January 31, 2012
By: Andrew Moran
Lake Jackson – Who says Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul is unelectable? In a hypothetical matchup, a new survey suggests that the libertarian-leaning representative is in a statistical tie with President Barack Obama.
The latest polls show that three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul will not win the state of Florida. Although Dr. Paul is hardly campaigning in the state, he is generally polling in double digits and is fighting for the third spot with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
A new article from the Christian Science Monitor pondered the likelihood that Paul could garner more delegates than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Santorum this week because he has focused his campaign in Maine and Nevada, which have their caucuses on Saturday.
A poll released Monday may give him momentum ahead of the caucuses in February.
According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, in a hypothetical matchup between the Texas congressman and President Barack Obama, it would be too close to call. In the general election among national registered voters, Paul would garner 46 percent of the vote, while the incumbent president would have 49 percent.
However, the gap widens when the poll reflects swing-state registered voters in which the president gains 50 percent of the vote compared to Paul’s 43 percent.
September 7, 2010
CBS 2 Chicago
by Jay Levine
If there is any place President Obama is going to get the benefit of the doubt, it’s here in his hometown. Yet public opinion polls show that even here, confidence has slipped. Though they’re a bit hesitant to talk about it.
When one resident was asked how Mr. Obama was doing, the answer was not very convincing.
“Don’t ask me that question.”
On Monday the president was just 90 miles away in Milwaukee, unveiling yet another $50 billion infrastructure improvement package. That’s in addition to what’s already underway in Chicago and around the nation.
“Our infrastructure’s pathetic; especially the railroads,” said Chicagoan Paul Keck, adding the money would be well spent to improve things like roads, bridges and railways.
Tonight CBS 2 spoke with people power shopping the Magnificent Mile, relaxing in Bucktown and stocking up at a South Side supermarket.
“You have to consider where we were,” Chicagoan T’oni Gray said, “He walked into an office that was already messed up.”
Illinois residents polled by the Chicago Tribune indicate that while 62 percent voted for him in 2008, and 59 percent approved of the job he was doing a year ago, his approval rating here has now fallen to 51 percent.
Though it’s hard to get people here to criticize him.
“I’m not goin’ there; he’s our president,” Irving Jacobson said. “You gotta stand behind him.”
But when pressed a bit, he added: ”I don’t like the programs he’s putting through.”
“Because I dont think it’s going to lead to things getting better for anyone, anytime soon.”
While the stimulus program unveiled Monday won’t produce any new jobs for months, we found people who say they owe their jobs his efforts. Keisha found a new job, Corey was called back to his.
“They brought everybody back,” Corey said. ”They’re hiring more people,” added Keisha.
In Milwaukee today, the president criticized Republicans, who’ve already pledged to fight his new plan.
“Hopefully, Washington will decide to work together instead of fighting each other,” Sonia Vega, visiting from Minnesota, said, “And that they’ll remember they’re working for us and that they should be trying to help us and not each other.”
People we spoke with are sick and tired of partisan battles in Washington. They understand President Obama didn’t create the crisis; he inherited it. But they wish his policies would yield results, sooner. What they don’t agree on is when, or if, they will.
Click here to read the full report
September 3rd, 2010
By: Michael Scherer
The Barack Obama that most Hoosiers remember voting for can still be found on YouTube. He stands before a cheering Elkhart high school gymnasium in August 2008, tireless, aspirational, promising a new America of jobs and hope. “We can choose another future,” says the newcomer with the funny name. “So I ask you to join me.”
Today that view of Obama is harder to find in Indiana. A couple of weeks back and a dozen miles west of Elkhart, hundreds gathered in another school gym — except this time it was for a job fair. With the local unemployment rate above 12% and rising again this summer, about a third of the employer display tables stood empty. Julie Griffin, who voted for Obama in ’08, sat down at the room’s edge, well dressed and discouraged. After 23 years as a payroll administrator at a local RV plant, she got laid off 18 months ago. “Really, what has he been doing?” she said when I asked about Obama’s efforts to help people like her. “I guess I don’t know what he is doing.”
Across the gym floor, Joe Donnelly, Elkhart’s pro-life, pro-gun Democratic Congressman, worked the crowd. He was part of the moderate wave that won Congress for Nancy Pelosi in ’06, and he was re-elected with 67% of the vote while campaigning for Obama in ’08. The President has since returned to the region three times, but Donnelly is nonetheless fighting for his political life. In a recent television ad, an unflattering photo of Obama and Pelosi flashes while Donnelly condemns “the Washington crowd.” This is basically a Democratic campaign slogan now: Don’t blame me for Obama and Pelosi. “I’m not one of them,” Donnelly told me when I caught up with him. “I’m one of us.”
This shift in perception — from Obama as political savior to Obama as creature of Washington — can be seen elsewhere. When Obama arrived in office in January ’09, his Gallup approval rating stood at 68%, a high for a newly elected leader not seen since John Kennedy in 1961. Today Obama’s job approval has been hovering in the mid-40s, which means that at least 1 in 4 Americans has changed his or her mind. The plunge has been particularly dramatic among independents, whites and those under age 30. With midterm elections just nine weeks off, instead of the generational transformation some Democrats predicted after 2008, the President’s party teeters on the brink of a broad setback in November, including the possible loss of both houses of Congress. By a 10-point margin, people say they will vote for Republicans over Democrats in Congress, the largest such gap ever recorded by Gallup.
White House aides explain this change as a largely inevitable reflection of the cycles of history. Midterms are almost always bad for first-term Presidents, and worse in hard times. “The public is rightly frustrated and angry with the economy,” says Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s communications director, explaining the White House line. “There is no small tactical shift we could have made at any point that would have solved that problem.” In more confiding moments, aides admit that the peak of Obama’s popularity may have been inflated, a fleeting result of elation at the prospect of change and national pride in electing the first African-American President. As one White House aide puts it, “It was sort of fake.”
But while these explanations may be valid, they are also incomplete. A sense of disappointment, bordering on betrayal, has been growing across the country, especially in moderate states like Indiana, where people now openly say they didn’t quite understand the President they voted for in 2008. The fear most often expressed is that Obama is taking the country somewhere they don’t want to go. “We bought what he said. He offered a lot of hope,” says Fred Ferlic, an Obama voter and orthopedic surgeon in South Bend who has since soured on his choice. Ferlic talks about the messy compromises in health care reform, his sense of an inhospitable business climate and the growth of government spending under Obama. “He’s trying to Europeanize us, and the Europeans are going the other way,” continues Ferlic, a former Democratic campaign donor who plans to vote Republican this year. “The entire American spirit is being broken.”
One explanation for Obama’s steep decline is that his presidency rests on what Gallup’s Frank Newport calls a “paradox” between Obama and the electorate. In 2008, Newport notes, trust in the federal government was at a historic low, dropping to around 25%, where it still remains. Yet Obama has offered government as the primary solution to most of the nation’s woes, calling for big new investments in health care, education, infrastructure and energy. Some voters bucked at the incongruity, repeatedly telling pollsters that even programs that have clearly helped the economy, like the $787 billion stimulus, did no such thing. Meanwhile, the resulting spike in deficits, which has been greatly magnified by tax revenue lost to the economic downturn, has spooked a broad sweep of the country, which simply does not trust Washington to responsibly handle such a massive liability.
August 20th, 2010
The New York Times
By: Edward N. Luttwack
Barack Obama has emerged as a classic example of charismatic leadership — a figure upon whom others project their own hopes and desires. The resulting emotional intensity adds greatly to the more conventional strengths of the well-organized Obama campaign, and it has certainly sufficed to overcome the formidable initial advantages of Senator Hillary Clinton.
One danger of such charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.
This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama’s election would raise America’s esteem in Africa — indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father’s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.
But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.
Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.
His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).
With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)
It is true that the criminal codes in most Muslim countries do not mandate execution for apostasy (although a law doing exactly that is pending before Iran’s Parliament and in two Malaysian states). But as a practical matter, in very few Islamic countries do the governments have sufficient authority to resist demands for the punishment of apostates at the hands of religious authorities.
For example, in Iran in 1994 the intervention of Pope John Paul II and others won a Christian convert a last-minute reprieve, but the man was abducted and killed shortly after his release. Likewise, in 2006 in Afghanistan, a Christian convert had to be declared insane to prevent his execution, and he was still forced to flee to Italy.
Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.
At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.
That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.
August 20th, 2010
Las Vegas Sun
President Barack Obama is a Christian who prays daily, a White House official said Thursday, trying to tamp down growing doubts about the president’s religion.
A new poll showed that nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, believe Obama is Muslim. That was up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. The survey also showed that just 34 percent said Obama is Christian, down from 48 percent who said so last year. The largest share of people, 43 percent, said they don’t know his religion.
White House spokesman Bill Burton said most Americans care more about the economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “they are not reading a lot of news about what religion the president is.” He commented on Air Force One as Obama headed for a vacation in Massachusetts on Martha’s Vineyard.
Burton added, “The president is obviously a Christian. He prays everyday.”
The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is based on interviews conducted before the controversy over whether Muslims should be permitted to construct a mosque near the World Trade Center site. Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center there, though he’s also said he won’t take a position on whether they should actually build it.
In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday _ after Obama’s comments about the mosque _ 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn’t know or didn’t respond.
In addition, 61 percent opposed building the Muslim center near the Trade Center site and 26 percent said they favor it.
The Pew poll found that about three in 10 of Obama’s fiercest political rivals, Republicans and conservatives, say he is a Muslim. That is up significantly from last year and far higher than the share of Democrats and liberals who say so. But even among his supporters, the number saying he is a Christian has fallen since 2009, with just 43 percent of blacks and 46 percent of Democrats saying he is Christian.
Among independents, 18 percent say Obama is Muslim _ up from 10 percent last year.
Pew analysts attribute the findings to attacks by his opponents and Obama’s limited attendance at religious services, particularly in contrast with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, whose worship was more public.
Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center’s director, said the confusion partly reflects “the intensification of negative views about Obama among his critics.” Alan Cooperman, the Pew Forum’s associate director for research, said that with the public hearing little about Obama’s religion, “maybe there’s more possibility for other people to make suggestions that the president is this or he’s really that or he’s really a Muslim.”
Obama is the Christian son of a Kenyan Muslim father and a Kansas mother. From age 6 to 10, Obama lived in predominantly Muslim Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. His full name, Barack Hussein Obama, sounds Muslim to many.
On Wednesday, White House officials did not provide on-the-record comments on the survey but prompted Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston to call The Associated Press.
Caldwell, who said he has known Obama for years, said the president is a Christian who prays every day. He said he was not sure where the public confusion about the president’s religion came from, but he called false media reports about it “a 24-hour noise box committed to presenting the president in a false light.”
Six in 10 of those saying Obama is a Muslim said they got the information from the media, with the largest portion _ 16 percent _ saying it was on television. Eleven percent said they learned it from Obama’s behavior and words.
Despite the confusion about Obama’s religion, there is noteworthy support for how he uses it to make decisions. Nearly half, or 48 percent, said he relies on his religion the right amount when making policy choices, 21 percent said he uses it too little and 11 percent too much.
Obama is seen as less reliant overall than Bush was on religion. Even so, the 48 percent who say Obama uses it appropriately for decisions is similar to the 53 percent who said the same about Bush in 2004. Just over half in the new poll said Obama mentions his faith and prayer the right amount, about the same as said so about Bush in 2006.
At the same time, the poll provides broad indications that the public feels religion is playing a diminished role in politics today, with fewer people than in 2008 saying the Democratic and Republican parties are friendly toward religion.
With elections for control of Congress just over two months away, the poll contains optimistic news for Republicans. Half of white non-Hispanic Catholics, plus three in 10 unaffiliated with a religion and a third of Jews, support the GOP _ all up since 2008.
The survey also found:
_The Democratic Party is seen as friendly to religion by 26 percent, while 43 percent say the same about the GOP. That’s a 9 percentage point drop for Republicans since 2008, and 12 points lower for Democrats.
_Fifty-two percent say churches should stay away from politics, a reversal of the slim majorities that supported churches’ political involvement from 1996 to 2006.
The poll, overseen by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, involved landline and cell phone interviews with 3,003 randomly chosen adults. It was conducted July 21-Aug. 5 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
June 30, 2010
By Jeff Coen
Sheldon Sorosky, one of Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers, has been trying to drag President Barack Obama into the fray this afternoon, asking union official Tom Balanoff whether the FBI asked him about campaign money going to Obama.
Prosecutors objected, as they have so often during cross-examinations, and U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Sorosky should only ask in general what the FBI had said to Balanoff.
Sorosky tried the question again, using Zagel’s recommended wording. “I know that won’t be objected to,” Sorosky said, causing the nearby Blagojevich to laugh.
But Balanoff didn’t get to give an answer, and Zagel wouldn’t let the line of questioning go on after a private sidebar discussion among the lawyers.
Sorosky did get to ask about Balanoff’s labor group — the Service Employees International Union — supporting candidates for office. He asked whether the SEIU had supported “a young state senator” named Barack Obama as well as Blagojevich in his first run for governor in 2002.
“They cared about working people?” Sorosky asked. Balanoff said that was essentially right.
June 22, 2010
by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will announce new health insurance benefits for consumers, marking the first 90 days since he signed landmark legislation to expand coverage.
The announcement will follow a private meeting between administration officials, several state insurance commissioners, and CEOs of major insurance company, amid concerns over continued premium hikes, the White House said. Obama is expected to attend at least part of the session.
Consumers who buy their policies directly faced increases averaging 20 percent this year, according to a survey released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Although most Americans are covered on the job, about 14 million purchase insurance on the individual market and have the least bargaining power when it comes to costs.
Obama’s announcement will cover regulations to implement a so-called patient’s bill of rights provided under the new law, said administration allies who were briefed in advance and spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.
The consumer safeguards are limited steps that take effect this year. The main provisions of the legislation, including federal funding to help 32 million now uninsured get coverage, won’t come until 2014. The administration worries that escalating premiums will force more people drop their policies before the law is fully implemented.
Obama foreshadowed parts of his announcement last week, telling a nurses’ group that the patient bill of rights would include the elimination of lifetime dollar limits on coverage, a particular problem for people dealing with hard-to-treat types of cancer. Insurance companies would be prohibited from canceling the policies of people who get sick, he added. And health plans would be required to provide consumers with simple and clear information about their choices and rights.
The law also calls for other safeguards to be put in place this year, including allowing women to pick an ob-gyn specialist as their primary care doctor and forbidding insurers from denying coverage to children on account of a previous medical problem. Protection against insurance denials would extend to adults in 2014, when most Americans would be required to carry coverage.
June 21, 2010
by Alex Spillius
Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to “bang heads together” to get policy pushed through.
Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.
Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.
“I would bet he will go after the midterms,” said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. “Nobody thinks it’s working but they can’t get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he’ll go.”
An official from the Bill Clinton era said that “no one will be surprised” if Mr Emanuel left after the midterm elections in November, when the Democratic party will battle to save its majorities in the house of representatives and the senate.
It is well known in Washington that arguments have developed between pragmatic Mr Emanuel, a veteran in Congress where he was known for driving through compromises, and the idealistic inner circle who followed Mr Obama to the White House.
His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama’s closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president’s legislative programme that his background promised.
“It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant, who asked not to be named. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.
“Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”
There were sharp differences over health care reform, with Mr Emanuel arguing that public hostility about cost should have forced them into producing a scaled down package. Mr Obama and advisers including David Axelrod, the chief strategist, and Valerie Jarrett, a businesswoman and mentor from Chicago, decided to push through with grander legislation anyway.
Mr Emanuel has reportedly told friends that his role as White House chief of staff was “only an eighteen month job” because of its intensity.
Regarded as the most demanding after president, it involves controlling the president’s agenda, enforcing White House message discipline as well as liaising with Congress.
His departure would regarded as another sign of how Mr Obama’s presidency has been far more troubled than expected.
Mr Emanuel has privately expressed a readiness to run for mayor of Chicago, which is also his home town though he was never part of the Obama set and did not endorse the then senator in the Democratic primary in 2008.
That would however depend on Mayor Richard Daley stepping down when he is up for re-election in 2011.
The chief obstacle to taking the White House job originally was doubts about moving his three children from Chicago. According to another former Clinton official, he has let friends know that he is “very sensitive to the idea that he is not a good father for having done this”.
One of Washington’s more colourful characters, Mr Emanuel is the son of Jewish immigrants and was an accomplished ballet dancer at school. He served as a civilian volunteer with the Israeli Defence Force in the 1991 Gulf War.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
June 9, 2010
President Obama’s aunt, a native of Kenya, has been granted asylum by a U.S. immigration court and can stay in this country, her lawyers said today.
The reason for the asylum request by Zeituni Onyango — the half-sister of Obama’s late father — has not been made public. But one of her lawyers said last year Onyango has been worried about “violence in Kenya.”
Onyango’s current attorney, Scott Bratton, said “the asylum process is confidential and she wants to keep it that way, so we can’t get into details on why the judge granted asylum or the exact basis for her claim — she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her.”
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the White House “had no involvement” in Onyango’s case.
June 4, 2010
By Will Weissert
HAVANA — Fidel Castro speculated Wednesday that a nuclear strike on Iran might help President Barack Obama win a second term in the White House and also suggested the United States could attack North Korea.
The former leader of Cuba, who has not been seen in public for nearly four years, also portrayed the U.S. president as a victim of fantasies planted in his mind by sinister advisers.
The column published by Cuban state media floated the idea that a nuclear attack on Iran — perhaps even without U.S. authorization — might help Obama win re-election in 2012.
“Could Obama enjoy the emotions of a second presidential election without having the Pentagon or the State of Israel, whose conduct does not in the least obey the decisions of the United States, use nuclear weapons against Iran?” he asked. “How would life on our planet be after that?”
It’s a question he did not answer, nor did he elaborate.