Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 10, 2010

Americans Reject “Not Bush” Approach to Fighting Terrorism

The latest Quinnipiac poll reports:

American voters say 59 – 35 percent that 9/11 terrorism suspects should be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts, as currently planned. Voters say 68 – 25 percent that terrorism suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial. Democrats prefer civilian courts 48 – 45 percent. Support for military courts is 73 – 23 percent among Republicans and 61 – 33 percent among independent voters.

The suspect who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day should be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an ordinary criminal, voters say 76 – 19 percent. But voters approve 52 – 42 percent of the FBI’s advice to the suspect of his right to remain silent.

“When it comes to how suspected terrorists should be treated by the American judicial system there is a significant gap between the American people and President Barack Obama,” said Brown. “Although they give the President a 49 – 44 percent approval rating on handling terrorism, the devil is in the details. When it comes to his decision to treat suspected terrorists as common criminals deserving of civilian trials rather than as enemy combatants judged by military tribunals they are strongly in the other corner. There is a similar disconnect on the basic question of whether suspected terrorists should have the same rights as ordinary criminals.

At the same time, voters are pleased with Obama’s Afghanistan troop-surge decision – - by a large 56 to 37 percent margin.

This should tell the Obami something. At a time when their domestic policies are cratering in public polling and their approach to the war against Islamic fascists (whom they dare not refer to in such candid terms) is hugely unpopular, they would do well to note that a robust strategy in Afghanistan does, in fact, engender widespread support. In this case, smart policy meets good politics. The Obami have been pursuing a not-Bush approach on terrorism that is neither sound on the merits nor politically sustainable.

The question remains how to reverse course and shed the flawed and unsustainable policies they have adopted. They might start, of course, with canning two principal advisers — Eric Holder and John Brennan — who show particular contempt for the facts and disdain for the bipartisan opposition. But that would require Obama to admit error. And honestly, what do we think the chances of that are?

The latest Quinnipiac poll reports:

American voters say 59 – 35 percent that 9/11 terrorism suspects should be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts, as currently planned. Voters say 68 – 25 percent that terrorism suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial. Democrats prefer civilian courts 48 – 45 percent. Support for military courts is 73 – 23 percent among Republicans and 61 – 33 percent among independent voters.

The suspect who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day should be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an ordinary criminal, voters say 76 – 19 percent. But voters approve 52 – 42 percent of the FBI’s advice to the suspect of his right to remain silent.

“When it comes to how suspected terrorists should be treated by the American judicial system there is a significant gap between the American people and President Barack Obama,” said Brown. “Although they give the President a 49 – 44 percent approval rating on handling terrorism, the devil is in the details. When it comes to his decision to treat suspected terrorists as common criminals deserving of civilian trials rather than as enemy combatants judged by military tribunals they are strongly in the other corner. There is a similar disconnect on the basic question of whether suspected terrorists should have the same rights as ordinary criminals.

At the same time, voters are pleased with Obama’s Afghanistan troop-surge decision – - by a large 56 to 37 percent margin.

This should tell the Obami something. At a time when their domestic policies are cratering in public polling and their approach to the war against Islamic fascists (whom they dare not refer to in such candid terms) is hugely unpopular, they would do well to note that a robust strategy in Afghanistan does, in fact, engender widespread support. In this case, smart policy meets good politics. The Obami have been pursuing a not-Bush approach on terrorism that is neither sound on the merits nor politically sustainable.

The question remains how to reverse course and shed the flawed and unsustainable policies they have adopted. They might start, of course, with canning two principal advisers — Eric Holder and John Brennan — who show particular contempt for the facts and disdain for the bipartisan opposition. But that would require Obama to admit error. And honestly, what do we think the chances of that are?

Read Less

WEB EXCLUSIVE: A Less Perfect Union

It was three years ago today that, amidst tremendous hope and anticipation, Barack Obama announced his presidential bid. “In the face of a politics that’s shut you out,” Obama said, “that’s told you to settle, that’s divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what’s possible, building that more perfect union. That’s the journey we’re on today.”

Mr. Obama ended his speech this way:

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I’m ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.

Click here to read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive.

It was three years ago today that, amidst tremendous hope and anticipation, Barack Obama announced his presidential bid. “In the face of a politics that’s shut you out,” Obama said, “that’s told you to settle, that’s divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what’s possible, building that more perfect union. That’s the journey we’re on today.”

Mr. Obama ended his speech this way:

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I’m ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.

Click here to read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive.

Read Less

Gibbs: The Perfect Obami Mouthpiece

Chris Stirewalt writes:

When will President Obama give up on the Robert Gibbs experiment? Immediately after Obama made a surprise appearance in a snow-emptied press briefing room to emphasize that he was sincere about his new call for bipartisanship, Gibb took the podium for a bit of prop comedy at the expense of the GOP. In taking follow-up questions from reporters, Gibbs went into a rehearsed, tedious bit Sarah Palin writing talking points on her hand. He wrote his grocery list and “ hope and change” on his own hand. That he lacked the good sense to keep his palm on the podium after Obama’s remarks should be enough to get him sacked.

On one level, this is true — Gibbs’ snide demeanor and sneering attitude toward both the news corps and critics don’t aid the president. But again, let’s be clear: Obama hired Gibbs, likes Gibbs, and keeps Gibbs there. According to TV news reports this morning, the president did not rebuke Gibbs after the anti-Palin stunt. Of course he didn’t. The experiment here is not Gibbs but the phony, insincere bipartisanship.

Even mainstream news outlets are on to the hollowness of the new Obama bipartisan gambit. CBS reports:

Mr. Obama said he “won’t hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party.” But he wants his way. He wants his energy policy enacted along with his jobs bill, his financial regulatory reform and his health care plan.And if the opposition continues to block his objectives, he said he “won’t hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that’s rooted not in substantive disagreement but in political expedience.”

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its “obstinacy” and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

So it is not Gibbs who is in danger of losing his job. He gives voice to the inner sneer of the Obama White House, the low regard in which it holds all opponents. Only David Letterman could better embody the prevailing attitude: “Aren’t we cool, and aren’t they all dopes out there?” Yes, Gibbs does give away the game from time to time, but the Obami can’t restrain themselves. They have their perfect spokesman. He’s not going anywhere, unless he gets a promotion as a reward for his year of showing us precisely what the Obami think of themselves and the rest of us.

Chris Stirewalt writes:

When will President Obama give up on the Robert Gibbs experiment? Immediately after Obama made a surprise appearance in a snow-emptied press briefing room to emphasize that he was sincere about his new call for bipartisanship, Gibb took the podium for a bit of prop comedy at the expense of the GOP. In taking follow-up questions from reporters, Gibbs went into a rehearsed, tedious bit Sarah Palin writing talking points on her hand. He wrote his grocery list and “ hope and change” on his own hand. That he lacked the good sense to keep his palm on the podium after Obama’s remarks should be enough to get him sacked.

On one level, this is true — Gibbs’ snide demeanor and sneering attitude toward both the news corps and critics don’t aid the president. But again, let’s be clear: Obama hired Gibbs, likes Gibbs, and keeps Gibbs there. According to TV news reports this morning, the president did not rebuke Gibbs after the anti-Palin stunt. Of course he didn’t. The experiment here is not Gibbs but the phony, insincere bipartisanship.

Even mainstream news outlets are on to the hollowness of the new Obama bipartisan gambit. CBS reports:

Mr. Obama said he “won’t hesitate to embrace a good idea from my friends in the minority party.” But he wants his way. He wants his energy policy enacted along with his jobs bill, his financial regulatory reform and his health care plan.And if the opposition continues to block his objectives, he said he “won’t hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy that’s rooted not in substantive disagreement but in political expedience.”

When a sitting president calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender. And if they block his proposals, its “obstinacy” and not political views they hold as strongly as he holds his.

So it is not Gibbs who is in danger of losing his job. He gives voice to the inner sneer of the Obama White House, the low regard in which it holds all opponents. Only David Letterman could better embody the prevailing attitude: “Aren’t we cool, and aren’t they all dopes out there?” Yes, Gibbs does give away the game from time to time, but the Obami can’t restrain themselves. They have their perfect spokesman. He’s not going anywhere, unless he gets a promotion as a reward for his year of showing us precisely what the Obami think of themselves and the rest of us.

Read Less

Voters to Obama and Congress: Stop!

Summing up its latest poll results, the Washington Post reports:

The survey paints a portrait of a restless and dissatisfied electorate at the beginning of a critical election year. More than seven in 10 Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, and as many say they’re inclined to look for new congressional representation as said so in 1994 and 2006, the last times that control of Congress shifted.

Asked how they would vote in the November House elections, Americans split evenly — 46 percent siding with the Democrats, 46 percent with the Republicans. As recently as four months ago, Democrats held a 51 to 39 percent advantage on this question.

(Other surveys show a lead for Republicans in generic congressional polling.) Many of the poll’s details should cause the Obami, were they inclined to actually pay attention to bad news, some alarm. On health care, the deficit, jobs, and the economy more than 50 percent disapprove of Obama’s performance. By a 55-to-39 percent margin, respondents favor military tribunals over civilian trials for terrorists.

Democrats in Congress should take note as well. By a 57-to-36 percent margin, voters are pleased that the Democrats no longer have a filibuster majority. Ominously for incumbent Democrats, 56 percent are looking around for an alternative to their representative and only 26 percent approve of the job Congress is doing.

These numbers are even worse than they might appear, considering that the respondents were “adults” — not registered or likely voters. Moreover, the sample included only 26 percent Republicans. (Rasmussen shows GOP party identification at 32 percent, Gallup, at 41 percent.)

Simply put, what this and other polls tell us is that Americans don’t like what Obama and the Democrats are doing. It is the substance of their agenda that is unpopular. They don’t mind “gridlock” — in fact, they seem to welcome it, if the alternative is more of what they have seen coming out of Washington. Those incumbents on the ballot in 2010 better be able to make the case to voters that they understand their aversion to the “big bang” agenda of Obama-Pelosi-Reid and that they will do their part to curb, not facilitate, the big government proposals that have frightened voters. That’s a hard case to make for the Democrats, who have already voted repeatedly for that now unpopular agenda. And that is why 2010 promises to be a very scary election for anyone with a “D” next to his or her name.

Summing up its latest poll results, the Washington Post reports:

The survey paints a portrait of a restless and dissatisfied electorate at the beginning of a critical election year. More than seven in 10 Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, and as many say they’re inclined to look for new congressional representation as said so in 1994 and 2006, the last times that control of Congress shifted.

Asked how they would vote in the November House elections, Americans split evenly — 46 percent siding with the Democrats, 46 percent with the Republicans. As recently as four months ago, Democrats held a 51 to 39 percent advantage on this question.

(Other surveys show a lead for Republicans in generic congressional polling.) Many of the poll’s details should cause the Obami, were they inclined to actually pay attention to bad news, some alarm. On health care, the deficit, jobs, and the economy more than 50 percent disapprove of Obama’s performance. By a 55-to-39 percent margin, respondents favor military tribunals over civilian trials for terrorists.

Democrats in Congress should take note as well. By a 57-to-36 percent margin, voters are pleased that the Democrats no longer have a filibuster majority. Ominously for incumbent Democrats, 56 percent are looking around for an alternative to their representative and only 26 percent approve of the job Congress is doing.

These numbers are even worse than they might appear, considering that the respondents were “adults” — not registered or likely voters. Moreover, the sample included only 26 percent Republicans. (Rasmussen shows GOP party identification at 32 percent, Gallup, at 41 percent.)

Simply put, what this and other polls tell us is that Americans don’t like what Obama and the Democrats are doing. It is the substance of their agenda that is unpopular. They don’t mind “gridlock” — in fact, they seem to welcome it, if the alternative is more of what they have seen coming out of Washington. Those incumbents on the ballot in 2010 better be able to make the case to voters that they understand their aversion to the “big bang” agenda of Obama-Pelosi-Reid and that they will do their part to curb, not facilitate, the big government proposals that have frightened voters. That’s a hard case to make for the Democrats, who have already voted repeatedly for that now unpopular agenda. And that is why 2010 promises to be a very scary election for anyone with a “D” next to his or her name.

Read Less

Fox Uncovers Anti-Tea-Party Slush-Fund Scam

Fox News persists on covering news others don’t. It seems the “not really a news outlet” has uncovered  a major scam by the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy:

A seemingly grassroots organization that’s mounted an online campaign to counter the tea party movement is actually the front end of an elaborate scheme that funnels funds — including sizable labor union contributions — through the offices of a prominent Democratic party lawyer. A Web site popped up in January dedicated to preventing the tea party’s “radical” and “dangerous” ideas from “gaining legislative traction,” targeting GOP candidates in Illinois for the firing squad.

But how does this happen? It apparently is legal, albeit deceitful:

Here’s how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men — Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money — tens of millions of dollars — gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean — for the most part.

Fox has the list of donors, which comprises a set of interlocking slush-type funds that pay for the anti–Tea Party campaign. The largest of these is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME,) which has kicked in a total of $9.9M in a single year to two funds that provide the cash for the non-grassroots movement. Yes — government workers’ money is being used to fend off Tea Party protesters.–

It seems that the Tea Party movement, once defamed and derided, now poses a threat to the liberal establishment, so much so that they are collecting millions to undermine it. Conservatives shouldn’t object to political speech — which this is. But there is certainly grounds to object to the chicanery, the lack of transparency, and the pretense that the opponents of the Tea Parties are themselves grassroots activists. They aren’t — this is Big Labor and assorted liberal-interest groups once again doing the bidding of the Democratic party. And if not for Fox, no one would be any the wiser.

Fox News persists on covering news others don’t. It seems the “not really a news outlet” has uncovered  a major scam by the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy:

A seemingly grassroots organization that’s mounted an online campaign to counter the tea party movement is actually the front end of an elaborate scheme that funnels funds — including sizable labor union contributions — through the offices of a prominent Democratic party lawyer. A Web site popped up in January dedicated to preventing the tea party’s “radical” and “dangerous” ideas from “gaining legislative traction,” targeting GOP candidates in Illinois for the firing squad.

But how does this happen? It apparently is legal, albeit deceitful:

Here’s how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men — Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money — tens of millions of dollars — gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean — for the most part.

Fox has the list of donors, which comprises a set of interlocking slush-type funds that pay for the anti–Tea Party campaign. The largest of these is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME,) which has kicked in a total of $9.9M in a single year to two funds that provide the cash for the non-grassroots movement. Yes — government workers’ money is being used to fend off Tea Party protesters.–

It seems that the Tea Party movement, once defamed and derided, now poses a threat to the liberal establishment, so much so that they are collecting millions to undermine it. Conservatives shouldn’t object to political speech — which this is. But there is certainly grounds to object to the chicanery, the lack of transparency, and the pretense that the opponents of the Tea Parties are themselves grassroots activists. They aren’t — this is Big Labor and assorted liberal-interest groups once again doing the bidding of the Democratic party. And if not for Fox, no one would be any the wiser.

Read Less

Overdosing on Summits

The White House spin machine has really broken down when the Obami can’t win over Ruth Marcus. On the health-care summit, she writes:

In case the president’s ducking of Couric’s question about his willingness to “start at square one” wasn’t clear enough, the White House came out to emphasize that, no, the president wasn’t backing away from the measures that have already passed both houses of Congress. He plans to come to the table with a merged Democratic blueprint as his starting point. Republicans should feel free to chime in, though.

To call this Kabuki is to insult the Japanese art form. I am no fan of the House Republican leadership, but under these circumstances it’s hard to fault Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia for suggesting that they might have better things to do than serve as Democratic stage props.

This is typical Obama — a useless stunt (a summit) with faux bipartisanship where he doubles down on his ultra-liberal agenda. Marcus helpfully offers that maybe Obama could throw a bone to the Republicans — tort reform, for example. Really, she pleads, it would show there is one special-interest group that Obama can stand up to! Well, don’t hold your breath.

Obama is about political gamesmanship, shifting blame, and most of all, heading off calls for him to do something other than trot out the same worn-out big-government power grab. Nor is he into tackling any liberal interest groups. (Ask the D.C. school kids about that one.) But here’s the thing: the act is old, the liberal pundits now roll their eyes in disgust, and the voters have seen quite enough of Obama’s dog-and-pony shows. So when the summit ends and the leg-tingling play-by-play at MSNBC wraps up, he still won’t have a viable health-care plan, and his fellow Democrats still will have to explain to voters why they voted for a monstrous bill that 70 percent of the electorate hates. You see, after the stunts, there is still governance. Obama isn’t really so enamored of that part of the job. Which explains all the summits.

The White House spin machine has really broken down when the Obami can’t win over Ruth Marcus. On the health-care summit, she writes:

In case the president’s ducking of Couric’s question about his willingness to “start at square one” wasn’t clear enough, the White House came out to emphasize that, no, the president wasn’t backing away from the measures that have already passed both houses of Congress. He plans to come to the table with a merged Democratic blueprint as his starting point. Republicans should feel free to chime in, though.

To call this Kabuki is to insult the Japanese art form. I am no fan of the House Republican leadership, but under these circumstances it’s hard to fault Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia for suggesting that they might have better things to do than serve as Democratic stage props.

This is typical Obama — a useless stunt (a summit) with faux bipartisanship where he doubles down on his ultra-liberal agenda. Marcus helpfully offers that maybe Obama could throw a bone to the Republicans — tort reform, for example. Really, she pleads, it would show there is one special-interest group that Obama can stand up to! Well, don’t hold your breath.

Obama is about political gamesmanship, shifting blame, and most of all, heading off calls for him to do something other than trot out the same worn-out big-government power grab. Nor is he into tackling any liberal interest groups. (Ask the D.C. school kids about that one.) But here’s the thing: the act is old, the liberal pundits now roll their eyes in disgust, and the voters have seen quite enough of Obama’s dog-and-pony shows. So when the summit ends and the leg-tingling play-by-play at MSNBC wraps up, he still won’t have a viable health-care plan, and his fellow Democrats still will have to explain to voters why they voted for a monstrous bill that 70 percent of the electorate hates. You see, after the stunts, there is still governance. Obama isn’t really so enamored of that part of the job. Which explains all the summits.

Read Less

Paul Ryan vs. Obama

Michael Gerson notices that the Democrats wasted little time savaging Rep. Paul Ryan just a week after Obama called for bipartisan civility. That should be no surprise to those who have kept an eye on the president’s now-familiar pattern of singing the praises of civility before knocking his critics. (“Obama’s outreach to Republicans has been a ploy, which is to say, a deception. Once again, a president so impressed by his own idealism has become the nation’s main manufacturer of public cynicism.”) Gerson notes that Ryan offers a serious alternative to endless deficits and government dependency:

Over time, Ryan concentrates government spending on the poor through means-tested programs, patching holes in the safety net while making entitlements more sustainable. He saves money by providing the middle class with defined-contribution benefits — private retirement accounts and health vouchers — that are more portable but less generous in the long run. And he expects a growing economy, liberated from debt and inflation, to provide more real gains for middle-class citizens than they lose from lower government benefits. Ryanism is not only a technical solution to endless deficits; it represents an alternative political philosophy.

You can understand why the Obami, who lack a single innovative domestic-policy idea, really don’t want to debate Ryan on the merits. Instead, Obama offers condescension (dubbing Ryan a “sincere guy”) or unleashes his attack dogs at the DNC to snarl that Ryan is all about “a vicious, voucherizing, privatizing assault on Social Security, Medicare and every non-millionaire American,” as Gerson summarizes. Obama was supposed to be the ideas man — after all, he has Ivy League degrees, has published books, and speaks so well. And yet, where is his interesting blueprint for reforming entitlements? Well, he couldn’t even manage his own ObamaCare plan, so I suppose he isn’t into the details so much. Rather he’s in the bait-and-switch business — running as a moderate and governing as a liberal, urging bipartisanship and snapping at the opposition, and calling for fiscal sobriety but propounding an embarrassing budget. He is the un-Ryan — that is, unserious and uninteresting. Like ideology (according to Hillary Clinton), he seems so yesterday.

Michael Gerson notices that the Democrats wasted little time savaging Rep. Paul Ryan just a week after Obama called for bipartisan civility. That should be no surprise to those who have kept an eye on the president’s now-familiar pattern of singing the praises of civility before knocking his critics. (“Obama’s outreach to Republicans has been a ploy, which is to say, a deception. Once again, a president so impressed by his own idealism has become the nation’s main manufacturer of public cynicism.”) Gerson notes that Ryan offers a serious alternative to endless deficits and government dependency:

Over time, Ryan concentrates government spending on the poor through means-tested programs, patching holes in the safety net while making entitlements more sustainable. He saves money by providing the middle class with defined-contribution benefits — private retirement accounts and health vouchers — that are more portable but less generous in the long run. And he expects a growing economy, liberated from debt and inflation, to provide more real gains for middle-class citizens than they lose from lower government benefits. Ryanism is not only a technical solution to endless deficits; it represents an alternative political philosophy.

You can understand why the Obami, who lack a single innovative domestic-policy idea, really don’t want to debate Ryan on the merits. Instead, Obama offers condescension (dubbing Ryan a “sincere guy”) or unleashes his attack dogs at the DNC to snarl that Ryan is all about “a vicious, voucherizing, privatizing assault on Social Security, Medicare and every non-millionaire American,” as Gerson summarizes. Obama was supposed to be the ideas man — after all, he has Ivy League degrees, has published books, and speaks so well. And yet, where is his interesting blueprint for reforming entitlements? Well, he couldn’t even manage his own ObamaCare plan, so I suppose he isn’t into the details so much. Rather he’s in the bait-and-switch business — running as a moderate and governing as a liberal, urging bipartisanship and snapping at the opposition, and calling for fiscal sobriety but propounding an embarrassing budget. He is the un-Ryan — that is, unserious and uninteresting. Like ideology (according to Hillary Clinton), he seems so yesterday.

Read Less

New Pew Poll on Muslim Opinion

The good news is that Muslims in the Middle East tend not to like the Islamists in their own countries. The bad news is that they tend to like the Islamists in other countries.

Hamas has a 37 percent approval rating in the Gaza Strip, but Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, enjoys 65 percent and 71 percent approval in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

Question for the peace processors: Is peace likely when two-thirds of Palestinians think that Hassan Nasrallah is a great guy?

Other interesting tidbits: Nigeria appears to have the highest rate of cognitive dissonance among the countries surveyed, with 81 percent approving of President Obama while 54 percent approve of Osama bin Laden. Where does bin Laden earn his second-highest approval rating, at 51 percent? From the Palestinians. I know that the politically correct, “know hope” thing to say is that the Palestinians overwhelmingly want peace; but as we see again from Pew, the public-opinion data simply do not shown this to be true.

A summary of the survey is here.

The good news is that Muslims in the Middle East tend not to like the Islamists in their own countries. The bad news is that they tend to like the Islamists in other countries.

Hamas has a 37 percent approval rating in the Gaza Strip, but Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, enjoys 65 percent and 71 percent approval in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

Question for the peace processors: Is peace likely when two-thirds of Palestinians think that Hassan Nasrallah is a great guy?

Other interesting tidbits: Nigeria appears to have the highest rate of cognitive dissonance among the countries surveyed, with 81 percent approving of President Obama while 54 percent approve of Osama bin Laden. Where does bin Laden earn his second-highest approval rating, at 51 percent? From the Palestinians. I know that the politically correct, “know hope” thing to say is that the Palestinians overwhelmingly want peace; but as we see again from Pew, the public-opinion data simply do not shown this to be true.

A summary of the survey is here.

Read Less

Re: Becker Defeated

Regarding the defeat of Harold Craig Becker’s nomination, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors observe:

Democrats Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln joined with Republicans to block cloture on a closely watched vote on the appointment of a lawyer for Andy Stern’s Service Employees International Union to a seat on the National Labor Relations Board. … The message from yesterday’s cloture motion is sobering for the White House and its union allies. Support for their antigrowth agenda, from universal health care to easier unionization rules, is collapsing on the Hill almost as quickly as in the country at large.

True, but it is equally true that a number of Democrats in competitive races went to the mat for that anti-growth agenda on Becker, just as they have on a series of items on Obama’s far-Left agenda. Voting for cloture and for Becker were Michael Bennet of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and of course, Harry Reid of Nevada. Voters back home may wonder why it is that these self-styled moderates cast votes for Big Labor’s favorite lawyer, who thinks, surprisingly enough, just like the Big Labor bosses. (“Among the nominees for the three open seats on the five-member board, his views stood out for their radicalism. In a law review article, Mr. Becker said the NLRB could rewrite union-election rules to favor labor by fiat—for example, by removing the requirement for a secret ballot.”)

But now the ball is in Obama’s court. Does he install Becker, thereby exposing the Big Labor toadyism of his administration and highlighting the faux centrism of Bennet, Bayh, Reid, and others? Or does he take this as a sign that there is a limited appetite for his extreme vision and equally extreme appointees? There is always reason to hope that, finally, Obama will notice the blinking warning lights (Go back! Even your own party can’t defend you!). But if he didn’t take the Scott Brown win to heart, he’s probably not all that impressed that his NLRB nominee didn’t get through.

Regarding the defeat of Harold Craig Becker’s nomination, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors observe:

Democrats Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln joined with Republicans to block cloture on a closely watched vote on the appointment of a lawyer for Andy Stern’s Service Employees International Union to a seat on the National Labor Relations Board. … The message from yesterday’s cloture motion is sobering for the White House and its union allies. Support for their antigrowth agenda, from universal health care to easier unionization rules, is collapsing on the Hill almost as quickly as in the country at large.

True, but it is equally true that a number of Democrats in competitive races went to the mat for that anti-growth agenda on Becker, just as they have on a series of items on Obama’s far-Left agenda. Voting for cloture and for Becker were Michael Bennet of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and of course, Harry Reid of Nevada. Voters back home may wonder why it is that these self-styled moderates cast votes for Big Labor’s favorite lawyer, who thinks, surprisingly enough, just like the Big Labor bosses. (“Among the nominees for the three open seats on the five-member board, his views stood out for their radicalism. In a law review article, Mr. Becker said the NLRB could rewrite union-election rules to favor labor by fiat—for example, by removing the requirement for a secret ballot.”)

But now the ball is in Obama’s court. Does he install Becker, thereby exposing the Big Labor toadyism of his administration and highlighting the faux centrism of Bennet, Bayh, Reid, and others? Or does he take this as a sign that there is a limited appetite for his extreme vision and equally extreme appointees? There is always reason to hope that, finally, Obama will notice the blinking warning lights (Go back! Even your own party can’t defend you!). But if he didn’t take the Scott Brown win to heart, he’s probably not all that impressed that his NLRB nominee didn’t get through.

Read Less

Republicans Would Have to Invent Pelosi if She Didn’t Exist

A headline like this must send shivers up the spines of  Democrats and bring smiles to the faces of 2010 Republican candidates: “Nancy Pelosi resists President Obama’s outreach efforts.” She is so perfectly tone-deaf, so utterly opposed to compromise, and so unfazed by the political peril that dozens of her members face, that one sometimes suspects another devious Karl Rove plot is in the works. (Maybe Pelosi could oppose all tax cuts! Then she could reject even the baby-step spending freeze!)

But to the chagrin of many Democrats, this is for real. Pelosi isn’t interested in anything other than spending gobs more money and passing ObamaCare. This report gives the blow-by-blow from Tuesday’s White House meeting:

White House economic advisers Christina Romer and Larry Summers defended the administration’s proposal to give employers a $5,000 credit for each new worker they hire as well as help with Social Security taxes.

Pelosi countered that no one she’s consulted believes that the plan will actually lead to the creation of new jobs, sources said.

“She questioned the efficacy of it,” one Democratic aide said.

Another Democratic aide said that Pelosi has “some concerns about the tax side” of the jobs bill Senate Democrats are trying to pass, but that she didn’t say she’d refuse to move the bill through the House if it clears the Senate.

Pelosi’s push back against the tax credit plan is the latest in a series of breaks with White House officials.

You do sometimes wonder if the White House wouldn’t do better if Pelosi were the Minority Leader. She’s been quite an annoyance of late. (“Most recently, she questioned Obama’s proposal for a three-year freeze on discretionary non-security spending, saying any freeze should apply equally to defense as well as domestic spending.”) And she certainly does exemplify the anti-business, anti-growth, pro-tax-hike image Democrats are perpetually trying to live down (because they keep proposing anti-business, anti-growth legislation and tax hikes, I suppose). Well, Obama may get his chance to deal with a Republican-controlled Congress if she keeps this up.

For the Republicans, this is political manna. Pelosi is the poster girl for political extremism and for big-government infatuation. If they’re lucky, she’ll stick to her guns, hobble the feeble steps by the White House to reach out to Republicans, and remind voters that the Democrats never met a tax break or a spending freeze they could support.

A headline like this must send shivers up the spines of  Democrats and bring smiles to the faces of 2010 Republican candidates: “Nancy Pelosi resists President Obama’s outreach efforts.” She is so perfectly tone-deaf, so utterly opposed to compromise, and so unfazed by the political peril that dozens of her members face, that one sometimes suspects another devious Karl Rove plot is in the works. (Maybe Pelosi could oppose all tax cuts! Then she could reject even the baby-step spending freeze!)

But to the chagrin of many Democrats, this is for real. Pelosi isn’t interested in anything other than spending gobs more money and passing ObamaCare. This report gives the blow-by-blow from Tuesday’s White House meeting:

White House economic advisers Christina Romer and Larry Summers defended the administration’s proposal to give employers a $5,000 credit for each new worker they hire as well as help with Social Security taxes.

Pelosi countered that no one she’s consulted believes that the plan will actually lead to the creation of new jobs, sources said.

“She questioned the efficacy of it,” one Democratic aide said.

Another Democratic aide said that Pelosi has “some concerns about the tax side” of the jobs bill Senate Democrats are trying to pass, but that she didn’t say she’d refuse to move the bill through the House if it clears the Senate.

Pelosi’s push back against the tax credit plan is the latest in a series of breaks with White House officials.

You do sometimes wonder if the White House wouldn’t do better if Pelosi were the Minority Leader. She’s been quite an annoyance of late. (“Most recently, she questioned Obama’s proposal for a three-year freeze on discretionary non-security spending, saying any freeze should apply equally to defense as well as domestic spending.”) And she certainly does exemplify the anti-business, anti-growth, pro-tax-hike image Democrats are perpetually trying to live down (because they keep proposing anti-business, anti-growth legislation and tax hikes, I suppose). Well, Obama may get his chance to deal with a Republican-controlled Congress if she keeps this up.

For the Republicans, this is political manna. Pelosi is the poster girl for political extremism and for big-government infatuation. If they’re lucky, she’ll stick to her guns, hobble the feeble steps by the White House to reach out to Republicans, and remind voters that the Democrats never met a tax break or a spending freeze they could support.

Read Less

Bibi Is Right to Be Nervous

The New York Times reports:

Brushing aside international calls for stricter sanctions against it, Iran said Tuesday it had begun enriching uranium for use in a medical reactor to a higher level of purity, raising the stakes again in its dispute with the United States and other countries over its nuclear program. The United States responded by saying it would seek United Nations backing for new sanctions within weeks.

Doesn’t sound like a very swift process, does it? Especially since the Chinese remain vocally opposed to sanctions. (“But news reports on Tuesday quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman , Ma Zhaoxu, as urging continued ‘dialogue and negotiations,’ refusing to be drawn on the question of sanctions.”) Bibi Netanyahu responded with a statement that seems as much aimed at the Obami as at the Iranians: “I believe that what is required right now is tough action from the international community. … This means not moderate sanctions, or watered-down sanctions. This means crippling sanctions, and these sanctions must be applied right now.”

What Bibi is referring to is no secret. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both been downplaying the “crippling” part of the “crippling sanctions” that the Obama team has been promising for months. They insist the sanctions must be focused so as not to impact the Iranian people. What those might look like and how we could possibly impact the regime by such narrowly focused measures have been left vague. Meanwhile, there are very serious sanctions that in slightly different forms have passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, but the Obama team has been noticeably cool to those. Too crippling, I suppose.

So let’s see if, in the face of the abject failure of its engagement strategy, and with bipartisan support in Congress for very tough sanctions — “not moderate sanctions, or watered-down sanctions” — the Obami can make a final stab at preventing the revolutionary Islamic state from going nuclear. I suppose we’ll know “within weeks” — but then the Obama team was supposed to get serious in September, and again at the close of 2009. We’ve seen this routine before. Bibi is right to be nervous.

The New York Times reports:

Brushing aside international calls for stricter sanctions against it, Iran said Tuesday it had begun enriching uranium for use in a medical reactor to a higher level of purity, raising the stakes again in its dispute with the United States and other countries over its nuclear program. The United States responded by saying it would seek United Nations backing for new sanctions within weeks.

Doesn’t sound like a very swift process, does it? Especially since the Chinese remain vocally opposed to sanctions. (“But news reports on Tuesday quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman , Ma Zhaoxu, as urging continued ‘dialogue and negotiations,’ refusing to be drawn on the question of sanctions.”) Bibi Netanyahu responded with a statement that seems as much aimed at the Obami as at the Iranians: “I believe that what is required right now is tough action from the international community. … This means not moderate sanctions, or watered-down sanctions. This means crippling sanctions, and these sanctions must be applied right now.”

What Bibi is referring to is no secret. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both been downplaying the “crippling” part of the “crippling sanctions” that the Obama team has been promising for months. They insist the sanctions must be focused so as not to impact the Iranian people. What those might look like and how we could possibly impact the regime by such narrowly focused measures have been left vague. Meanwhile, there are very serious sanctions that in slightly different forms have passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, but the Obama team has been noticeably cool to those. Too crippling, I suppose.

So let’s see if, in the face of the abject failure of its engagement strategy, and with bipartisan support in Congress for very tough sanctions — “not moderate sanctions, or watered-down sanctions” — the Obami can make a final stab at preventing the revolutionary Islamic state from going nuclear. I suppose we’ll know “within weeks” — but then the Obama team was supposed to get serious in September, and again at the close of 2009. We’ve seen this routine before. Bibi is right to be nervous.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Seen the latest ad for Hugo Chavez’s oil company? Lots of happy old people given free oil by the dictator, and then: ”In swoops Joe Kennedy II with Citizens Energy and the kind people of Venezuela to lend a hand (or two?) and heating oil enough for everyone. Kennedy’s all smiles but they forgot the part where Hugo Chavez shuts down the media and arrests his political opponents. I guess that would have made the ad too long.” Good thing he didn’t talk about how great families and babies are.

Oh, puhleez. Michael Steele plays the race card: “I don’t see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?”

Just a year ago Republicans were declared dead in New England. Now New Hampshire looks awfully Red. Actually, it looks Red all over. Rasmussen shows the GOP with an eight-point lead in the generic congressional poll. And John Kasich has a solid lead in the Ohio gubernatorial race.

The boys sure are obsessed with her: “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs poked fun at Sarah Palin today, pretending to look to notes on his hand for a reminder during his daily briefing. The gesture was a not-so-subtle shot at Palin, whom reporters spotted using a crib sheet on her hand during a speech this weekend at the National Tea Party convention.” At least Gibbs didn’t talk about her breasts.

Rep. Peter King blasts away at “egomaniac” John Brennan for claiming that Obama’s critics are serving the “goals of al-Qaeda”: ”It is ‘the most mindless, self-serving, and irresponsible statement that a homeland-security adviser can make,’ King says. … ‘Brennan is trying to be cute by saying that on Christmas Day he briefed Republicans and Democrats. Leave aside the fact that he didn’t brief me, but he didn’t tell anybody anything that day other than the bare facts that were pretty much known to the public. He said that [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] was in FBI custody. Now he’s claiming that that means he told people that [Abdulmutallab] was receiving Miranda rights and no one objected. If that’s what Brennan considers being honest and forthright, then we know that John Brennan is not being honest and forthright.’”

The billboard says “Miss Me Yet?” Why, yes, Mr. President.

Paul Begala or Karl Rove? “Incrementalists, stunned by what they see as overly broad and rapid change, are looking for the brakes. Radicals, depressed about the snail’s pace of progress, are looking for the exits.”

Jeffrey Goldberg spots the Muslim Student Union of the University of California at Irvine condemning the appearance of Israel Ambassador Michael Oren because — but of course! — Israel has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Council. “To the Muslim Student Union, the fact that the UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more than all the other countries of the world combined means that Israel is worse than all the other countries of the world combined. To more rational, less prejudiced people, this fact means that the UN Human Rights Council is not a serious organization, but one under the control of dictators and despots.” Remind me why the Obami thought it necessary to rejoin that body?

Oren was heckled, which is no surprise. But it is nice to find a college political-science professor willing to call out the thuggery: “Prof. Mark P. Petracca, chairman of the university’s Political Science department, chastised the protesters, telling them, ‘This is beyond embarrassing. … This is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy-maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech.’”

Seen the latest ad for Hugo Chavez’s oil company? Lots of happy old people given free oil by the dictator, and then: ”In swoops Joe Kennedy II with Citizens Energy and the kind people of Venezuela to lend a hand (or two?) and heating oil enough for everyone. Kennedy’s all smiles but they forgot the part where Hugo Chavez shuts down the media and arrests his political opponents. I guess that would have made the ad too long.” Good thing he didn’t talk about how great families and babies are.

Oh, puhleez. Michael Steele plays the race card: “I don’t see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?”

Just a year ago Republicans were declared dead in New England. Now New Hampshire looks awfully Red. Actually, it looks Red all over. Rasmussen shows the GOP with an eight-point lead in the generic congressional poll. And John Kasich has a solid lead in the Ohio gubernatorial race.

The boys sure are obsessed with her: “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs poked fun at Sarah Palin today, pretending to look to notes on his hand for a reminder during his daily briefing. The gesture was a not-so-subtle shot at Palin, whom reporters spotted using a crib sheet on her hand during a speech this weekend at the National Tea Party convention.” At least Gibbs didn’t talk about her breasts.

Rep. Peter King blasts away at “egomaniac” John Brennan for claiming that Obama’s critics are serving the “goals of al-Qaeda”: ”It is ‘the most mindless, self-serving, and irresponsible statement that a homeland-security adviser can make,’ King says. … ‘Brennan is trying to be cute by saying that on Christmas Day he briefed Republicans and Democrats. Leave aside the fact that he didn’t brief me, but he didn’t tell anybody anything that day other than the bare facts that were pretty much known to the public. He said that [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] was in FBI custody. Now he’s claiming that that means he told people that [Abdulmutallab] was receiving Miranda rights and no one objected. If that’s what Brennan considers being honest and forthright, then we know that John Brennan is not being honest and forthright.’”

The billboard says “Miss Me Yet?” Why, yes, Mr. President.

Paul Begala or Karl Rove? “Incrementalists, stunned by what they see as overly broad and rapid change, are looking for the brakes. Radicals, depressed about the snail’s pace of progress, are looking for the exits.”

Jeffrey Goldberg spots the Muslim Student Union of the University of California at Irvine condemning the appearance of Israel Ambassador Michael Oren because — but of course! — Israel has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Council. “To the Muslim Student Union, the fact that the UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more than all the other countries of the world combined means that Israel is worse than all the other countries of the world combined. To more rational, less prejudiced people, this fact means that the UN Human Rights Council is not a serious organization, but one under the control of dictators and despots.” Remind me why the Obami thought it necessary to rejoin that body?

Oren was heckled, which is no surprise. But it is nice to find a college political-science professor willing to call out the thuggery: “Prof. Mark P. Petracca, chairman of the university’s Political Science department, chastised the protesters, telling them, ‘This is beyond embarrassing. … This is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy-maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech.’”

Read Less