In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 6, 2008 / 29 Adar I 5768

An ode to uncertainty

By Jonah Goldberg

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The cover story of last month's Scientific American is "The Future of Physics." It's got all sorts of stuff in there about how the guys in the white coats can measure what happens when they smash these teensy weensy thingamajigs — so tiny they make atoms look like Dom DeLouise after he let himself go — hurling around at 99.9999991% the speed of light. They're not positive they know how everything works; indeed, the opposite is the case. The deeper they look at the infinitesimal details, the more they discover they don't know. But at least they're down to the quantum nitty-gritty.

It's an interesting contrast with politics these days. While physicists can count the number of quarks in a given space with mind-boggling accuracy, the very best political minds in the land, with all the resources they need at their disposal (i.e. a phone, an up-to-date Rolodex and a calculator), can barely manage to get a working head count of how many delegates, "super" or otherwise, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have. It turns out that party hacks are more prone to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle than gluons and quarks are. No wonder Einstein said physics is easy but politics is hard.

People talk a big game about how they want the "process" to be more democratic, how they want more people to be involved, how we need more voices and choices. But when we get what we ask for, many of the same people suddenly crave closure more than a guest on Dr. Phil does. Take the race for the Democratic nomination — which could be decided today in Texas and Ohio. Depending on your point of view, the Democratic Party admirably or foolishly "frontloaded" the primary schedule so as to get a more representative group of voters — i.e. more black, more Hispanic, more urban, more Western, etc. — deciding who the nominee will be. Now that this system has created the result all the goody-goodies wanted, they're freaking out like extras in Reefer Madness.

Terrified that their votes will actually matter, the super delegates are begging to dodge the responsibility of doing their job. Like missile officers in an ICBM silo, they don't want to be the ones to turn their keys. You can't blame them. Why frontload the Democratic primaries to make them more democratic, only to close the deal in a decidedly (lowercase R) republican way?

But there's a larger point here. Politics, or at least the democratic kind of politics, are supposed to be hard, messy, chaotic. Herding cats is the essence of democratic politics. But for the past few decades, the bipartisan political establishment has been trying to rationalize the process, to reduce the electorate to a bunch of discrete, digitized elements reachable through targeted and tailored advertising. If they did a remake of The Graduate today, the one-word advice from a political consultant would be "microtargeting." Are you a 27-year-old male in Tallahassee who subscribes to Field & Stream, leaves the toilet seat up and thinks Bill O'Reilly should part his hair on the left? Well, you'll get an e-mail just for you! And, miraculously, the candidate writing you will agree with you on everything!

Campaign-finance reform was part of this larger effort to take the mess out of politics. Many politicians think they have an absolute right to control the political conversation. Mike Huckabee summarized this view well when he told National Public Radio, "Everything that involves the candidate's name or another candidate's name should be authorized and approved by that candidate, otherwise it shouldn't be spoken." In other words, politics is our special game and you folks can watch, but not play. Similarly, self-important newspaper editors think they have a special license to opine on politics but are horrified when mere rubes with a checkbook want to do the same thing. Thus came the rush to regulate political speech during campaign season — the time of year when political speech is the most influential and, hence, the most important. Again, this is often a bipartisan phenomenon. Democrats decry pretty much any attack as "swift boating." Republicans complain that billionaire Democratic sugar daddy George Soros is less like a citizen promoting his views and more like a James Bond villain in a quest for global domination.

By now the argument against campaign-finance reform is familiar to anyone who cares and boring to everyone else. So let's leave that for another time and instead look at one of the main reasons this election season has been so exciting: The polls haven't mattered as much as they normally do. If the old rules of thumb about success in the polls held true, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton would have wrapped up the nomination long ago. Then again, if the pollsters had been right, Obama would have won New Hampshire handily and probably California, too, which means he would have been the nominee. In other words, uncertainty has been the order of the day, and uncertainty is good because, among other things, it gives people the sense that voting matters and that all these things aren't decided by a system that doesn't include them.

So here's an old idea that might have new salience. Citizens should refuse to talk to pollsters, social surveyors and private census takers. What would happen? Well, fairly quickly the micro-targeting would get pretty macro. Rather than treating Americans like customers-who-are-always-right, politicians would increasingly have to state their convictions rather than restate what some focus group told them to say. Without knowing who was in the lead until votes were actually cast, candidates might actually campaign on conviction. Rather than telling people what they already believe, politicians might actually try to educate voters on what citizens should know first.

Obviously, this would make our politics messier and annoy a political class that is desperate to take the uncertainty out of their career paths. But that's really not our problem. The uncertainty principle makes things more difficult for physicists. Uncertainty makes things difficult for politicians, too. But it might actually yield more principle.

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