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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Well, the big day is here. One of my daughters is getting married today. I have three; but this is the first to tie the knot. My other two daughters are in the wedding. Her twin is the maid of honor, and the other is a bridesmaid.

My son, HH Jr., is a groomsman and will also be singing a solo in the wedding.

Last night we had the wedding rehearsal at the church and the rehearsal dinner afterwards. I went to bed around 10:00 PM last night - which is early for me.

I got my big thank you speech prepared, and I as I look out the window at 7:30AM this morning, the sky is blue and not a cloud in the sky.

It's 65 degrees right now. The forecast for today is mostly sunny with a high of 79 degrees, winds at 15 mph, chance of precipitation is only 20% and humidity is presently at 57%. It should be a great day.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my daughters is getting married on Saturday, June 21st. Therefore, posts will range from erratic to non-existent for the next several days.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Living the Haditha nightmare--from a parent's perspective. Sharratt speaks out.

Leo Pusateri of Psycmeister's Ice Palace! sent me an email and said: "Darryl R. Sharratt, father of Haditha Marine Justin Sharratt, has given his take on the Haditha nightmare, the effects it had on Justin, his family, and the other Marines involved in what will undoubtedly be one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in military history."

You can read Mr. Sharratt's account exclusively at
Murtha Must Go!!

A Market Adjustment is Coming: Oil Prices Are About to Fall

By Dominick T. Armentano
The Independent Institute

Bold economic predictions are dangerous, and I’ve been wrong before, but here goes: Oil prices are about to tumble.

There are several important reasons to believe that crude oil prices of roughly $130/barrel are simply not sustainable.

• Worldwide economic growth, and hence the demand for crude oil, has slowed markedly due to the credit crunch and the bursting real estate bubble.

• The Federal Reserve has finally decided to stop lowering interest rates and/or creating credit as if it were the Tooth Fairy; a stronger dollar will mean lower oil prices.

• The already record high crude oil and gasoline prices have created strong incentives for consumer and business conservation and that have lowered overall demand.

Yet the most fundamental reason to expect prices to fall is that the gap between the price of crude oil and the cost of producing it is way too large to be sustained in the long run.

Since 1980, the cost (in constant dollars) of finding, lifting, and storing onshore domestic or foreign oil has been about $20 per barrel; between 2004 and 2006, that average cost rose to about $25 per barrel and is slightly higher now. (The cost of producing offshore oil is more than double onshore costs). Yet the price of crude oil has risen to about $130 per barrel (doubling in the last year alone), creating large profits for most producers and integrated oil companies.

Marginal suppliers around the world with costs above $30 per barrel but still far below current prices now have overwhelming incentives to uncap wells, engage in secondary and tertiary techniques to recover more oil from existing wells, drill additional wells, and otherwise expand production. (Houston is currently booming with oil production investment, as is Brazil). Any serious output expansion will take time, but the increasing supply, coupled with lower demand will lead inexorably to lower prices; indeed, sharply lower prices.

To be sure, speculators have helped bid up the price of crude oil. Most of the speculation centers on legitimate concerns about “supply disruptions” and some wider war in the Middle East Gulf region. My guess is that roughly 25 percent of the current price is a supply disruption premium, while another 15 percent is associated with our own debasement of the currency (the dollar) by our own central bank. (This can be proven by comparing oil prices in dollars with oil prices in Euros). When—or if—these speculations prove unwarranted, oil prices will decline sharply into (my guess) the $80 per barrel range.

Public policy can encourage this bursting-bubble scenario. The Democrats want to tax the oil companies or use the antitrust laws against them. Big mistake. More taxes get you less oil and “concentration” in the oil industry is not really the problem. The ongoing congressional hearings “investigating” oil prices and profits is a charade, purely political theater. The same federal and state governments that complain about high oil prices continue to tax gasoline at a rate (40 cents per gallon) far higher than the profit rate for the oil companies. So much for government concern about consumers.

On the other hand, public policy can and must change to allow energy companies to explore for and develop domestic and offshore supplies of crude oil. Obstacles to expanding and building new oil refineries domestically must be removed, and quickly. Alternative energy sources, if they are cheaper, must be allowed to proceed (including and especially nuclear) but direct subsidies to ALL energy companies (including to oil companies, if any) should end. We need the contributions of wind, solar, etc.—but only if and when their real costs and prices are comparable with oil and natural gas.

Competitive energy suppliers will work to produce in our interest if we free up the markets and let them.

Dominick T. Armentano is professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford (Connecticut) and a research fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. He is author of Antitrust & Monopoly (Independent Institute, 1998).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Astonishing Decision
—Hugh Hewitt

On June 12th, five members of the United States Supreme Court ruled that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to habeas corpus rights, which means that very soon a flood of lawsuits will hit the district courts of the United States from the hundreds of suspected and known terrorists held at the base of Cuba.

This astonishing decision--a direct rebuke to the Congress and the president which had jointly crafted the law held to be insufficiently protective of detainees' rights--has been vigorously endorsed by Barack Obama and condemned by John McCain.

Voters must keep in mind in November that Obama will certainly appoint more federal judges and Supreme Court justices committed to expanding terrorists' rights while John McCain will seek judges like Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito who voted against the majority.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congress Cannot Deflect The Blame


Energy: First, Democrats dishonestly blamed oil companies for overcharging. Now they falsely accuse them of keeping their high-priced oil off the market. With public support for drilling growing, Congress is panicked.
Read more.

Muslims barred from picture at Obama event
At a rally in Detroit, campaign volunteers sought to prevent two women's headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: Oil Prices: '08's Defining Issue
Gas prices are the first important issue in the 2008 elections. But both parties have been pathetic in their solutions and, one suspects, in their understanding of what is going on.


Obama Promises the World to Michigan Voters

By Bob McCarty at BobMcCarty.com

Over-taxed and economically-stressed voters in Michigan had opportunities to hear some tall tales today, delivered in the form of campaign promises made by Barack Obama during a two-day campaign swing through the state. Read on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

“Where does the Constitution give Congress—even a liberal Democrat Congress—authority to even think about nationalizing, or socializing the oil companies?”

—Henry Lamb

“Environmentalists are Gaia’s priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect... And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment—carbon chastity—they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.”

—Charles Krauthammer

“We’ve long thought there are two things in Washington that are unbalanced—the budget and the liberals.”

—Ronald Reagan

“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.”

-- Samuel Adams

The Problem With Europe

By George Friedman
Geopolitical Intelligence Report

The Problem With Europe

The creation of a European state was severely wounded if not killed last week. The Irish voted against a proposed European Union treaty that included creation of a full-time president, increased power to pursue a European foreign policy and increased power for Europe’s parliament. Since the European constitutional process depends on unanimous consent by all 27 members, the Irish vote effectively sinks this version of the new constitution, much as Dutch and French voters sank the previous version in 2005.

The Irish vote was not a landslide. Only 54 percent of the voters cast their ballots against the constitution. But that misses the point. Whether it had been 54 percent for or against the constitution, the point was that the Irish were deeply divided. In every country, there is at least a substantial minority that opposes the constitution. Given that all 27 EU countries must approve the constitution, the odds against some country not sinking it are pretty long. The Europeans are not going to get a strengthened constitution this way.

But the deeper point is that you can’t create a constitution without a deep consensus about needing it. Even when there is — as the United States showed during its Civil War — critical details not settled by consensus can lead to conflict. In the case of the United States, the issues of the relative power of states and the federal government, along with the question of slavery, ripped the country apart. They could only be settled by war and a series of amendments to the U.S. Constitution forced through by the winning side after the war.

The Constitutional Challenge

Creating a constitution is not like passing a law — and this treaty was, in all practical terms, a constitution. Constitutions do not represent public policy, but a shared vision of the regime and the purpose of the nation. The U.S. Constitution was born in battle. It emerged from a long war of independence and from the lessons learned in that war about the need for a strong executive to wage war, a strong congress to allocate funds and raise revenue, and a judiciary to interpret the constitution. War, along with the teachings of John Locke, framed the discussions in Philadelphia, because the founders’ experience in a war where there was only a congress and no president convinced them of the need for a strong executive. And even that was not enough to prevent civil war over the issue of state sovereignty versus federal sovereignty. Making a constitution is hard.

The European constitution was also born in battle, but in a different way. For centuries, the Europeans had engaged in increasingly savage wars. The question they wanted to address was how to banish war from Europe. In truth, that decision was not in their hands, but in the hands of Americans and Soviets. But the core issue remained: how to restrain European savagery. The core idea was relatively simple. European wars arose from European divisions; and, for centuries, those divisions ran along national lines. If a United States of Europe could be created on the order of the United States of America, then the endless battling of France, Germany and England would be eliminated.

In the exhaustion of the postwar world — really lasting through the lives of the generation that endured World War II — the concept was deeply seductive. Europe after World War II was exhausted in every sense. It allowed its empires to slip away with a combination of indifference and relief. What Europeans wanted postwar was to make a living and be left alone by ideology and nationalism; they had experienced quite enough of those two. Even France under the influence of Charles de Gaulle, the champion of the idea of the nation-state and its interests, could not arouse a spirit of nationalism anywhere close to what had been.

There is a saying that some people are exhausted and confuse their state with virtue. If that is true, then it is surely true of Europe in the last couple of generations. The European Union reflected these origins. It began as a pact — the European Community — of nations looking to reduce tariff barriers. It evolved into a nearly Europe-wide grouping of countries bound together in a trade bloc, with many of those countries sharing a common currency. Its goal was not the creation of a more perfect union, or, as the Americans put it, a “novus ordo seclorum.” It was not to be the city on the hill. Its commitment was to a more prosperous life, without genocide. Though not exactly inspiring, given the brutality of European history, it was not a trivial goal.

The problem was that when push came to shove, the European Community evolved into the European Union, which consisted of four things:

1. A free trade zone with somewhat synchronized economic polices, not infrequently overridden by the sovereign power of member states.

2. A complex bureaucracy designed to oversee the harmonization of European economies. This was seen as impenetrable and engaged in intensive and intrusive work from the trivial to the extremely significant, charged with defining everything from when a salami may be called a salami and whether Microsoft was a monopoly.

3. A single currency and central bank to which 15 of the 27 EU members subscribed.

4. Had Ireland voted differently, a set of proto-institutions would have been created — complete with a presidency and foreign policy chief — which would have given the European Union the trappings of statehood. The president, who would rotate out of office after a short time, would have been the head of one of the EU member states.

Rejecting a European Regime

The Irish referendum was all about transforming the fourth category into a regime. The Irish rejected it not because they objected to the first three sets of solutions — they have become the second-wealthiest country in Europe per capita under their aegis. They objected to it because they did not want to create a European regime. As French and Dutch voters have said before, the Irish said they want a free trade zone. They will put up with the Brussels bureaucracy even though its intrusiveness and lack of accountability troubles them. They can live with a single currency so long as it does not simply become a prisoner of German and French economic policy. But they do not want to create a European state.

The French and German governments do want to create such a state. As with the creation of the United States, the reasons have to do with war, past and future. Franco-German animosity helped created the two world wars of the 20th century. Those two powers now want a framework for preventing war within Europe. They also — particularly the French — want a vehicle for influencing the course of world events. In their view, the European Union, as a whole, has a gross domestic product comparable to that of the United States. It should be the equal of the United States in shaping the world. This isn’t simply a moral position, but a practical one. The United States throws its weight around because it can, frequently harming Europe’s interests. The French and Germans want to control the United States.

To do this, they need to move beyond having an economic union. They need to have a European foreign and defense policy. But before they can have that, they need a European government that can carry out this policy. And before they can have a European government they must have a European regime, before which they must have a European constitution that enumerates the powers of the European president, parliament and courts. They also need to specify how these officials will be chosen.

The French and Germans would welcome all this if they could get it. They know, given population, economic power and so on, that they would dominate the foreign policy created by a European state. Not so the Irish and Danes; they understand they would have little influence on the course of European foreign policy. They already feel the pain of having little influence on European economic policy, particularly the policies of the European Central Bank (ECB). Even the French public has expressed itself in the 2006 election about fears of Brussels and the ECB. But for countries like Ireland and Denmark, each of which fought very hard to create and retain their national sovereignty, merging into a Europe in which they would lose their veto power to a European parliamentary and presidential system is an appalling prospect.

Economists always have trouble understanding nationalism. To an economist, all human beings are concerned with maximizing their own private wealth. Economists can never deal with the empirical fact that this simply isn’t true. Many Irish fought against being cogs in a multinational British Empire. The Danes fought against being absorbed by Germany. The prospect of abandoning the struggle for national sovereignty to Europe is not particularly pleasing, even if it means economic advantage.

Europe is not going to become a nation-state in the way the United States is. It is increasingly clear that Europeans are not going to reach a consensus on a European constitution. They are not in agreement on what European institutions should look like, how elections should be held and, above all, about the relation between individual nations and a central government. The Europeans have achieved all they are going to achieve. They have achieved a free trade zone with a regulatory body managing it. They have created a currency that is optional to EU members, and from which we expect some members to withdraw from at times while others join in. There will be no collective European foreign or defense policy simply because the Europeans do not have a common interest in foreign and defense policy.

Paris Reads the Writing on the Wall

The French have realized this most clearly. Once the strongest advocates of a federated Europe, the French under President Nicolas Sarkozy have started moving toward new strategies. Certainly, they remain committed to the European Union in its current structure, but they no longer expect it to have a single integrated foreign and defense policy. Instead, the French are pursuing initiatives by themselves. One aspect of this involves drawing closer to the United States on some foreign policy issues. Rather than trying to construct a single Europe that might resist the United States — former President Jacques Chirac’s vision — the French are moving to align themselves to some degree with American policies. Iran is an example.

The most intriguing initiative from France is the idea of a Mediterranean union drawing together the countries of the Mediterranean basin, from Algeria to Israel to Turkey. Apart from whether these nations could coexist in such a union, the idea raises the question of whether France (or Italy or Greece) can simultaneously belong to the European Union and another economic union. While questions — such as whether North African access to the French market would provide access to the rest of the European Union — remain to be answered, the Germans have strongly rejected this French vision.

The vision derives directly from French geopolitical reality. To this point, the French focus has been on France as a European country whose primary commitment is to Europe. But France also is a Mediterranean country, with historical ties and interests in the Mediterranean basin. France’s geographical position gives it options, and it has begun examining those options independent of its European partners.

The single most important consequence of the Irish vote is that it makes clear that European political union is not likely to happen. It therefore forces EU members to consider their own foreign and defense policies — and, therefore, their own geopolitical positions. Whether an economic union can survive in a region of political diversity really depends on whether the diversity evolves into rivalry. While that has been European history, it is not clear that Europe has the inclination to resurrect national rivalries.

At the same time, if France does pursue interests independent of the Germans, the question will be this: Will the mutual interest in economic unity override the tendency toward political conflict? The idea was that Europe would moot the question by creating a federation. That isn’t going to happen, so the question is on the table. And that question can be framed simply: When speaking of political and military matters, is it reasonable any longer to use the term Europe to denote a single entity? Europe, as it once was envisioned, appears to have disappeared in Ireland.

Murtha Loses - AGAIN!!!

Thomas More Law Center - News
ANN ARBOR, MI – Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom, USMC, this morning dismissed all charges against Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds of unlawful command influence. He blistered the prosecution’s case in an opinion he read from the bench that lasted an hour. The ruling was without prejudice. Colonel Folsom gave prosecutors 72 hours in which to notify him whether they would appeal.

(Emphasis mine - HH)

This means Murtha is "zero for seven" as it stands now. The military judge's decision means that, six of the eight Marines charged in the Haditha case have won by dismissal; one has been cleared at court martial; and, one - Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich - still faces court martial. His case has been put on hold pending the appeal of a pretrial ruling.

Here's how Dan Whitcomb of Reuters writes the first paragraph of his news report:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A military judge on Tuesday dismissed the case against the highest-ranking U.S. Marine charged in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha, whittling down the list of those who must still face justice for the 2005 killings to just the accused ringleader.


Democrats: Protecting Their Own, Assaulting the Rest

By Michael Medved

Democrats in Congress display their special knack for corruption with their destructive assault on doctor-owned hospitals. Three times in the last year, the House or Senate passed bills banning referrals of Medicare or Medicaid patients to hospitals in which doctors own significant stock.

This would effectively shut-down smaller, specialized alternatives to often overcrowded metropolitan hospitals in a misguided attempt to control costs. But Democrat Senators Herb Kohl and Patty Murray want to make exceptions to the ban for medical facilities in their own states--specifically exempting doctor-owned hospitals in Wisconsin and Washington. In other words, Senators grab new power to crack down on hospitals they say they don't like--but then inspire gratitude, and probably future contributions, from constituents they've specially shielded from the general destruction. This is arrogant manipulation of the most transparent sort.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New prosthetic arm for veterans

Designed by Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway. This is way cool. See the short video here.


What Is Driving the High Oil Prices?
Despite high oil prices and diminished spare capacity, OPEC is repeatedly refuses to increase production beyond current levels, alleging that the "oil market is balanced" and "there is no threat to or crisis in supply."[7] The reality, of course, is quite different. OPEC and non-OPEC exporters insist on limiting the majority of new oil and gas projects to their NOCs, to the detriment of international oil companies and consumers world wide. They neglect or actively resist the development of modern natural resources legislation, court systems, transparency, and energy sector supervision by elected officials, as well as scrutiny by independent media. As a result, they prevent increases in production and disallow necessary investment by the international oil companies, which have the expertise to bring the needed supply online. This trend is set to increase: Over the next 20 years, 90 percent of new hydrocarbon supplies will come from countries that provide privileged access to national oil companies.[8] Thus, oil prices can only go up. Read more....

Emerging Market Oil Use Exceeds U.S. as Prices Rise

Global Warming Alarmists Like High Gas Prices

No one likes paying $4 a gallon for gas, right? Wrong. There are those in the media, Congress and activist groups who want to see your pump price go even higher

Do the Right Thing: Start Drilling!
By Victor Davis Hanson
American laws and technology ensure a rig off Florida or in Alaska has far less chance of springing a leak than one in the Persian Gulf or the Russian tundra. If there really is a shared "planet earth," then aren't we all its collective stewards? By locking out energy exploration in the United States, we are encouraging it almost everywhere else. Continued...

Donald Lambro: Boost Production, Don't Penalize Big Oil

There's no way to put this politely. Raising taxes on U.S. oil companies and calling it an energy plan is just about the dumbest idea the Democrats have come up with yet.

ANWR Not the Frosty Paradise It's Cracked Up To Be
By Jonah Goldberg
Sen. John McCain said this week he would not drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the same reason he "would not drill in the Grand Canyon ... I believe this area should be kept pristine."

Pristine means unspoiled, virginal, in an original state.

One wonders how pristine the Grand Canyon can be if it has roughly 5 million visitors every year, rafting, hiking, picnicking and riding mules up one side and down the other. Campfires, RVs and motels that do not conjure the word "virginal" ring around large swaths of it.

This isn't to say that the Grand Canyon isn't a beautiful place; it inspires awe among those who visit it. ANWR (pronounced "AN-wahr) inspires awe almost entirely in those who haven't been there. It is an environmental Brigadoon or Shangri-La, a fabled land almost no one will ever see. That is its appeal. People like the idea that there are still Edens "out there" even if they will never, ever see them.

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown: Six Ways Obama Wants to Change America

What word does Barack Obama and his supporters keep chanting? "Change!" Like a drumbeat, Obama's chant for change runs nonstop in an endless loop.

Viral Video on Immigration Costs
By Amanda Carpenter
Video testimony from a Florida hospital administrator about the millions of tax dollars spent providing health care for illegal aliens is spreading like wildfire on the internet.

Last April, Carol Plato, director of services from Martin Memorial Medical Hospital, told members of Florida’s House Committee on State Affairs about the extreme financial burdens illegal immigrants have imposed on her hospital. The Florida House of Representatives posted video from the day’s testimony and later an immigration enforcement advocate clipped her segment and uploaded it to YouTube, where it’s received almost 400,000 views to date.

In the video, Plato testifies: “In 2001, we had a Guatemalan, an illegal patient in our hospital. He was there from 2001 and until 2003. He had over $1.5 million in health care services. We forcibly returned him to his home county of Guatemala at our own cost of $30,000. You ask why am I telling you about a case that happened in 2003? Because today that case is not over. We have spent and are spending up to a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees because his family here in the United States is suing us because they think it as inappropriate for us to return this illegal patient to his home country.”

John Hawkins: Tackling Five Modern Myths Created by Liberals
In recent years, liberals have mastered the art of lying. A lefty blog writes a story, then two dozen other blogs pick-up.

Charles Krauthammer: Obama's Plan for Defeat
We know Obama hasn't been to Iraq in more than two years, but does he not read the papers? Does he not know anything about developments on the ground?

A World Afloat on an Ocean of Oil
By Alan Caruba

Considering how much untapped oil is known to exist, not just in the United States but worldwide, one would think that its current price was some kind of anomaly -- and it is. It is more the result of speculation than anything else...

Military Successes Drive Anbar Casualties to Post-Invasion Low
U.S. causalities in Iraq's once-volatile Anbar Province have dropped in recent months to the lowest levels since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, a fact some analysts attribute to the success of the 2004 Battle of Fallujah and the more recent "surge" strategy that increased U.S. troops in the province...

David Limbaugh: Obama's Thinly Veiled Truculence
I was watching television the other night, and someone was interviewing people on the street about the presidential election.

Fred Thompson: A Supreme Error
It is truly stunning that this court has seen fit to arrogate unto itself a role in the most important issue facing any country, self-defense, in a case in which Congress has in fact repeatedly acted.

Austin Hill: Energy Crisis, Congressional Stupidity, And Election 2008
People are angry. Global oil prices have doubled over the past year, sending fuel prices skyrocketing.

Carol Platt Liebau: "Change You Can Believe In" -- Or "Change You Just Won't Believe"?

Just this week, Obama announced plans to move key elements of the Democratic National Committee operation to his own home turf of Chicago, where presumably he?ll have more mastery over it.

Paul Greenberg: Moment of Truth
In any political race of consequence, there always comes that moment of truth when the candidate must decide just how far he will go to curry favor with the voters.

Obama's Troubling Friends

By Hugh Hewitt

Chicago influence peddler Tony Rezko's 16 convictions on fraud and related matters would be a major story even if his shady connections damaged only Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, which they have.

But Rezko's criminal activities touch on a much higher level political figure: Democratic nominee for president Barack Obama. Rezko has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama, mentored him as he entered politics, and then helped Barack and Michelle buy their current home. The closeness between Obama and his friend financier and now felon cannot be denied, only ignored by the mainstream media.

Over and over again Obama's friends and sponsors turn out to have troubling pasts and presents. From terrorists Ayers and Dohrn to radical preachers Phleger and Wright we now add a crook. The friends of Barack Obama are troubling indeed.

Obama's Undivided Jerusalem Raises New Questions

By Michael Medved

For two reasons, Barack Obama's expressed support for an "undivided Jerusalem" will end up hurting, not helping his campaign. First, within 24 hours of making the pledge to applauding friends of Israel, he back-tracked on CNN and said "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute."

In addition to this waffling, his original statement showed clumsiness and ignorance. When he said that Jerusalem "must remain undivided" he presumed to dictate Israeli policy, instead of respecting our ally's sovereignty and letting their leaders reach their own decisions about negotiations. When the US tries to force Israel's hand, it usually means painful and dangerous unilateral concessions, regardless of hollow pandering in campaign season. No wonder John McCain, according to Gallup, already draws a surprisingly strong 35 percent in the Jewish community.