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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2010
THE UNIONS AND THE PEOPLE – AT 8:44 P.M. ET: One of the most remarkable political developments of our era has been the drifting apart of many labor leaders from their own members.
Linda Chavez, in the New York Post, does a fine job of analyzing what's happened...a development that has profound implications for elections, national and otherwise:
In a recent Washington Post column, Harold Meyerson quotes a member of Working America, a political group founded in 2004 by the AFL-CIO: "When our canvassers call on our members on their doorsteps, they hear Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly in the background." You can bet that drives union leaders crazy, especially since unions now spend a growing share of their members' dues trying to convince them that the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama represent their values and aspirations.
But workers aren't buying it. They've watched as the Democratic troika has shoved unpopular health-care legislation down American throats. They've witnessed unprecedented government spending that promised jobs but delivered nearly 10 percent unemployment. Now they're bracing for tax hikes, which they know will come out of their pockets even if the Democrats promise only "the rich" will pay.
Union households were a decisive factor in President Obama's 2008 election. The president won 53 percent of the popular vote, but that victory came largely because he won such relatively union-heavy states as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But many union members who voted for the president and his Democratic cohorts in Congress won't make the same mistake again.
COMMENT: I might add that union members are working people. They and their ancestors built this country. They're proud of it, and they see a Democratic president practically laughing at them as people who "cling to their guns and their religion." They see others on the Democratic left oppose any American military action, action in which their sons and daughters gladly participate. And they see a party run by elites who would never condescend even to speak to them.
And then the Democrats ask them for their vote. It was a different party in their fathers' day, but this isn't their fathers' day.
But voters -- even union members -- won't be bought this time around. If labor unions ever hope to win the hearts and minds of American workers again, they could start by listening to their members.
GOOD RIDDANCE – AT 10:57 A.M. ET: In an otherwise reasonably reported story, The Politico makes a vocabulary error that is all too frequent in the mainstream media – the use of the term "anti-war" when a bit more detail is required:
As President Barack Obama formally declared an end to combat operations in Iraq this week, the anti-war movement that helped sweep him into office — and that worked for seven years to bring U.S. troops home — finds itself struggling for survival.
There is no "anti-war" movement, any more than there was during Vietnam. The movement in that war was an anti-draft movement, at best. And part of it was a "movement" by the old left, which was anti any war that America had a chance of winning.
Today's "anti-war" movement is pretty much the same. It ignores ghastly conflicts and horrible oppression to oppose any military action by the United States.
Several factors — war fatigue; a deep, lingering recession; and the presence of a Democratic president they helped elect — have drained the energy from organizations that led the fight against the Iraq war. Some of the most influential anti-war activist groups that once summoned half a million people to march against the Iraq war and the policies of former President George W. Bush are straining to raise the money and attention to fight what they see as Obama’s military entrenchment in Afghanistan.
Influential? Who do they influence?
“We don’t have a very vibrant anti-war movement anymore,” lamented Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Codepink, one of the anti-war movement’s most visible organizations. “The issues have not changed very much. … Now we have a surge [in Afghanistan] that we would have been furious about under George Bush, yet it’s hard to mobilize people under Obama. We have the same anti -war movement and not the same passion.”
Code Pink is a hard-left joke. Its leaders were recently in the Mideast, ginning up anti-Israel activism.
We've had, for half a century, these myths about "anti-war" groups. They did enormous damage to our effort in Vietnam – a fact confirmed in North Vietnam's official history of the war. Ever since the so-called "McCarthy era," mainstream journalists have been reluctant to call Marxists what they really are, and so a massive distortion of reality has occurred in the press.
The story goes on to quote the laments of one Leslie Cagan, another "anti-war" activist, and founder of "United for Peace and Justice." The left loves labels like that. Leslie Kagan is another anti-American activist who sells herself as "anti-war."
These groups serve no useful purpose. They surround a big lie, and, sadly, the mainstream media has gone along with the fib.
THE SKY IS STILL THERE – CHECK IT OUT – AT 10:30 A.M. ET: Was that a hurricane that passed by the East coast, or what?
We are regularly amused here by wildly exaggerated weather stories. It's no secret that "the sky really is falling" stories are very good for TV ratings, and so we're never surprised by weathercaster hysteria. In New York, in particular, snowstorms rarely live up to their advance billing, sometimes depositing a flake or two.
I recall one particularly hilarious TV report of some years ago, when a reporter, doing his stand-up from a shelter, enlightened us as to the "human suffering" of the storm in question. In the background were some elderly folks having a grand old time at Red Cross expense. I think there was some rain.
Hurricane Earl has now passed. Did anyone notice? NewsBusters reports on the off-their-meds coverage by the Boston Globe before the storm even arrived:
The Boston Globe, long notorious as promoters of global warming doom and gloom -- see Ross Gelbspan, for example -- sometimes gets embarrassed by the actual climate. On "The Green Blog," the Globe's Beth Daley projected that a "global warming double punch" could make Hurricane Earl much worse for Massachusetts -- except when it actually passed by, it turned out to be a dud for Bostonians and it could be watched on the coast with a glass of wine:
The large waves, storm surge, and flooding that Hurricane Earl will spawn as it strikes Massachusetts tomorrow night comes with an added dollop of trouble; Sea level rise.
Very gradual -- and in some cases accelerating -- rises in sea level off our coast over the last century will boost the height of Earl’s storm surge -- expected to be one to four feet -- meaning the wall of water will be able to travel that much farther inland and over higher elevations to flood basements, streets, and other low-lying areas....
As the great Jack Webb used to say, "The facts, ma'am, just the facts."
Obviously, we caution that many weather reports turn out to be accurate, and we should always heed safety warnings. But, too often, the drama turns out to be much greater than the trauma.
CAPTAIN SMITH, YOUR UNSINKABLE SHIP IS SINKING – AT 9:51 A.M. ET: While stressing once more that daily tracking polls can be a bit volatile – see our final posting last night – today's numbers from Scott Rasmussen are the worst ever recorded for President Obama:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-seven percent (47%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -23 (see trends).
That’s the highest level of Strong Disapproval and the lowest Approval Index daily rating yet recorded for this president.
Overall, 42% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. This matches the lowest approval rating yet measured for President Obama. Fifty-seven percent (57%) now disapprove.
Clearly, the drumbeat of bad economic news is taking its toll. The president's widely praised launch of Mideast peace talks last week has apparently not made much of an impression on the public, which has seen many such launches.
SCRAPING THE BOTTOM – AT 7:18 P.M. ET: We should caution that daily tracking polls can vary pretty widely from day to day, week to week, but today's result from Rasmussen should not provide any Labor Day weekend joy to the White House:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-five percent (45%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21.
Overall, 42% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. This matches the lowest approval rating yet measured for President Obama. Fifty-six percent (56%) now disapprove.
We'll watch those numbers this week to see if they remain relatively stable. Generally, Rasmussen, over the months, has pegged Obama approval in the mid-forties. If the president slips into the thirties, then you'll see comparisons to the Titanic.
There are stories circulating that the Dems will soon announce a new economic plan. The problem is that plans announced during election campaigns smack of cynicism. As Douglas MacArthur once said, all defeats begin with two words: Too late.
THIS JUST WON'T GO AWAY – AT 8:45 A.M. ET: The "Hillary for President" thing won't die. Now there's even a TV ad boosting the idea:
(CNN) - We've still got two months left until the 2010 midterm elections, but we now have our first television commercial of the 2012 presidential campaign. And the ad advocates for a person who says she has no intention of running for the White House.
"She has more experience working in and with the White House than most living presidents. She is one of the most admired women in our nation's history. Let's make sure the president we should have elected in 2008 will be on the ballot in 2012. Hillary 2012: Hillary Clinton for President. Start now. Where there's a Hill there's a way," says an ad that began running on television in New Orleans Wednesday.
The commercial was paid for by a Chicago dentist named William DeJean.
When asked why he put the ad up, DeJean told CNN Thursday that "I'm a dentist and I don't think this country is headed in the right direction."
COMMENT: There are serious discussions about this, including one on Fox News yesterday.
However, it's like threading a needle in the dark. Hillary could only run if Obama stepped aside. She could never run in a primary against him. Imagine her running against the first black president. Even if she won, and she might very well, she'd lose the black vote in the general election. No Democrat can be elected president without the black vote.
It's more likely that Hillary will sharpen her credentials for 2016, possibly by taking the secretary of defense job, if Obama offers it, or replacing Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket, again if offered. Or, she could just leave her current job and be the experienced stateswoman, possibly with a book or two in her, waiting for her time. Remember please that Richard Nixon was defeated for the presidency by Jack Kennedy in 1960, but came back to win eight years later.
There is talk that Obama might well step aside in 2012, for any number of reasons. Would Hillary then be a shoo-in for the nomination? Probably, but you never know. She'd be associated with a failed administration, and another Democrat can come out of the blue.
No matter what route is taken, Hillary will be in our lives. One cheer.
SABATO ALSO ROASTS DEM CHANCES IN NOVEMBER – AT 8:41 A.M. ET: Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, adds his voice to the journalistic pundits and professional pols who see a disaster for Democrats coming up. From US News:
Typically cautious Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, is rocking the political world with a new "Crystal Ball" prediction: The GOP will win the House, making Ohio's John Boehner speaker, might get a 50-50 split in the Senate, and will pick up some eight new governors.
"2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition," Sabato said in his latest prediction, issued Thursday. "But conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish, and public confidence quite low. The Democrats' self-proclaimed 'Recovery Summer' has become a term of derision, and to most voters—fair or not—it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered."
Sabato on House elections: "Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net.
Sabato on the Senate: "In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency."
COMMENT: We always learn something from Larry Sabato. I was not aware that the Senate flipped each time the House did in time since World War II.
But we must always note that many of the key races are very close. If the Dems can succeed in pushing the electorate four points in their direction, the outcome nationally could be dramatically different from what our best analysts are now saying. That's why we must fight as if we're 20 points behind.
STAND-UP GUY – AT 8:35 A.M. ET: Britain's Tony Blair was a superb American ally during the Iraq War, often taking major heat at home for his fondness for America. Now he makes clear that he has no intention of abandoning the struggle that joined him with George W. Bush. From the BBC:
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.
He made the remark in a BBC interview marking the publication of his memoirs.
Mr Blair said radical Islamists believed that whatever was done in the name of their cause was justified - including the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Mr Blair, who led Britain into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, denied that his own policies had fuelled radicalism.
Asked about the argument that Chechens, Kashmiris, Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans were resisting foreign occupation, he said Western polices were designed to confront radical Islamists because they were "regressive, wicked and backward-looking".
The aim of al-Qaeda in Iraq was "not to get American troops out of Baghdad [but] to destabilise a government the people of Iraq have voted for", he told the BBC's Owen Bennett Jones in a World Service interview.
COMMENT: Compare please to our own government's refusal even to name our enemy – you know, the ones who cause "manmade disasters." I wonder what Blair really thinks of Barack Obama.
We were lucky to have Tony Blair with us on Iraq, just as we were lucky to have Winston Churchill with us in World War II. I fear the day when that kind of luck runs out.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
- Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
of The New York Times.
"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism." - Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, to his son, Douglas.
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent Wednesday night.
Part II was sent Friday night.
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