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THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2010
THE TURKEY CALLED TURKEY – AT 7:43 P.M. ET: One of the great foreign policy disappointments since Obama took office is the estrangement from Turkey, the Muslim nation that has usually been closest to the West. It isn't Obama's fault.
Turkey is a member of NATO, and fought beside us in the Korean War. But early in this decade the nation elected a pro-Islamist government, reversing decades of progress toward political secularism. European nations, including those in NATO, have been distancing themselves from Turkey, and now relations with the U.S. are strained. This is another case where Islamism is destroying the Muslim relationship with the rest of the world. From The Jerusalem Post:
WASHINGTON – Turkish media reports have exposed increased tensions between the US and Turkey in recent days, with disagreements flaring over the Gaza flotilla incident and efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan bashed the US for not taking more action following the death of a Turkish-American dual citizen in Israel’s raid on a Turkish-flagged ship attempting to break the blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Erdogan is at the heart of the problem for, at heart, he doesn't really believe in the Turkish secular tradition.
"It is significant that the US administration has not taken action regarding Furkan Dogan. We expect them to follow this case,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “Are you not defending Furkan’s rights because he was Turkish?” In response, US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey told the Turkish newspaper Zaman that the US was concerned about Dogan’s case but took umbrage at Erdogan’s remarks.
"If the press report is true, we – the United States and I – personally find it deeply disappointing and worrying,” he was quoted as saying.
He went on to chide Turkey for not being more helpful with the investigation, and providing the autopsy results on the deaths to the Turkish group IHH, which participated in the flotilla, but not to the United States, according to media accounts.
IHH has a history of support for terrorism.
“We requested it from the Turkish authorities many times, most recently on July 7,” he reportedly said. “We find it difficult to understand why we can’t have the autopsy report despite our requests while IHH already has been given it.”
A State Department official said Thursday that Turkey had subsequently provided the autopsy reports.
I'm glad the U.S. ambassador stood up for his country, instead of doing the grovel dance we've come to expect from the Obama administration.
Turkey is becoming a tragedy. Its tradition balancing Islam with secular values, and enforced by a pro-democracy military, was enormously beneficial to the Turkish population. Now Turkey is disappearing behind the Muslim curtain (or veil), and it would seem only a matter of time before it is separated from NATO.
We hope for a change for the better. It will only occur if Turkey gets the message that its hostility is hurting only Turkey.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
COULD THIS BE? – AT 7:28 P.M. ET: There's a new poll out that can be placed in the category of "answered prayers" for Republicans. From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
No, this is not coming from Rasmussen or an internal GOP poll, but from the normally Democrat-sympathetic Public Policy Polling. PPP pitted Barack Obama against five potential Republican challengers for the 2012 presidential campaign, and the only one Obama beat was … Jan Brewer. Even that, PPP admitted, resulted from Brewer’s lack of name recognition. The headline, though, is Sarah Palin’s dead heat with the President:
He trails Mitt Romney 46-43, Mike Huckabee 47-45, Newt Gingrich 46-45, and is even tied with Sarah Palin at 46. The only person tested he leads is Jan Brewer, who doesn’t have particularly high name recognition on the national level at this point
The news is almost uniformly bad for Obama in the poll. His approval rating is now seriously underwater at 45/52. That gets even worse among independents, 40/56. He doesn’t get above 46% in any matchup with Republicans, not even Jan Brewer, whom he beats 44/36, with 20% undecided.
We caution that other polls haven't produced news quite that depressing for the president, but PPP is indeed a tilt-toward-Dems organization.
It's pretty clear that Sarah Palin is considering a run for the top job. If there are more polls like this, she might just take the plunge. I don't know whether that would be good or bad for the GOP, but it would certainly be interesting.
We'd want some verification of these results from other surveys to come.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
DISGRACEFUL, BUT TYPICAL – AT 9:29 A.M. ET: Many of us were wondering how the Obamans can sue Arizona for "interfering" with the federal function of handling immigration matters, while remaining silent about "sanctuary cities" that will protect illegal immigrants. Comes the answer, and it's weak. From The Washington Times:
A week after suing Arizona and arguing that the state's immigration law creates a patchwork of rules, the Obama administration said it will not go after so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement, on the grounds that they are not as bad as a state that "actively interferes."
"There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law," Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., told The Washington Times. "That's what Arizona did in this case."
Boy, that is a stretch. I can hear the ripping.
But the author of the 1996 federal law that requires states and localities to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration laws thinks the administration is misreading the statute and that sanctuary cities are in violation of federal law. Drawing a distinction between those localities and Arizona, he said, is "flimsy justification" for suing the state.
"For the Justice Department to suggest that they won't take action against those who passively violate the law who fail to comply with the law is absurd," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and chief author of the 1996 immigration law. "Will they ignore individuals who fail to pay taxes? Will they ignore banking laws that require disclosure of transactions over $10,000? Of course not."
But this isn't about law. It's about politics, about the so-called "Hispanic vote." The law doesn't mean much to the current Justice Department crowd. It's the ideology, Comrade.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
OH, I LOVE MISCHIEF-MAKERS LIKE THIS – AT 8:54 A.M. ET: I never knew that Pete du Pont is such a conniver. But in a Wall Street Journal piece he makes the case for...Hillary Clinton in 2012:
So what can be done to change America's policies and make our economy stronger? For one thing, we could elect a president with different thinking. Almost any Republican candidate would have that, and, as we will see in a moment, there is one obvious Democrat who would change our course too.
And why would the Democratic Party want to do that? Because the re-election of President Obama is becoming more problematic.
...the most interesting statistic is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's ratings: 45% favorable and only 35% unfavorable.
That is not surprising, and there are some obvious factors that suggest she might have a chance of defeating President Obama if she were to challenge him for the 2012 Democratic nomination.
It's a pretty strong case:
First, as Peggy Noonan wrote earlier this month, the conclusion one hears from most "normal" American people is that the president "is in over his head, and out of his depth."...
...That means there's a big opportunity for Mrs. Clinton.
Second, she is physically and intellectually strong enough to take on a difficult campaign.
Third, she is one of the most experienced prospective candidates the Democratic Party has had in a long while.
Fourth, she is an experienced foreign-policy adviser who understands the threats to our national security.
Fifth, experience will be even more important to voters in the 2012 presidential election, whose 2008 gamble on someone with little experience is proving costly.
Finally, Washington's deadly left-liberal policies that have propelled the American economy in a very bad direction can be turned around.
Du Pont argues that Obama might well put Clinton on the ticket in 2012. But...
Mrs. Clinton could put together a very effective campaign to get the nomination for herself.
Considering how badly things are going in America just now, that could turn out to be a slam dunk for her and the disgruntled Democratic Party.
COMMENT: Well, maybe. There is one issue not discussed here, and it's the most powerful one of all: race. Will Ms. Clinton run against the first black president of the United States, and try to rip the nomination from him? I doubt it. The African-American community would never forgive her, and would stay home en masse on election day, essentially dooming Clinton's chances.
I can see a Clinton run only if Obama declines to run again, or is forced to decline by a visit by Democratic elders to the White House, poll results in hand. That could happen.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
BLACKS DIS NAACP RESOLUTION CALLING TEA PARTY "RACIST" – AT 8:10 A.M. ET: The NAACP, once a civil rights organization, is coming under increasing fire for an unsubstantiated resolution slapping the "racist" label on the tea-party movement. Even some African-Americans object, as The Politico notes:
Some African-American tea party candidates are displeased by a resolution that the NAACP approved on Tuesday calling the grass-roots conservative movement “racist.”
“I have not experienced the charges of racism that the NAACP is touting,” Vernon Parker, an African-American tea party congressional candidate in Arizona, told POLITICO.
Parker, former mayor of Paradise Valley, said that he has never felt out of place at a tea party rally because of the color of his skin.
“When I go to tea party events, people don’t look at me any differently,” he said. “They didn’t judge me on the color of my skin, quite frankly, they judged me on my principles."
Yup. But the left can't accept that. After all, dearie, aren't all those people from outside Manhattan racists?
"The NAACP should be concerned about bringing jobs to people in depressed areas,” he added, “not the tea party.”
Tim Scott, a GOP congressional nominee in South Carolina, echoed Parker’s sentiments in a statement.
“I believe that the NAACP is making a grave mistake in stereotyping a diverse group of Americans who care deeply about their country and who contribute their time, energy and resources to make a difference,” Scott said.
“As I campaign in South Carolina, I participate in numerous events sponsored by the tea party, 9/12, Patriot, and other like-minded groups, and I have had the opportunity to get to know many of the men and women who make up these energetic grass-roots organizations,” Scott added.
“Americans need to know that the tea party is a color-blind movement that has principled differences with many of the leaders in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans.”
COMMENT: The NAACP, once a key player in the civil rights movement, has become increasingly irrelevant over the years. Labeling the tea party as racist will not help its rehabilitation.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
HISPANIC SUPPORT FOR OBAMA DECLINES – AT 7:58 A.M. ET: Can the man catch a break? Any break? Despite the blatantly political pandering over the Arizona illegal-immigration law, President Obama's support among Hispanic Americans is actually declining. Weekly Standard reports:
More evidence that Obama's lawsuit against Arizona is a disaster for Democrats: CBS is out with a new poll that shows 57% of Americans think Arizona's immigration law is "about right" and 17% think it "doesn't go far enough."
On the other hand, White House officials have argued that Obama's aggressive actions against Arizona will help boost Hispanic support...
...But according to a new poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, it doesn't seem like the lawsuit against Arizona is helping Obama much. Though Hispanic support for the president ticked up slightly from last month--from 59 percent to 63 percent--Hispanic approval of Obama is now lower than it was in polls conducted prior to the passage of Arizona's immigration law in late April. PPP's mid-April poll showed that 74 percent of Hispanics supported Obama, and PPP's March poll showed 65 percent supported Obama.
COMMENT: That's what happens when you treat groups in a patronizing manner. Hispanic Americans are not monolithic, and think for themselves. A poll in Colorado showed most Hispanics actually favoring the Arizona law.
We ran a piece yesterday by former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, pointing out that Hispanics are natural Republicans, and that Puerto Rico now has a Reaganesque administration. Maybe the Dems just haven't gotten the message.
July 15, 2010 Permalink
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2010
THE CONFIDENCE GAP – AT 7:55 P.M. ET: Well, we've had the generation gap, the missile gap, Gap stores, and other gaps. Now we have the confidence gap. That seems to be the term people are using to describe the dramatic loss of confidence in the ability of Barack Obama. Financial Times has an excellent, devasting piece examining just how far that confidence has fallen:
“If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton official, who has been predicting for months the Democrats could lose the House. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”
The direction of the data could hardly be worse. According to Democracy Corps, a group headed by Stanley Greenberg, a liberal pollster who is a close friend of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s chief of staff, a majority of US citizens see Mr Obama as “too liberal."
Astonishingly, 55 per cent of citizens think Mr Obama is a “socialist” against only 39 per cent who do not share that diagnosis.
The Obama crowd is probably shocked that those peasants out there know what a socialist is. How dare they think for themselves.
The same poll shows 48 per cent support for Republicans against just 42 per cent for Democrats. The numbers are eerily similar to 2006, except that it was George W. Bush’s Republicans who were on the receiving end four years ago.
Ah, revenge is sweet. But I want it sweeter.
“The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership,” says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr Obama.
Another adviser says:
I never thought I would say this, but even I’m unsure what President Obama really believes,” says the adviser. “Instead of outsourcing decisions to Congress, he should spell out his bottom line. That is what leaders are for.”
COMMENT: But tell that to the effete observers in the mainstream media, who think a leader is someone who uses words with more than two syllables.
The last time I saw it this bad, Jimmah Carter was president. But, and this is critical, we solved that problem because we had a Reagan. Who've we got now? That's my worry.
July 14, 2010 Permalink
A BOILING ANGER – AT 7:21 P.M. ET: A number of readers have written to us about this. As many of you may know, there is a proposal in New York for a 13-story mosque to be built right near Ground Zero, scene of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Inevitably, the proposal has become extremely controversial. The mosque has an odd pedigree, and even reporters can't figure out exactly who is behind it. The usual suspects have come out in favor of it, apparently seeing it as some kind of "healing" thing. The local community board voted for it enthusiastically. (Ground Zero is located in the midst of one of the most liberal districts in America. It's represented in Congress by Jerrold Nadler, who often makes Lenin look like a Republican.)
A backlash is building, especially among 9-11 families and members of New York's protective services, fire and police. My friend Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi sends this picture:
This is a subject that obviously must be approached with some care. On the one hand, we don't want to reject a positive, moderate, Islamic approach. On the other hand, we must respect the feelings of victims, something liberals don't do with any great ability. (Look at their attitude toward victims of violent crime.)
My own sense is that those who want to build the mosque have provided too little information about sponsorship. There are reports from solid sources that some of the key figures have a history of supporting terrorism, or at least the objectives of terrorism.
It may be unfair at times, but we must hold the Islamic community to a demanding standard. Building a mosque at Ground Zero right now is like building a Japanese Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor in 1950. In time, maybe. But the mosque's sponsorship must be pristine, and the mosque must show a genuine rejection of terrorism in all its forms.
There's a time for religious groups to remain silence, or even back off. There is also a time for reflection. We think here that the reflection should precede the construction, or even replace it entirely.
July 14, 2010 Permalink
REPUBLICANS AND HISPANICS, IT AIN'T OVER – AT 9:18 A.M. ET: The conventional wisdom is that Republicans have lost Hispanics forever. But former Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma, in an excellent op-ed piece in the Washington Times, says it just isn't so:
...before our friends on the left break out their vuvuzelas, they need to take a look at Puerto Rico.
On Jan. 2, 2009, the commonwealth installed Luis Fortuno as its governor. He was elected by the largest margin in 44 years, the same year that Barack Obama and other Democrats swept to victory. Though the island doesn't use the same party nomenclature as the 50 states, Mr. Fortuna is a Republican and the Republican National Committee member from Puerto Rico. The commonwealth's newly installed House speaker and Senate president are similarly from the right. The governor's inaugural message was unquenchably Ronald Reagan.
The owner of the government's checking account "is the working people, and the government must adjust its spending to match its revenues," the new Republican governor said, adding that the government "must be smaller to be more agile and effective." Borrowing the best from the Gipper, Mr. Fortuno concluded that "government is no longer the solution to all your problems, but rather has become a problem that we must all strive to fix."
Hispanics are natural Republicans: They are pro-life and socially conservative. Puerto Rico, for example, is 60 percent Catholic and 30 percent evangelical Protestant. They are fiscally conservative: Homeownership in the commonwealth is an astonishing 73 percent, far greater than in the 50 states and other territories. Hispanics believe that a "dollar in the hands of the people will last longer than a dollar in the hands of government." They are anti-tax. Education is viewed as the oxygen for social mobility. Parents want choices in education, including charter schools. Welfare is described by the governor as "destructive of the family unit" — a unit, by the way, that expects such old-fashioned practices as enjoying meals together.
But what can Republicans do, consistent with their ideals, to avoid alienating Hispanic voters and, instead, bringing them into the fold:
How does the party of Lincoln get out of the ditch? Don't "dis" Hispanic voters. No more "Party of No."
"The Hispanic community feels rejected," Mr. Fortuno observes, and "the discourse has turned ugly." Republicans must "reach out to Latinos and stress our policies." The Hispanic community is now more monolithic and "if one community is rejected, all of us are rejected," Mr. Fortuna says.
While 95 percent of Hispanic parents encourage their children to speak English, it is still not advisable to "dis" Spanish, the governor warns: Don't act like "we don't want you."
Mr. Fortuna concludes that moving these new Americans to the political right will not be difficult: They are already Republican. "We don't need to change our policies," the governor observes. "We need to underscore our policies." Pro-life, limited government, low-tax, pro-family, pro-work immigrants will never last long in the party of dependency and victimization. They are too independent and proud for that. Their legacy is that of Lincoln, not of Jefferson. All that is needed is a gentle and inclusive nudge. Hispanics will cross the river and never cross back.
COMMENT: Well said, I think. Republicans must concentrate on Hispanic Americans and welcoming them into the fold. As the piece says, they are natural Republicans.
Democrats have the welcome mat out. But once Hispanics are inside the Democratic tent, they're treated only as votes to be had on election day. I think our side can do better.
July 14, 2010 Permalink
AH, WHAT A FEW YEARS CAN DO – AT 9:01 A.M. ET: Remember when Dick Cheney was the villain and Al Gore was the real president who was robbed in 2000 yet nobly continued a career of public service, culminating in the every-leftist-gets-one Nobel Prize? It seems so long ago.
Now, as Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times's Top of the Ticket blog notes, there's been a reversal of fortune:
Americans are already starting to think better of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
There's a distinct global chilling going on about former Vice President Al Gore (you know, the divorce/alleged groping/debunked climate stuff).
And, eh, about the same feelings over Barack Obama's voluble sidekick, Joe Biden, who copied his notorious effing line from its inventor, his GOP predecessor.
The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007.
As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
Cheney's robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican's favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now.That's a stunning 20% improvement.
Maybe that's why the genial Cheney's smiling so broadly above. Or perhaps he has something cagey in mind for 2012.
COMMENT: Gore is learning that when you leave Tipper for the zipper, this is what happens. (Okay, okay, it's not very good, but I had to try.)
And Dick Cheney, who served this country well, is slowly being vindicated, as the nation watches Field Marshal Obama flop around in military strategy.
Fortunes change. Harry Truman was loathed when he left the White House, and lived to see himself elevated to the ranks of great presidents. As for others, they wait and wait and wait. But Jimmah, it just ain't gonna happen.
July 14, 2010 Permalink
YOU MEAN, THEY MAY NOT GET CASH FROM THE COMPANY? BUT THIS IS AMERICA! – AT 8:37 A.M. ET: Do you remember the Toyotas that took off by themselves? Wait. If you're a little older, do you remember the Audis that took off by themselves?
We get these stories periodically. They lead to big-time TV coverage and woe-is-me interviews with drivers who insist that they were just sitting there thinking of ways to serve the world when they were sudden victims of "unintended acceleration." Months ago there was a flood of stories of Toyotas doing just that. But there are tens of millions of Toyotas on the road. What happened in the months since those stories? Did the cars magically improve themselves?
No. Science happened, and some law firms might be disappointed. Reader Michael Emerson alerts us to this report, from The Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that the throttles were wide open and the brakes weren't engaged at the time of the crash, people familiar with the findings said.
The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.
But the findings—part of a broad, ongoing federal investigation into Toyota's recalls—don't exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: "sticky" accelerator pedals that don't return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor.
The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve a sample of the reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.
We wrote here at the time of the initial stories that we were skeptical. The Audi was accused of causing unintended acceleration, and its American market decimated for a time by a critical story on "Sixty Minutes." It later turned out that the tales of horror could be traced to driver error, although a European-style placement of the foot pedals was a contributing factor.
The Toyota findings appear to support Toyota's position that sudden-acceleration reports involving its vehicles weren't caused by electronic glitches in computer-controlled throttle systems, as some safety advocates and plaintiffs' attorneys have alleged. More than 100 people have sued the car maker over crashes they claim were the result of faulty electronics.
The fact is that all modern cars have braking systems that can overcome even a roaring engine. And it's remarkable that all those aggrieved people didn't understand that turning off the ignition would stop the car at any rate.
If Toyotas were inherently defective there would be many, many more stories of unintended acceleration, and they wouldn't be bunched in one time period. Once again we had a rush to judgment.
Of course, those filing for court-ordered winnings aren't satisfied. Get this gem from a woman claiming to be a "victim":
Ms. Marseille sticks by her story. "It makes me very angry when someone tells me, 'She probably hit the gas pedal instead,' because I think it's a sexist comment, an ageist comment," she said.
Yup. Let's haul out sexism and ageism. Those are the culprits!
A recognized transportation expert informs me that he knows of only one case of unintended acceleration – when a limo in the White House motor pool was loaded with powerful electronic equipment that interfered with the auto's computer system. The problem was quickly solved by an adjustment.
July 14, 2010 Permalink
A CULTURAL INDICATOR? – AT 8:12 A.M. ET: France continually presents itself as a land of cultural tolerance. But there may be limits even to French understanding and patience. Consider:
France's lower house of parliament passed a ban on Islamic burka-veils Tuesday, a move that is popular among French voters despite strong opposition from human rights advocates and Muslim groups.
There were 336 votes for the bill and just one against at the National Assembly. Most members of the main opposition group, the Socialist Party, refused to participate in the vote.
Following Tuesday's vote, the ban on face-covering veils will go in September to the Senate, where it also is likely to pass. Its biggest hurdle will likely come after that, when France's constitutional watchdog scrutinizes it.
The main body representing French Muslims says face-covering veils are not required by Islam, and it worries that the law will stigmatize all Muslims.
France has Europe's largest Muslim population, estimated to be about 5 million of the country's 64 million people. While ordinary headscarves are common, only about 1,900 women in France are believed to wear face-covering veils. Champions of the bill say they oppress women.
COMMENT: Surveys show Americans to be far more tolerant, and that the French measure would face greater opposition here.
But should it?
A country can be exceedingly tolerant and understanding, yet insist on reasonable limits. In America, as in France, religious rituals and beliefs cannot trump the civil law. The Muslim veil, which, as the story indicates, is not required by Islam, masks the face. In America we take a very dim view of masking, and many, if not all, states bar it by law. It prevents reasonable identification for legal purposes, and is associated with racist organizations. Imagine a driver's license with a picture of a masked face.
I was once interviewing Dr. Milton Helpern, the late, legendary medical examiner of New York City. During our talk he received a call from an orthodox rabbi protesting that one of his parishioners, who'd died without a physician present, was scheduled for an autopsy, a procedure forbidden by Jewish law. Helpern, himself a Jew, patiently explained to the rabbi that the civil law required an autopsy because of the circumstances of death, and that he could not subvert the law. The rabbi backed down.
The same standard should be applied to the masking produced by the Muslim veil. Muslim leaders should be encouraged to ask that women in their congregations stop wearing the veil in public. And it should be banned as a matter of consistent, wise public policy.
The French parliament is correct.
July 14, 2010 Permalink