In Ohio, Mitt Romney won the cities and suburbs and Rick Santorum won the rural areas. On CNN, Gloria Borger and Hilary Rosen on the left and Erick Erickson on the Right argued that this was bad news for Romney because he lost GOP strongholds and won in areas Barack Obama is sure to carry in November. This was spoken so confidently, and reflected all over Twitter, that it may become a piece of conventional wisdom. But it makes no sense. It is important for a Republican candidate to show some strength in areas Republicans don’t win in the general election because that support will cut into the size of the majorities Obama will rack up there. Assuming that the Republican nominee will manage to win Republican areas, this is the path to victory not only in Ohio but in every swing state. One can only assume that when November rolls around, even the problems conservatives troubled by Romney’s ideological laxity and evangelicals troubled by Romney’s Mormonism would have with him pale by comparison with their negative feelings about Obama.
Posts For: March 6, 2012
Mitt Romney may well emerge from Super Tuesday with an enlarged delegate lead as well as the biggest prize if he holds onto his slim lead in Ohio. But the evening will be no blowout for the frontrunner. With Rick Santorum winning in Tennessee and Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich taking his home state of Georgia, there’s no doubt the race will go on for some time, with both conservative underdogs continuing to drain Romney’s resources and undermine his chances of uniting his party.
No matter what would have happened tonight, it’s doubtful that either Santorum or Gingrich would have dropped out. Yet, by preventing Romney from sweeping the map, the pair has ensured the outcome of the GOP contest is, if not exactly in doubt, still to be determined. The only unalloyed good news for Romney is that the victory of a bitter and resentful Gingrich in Georgia guarantees he will continue to benefit from a split conservative field.
Why exactly did New Jersey Governor Chris Christie join the mob bashing New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly last week over the force’s surveillance policies? Christie’s shot across the Hudson prompted Rep. Peter King to fire back at the governor for “trying to score cheap political points” at Kelly’s expense. That led the notoriously thin-skinned Christie to describe King’s riposte as “ridiculous” and to pull rank as a former prosecutor. All this could be dismissed as just a meaningless exchange between two politicians who love to run their mouths and are intolerant of criticism. It could also be put down as merely the natural instinct of New Jersey politicians to take umbrage at any instance of New York encroachment onto Garden State territory.
However, those who have followed Christie’s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Muslim community, sometimes at the expense of law enforcement imperatives, may recognize a familiar pattern in his willingness to bash Kelly’s decision to order the NYPD to gather intelligence across the river in Jersey. Christie and King found themselves lining up with two competing Muslim factions: Christie with extremist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), who oppose all efforts to investigate homegrown Islamist terror and King with those Muslims like Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, who have taken the position that American Muslims have a responsibility to root out radicals.
For those of us who remember Eric Holder and Barack Obama decrying waterboarding of three known foreign terrorists who provided information that saved American lives and played a role in the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is with some interest to hear the attorney general said the U.S. government has the right to order the killing of American citizens overseas if they are senior al-Qaeda leaders who pose an imminent terrorist threat and cannot reasonably be captured.
“Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen — even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaeda in a foreign land — is among the gravest that government leaders can face,” Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school in Chicago. “The American people can be — and deserve to be — assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws.”
The protests over the Koran burnings appear to be over in Afghanistan–knock on wood. The violence directed against American personnel by insurgents, some of whom have managed to infiltrate the Afghan Security Forces (or been turned by the Taliban after joining in good faith, or simply become deranged), is, sadly, not over. But as emotions calm down it is worth taking a closer look at the protests and “friendly fire” killings and what they mean. That is just what two analysts at the Institute for the Study of War–Isaac Hock and Paraag Shukla–have done. They have produced a valuable backgrounder on the protests whose first paragraph is worth reproducing here:
Protests emerged in stages across small regions of Afghanistan following the accidental burning of Islamic religious texts at Bagram Airfield on February 20, 2012. Most of the protests are not spontaneous or self- organizing outbursts of anti-Americanism, but rather organized violence orchestrated by insurgent groups, Iran, and Afghan political factions aiming to harm their local rivals. Neighboring Iran has utilized its media outlets, especially radio, to influence Afghan demonstrators to be destructive during their protests. The Taliban have issued multiple statements encouraging violent actions. President Karzai and his administration, in contrast, have actively tried to quell violence.
President Obama claims the GOP candidates are “casual” about war. Some might counter that President Obama is too casual about an Iranian nuclear bomb:
President Obama fired back at his Republican challengers who have accused him of being soft on Iran, saying at a White House press conference that the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program is “not a game.”
Suggesting that the criticism being lobbed at him is not anchored in substance, Obama accused his rivals — without mentioning their names — of being “casual” about starting a war.
“If some of these folks think it’s time to launch a war, they should say so,” he said. “Everything else is just talk.”
As people watch the election returns this evening, here’s a quick overview. Ten states will be awarding 437 delegates, which is approximately one-third of the total number of delegates needed to win the nomination (1,144). Mitt Romney leads Rick Santorum in the delegate count by roughly two-to-one (181 v. 91) and Newt Gingrich by six-to-one (181 v. 30). Of the 10 states, seven are primaries (Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Vermont) and three are caucuses (Idaho, North Dakota, and Alaska).
Mitt Romney will win Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia. Newt Gingrich will carry his home state of Georgia by a wide margin. And Rick Santorum has a double digit lead in Oklahoma. Of the remaining five state, Idaho, North Dakota, and Alaska haven’t conducted any recent polls, so it’s hard to know who will prevail in those three states. Mitt Romney won Alaska and North Dakota in 2008, while Idaho is part of the so-called Mormon Corridor, with more than a quarter of the population members of the Mormon church.
Yale’s history department was once the flagship of the university. In academic year 1999-2000, for example, Yale had nearly 350 tenured faculty members, more than a third of whom were in the humanities. More than one-third of these, in turn, were historians. History was by far the most popular major.
How much a decade can alter the landscape: The history major is in sharp decline if not freefall with the slack picked up by the social sciences: political science and economics. History Department chair Laura Engelstein has said she wants to get to the bottom of the hemorrhaging program. “If it reflects something that we could change, we would want to change it, but it’s not clear what exactly is causing this to happen,” she told the Yale Daily News.
It’s no secret that the Obama administration has reversed longstanding American policy and reached out to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Successive elections in the wake of the Arab Spring have gone a long way to legitimizing the Islamist group. At the same time, the Obama administration is notoriously poor at negotiations. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher was handily outplayed by Vladimir Putin when she negotiated the START treaty. Then, in order to entice the Taliban to open a diplomatic office in Qatar, Obama offered up everything the Taliban wanted before negotiations even began, much to the detriment of U.S. national security. Now word comes from an Egyptian newspaper that restrictions are being eased on Umar Abd-al-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh” and mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
According to the independent, liberal Al-Yawm as-Sabi (translation courtesy of the Open Source Center):
Al-Yawm as-Sabi has learnt from well-informed U.S. and diplomatic sources that a tangible change has occurred to the way Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman is treated in the U.S. prison where he has been detained for about 19 years. Informed sources affirmed that U.S. authorities have eased its tight measures against Shaykh Umar to a great extent. This ease involves treating him in a “good” way in prison and allowing his doctor to visit him and check on his health condition and he [Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman] has already started to receive close medical attention. Sources close to [name withheld], lawyer for Abd-al-Rahman, said that the shaykh had been allowed to contact his family and some Egyptian bodies after he was recently banned from contacting them. The sources link the good treatment the shaykh is currently receiving to the release of the U.S. nationals accused in the [NGOs] foreign funding case, which backs the recently-circulated news about a secret deal between the U.S. administration and the Egyptian government. Meanwhile, Abdullah, son of the shaykh, voiced hope the news of the deal is true and that the shaykh will be actually released.
It is amazing how quickly “free birth control” became the next civil rights issue. Until recently, I never noticed that Catholic employers refusing to cover birth control costs had created a public crisis, forcing women across the country to pay a staggering $9 a month for the Pill.
Which is of course because this isn’t a crisis, it’s a fake controversy. There’s no vital public interest in forcing religious employers to provide insurance for contraceptives, and you don’t have to be anti-birth control to think that. Though it does help to have the bare-minimum of tolerance for other people’s personal beliefs.
Omri Ceren beat me to the punch by pointing out how the Turkish government has undercut NATO’s larger mission by holding the organization hostage to its own diplomatic squabbles. Omri is absolutely correct in his analysis: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a man with a pronounced hatred for Israel and it seems for Jews as well, seeks to involve NATO in his vendetta against the Jewish state. Regional officials understand Erdoğan instigated and manufactured the crisis with Israel. When the Bulgarian foreign minister had the temerity to point this out to Egemen Bağış, a close Erdoğan confidante, Bağış’s delegation dismissed his remark by suggesting that perhaps the Bulgarian minister was polluted with Jewish blood.
Turkey, however, is seeking not only to cheapen NATO, but is also holding Syrian hostage. During the last few months, Erdoğan threw a temper tantrum aboutthe French senate’s decision to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide, although the law was eventually struck down by the constitutional court. Frankly, I would also criticize the French action on nothing other than free speech grounds. (For the record, I also oppose criminalization of Holocaust denial on free speech grounds, though I do not believe that respect for free speech mandates acceptance of poor scholarship or inane journalism). So now, because France contradicted Erdoğan’s sense of history, Turkey may exclude France from meetings relating to the situation in Syria.
Meanwhile, a new diplomatic brouhaha is brewing over threats made by Egemen “I smell Jewish blood” Bağış, ironically Turkey’s European Union minister, who has threatened that Turkey may unilaterally annex a third of Cyprus in which it has set up a puppet state, and whose oil resources it covets.
Perhaps for Erdoğan, not only the Jews are expendable, but the Syrians and Cypriots as well. Such is the price when one does not give sufficient honor to the Imam of Istanbul, as Erdoğan once described himself, or the Putin of Anatolia, as he’s increasingly known.
For the past several months, it has been the European Union that has taken the lead on ratcheting up sanctions against Iran. While President Obama was still dithering about implementing measures that would effectively create an international embargo against Iranian oil, the EU laid out its plans to actually shut down Tehran’s one source of foreign capital. But lurking behind this admirable boldness has always been a troubling sense that underneath their tough talk was an ardent desire to engage the Iranians and make all the unpleasantness go away.
That concern must go back to the front burner today with the announcement that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has accepted an offer to meet with the Iranians to discuss some new proposals Tehran is putting on the table. While the talks don’t obligate the EU to back down on its threats and can be construed in one way as proof that sanctions have gotten the attention of the Islamist regime, there is also the very real chance that once the negotiations begin the dynamic of diplomacy will predominate and allow Iran to play for more time as their nuclear program progresses.
The question tonight isn’t whether Mitt Romney captures the most delegates. That’s a given. The question is whether he’ll meet current polling predictions, which he failed to do in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
And the expectations are high this morning. Gallup shows Romney with a 16-point national lead on Rick Santorum, a sign that Romney may have an even better performance tonight than previously thought:
Mitt Romney leads Rick Santorum by 16 percentage points in Feb. 29-March 4 Gallup Daily tracking of national Republican registered voters’ preferences for their party’s nomination. Romney is at 38 percent, Santorum 22 percent, Newt Gingrich 15 percent, and Ron Paul 12 percent. Santorum led Romney by 10 points as recently as Feb. 20.
Romney’s current 38 percent of the vote is the highest percentage any candidate has obtained since Gallup Daily tracking of the race began on Dec. 1, and comes in the wake of Romney’s wins in the Feb. 28 Michigan and Arizona primaries.
Kirsten Powers is a woman of liberal leanings but impressively independent judgments. That was demonstrated again with her recent column in The Daily Beast, in which she takes to task what she calls “the army of swine on the left” who are engaging in a “war on women.”
In the words of Powers, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.” She provides chapter and verse on all five men, but declares that the “grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher.” That would be the same Bill Maher who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. So I wonder: Do you think Obama, who has placed himself in the middle of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy, will be hounded by the press about Maher’s comments in light of his contributions? And why, by the way, are Limbaugh’s comments getting so much media attention while Maher’s comments have been overlooked, accepted, or even bring a knowing smile to the faces of some journalists, many of whom seem eager to appear on his program?
The New York Times hammers the Republican presidential field this morning in a piece that attempts to point out that despite their criticisms of President Obama on his handling of Iran, their policy prescriptions differ little from his. In particular, Mitt Romney is skewered for an approach to the Iranian nuclear threat (detailed here in his op-ed published in yesterday’s Washington Post) that seemingly is centered on the same belief in sanctions that would be followed by the use of force as only a last resort. There is some truth to this, and the same can be said of the strikingly similar stands of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
But despite the evident liberal satisfaction in highlighting what they believe is an example of GOP hypocrisy, there is a problem with this proposition that goes to the heart of America’s failure to adequately deal with Iran. The problem lies in Obama’s credibility. Though the incumbent is now talking of doing many of the same things Republicans say they want to do, the difference is that for most of his presidency Obama has taken a very different course. If Romney can claim the Iranians will get a nuclear weapon if Obama is re-elected but not if he is sworn in next January, it is not so much a function of different policies as it is that the Iranians believe the incumbent will let them get away with murder.
Even though Sen. Mark Kirk is still home recovering from his recent stroke, his presence loomed large at AIPAC this week. Sen. Mitch McConnell gave a nod to Kirk during his speech at the gala, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued this sincere request during his keynote:
I want to send a special message to a great friend of Israel who is not here tonight: Senator Mark Kirk, the co-author of the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions Act. Senator Kirk, I know you’re watching this tonight. Please get well soon. America needs you; Israel needs you. I send you wishes for a speedy recovery. So get well and get back to work.
In Ali’s days it comes to pass,
A scary tale, one all but farce.
Admittedly it’s not the end,
But we’ll try yet to comprehend.
The sixth and tenth year of his reign,
Despite the oil, a sad domain.
Devout was he so nought to drink,
Nor in the land were men of pink. Read More
President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan share a warm friendship. The Turkish PM is considered a close foreign friend to a president who notoriously has very few. And though American diplomatic cables concluded years ago that the AKP harbors neo-Ottoman ambitions, risking “‘creeping’ Islamization, naivete, and anti-Westernism,” the president has continued boosting Turkey’s regional posture and insulating the AKP’s domestic position.
The Obama administration has supported a leading role for Turkey on Syria. It has tried to put Bulgaria in Turkey’s orbit. It has even transferred Super Cobra helicopters from Afghanistan to Turkey so Turkish troops could use them against Kurds, part of the Turkish army’s cross-border bombing campaign. For the first time in 100 years, the Turkish navy is conducting general-purpose patrols in the Mediterranean. They’re threatening Israel and Cyprus, telling energy companies that they might get attacked by Turkish troops, freaking out the Greeks, and pledging maritime dominance. The White House is seemingly unable or unwilling to stop these provocations.