30 October 2008

30 October 2008 - Americans in Israel back McCain

Early reports from exit polling among absentee voters indicate that Americans in Israel back John McCain over Barack Obama by a staggering 3-to-1 margin.

Even more astounding, if these exit polls are to be believed, is the fact that nearly half of all registered American Democrats in Israel are crossing over to vote McCain.

Within the last hour, the first exit poll of 817 Americans in Israel, who attended U.S. election voting events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening to vote by absentee ballot, has been released.

A startling 76 percent of those polled said that they had voted for John McCain. This contrasts sharply with pre-election polls of American Jews in the U.S., which indicate a strong preference for Obama.

The exit poll findings of American voters in Israel are all the more surprising because less than one in four were registered Republicans, and 46% of registered Democrats living in Israel said they had crossed party lines to vote McCain. By contrast, the Republican crossover to Obama was minimal – just 2%.

The votes are significant as almost half of the 42,000 registered U.S. voters living in Israel come from key swing states including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Israel had the third-largest group of American voters abroad, after Canada and Britain.

The exit poll was commissioned by Votefromisrael.org, an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting voter registration and participation amongst American citizens living in Israel.

The ynet poll earlier this week that showed McCain with a 12-point advantage among Israelis seems to have underestimated support for McCain in Israel by a wide margin.

On a related point: Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is now even with Tzipi Livni's Kadima in the first Israeli polls that anticipate the election that will be held on February 10, 2009. If the election were held today, Netanyahu could probably form a right-wing coalition with a slim majority.

Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that if Obama becomes the US president, he is the only one who can stand up to American pressure to make unreasonable concessions.

As Obama's fortunes have risen in the US, Netanyahu's poll numbers have risen. The Ha'aretz panel of experts predicted months ago that this was the worst possible combination of events.

I'm not sure I agree--Netanyahu can't be that much worse than the current incumbents have been--but left-leaning American Jews who back Obama might want to consider the degree to which they are helping the Israeli right.

28 October 2008

28 October 2008 - Obama: A Positive Rights Disaster

Barack Obama apparently wants to create a "Second Bill of Rights" for the U.S. Constitution.

This would provide "positive rights" such as those enshrined in the South African Constitution--rights to health care, housing, work, a clean environment, et cetera.

It sounds lovely, and is a much-beloved dream of the legal academic left. Unfortunately, it is an absolute disaster.

History and present-day experience teach us that the best way to ensure that those rights are violated is to enshrine them in constitutional form.

Doing so allows politicians to claim they have achieved something simply by providing rights, without having to actually provide the substance of those rights. The rights themselves are unenforceable, and provide for a massive expansion of government power that undermines existing "negative" rights.

It is worth noting that the Soviet Constitution also had plenty of "positive rights." Look how well that worked out.

This whole subject requires far more extensive treatment than I have time for at the moment. For now, it suffices to say that Obama's dream of court-enforced redistribution is directly connected to the idea of "positive" rights--an idea, not coincidentally, that is shared by many of the Harvard Law professors who now claim credit for Obama's development and contribute heavily to his campaign.

26 October 2008

26 October 2008 - Senator Obama's anti-Israel past

The Jerusalem Post has done a little homework on Senator Barack Obama's past feelings about Israel, and came up with some interesting recollections:

Normally, Gendler recalls, Obama would be happy to stand in front of the building and talk but "when it came to Israel, it was not like that." Instead, he says, "when Israel started to become the topic, he became very cold. He always told me that we need a more 'balanced' approach, which in America is a code word for being too pro-Israel."

Yet he can point to no specific policy points or comments that Obama made to flesh out that attitude. "He would refuse to talk more about it, [but] he gave me the impression that we were far too pro-Israel."

Like other detractors, Gendler notes how affable and personable Obama was. "He was always positive. He never lost his temper. On a personal level, he was very nice."

Fellow Republican Ron Gidwitz also praises Obama for being "friendly" and "warm," but remarks, "I've probably known him longer than most of these people have, though maybe not as well... but I elected to support John McCain." Gidwitz and Obama once served on a school reform board together and as Gidwitz remembers it, "Barack showed up at meetings but was not terribly active."

Both men also think the adulation they hear heaped on Obama is overdone. "I want to laugh because they make him look like a half-god," Gendler says. "He's a regular guy. He's smart but he's not smarter than I am. He went to Harvard for grad school, but big deal. I went to the University of Chicago."

But what rankles Gendler most is the what he sees as Obama's brand-new attitude toward Israel. "Now it's like he wants to hug and kiss Israel every five minutes. That's completely not the Barack I had as a neighbor. That started this year, when he was trying to get elected."

And, continuing the pathetic behavior of Jewish leaders in this election, we have someone from the American Jewish Committee claiming that Jeremiah Wright got a raw deal in the media!

"You cannot possibly get a sense of what Trinity Church says or does or believes based on what you see in the media, because it was all cherry-picked," maintains Soloff. "The church got so abused by the media."

Earth to the AJC: Wright went to the National Press Club in April. Here's the transcript in case you were on a junket or something.

And you think the media abused him?

26 October 2008 - It's the economy, stupid, not the banks or the Jews

A German economist has warned that we are repeating history:

BERLIN (Reuters) – A leading German economist compared the criticism of bankers over the global financial crisis to anti-Semitism in 1930s Germany, according to a newspaper interview released Sunday.

"In every crisis, people look for someone to blame, for scapegoats," Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Munich-based Ifo economic research institute, told the newspaper Tagesspiegel.

"Even in the global economic crisis of 1929, no one wanted to believe in an anonymous system failure. Then it hit Jews in Germany, today it is managers," Sinn said, according to a transcript of an interview to be published in Monday's edition.
More than 60 years after World War Two, comments seen as qualifying the horror of the Holocaust, in which Nazis killed 6 million Jews, still cause a stir in Germany.

The newspaper said Sinn had authorised the quotes. No one was immediately available at the Central Council of Jews to respond to the comments.

Sinn welcomed the government's 500 billion euros (340 billion pounds) bank rescue plan and said that, if politicians had done nothing, as was the case in 1929, the results could have been a meltdown of the financial system and mass unemployment.

It could have led to the radicalisation of the Western world and eventually a crisis of confidence in the economic system, said Sinn.

"German history is with us and it is quite clear. The Nazis grew out of the crisis between 1929 and 1931. The Pied Pipers would be ready again today."

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

26 October 2008 - A warning to America

Mark R. Levin has it exactly right. I have had the most astonishing discussions with intelligent people who should know better than to get swept up in the Obama cult of personality. And they can't offer the simplest rational explanation for their behavior.

Please read this article and forward it.

The Obama Temptation [Mark R. Levin]

I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way.

There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.

Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I've never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama's past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media's role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It's as if the media use the Obama campaign's talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn't hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin's qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama's qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.

But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.

Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He's not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks "fundamental change," i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.

The question is whether enough Americans understand what's at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency? After all, it ensnared Adelman, Kmiec, Powell, Fried, and numerous others. And while America will certainly survive, it will do so, in many respects, as a different place.

23 October 2008

23 October 2008 - Debating Dershowitz on McCain vs. Obama on Israel

Last week, Prof. Alan Dershowitz backed Obama in the Jerusalem Post.

This week, I backed McCain.

20 October 2008

20 October 2008 - Where is the Anti-Defamation League?

Via JammieWearingFool, here's this week's episode of "The Family Guy," featuring a Nazi uniform with a McCain/Palin button on it:

This is the second time in this campaign that a prominent voice has slandered the Republican ticket with the Nazi slur. Where is the Anti-Defamation League? Where are the Jewish leaders who were so quick to jump to Barack Obama's defense against "smears"?

I'm not holding my breath.

19 October 2008

19 October 2008 - Israel's Awful Negotiating Posture

Ehud Barak now says Israel is considering the Arab peace initiative first proposed by Saudi Arabia (actually, by columnist Tom Friedman) in 2002. The initiative called for full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries in exchange for full normalization of relations with the Arab world, but left the question of refugees uncomfortably open.

The reason to re-consider the plan, Barak is quoted as saying, is that separate negotiations with the Palestinians and Syrians seem to be going nowhere.

This is a classic example of bad negotiating tactics. One of the first lessons you learn in any decent negotiation course is never to bid against yourself. Yet that is exactly what Israel has just done. Because the Syrians won't let Israel keep a sliver of land near the Sea of Galilee, and the Palestinians won't let Israel keep a small percentage of the West Bank in exchange for land swaps elsewhere, Israel is now offering to give away all of that territory in order to sign a deal with the Arab League as a whole.

I am all for peace, but if there were ever a reason to reject the lame Labor-Kadima government, Barak has just provided it. The government's mandate has evaporated and it is competing with itself to offer ever more drastic concessions in exchange for the same old nothing. It doesn't even help the Palestinians to have such a weak negotiating partner, because now they can put off the internal reforms they need in order to be able to honor agreements and succeed as a political project.

19 October 2008 - Crossing Swords with Doron Isaacs

I've been debating Doron Isaacs over at It's Almost Supernatural, which has posted the full text of our exchange.

17 October 2008

17 October 2008 - Speaking of comebacks...

Boy, did these guys get a return on their investment...

16 October 2008

15 October 2008 - How Can Jews Vote for Obama on Israel?

Dick Morris gets it right:

I was at a Sarah Palin rally recently in new Hampshire, when a man who saw my "Jewish Americans for McCain" button and rushed over. "God bless you," he asked, "but why are Jews voting for Obama? Don't they know what he's going to do to Israel?"

I know some Jews who are voting for Obama for other, independent reasons--and I could quibble with those--but on Israel McCain is the superior candidate, and claims to the contrary are simply wishful thinking.

14 October 2008

14 October 2008 - Jewish Anti-Semitism at New Voices

I don't like the phrase "self-hating Jew." Most so-called "self-hating Jews" actually hate other Jews and make exceptions for themselves.

Case in point: New Voices magazine, run by Jewish students and funded by Jewish donors.

This month's issue is an execrable rant against religious Judaism, as represented by the Lubavitch movement. I won't bother linking to it.

And they're promoting the issue with a "Black October" survey that asks: "As the global economy crumbles, New Voices, the national Jewish student magazine, asks, is it the Jews' fault?"

No, it's not funny. And I'm not even sure it's trying to be.

Check out the survey questions:

The New Voices Black October Survey

1. The Economic Crisis and Us

First, a few questions about the Jews and the economic crisis.

1. The ADL has warned that global financial crisis is already sparking anti-Semitism, and the Jewish press has followed up with a few breathless stories. Are such fears overblown?



2. Lehman Brothers was founded by three Bavarian Jews in 1850. Half of the CEOs of Godman Sachs since 1992 have been Jewish. Precisely what percentage of the responsibility for the collapse of the financial system rests on the Jews?




3. How will Jews benefit most from the New Great Depression?

-Government-sponsored golden parachutes for every Jewish banker

-Chasidic control of the fedora market

-Bailout funds secretly diverted to buy weapons for IDF

4. In July of 2007, two Bear Stearns hedge funds collapsed, helping to create the conditions for the current crisis. Throughout the week in which the collapses took place, Stearns CEO James Cayne was at a bridge tournament in Tennessee. What kind of Jew plays bridge?

-The kind who knows that, whatever happens, he can still walk away and sell his shares for $60 million

-The kind who, according to the Wall Street Journal, gets high in the bathroom after tournaments

-The kind who runs Bear Stearns, apparently

5. After years of adulation, the New York Times turned on former Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan last week, laying the financial crisis squarely on his shoulders. What's the worst thing about Alan Greenspan?

-His friendship with Ayn Rand

-His disastrous support for massive deregulation

-That he's one of us

6. Would the Jewish community be worried about being blamed for the economic calamity if we didn't feel a little guilty?



10 October 2008

10 October 2008 - Obama campaign meets with Hamas and Hizbollah supporters

Via Little Green Footballs and NBC news.

Please don't tell me this guy is better for Israel.

Gotta go light candles...

06 October 2008

06 October 2008 - Harvard Law School professor supports Bill Ayers

Radical academics are rushing to support domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, signing an online petition in which they claim that he merely "participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans."

To compare Ayers's acts of terrorism to the non-violent protest of those hundreds of thousands is disgusting. It mocks the memory and idealism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and all who placed themselves at risk in the march for equality in America.

One of the signatories is Professor Jacqueline Bhabha of Harvard Law School, Obama's alma mater and my own school. Prof. Bhabha is Executive Director of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies and teaches human rights law.

An international human rights scholar supports an unrepentant terrorist. Why am I not surprised?

03 October 2008

3 October 2008 - Don't be a Fabrenta Farshtunkena Yenta

Joe Biden can't tell the difference between the West Bank and Gaza, thinks Hezbollah was kicked out of Lebanon (with the help of the French!), and lied about Barack Obama's support for the elections that brought Hamas to power in 2006.

But because you're a Jew, you should vote for Obama, Sarah Silverman tells us. Or else you are a racist! And it will all be your fault if McCain wins.

Well, Jackie Mason has a message for you.

01 October 2008

1 October 2008 - Hasselbeck holds her ground

I've been in so many debates--on Israel, South Africa, the US election--when I have felt just like Hasselbeck must have felt today:

The last resort of nonsense is always to drown out truth. Hasselbeck stands up for herself.

Way to go!