Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama: The approval gap silently shrinks to a few points

Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama: The approval gap silently shrinks to a few points

November 23, 2009 |  1:32 am

Republican Sarah Palin signs Going Rogue copies in Michigan

Not that it matters politically because obviously she’s a female Republican dunce and he’s obviously a male Democratic genius.

But Sarah Palin’s poll numbers are strengthening.

And President Obama‘s are sliding.

Guess what? They’re about to meet in the 40s.

Depending, of course, on which recent set of numbers you peruse and how the questions are phrased on approval or favorable, 307 days into his allotted 1,461 the 44th president’s approval rating among Americans has slid to 49% or 48%, showing no popularity bounce from his many happy trips, foreign and domestic.

Virginia line for Sarah Palin Going Rogue Book buyersRiding the wave of immense publicity and symbiotic media interest over her new book, “Going Rogue,” and the accompanying promotional tour, Palin’s favorable ratings are now at 43%, according to ABC. That’s up from 40% in July.

One poll even gives her a 47% favorable.

Most recent media attention has focused on the 60% who say she’s unqualified to become president. Her unfavorable rating is 52%, down from 53%, which still doesn’t ignite a lot of optimism for Palin-lovers.

On the other hand, 35 months before the 2008 election, that Illinois senator was such a nobody that no one even thought to ask such a question about him. Things seem to change much more quickly these days.

Saturday night Palin’s book bus swung by a mall in Roanoke, Va., a state Obama won a year ago but just recently elected a Republican governor to replace departing Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The former Alaska governor wanted to greet the hundreds of fans already lining up in 39-degree weather for her Sunday morning signing.

“She brings out a different crowd, ” Salem Republican Party Chairman Greg Habeeb told the Roanoke Times. Habeeb was struck by the numerous non-Republicans he spotted in the line snaking all over the mall. “She taps into something that the Republican Party really needs to tap into.”

Sunday, Palin flew ahead of her bus to visit the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin at the father’s North Carolina home before her appearance today at Fort Bragg.

Overall, Palin’s, well, campaign will visit 25 states, most of them politically crucial. Florida gets the most stops, three.

Everybody thinks 2012 when they think of Palin, who last week pushed Oprah’s show to….

… its highest ratings in nearly three years. Remember, though, in 2012 the first hurdles a rehabbed candidate Palin would face are her own party’s primaries, where diligent conservatives conscientiously come out to play. Sarah Palin Going Rogue Book Cover

If she somehow mobilized Iowa’s white evangelicals as Mike Huckabee did to win the 2008 season-opening caucus, many bets would be off about her unelectability. Right now, Palin holds 65% approval among white evangelical Protestants, not a bad place to start, if she decides to.

Anyway, Palin says 2012’s not on her radar. Which is a good idea. The year 2010 is much more important for both of these political personalities.

No longer holding any office and personally set financially by the book’s runaway success, Palin can devote her SarahPac and the entire year to collecting chits from local Republicans.

As Mitt Romney has already been quietly doing. Other Republicans will no doubt nominate themselves to join along the way, especially if Obama looks vulnerable after November 2010.

Although presidential incumbency has hardly kept Obama chained to the Oval Office, he and Joe Biden now own the U.S. economy, where their much-vaunted $787 billion economic stimulus package has so far stimulated unemployment to grow from 8% to more than 10%.

Democrat president Barack Obama walks alone on China's Great Wall on 11-18-09

And then there’s the growing deficit dread and the mounting costs — human and financial — in the increasingly unpopular Afghan conflict, where Obama is about to commit more U.S. troops at the end of the eighth and worst casualty year of the war.

We’ll all hear much next year about how jobs are the last thing to improve in a sour economy, even in congressional districts that don’t actually exist. Which is too bad for Democrats because jobs are the obvious first measure the public uses to measure the economy.

Historically, the White House party loses about 17 House seats in a normal midterm election cycle. That wouldn’t change control of the House.

George W. Bush’s GOP actually gained seats in 2002. Democrat Bill Clinton’s first midterm election was a political Katrina, producing the Contract with America and so-called Republican revolution that saw the GOP take control of both houses of Congress after years of minority status.

Much of that turnaround was attributed to Clinton having run in 1992 as a centrist and then immediately pushed a more liberal agenda involving something called healthcare reform.

But that couldn’t possibly happen again because of the popularity of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whose current favorable poll ratings are — let’s see here — OMG, only about half of Palin’s.

Related items:

What to watch for in Sarah Palin’s future

Democrats going berserk over ‘Going Rogue’

— Andrew Malcolm


Closing the new frontier The US is surrendering space so that NASA can focus on global warming

Closing the new frontier

February 13th, 2010

By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post

 The US is surrendering space so that NASA can focus on global warming

“We have an agreement until 2012 that Russia will be responsible for this,” says Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, about ferrying astronauts from other countries into low-Earth orbit. “But after that? Excuse me, but the prices should be absolutely different then!”

The Russians may be new at capitalism, but they know how it works. When you have a monopoly, you charge monopoly prices. Within months, Russia will have a monopoly on rides into space.

By the end of this year, there will be no shuttle, no U.S. manned space program, no way for us to get into space. We’re not talking about Mars or the moon here. We’re talking about low-Earth orbit, which the United States has dominated for nearly half a century and from which it is now retiring with nary a whimper.

Our absence from low-Earth orbit was meant to last a few years, the interval between the retirement of the fatally fragile space shuttle and its replacement with the Constellation program (Ares booster, Orion capsule, Altair lunar lander) to take astronauts more cheaply and safely back to space.

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Man Up, Obama, or Make Way for President Palin

Man Up, Obama, or Make Way for President Palin

February 13th, 2010

By David Reilly, Bloomberg

 Poor Jimmy Carter, always used  in the same sentence as Obama

President Barack Obama is starting to look like the second coming of Jimmy Carter. If he’s going to avoid that fate, the president had better take radical action — and fast.

That means doing more than offering belated talk about jobs, or waging ineffectual on-again, off-again bank warfare. What, after all, is the point of bashing Wall Street only to then blow bonus kisses to JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. head Lloyd Blankfein?

Obama needs to ditch his professorial, community-organizer mien and start cracking some heads. Unless, that is, he is intent on paving the way for a Palin presidency in 2013.

Supporters are crying out for Obama to pull out of his tailspin. In an article in Politico, Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African-American governor and an early Obama supporter, urged the president to get his act together.

“The need is becoming more obvious by the day,” Wilder wrote. “Getting elected and getting things done for the people are two different jobs.”

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The Pelosi definition of “bipartisanship”

Michelle Malkin 

The Pelosi definition of “bipartisanship”

By Michelle Malkin  •  February 12, 2010 01:30 PM

Photoshop credit: Bucktown Dusty

This is funny.

Here’s the USA Today headline on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming trip to Haiti:

In the body of the article, we get some details about who’s accompanying Pelosi:

Others…on the trip include Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and George LeMieux, R-Fla. The House delegation includes Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich.; Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.; Jim Oberstar, D-Minn.; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Donna Christensen, D-V.I.

So, where’s the “bipartisanship?”

Oh, thatbipartisanship:”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she is leading a 12-member “bipartisan” congressional delegation to Haiti. The group includes one Republican — outmatched by 11 Democrats.

Though Pelosi’s press release used the word “bipartisan” five times, Florida Sen. George LeMieux is the sole GOP lawmaker in Congress visiting the devastated island nation for what would presumably be a bipartisan cause — assessing ways to help the country recover from its earthquake.

Why Tenure Harms Education

Why Tenure Harms Education

By Bernie Reeves

As Ohio State University President Gordon Gee realizes in his recent call to study whether or not tenure should be modified or abolished, a guaranteed job for life for academics annoys most people. This negative feeling has been exacerbated in the last thirty years during the rise of the radical scholars in liberal arts departments in most colleges and universities. Once ensconced in their ivory towers, tenured activists are granted a free ride to propagandize students and make public pronouncements behind the skirts of the university. The Ward Churchill scandal at the University of Colorado is a sadly common example of professors politicizing and poisoning the commonweal.

But it is within academe and outside the glare of the media that radical scholars do the most damage. In case after case, qualified scholars are either refused tenure or never hired because they do not adhere to the leftist party line. At Duke in the mid-’90s, an American history professor — who served in the Army in Vietnam — assumed that his academic career was solid until the agitprop started to deny him tenure.
Radical professors set out to destroy him with innuendo, whispering that he was a chauvinist, a racist, homophobic, and imperialistic — the codewords that strike fear in university administrators. There was no proof that he deserved any of these labels, but the damage to his reputation became permanent as the drums grew louder. The professor picked up on the slander and decided to accept a position offered from the University of Kentucky to remove himself from the machinations of the Duke apparat.
Undeterred, the radical scholars intensified and transferred their campaign to Kentucky. With anonymous phone calls and unsigned letters, they mobilized their comrades in the Bluegrass State to vilify the professor. The president of the University of Kentucky capitulated, and the job offer was withdrawn. The professor finally found a position at West Point.
When radical scholars run off colleagues they don’t like, it advances their cause, but even more effective is the campaign to block potential heretics from entering the teaching ranks at all. This happened to a Harvard history genius who earned his Ph.D. at U.K.’s Cambridge University (where, by the way, there is no tenure), making him imminently qualified with enviable credentials. He applied to Georgetown and the Air Force Academy for an entrance-level teaching job, only to be told he “just wouldn’t fit in” — the euphemism adopted by the radical scholars that actually means “you are not one of us.” He now teaches at Marine University, and two schools lost the services of one of the country’s top military scholars.
Duke has allegedly weeded out some of the most pernicious of the radical scholars that infiltrated the school in the ’80s and ’90s, including the notorious radical Stanley Fish. But during the Duke lacrosse incident, a group from the remaining leftist culprits publicly attempted to destroy the reputation of the five team members by signing a newspaper ad as part of the now-discredited Group of 88 that allegedly represented the views of the Duke academic family. Thus, despite the effort at cleansing, it is clear that the school remains stuck with a phalanx of politically correct professors who hide behind tenure to affect university and public policy.
Professors are realizing the radical scholars are jeopardizing their cozy life sinecures, but it could be too late for them. The public is outraged at their antics and appalled that graduates from top-tier schools are functionally ignorant of the world around them. Instead, they have been inculcated with warmed-over anti-American and Marxist platitudes due to the intrigues of the radical — and often tenured — scholars who still hold sway in the liberal arts.
Terry Gee’s courage to broach the subject is commendable. However, he does not mention that the concept of tenure reaches deep into academic establishment to public school teachers. In my home state, a teacher is automatically extended tenure after only three years on the job. It is nearly impossible to remove bad teachers, and good teachers lower their standards and accommodate their often vociferous coworkers to protect themselves from attack.
It is no wonder that teacher unions have enormous sway. The mediocre gravitate to solidarity to mask their incompetence. And teacher unions are rarely interested in improving academic performance, instead focusing on legislative lobbying to increase salaries and benefits totally unrelated to educating kids.

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Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power

Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power

WASHINGTON — With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.

Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.

“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

Any president has vast authority to influence policy even without legislation, through executive orders, agency rule-making and administrative fiat. And Mr. Obama’s success this week in pressuring the Senate to confirm 27 nominations by threatening to use his recess appointment power demonstrated that executive authority can also be leveraged to force action by Congress.

Mr. Obama has already decided to create a bipartisan budget commission under his own authority after Congress refused to do so. His administration has signaled that it plans to use its discretion to soften enforcement of the ban on openly gay men and lesbians serving in the military, even as Congress considers repealing the law. And the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with possible regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change, while a bill to cap such emissions languishes in the Senate.

In an effort to demonstrate forward momentum, the White House is also drawing more attention to the sorts of actions taken regularly by cabinet departments without much fanfare. The White House heavily promoted an export initiative announced by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke last week and nearly $1 billion in health care technology grants announced on Friday by Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, and Hilda L. Solis, the labor secretary.

White House officials said the increased focus on executive authority reflected a natural evolution from the first year to the second year of any presidency.

“The challenges we had to address in 2009 ensured that the center of action would be in Congress,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “In 2010, executive actions will also play a key role in advancing the agenda.”

The use of executive authority during times of legislative inertia is hardly new; former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush turned to such powers at various moments in their presidencies, and Mr. Emanuel was in the thick of carrying out the strategy during his days as a top official in the Clinton White House.

But Mr. Obama has to be careful how he proceeds because he has been critical of both Mr. Clinton’s penchant for expending presidential capital on small-bore initiatives, like school uniforms, and Mr. Bush’s expansive assertions of executive authority, like the secret program of wiretapping without warrants.

Already, Mr. Obama has had to reconcile his campaign-trail criticism of Mr. Bush for excessive use of so-called signing statements to bypass parts of legislation with his own use of such tactics. After a bipartisan furor in Congress last year, Mr. Obama stopped issuing such signing statements, but aides said last month that he still reserves the right to ignore sections of bills he considers unconstitutional if objections have been lodged previously by the executive branch.

Another drawback of the executive power strategy is that actions taken unilaterally by the executive branch may not be as enduring as decisions made through acts of Congress signed into law by a president. For instance, while the E.P.A. has been determined to have the authority to regulate carbon emissions, the administration would rather have a market-based system of pollution permits, called cap and trade, that requires legislation.

Still, presidents have logged significant accomplishments through the stroke of a pen. In 1996, on his own authority, Mr. Clinton turned a 2,600-square-mile section of southern Utah into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in what was called at the time his boldest environmental move. Mr. Bush followed suit in 2006 by designating a 140,000-square-mile stretch of islands and ocean near Hawaii as the largest protected marine reserve in the world, in what some see as his most lasting environmental achievement.

The use of executive power came to a head this week when Mr. Obama confronted Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, about nominations held up in the Senate. In a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Obama turned to Mr. McConnell and vowed to use his power to appoint officials during Senate recesses if his nominations were not cleared.

By Thursday, the Senate had voted to confirm 27 of 63 nominations that had been held up, and the White House declared victory. Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Friday that the White House had drafted a list of about a dozen nominees for the president to appoint during the recess that just began, but most were among those cleared.

Mr. McConnell’s office denied that the president’s threat had anything to do with the confirmations, pointing out that the Senate regularly passes a batch of nominees before going on recess.

“All presidents get frustrated with the pace of nominations, and all Congresses say they’re doing their best, so it’s not a surprise,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell. “But the fact is nominees are being confirmed, particularly those nominated since December.”

The recess appointment power stems from the days when lawmakers were in session only part of the year, but in modern times presidents have used it to circumvent opposition in the Senate. Mr. Clinton made 139 recess appointments, 95 of them to full-time positions, while Mr. Bush made 171, with 99 to full-time jobs. Mr. Obama has yet to make any.

Those given such appointments can serve until the end of the next Congressional session. As a senator, Mr. Obama was less enamored with recess appointments. When Mr. Bush used the power to install John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Obama called Mr. Bolton “damaged goods.”

But the White House argued that Mr. Obama’s choices have been held up more than Mr. Bush’s and left open the prospect of giving recess appointments to some of those still held up, including Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whose nomination for a seat on the National Labor Relations Board has been blocked.

“If the stalling tactics continue,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, “he’s not ruling out using recess appointments for anybody that he’s nominated.”

BIG SIS Monitoring Web Sites for Terror and Disaster Info…

During the Olympics, The Feds Will Be Reading Your Tweets  And the Blotter

DHS Is Monitoring Social Media and Web Sites for Terror and Disaster Info


Feb. 13, 2010 —

As the winter Olympics begin, the Department of Homeland Security has disclosed that it will be monitoring the comments and posts on websites and social media like Twitter for information on possible terror threats. Among the sites listed in a privacy impact statement filed Friday afternoon by DHS are the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, Twitter, Google and this web site, the Blotter.

The National Operations Center of DHS will watch the web for information, according to the statement, to “provide situational awareness” in the event of natural disaster, an “act of terrorism, or other manmade disaster.”

“The Olympics are a potential target for such events,” said the statement. The statement did not list all web sites and social media that the NOC will monitor, but provided 31 examples, many of them, like the Blotter, sites that cover breaking news, security, or terror.

DHS officials say they will not be monitoring the web sites extensively, but would use the sites as a reference and open source tool in the event of an incident or emergency. DHS officials also used the monitoring of social media sites in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to aid rescue efforts.

In one instance a DHS employee noticed a message on a web site about a person trapped under rubble in Port-au-Prince and was able to direct a State Department team to help in the rescue.

One official told ABC News that monitoring the web sites during an emergency is like watching “a canary in a coal mine,” since social media sites can have real-time information. The official said the raw information that is available on the sites can help first responders and law enforcement officials make quick assessments to help in their response to events.

The privacy report, prepared by the agency’s chief privacy officer, Mary Ellen Callahan, notes, “The aggregation of data published via social media sites will likely make it possible for the NOC to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating picture, and more timely 2010 Winter Olympics-related information for decision makers.”

The statement also says that while some personally identifiable information (PII) could be obtained during the monitoring of the web sites, DHS guidelines require it to destroy the information. But the statement adds that the information is already widely available in the public domain.

One website that is not included on the DHS approved sites for monitoring is Facebook, since Facebook would require officials to log in.

While Canada is leading the security effort for the games with an estimated price tag of almost $1 billion, US law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Customs Border Protection (CBP), Coast Guard, and DHS, will be assisting with security efforts due to Vancouver’s proximity to the U.S.-Canada border.

CBP previously announced that they would be expanding the number of inspection lanes on the border at the Peace Arch crossing from 8 to 10 lanes to assist with cross-border traffic during the games. DHS and the State of Washington have also established 2010 Olympics Coordination Center to help with any response efforts that would take place on the U.S. side of the border during the games.