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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2009
BUT WHO ARE WE TO PASS JUDGMENT? - AT 7:51 P.M. ET: Came across this unusually outspoken piece from Gulf News, in the heart of Islam:
Cairo: The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab World has been driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes.
Examine American media and you'd think only Clarence Thomas is guilty.
The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, appears to be designed to drive women out of public spaces and seems to happen regardless of what they are wearing.
Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed and described how a man came after her in the streets of her neighbourhood.
"He hissed at me and kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quieter area, and to give him my phone number," said Madbouli, a mother of two. "This is a national security issue. I am a mother, and I want to be reassured when my daughters go out on the streets."
Statistics on harassment in the region have until recently been nonexistent, but a series of studies presented at the conference hinted at the widespread nature of the problem.
As many as 90 per cent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed, while in Egypt, out of a sample of 1,000, 83 per cent reported being verbally or physically abused.
COMMENT: You will notice the deep interest in this by so-called "feminist" groups of the West. They abandoned Muslim women years ago, fearful, apparently, that they'd be helping BUSH (!!) or even CHENEY (!!!!!) if they said anything. Once again we find that many of these "women's" organizations will only fight for women if it doesn't interfere with their leftist, often anti-American agenda. Muslim women fend for themselves if they're too inconvenient for Western "feminists."
END OF A BRAND - AT 7:17 P.M. ET: This is sad, from the Washington Post:
The iconic Swedish car brand will be closed, General Motors announced Friday, after attempts to sell the troubled unit foundered.
"Like everybody, we would have preferred a different outcome, and we all worked very hard for that different outcome and we've come up short," GM Vice President John Smith said.
With the decision, Saab joins the tally of brands, including Saturn and Pontiac, that General Motors has left at the curb as it seeks to reorganize itself during the recession.
The recession has hurt Saab more than other automakers in its two main markets, Europe and the United States.
COMMENT: It's easy to blame GM, and I'm sure they deserve their share, but remember that Saab, like Volvo, had to be sold to American car companies because they were in trouble in Sweden. We were given a bill of goods for years that Sweden was some kind of paradise, where wonderful products were made, everyone was happy, and Tiger Woods could find a wife. Only the third was true.
Saab never seemed to find an identity in the U.S. Part of the problem may have been styling. It was hard to look at a Saab and fall in love. Or even fall in like.
History now. Along with Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Saturn.
But in an earlier era I saw Studebakers and Packards on the street. And DeSotos. And Kaisers. And Frazers. And Nashes. And Edsels. And even a few DeLoreans.
In fact, the loss of car brands was much greater many decades ago. There were even Deusenbergs, which gave us the phrase, "It's a Deusey."
Autos will survive, unless the enviro-nuts slash all the tires.
AN AGREEMENT IN COPENHAGEN - AT 7:02 P.M. ET: There has been an agreement in Copenhagen. But, from what we see, it's an agreement only Hans Christian Andersen could love, and would probably use as the plot of one of his fairy tales. From The New York Times:
COPENHAGEN — Leaders here concluded a climate change deal on Friday that the Obama administration called “meaningful” but that falls short of even the modest expectations for the summit meeting here.
As Charles Krauthammer said a few minutes ago on Fox, the failure is itself very good news.
Even an Obama administration official conceded, “It is not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step.”
“No country is entirely satisfied with each element,” the administration’s statement said, “but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.”
COMMENT: When they start using words like "foundation," you know it's a zero. Would you buy a house that only contained the foundation?
We should be relieved. Not only is the "science" of climate change in serious doubt from serious people, but the behavior of the delegates at this absurd international gathering should serve as a warning about real motives. When the delegates cheered Hugo Chavez, and some others, when they said that capitalism had to be destroyed, we saw the real agenda. This is the old left at work. This year the front will be climate change, next year it will be something else. But it's never good for the United States.
Once again President Obama comes home with very little to show for the effort. Once again he's reminded that governing is quite a bit harder than campaigning. Do you remember his nutty speech following his election when he said that, as a result of his coming to office, the oceans would "start to recede"? No they won't.
But the president does deserve praise for refusing to give away the store. Given his liberal credentials, and the heat put on him by the wine and Brie crowd, he held the line pretty well.
We understand that the president is returning to Washington early to beat the huge snow storm heading for the city. Maybe it's the Lord's way of telling him where he should be spending more time.
WHAT IS WITH THESE BOYS? - AT 10:34 A.M. ET: Is this the gang that still can't shoot straight?
You'd think, after the number of embarrassing federal appointments, the Obama employment agency would toughen its vetting. Well, either it can't, it won't, or it really has no problem with some of the borderline flakes who wind up getting tapped. From Fox News:
President Obama's recent nominee for ambassador to El Salvador was forced to withdraw her nomination to another diplomatic post a decade ago following concerns about ties to Cuba, raising red flags as her name heads to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee once again for approval.
The White House announced the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte last Wednesday along with a handful of other appointments. The selection has started to draw some attention given that former President Clinton nominated her for ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 1998, only to see the nomination fizzle after the foreign relations panel questioned her over her past relationship with someone who had apparently caught the attention of the FBI.
One former official with knowledge of that nomination said the committee started scrutinizing Aponte after learning that she had attended a party at the Cuban mission to the United Nations in New York City, and that she had a relationship with someone, Roberto Tamayo, who had raised concern at the FBI over "possible ties to the Cuban government" and "repeated trips there."
The former official said the matter "sure as hell" should come up this time around.
"I think it's a mistake to have someone who did not pass muster before to be nominated again," the former official told FoxNews.com. "It shows a disrespect to the process I think. ... Hopefully there'll be somebody on the committee who takes a sober look at the record."
COMMENT: Are the Obamans looking for trouble? With all the qualified, Spanish-speaking Americans who could have been appointed, why choose someone with this kind of baggage? In a way, this is an insult to the Hispanic community.
But, sadly, it appears that nominees who may have a loyalty issue in their past are no problem at all with the hip "progressives" in Obamaland. When the president gets back from Copenhagen, having cooled the planet and made the oceans recede with the wave of a Charlton Heston poster, maybe he should look into his own administration's personnel policies.
THE NUMBERS CONTINUE SOUTH - AT 9:47 A.M. ET: President Obama's numbers, that is. From the Washington Post:
As President Obama arrives in Copenhagen hoping to seal an elusive deal on climate change, his approval rating on dealing with global warming has crumbled at home and there is broad opposition to spending taxpayer money to encourage developing nations to curtail their energy use, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Has the White House noticed? Has someone sent them an e-mail about this? A note printed on non-acidic paper with "Save the Liberals" printed on the bottom?
Around the 100-day mark of Obama's presidency, 61 percent approved of the way he was dealing with the issue. Approval slumped to 54 percent in June and to 45 percent in the new poll.
The drop in Obama's ratings has been driven by a steep slump among political independents, who went from 62 percent positive in April to 36 percent now.
There is still public support for effective action to protect the environment and reduce emissions, but thatr support drops when some of the details of proposed programs, especially aid to foreign nations, is revealed.
And today's Rasmussen tracker brings no relief to the president who came to office on a wave of quasi-religious fervor. Only 44% approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing, whereas 54% disapprove.
The president, as we noted earlier, is in Copenhagen, where he's probably more popular than he is at home. We wonder whether the thought "one term, then travel" is crossing his mind.
AND IN THE GROWN-UP WORLD - AT 9:03 A.M. ET: From AP:
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's nuclear chief said Friday the country has started making more efficient centrifuge models that it plans to put in use by early 2011 -- a statement that underscores Tehran's defiance and adds to international concerns over its nuclear ambitions.
The official, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iranian scientists are still testing the more advanced models before they will become operational at the country's enrichment facilities.
Tehran has been saying since April that it is building more advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium with higher efficiency and precision, but Salehi's remarks were the first indication of a timeline when the new models could become operational...
...The new centrifuge models will be able to enrich uranium much faster than the old ones -- which would add to growing concerns in the West because they would allow Tehran to accelerate the pace of its program. That would mean Iran could amass more material in a shorter space of time that could be turned into the fissile core of missiles, should Tehran choose to do so.
COMMENT: And of course, we really doubt that they choose to do so, don't we? You may laugh now.
President Obama's deadline for Iran to show some give in its nuke talks expires in two weeks. There is no sign of any progress, nor is there any sign that Russia or China would go along with the kind of crippling sanctions that might - repeat might - have some effect.
YEAH, LET'S SEE THE FINE PRINT - AT 8:53 A.M. ET: President Obama is emerging as the kind of leader who wants a deal, any deal, anything that he can sign - on health care, on disarmament, on warming, on anything. Now, I suspect, we're seeing that again.
He's gone to Copenhagen to be with the sky-is-falling crowd. Last time he went to Copenhagen, it was to secure the Olympics for Chicago, and he came back empty-handed. Doesn't want that to happen again:
COPENHAGEN (AP) -- A U.S. official says talks between President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have moved a ''step forward'' toward a possible climate deal.
Both leaders directed their negotiators to work on a possible deal after meeting for nearly an hour Friday at the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen.
The senior Obama administration official spoke on condition of anonymity to more freely characterize the talks.
COMMENT: I'd look at any deal through a very powerful magnifying glass. Obama wants to come back to Andrews Air Force Base and do a Neville, waving a signed paper at us. I really can't believe that the Chinese, after all these years of stiffing us, will agree to anything beyond the cosmetic.
BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE, BUT GOOD LIBERALS DON'T HAVE TO ADMIT IT - AT 8:15 A.M. ET: It's 11 degrees in White Plains, New York, where this is being written. But still, you can see the ice caps melting on the Hudson, the river threatening New York City to the south, people checking their air conditioning while hoarding ice cubes, and wearing masks to protect against the CO2 attacks. It's terrible.
And in Copenhagen, where leftists meet for camaraderie and to remember the good old days in the anti-Vietnam War movement, global warming is even more devastating:
World leaders flying into Copenhagen today to discuss a solution to global warming will first face freezing weather as a blizzard dumped 4 inches of snow on the Danish capital overnight.
“Temperatures will stay low at least the next three days,” Henning Gisseloe, an official at Denmark’s Meteorological Institute, said today by telephone, forecasting more snow in coming days. “There’s a good chance of a white Christmas.”
There will be a march through the city today to protest the term white Christmas. We must be on guard against racism wherever it strikes. Also, Irving Berlin, who wrote "White Christmas," also wrote "God Bless America." Is that fascism or what?
Al Gore was seen playing in the snow. He and his fellow environmentalists burned off extra calories by using their limos as cover and throwing snowballs at each other. Mohamed ElBaradei, the newly retired head of the UN's nuclear inspection program, certified that none of the snowballs was nuclear.
So, Merry Christmas, Copenhagen delegates. Since you applauded Hugo Chavez so vigorously a few day ago, maybe you'll all take your private jets to Caracas to thaw out.
DEMANDING JUSTICE - AT 11:08 P.M. ET: From tomorrow's Washington Times:
A senior House Republican on Thursday introduced a "resolution of inquiry" that would require the House Judiciary Committee to seek answers on why the Justice Department dismissed a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place in last year's elections.
It's about time.
Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia also said he had language inserted in the Justice Department's annual spending bill requiring that its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) provide to the House Appropriations Committee the results of OPR's investigation surrounding the dismissal of the case.
Mr. Wolf, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee's commerce, justice and science subcommittee, and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, requested an investigation into the case earlier this year.
COMMENT: The dismissal of this case was a major Justice Department scandal. The Black Panthers had engaged in blatant, photographed, voter intimidation. Had it happened in the Bush administration, and a case against some corporation been dismissed, the press would have gone into fits of hysteria, requiring government-paid hospitalization.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? - AT 11:01 P.M. ET: It seems that Britain has imported at least one beloved American institution - the lawsuit. And who benefits? If this seems like old home week, it is. From Britain's very leftist paper, the Independent:
The cost of fighting clinical negligence claims against the National Health Service is soaring and most of the payouts are going in the pockets of lawyers, figures show.
In one case, a law firm received 58 times as much as the victim. In each of the past five years there have been examples of lawyers receiving more than 10 times the sum paid to the victim in compensation.
There have been 52,000 clinical negligence claims over the past five years which have cost the NHS more than £8bn. More than one in 10 – 5,500 – has resulted in a legal bill bigger than the victim's payout. On average lawyers received £36,000 per case last year whereas victims received £15,000.
The figures were obtained by the Tories in response to parliamentary questions. Shadow Health minister Mark Simmonds said: "Taxpayers will be rightly angry that hundreds of millions of pounds of their money is being paid out for mistakes in the NHS and that in many cases lawyers get their hands on more of the compensation money than the patients.
"The Government could have saved significant sums of money if they had listened to our proposals for an initial fact finding stage before a case comes to court. This would have resulted in more cases being resolved without costly litigation, and there would have been more money for frontline patient care."
COMMENTS: You know, I don't want to impose on our British cousins. But there's a medical-malpractice lawyer here who may want to change residences, and who really is terrrific. His name is John Edwards. Used to be a senator, ran for president and vice president. Has had a few marital problems. Dynamite in a courtroom. And if some law firm got 58 times as much as the victim, why John can get 80 times the amount. If anyone in Britain wants him, just e-mail us. We'll send the request on to his mistress, uh, office.
WARNING TO THE PRESIDENT - AT 3:09 P.M. ET: Republican senators are warning President Obama about the political realities involved in any commitments he makes in Copenhagen. From AP:
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers are telling President Barack Obama that he needs Congress to deliver on any commitments he makes to reduce global warming gases.
Seven GOP senators said at a news conference Thursday that any pledges Obama makes in Copenhagen will require Senate approval.
The Senate is unlikely to support an agreement that does not include China and other developing countries.
The GOP lawmakers also said they would try to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
COMMENT: The Republicans are essentially invoking the treaty ratification clause of the Constitution, requiring Senate approval of all treaties. They are correct.
At the same time, the GOP must tread carefully. Their position, if polls are correct, will have popular support because Americans are growing increasingly skeptical about the "science" of global warming. But if they reject a Copenhagen agreement, they should quickly present their own environmental and energy programs - imaginative and budget-sensitive. Ultimately, it's what you're for that gets the troops going.
THE FULL NELSON - AT 3:01 P.M. ET:Reader Annie Heisenbuttal alerts us to the travails of Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who's trying to negotiate his way through a health-care bill that is overwhelmingly unpopular back home. Nelson is up for relection next year:
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is getting heat from all sides these days.
But who really has the most influence on The Benator?
President Obama and his tanking personal ratings?
Harry Reid and his tanking Health Care reform bill?
Or is it Nebraska voters (and their pro-life tendencies)?
A Nebraska poll pretty much tells the story:
"In general, do you favor or oppose President Obama’s plan to expand health care coverage to most Americans even if this plan increases the role of the federal government in health care and increases the cost of the deficit?"
A bit of a loaded question, maybe, but look at this follow-up:
"If Senator Ben Nelson votes in favor of this plan, would that make you more likely or less likely to support Senator Nelson when he runs for re-election?"
More likely: 26%
Less Likely: 61%
Ouch. Now we understand Nelson's problems. Those problems are shared by other moderate Democrats, like Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia. Lincoln is up next year, Webb is not.
The sad part of this is that the Democrats likely to be defeated next year are the most responsible members of the party, the moderates. The leftists are usually from safe districts and states, especially minority districts. But the moderates are from swing districts and states. Without them, the Democratic Party will lurch even further to the left, as leftists crave ideological purity. (I'm sorry to say that there are some on the right with the same suicidal instinct.) That lurch may damage the Democratic Party, but it hurts the nation. We need a thriving two-party system, and fringe politics never helps toward that end.
Ronald Reagan framed the "11th Commandment" for his party: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican." The purpose was to prevent the kind of ideological frenzy that can destroy the effectiveness of any political organization.
THE MADNESS OF THE BBC - AT 2:55 P.M. ET: Reader Ken Braithwaite alerts us to the latest example of BBC madness. This is multicultural sensitivity completely out of control. From AP:
LONDON – Politicians are criticizing the BBC for inviting debate on whether homosexuals should face execution in Uganda.
The broadcaster launched an on-line debate over a proposed Ugandan law that would punish some homosexual acts by life imprisonment or death.
No matter how you feel about homosexuality, the idea that there can be a serious debate over whether a human being just be executed simply for being gay is sickening. Now, presumably, the BBC is a left-wing operation. But the left has a pecking order, and both multiculturalism and fawning over militant Islam rank way at the top. Gays are under the bus, along with Christians, Jews, and democracy campaigners in Iran.
BBC's "Africa Have Your Say" Web site asked for people's views on whether Uganda has gone too far and whether there should be any laws against gays.
But several British politicians said Wednesday that the BBC should not treat the execution of gays as a legitimate topic for discussion.
Opposition lawmaker Lynne Featherstone has written to BBC executives seeking an apology and end to the Web discussion. "The BBC are only fanning the flames of hatred as many of the comments demonstrate," she says.
MORE CLIMATEGATE? - AT 2:41 P.M. ET: Charges are flying in Britain that add to the atmosphere of Climategate. From London's Daily Express:
THE Meteorological Office was last night facing accusations it cherry-picked climate change figures in a bid to increase evidence of global warming.
UK climatologists “probably tampered with Russian-climate data” to produce a report submitted to world leaders at this week’s Copenhagen summit, it is claimed.
The Met Office’s study, which says the first decade of this century has been the warmest on record for 160 years, is being used to trumpet claims that man is causing global warming.
But experts at the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis say the British dossier used statistics from weather stations that fit its theory of global warming, while ignoring those that do not.
They accuse the Met Office’s Hadley Centre of relying on just 25 per cent of Russia’s weather stations and over-estimating warming in the country by more than half a degree Celsius.
Last night, leading global warming sceptic Dr Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, said: “I have long suspected that this selective fiddle took place but have not assembled all the evidence.
COMMENT: What strikes me about so many of the charges made against the "global warming consensus" is how serious they are, and the fact that they come from serious people. The standard charge made by the professional warmers is that dissenters all work for oil companies. Of course, that's been shown to be nonsense. Many of the dissenters are first-class scientists with outstanding reputations.
I don't know how much longer we'll have to put up with all the posturing before there are calls for major investigatons, and a full, neutral review of the data by scientists of high standing. Of course, if Republicans take control of either house of Congress next year, they can start their own investigation. They'd then probably be called McCarthyites.
AS THEY WERE SAYING, THE RECESSION IS OVER - AT 10:21 A.M. ET:
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- More Americans than anticipated filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, a reminder that the labor market will take time to strengthen and may weigh on the economic recovery.
Initial jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 480,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, from a revised 473,000 the prior week, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance was little changed in the prior week, while those getting extended payments increased.
Federal Reserve policy makers yesterday said weakness in the labor market is restraining consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s largest economy.
COMMENT: The recession is far from over. This began as a Wall Street recession. That recession is plainly in the past, with zillion-dollar bonuses being paid once again. But now it's a Main Street recession, with no great signs of easing. People are hurting, and nothing the federal government is doing seems to be effective in easing the pain, except for the awarding of extended unemployment benefits.
The economy is usually the most powerful issue at election time. Think 11 months ahead. It's likely to dominate the 2010 midterms, unless there's some international trauma that strikes.
WOMEN AND THE GOP - AT 9:39 A.M. ET: Mary Catherine Ham debunks the conventional wisdom that Republicans have a "woman problem," and believes that women can be convinced to vote Republican in 2010. From the Washington Examiner:
On November 3, Virginia governor-elect Bob McDonnell won women by eight points, 54-46, against Democrat Creigh Deeds. A year before, Obama had won women by seven points; in his historic campaign to turn the state blue, he relied largely on the educated, affluent, suburban vote McDonnell would recover for the GOP. This information was obscured under the CNN headline, "Male, rural, suburban votes boost McDonnell."
Ah, CNN. We may write further about that "news" network.
In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie lost women by 5 points, but shrunk McCain's '08 losing margin by 12 points.
And Christie won the governorship of that very blue state.
The exit polls reveal a model for speaking to women voters in 2010: "Here was a guy [McDonnell] who was a conservative, who was not afraid to speak to that," said RNC chairman Michael Steele. "But what he did was he applied it to the issues that were important to the people in his state. He didn't need to run away from it."
Representative Pete Sessions, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has recruited 26 women to run in 2010, agrees.
"The economy and jobs and debt dominate, not just the political landscape, but what people are talking about around their own tables," he said, which was what McDonnell stuck to while Deeds attacked. "The [message] that worked in New Jersey was corruption."
Senate races boast five high-profile GOP women candidates for 2010: Sue Lowden in Nevada, Linda -McMahon in Connecticut, Jane Norton in Colorado, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, and Carly Fiorina in California. As leaders in their communities, business, and politics, several of these women are leading the polls in the early going, and have experience speaking to fellow women, sometimes in powerful ways.
Never let your opposition define you:
In the liberal mind, and in media coverage, the GOP woman seems to exist only as a parody of Sarah Palin--all bumpkin, no brains...
That perception of Sarah Palin is changing, and can change even more if she starts working the policy details.
The Republican party has work to do, especially with single women, but polling suggests women will be willing to listen to the GOP in 2010, and the GOP is working to speak to them, with the help of women in its ranks. The truth is that neither party can afford to treat women as simplistically as the "women problem" narrative does.
COMMENT: Very well said. The GOP has a history of giving up on groups, not even trying to get their vote. A former Republican national chairman, Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., who was chairman during the Reagan presidency, complained about that, even then.
There is no reason why Republicans cannot appeal to women...if they make the effort. The recruitment of many excellent female Republican candidates for 2010 indicates that the effort is being made.
GOOD FOR OUR SIDE - AT 8:43 A.M. ET: From Deutsche Welle:
Credit Suisse has agreed to pay the $536 million (372 million euros) imposed by authorities in the United States for violating US sanctions against Iran and several other countries, including Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.
The US Justice Department said the Swiss banking group had processed payments allowing those countries access to American financial institutions - a practice that Washington had banned.
Good for the Justice Department. The department has done some dumb things recently - like arranging for the mastermind of 9-11 to be tried in a New York civilian courtroom - but this gets our thumbs up.
The penalty marks the biggest such fine in the history of violations of US sanctions and authorities said the bank would have had to pay even more had they not cooperated.
The settlement with US authorities ends a five-year investigation and includes a deferred prosecution agreement that allows Credit Suisse to avoid further penalties providing the bank avoids new violations and cooperates with authorities.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Credit Suisse had even created a "how-to book on committing crime."
"Rather than adhere to the law and decline to serve these customers, Credit Suisse established a business model to allow these rogue players access to US dollars," Holder said. "In both its scope and complexity, the criminal misconduct perpetrated by Credit Suisse in this case is simply astounding."
Good for Holder. I never thought I'd be complimenting him, but, as we say here, we give credit where it's due. Now let's straighten out the rest of the department, Eric.
By the way, isn't it remarkable how often we see bad behavior coming from nations that hold themselves up as noble and superior? Does the name "Sweden" come to mind? There are those who accuse Americans of being self-righteous. We're amateurs compared to some of the European strutters.
DEMS IN DISTRESS - AT 8:22 A.M. ET: A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll reveals the Titanic condition of the Democratic Party. It's hit the iceberg, it's sinking, and the only question is the number of survivors:
WASHINGTON -- Less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
The findings underscored how dramatically the political landscape has changed during the Obama administration's first year. In January, despite the recession and financial crisis, voters expressed optimism about the future, the new president enjoyed soaring approval ratings, and congressional leaders promised to swiftly pass his ambitious agenda.
In December's survey, for the first time, less than half of Americans approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing, marking a steeper first-year fall for this president than his recent predecessors.
The survey suggests that public discontent with Mr. Obama and his party is being driven by an unusually grim view of the country's status and future prospects.
It is up to presidents to lead and inspire. Mr. Obama hasn't painted a portrait of a shining city on a hill, but of a slum teeming with injustice and regret.
The biggest worry for Democrats is that the findings could set the stage for gains by Republican candidates in next year's elections. Support from independents for the president and his party continues to dwindle. In addition, voters intending to back Republicans expressed far more interest in the 2010 races than those planning to vote for Democrats...
The enthusiasm gap - a key factor in the 2008 presidential election.
But public displeasure with Democrats wasn't translating directly into warmth for Republicans. Twenty-eight percent of voters expressed positive feelings about the GOP...
Exceedingly important. This is not a time to gloat. Saying "no" to virtually everything Obama does is not a policy, it's an attitude. The GOP must acknowledge the nation's problems and develop creative solutions that work.
Just 35% of voters said they felt positively about the Democratic Party, a 14-point slide since February. Ten percent felt "very positive."
I don't wish to be a political party pooper, but please notice that, despite the slide, the Dems are still seven points ahead of the GOP in the "positive" column.
Democrats' troubles can be attributed in part to changing feelings among some core supporters. A third of voters 34 and under, a group that turned out heavily for Democrats last year, feel negative toward the Democratic Party. And just 38% of Hispanics feel positive, down sharply from 60% in February.
We'd have to look at the internals of those findings. Why do younger voters and Hispanic voters feel less favorable toward the Democrats. That's the key. Don't assume they'll vote Republican. They may just stay home, or even vote for third-party candidates.
CHECKBOOKS OUT - AT 8:10 A.M. ET: We've made a cash commitment at the Copenhagen hot-air conference, but it's much less than I'd feared. From Fox:
The United States extended a $100 billion carrot to the rest of world Thursday, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Copenhagen the United States is willing to commit up to $10 billion a year by 2012, and would support a global fund of $100 billion a year to help developing nations deal with climate change, provided the nations here are willing live up to the 'transparency' demanded by the U.S.
I like the fact that there are strings attached. I'd expected we'd be in for much more. If we actually enforce the "transparency" provision, the money might actually do some good. But there will be those in Congress, on the left, who'll try to strike that provision through legislation, the better to suck up to African dictators.
Clinton said the money was "conditional." Clinton's words were directed at China, which has refused to meet the monitoring and verification requirements requested by the U.S. when it comes to promises of carbon reductions.
Again, good. "Transparency" and "conditional" are musical words.
Clinton, who is one of six cabinet members accompanying President Obama to the climate summit, said climate change "is an undeniable and unforgiving fact." And the U.S. was willing to work with other nations to reduce C02 emissions, but any agreement here must have "full transparency."
Bad note. Don't use terms like "undeniable and unforgiving fact." You may wake up to a scientific surprise.
Critics have accused the U.S. of trying to 'buy' support for a climate treaty that meets U.S. approval.
I would certainly hope we would. Stiff the critics.
On Wednesday, negotiators from Britain and the developing nations came to agree on the $100 billion figure by 2020, a reduction from $400 billion African and the poorest nations had previously insisted upon.
One of these days we'll ask the question, "How long does it take a 'developing' nation to develop?" Some of these "developing nations" don't lift a finger to help themselves, and some have among the highest birth rates in the world.
Meanwhile, world leaders starting flooding into Copenhagen on Thursday, even as a Danish official acknowledged that hope was running out for a comprehensive climate deal because the negotiations between rich and poor countries were deadlocked.
The official said the Danish hosts of the U.N. conference had not given up though it appeared unlikely that their ambitious plan for the conference would be fulfilled.
That's probably good news for all involved. Next time, don't hold a conference shot through with arrogance, scientific hustling, trendiness, and, above all, fashionable leftist politics. The huge ovations for Hugo Chavez yesterday should tell us just what this crowd is about. We have no obligation to eat the forbidden fruit.
"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 late Wednesday night.
Part II will be sent late tonight.
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"The left needs two things to survive. It needs mediocrity, and it needs dependence. It nurtures mediocrity in the public schools and the universities. It nurtures dependence through its empire of government programs. A nation that embraces mediocrity and dependence betrays itself, and can only fade away, wondering all the time what might have been."
- Urgent Agenda