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For Obama, a sudden struggle with personal appeal

In Barak Obama, General News, Political News on November 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear Pre...

Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear President Barack Obama’s speech and greet him afterward during his visit to FBI headquarters. White House photographer Pete Souza is to Obama’s left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — For years, President Barack Obama’s personal favorability ratings served as a political firewall that sustained him through an economic recession, grueling fights with congressional Republicans, and the grind of a re-election campaign.

But after a rough start to Obama’s second term, Americans increasingly view the president unfavorably. And perhaps most concerning for the White House: an Associated Press analysis of public polling shows it has become more difficult over time for Obama to fully rebound from dents in his favorability ratings.

“It’s a slow cumulative effect,” Republican pollster David Winston said, adding that personal favorability “is a much harder number to move if it starts to go south.”

The public’s increasingly negative view of Obama may be less of a concern for his future given that he is barred from running for re-election. But the president still needs a strong connection with the public in order to rally Americans around his policy proposals and, in turn, to show Congress he remains politically relevant at a time when lame duck status is lurking.

The president’s advisers need only look at Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to see the impact of a crumbling relationship with the public. Positive impressions of the Republican trailed off in the beginning of 2005 amid public frustration with the Iraq war and the government’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s favorability rating never recovered and he struggled to fulfill significant policy goals throughout the rest of his presidency.

A series of recent polls show Obama’s personal favorability now leaning negative, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released last week that found positive views of Obama at the lowest point of his presidency and down 6 points from earlier in October. The drop follows the 16-day government shutdown, the cascade of problems during his health care law’s rollout, and another flood of revelations about U.S. government spying.

White House officials blame the shutdown in particular for Obama’s falling favorability, given that it resulted in shuttering many federal services and furloughs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, while again highlighting the troubled ties between the president and Capitol Hill. But Obama aides note that the impact of the shutdown on congressional Republicans has been even worse, with both their personal and job performance ratings at record lows.

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Logo of the United States White House, especially in conjunction with offices like the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody gets hurt when there’s dysfunction in Washington,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his job approval and personal favorability ratings have generally risen and fallen in tandem. But his favorability numbers, which often reflect the public’s gut-level reaction to a politician, generally remained the more positive of the two measures.

That, the president’s supporters argue, made the public more likely to give him a chance even when they disagreed with his policies or the direction the country was headed. His strong likability was seen as a particular asset during his 2012 re-election campaign when most polls showed that voters saw him in a more favorable light than his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

“For the president, it’s meant that people have cared about what he had to say because they liked him,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.

The question for the White House now is whether that dynamic will hold if the public’s personal opinions of the president continue to sour. An Associated Press-GfK poll from early October found that 52 percent of Americans didn’t think Obama was very honest and were split on whether he was even likable.

The president’s favorability has taken hits during other points in his presidency. Most polling found the public’s impression soured in late summer 2011 around the first round of debt ceiling negotiations and again last summer in the midst of his presidential campaign.

Although Obama’s favorability improved somewhat after each hit, he never fully recovered, with each rating rebound peaking below earlier average favorability ratings.

For example, Obama began 2011 with majority favorable ratings in most polling. When the debt ceiling fight pushed his favorability below 50 percent in late 2011, he came back to an average right around 50 rather than above it. This latest battle has led to average ratings in the mid-40s, worse than he’s seen at any point previously.

Past presidents have also struggled to recover from dips in their favorability ratings.

Bush left office with majorities saying they had both a negative impression of him personally and disapproved of his job performance. And former President Bill Clinton’s favorability numbers never recovered after a fall in 1998 as the Monica Lewinsky story unfolded, though his job approval remained strong through his last days at the White House.

Republican President Ronald Reagan evoked the warmest reaction from the American public, leaving office with high job approval numbers, 63 percent according to Gallup polling in December 1988, and a majority holding a favorable impression of him personally.

Source: Associated Press

 

Legislative prayer gets Supreme Court review

In General News, Prayer, Supreme Court on November 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

MARK SHERMAN, AP

The Justices of the United States Supreme Cour...

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court with President George W. Bush, October 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court, which asks for God’s protection before every public session, will settle a dispute over prayer in the halls of government.

The case being argued at the court Wednesday involves prayers said at the start of town council meetings in Greece, N.Y., a Rochester suburb. It is the court’s first legislative prayer case since 1983, when the justices said that an opening prayer is part of the nation’s fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment.

But the federal appeals court in New York held that the town crossed a line and violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.

Under Chief Justice John Roberts, and with the replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Justice Samuel Alito in 2006, the court has been more open to religion in public life. The case may serve as a test of the ongoing viability of the decision in the 1983 case, Marsh v. Chambers.

But it also could have an even broader impact, giving conservative justices the opportunity to jettison legal rules that have tended to rein in religious expression in the public square.

That is what some conservative Christian groups, Republican lawmakers and state officials are hoping for, and it’s what liberal interest groups fear. The issue extends well beyond prayer and could affect holiday displays, aid to religious schools, Ten Commandments markers and memorial crosses.

The Supreme Court “has issued a series of narrowly divided and splintered decisions that have confused the lower courts, baffled the public and incentivized government officials to suppress legitimate religious expression in order to avoid the costs and hazards of litigation,” said 85 members of Congress, almost all Republicans, in a court filing.

Among the examples of confusion cited are the court’s twin rulings on a single day in 2005 that upheld a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas state capitol in Austin, yet declared unconstitutional a display in the McCreary County courthouse in Kentucky.

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court A...

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lawmakers are among those calling on the justices to adopt a clear rule — requiring government to refrain from coercing participation in any religion or religious exercise, or from creating a state religion — to determine whether a practice runs afoul of the First Amendment’s clause barring laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” known as the Establishment Clause.

But doing so would drastically cut back on protections against instances in which governments abandon religious neutrality, including the dispute in the New York town of Greece, said Erwin Chemerinsky, a liberal legal scholar and dean of the University of California at Irvine law school. If the court adopts the test that the lawmakers and others are urging, “very little will be left of the Establishment Clause,” Chemerinsky said.

Chemerinsky said the prayers in Greece should be held unconstitutional under any standard.

The Obama administration is taking a middle ground, siding with the town because it said the appeals court made a mistake in departing from the Supreme Court’s 30-year-old precedent. “Courts should not parse or evaluate the content of prayer,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in his brief, relying on the 1983 case. He said the administration has an interest in protecting the tradition of opening each day of Congress with a prayer that stretches back to the nation’s founding.

At the Supreme Court, the justices stand at their seats while Marshal Pam Talkin asks God to “save the United States and this honorable court.”

The facts of the situation in Greece, a town of roughly 100,000 people, are not in dispute.

From 1999 through 2007, and again from January 2009 through June 2010, every meeting was opened with a Christian-oriented invocation. In 2008, after residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens complained, four of 12 meetings were opened by non-Christians, including a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and the chairman of the local Baha’i congregation.

A town employee each month selected clerics or lay people by using a local published guide of churches. The guide did not include non-Christian denominations, however. The appeals court found that religious institutions in the town of just under 100,000 people are primarily Christian, and even Galloway and Stephens testified they knew of no non-Christian places of worship there.

The two residents filed suit and a trial court ruled in the town’s favor, finding that the town did not intentionally exclude non-Christians. It also said that the content of the prayer was not an issue because there was no desire to proselytize or demean other faiths.

But a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that even with the high court’s 1983 ruling, the practice of having one Christian prayer after another amounted to the town’s endorsement of Christianity.

Richard Garnett, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former Supreme Court clerk, said it is likely that the court will reverse the appeals court and that a narrow ruling of the sort sought by the administration could cause some liberal justices to join their conservative colleagues.

But because the case can be resolved narrowly, Garnett said it probably is not one the justices will use to order judges to take a more hands-off approach to instances in which religion and government mix.

The case is Greece v. Galloway, 12-696.

Source: Associated Press

Vatican celebrates Knights of Malta’s 900 years

In Catholic News, General News, World News on February 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

 

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Squa...

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome (2007). Polski: Papież Benedykt XVI podczas Audiencji Generalnej na Placu św. Piotra w Rzymie (2007). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP
 

The Knights of Malta, one of the most peculiar organizations in the world, marked its 900th birthday Saturday with a colorful procession through St. Peter’s Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, himself a member of the onetime chivalrous order drawn from Europe’s nobility.

The Knights are at once a Roman Catholic religious order, an aid group that runs soup kitchens, hospitals and ambulance services around the globe, and a sovereign entity that prints its own passports and enjoys diplomatic relations with 104 countries — yet has no country to call its own.

Some 4,000 people — volunteers in neon orange civil protection suits, children in red berets and members each draped in a black cloak with a white, eight-pointed Maltese Cross on the front — processed through St. Peter’s Square and into the basilica for the Mass marking the 900th anniversary of the order’s recognition by the Holy See.

After the Mass, which was celebrated by the Vatican No. 2, Benedict came to the basilica for an audience during which he thanked the order for its service and urged it to continue providing health care for the world’s neediest while staying true to its Christian ideals.

The order’s work, he said, “is not mere philanthropy but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love.”

The order traces its history to an 11th century infirmary in Jerusalem set up by a monk to care for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. During the Crusades, as the order’s humanitarian efforts spread, it took on a military role to protect pilgrims and Christendom as a whole from Muslim attacks. In February 1113 Pope Paschal II recognized the order with a papal bull establishing its sovereign status by saying it was independent of both lay and other religious authorities.

During its heyday, would-be members had to prove nobility through all eight great-grandparents. Such requirements are now largely relaxed except in some European countries. Still, the order’s members are drawn from some of the world’s wealthiest Catholics, who fund its health clinics, homeless shelters and old folks’ homes in 120 countries and rally for special appeals when disasters strike.

Sixty of the 13,500 members are so-called “professed knights,” who make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live like monks, albeit without being ordained priests.

The order’s international legal status is entirely unique, a sovereign entity that prints its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, yet has no territory over which it rules. Its forces once occupied Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta, but Napoleon expelled the order from Malta in 1798, depriving it of the final patch of land ove it ruled.

Nevertheless, the order still enjoys many of the trappings of a small country: U.N. observer status and diplomatic relations with 104 countries, most of them in the developing world where such ties can smooth the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the United States, for one, has no relations, precisely because it’s a stateless state.

In his speech Saturday, Benedict affirmed the sovereign status that the order enjoys. He acknowledged its peculiar nature, saying the order’s guiding spirit “aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body … with special regard for those whose need of hope and love is greater.”

Source: Associated Press

 

 
 
 
 

Most Americans Reject Abortion

In Abortion News, General News, Health News on February 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm
ABORTION // Fetus & Moron

ABORTION // Fetus & Moron (Photo credit: 666isMONEY ☮ ♥ & ☠)

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn – A new survey shows that most Americans support strict regulations on abortion, with half of Americans saying that abortion should never be permitted or permitted only in rare cases.

 

“After four decades of legalized abortion in this country, Americans have had ample time to understand that abortion has terrible consequences,” said Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, which commissioned the poll.

 

“They understand abortion’s true legacy – a child loses life, and parents lose a child. And after witnessing the effects of abortion for the past 40 years, Americans are not legally or morally comfortable with that legacy,” he said Jan.9.

 

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion conducted the survey of 1,246 adults in the continental U.S. from Dec. 4-6, 2012. It claims a margin of error plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

 

The poll found that more than 8 in 10 American’s — 83% — favor significant restrictions on abortion.

 

Of that 83%, 10% of respondents said abortion should never be permitted, 12% said abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother, and 34% said abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

 

The cases make up a very small portion of abortions sought in the U.S., where abortion is generally permitted and more than one million legal abortions take place each year.

 

A 2005 report published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research organization formerly associated with abortion provider Planned Parenthood, found that only 1% of women seeking abortion said they did so because the child was conceived in rape, and even fewer sought abortion because the child was conceived in incest.

 

The report did not record the number of women who said they sought an abortion because their lives were in danger, though 12% cited physical health problems as a motivation.

 

The Marist poll found some support for legal abortion. About 27% of respondents said abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy at most; 6% would limit abortion to the first six months of pregnancy, while 12% said abortion should be available at any time.

 

The survey found that 43% of respondents describe themselves as pro-life, while 57% say they are pro-choice. Among Catholics, whose faith rejects abortion, only 45% say they are pro-life. About 59% of practicing Catholics say they are pro-life, compared to only 25% of non-practicing Catholics.

 

About 58% of Americans say abortion is morally wrong. Respondents generally rejected the idea that laws must choose whether to protect the unborn or pregnant mothers, with 84% saying that laws can protect both.

 

Anderson said, “It is time for our country to chart a new course on this issue – a course that protects both the mother and the child.”

 

Source: National Catholic Register

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JJJ Plea Deal Includes “Significant Jail Time:” Report

In Democrats, General News, Political News on February 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm
English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A reported plea deal is in the works for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and it involves “significant jail time.”

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reports the deal offered up by federal prosecutors is being considered by Jackson, who has been under investigation for months because of alleged misuse of campaign funds. Sneed reported in November that Jackson has been active in the probe against him and has told the feds everything he knows.
A source close to the investigation told Sneed this week that “significant” time in a federal prison is definitely part of the deal.
The deal comes after news broke Monday that federal investigators also are taking an independent look at the finances of Jackson’s wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson.
Sandi Jackson was asked by Illinois‘ State Board of Elections to explain a $69,000 discrepancy between her campaign finance reports and those of her husband. The former alderman told NBCChicago in December she blamed the conflict on clerical errors made by transitioning staff members and said amendments to her reports were being made.
Jackson resigned late last year as Illinois’ 2nd District Congressman amid a federal probe and after months away from his political duties as his staff said he battled bipolar depression.
Less than two months later, Sandi Jackson stepped down effective Jan. 15 as alderman for the 7th Ward.
Source: Chicago Suntimes

‘Civil Disobedience’ Would Expose HHS Mandate ‘Tyranny”

In Catholic News, General News on February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm
Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

 

Virginia’s Attorney General Advises Citizens to Risk Jail to Protest It 

 

By Brian Farga

 

RICHMOD, Va. – Citizens should defy the federal government’s contraceptive mandate, even to the point of going to jail, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a recent radio interview.

 

Cuccinelli, a Catholic who is running this year for governor of Virginia, told conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace that civil disobedience would expose the “tyranny” behind the federal law that would compel religiously affiliated organizations and private businesses to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in their employee health-insurance plans.

 

“My local bishop said he told a group, ‘Well, you know, I told a group I’m ready to go to jail.’ And I told him, ‘Bishop, don’t take this personally – you need to go to jail,” said Cuccinelli, one of the first state attorneys general to file a federal lawsuit against the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Carre Act.

 

Cuccinelli’s spokesman Brian Gottestein said the attorney general was not available for comment because of the busy state legislative session.

 

Cuccinelli spoke about the issue in a subsequent interview with the Washington Times.

 

“I’m certainly not advocating that people go to jail, but religious liberty is why a lot of people came to this country,” Cuccineli said. “If our government is driving so many people to be contemplating this kind of civil disobedience, I think there’s a good reason to double check and ask, ‘Have we gone too far here?”

 

A Spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on his remarks, However the attorney general’s statements are in line with the March 2010 USCCB document that warned catholics to be prepared to engage in civil disobedience if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate was not rescinded.

 

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that obeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops wrote in the message, which was formatted for use as a parish bulletin insert. “Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience are, are at stake, we may need to witness the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”

 

The bishops also cited a passage from Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in which the civil rights leader noted St. Augustine’s proverb “An unjust law is no law at all.”

 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said in November that the Catholic Church would “not obey” the “immoral” mandate and that the Church was prepared for a lont-term fight.

 

Source: National Catholic Register

 

 

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