“Bruce Bailey” for “governor of Iowa”

With control of the Senate at stake, Barack Obama can’t quite stand the thought of remaining on the sidelines. This, perhaps, is why he keeps injecting himself into the race by telling people that his policies are on the ballot and that endangered Democratic incumbents are “folks who vote with me.”

Obama’s desire to participate may also explain why Michelle Obama went to Iowa not long ago to campaign for Rep. Bruce Braley, an inept candidate who, by some accounts, is trailing Republican Joni Ernst in each of the state’s congressional districts including the one he represents.

The First Lady’s visit didn’t go well, though. She called the Democratic Senate nominee “Bruce Bailey” and referred to him as a Marine veteran, even though Braley never served in the Corps.

Michelle is an amateur politician. Before President Obama’s presidency sank, she was a natural at stirring up friendly crowds with rants on behalf of her husband. This skill doesn’t easily translate into boosting the candidacy of strangers. In short, her mistakes, though embarrassing, were excusable.

By contrast, Obama’s press operation is staffed by professionals. Yet it too can’t do right by Braley. Yesterday, it released via email a transcript of Michelle Obama’s appearance in Iowa on behalf Braley. Unfortunately for the beleaguered candidate, the subject line of the e-mail referred to him as the “Democratic candidate for governor.”

The White House’s subliminal message seems to be: Bruce Bailey, won’t you please come home.

Senate Democrats aren’t amused. One senior aide told the National Journal that “the ineptitude of the White House political operation has sunk from annoying to embarrassing.” Another Senate official told the Washington Post that Obama’s comments thrusting himself into the election were “not devised with any input from Senate leadership.” No kidding.

To drive home the point, Senate Democrats are complaining that the White House political team is behaving like a junior varsity operation. My take is that, like their narcissistic boss, the White House operatives are geniuses when Obama’s electoral skin is at stake and bunglers when the fate of other Democrats is on the line.

Poll shows “war on women” theme isn’t working, among other good news

A new AP/Gfk poll provides lots of good news for Republicans. Perhaps most significantly, it shows that female likely voters no longer favor the Democrats in this election.

AP/Gfk surveyed 1,608 adults. The sample included 968 likely voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.8 for all respondents and 3.6 for likely voters.

Last month, the survey found that female likely voters favored having a Congress controlled by Democrats by a margin of 47-40. Now, they favor Republican control by (a statistically insignificant) margin of 44-42.

Likely voters as a whole would like to see Republicans control Congress. The margin here is 47-39. However, among all adults the Democrats come out ahead by 38-36, a statistically insignificant margin.

Thus, the Democrats can pin their hopes on strong voter turnout. However, the survey finds little voter enthusiasm. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Likely voters prefer the Republican candidate in their particular district. Forty percent said they would vote for the GOP candidate in their House district; 32 percent said they would vote for the Democrat. This leaves a large number of “undecideds,” given how close we are to the election.

Republicans come out ahead on the issue that matters most to voters — the economy. Likely voters trust the GOP to deal more effectively than Democrats on this front by a margin of 39-31.

National security is always an important issue, and its importance has been magnified recently with the rise of ISIS. Republicans have a big advantage — 22 points — on the issue of protecting the country. They have a 10 point advantage when it comes to being trusted to deal with an international crisis.

Ebola is an electoral “wash” according to the survey. Same-sex marriage doesn’t seem to be much of a factor either.

The bad news for the GOP is that it remains unpopular. Most likely voters have a negative impression of the Republican Party, and 7 in 10 are dissatisfied by its leaders in Congress.

This, presumably, helps explain why there are still so many undecided voters — the GOP isn’t trusted enough to have yet sealed the deal. I suspect that last year’s partial government shutdown continues to contribute to the negative image.

Polarization? Consensus? Compromise? Nonsense

Both the estimable Bill Galston today and Wall Street Journal veteran political reporter Gerald Seib yesterday are making much of last week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll that finds a large jump in the number of people who say they prefer candidates who seek “consensus” and “compromise” over “sticking to principles.” The number who say “compromise” over “principle” has risen from 34 percent in 2010 to 50 percent today. Naturally this is taken as a sign that voters are turning away from “polarization,” and are disgusted with a “gridlocked” Congress. It is an implicit rebuke to the Tea Party, because as we know liberals are never intransigent about anything.

But before “No Labels” and other transgendered transpartisan enthusiasts get their hopes up, it ought to be pointed out that the polls showing Congress with approval ratings in the single digits probably represent the salient feature of our polarized time that each party (and their independent “leaners”) blame the other party for gridlock and lack of compromise, and when you add those together, you get a 90 percent disapproval rating for Congress.  That’s one reason why people tend to approve of their own House member or Senator while disapproving of Congress as a whole.

It wasn’t always so, you say? Yes, but that was back in the day before every aspect of life was turned into a national political issue. Or put another way, the increase in polarization and bitter political fights is directly proportional to the growth of the federal government. This is highly uncongenial to liberals, for whom ever-expanding federal government is religion. And most quantitative political scientists avoid studying this because it is uncongenial to their biases. But it was predicted in a 1960 book that is still regarded as a classic in politics science, E.E. Schattschneider’s The Semi-Sovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America.

Then finally let me stick in the usual caveats about attitude polling and public ignorance. And maybe the best way of making this point is to share this short bit from Elaine Kamarck’s splendid little book How Change Happens—Or Doesn’t (Kamarck was one of those smart moderate liberal DLC types in the 1990s, now a Harvard professor, natch):

In 1978 the political scientist George Bishop and his colleagues at the University of Cincinnati conducted a very important poll of adults in Cincinnati. They asked the following question: “Some people say that the 1975 Public Affairs Act should be repealed. Do you agree or disagree?” When the question was asked without what the authors referred to as a “filter” (a sentence giving the respondent an excuse to say that they didn’t know or care) one-third of the sample had an opinion on the question, and of those opinion was split 15.6 percent in agreed and 17.6 percent disagreed. Several years later, in 1995, the Washington Post conducted a second poll on the 1975 Public Affairs Act and whether or not it should be repealed. This time the pollsters asked respondents to agree or disagree with a very specific statement: “President Clinton has said the 1975 Public Affairs Act should be repealed.” This time 43 percent of the public expressed an opinion with Democrats supporting repeal and Republicans opposing it.

Punch line: There is no 1975 Public Affairs Act.

Those lyin’ Dems, by the numbers

On two occasions this campaign season, against all the odds, President Obama has said something useful and, even more improbably, something true. On those occasions he advertised the fact that the Democratic Senate candidates running for reelection in states such as Colorado, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, and Arkansas are in the bag for him. When their vote is needed, Obama can count on it, and when they tell the voters of their states they wake up every day thinking how best they can protect their interests, as Jeanne Shaheen did last night in her debate with Scott Brown, they are playing the voters for chumps.

Now comes the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham with the beautiful graphic below to illustrate the phenomenon. Can we mark this Exhibit A?


As a member of the minority in the House since 2010, Bruce Braley has been free to serve his own purposes over the past four years. That obviously doesn’t apply to the other featured candidates on the Post’s list. They have all faithfully toed the party line as necessary.

FOOTNOTE: The layers of fact checkers and editors at the Post apparently failed to observe that the Colorado Senator’s first name is Mark, not Tom (who is Mark’s first cousin and the Senator from New Mexico). Tom Udall is not to be confused with Mark Udall. Tom Udall only votes with Obama 94 percent of the time.

Via Allahpundit/Hot Air.

Obama’s surge

President Bush gave us the surge that turned the tide in Iraq and secured victory until President Obama threw it away. Obama, however, is making plans for his own surge, this one in the United States and against the law of the land. Jonathan Strong of Breitbart News dug up a GSA request for proposal for Card Consumables that provides a shocking glimpse into the future. Here is how a Washington Times editorial describes it after a brief preface referring to the Haitian surge:

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday threw open the door to as many as 100,000 Haitians, who will now move into the United States without a visa. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, rightly and accurately denounced enabling Haitians awaiting a U.S. visa to enter the country and legally apply for work permits as “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority.”

This was just the beginning. The immigration agency earlier this month had solicited a printer able to handle a “surge” of 9 million green cards “to support possible future immigration-reform initiative requirements.” In an ordinary year, about 1 million green cards are issued, and over the life of this contract the company is expected to produce up to 34 million cards, a figure representing an increase of the population of the United States by 10 percent.

The cards do not come with automatic voter registration, but that’s obviously what the scheme portends. President Obama’s promised “executive actions” to bring about this enormous wave of amnesty constitute a transparent and cynical ploy to expand the Democratic voter base, creating a permanent majority. Republicans running for the House and Senate should demand that Mr. Obama lay his green cards on the table now, before — and not after — the Nov. 4 elections. No other campaign issue carries as much of an impact on the future of the nation.

The editorial also contemplates the consequences of Obama’s surge:

In economic terms, importing millions of unskilled workers creates competition for the diminishing number of available jobs. Combine a flooded job market with the Democratic proposals for a doubling of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and millions more American citizens will be without a job. Those who do have jobs will pay to provide federal freebies, from Obamaphones to Obamacare, to the formerly illegal aliens now with a green card.

As the recent influx of minor children over the southern border demonstrates, word of amnesty on the way travels fast. Handing green cards to those who cheated the system and entered the country illegally creates an incentive to millions more to follow in their path, collecting as many benefits as possible along the way. It’s a disaster in the making — indeed already here — for public health and national security, straining the welfare state to its limit.

Asked about the RFP by Breitbart’s Charlie Spiering at a news conference yesterday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest punted. if only a few other news organizations joined in with questions, it might be possible to get a few answers and place the issue before the voting public before election day.

UPDATE: Via Drudge, I see that the AP’s Alicia Caldwell reports on the story here.

Holder DOJ expert witness: blacks are dumber and less civic-minded than whites

An expert witness hired by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice testified that North Carolina election law requirements have an adverse impact on black voters because they are less “sophisticated” than white voters and therefore have more difficulty figuring out how to register to vote. Christian Adams has the details.

The requirements that the DOJ’s witness found blacks less able than whites to comply with are (1) registering to vote before the day of the election and (2) voting in the precinct where one lives. Since one needn’t be at all “sophisticated” to comply with either requirement, the DOJ’s witness, who was paid with our tax dollars, must have little regard for African-Americans.

Asked whether terminating the ability to register to vote on the day that someone casts a ballot impacts blacks disproportionately, the DOJ’s witness, Charles Stewart, testified in court that it does. He reasoned that (1) people who register at the last minute “tend to be less sophisticated voters, tend to be less educated voters, tend to be voters who are less attuned to public affairs” and (2) “people who correspond to those factors tend to be African Americans.”

Does the Holder Justice Department really believe that African Americans are less sophisticated voters than whites? Does it really believe they are less attuned than whites to public affairs?

To be sure, blacks vote overwhelmingly in favor of Holder’s party. Other than that, I see no reason to conclude that they are less “sophisticated” and “less attuned to public affairs” than whites.

If a conservative were to so conclude, Eric Holder would be the first to condemn him as a racist. Yet the Holder DOJ is paying a witness to advance this position in a court of law on behalf of the United States of America.

Nor did the DOJ’s disparagement of blacks end here. Stewart went on to testify that “it’s less likely to imagine that these voters [the unsophisticated ones who, according to Stewart, are disproportionately black] would — can figure out or would avail themselves of other forms of registering and voting [besides showing up at the polls and registering].” (emphasis added)

Asked point blank whether “African American voters have less ability to figure out what the rules are for voting,” Stewart responded: “I said African Americans have less education, which leads to an ability to navigate the rules of the game.” I assume he meant that less education leads to an inability to navigate them.

As noted, however, “the rules of the game” at issue here are straightforward. How much education does one need to “navigate” rules that require registering before election day and voting in the precinct where one lives?

Virtually none. To the extent that the “rules of the game” exclude people from voting, they exclude those who don’t pay attention to the rules because they don’t care very much about public affairs.

To assume that African Americans pay disproportionately small amounts of attention to their rights and responsibilities as citizens is to make quite an assumption. It is tantamount to saying that, collectively, African Americans are worse citizens than the rest of us.

Stewart’s position, advanced in court on behalf of the Holder DOJ, is an insult to African Americans, and yet another part of Eric Holder’s disgraceful legacy.

Cultural Differences, Assimilation and Immigration Policy

Two stories currently in the news are, I think, illuminating. The first comes from Paris:

The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille….

France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine.

The woman was sitting just behind the conductor, visible to monitors, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose during the performance on October 3.

“I was alerted in the second act,” said Thiellay, adding that “some performers said they did not want to sing” if something was not done. …

The spectator and her companion — tourists from the Gulf, according to MetroNews — were asked to leave by an inspector during the interval.

“He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room. The man asked the woman to get up, they left,” Thiellay said.

This is not the American way. Personally, I don’t like to see veiled women. It makes me uncomfortable. But my comfort is neither here nor there; it is her face and she can cover it if she wants to. (I am not speaking, obviously, about driver’s license photographs and the like.) Still, we Americans have a right to ask: do we want to have a lot of veiled women going about in public places?

The second story comes from New York City, via Pamela Geller:

A Manhattan man was charged with circumcising his much-younger wife after she refused to have sex, authorities said Tuesday.

Moussa Diarra, 48, wanted to have anal intercourse with the 24-year-old victim and when she said no, he forced himself on her, police said. He sodomized her before performing the horrific circumcision around 9 p.m. Sept. 14, the woman told cops.

The female “circumcision” referred to here means that he cut out her clitoris with a kitchen knife or some such tool. The operation is common in most Muslim countries; more than 96% of the women in Egypt have had their clitorises removed. The perpetrator in this case is being criminally prosecuted, as of course he should be.

When we import Islamic immigrants, we are importing a wide range of mores. The veil is acceptable, but to many, troubling. You might think that clitoridectomy is obviously beyond the pale, but no:

The American Academy of Pediatrics proposed a resolution to begin to practice this barbaric mutilation in a multicultural, dhimmi effort — a “nick,” as it were. Whatever their twisted multi-culti, dhimmi intention, this would have given clitoridectomy the seal of approval by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There was uniform protest by counter-jihadists and other human rights groups to withdraw the American Pediatric Academy’s FGM resolution. And it withdrew the resolution.

Veils and clitoridectomies are both characteristically Islamic–both mandated, I take it, by Islamic law–but there is a wide gulf between them. The first we can tolerate, the second we cannot. (Beheading, too, falls into the second category.) But given the brain-dead multiculturalism of America’s establishment, we can have no confidence that even the most abhorrent practices of immigrant groups will be stamped out.

Further, Islam is problematic from the standpoint of immigration because it is as much a political movement as a religion. Sharia is intrinsic to Islam. America’s Constitution and traditions recognize a distinction between government and religion; Islam, in most if not all of its manifestations, does not. It seems, therefore, that the most prudent course would be to end immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, with exceptions for adherents of other faiths–Christians, Hindus, and so on–who are fleeing persecution. But, as is true with so many other issues, it is hard to imagine our paralyzed political institutions doing any such thing. So we can expect to ponder news reports of beheadings and amateur clitoridectomies for years to come.