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FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010
RIGHTIES RISING – AT 8:01 P.M. ET: Conservatism seems to be rising in the United States, according to the latest report of the Gallup Poll:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal.
The 42% identifying as conservative represents a continuation of the slight but statistically significant edge conservatives achieved over moderates in 2009. Should that figure hold for all of 2010, it would represent the highest annual percentage identifying as conservative in Gallup's history of measuring ideology with this wording, dating to 1992.
COMMENT: That's gratifying, but the figures should be read carefully. Conservative doesn't mean Republican. Republicans cannot turn in a sleepy performance and expect to benefit seriously from the conservative trend.
I came from liberalism, and the very forces that drove me away are ascendant in liberal movements, including a rejection of the central theme of national defense. It's really too bad, because there are some very decent, practical liberals who can contribute much to the national conversation. But they have been drowned out by the wingnuts who think the Garden of Eden was in Manhattan, and survived until replaced by the set of "West Side Story."
June 25, 2010 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 7:46 P.M. ET: From Rachel Abrams at the Weekly Standard on the "human rights" policy of the Obama administration:
It’s been a rough seventeen months for Americans whose calling is to fight for the rights of people who’ve been stripped of them by force—young men and women beaten to death in full view of the world by the agents of their oppressors for daring to demand that their votes be counted; others hacked to death with the complicity of the autocrats in power over them for having been born the wrong color or to the wrong tribe; girls subjected to the lash, or, worse, murdered by their own mothers, fathers, or brothers for appearing in public in the wrong company; believers imprisoned for professing faith in the wrong god or the wrong political system; non-believers sentenced to death for “wronging” a wrathful, vengeful religion. And it’s been a dreadful period for the victims themselves, left as they have been to ask themselves in silent desperation what has become of their champion.
At the despot-happy opening act of his presidency the current occupant of the Oval Office announced that these people weren’t going to be his business, and though his secretary of state might have seen to them—it being actually within her reach to become the voice of the world’s voiceless, with a whole Human Rights Bureau designated for that very job just down the hall—she never has managed to get really full-throated about it.
COMMENT: Well stated. Isn't it remarkable that the Democratic Party's left wing, which used to wear "human rights" as its mantra, isn't terribly interested any longer. In fact, it treats democracy as simply another political system, or, as one liberal writer calls it, a lifestyle choice.
Barack Obama has turned his back on human rights or the expansion of democracy. It wasn't something we expected from the first African-American president. His supporters call him a pragmatist, which he definitely is not. A pragmatist emphasizes the practical, the doable, and this administration hasn't been very practical and hasn't shown much that's gotten done. In all probability, Obama's human rights policy reflects the cold attitudes of his socialist upbringing and radical associations. It's the theory that counts, never the people. Thus, this crowd could spout racial justice for decades, and watch thousands of black people murdered each year, without batting an eyelash.
It would have been nice had the media warned us.
June 25, 2010 Permalink
OH REALLY? – AT 9:27 A.M. ET: As reader Beth Harrison recently asked, "Can't they do anything right?" A day after Obama correctly names David Petraeus to save his bacon in Afghanistan, we learn of another appointment made by the Chicago geniuses who are running the joint. From Fox:
The Obama administration has tapped an outspoken critic of immigration enforcement on the local level to oversee and promote partnerships between federal and local officials on the issue.
Harold Hurtt, a former police chief in Houston and Phoenix, has been hired as the director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination. Starting July 6, Hurtt will supervise outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies, tribal leaders and representatives from non-governmental organizations.
"Chief Hurtt is a respected member of the law enforcement community and understands the concerns of local law enforcement leaders," said John Morton, the Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE. "His experience and skills will be an invaluable asset to the ICEs outreach and coordination efforts."
But as a police chief, Hurtt was a supporter of "sanctuary city" policies, by which illegal immigrants who don't commit crimes can live without fear of exposure or detainment because police don't check for immigration papers.
He also, during his tenure as Houston police chief, criticized ICE's key program that draws on local law enforcement's support.
"There's no way you can head up an office if you don't believe in what the office is supposed to do," Curtis Collier of U.S. Border Watch, told the Houston Chronicle. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement's primary mission is to protect the American people. If this guy believes any of these programs should not be enforced, he's certainly going to be a very weak advocate for them."
Critics say his pro-immigration policies enabled illegal immigrants to kill two police officers and seriously injure another in Phoenix before he left in 2005 and to kill an officer in Houston before he retired in 2009.
The widow of one of the officers, Rodney Johnson, who was fatally shot by an illegal immigrant with a long criminal record, is suing Hurtt for enacting policies that she says led to his death.
COMMENT: Nice, huh? Was this the best they could do?
Oh, and I have another question: How come all these worthies who oppose "local" involvement in immigration issues have no problem with the "sanctuary cities" idea? That basically allows cities to protect illegal immigrants. If that isn't local involvement in immigration policy, what is?
June 25, 2010 Permalink
WELCOME TO THE RECOVERY – AT 9:15 A.M. ET: Y'see, the problem is that the calculator the government used last month had bad batteries. That's what it was. No problem. But the guys went to Radio Shack, got new batts, and so there's a new report:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government lowered its estimate of how much the economy grew in the first quarter of the year, noting that consumers spent less than it previously thought.
Gross domestic product rose by 2.7 percent in the January-to-March period, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was less than the 3 percent estimate for the quarter that the government released last month. It was also much slower than the 5.6 percent pace in the previous quarter.
The department's report is the third of three estimates it makes for each quarter's GDP, the broadest measure of the nation's economic output. The first quarter's growth rate declined from earlier reports because consumers spent less than previously estimated, while the nation imported more goods from overseas.
COMMENT: We don't seem to be getting out of the recession. But the country's ability to handle a new one, or even a flatlining economy, is far less than in 2008, before the federal debt was spun out of control by the commissar of hope 'n change.
The economy will remain the key issue in the election. If it continues at this pace, Mr. Obama's party may well face an electoral catastrophe.
Add to the problem the fact that many states are near bankruptcy. It is hard for them to cut spending without alientating powerful constituencies, and raising taxes with major unemployment out there may not be the swiftest idea.
The oil spill won't help.
I get the sense that many Americans have gotten used to a weak economy, the way Europeans often get accustomed to shortages or unsuccessful economic plans. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it "defining deviancy down," where a society simply learns to accept a lower standard. I can't believe that is the America we'll live in, or the America we want, but it seems in certain areas to be happening. What do you think?
June 25, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA'S DILEMMA – AT 8:32 A.M. ET: The president is in serious political trouble, as the polls indicate. Byron York examines one element in a recent poll that has received far too little attention. It involves the emotional relationship of president to people, something hard to measure, but often decisive in elections. From The Washington Examiner:
Obama has also taken a fall when it comes to the sometimes hard-to-describe attributes that shape public opinions about leaders. The Journal asked whether people "strongly relate to [Obama] as your president," or whether they related to him somewhat, only a little, or not really at all. The number of people who say they strongly relate to Obama as president has gone from 50 percent on Inauguration Day to 29 percent today, while the number of people who say they don't really relate to him has gone from 8 percent then to 30 percent now. There's clearly a growing alienation with the once enormously popular president.
The people eventually find out the basic truth, even if the media doesn't do much of a job of exposing it. People can see what's going on around them.
The Republican opportunity this year is golden. But York makes the same observation that we've made repeatedly in this space, that nothing can be taken for granted:
As strong as the numbers look, smart Republicans are constantly telling each other to calm down and keep working. While the public has soured on Obama and the Democratic leadership, Republicans can't just bash the opposition.
Any number of things can happen between now and November to improve the Democrats' chances, including a military confrontation that the president actually handles well, hard as that is to believe.
Republicans must have a smart, attractive program to go with smart, attractive candidates. We await the program.
June 25, 2010 Permalink
SIXTY YEARS AGO - AT 8:16 A.M. ET: We note that the Korean War began 60 years ago today, with the Soviet-sponsored North Korean invasion of South Korea. And the North Koreans still haven't learned.
President Truman's vigorous response to the invasion was a critical element in setting the tone for the Cold War – that we would in fact resist aggression. Ah, those were the days, when the Democratic Party was a national-defense party.
Historian Arthur Herman has an excellent retrospective on Korea here. He observes:
...above all Korea had shown that America would stand by its commitments, even through a seething maze of obstacles and setbacks. Korea was the worst possible place for a war, one Truman advisor, Averell Harriman, observed; but "no weakness of purpose here." It's a powerful lesson for another worst possible place for a war, Afghanistan, 60 years later.
The Berlin Wall is gone, but the DMZ on the 38th parallel remains, the dividing line between totalitarianism and freedom, between the Stalinist darkness of North Korea and prosperous and open society of South Korea. Thirty-six thousand Americans gave their lives to establish it, and 28,000 Americans are holding it there still.
COMMENT: The war was brought to a close in 1953 by the new president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who threatened to use nuclear weapons if the North Koreans, and, by extension, their Soviet sponsors, did not agree to a reasonable armistice. They did agree.
We have a very different Democratic Party today, weighed down by its irrational, adolescent left wing. Harry Truman wouldn't recognize this party, but he'd have a few choice words to say about it.
June 25, 2010 Permalink
THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2010
NICE OF THEM – AT 9:39 A.M. ET: From NewsBusters:
In a classic example of liberal hypocrisy, the far-left leaning, George Soros-funded group MoveOn.org has removed its controversial "General Betray Us" ad from its website.
For those that have forgotten, shortly after General David Petraeus issued his report to Congress in September 2007 concerning the condition of the war in Iraq and the success of that March's troop surge, MoveOn placed a full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"
This created quite a firestorm with media outlets on both sides of the aisle circling the wagons to either defend or berate both the Times and MoveOn.
Now that President Obama has appointed Petraeus to replace the outgoing Gen. Stanley McChrystal to lead the war effort in Afghanistan, the folks on the far-left that castigated Petraeus when he worked for George W. Bush have to sing a different tune.
With that in mind, the ad, which has been at MoveOn's website for years, was unceremoniously removed on Wednesday as reported by our friends at Weasel Zippers.
COMMENT: They're kind of like the old Leninists. Things and people just disappear.
There's much buzz tonight, although I can't confirm it, that Obama himself chose Petraeus for the Afghanistan assignment, even though Petraeus wasn't on the list of generals recommended by Secretary of Defense Gates. That raises all kinds of questions as to what Obama's motive is. Did he simply decide to pick the best man? Does he want to wrap an Afghanistan failure around Petraeus's neck? Is he trying to sideline Petraeus as a possible 2012 presidential nominee?
We may never find out, but, as we noted earlier today, Petraeus is politically savvy, and it's unlikely he'd allow himself to fall into a political trap.
The coming Petraeus-Obama relationship will be one of the most intriguing, I would imagine, that we've seen in recent years.
Petraeus is said to be a "Rockefeller Republican." Hmm. I'm just throwing this out: Will we see an Obama-Petraeus ticket in 2012, and Petraeus, as a Democrat, in 2016? I don't think so, but it's juicy.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
HAILING HALEY THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY – AT 7:44 P.M. ET: We've been following the quiet rise of Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi within GOP ranks. Now comes the money part. From The Politico:
As Haley Barbour continues brushing aside speculation about his presidential prospects, the Mississippi governor is discreetly building a complex political operation rivaling those of any other 2012 GOP presidential prospects.
His apparatus, which has socked away hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, will get a major boost — as will the Barbour 2012 buzz — when the governor takes some time away from the Gulf oil spill threatening his home region’s shorelines to attend a big fundraiser Thursday for one of his three political action committees.
The fundraiser, set for adjoining hot spots in Washington’s trendy Glover Park neighborhood, has been the talk of Washington GOP circles, boasting a host committee that reads like a next-generation GOP bundling and campaign dream team.
COMMENT: Barbour, an excellent and respected governor, used to be Republican national chairman. He knows what levers to pull or who to get to pull them.
Can he be president? Long shot, I'd say. His great asset has been his record as Mississippi governor. That is also his greatest problem – the name of the state. Its racial history inevitably comes up.
Barbour is rumpled and a bit plump. But if the Repubicans are looking for rumpled and plump, they can choose new Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who's become a sensation. Tough spoken and refreshing, he's doing as governor exactly what he said he'd do, taking on the interests that have led N.J. almost to bankruptcy. His Fox News interviews, on YouTube, have gone viral.
Some say Christie is too unattractive and rotund to be president in the TV age. I don't know. Could be Americans are tired of toned and chic. Mr. T&C hasn't exactly brought home the bacon, low-fat or normal.
And if not Chris Christie, well, Haley Barbour looks rumpled enough.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES – AT 7:27 P.M. ET: We were being assured by the administration only hours ago, it seems, that the date to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 was firm. That was BMc, before McChrystal and his now-famous flap. Suddenly, with Petraeus in the hot seat, the timelines they are a-changin'. From The Politico:
A day after replacing the top American general in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said Thursday that U.S. troops could remain in significant numbers in the country well after his withdrawal timeline begins next summer.
Though his plan calls for the start of a troop withdrawal in a year, “We did not say, starting in July 2011, suddenly there will be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan,” Obama said at a joint White House press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“We didn’t say we’d be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us,” Obama said. “We said we’d begin a transition phase that would allow the Afghan government to take more and more responsibility.”
The answer was Obama’s clearest description of his timetable for bringing troops home from the war – a schedule many analysts felt was unrealistic with the Afghanistan conflict growing more violent and difficult to manage.
Obama’s answer seemed to run counter to the description of the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal timeline Vice President Joe Biden gave to author Jonathan Alter. In a recently-published book on Obama’s first year as president, Alter quotes Biden as saying, "in July of 2011, you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it."
Biden’s office, however, has since downplayed the statement, saying Biden had made a hurried, off-hand remark.
COMMENT: An off-hand remark from Joe Biden? Whoever heard of such a thing?
I suspect that there's a deal with Petraeus, who doesn't like to lose and is smart enough not to let himself be set up. Any smart guy would have demanded a guarantee that the Afghan rug wouldn't be pulled out from under him by an arbitrary withdrawal date.
But the left wing of the Democratic Party, some of whose members probably refer to Joe Stalin as Uncle Joe as a sign of affection, must be fuming. Like many 1930s Republicans, they've become isolationists in everything but name. But I doubt if they'd turn on Barack. I mean, who've they got? Ahmadinejad is Constitutionally ineligible.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
IT'S GREEK TO OBAMA – AT 11:28 A.M. ET: Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist, examines President Obama and finds him presiding over a Greek tragedy. From RealClearPolitics:
Do you remember candidate Barack Obama offering his hope-and-change platitudes in front of the fake Greek columns during the Democratic convention? Or earlier pontificating at the Victory Monument in Berlin?
Why didn't an old cigar-chomping Democratic pro take him aside and warn him about offending Nemesis? She is the dreaded goddess who brings divine retribution in ironic fashion to overweening arrogance.
The old pros were eased out years ago, except in parts of Chicago. They've been replaced by people who take the Earth's temperature twice a day and call Al Gore in the morning.
Didn't Team Obama ever suspect that such an unhinged press, in the manner of a Greek chorus, could just as easily sour on their prophet once his poll ratings fell as quickly as they had soared?
Couldn't David Axelrod or Rahm Emanuel have admonished their candidate to cut out the creepy stuff about himself and his throng being "the ones we've been waiting for"? Why was there a need for all that megalomaniac hocus-pocus about slowing the "rise of the oceans" and healing the planet? Sure enough, Nemesis ensured that instead of Lord Poseidon lowering the seas, Obama is now a smoky Hephaestus fouling them up.
Most mortals in Obama's position would have treaded lightly. They would have kept promises, steered a moderate course and listened more than lectured until they won over the public with concrete achievement.
But headstrong tragic figures do not do that. They neither welcome in critics nor would listen to them if they did. They impute their unforeseen temporary success to their own brilliance -- and expect it to continue forever. So would-be gods set themselves up for a fall far harder than what happens to the rest of us.
That's about where we are now, with our president playing a character right out of Greek tragedy, who, true to form, is railing about the unfairness of it all.
COMMENT: Yeah, that pretty much says it. And what if Obama gets a second term? Second terms are almost always worse than the first, and Obama, in a second term, wouldn't have the prospect of running again to restrain him. That is the true nightmare we must avoid in November of 2012. We can begin laying the groundwork this November.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
AND THEY DIDN'T HAVE TROUBLE DECIDING WHERE THE TRIAL WOULD BE HELD – AT 9:22 A.M. ET. From the Washington Post:
SARGODHA, PAKISTAN -- Five Northern Virginia men were convicted on terror charges Thursday by a Pakistani court and sentenced to 10 years in prison, prosecutors and defense lawyers said, in a case that heightened concerns about Westerners traveling to Pakistan to join forces with extremist groups.
The trial of the young Muslim men who lived and grew up in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County was sensitive for the United States, which has a duty to ensure justice for its citizens but also has pushed Pakistan to crack down on militancy.
The men, who worshipped at the same small mosque in Fairfax, were arrested in Pakistan in December after their families reported them missing. At the time, the men ranged in age from 18 to 24.
Prosecutors said e-mail records and witness statements proved the men were plotting terror attacks in Pakistan and had conspired to wage war against nations allied with Pakistan -- a reference to Afghanistan, where the men were alleged to have been traveling. Officials alleged that all five men intended to go to South Waziristan for training and eventually travel to Afghanistan and fight alongside the Taliban against U.S troops stationed there.
COMMENT: Once again we're reminded of the terror threat. One of these days our luck will falter and a lone terrorist, or a group, will pull off another spectacular on our soil.
In the meantime, our attorney general, Eric Holder, is still "deciding" where the trial of those associated with 9-11 will be hold. The 9-11 attacks occurred almost nine years ago.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
THE SANDS OF TIME – AT 8:58 A.M. ET: We're history buffs here, and so are many of our readers, so I thought you'd like to know this, from the New York Post:
LOS ANGELES - A nurse famously photographed being kissed by an American sailor in New York’s Times Square in 1945 to celebrate the end of World War Two has died at the age of 91, her family said on Tuesday.
The V-J Day picture of the white-clad Edith Shain by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured an epic moment in U.S. history and became an iconic image marking the end of the war after being published in Life magazine.
The identity of the nurse in the photograph was not known until the late 1970s when Shain wrote to the photographer saying that she was the woman in the picture taken on August 14 at a time when she had been working at Doctor's Hospital in New York City...
...Shain, who died at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday, leaves behind three sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
We can't reproduce the photo legally, but you can find it here. Many of you probably have it etched in your minds.
The greatest generation is dying out. A sailor who was only 18 in 1945 would be 83 today. Pretty soon, they'll all be gone...replaced by...must we say it...the sixties generation.
We can correct that in time.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
MORE BAD POLL NEWS FOR OBAMA – AT 8:33 A.M. ET: The president may get a brief bump from the McChrystal episode, only because he showed some leadership for a change, but a major poll just released will not bring joy to the First Golfer. From The Wall Street Journal:
Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll...
...Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.
For Democrats, the results underscore the potential for major losses in November. Both parties have been forced to contend with an anti-establishment wave this year. But Republicans, through strong fund raising and candidate recruitment, have put enough seats in play in the House and Senate to give the GOP a realistic shot at winning control of both chambers.
Support for Mr. Obama and his party is declining among centrist, independent voters. But, more ominous for the president, some in his base also are souring, with 17% of Democrats disapproving of Mr. Obama's job performance, the highest level of his presidency.
If there is good news for the president, it ironically comes from the Rasmussen poll, where Mr. Obama's approval rating has bounced back from a low and is now at 48%.
For the Republicans, the trends are generally good, but they vary from week to week, the election is four months away, and the Dems will not play dead.
June 24, 2010 Permalink
AND NOW THE SEQUEL, COMING SOON – AT 8:19 A.M. ET: Now that McChrystal is gone, politicans and pundits are urging the president to take some further action to give us at least a fighting chance in Afghanistan. Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, who has been a stalwart in the war on terror, has some solid ideas:
Vice President Biden must not be allowed to continue contradicting Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and undercut our military commanders in Afghanistan by saying that large numbers of troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan next summer.
Karl Eikenberry, our ambassador to Afghanistan, must not be allowed to publicly criticize Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose support is essential to our success.
The bottom line is that this administration has been divided and dysfunctional in implementing its Afghanistan policy. We cannot succeed unless the Afghans and Pakistanis are convinced that we are committed to the mission and that we will not abandon the battlefield by an arbitrary date.
The repeated assurances from McChrystal, Gates and Clinton that there would be only a small drawdown of American troops in July 2011 has been repeatedly undercut by Biden's pronouncements that a "whole lot" of troops will be pulled out. No wonder the Afghans and Pakistanis are hedging their bets and local officials and tribal leaders are reluctant to sign on with us.
COMMENT: In other words, Mr. President, show as much concern for the chaos in your administration as you did over critical comments McChrystal and his aides made in a magazine article. Our mission in Afghanistan is not going well. And yet, Americans understand that it must succeed. Your own party once described Afghanistan as the "good war," yet the left wing of your party wants to shut it down with no victory.
Are you president of "all the people," or are you president only of the left? We'll soon find out.
June 24, 2010 Permalink