Turning back the tide of information overload with a digest of the latest developments in news conservatives need to pay attention to:
† The uniter: Part III: A new Gallup poll suggests President Barack Hussein Obama is the most polarizing politician ever to occupy the White House (related article, fourth item on the page). Obama “has set a record for polarization every year he’s been in office,” as Commentary’s Peter Wehner notes, prompting a walk down memory lane:
[O]ne of the core claims made by Barack Obama during his presidential campaign wasn’t simply that he would heal the planet; he would also heal the nation’s political breach. He would elevate the national debate. Reason would prevail over emotion. He would do away with what he called the “50 plus one” style of governing. …
His election, he informed us, was a sign we had “chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” On the day of his inauguration he came to proclaim “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
Meanwhile, over at The Washington Post, political handicapper Chris Cillizza predictably absolves Obama of any blame for being toxically divisive and, wait for it … blames Republicans:
[T]he country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.
While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together, a deeper dig into the numbers in the Gallup poll suggests that the idea of erasing the partisan gap is simply impossible, as political polarization is rising rapidly. …
The realization of that hyper-partisan reality has been slow in coming for Obama. But in recent months, he seems to have turned a rhetorical corner – taking the fight to Republicans (and Republicans in Congress, particularly) and all but daring them to call his bluff.
Democrats will point out that Republicans in Congress have played a significant part in the polarization; the congressional GOP has stood resolutely against almost all of Obama’s top priorities. And Obama’s still-high popularity among the Democratic base also exacerbates the gap.
Maybe Obama ought to listen to President Jimmy Carter’s advice – according to Gallup’s methodology, Carter was the least polarizing president in recent memory; his approval gap amongst Dems and Repubs was only 22 points. On the other hand, that could have been because everyone hated him.
† Is Obama’s birth certificate fake?: Americans who contend that Barack Obama was not eligible to run for president in 2008 (he wasn’t using his middle name back then; only “racists” were) because he was born in Kenya are finally getting their day in court (related article, third item on the page) in a proceeding that Obama was subpoenaed to attend but blew off, Daily Report reports:
President Barack Obama and his attorney [Michael K. Jablonski] skipped a hearing challenging his eligibility to appear on Georgia's Democratic primary ballot, leaving his opponents to make uncontested claims that he isn't a "natural born citizen" as required by the Constitution and that he faked his birth certificate.
The judge overseeing the case, Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings Deputy Chief Judge Michael M. Malihi, didn't … say how soon he will make a recommendation on the case to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican. …
Kemp, who responded to Jablonski that he was boycotting the hearing "at your own peril," will ultimately decide on the president's eligibility in Georgia after he receives Malihi's recommendation, according to O.C.G.A. § 21-2-5. …
Malihi doesn't have the power to sanction Obama for contempt of court for ignoring the subpoena, but he may refer the case to Superior Court for a finding of contempt, according to the rules of the Office of State Administrative Hearings.
Jablonski had failed to explain any legal authority under which a president would be exempt from being subpoenaed.
† Honor killing and beheading: stereotype or true to type?: After deliberating 15 hours, a Canadian jury convicted Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed of four counts of first-degree murder each for killing teenage daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti along with Rona Amir Mohammad, Shafia's childless first wife in a polygamous marriage. The judge described the murders as resulting from a "twisted concept of honor," The Associated Press reports:
Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly killed the three teenage sisters because they dishonored the family by defying its disciplinarian rules on dress, dating, socializing and using the Internet. …
[The four women’s] bodies were found June 30, 2009, in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ontario, where the family had stopped for the night on their way home to Montreal from Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The prosecution alleged it was a case of premeditated murder, staged to look like an accident after it was carried out. Prosecutors said the defendants drowned their victims elsewhere on the site, placed their bodies in the car and pushed it into the canal. …
In a statement following the verdict, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honor killings a practice that is "barbaric and unacceptable in Canada."
Defense lawyers said the deaths were accidental. They said the Nissan car accidentally plunged into the canal after the eldest daughter, Zainab, took it for a joy ride with her sisters and her father's first wife. Hamed said he watched the accident, although he didn't call police from the scene. …
The prosecution presented wire taps and mobile phone records from the Shafia family in court to support their honor killing allegation. The wiretaps, which capture Shafia spewing vitriol about his dead daughters, calling them treacherous and whores and invoking the devil to defecate on their graves, were a focal point of the trial.
First-degree murder is punishable with an automatic life sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years.
† What freedom of speech means to Muslims: Mikael Davud and co-defendant Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak were sentenced to prison in Oslo for plotting to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten for publishing 12 cartoons of Mohammad in 2006 and murdering one of the cartoonists, The Associated Press reports:
Judge Oddmund Svarteberg said the court found that Davud "planned the attack together with al-Qaeda."
A third defendant, David Jakobsen, was cleared of terror charges but convicted of helping the others acquire explosives. …
Investigators say the plot was linked to the same al-Qaeda planners behind thwarted attacks against the New York subway system and a British shopping mall in 2009.
Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd, said the paper and the cartoonist were indeed the targets, but described the plans as "just talk." …
Jakobsen, an Uzbek national who changed his name after moving to Norway, provided some of the chemicals for the bomb, but claims he did not know they were meant for explosives.
Davud, the ringleader of the conspiracy, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment; Bujak’s sentence is half that amount; and Jakobsen will be released after a four month stint.
† The uh-Oh-prah effect?: Political analyst Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, re-examines the question of whether endorsements hold any sway with voters in this Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Throughout American history, presidencies have been created by the laying on of incumbent hands. Thomas Jefferson effectively passed the presidency to his friend and confidant, James Madison. … Madison, Van Buren, Taft and Mr. Bush all got their predecessor's third term – when popular, presidents have extraordinary powers.
Then there's Hollywood glitz and glamour – good for attracting donors to fund-raisers, but risky if the stars outshine the candidates in public. When celebrities draw more adoration from the crowd than the fellow on the ballot, the candidate is diminished, not enhanced. …
Non-endorsements can send powerful signals to voters as well. For decades, leading Southern Democrats practiced "golden silence" in presidential years, refusing to endorse their party's presidential nominees. This was a green light to voters that it was acceptable to support a Republican for the White House. …
Could non-endorsements end up mattering in 2012, too? Despite decades on Capitol Hill and four years as speaker of the House, Mr. Gingrich has only 11 congressional endorsements, five of them from Georgians. Will rank-and-file Republicans see that as a warning about Mr. Gingrich's volatility and management style – or as a badge of honor indicating the anti-establishment, transformational credentials they seek? The answer may determine this election.
Sabato notes the truism that Chuck Norris doesn't endorse a candidate – he tells America how it's going to be. And to that end, Norris wrote an op-ed for WND.com in support of Newt Gingrich that “delivers a stinging rebuke of the ‘mainstream media’ and ‘Washington Elite’ and urges Floridians: “[D]on't be missing in action at the polls this week! Your vote counts!"