The Bubbie Zaidie Factor

bzbannerSitting in the sukkah the other day at the JCC, celebrating a bar-mitzvah of a community leader, I had a chance to shmooze about the elections. Out of my house, amid a group of people a generation older, they asked me about students and politics. And one of our friends, a man in his 70’s, and a lifelong Democrat said, “I wish we could have the primaries again. There is no one to vote for.”

There is a sizable group of septuagenarian and older Jews, that have voted their whole lives on the Democratic ticket, who are seriously considering voting for McCain, or voting for someone else. And until I encountered it that day over Sukkot, I had not been able to really understand it. I don’t live in Florida, don’t have a synagogue, my 97 year-old grandma sent in her vote for Obama, I don’t hang our at Leisure World.

Obama scares them for a variety of reasons: the former preacher, doubts about religion, he’s African-American, and there are others. They don’t trust Obama, and when pushed on the subject, they could not come up with more than the reasons I just mentioned. Black leadership as a whole, is still clouded by the likes of the Black Muslims and Rev. Jesse Jackson, for some of these older Jews. They don’t see MLK, they don’t see JFK in Obama, they see someone they just don’t get.

I am the last person to want to preach to elderly Jews. These great-grandparents are pillars of our community and have poured so much of their heart and soul into Jewish communal life and Israel, and I am young and naive.

But to understand the generation gap is to also put your finger on the pulse of why Jewish communities are still pursuing broken models to try to ameliorate the declining Jewish population and donations to the communal purse.

Young people have a broader conception of their identities, they travel the whole world in an instant message. They look for things to unite them, they pick and choose – or as Steven Cohen put it – they create life playlists. They incorporate all kinds of ideas, media, relationships, and networks to create their identities. Young people – and I firmly put myself in this category – believe that being Jewish and the extent of their Jewishness is a choice, not an obligation. This is not how Jews born in the first quarter of the last century see the world at all.

The Holocaust, and fear of Jewish survival, still rank high among the worries of the Bubbie and Zaidie generation. This fear ranks high only among a few young Jews.

Young Jews come from families that are diverse religiously and ethnically, their friendships are across social and cultural lines, their colleges more diverse, their influences more worldly and explicit.

So is it any wonder that Bubby and Zayde are going to be afraid of a black man called Barack Obama who is running a campaign heavily dependent on the internet?

They might bring up a few reasons that they don’t feel they can vote for Obama, and usually they boil down to the preacher, doubts about his religion, and distrust of other black leaders. Its on the kishka (gut) level. But many young Jews see in Obama someone they can relate to, be inspired by, and he is closer to them generationaly, than he is to the Bubbies and Zaydies in Florida.

My mother brings up another very cogent point. As older Jews became more wealthy, they are more concerned for their tax bracket.

That last element that is undoubtedly affecting their vote is their vulnerability to email. The cascade of conspiratorial emails that flood my inbox, make me pine for the conspiracies of the loonie-left. Otherwise level-headed thinkers have forwarded to be emails that describe Obama as a Manchurian Candidate, funded by secret foreign funds. And worse. The elderly Jews that use email are also receiving there emails. Many believe what they read, without subjecting the email to scrutiny or a truth-test. And some of them are just a odd.

The Bubbie Zadie Factor up against the Democratic DNA of the Silver Bullets – its going to be an interesting day.

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President of Religious Zionists of America on Obama

Rabbi Yosef Blau

Rabbi Yosef Blau

I have known Rabbi Blau for many years and have a great deal of respect for him.  He is a major orthodox thinker, a scholar, outspoken Zionist, and mensch.

Obama And A Wary Jewish Establishment

From The Jewish Week

Rabbi Yosef Blau is the director of religious guidance at Yeshiva University and president of the Religious Zionists of America.

For the past 16 years, the leaders of the Jewish establishment of this country, primarily concerned with Israel, have been comfortable with the American president. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, despite their policy differences, were acknowledged friends of Israel. While the American people, unhappy with the Iraq war, apparently want a change in foreign policy, Jewish leaders are looking for continuity.

Sen. Barack Obama is both relatively unknown to the broader Jewish community and stands for change. His personal background is unusual, and his acceptance of his black identity occurred at a time when black-Jewish relations were tense. Not surprisingly, the Jewish establishment is suspicious and is not satisfied by his public record of support for Israel. The lack of significant differences between his policy papers and those of his opponents does little to allay fears.

Obama’s association with The Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other controversial figures who are part of the South Side of Chicago community has been subject to far greater scrutiny than questionable pastors and extremists of the right or left with connections to Senators Clinton and McCain. After Obama’s public denunciation of Rev. Wright, the letters published in The New York Times that criticized it as too little and too late, came from people with Jewish names. The rumor that Obama is a secret Muslim is still taken seriously by many Jews.

One can question whether Obama’s non-confrontational approach is appropriate for dealing with Iran, much as one can differ with other positions that he favors. If the issues were analyzed on their merits, Jews would split the same way that other groups in the general society divide. Among younger, less affiliated Jews this is probably what is happening. The impression gleaned from the Jewish media is one of stronger opposition to Obama by Jews than what is indicated by polls of Jewish voters. Read more


Candidate to Nowhere – Gov. Sarah Palin

Her 17 year old daughter is pregnant. (She talks tough on abstinence but can’t teach her own daughter to save something for marriage)

She backed the Bridge to Nowhere during he run for Governor, and killed it when there was a public outcry. (Then claims that she was against it all along.)

She was Chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (We need another administration controlled by the Oil industry? Bush/Cheney is not enough?)

She allegedly had her sister’s ex-husband fired. (Denies any knowledge of course, but someone from her office called over two dozen times about the matter)

She kills large game animals for fun, but won’t abort a week old embryo. (Hunts elk and other things, but is as fundamentalist as it gets on a woman’s right to choose—there is none.)

She is being promoted as a reformer, but has nothing to actually show for it. (Sources in Alaska say that with the entire establishment under scrutiny for corruption, that anyone could have been elected.)

It’s not that I hope that politicians are better people than anyone else. (Often they are worse.) But I was surprised at the brevity of her career, her obvious opportunism, flip-flopping, and the many questions that are hanging over her. If she were to win with McCain, she has the potential to President of the United States. McCain’s ticker is getting old, and she is next in line.

At least in Sydney, they are not hoodwinked as fast as the American media.

On Friday, the day she was introduced as Senator McCain’s running mate, Mrs Palin touted her opposition to a bridge originally championed by Alaska’s most prominent officials as an example of her fiscal conservatism and reformist credentials.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere’,” Mrs Palin said.

Prominent Alaska Democrats said Mrs Palin had supported building the bridge while she was campaigning for governor and reversed course only after opposition by fiscal conservatives in Washington, including Senator McCain.

“She was the only candidate who was saying ‘We’re going to build that bridge’,” said the former governor, Tony Knowles, who lost to Mrs Palin in 2006.


At the minyan, people were excited that she had an Israeli flag in her office. Well that means she MUST be great.

This LA Times article is worth reading too…

Why is the price of oil falling?

Ramblings about oil, elections, and the economy – Part One

Demand in the US is down. Speculators make their money. Hedge funds that put billions into the sector, are running. And other ideas are being sloshed around.  i.e. Having made more money than any companies in history, American Oil companies can now bank it, and get an oil friendly replacement for the current oil friendly Chief.

Oil has a way of falling before an election.  Gasoline prices have fallen before federal elections almost every year since 1990,and almost always this has been attributed to supply and demand.

In 2006, oil fell $.85 from August to November before the elections, with oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange closing at $57.88 a barrel, down sharply from the record high of that year of $78.40 on July 14.

Today the price of oil started at $118, having almost hit 150 a barrel not a month ago.  Experts say that the weakening American economy means that America needs less oil.

Whatever the reasons, the oil and stock cycle in the months leading up to elections is a discussion that cannot be avoided.  Back in September, 2000, the NY Times wrote:

This will be the 26th presidential election since Charles H. Dow put his industrial average together in 1897. So far, its record as an election prognosticator is 22-3 — not perfect, but at least as good as the average pollster.

The indicator says that if the Dow rises from the end of July through the end of October — the three months when investors are most attuned to the political season — the incumbent party will win the election. If the Dow falls, however, the incumbents will be thrown out. Perhaps a rising stock market reflects contented voters.

If the current oil slide continues, propping up the Dow and the markets, it would put a John in the White House, according to the Dow factor.

Meanwhile, consumption of oil worldwide continues to rise at steady rates. China, India, and the developing world are chugging oil.  OPEC says that demand is up, however less than it was – in other words the world needs more and more oil everyday, but less that they thought it would need.

Domestically, the pressure to extract more oil from off-shore and on-shore drilling is great.  The campaign trail is being paved with arguments about energy policies, and who-can-drill-where arguments.  Not that more oil wells will lower the price of oil on a huge scale, or help our economy.   But it sounds good, as if every American’s patriotic duty is to drill for oil in their backyard to help America become “energy independent” or whatever that means.

Americans are changing their habits quickly to adjust to the $4 a gallon world, and that is good ultimately for America. Alternate energy sources and means of transportation are everywhere, and more Americans are using mass-transit than ever before.  But will falling oil prices convince Americans that the crisis is over, and that they can go back to driving Hummers, Yukons and Ecalades, and put a John in the White House?  Will falling oil prices kill Israeli electric car projects in Israel and in California?  Too early to predict the future, I say.