May 2, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 5:59 AM


In Syria, America Allies with the Muslim Brotherhood : The president's support for the Syrian National Council strengthens Islamists. (John Rosenthal, 5/01/12, National Review)

While the Obama administration's burgeoning contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt continue to cause controversy, the administration's policy of growing cooperation with the Syrian opposition continues to enjoy almost unanimous support. This is remarkable, since by virtue of that policy the administration is openly allied with none other than the Muslim Brotherhood: that is, openly, but with perhaps just enough misdirection for the alliance to escape the notice of the broader public.

The Syrian opposition organization that the United States and other Western powers have been officially supporting is, of course, the Syrian National Council (SNC). At a meeting in Istanbul on April 1, the so-called Friends of Syria, including the United States, recognized the SNC as "a legitimate representative of all Syrians." Although the use of the indefinite article suggests there were reservations on the part of some participants, U.S. State Department statements both before and after the Istanbul meeting leave no doubt that the Obama administration treats the SNC as its principal Syrian interlocutor. The SNC is also the presumptive recipient or at least conduit of the aid that the Obama administration has pledged to the Syrian opposition. While in Istanbul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with representatives of the SNC, and she afterwards promised that "there will be more assistance of all kinds for the Syrian National Council."

Posted by orrinj at 5:57 AM


Mitt Romney: Ready for his close-up (Patrick B. Pexton, 4/27/12, Washington Post)

This week I reviewed 700 stories about Romney published by the Boston Globe during his campaign for, and first year as, governor. Patterns emerge in any politician, and they do with Romney, too.

Romney, for example, is nothing if not agile. In his gubernatorial campaign, he tried many messages before finally landing on themes along these lines: I fixed the Salt Lake City Olympics and I'll fix the patronage and budget deficits of Massachusetts. I'll veto any tax increases. I support the statewide ballot initiative to abolish bilingual education. And I'm the only guy who stands in the way of an entrenched 'Gang of Three' -- Democrats controlling the governor's chair, and House and Senate.

He also, in the final three weeks, ran a relentless and expensive negative TV ad campaign against his opponent, Shannon P. O'Brien, just like he did this year against GOP rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and others. Voters interviewed by the Globe in 2002 said they couldn't wait for the election to be over and called it the most negative campaign for governor they could remember.

As governor, Romney cut spending, and, as promised, didn't raise income taxes, but he did close tax "loopholes" on corporations -- and he dramatically raised state fees, such as tuition at state universities. He also won unprecedented powers to cut state aid to cities and towns, and then he angered mayors by assigning his lieutenant governor and underlings to meet and explain the plan to municipal leaders.

Indeed, his aloof management style turned off a lot of people. He would do a PowerPoint or major speech on TV to outline broad themes, and then walk away and let his staff do the hard work. Globe columnist Brian McGrory said Romney in his first year (he got better later) didn't have just a "tin ear" to the schmoozing and politicking necessary to get things done on Beacon Hill but a "steel ear."

Romney proposed big reorganizations, getting some changes to the Massachusetts human services and transportation departments, but he flamed out completely on a restructuring of the state university system. He did manage, eventually, to get the unpopular head of the system to resign.

Posted by orrinj at 5:55 AM


Behind the dissident's escape (Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2012)

[A]ttention ought to focus at least briefly on the government policies that Chen took such risks to protest.

Most gruesome is family planning agencies' practice of dragging pregnant women out of their homes to have their fetuses destroyed, as part of the government's long-standing one-child policy. Forced abortions have occurred as late as nine months into a pregnancy.

The victims may also have IUDs inserted without their consent to prevent future pregnancies. The advocacy group All Girls Allowed says these atrocities help explain why China is the only nation on Earth where women are more likely to commit suicide than are men.

Chen's crime was to publicize this savagery by filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of women subjected to it. He was jailed for more than four years for "disturbing public order" and upon his release, he and his family were placed under strict house arrest, deprived of visitors.

Posted by orrinj at 5:52 AM


On Anniversary of bin Laden's Death, Little Backing of al Qaeda (Pew Research Center, 5/01/12)

A year after the death of its leader, al Qaeda is widely unpopular among Muslim publics. A new poll by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, conducted March 19 to April 13, 2012, finds majorities - and mostly large majorities - expressing negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon.

In Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals, 13% of Muslims hold a favorable view of al Qaeda, 55% an unfavorable view, and roughly three-in-ten (31%) offer no opinion.

Support for the organization is in the single digits among Turkish and Lebanese Muslims. In Jordan, just 15% express a positive opinion, essentially unchanged from last year, but down significantly from 34% in 2010. 
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Posted by orrinj at 5:44 AM


Mitt Romney's Problem With Unmarried Women Voters Could Sink Him (Patricia Murphy, 5/02/12, Daily Beast)

Mitt Romney does not a woman problem, per se. In the latest Gallup tracking polls, he is winning among married women by 9 points over President Obama. Married women like his policies, they like his values, and they seem to relate to the father of five and longtime married man.

But when unmarried women are polled, they go for Obama by a 28-point margin, making a 37-point marriage gap that could spell the end of Romney's presidential ambitions unless he can win over more unmarried women or increase turnout among men and married women enough to blunt the impact of that gap.

Time to import all those desperate single Chinese men.