Corollary of Samuel Johnson’s Law

On the C2 overnight chill thread, “Kosh’s Shadow” wonders:

In #58 Kosh’sShadow said: Reply to realwest in #41: I’m OK but tired; heading to bed soon. How did we end up with media and academia that hates the country that gives them the freedom to do so?

Let me have a shot at an answer.

Samuel Johnson once memorably stated: “The knowledge that one is going to be hanged in a fortnight has the habit of concentrating the mind wonderfully.”

People in the “chattering class” who get off on moral preening and who are insulated from the consequences of their own recommendations feel uninhibited by the latter.

Israel (where I currently am on business), for example, has no shortage of preening moral narcissists in her media and academia either. But most of them there know that if, for example, the Security Fence is taken down, they themselves might get blown up in a suicide bombing attack. This “Samuel Johnson effect” tends to bring them down to Earth.

0bama the post-racial President? Yeah, right

James Taranto: “The Politics of ‘Anything Goes’”:

  • “Even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us–the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of ‘anything goes.’ Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America–there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America–there’s the United States of America.”–state senator Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004
  • “In the video message to his supporters, [President] Obama said his administration’s success depends on the outcome of this fall’s elections and warned that if Republicans regain control of Congress, they could ‘undo all that we have accomplished.’ ‘This year, the stakes are higher than ever,’ he said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by Democratic officials. ‘It will be up to each of you to make sure that young people, African Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again. . . .’ “–Washington Post, April 26, 2010

Res ipsa loquitur.

Cathy Young: Tea Partiers Racist? Not So Fast

In RealClearPolitics, Cathy Young of Reason Magazine [h/t: one of the fine denizens at C2] looks at surveys that ‘prove’ that the charge that Tea Partiers are raaaaacist, and basically finds: ‘no more or less than the general population’.

Ever since the “Tea Parties” gained national attention, the debate has raged on whether they are a grass-roots protest movement in the proud tradition of American dissent, or a hysterical mob driven by fear, intolerance and selfishness. Recently, two much-discussed surveys — a CBS/New York Times poll and a multi-state University of Washington poll — have been bandied about as proof that the leftist caricatures of the Tea Partiers as mean-spirited rich white bigots are accurate. Yet a look at the data suggests that this interpretation is highly skewed by political bias.

In a Salon.com article titled “The Tea Partiers’ racial paranoia,” editor Joan Walsh notes that in the University of Washington poll, only 35% of pro-Tea Party whites regarded blacks as “hard-working,” 45% as “intelligent,” and 41% as “trustworthy.” Walsh scoffs, “And Tea Party supporters don’t like it when anyone notices the racists in their midst?”

Not so fast. The respondents in the UW poll were asked to rate on a 1-7 scale how intelligent, hardworking, and trustworthy they perceived “almost all” blacks (and, in separate questions, whites, Latinos, and Asians) to be. Whether the findings expose Tea Party bigotry hinges on two things: how the “Tea Partiers'” opinions of blacks compare to their views of other groups, and how their answers compare to those of other, non-Tea-Partying Americans.

The UW researchers’ initial analysis compared only whites who were strongly pro-Tea Party and strongly anti-Tea Party, concluding that the latter held a much more positive view of blacks. These data are no longer on the UW website; instead, there are tables for other race-related questions (such as “Over the past few years blacks have gotten less than they deserve”), with separate results for whites who were either neutral toward the Tea Party movement or had never heard of it, as well as for all whites.

But what about the racial stereotyping items? The lead investigator, political science professor Christopher Parker, graciously provided me with the fuller data — which strongly contradict the notion of the Tea Parties as a unique hotbed of racism.

Thus, while only 35% of strong Tea Party supporters rated blacks as hardworking, only 49% described whites as such. While the gap is evident, these responses are close to those for all whites (blacks are rated as “hardworking” by 40%, whites by 52%). While whites who are strongly anti-Tea Party seem free of bias on this item — blacks and whites are rated as “hardworking” by 55% and 56%, respectively – this is not true for intelligence and trustworthiness. Whites in every group are less likely to rate blacks than whites as “intelligent” by similar margins: 14 points for Tea Party supporters (45% vs. 59%), 13 points for all whites (49% vs. 62%), 10 points for Tea Party opponents (59% vs. 69%). On “trustworthy,” the gap is smaller in the pro-Tea Party group (41% vs. 49%) than in the anti-Tea Party group (57% vs. 72%). One could write headlines about the “racial paranoia” of white liberals who consider blacks less trustworthy than whites!

The endurance of racial stereotypes in this day and age is disturbing; but Tea Party supporters differ little in this regard from mainstream Americans.  (It is also worth noting that, as in many other surveys, Asian-Americans in the UW poll are rated much more positively than whites.)

Compared to middle-of-the-road whites, Tea Party supporters show far more agreement with the statement that blacks should work their way up “without special favors” the way other minorities such as Italians and Jews did, or that blacks would be as well off as whites if they worked harder. The standard left-of-center view, shared by the UW researchers, is that such attitudes represent a subtler form of racism, or “racial resentment.” In some cases, that is surely true. Yet these sentiments may also reflect a genuinely race-neutral belief in self-reliance and self-help — or the view, shared by many black commentators, that the black community’s problems are partly rooted in damaging behavioral and cultural patterns.

John McWhorter, a noted black scholar and author whose works include the 2000 book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, says that “the idea that ‘racism’ is behind the Tea Partiers is based on a lazy and vain extension of the term ‘racism’ to meaning ‘that which many black people would not approve of.'” According to McWhorter, “The position that the government does too much to help black people is not necessarily one based in inherent bias against people with black skin — it can be argued as a reasonable proposition based on the spotty record of social programs since the 1960s.”

The other charge against Tea Partiers is that they are not “the people” but the privileged defending their privilege. Walsh gleefully points out that in the Times/CBS poll, 12% of Tea Party sympathizers had an annual income over $250,000 — forgetting to mention that so did 11% of all Americans. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asserts that “Tea Party enthusiasts … side with the better-off against the poor”: 73% of them, versus 38% of all Americans, say that “providing government benefits to poor people encourages them to remain poor.” (Of course, they couldn’t possibly be sincere in the belief that poor people are often harmed more than helped by government programs.)

What, then, do the new polls tell us about the Tea Partiers — or, at least, Tea Party sympathizers? (In the Times/CBS poll, only one in five self-identified Tea Party supporters reported actual involvement in Tea Party activities.) They are mostly white and more likely to be male (59%); three-quarters are 45 and older, compared to half of all Americans. They are more religious than average, though not dramatically so: 39% are evangelical Christians and 38% attend church every week, while the figures for all Americans are 28% and 27%.

Not surprisingly, the Tea Partiers are disproportionately Republican and right-wing: 39% consider themselves “very conservative” and 34% “somewhat conservative” (compared to 12% and 24%, respectively, of the general population).[…] In other words, the Tea Party movement is mainly conservative — which is hardly the stuff of headlines. That does not make it a haven for racists.

Read the rest.

0bama follows Europe into places Europeans are moving away from

Having spent half my life in Europe, I’ve on many occasions made wry comments about America under BHOzo adopting Euro-style social-democratic policies (which I once advocated myself) at the same time that European countries are seeking to get away from them.

Now Matt Welch explores this theme at some length (via Insty):

With the stunning emergence of the consumption-based Value Added Tax (VAT) as a legitimate public policy option, the Obama administration has now all but made it official: There is no European economic idea too extreme for 21st century America. Even if the Europeans themselves are largely headed in the opposite direction.

VAT, first rolled out in 1950s France, is a sales tax on everything that every person or entity buys within a country, with exceptions or reductions carved out for things like food, newspapers, or various links along the industrial supply chain.

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Compared to the H&R Block subsidy program that is the US tax code [heh!], the VAT is a straightforward way for governments to skim 20% or so off the top of every transaction. By penalizing consumption and not earnings, it encourages savings and resists gaming by well-connected special interests. In an ideal world, you could enact a VAT while slashing America’s corporate income tax rate, which is the globe’s second-highest.

But as the last 18 months of federal misgovernance has aptly demonstrated, we do not live in anything like an ideal world.

The only reason VAT is even on the table right now is that bureaucrats like VAT enthusiast Nancy Pelosi have an appetite for spending that far outpaces Americans’ willingness to cough up their hard-earned dough. Every statehouse and city council across the land is literally out of money, and turning to the only people who can print the stuff: Washington.

The federal government spent $3.5 trillion last year while taking in just $2.1 trillion, producing a deficit-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio of 10%, a level not seen since World War II. By contrast, the European Union requires member countries to keep deficits at 3% of GDP. If America was in Europe, we’d be Greece.

[…] The VAT isn’t a way to streamline a complicated tax code; it’s a new spigot to flood money into the pockets of teachers who can’t be fired, and securities regulators who can’t get enough porn.

The grand irony here is that the very continent we’re scrambling to emulate has been moving aggressively in the opposite direction on taxes and economic policy.

While the US keeps corporate taxes frozen near 40%, EU countries have slashed them down to an average of around 25%. Top marginal income tax rates, which in the US are 35%, are under 25% all across the former East Bloc.

As the share of government spending in health care has been steadily increasing in the US, it has been inching downward in Europe. While first Bush and then Obama pushed through massive new public entitlements, governments from Stockholm to Rome have been grappling with real private reform.

Though conservatives especially like to sneer at the democratic socialism of Old Europe, it is precisely those cheese-eaters in France and Vikings up north who have been leading the world in privatization these last two decades, selling off everything from airports to sewage companies.

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It was hardly an accident that, in the midst of Washington’s partial nationalization of Detroit automakers, Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson announced “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.” With this week’s news that General Motors is “paying back” one set of Troubled Asset Relief Program loans from another pile of TARP money, we can see why Europeans have a lot to teach us about separation of industry and state.

Where Republicans look across the Atlantic and see soft socialists worth avoiding, Democrats see enlightened progressives worth emulating. And it does not matter how little reality conforms to either fantasy.

So now the federal government is pushing to ape Germany and France in paying individuals far-above-market prices for selling their excess solar or wind power back to the electricity grid. The only problem? Those countries are running, not walking, away from those unaffordable programs.

The same dynamic is at play with labor relations. President Obama is on record pushing organized labor’s dream policy of “card check,” which would drastically bump up private sector unionism after decades of steady decline, and he has gone so far as appoint to his bipartisan “deficit commission” the notorious labor honcho Andy Stern.

Meanwhile Germany, which has the tightest labor-management-government relations in the EU, has been aggressively loosening, not tightening, workplace rules.

The fact that America’s most influential public-sector union leader is within a thousand miles of a deficit commission, let alone one that is floating the idea of an American VAT, tells you all you need to know about the relationship between any new consumption tax and fiscal responsibility. Which is to say, there isn’t any.

Read the whole thing.

Veterans Administration discovers “menstrual disorders” in… men

Government healthcare at work! And indeed, SNAFU doesn’t begin to describe this.

Last month, a decorated Gulf War hero received a letter from the Veterans Affairs Administration that said: We are working on your claim for menstrual disorder.

There was just one problem: The claim was submitted for fibromyalgia.

Make that two problems: The claim was submitted by Glenn McBride, a 40-year-old man from Roanoke, Va., who most definitely does not get menstrual cramps.

[…]

The Department of Veterans Affairs is notorious for bungling health care benefits, and its Roanoke regional office, which handled McBride’s claim, has long been considered among the worst.

In September 2009 a surprise inspection found the office was collapsing under the weight of its own bureaucratic incompetence. Literally.

Its filing system — floor-to-ceiling stacks of overfilled file cabinets and loose claims folders — weighed twice as much as the building’s structure allowed, threatening the lives of everyone inside. Inspectors also found missing and improperly filed, stored and processed claims, among other problems. The regional office was ordered to overhaul the health care processing center completely.

By last month, six months later, there should have been some improvement. Instead, McBride received a letter that included this perplexing request for additional information:

“On the VA Form 21-4138, Statement in Support of Claim you sent on October 8, 2009, you included menstrual disorder. Please specify what you intended to claim for this condition.”

Click here to see the VA’s menstrual letter in all its “glory”. And weep.

One really (ahem) wonders why most Americans don’t think government-run healthcare is a great idea… 😉

Tea Party, Charles Coughlin, and “Social Justice”

James Taranto’s Best of the Web (link to latest edition available) always eminently worthwhile, has a few items today that I cannot resist commenting on.

AOL News reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is backing away from a USA Today op-ed he penned with his boss, Nancy Pelosi, last August (which we criticized at the time):

Hoyer said [yesterday] that he regretted calling vocal opponents of health care reform “un-American” but compared the angry rhetoric of some Republican leaders who goad them on to the fiery rantings of a controversial Depression-era priest sympathetic to the Nazis.

Hoyer just got carried away and misspoke. He doesn’t think you’re un-American. He’s the first to acknowledge you’re as patriotic as any red-blooded Nazi-sympathizing priest!

The priest in question is, of course, none other than the infamous Father Charles E. Coughlin. Coughlin’s radio show, at its peak, reached an audience of as many as 40 million listeners — in the age before television, he was truly a mass media phenomenon.

However, Steny Hoyer might want to be careful with trying to paint him as the Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh of his age:

  • Coughlin started out his career as an enthusiastic New Deal supporter, before throwing his weight behind Huey Long. His disagreements with FDR had nothing to do with distaste for intrusive government or belief in laissez-passser capitalism — quite the reverse.
  • his main slogan, and the title of his newspaper, was, get this: “Social Justice”.
  • Coughlin was a virulent antisemite by any definition of the word. While antisemitism is today a marginal phenomenon in the Conservative movement (to the point that even L. Ron Luap’s son, Rand Paul, feels compelled to repudiate his father’s crackpot ideas on Israel), it has sadly become — fashionably disguised as “anti-Zionism” and Third-Worldism — at the very least respectable on the liberal left. [I hasten to point out that Steny Hoyer himself, whatever his faults, is a vociferous supporter of Israel.]
  • Coughlin was on the other side“anti-war”. Enough said.
  • In sum, Coughlin would find more in common with today’s Loony Liberal Left than with your average Tea Party demonstrator.

Claiming Charles Coughlin and the modern Tea Party movement have anything in common is like saying Jack Russell Terriers and Great Danes are very similar, since they both bark as well as have four legs, two ears, and a tail.

Friday night beauty: Tangerine Dream, “Phaedra”

This strange, yet wonderful, piece of psychedelic electronica by German electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream is without doubt the strangest album ever to hit the British top ten. It is essentially an improvisation recorded live in the studio. Forget the absence of any visuals below. Turn off the lights, put on your headphones, and float away.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Music geeks, hit “Read more”. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Earth Day video: Camel, “Never let go”

“Never let go” was the first track recorded by 1970s progressive rock band Camel, and has been a staple of their live set ever since. Below is footage of a 1973 concert performance, synced to the audio of the studio recording. (The mock-flute solo in the middle, which was almost certainly played on a Mellotron, would not sound anywhere like this on the Hammond organ which is being played in the film.)

The anti-ecodoom message of the lyrics could be read as a back-handed tribute to Earth Day.

Crazy preachers of our doom
Telling us there is no room.
Not enough for all mankind
And the seas of time are running dry.
Don’t they know it’s a lie…

Man is born with the will to survive,
He’ll not take no for an answer.
He will get by, somehow he’ll try,
He won’t take no, never let go, no…

California, the Beholden State, is 0bama’s ideal?

In the real world, California spent itself into de facto bankruptcy, and tax-paying Californians as well as the companies employing them are leaving in droves for places like Texas. In BHOzo’s alternate universe, “Washington needs to be more like California“.

Tim Cavanaugh explains why California hasn’t even seen the worst of its woes. He refers to a long, very detailed, and very depressing, piece by Steve Malanga on how public sector unions gradually saddled the state with unsustainable entitlements: “The Beholden State“. Read this latter article in detail. And weep.

UPDATE: Maybe true, definitely (and sadly) believable.

Why The Left Needs Racism

JAMES TARANTO: Why The Left Needs Racism: It Serves A Political Purpose.

The political left claims to love racial diversity, but it bitterly opposes such diversity on the political right. This is an obvious matter of political self-interest: Since 1964, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. If Republicans were able to attract black votes, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. Even in 2008, the Democrats’ best presidential year since ‘64, if the black vote had been evenly split between the parties (and holding the nonblack vote constant), Barack Obama would have gotten about 48% of the vote and John McCain would be president.

To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.

Read the whole thing. Some interesting discussion on Correspondence Committee.

Israel at 62: its “wow” factor

The ADL’s Abe Foxman and this writer don’t always see eye to eye. However, on Israel’s 62nd anniversary, I can’t resist quoting his Israel Independence Day/Yom Ha`atzma’ut tribute:

I recently met an old friend who had just returned from an extended stay in Israel. “How is the mood,” I asked him, expecting the worst. “Fantastic,” he exclaimed, “the cafes, the people, the exciting business opportunities. I even test drove the new electric car. Life in Israel is great.”

I was struck by my friend’s exuberant and cheerful report. I had expected him to tell of a dark mood in Israel, of Israelis worried about US-Israel relations, Iran’s nuclear weapons development, the stalled peace process, the campaign to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State, and of the usual despair over crime, traffic, social problems, religious conflicts and the political crisis de jour.

As someone who is deeply engaged in Israeli affairs – professionally and personally – my focus is generally on day-to-day issues. On any given day at ADL, we grapple with countering resolutions presented at international bodies blaming Israel for the world’s ills, educating the misinformed about Israeli policies, combating initiatives to promote university or church divestment from Israel or to boycott Israeli products at US or European supermarkets, even correcting maps in directories which mark every country in the Middle East but conveniently forget to label the State of Israel. Journalists call me for a perspective on what a breaking news event might portend for relations between Washington and Jerusalem.

I am not alone. When I give speeches around the United States, the worry for Israel’s present and future is often palpable. After all, pick up any major newspaper in the US or abroad and turn on any cable news broadcast, and the coverage of Israel is generally gloom and doom. Straight news pieces highlight the problems confronting Israel. More skewed commentary blames Israel’s policies, approach and sometimes even being.  Has any other country in the world warranted such a magazine cover story: “Will Israel Live to 100”?

But as my friend’s enthusiasm reminds me, these (very legitimate) worries and concerns should never eclipse appreciation and celebration of what Israel is. For someone who has been visiting Israel regularly since the 1950s, just seeing the transformation of the country into what it is today makes me stop every trip to say, “Wow!” Israel’s major metropolitan cities have transformed from proverbial dusty backwaters to world-class centers. In just over six short decades, Israelis have built a cutting-edge modern democratic state, with an exciting cultural and social scene, and whose innovations in science, medicine, agriculture, ecology and technology are the envy of the international community. And the people – diverse, divergent, complicated and never boring!

And so, on this Yom Haatzmaut, let all us pro-Israel advocates, news junkies and armchair analysts take a lesson from my friend. Let us commit to keeping active on Israel’s challenges, but to never lose sight of all there is to cherish and enjoy about Israel. As we remember each Yom Hazikaron, Israel has sacrificed a lot to get to its 62nd year, but we also owe it to all who contributed to the building of this great state to ensure that Israel’s assets, and not its problems, are what defines this fantastic country.

See also Benji Lovitt’s humorous tribute to his adopted homeland: 62 more reasons why I love Israel. A commenter points out that this year, Independence Day (which is observed by the Jewish calendar) happens to coincide with the birthday of the Jews’ worst persecutor in recent history.

In the words of Theodor Herzl: Im tirtzu ein zu agada — if you want, it is not a fairytale. Often this phrase is (mis)translated: “it is not a dream”. A fairy tale is a dream that cannot be made real. Warts and all, Israel is real. May she endure forever.

Yom Atzma’ut sameach!

Israel Memorial Day clip: Rakelya, “To cry for you”

Tonight, according to the Hebrew calendar, Israel remembers its fallen soldiers, security operatives, and victims of terror. The following night, Israel will celebrate its 62nd Independence Day.

In honor of the day, here is Israeli singer Rakelya performing a Hebrew song about a friend going to an untimely grave. “Livkot lekha” (To cry for you) was originally written by Aviv Gefen (for singer Arik Einstein) in memory of a friend who was killed in a car crash, but quickly became associated with memorializing fallen soldiers. After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin z”l, Gefen performed it himself at a memorial concert and recorded it for a memorial album, which is what most people associate the song with nowadays. But to me, it never lost the “memorial day” association.

Original Hebrew lyrics:

Ani holekh livkot lecha tihyeh chazak lema`ala
Ga`agu`ai kmo dlatot sheniftachot balaila
lanetzach achi ezkor otkha tamid
Venipagesh basof ata yode`a
Veyesh li chaverim aval gam hem kavim
El mul orkha hameshage`ah

Ksheatzuvim holchim layam
Lachen hayam maluach
Veze atzuv shelehachzir tziud efshar
Lo ga`agu`a
Lanetzach achi…

Ukhmo hagalim anachnu mitnaptzim
El hamezach el hachayim

Lanetzach achi…

Az ani holekh livkot lekha
Tihyeh chazak lema`ala.

My translation:

I am leaving to cry for you, be strong up there
My longing is like doors that open in the night
Forever my brother, I will always remember you
And we will meet in the end, you know
And I have friends, but they too pale
Against your maddening light

When we’re sad, we go to the sea
That’s why the sea is salty
And it is sad, that you can return equipment,
but not longing.

Forever my brother…

Like the waves, we are getting smashed
on the pier, and on life.

Forever my brother…

So I am leaving, to cry for you, be strong up there…

Zombie: crashing the Tea Party crashers

Various attempts were made to organize ‘Tea Party crashing’ by Moby‘s, i.e., leftist infiltrators posing (in this case) as Tea Parties carrying racist, conspiracy nut,… signs in order to embarrass the legitimate demonstrators (and provide the 0bama water carriersMSM with ammunition with which to delegitimize the Tea Party movement).

As we now know, the Tea Partiers took some rather creative countermeasures, such as a security force “armed” with colored signs with arrows and messages like “Imposter”, “Troll”, “Infiltrator”.

My blog ancestor and favorite undead person, Zombie, has a photoreportage up on Tea Party crashers and countercrashers, followed by a roundup of similar coverage elsewhere. Highly amusing reading.

Unpaid Apple commercial of the year

Norwegian PM, stranded at airport, runs country from his iPad:

Like thousands of other European travellers, Jens Stoltenberg has been unable to get home due to the cloud of volcanic ash filling the skies over Europe following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.

He was in the US attending Barack Obama’s nuclear summit, but was unable to fly home afterwards – like in the UK, all planes in Norway are currently grounded. ‘Due to the delays, I’ll be working from New York,’ Norwegian newspapers reported him as saying.

And now a picture from the official Prime Minister’s Office Flickr stream show’s how he’s working – on a newly purchased iPad. Which is the kind of publicity you can’t buy, frankly, not that Apple really need it.

Of course, the Norwegian prime minister isn’t the only one delayed in reaching Europe – even when he does make it back, he’ll still arrive before the iPad officially does, after Apple pushed back its international release by a month. Although we don’t think that was because of a volcano.

Picture from Statsministerens kontor (Prime Minister’s office) on Flickr, under a Creative Commons licence .

There was probably some poetic license involved here. I’d imagine that typing a kajillion Emails on a virtual keyboard on a touchscreen would get stale really fast. Still, if no “real” computer is available, it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing.

Jewish Tea Parties coming?

Roger Simon comments on increasing Jewish disenchantment with 0bama:

They said it would never happen. They said it couldn’t be done. But Jews — who have cleaved to the Democratic Party with a ferocity unknown to man or Icelandic volcano since the signing of the Magna Carta or the inauguration of FDR, whichever came first — are slowly (inexorably?) beginning to drift away from Barack Obama.

According to a poll published this week by [McLaughlin] & Associates, 46 percent of Jewish voters would prefer someone else than Obama in the presidency, compared to 42 percent who would re-elect him. That’s only a meagre four percent separation, but that number is stunning considering Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in November. That’s a difference of 32 percent between now and then. Has there been another voting block with that large a swing? There may have been, but I doubt it. Something is clearly going on here.

Now I understand these views are fluid and could switch back again. Habits are hard to change, longterm habits even more so. I’m sure the Democratic Party is banking on that. All loyal subjects come back in the end. But considering the Obama Administration continues to pressure Israel in such a mindless, almost primitive, manner, it’s not entirely unlikely that this swing will continue, even expand. As I wrote the other day, Obama’s attitude toward Israel and its leadership is excessively personal. Many Jews can see that. How could they not?

And it’s not just the President.

Obama’s Secretary of State is still bashing Israel in a way that makes little logical sense and seems fueled by personal animus (though in her case it may be against her husband, who was indeed a friend of Israel).[…]

The Congress (the majority Democrats, as we know) is worried about the Administration’s behavior. They’ve probably been reading this poll too and don’t want to be dragged down with their leader. And, yes, I imagine it’s likely the Administration will walk back on this at some point and make nice with the Israelis, possibly even with the reviled Netanyahu. But the “dye” has been cast. We have seen it. Some of it is indelible.

So regarding my headline, does this switch — big, little, permanent or not — mean that Jewish Tea Parties are coming? I’m not sure, but I will say this. When your mind opens one way, it opens other ways. That happened to me. When I became upset with the Democratic Party for its weakness on the War on Terror, I began to see that the Republicans had a point when it came to fiscal responsibility (not that they adhered to it.). The same process may be occurring here — or soon will be. A lot of intelligent American citizens are waking up right now. Don’t hold it against Jews that a lot of them have college educations, some from fancy institutions. That doesn’t completely blind you.

So maybe there will be Jewish Tea Parties. And if there are, you can count me in. I’ll even bring the borscht. I think I can still find my grandmother’s recipe.

There is, in fact, already a Jewish Tea Party group on Facebook. Make sure to check out the comments to Roger Simon’s article, which have some very interesting observations (including from “Yehudit”, which I presume is Judith/Yehudit Weiss of KesherTalk.) One observation that makes sense is that in 2012, Jews that cannot bring themselves to vote for a Republican might instead stay home if BHOzo is the Deemocrat candidate again.

Senate votes 85-13 against VAT

VAT trial balloon just deflated big time? (H/t: C2)  Senate Votes 85-13 to Condemn Value-Added Tax Sure, it’s only a “nonbinding resolution”, which expresses the “sense of the Senate”, but still: 85-13? (Roll call vote.) Two senators [Nelson and Warner] abstained. One RINO [Voinovich] voted against: the other votes against were all Democrats. Independent Joe Lieberman voted in favor.

Speaking of taxes, some places to go for coverage of yesterday’s Tax Day Tea Parties:

And meanwhile, courtesy of this article, here is a map of 0bama popularity/impopularity ratings (deep blue means a popularity index of  10% or higher, deep red of -10% or lower)

Gamer kiddies to balance the US budget? [no joke]

Via JCM at Correspondence Committee, here is a story that seemed like a late April Fools joke, or a deleted scene from an Orson Scott Card novel.

As the United States continues to struggle with its deficit, a task force created by President Obama to address the situation may be turning to Microsoft to inform the public about the difficulties of balancing a federal budget.

According to USA Today, Erskine Bowles, head of the Obama administration’s budget-balancing task force, has contacted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to see whether the company could build a video game designed to allow gamers “to take a stab at balancing the budget.”

Details on the title are few and far between. Although it sounds like it will be Web-based, the publication didn’t confirm whether the PC-based game would be played online or be downloaded.

Perhaps the bigger question about the budget-balancing title is how the government plans to use it. Is the game simply a way for citizens to understand the nation’s financial issues or is it a way for the government to find good ideas and put them to use? If the government can monitor gamer decisions and use the collective intelligence of its players, maybe, just maybe, some of our larger issues could be resolved.

Of course, while this sort of crowdsourcing could work in theory, for it to work in practice presupposes that politicians are actually interested in balancing the budget rather than maximizing graft and voter buyoffs.

More Taxes or More Jobs: Pick One

Reason TV has a great video for Tax Day: “More taxes or more jobs? California shows we can’t have both“.

While on the subject of Tax Day, and the many Tea Parties planned for it, don’t miss this post on specious ‘raaaaacism’ accusations: “Don’t leave it to Cleaver, Part VII” And as Insty suggests: “SEE A TEA PARTY “CRASHER?” Report ‘em to PJTV.”

And finally, James Lileks: “No taxation without satirization“.