but it was clear from Josephus’s account that Herod was quite sick anyway and had prepared his will in anticipation of his death. (See Antiquities 17, Ch. 6, Sec. 4.)

By the time the main text of the Babylonian Talmud was completed around the end of the fifth century of the Common Era, a negative view of a solar eclipse had clearly crystalized. In connection with a discussion of the view that rain on the festival holiday of Sukkot suggests heavenly displeasure, the rabbis engage in a series of analogies, including a discussion of eclipses. That discussion begins with the following proposition attributed to the Sages:  “When the sun is eclipsed, it is a bad omen for the entire world.” (See BT Sukkah 29a.)

For those involved in this discussion, that idea only raises other questions.

  • Why is it a bad omen for the world? According to the Talmud, because the Jewish people calculate their calendar primarily based on lunar cycles and other nations base theirs on the solar cycle.
  • Can we be more specific about those at risk? The Talmud states that when the eclipse is in the eastern or the western sky, it is a bad omen for the residents of that area. When the Sun is eclipsed in the middle of the sky, the entire world is in danger.
  • And what is the signal that the eclipse is giving? The answer found in the Talmud is colorful, literally: “If during an eclipse, the visage of the Sun is red like blood, it is an omen that war is coming to the world. If the Sun is black like sackcloth made of dark goat hair, then arrows of hunger are coming, because hunger darkens peoples’ faces.”
  • But why would the Sun be eclipsed at any time? The Sages have answers here, too, in fact, multiple sets of them. In one view, the Sun is eclipsed on account of (1) a president of the court who dies and is not eulogized properly, (2) a betrothed young woman who screamed in the city that she was being raped and no one was available to rescue her, (3) homosexuality, and (4) two brothers whose blood was spilled as one. Alternatively, the sun is eclipsed on account of (1) forgers of a fraudulent document intended to discredit others, (2) those who provide false testimony, (3) those who raise small domesticated animals in Eretz Yisrael in a settled area, and (4) those who chop down good fruit producing trees.

As the recognition grew that solar eclipses were predictable events, part of the natural order, traditionalists tried to square the philosophical circle and reconcile the regularity of such events with presumably irregular eruptions of bad times and occasions of sins requiring divine intervention and punishment. (See, e.g., here and here.) According to one of his followers, because he understood an eclipse as a warning, as a time to take care, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson (1902-1904) explained that eclipses were “meant to be opportunities for increasing prayer and introspection – as opposed to prompting joyous blessings, [and so] we do not recite a blessing when witnessing one.”

This approach, however, is insufficient and unconvincing, regardless of the value of prayer and introspection. It fails to acknowledge the reality that science confirms about the regular order of local orbits. It fails to dispel expressly and strongly the general – but totally false -notion of a causal connection between natural events in the sky and human behavior on Earth. It fails to reject specifically the unsustainable rationales in the Talmudic passages cited above speculating why eclipses occur, and it fails to refute the false equivalencies among the various circumstances noted there.

This approach is also inconsistent with the traditional practice of offering blessings, as noted above, for more frequent, often more terrifying and clearly more dangerous events. After all, a total eclipse of the Sun is no less impressive than is lightening or an earthquake. And, further, this approach runs counter to the long standing tradition expressed in the Talmud (Menachot 43b) which calls on us to recite b’rakhot frequently during our waking hours, even to the extent of one-hundred a day. On the day of a solar eclipse, we should focus on ninety-nine other things and not note that the disk of the Sun is being obscured?

Even more importantly, the preclusion of a b’rakha regarding an eclipse undermines the emotional and intellectual benefit of a blessing, a principal purpose of which is to raise the level of consciousness of the person saying it. The words give literal expression to the remarkable thing or event which the individual’s senses have encountered or soon will. A blessing, then, is an empowering act, and to deny an individual, any individual, the opportunity to acknowledge, realize, concentrate, appreciate and grow can only limit a person’s mind and spirit, stunting his or her humanity.

With an orientation of modern, reality based Judaism, we can and should appreciate the order in the cosmos, especially the regularity of orbits. We can and should recognize the total dependence of all life as we know it on the energy that we receive from our local star. As the umbra approaches and recedes in a total solar eclipse, we can see the light change, sense the drop in temperature. Even as it compels us to look to the sky, that sight, that feeling should unite us, and draw our attention away, if just momentarily, from the troubles on Earth.

All of this elicits awe and gratitude, two primary bases for blessings. How appropriate then, as one looks (very carefully and with appropriate equipment) upward during a solar eclipse to acknowledge one’s awe and express one’s gratitude for having reached this season and being able to observe and to feel the works of creation. Here is one way:

     As the eclipse nears . . . Barukh Atah – Blessed is the Source of Life that fashioned the stars, that sends forth heat from the Sun to warm us and light from the Sun to nourish the food we eat and provide the wonderful colors that so enrich our lives.

     When standing in the shadow . . . Modim Anakhnu Lakh – We are thankful for the opportunity to be reminded how fleeting and precious our time here is, how bound we are, one to the other, how much we should treasure the moments we have and the people with whom we share this most amazing planet.

      As light reemerges . . . Barukh Atah – Blessed is the Sustainer of Life. May we be refreshed and renewed by the harmony of the spheres, and may our lives be worthy of the gift we have received and continue to receive through the arrangement of the cosmos.

     Your words may well be different. Write them. Share them. We do need blessings now.

  A version of this essay was published previously at www.judaismandscience.com.

Cock-and-bull candidates


Did you make it through Sunday’s lunar eclipse OK?

When the moon turned blood red, I bet you didn’t shake spears at it, or beat your dogs to make them bark, as the Incas did to scare away the jaguar that had swallowed the moon. I also bet you didn’t shoot off cannons, or bang your pots and drums, as the Chinese did, to frighten the dragon that had swallowed the moon. I’m pretty sure you didn’t offer your utensils, rice and weapons to the demon Dhanko, as India’s Munda tribesmen do, to bail the moon out of debtor’s prison, where Dhanko had thrown it for failing to repay his loan.  And it’s dollars to donuts you didn’t believe that the eclipse announced the end of the world, or buy Pastor John Hagee’s best-selling “Four Blood Moons,” let alone the “Four Blood Moons Companion Study Guide and Journal” (Includes Full-Color Foldout Timeline, $11.69 on Amazon). 

The reason you didn’t swallow any of those stories is that you know the truth about a lunar eclipse: It happens because the earth comes between the sun and the moon. If truth can protect us from jaguars, dragons, demons and preachers, why can’t it protect us from presidential candidates whose cock-and-bull stories rank right up there with the Incas’ and the Mundas’? 

Consider Carly Fiorina.  She effortlessly reels off the benchmarks of her success as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, including doubling revenues.  But HP’s revenues rose largely because of her disastrous acquisition of Compaq. What counts isn’t revenues, but net earnings, which “>lost half of its value over the same period, while the stock price of its competitors, “>bogus.”

Facts turn out not to matter much in American politics.  It’s as if the Dhanko myth were to have the same standing as an astronomer’s explanation of a lunar eclipse. Journalists can fact check Fiorina all they want, and political rivals can ding her from dawn to dusk. The public’s trust goes not to the best truth-teller, but to the best storyteller. As Brad Whitworth, an 18-year HP veteran and former senior communications and marketing manager, “>hedge fund bro jacks up the price of a life-saving drug; no matter how cravenly General Motors covered up defective and sometimes deadly ignition switches in 2 million vehicles – the story remains the same: Overreach by government regulators is the root of all evil.  

That’s the story Mitt Romney told. If he hadn’t been caught on video writing off 47 percent of the country as freeloading rabble addicted to government handouts, he might have become president.  Instead, the Obama counter-narrative gained power. Its heroes are people of modest means who are still paying for the moral hazard of the billionaire class.  This is also the story that Bernie Sanders is telling to huge and enthusiastic crowds. Perhaps because of that, Hillary Clinton has been telling it, too, though her effectiveness as its messenger may be compromised by her dependence on Wall Street money.

This counter-narrative has the facts going for it. Practically every

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