Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Ken Berwitz

Here, for your perusal, are key findings from the latest political research on President Obama.  They are drawn from the ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted within the week and just posted at www.pollingreport.com

Take a look, note the direction Mr. Obama's numbers are taking, and make of it what you will:.



ABC News/Washington Post Poll. July 15-18, 2009. N=1,001 adults nationwide. MoE 3.5 (for all adults).


"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling [see below]?"

    Approve Disapprove Unsure    
    % % %    

"The economy"



52 46 3    


56 41 3    


58 38 4    


60 38 3    


60 34 6    

"Health care" Half sample (Form A)



49 44 7    


53 39 9    


57 29 13    

"The federal budget deficit" Half sample (Form A)



43 49 8    


48 48 5    


51 43 7    


52 43 5    

"Unemployment" Half sample (Form B)



52 42 6    

"The situation in Afghanistan" Half sample (Form B)



62 30 8    


63 26 11    

"Who do you trust to do a better job handling [see below]: Obama or the Republicans in Congress?" Options rotated

    Obama Republicans
in Congress
Both (vol.) Neither (vol.) Unsure
    % % % % %

"The economy"



56 33 1 9 2


55 31 2 9 2


61 24 2 11 2

"Health care reform" Half sample (Form A)



54 34 1 10 1


55 27 2 11 4

"The federal budget deficit" Half sample (Form B)



54 35 - 9 2


56 30 2 9 2

"Do you think Obama is placing too much of a priority on [see below], too little, or about the right amount?"

    Too Much Too Little About Right Unsure  
    % % % %  

"The economy"



9 29 58 3  

"The federal budget deficit"



13 39 44 4  

"Health care"



25 21 51 3  

"Please tell me whether the following statement applies to Obama, or not. . . ."

    Does Apply Does Not
    % % %    

"He understands the problems of people like you."



63 35 1    


73 25 1    


72 24 4    

"He is a strong leader."



71 27 2    


77 22 2    


72 18 10    

"He has brought needed change to Washington." 1/09: "He will bring needed change to Washington."



62 35 3    


63 34 2    


76 22 3    

"Which of these statements comes closer to your view? Beneath it all, Obama is an old-style, tax-and-spend Democrat. OR, Obama is a new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money." Options rotated

    Old-Style New-Style Neither (vol.) Unsure  
    % % % %  


43 52 3 2  


36 58 4 3  


32 62 3


Ken Berwitz

Yeah, I know, I know, I don't believe in political polls. 

But since they are the holy grail to so many people, I feel it necessary to show them when they make a statistically significant move of some kind.

Here are two paragraphs from the Associated Press account of its latest poll, conducted for them by the highly reputable GfK company:

Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.


The number of people who think Obama can improve the economy is down a sobering 19 percentage points from the euphoric days just before his inauguration. Ditto for expectations about creating jobs. Also down significantly: the share of people who think he can reduce the deficit, remove troops from Iraq and improve respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points.


Let's think about this:  President Bush was reviled as a man who stole the Presidency from Al Gore and sneered at as a borderline mental defective or worse.  By contrast, Barack Obama started with approval ratings that God would have been impressed with.  But now, Mr. Obama has dropped to the same level, at the same point in his presidency, as Mr. Bush -- and is headed in which direction?

What does that tell you about how people are now viewing Barack Obama? 

Yep, it tells me just about the same thing.

free` From the article "and about even with George W. Bush" they are actually lower, that is why the AP wrote it like that. (07/21/09)


Ken Berwitz

This story, from The Daily Telegraph of Australia, definitely qualifies for our "You can't make this stuff up" file:

Man burst into flames after Taser strike

From: The Daily Telegraph July 21, 2009 11:46AM


A MAN was engulfed in flames after a police Taser hit him on the bridge of his nose while they were investigating claims of petrol sniffing.


Ronald Mitchell, 36, was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital for burns treatment following a confrontation with police who were called to a house in Warburton, 1,540km northeast of Perth on Monday.


Mitchell ran from the house at the officers carrying a container believed to contain fuel and a cigarette lighter, police said.


He was asked to stop but continued running toward the officers.


"An officer then deployed his Taser,'' police spokeswoman Susan Usher said.


"The man caught alight and the officer immediately went to the man's aid, putting him on the ground and smothering the fire with his bare hands.''


The policeman was struck on the head by rocks thrown by an  18-year-old woman while trying to help the man, Ms Usher said.


The officer also received moderate burns to his hands from putting out the fire.


Mitchell sustained third degree burns to 10 per cent of his body and was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital for burns treatment, police spokesman Graham Clifford said.


He has been charged with assault to prevent arrest and possession of a sniffing substance, Sgt Clifford said.

The 18-year-old woman was charged with two counts of assaulting a public officer.


Two other people at the house were also charged with possessing a sniffing substance.


Ms Usher said the matter was under investigation to determine the full circumstances of the incident.

Lucky these geniuses weren't sniffing the high octane stuff.  They'd never have put the guy out in time......

Ok, that's enough. How much mileage can you get from a story like this?

free` I have another one for this category... The Prince of Wales has warned in a searing indictment on capitalist society, we can no longer afford consumerism and that the 'age of convenience' was over.'" "He then got in his limo and was driven to his other palace." (07/21/09)


Ken Berwitz

From today's Washington Times:

President Obama on Monday extended by six months a task force charged with determining how terrorism suspects should be interrogated, held in custody or handed over to other countries, putting in jeopardy his promise to close the military detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January.

The move came on the same day the president pushed back the release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, and the White House began to extend a self-imposed deadline for overhauling the nation's health care system.

Pushing back the deadline on how to handle 229 Gitmo detainees, among them five suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks, including accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, illustrates just how complicated it is to solve the campaign issue that Mr. Obama this month called "one of the biggest challenges of my administration."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, was blunt in his criticism over the delay.

"Bipartisan majorities of both houses and the American people oppose closing Guantanamo without a plan, and several important questions remain unanswered. But it became increasingly clear over time that the administration announced its intent to close the facility before it actually had a plan," he said.

Six months after Mr. Obama signed the closure order, fewer than 20 of about 245 inmates have been transferred out of the U.S. military base in Cuba.

There never was a plan to shut Guantanamo.  Only a mouthed campaign promise that bought a bunch of votes.

Then again, why would you expect more from a man who never held an executive position in his life and had no idea how to implement a thing? 

But he speaks beautifully, doesn't he?

Zeke The US is considered "very bad" for keeping those misguided followers of Islam behind bars in Gitmo. ... My suggestion is to just open the doors of the prison and let them walk out ... .... Fidel has a huge mine field surrounding the US base .... (07/21/09)


Ken Berwitz

Over the past year, both before and after the election, I've blogged repeatedly about the fact that Barack Obama is no friend to Israel. 

Some people understood this, albeit far too few.  Some will never understand it - or are so unwilling to admit their mistake that they will decline to do so no matter how clear things become. 

And then there are the people who initially supported Barack Obama, but are willing to subordinate their personal pride and see the reality that is unfolding right in front of their eyes.  It is to this group that the following column by Ann Bayefsky should be most salient:

Obama's real agenda

Jul. 19, 2009


President Barack Obama last Monday met for the first time with leaders of selected Jewish organizations and leaks from the meeting now make one thing very clear. The only free country in the Middle East no longer has a friend in the leader of the free world. Obama is the most hostile sitting American president in the history of the state of Israel.


This was the very first meeting with Jewish community's leaders. Earlier requests for an audience with major Jewish organizations had reportedly been ignored. Six months after taking office the president finally got around to issuing an invitation to stop the bleeding. Increasing numbers of Jews even among the overwhelming number who voted for Obama have been voicing serious concern about his real agenda.


The meeting, however, did not showcase the president's trademark engagement and dialogue routine. Instead, he decided to cherry pick his Jewish audience to include pro-Obama newcomers with little support in the mainstream Jewish world, such as J Street, while blackballing the Zionist Organization of America. The oldest pro-Israel group in the United States, with an important presence on Capitol Hill, was not a voice Obama wanted to hear. This leaves the president willing to engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but not ZOA President Mort Klein.


The growing alarm in the Jewish community was also something the White House was bent on covering up. They refused to put the meeting on the President's public schedule until it was outed. The White House demanded strict confidentiality and issued a terse couple of lines that it occurred when it was all over.


BUT THERE is no papering over the distressing reality that emerged. The president told his listeners that he preferred putting daylight between the United States and Israel. His reported justification: "there was no light between the US and Israeli positions for the last eight years, and no progress was made."


Evidently, unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, 21 settlements and 9,000 residents counts for nothing. The Palestinian terrorist leadership and street have refused to accept a Jewish state for the past eight years (and the previous 53) because the United States did not add sufficiently to Israel's isolation.


The president apparently believes that the Palestinians are more likely to end terrorism, incitement to violence and rampant antisemitism if the United States applies more pressure on their victims. Even if Obama doesn't get it, Mahmoud Abbas does. He is now refusing to negotiate anything with the new Israeli government until Obama's settlement conditions are met.


During the meeting, the president repeatedly described his new policy in terms of one of Yasser Arafat's favorite mantras, "even-handedness." That's diplotalk for a moral equivalence between an Arab war against Jewish self-determination launched from the day of Israel's birth decades before any "occupation" and the conditions of third-generation Palestinian "refugees" kept in limbo pending Israel's destruction. But Obama's even-handedness was no slip of the tongue. In his Cairo speech, the president equated the Holocaust to Palestinian "dislocation."


The president promoted his strategy of putting hard public "pressure" on Israel as a means to build more credibility with Arab states. He must have meant the kind of credibility that comes from his policy of leaving an "open door" to Iran after its discredited election.


OBAMA THEN claimed that the widespread perception of an anti-Israel agenda was all the media's fault because the media is only interested in a "man-bites-dog" story. When an administration sends a US ambassador back to Syria though it is still listed as a key state sponsor of terrorism, hosts terrorist kingpins pursuing Israel's annihilation, and was caught trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the story is far-fetched alright, but true.


The president joked that Al-Jazeera often airs pictures of him wearing a yarmulke at the Western Wall. Except the photo-op during the election campaign had been intended to fool a Jewish audience that is no longer amused.

Reports also quote the president as claiming Israel has yet to "engage in serious self-reflection." Considering Israel is a democratic country forced to send its children into the armed forces for two to three years and its men into reserve duty for another twenty-five, that isn't the audacity of hope. It's just plain audacity.


There is no doubt that the pressure on Israel from the Obama administration is going to get a lot worse, as the President told the group "there is a narrow window of opportunity for advancing the peace process." Everyone understood the threat. The narrow window is Obama's self-defined political ambitions bearing no relationship to the realities of the Middle East or the welfare of either Israel or the United States.


The writer is a professor at Touro College and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Does this give you any feeling that Barack Obama is a friend to Israel?  If so, how?

And how could anyone ever have realistically believed that he was? 

-Mr. Obama spent almost 20 years in a church run by jeremiah wright, a Black liberation theology (read that anti-White, anti-Jewish and very especially anti-Israel) "cleric";

-  He was personally friendly and a frequent dinner partner with the virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel khalid rashidi; 

-He peppered his campaign staff with anti-Israel people like robert malley, merrill "tony" mcpeak, joe circinione, susan rice, samantha power etc. (do you even know these names?  If not, thank our wonderful "neutral" media for keeping them from you).

And now, to quote Malcolm X - another "friend" of Israel - the chickens are coming home to roost.  What a surprise.

According to the exit polls, 78% of all Jewish voters supported Barack Obama in the last election.  Presumably, most of them support Israel.  I hope they're happy with what they got.

Speaking as one of the other 22%, I can assure you I am not.


Ken Berwitz

God knows, there is plenty to criticize President Obama and his administration about without descending to this. 

From ABC News:

Critics Slam Overweight Surgeon General Pick

Leading Experts Say Dr. Regina Benjamin, Though Stellar Nominee, Gives Wrong Message

July 21, 2009

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Obama's pick for the next surgeon general, was hailed as a McArthur Grant genius who had championed the poor at a medical clinic she set up in Katrina-ravaged Alabama.

But the full-figured African-American nominee is also under fire for being overweight in a nation where 34 percent of all Americans aged 20 and over are obese.

Critics and supporters across the blogsphere have commented on photos of Benjamin's round cheeks, saying she sends the wrong message as the public face of America's health initiatives.

But others support the 52-year-old founder and CEO of Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, citing new research that shows you cannot always judge a book by its cover when it comes to obesity.

Even the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance -- whose slogan is "we come in all sizes" -- has jumped to her defense.

"The job of surgeon general is to make health care and policy decisions for the country -- not to look hot in a pair of skinny jeans," said one blogger on Frisky.com. "Perhaps her size could actually be an advantage -- she's in a better position to understand obesity and contemplate out-of-the-box ways to roll back ever-expanding American waistlines."

I don't know almost anything about Dr. Benjamin other than what I've read in the past few days.  And, generally speaking, what I've read in the past few days is more than impressive, it is damn inspiring. 

I would suggest to some of the people attacking Ms. Benjamin's selection as Surgeon General that maybe, just maybe, they should concentrate on her qualifications and her positions on issues she would have authority on, not on her personal physique.

If that's too tough to understand, I suggest they sign a statement which says that if ever they are critically ill and in immediate need of a Doctor, they will refuse to be treated by anyone who is not in tip-top physical shape.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a copy......


Ken Berwitz

Here, from Abe Greenwald writing for www.commentarymagazine.com, is the latest in an ongoing series of Obama administration foreign policy gaffes, failures and outright catastrophes.  This one qualifies as a failure.  (The bold print is mine):

Selective Meddling Backfires

Abe Greenwald - 07.20.2009 - 5:57 PM

If the Obama administration had called out the fanatical Iranian regime for hosing, gassing, and shooting citizens, it would have been arrogant American meddling. But telling our ally India what to do about CO2 is  . . . what exactly?

India dismissed suggestions that it accept binding limits on carbon emissions, with a top official Sunday delivering a strong rebuke to overtures from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the two countries to work together to combat climate change.

The rejection of the U.S. proposal was made in the middle of Mrs. Clintons first visit to India as secretary of state and came just as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is gearing up to push for a new global pact on climate change.

There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told Mrs. Clinton and her delegation.

Doesnt Mr. Ramesh know that the Obama administration doesnt have to make a CO2 case? Didnt he hear the inaugural announcement? Obama would restore science to its rightful place. What does he want facts?

Hillary Clintons snag in India is a good encapsulation of a number of problems threading their way through the administrations foreign policy. First, Obama is taking our allies for granted and cracks are now showing. In all Obamas travels since taking office, he hasnt visited India once. During Hillary Clintons first trip to East Asia as secretary of state, she blew off India, citing scheduling problems. George W. Bush forged bold energy and trade deals to ensure excellent relations with the emerging subcontinent; if Obama thinks he can coast on that record, hes in for a surprise.

Second, the administration has an absurd faith in the power of its own PR. India has been wracked by the global financial crisis. Even putting that aside, its a country where 42.5 percent of children under five are malnourished. For India, economic dynamism isnt a luxury; its a miracle. Do Obama and Hillary think Indians will hobble their own industry just because the Change Express is sweeping through town yammering about cooperation?

Third, its carbon moratorium is madness. Climate panic is an outgrowth of Western decadence. Pushing it on emerging powers is exactly what the Left means by cultural imperialism (or what it should mean, anyway). If the Obama administration bossed around our enemies with half the energy it puts into bossing around our friends, perhaps the planet wouldnt look like a rogue nations free-for-all right now.


How bad is the administration on foreign policy?  Just look at the last 6 weeks:

-Iran's phony election and brutal suppression of the freedom movement?  Hands off, look the other way; 

-Hondouras' 100% legal removal of its President, because he decided he was above the country's laws?  Attack Hondouras and demand the removed President be reinstated; 

-And now the debacle in India.

When do our wonderful "neutral" media start connecting these dots and talking about what a disaster this administration is foreign policy-wise?  Ever?


Ken Berwitz

If there is one thing the New Jersey Republican Party does not need from me it is advice on how to eff things up so badly that they can't win a state election.  No one knows how to do that better than the New Jersey Republican Party.

That said, I do not blame the party for selecting Chris Christie as its candidate for Governor.  The voters did that in a fair-and-square primary.

But I do blame the party - along with Christie, obviously - if its strategy is to pretend that he is almost a Democrat but just not quite.  And that is starting to look like what he's doing.  Here are the particulars from Paul Mulshine, the Newark Star-Ledger's house conservative (note:  wouldn't it be nice if newspapers had enough diversity of thought for me not to use that descripton?):

N.J. conservatives deserve a "Torricelli" on Chris Christie

Posted by Paul Mulshine/ The Star-Ledger July 19, 2009 5:34AM

In golf they call it a "mulligan." In Jersey politics we call it a "Torricelli."

Whatever you call it, conservatives in New Jersey have a right to demand it.

A couple of months ago, Chris Christie was telling us he was the most conservative candidate in a three-man primary. He was condemning the loony-left environmentalism of the Obama administration and running around the suburbs telling Republicans all the good things he was going to do for them if elected governor.

But now that he's got the nomination, Christie's embracing the Obama environmental polices and running around the cities telling Democrats the good things he'll be doing for them.

There's still time to change candidates, Republicans. As long as you make the switch more than 51 days before Nov. 3, you won't even need to get the state Supreme Court's approval like the Democrats did in that infamous 2002 switch that got Bob Torricelli off the ballot and preserved a U.S. Senate seat for the Democrats.

I sincerely doubt that the party leaders will take my advice. They think Christie is a great candidate. And he certainly is if your only concern is making sure the Republicans, rather than the Democrats, get to hand out pork and patronage in Trenton.

But rank-and-file Republicans have a right to demand a do-over. If you doubt that, consider the implications of President Obama's visit to New Jersey this week and the effect it is likely to have on the urban vote.

The Christie campaign so far has spent its time pandering to urban voters in an effort to somehow persuade them to deny Gov. Jon Corzine the impressive majorities that a Democrat usually runs up in the cities.

To that end, Christie spent the week running around the cities assuring residents he will throw even more money their way than the Democrats will. Among the candidate's ideas was a two-year exemption from the state income tax for people who move into "super zones" in the cities.

In other words, if Christie somehow wins and Corzine has to move from his digs at Drumthwacket to some "super zone" on the banks of the Hudson River, the governor could escape the state income tax. That would save Corzine more than $200,000 based on what he earned last year. So I can see why the governor might want to vote for Christie.

As for us suburban taxpayers, we're still waiting for some indication Christie cares about our plight. Consider Christie's visit to Camden during his "Bringing Back the Cities" tour. The premise of the tour is that both parties have been neglecting cities such as Camden.

Nonsense. The Democrats have been wonderful to Camden. It has a mere 80,000 people. Yet Camden gets a staggering $302 million dollars in education aid.

Compare that to Christie's own Morris County, which has about 500,000 people. All of the school districts in Morris put together get a mere $167 million in aid, or slightly more than half the aid that goes to the relatively small city of Camden. And all of that money comes from the state Property Tax Relief Fund, which consists mainly of the revenue from the income tax.

During the campaign, the conservative Christie promised we'd all get property tax relief, But the liberal Christie can't keep that promise if he intends to focus the tax relief on cities such as Camden.

His campaign's theory, near as I can deduce it, is that by pandering to urban voters he will cut into Corzine's support in the cities. Based on what I saw Thursday in Holmdel, I don't believe this theory is grounded in reality.

The Democratic political machine in this state is a finely tuned one, oiled by all that state funding. That machine delivered urban voters by the thousands to Holmdel, most carried by air-conditioned buses that lined up in the parking lot for hours afterward.

Up on stage, the Corzine campaign did a wonderful job of connecting the president to the governor. And an even better job will no doubt be done on Election Day, when many more buses will carry voters to the polls, funded by Corzine's usual multimillion dollar get-out-the vote effort.

But it's not merely the prospect that Christie is wasting his time that bothers me. As a conservative, I am envious of all those liberal Democrats. Republicans can't get a straight answer from their party's candidate. Meanwhile, the Democrats promise their people everything -- and they intend to deliver. Obama's not kidding about universal health care. And he also mentioned repeatedly that cap-and-trade climate bill so beloved by many liberals.

New Jersey Republicans, meanwhile, have to watch their candidate put out a campaign video in which he endorses the Obama approach on energy and states, "It's a change that President Obama stands firmly behind. I couldn't agree more."

Here's a change I stand firmly behind: We need a change of candidates. You can call it a mulligan or call it a Torricelli, but the GOP has until Sept. 14 to give us the conservative candidate we were promised in the primary.

BY THE WAY: As I have noted, Christie promised on Feb. 28 to release a plan for property-tax relief. But when you go this website and click on the tab that gives you his "full plan" you find only the following:

Provide Property Tax Relief

"The last thing Chris will do is to follow Corzine's lead in eliminating property tax rebates for 1.2
million New Jerseyans. The rebate currently is the only property tax relief we have, and it
provides much needed, meaningful help while we put in place other reforms. We keep the rebate
in place to give taxpayers some breathing room in these tough economic times."

This is nonsense. In the next paragraph. Christie promises to cut the income tax. That's a great idea. I for one would eliminate the entire income tax. It is nothing but a nefarious Democratic scheme to redirect money from the suburbs to the cities.

But those rebates are funded out of the income tax. Ergo, Christie is lying when he promises to the income tax and increase the rebates.

And then there's the above sentence that states "The rebate currently is the only property tax relief we have."

This is another untruth. The entire proceeds of the income tax go into the Property Tax Relief Fund. And every cent of the approximately $10 billion goes for property-tax relief.

It just doesn't go to the suburbs. It goes to the cities, as noted above. If Christie were to tell the truth about where that money goes, he would have to take the stand his two primary opponents took. Both demanded that state aid be distributed equally to every municipality. Until we do that, there will be no property-tax relief in the suburbs. Period. Ever.

That's the only "other reform" that matters. And we're going to have to wait till the Republican Party nominates a conservative for governor before we get it.

There is no surer path to defeat for a Republican conservative than to suddenly pretend he is a Democrat-lite.  And New Jersey's Republican candidates for state office have a perverse talent for doing just that. 

Mr. Mulshine won't get his wish.  Christie is the candidate.  And who knows, maybe because incumbent Jon Corzine is so reviled and/or maybe because Mr. Christie has a political epiphany and starts acting like what he is, he might win. 

But if Christie tries to win the state by being a pale imitation of Barack Obama (how's that for a bad pun)?  He's dead meat.


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