Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Crisis In Crimea 

As the crisis in Crimea drags on, no resolution is in sight. Russia scuttled an old ship to prevent Ukrainian vessels from leaving Donuzlav Lake. The Crimean parliament voted to join Russia and scheduled a March 16th referendum on secession from Ukraine.

Speaking from the White House this afternoon, President Obama condemned the referendum, saying it would "violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law." The White House also announced the imposition of visa restrictions and sanctions against Russia.

(How about reinstating visa restrictions, which were suspended last month, on jihadists with "some" terrorist connections?) 

Meanwhile, the U.S. is moving ahead with the deployment of about 20 aircraft to Poland and Lithuania and is sending a guided missile destroyer into the Black Sea as part of "previously scheduled training exercises." 

By the way, kudos to Liz Wahl. The former anchor of Russia Today, a Russian government-controlled propaganda outlet, quit yesterday while on the air. Wahl blasted the network for "whitewashing Putin's actions," adding, "I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth. And that is why, after this newscast, I'm resigning." Watch it here. Now that's something you won't see on our "government controlled" media any time soon! 

Obama Hits New Low 

Polls are only snapshots in time, but these are tough times for President Obama. The latest Fox News poll finds that the president's job approval rating has fallen to a record low of just 38%, while 54% of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance.

Obama's ratings were down on several key measurements. For example: 

  • Only 36% of registered voters approved of Obama's handling of the economy, 58% disapproved. 
  • Only 36% of voters approved of Obama's handling of health care, while 59% disapproved. 
  • And just 33% of voters approved of Obama's handling of foreign policy, while 56% disapproved. 

    The foreign policy question is particularly telling as presidents are generally afforded a fair amount of deference in that arena. 

    The Fox poll also asked voters whether they felt "the Obama administration has mostly succeeded or mostly failed at improving America's image around the world." Fifty-nine percent of voters felt Obama had mostly failed at improving America's image around the world. Only 33% felt Obama had succeeded at improving America's image. 

    The Fox poll isn't the only one to notice America's souring view of Obama's foreign policy. Late last month a Gallup poll found that only 41% of Americans felt that Obama was respected by other world leaders. 

    Rethinking The Rush To Reform 

    As the GOP tries to woo Hispanic voters, it has flirted with the idea of embracing some form of quasi-amnesty legislation. The Senate rushed through a bill last year and many corporate, media and political elites were pressuring the House of Representatives to act quickly too. 

    While the rush to pass immigration reform appears to have lost steam, powerful lobbies are doing what they can to keep the pressure on. Here's something that should cause Capitol Hill Republicans to think twice. 

    The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll asked whether a candidate's support for "a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants," i.e. quasi-amnesty, made them more likely or less likely to vote for that candidate. Among registered voters, support for that idea drove more voters away than it attracted. 

    Twenty-seven percent of voters were "more likely" to support a candidate who favored a path to citizenship, while 39% were "less likely" to do so. Only 18% of self-identified "conservatives" were more likely to support a candidate who favored a path to citizenship, while 50% of conservatives were less likely to vote for that candidate. Self-identified "independents" split 28% to 41% against pro-amnesty candidates. 

    Defense Or Debt? 

    The White House submitted Barack Obama's 2015 budget to Congress this week. It calls for spending nearly $4 trillion. And, in spite of demanding more than $1 trillion in new taxes, it still projects a deficit of more than $560 billion. 

    But here's a really disturbing fact: According to an analysis by Senate Budget Committee staffers, Obama's spending sets America on a track where interest payments on the national debt exceed the defense budget in just five years, right after Obama leaves office. It could happen even sooner if interest rates rise faster than expected.